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January 24, 2006

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If by "your kind" you mean people terminally incapable of adjusting their beliefs in the light of mountains of evidence -- and I hope to God you're not -- then we're well and truly f***ed, because you're talking about governance by the deranged.

Let me shed some light:

The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say.

Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

And Hilzoy? I think I would have juxtapositioned the attitude towards Terry S versus Tirhas H..

DaveC, blogbudsman, Charles, and others are basically moral black holes

So happy to hear that at least someone thinks I possess some gravitas!

Just checking to see whether this comment appears before or after DaveC's...

hilzoy, I haven't looked closely but I bet Gromit's explanation is the right one -- (expanding on it) there was a time stamp glitch, a few posts got moved into the future, then the clock was fixed but the display order is a sort by time.

BTW, do you notice that the time stamps on the "preview" display are GMT instead of EST?

dutchmarbel: While I must admit a certain fondness for that theory, I'd have to actually see the details of the study to give it any credence, I'm afraid.

BTW, do you notice that the time stamps on the "preview" display are GMT instead of EST?

Hasn't this always been the case?

As for dutchmarbel's link, I've certainly seen plenty of that sort of behavior on political blog comment threads across the spectrum. It's not so much a feature of political thinking as it is a peculiarity of human nature. But one of the reasons I frequent this site is that that sort of thinking is underrepresented here, at least in my opinion.

While I must admit a certain fondness for that theory, I'd have to actually see the details of the study to give it any credence, I'm afraid.

Darn, you mean I SHOULD have posted that tongue-in-cheek-smiley after all??

Gromit: I agree and I also think it is a good thing that my own ideological blinders get rattled on occasionally.

Those are some mighty fine distinctions, Hil. Okay, you don't hate Bush, you despise him, which falls under the definition of "contempt". My bad. Sorry for my confusion, but it comes across to me from reading your increasingly angry and sarcastic writings over the last six months that the daylight between hate and contempt is narrowing. If that is a wrong take, then I apologize.

And if I understand you correctly, it's not that Bush doesn't care, he lacks concern. So in other words, he doesn't care. My bad again.

And if I understand your construct about competence and caring and theory and practice, if responding poorly for four days means Bush doesn't care or doesn't care enough in practice, then you would agree that Bush must have really cared A LOT beginning on the Friday after the flood, no? After all, National Guard were all over the place and money and aid workers were pouring in by that time, and stranded people were getting rescued. And Bush must've REALLY cared prior to Katrina in practice because 2005 was one of the worst years on record for hurricanes and the pre-Katrina storms that hit Florida were handled in workmanlike fahsion. Same goes for the one hit Texas post-Katrina.

The thing is, people have known for decades that if the wrong kind of storm New Orleans, that the city would get swamped. It was a storm of the century, and all levels lapsed in their responsibilities in those first days, not that I've seen you written such. A one-of-a-kind event hit a city of half a million, and trained emergency workers and their bosses quickly became overwhelmed. It didn't help that the head of FEMA was incompetent and one mistake after another was made, Nor did it help that the mayor and police chief were heaping out their own lardings of incompetence to add to the misery. Nor did it help that mainstream media embarrassed themselves by spreading unconfirmed and what turned out to be false reports of violence--which slowed efforts to aid the very people you pictured--and piles of dead people. In practice, because of all this gross incompetence, these actions cannot be consistent with caring. But it's all about Bush these days, at least that's the direction it's all careening. I expect the pile-on will continue with few interruptions. Don't expect me to comment much either, unless there's another obvious cheap shot.

Want to explaining this, Charles?

Anarch, tell me how this information is new. By Friday evening 26 August, Brendan Loy and Jeff Masters were warning their readers that there was a good likelihood that the storm would hit and levees would breach. Blanco and Nagin and the federal government were all getting the same basic information. Blanco and Nagin didn't just fall off a shrimp truck outside Baton Rouge. They've lived there for years and had disaster plans at the ready. They had no privileged or special information.

As for the administration withholding those reports, if you think I'm going to defend Bush in this, then you are mistaken.

Charles: sorry not to have been clear. I was (a) explaining that the point of the pictures, which I should have made clearer, was about the convention center, not NO generally, though I inferred (but did not say here) that he lacked concern for disaster victims more generally. Further, I was explaining why I attributed this not just to incompetence but to a lack of caring. I wasn't trying to distinguish concern from caring. As you say, that's not an obvious distinction at all.

I do think there's a distinction between contempt and hatred. For one thing, hatred has more emotion in it; you can feel contempt for someone on those rare occasions when you bother to think about him at all, but you could hardly feel (serious) hatred only rarely. When you have contempt for someone, you can also feel that you think about him only to the extent that you have to for some other reason, but that you'd much rather be spared the trouble; again, the same is not true for hatred, which is much more emotional and even intimate.

I do not have much in the way of emotions for Bush. Were he not President, I might pity him, but he has done too much damage to too many other people, and to my country, for that. I have some anger towards him, again, mostly because he has done so much damage so needlessly. I do not particularly hate him at all. If he weren't President, and I had no occasion for pity, I would probably not think about him at all, and would be quite content with that.

I feel contempt for him because, with such enormous power to use for good or ill, he chooses such small-minded and mean-spirited things to do with it, and because he is so incurious and so closed-hearted that much of what is of value in the world seems lost on him, and because he is so careless with other people's lives and well-being. That might, as I said, lead to as pity if he were, oh, a street sweeper, or some other job in which the person most harmed were himself. In a President, where the job might seem to call out to anyone who occupies it to rise above him- or herself, it leads to contempt.

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