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October 13, 2013

Comments

"echo chamber" always worked for me.

Hm, why did they not go all the way to Naked News?
OK, I think that one is easy. NN women are in charge, FN women are bridge bunnies.

I find that the Obsidian Wings bloggers tend to be more civil towards those with whom they disagree than do many bloggers on the left. But I find them generally as immersed in the liberal echo-chamber as those other bloggers - and as Brett has noticed in the past, they tend to be just as unaware of the effect.

There is a lot more symmetry than you realize. It is much easier to see other's biases than to see your own. If there is a major asymmetry, it is that - as Haidt and some others have noted - liberals seem to have a lot more trouble understanding conservatives than the reverse.

For example, I find that a lot of commenters on liberal blogs have internalized an understanding of conservatives that has no connection with reality. You've probably heard things like, "conservatives want to destroy the middle class" or "the only reason conservatives oppose Obama is his color." It is only by remaining in the liberal echo chamber that it is possible to hold onto such ideas.

On the contrary, for all the echo chamber effect on the right, most conservatives do seem to have at least a moderate understanding of the left - although there is the frequent and uncharitable suspicion that when bad things happen, it is by design rather than incompetence.

liberals seem to have a lot more trouble understanding conservatives than the reverse.

I would have to disagree. If you reversed roles and had a standard issue liberal try to make the conservative case, I'd be willing to bet they would do a better job of it than a randomly chosen conservative picked to make the liberal case. Frankly, liberalism is not easily explained. Many self identified liberals I know are unaware of the intellectual underpinnings of their political allegiance (cf. Eric Alterman's "Why I Am A Liberal"). To expect a run of the mill conservative to do so is really a stretch.

As to your examples: As somebody who swims in the shallow pool of the liberal echo chamber I don't feel it's a big stretch to demonstrate that public policies favored by many, if not most, conservatives actually do have the effect of destroying the middle class (rabid anti-unionism for starters) and that a good deal of conservative opposition to Obama is undeniably fueled by racism.

I'm not speaking just from my opinion, here. This post reports Andrew Bigg's analysis of the Jonhathan Haidt's studies which reached this conclusion.

Briefly, they asked conservatives and liberals to answer questions about their own moral beliefs - and then asked them to answer as though they were of the opposite ideology. And he found that conservatives could answer the way liberals would a lot more reliably than the reverse.

And yes, I obviously think it is big stretch to demonstrate those things unless you take liberal assumptions as inherent truth.

Well, I know few liberals that would agree with those statements as long as there is 'only' in them (and an implied 'all' before conservatives).
From my POV the first claim changes intentions with effects. Imo (US) conservative policies would in the long run lead to the elimination of the middle class but this is not the primary intent. As I have claimed repeatedly conservative policies have the same effect a Ostwald ripening and that means no stable middleground a middle class could aggregate on. Imo a middle class can never be a natural equilibrium but can only exist when the natural process towards a strict two class system (a few haves and everyone else havnenots) is hemmed or actively fought against. And this is fundamentally against conservative values as we understand them today (those values are either neutral/libertarian = let nature happen or affirmative/reactionary = actively push the natural equilibrium). The middle class is essentially a buffer that will get used up unless artificially replenished.
As far as racism goes, classic racism is today in the US primarily a thing on the right, a reservoir that can and will be tapped. As a result open or hidden appeals to racism can only be a tool on that side at the moment. For the liberal side such an appeal would be a net negative. I think there are relatively few federal conservative racists but quite a lot of pretenders* (because they need the local vote). The even fewer true racists on the left on the other hand cannot risk showing their beliefs for the same tactical reasons. As a result racism is strongly overrepresented on the conservative side (true + pretend) and underrepresented on the left (true - pretend).
I am primarily talking about colour-bound racism here** leaving out the other classic, antisemitism. There one can find a specific leftist version, while on the right it is tied not to conservatism in general but almost exclusively to the religious fraction.

*my guess is that 9 out of 10 federal GOP birthers are pretenders not true believers
**again, talking about today not the past

Hartmut, are you claiming that a significant number of conservatives are racists, or that what few racists exist are mainly on the right? And why separate claims of racism from antisemitism?

I wish I could find the link, but I can't so I'll so my best to summarize.

A Democratic group (Democracy Corps?) commissioned an in depth study of the thinking of Republican voters. It amounted to a lot of listening. A LOT of listening. They set out to create a safe space where self-identified Republican voters could voice their thoughts uncriticized and unchallenged.

They found three categories of Republican voters.

The Evangelicals. These folks expressed fear that America was becoming unrecognizable to them. Much of that fear was in terms of the increase in the percentage of Americans who are not white. They did not use racist terms and were very concerned that they be perceived as racist. However, they did express the belief that somehow nonwhites were not as genuinely American as they were or the increase in nonwhites was somehow a threat to their sense of what America is. They tended to believe that Obama was Muslim, born in Kenya and so on. They also tended to think that their kind of Christianity was the religion of the Founding Fathers and that the nation was supposed to conform to their beliefs and that other beliefs lacked legitimacy. They felt particularly threatened by what they called "the gay agenda."

The moderates. These folks claimed to believe in small government or opposition to big government although that was not defined. They were concerned about balance budgets although they didn't seem aware of the results of cutting taxes during wars. They were uncomfortable with the evangelicals and did not share either the anti-immigrant or anti-gay views of the evangelicals.

The third group were the ones who claimed to be libertarian.

All groups expressed a lot of fear and anger.


What I notice about this is that there's a huge element of what must be willful ignorance or the groups would be just as disaffected from the Republicans as they are from the Democrats. I also don't believe ANY libertarian is sincere in their philosophy because they never want to apply it to themselves. And I'd have a lot more respect for those who favor small government and oppose big government if that sort of claim didn't so often come from people who want big government for themselves.

I am discussing Republican voters here, rather than conservatives because no one, least of all the self-proclaimed conservatives, has ever to my knowledge articulated a philosophy that they wanted applied to their own situation or state.

So, no I don't think Republicans are all racists or even mostly racist. I think the basic difference between people who vote for Republicans and people who vote for Democrats is that Republicans think the government should serve them and represent them and Democrats think the government should serve and represent everyone.

It's a difference between a fearful exclusive attitude and a hopeful inclusive one.

The other thing that strikes me is how incongruent the beliefs of those Republicans are from objective reality. The Founding Fathers were not the religious equivalents of modern evangelicals. Some of them were hardly Christians at all.
Cutting taxes for the wealthy does not create jobs. That's not how capitalism works. It's pretty hypocritical for a person to be in favor of Medicare, the Bonneville Power Admin. interstate highways, and the VA while opposing Obamacare.

Modern Democrats tend to be more practical, more oriented to doing what seems feasible to solve a problem. Modern Republicans seem to want to impose their fantasies on the rest of us and when their fantasies don't work, they deny reality, or when their fantasies affect them personally in a negative way they exempt themselves from the application of the fantasy. In any case ideology or religion trumps learning and thinking.

In my opinion there are enough racists in the conservative voter pool that it is unsafe for most conservative candidates to not at least pander to them. In parts of the country it is simply suicidal not to use the proper code words that give the impression to that part of the base that the candidate is a reliable racist. If they don't, they will not survive their primaries because that part of the base is overrepresented there. Looking at rather recent polls that in some Southern states a majority still is in favor of miscegenation laws should dispel the notion that racism is dead or dying. And those are unmistakably red states.
Why I separate racism and antisemitism? Because they overlap but only partially. There is political, racial and religious antisemitism that can occur separately or in any mix. Colour-bound prejudice cannot be separated from the notion of race. On the left antisemitism is nearly 100% political, on the right any combination is possible, although political occurs rarely in pure form there (as far as I can tell only in a subgroup of libertarians that is also isolationist).
Another reason to exlude antisemitism from our discussion here is the almost uniquely US phenomenon of rabid antisemites that are also rabidly pro-(RW)-Israel, a seeming contradiction that can only be explained with a certain perverted religious interpretation of scripture (in essence: G*d hates the Jews but needs them to kindle Armageddon, and we have to follow G*d there. The way G*d acts out his plan is through Israel's RW, so we have to support it unconditionally. The Jews are G*d's and our useful idiots). This can only be found on the conservative side but it is not something even a majority of conservatives subscribe to.

Here's a good article about liberal stereotyping of conservatives, and vv:
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0050092

Those researchers found that conservatives understood liberals better than v.v., but they note that their subjects were all from very "blue" regions. It may be that where conservatives are the majority, the misunderstanding runs the other way.

Here's that "Inside the GOP" report:
http://www.democracycorps.com/Republican-Party-Project/inside-the-gop-report-on-focus-groups-with-evangelical-tea-party-and-moderate-republicans/

"There is a lot more symmetry than you realize. It is much easier to see other's biases than to see your own"

Oh, if there were only some sort of way to distinguish the validity of a 'bias' or 'opinion' or 'belief'. Hey! how about we check with this little thing called Objective Reality?

If only there were a field of knowledge dedicated to discovering and explaining that darn Objective Reality thing. Why, the practitioners might even have some insight for separating 'truth' from 'BS'.

But that costs money and makes some people uncomfortable, so I guess it's not surprising that they try to shut it down.

Those researchers found that conservatives understood liberals better than v.v., but they note that their subjects were all from very "blue" regions. It may be that where conservatives are the majority, the misunderstanding runs the other way.

Which would be rather interesting to study. It would be consistent with Biggs' explanation, and contrary to Haidt's. The main reason to suspect that explanation was the finding that "… liberals were the least accurate about conservatives and about liberals." That last - that liberals were less accurate about their own beliefs than were conservatives or moderates about liberal beliefs is surprising to me. I don't think any of the suggested causes explains that one very well.

Oh, if there were only some sort of way to distinguish the validity of a 'bias' or 'opinion' or 'belief'. Hey! how about we check with this little thing called Objective Reality?

Outside of the hard sciences, it is rather difficult to find truly Objective Reality. If you cannot measure it in the lab and have others reproduce your experiments and duplicate your results, it is very easy for people's biases to color their perception.

For example, one of the conservative vs liberal studies asked about how much progress there had been in racial equality since the 1960s. I'm sure it will not surprise you that different groups have very different answers. So how do you decide what Objective Reality is? Each group will insist that it is correct and the others are living in a fantasy.

You've probably heard things like, "conservatives want to destroy the middle class"

As Hartmut says, this may not be the intent, but it does seem to me to be a likely consequence of many conservative policies.

Rather than telling me I'm in a liberal echo chamber, tell me why anyone imagines that eliminating estate taxes and reducing or eliminating taxes on capital income would not establish a hereditary largely tax-exempt aristocracy.

Then tell me why cutting financial aid to college students, cutting higher education budgets, and generally making it harder to finance college doesn't hurt people's chances of having a decent middle-class sort of career.

I could go on, and I'm sure others can add to this, but the point is that before you cantell me that my thinking is just ideological you have to tell me what's wrong with it.

OK, well you seem to be changing the things that you think will destroy the middle class, but let me give it a shot.

Until 2009, Germany had no capital gains tax at all, and real estate held for at least 10 years is still exempt from such tax. I have seen no evidence that Germany has a hereditary largely exempt aristocracy. Many nations also have no estate taxes, again without the aristocracy appearing.

But even if one did, how would that destroy the middle class?

Then tell me why cutting financial aid to college students, cutting higher education budgets, and generally making it harder to finance college doesn't hurt people's chances of having a decent middle-class sort of career.

Let's start by playing, "spot the hidden assumptions." Implicit in your challenge is that going to college is likely to launch people into a middle-class career, and not going to college is likely to prevent it. I don't believe that is warranted. For decades, we've had a viable middle class with relatively few of them going to college. Even today, there are skilled positions in manufacturing (such a machinists, welders, nc operators) going begging, which would provide middle class incomes - but we don't have enough people with the skills.

And especially nowadays, we have a significant portion of college graduates who cannot find work that actually requires college. There are a lot of causes for that, which are worth a discussion of their own - but the point is that assuming that you reach the middle class if and only if you go college is simply not warranted.

On the other hand, a lot of people are going to college and learning little or nothing, but building up enormous debt - and student loans are a large part of that. Colleges have become big businesses, paying administrators CEO-like salaries, while using underpaid adjuncts to do the actual teaching. Many of them over-emphasize social aspects over academics, and few if any pay much attention to actually qualifying their students for good jobs.

A generation or two ago, a college degree was almost a guarantee of a good income (although not the only path). But that was largely because degrees were relatively rare. Now they are commonplace, and tend to be viewed almost like a high school diploma was back then.

I would say that ladening young people with debt that they cannot pay with the minimal skills all too many outside of the STEM disciplines have achieved is a much bigger obstacle to a middle-class life than cutting the subsidies could ever be.

And apparently the "Obamacare" that Germany has is worth shutting down the government in order to stop. Give us Germany's safety net and I am guessing that there would be a lot of happy liberals here, and I am assuming that the cost for higher education in the European Union is generally a lot cheaper than here as well.

And the concern over unemployment is duly noted. There was also a reference to objective reality being hard to find outside of the hard sciences. With regard to economics, how about we give Keynesianism a try, because it is pretty clear that what we have been doing is not working very well. And refer to Krugman for a discussion of what constitutes objective reality in economics (yeah, I know, argument from authority).

I'm not speaking just from my opinion, here. This post reports Andrew Bigg's analysis of the Jonhathan Haidt's studies which reached this conclusion.

Biggs and AEI are simply propagandists. I am not familiar with Haidt's work, but it seems interesting. So I read some other reviews of his work. His views are somewhat controversial. One, of many, questions I would put to him would be, "If conservatives are more in tune Haidt's six moral foundations, why do they dismiss global climate change?"

There are things that are indeed objectively "true". These include (1.) US wage stagnation; (2.) Redistribution of income and wealth upwards; (3.) Our woeful GINI coefficient; (4.) Studies that show upward class mobility is less here than elsewhere.

As a policy matter, I would argue these outcomes are the result of public policy decisions that are overwhelmingly supported by conservatives. So I don't see what this has to do with one's assumptions, liberal or otherwise.

Even today, there are skilled positions in manufacturing (such a machinists, welders, nc operators) going begging, which would provide middle class incomes - but we don't have enough people with the skills.

This is not true. If the wages offered were higher, people would acquire the skills. That is how markets work. If there was a skills "shortage" one would expect to see the wages offered for these positions increase dramatically in order to attract employees. We do not see this. Dean Baker has short this myth down tirelessly.

Haidt argues that there are particular reasons why liberals reject 3 of what Haidt suggests are the 5 foundations of human morality, which are ingroup loyalty, purity and respect for authority, which form a major part of conservative beliefs about moral authority (the other two are empathy and reciprocity)

The reason is that they have so often been used to keep down groups in society, groups that now are coming to the fore. While liberals can be condemnatory with the latter three, they tend to valorize the first two and I think that liberals would acknowledge that.

But it would seem to me that the first two are the foundational principles of most major religions, while the latter three are generally accepted to be things that occur when religion and moral belief becomes problematic in the context of a large scale society.

Biggs wants to suggest that each of those foundational principles needs to be equally adhered to, but from my liberal hall of mirrors, the first two are the foundational principles and the latter three are ones that we have to acknowledge people have, but we should strive to overcome in many cases (but not all, mind you)

I'd also point out that it is the case that a number of conservatives (hopefully not here) valorize, afaict, the latter 3 at the expense of the first two. On the other hand, a lot of liberals would be happy to work with conservatives if they were willing to accept the first two principles wholeheartedly. And people who are willing to sacrifice the first two for the latter three, be they on the right or the left, (and there are those on the left for whom calls of purity of thought and respect for authority loom large) are called zealots for a reason. There are certainly zealots on the left, but given that they are generally powerless, I'm not sure the comparison gives you as much as you think it does.

Ok, engineer here who has things made by skilled machinists on a regular basis. We do, in fact, compensate for the shortage of machinists, by exporting work to other countries, mostly in places like Malaysia. This kind of caps the premium a good machinist can get, but let me note that, even so capped, our machinists make more than this engineer.

Even driven down by a plentiful supply, the pay machinists get would make this career path remarkably better than going to an expensive college so that you can inquire if somebody wants fries with that.

I'd also note that it's no accident our head machinist hails from England, not the US. It's kind of hard to switch in midstream from forensic pathologist to machinist, it's not like you can go down to the store and buy the "machinist skill-set expansion pack", and get a job tomorrow. We're talking here about a career which usually starts with the (Now almost gone!) high school shop class, and goes through an apprenticeship program that lasts quite as long as college, though with the advantage that you get paid during it.

No kidding, last year we had some simple work, and had the bright idea of farming it out to the local shop classes, so the students could earn a bit of money. We couldn't, there weren't any.

So, my advise to any of you with kids: Be sure to tell them that becoming a machinist IS a pretty good career path, which DOESN'T involve going into debt to pursue.

As for the rest of the topic... No point in addressing it, you wouldn't hear me for the echos.

liberals seem to have a lot more trouble understanding conservatives than the reverse.

this is wishful thinking, plain and simple.

for every "conservatives want to destroy the middle class" or "the only reason conservatives oppose Obama is his color," there's a "liberals want to America destroy America", "... ban football", "...ban guns", "...control your life", etc.. (all taken from the Google auto-complete). there's "liberals want to destroy [family | Christmas | marriage | babies | the Constitution]", there's "liberals want [Sharia law | the terrorists to win | to capitulate]", etc.. should i keep going?

"liberals want to disarm America", "liberals want America to be like [France | Germany | Sweden]". "liberals hate [free enterprise | hard work | winners]".

more?

how about the classic "the left wants to keep blacks on the government plantation" ?

how much understand of anything does bullshit like that show?

no, the "conservatives" i've come across (including those in the media) show no understanding of what liberals want. and that's because they are railing against the imaginary liberals created by "conservative" media which portrays liberals in simple, absurdly evil terms in order to make them easy to hate. because if you're in the business of selling the cure for liberalism, you need the marks audience to hate liberals. and they do a damned good job of it, too.

So, my advise to any of you with kids: Be sure to tell them that becoming a machinist IS a pretty good career path, which DOESN'T involve going into debt to pursue.

Not terrible advice - though I'd be inclined to train as a plumber instead, just in case 3D printing takes off. I have yet to hear of a glut of plumbers.

As for the rest of the topic... No point in addressing it, you wouldn't hear me for the echos.

That would be a shame.
I'm sure you have, for instance, some interesting things to say about 'respect for authority', judging from a couple of your recent posts over at the Volokh blog.

"and that's because they are railing against the imaginary liberals created by "conservative" media which portrays liberals in simple, absurdly evil terms in order to make them easy to hate."

Hearing that coming from a liberal, especially at a site like this, is just so hilariously ironic.

go ahead Brett, tell the world what you think liberals want. prove me wrong.

Mean annual wage for machinists: $40,860
Mean annual salary for mechanical engineers: $84,770.
US per capita income: $42,693

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

I would say that ladening young people with debt that they cannot pay with the minimal skills all too many outside of the STEM disciplines have achieved is a much bigger obstacle to a middle-class life than cutting the subsidies could ever be.

But that debt would be much lower if the colleges were better-supported and tuition was less. They might also have a better chance to pay it if our system did not award the bulk of eeconomic gains to the very wealthiest in the country.

As for German taxes, maybe I should let Hartmut take the question, but I think they are substantially higher than here, and finance a considerably more generous social safety net. Per Wikipedia, for example, capital income such as dividends and interest are taxed at about 30%.

Brett, over here it was once recommended to first learn a trade and only then to go to university, i.e. first the machining then the engineering. I know several people that first became lab assistants and then studied chemistry. I think those people tend to be better as a result than those that go academic from the start. But, and it's a big but, this is not really feasible anymore because it leads to an age disadvantage that tends to be a real killer when first job applications get filtered through Human Resources before going to the actual experts. In my experience the old lab assistants and machine shop runner are the sergeants that keep things running but the young ones are considered lower life forms because they lack academic credentials. And the academics have to be young when entering the marketplace or their chances are low. Remember, it's the merchant class running the companies not the craftsmen and the former got bitten by the youth bug (plus they despise those risen through the ranks with a fervor of old aristocrats). Respect for craft WAS once conservative, these days it seems to be the opposite (again).

Nominal taxes are a bad indicator when there is no info, whther they get actually paid. In Germany (by decree of the highest court) effective taxes may not exceed 50% (not top rate, total charge) but for the most part they get actually paid. One can expect to pay about a third of one's income in taxes (federal + state + local, they are not normally separated). In the US the nominal rates tend not to get paid by the top income owners, over here they are (at least since the state put fear in the evaders by purchasing Swiss bank data on the black market). The system is far from perfect but lightyears afar from the corrupt-to-the-core one in the US. It helps not to have a parliament of millionaires and people that treat their time in office as merely a probation period for a lobbying position (former chancellor Schröder lost a ton of public respect when he switched to GASPROM the moment he got thrown out of office. He is rarely heard of these days). I hope it helps that the FDP seems to have destroyed its brand by going from socially liberal to corrupt libertarian for good and now is out in the wilderness.

"Hearing that coming from a liberal, especially at a site like this, is just so hilariously ironic.

First, let us pause for a courtesy laugh:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LluIBu8HdV4

Brett Bellmore comment, May 10, 2012 at Reality-Based Community, on a thread of responses regarding North Carolina's Gay Marriage Ban, and in which Brett endorses the ongoing purge (Stalinist vocabulary brought to you by the Bubble Boy) of "RINOs" who mistakenly primp within the Republican Party's House of Mirrors:

------ "Such ‘Republicans’ will take, publicly, the positions they find necessary to get Republican votes, so as to be seen fighting the ‘good’ fight, but they really don’t want to prevail on a lot of the causes they need to be seen fighting for.

The national GOP got in trouble over this after ’94, when they inadvertently found themselves in the majority, and their usual “go down fighting” strategy became too obviously taking a dive. Suddenly the base of the party understood that a fair number of their champions had been throwing the fights all along, and that they were never going to win on some things until they purged the RINOs.

The purge still has a long way to go, given the power of incumbency, but it’s starting to bear fruit. Some are really distressed by the resulting ‘gridlock’, but the Republican base doesn’t want their representatives helping Democrats to get done the things they were sent to stop." -------

The purge has been largely successful in North Carolina. One might hope it's starting to look more along the lines of a Circular Firing Squad inside of a House of Mirrors (that's gonna be a mess), but in the meantime, here is nearly fully-purged Libertarian/Right-Wing Christian Chimera North Carolinian Governmental House of Mirrors at work:

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2013/10/14/mostly-what-we-did-was-pray-and-sing/

For entertainment's sake, let's apply further hilarity at a site like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRtyqK4nbVU

liberals seem to have a lot more trouble understanding conservatives than the reverse.

FWIW, after hanging out on political blogs for the last 10 years, I can say that it's extremely rare to read a conservative characterization of liberal motivations, interests, and goals that seems even vaguely accurate.

To me, of course. But, being on the left, it seems to me that it's my prerogative to say if someone's description of what I think is accurate or not.

I suppose it's possible that I'm secretly thinking things other than what I think I am thinking, in ways that can readily be perceived by the average conservative, and I am simply unaware of it.

That does, however, seem to give me credit for feats of mental gymnastics that I'm really not sure I'm capable of. If nothing else, it seems like a lot of work, much more than I'd normally be inclined to bother with.

I'll also say that yes, in fact, I have over the years found many of the things that conservatives say and believe to be difficult to understand. Profoundly so, in many cases. In some cases, I actually preferred not to try to understand, to be quite honest.

The folks in the Pinochet fan club, the folks who think blacks should be grateful for slavery because it let them hear about Jesus, the folks who cheered for the idea of letting uninsured people die. Whoever thought it was a good idea to schedule "Guns Save Lives Day" for the first anniversary of the Newtown shooting.

I don't get it, am not going to get it, am not interested in even trying to get it. There are some rabbit holes I'm just not going down.

I'm sure similar things exist in the other direction. Whatever.

Regarding the Biggs' piece, I thought his "practical example" of the conservative in NYC amusing.

Yes, if you live in a place where your point of view is markedly in the minority, you are relatively more likely to (a) not be that vocal about your point of view, and (b) have relatively greater understanding of the other point of view, because you're immersed in it.

Duh.

If you find that oppressive, you can always move. People do. But generally, that's not necessary, most folks can find a way to live with, befriend, and even grow to like and enjoy the company of people they don't necessarily agree with.

There will just be some topics that you will probably have to not bring up.

You know it is possible to know what a test group of self identified Republicans said about themselves. Just follow the link Dr. Science provided.

Blaming college students for being burdened with debt didn't come up as a taking point, to my recollection.

BTW if low cost college education was the cause of low paying jobs for the college-educated, then shouldn't we expect Denmark to be over run with unemployed or under-employed college students? I don't actually know what Denmark is like, but I also don't think that expensive college education resulting in debt is the cause of unemployment and underemployment of college educated people. I will leave it up to those who wish to make that case to do the research on a nation where a college education is easily obtained.

Back to the subject: I think the Hall of Rightwing Mirrors is the tendency to substitute ideology or religion for reality. Granted people can argue the facts--what is a fact, which facts matter--but that's rarely the conversation with conservatives. Conversations with conservatives end up being about their ideology or their made up facts. The conservative position on an issue is usually "It's against my principles to do anything about that". OR "There is no problem for me therefore we don't have to do anything about that." Of "It's all the fault of those other people therefore we shouldn't do anything about that". Or a list of "facts" from Fake News.

Witness the debate over Obamacare: it's socialist! Big government interference with your personal medical decisions! Thousands of IRS agents hired to put people in jail for not buying insurance! And, if fake facts didn't win the argument, then: It's against my principles to have another big government program!

Republican politicians discuss tactics, rather than the solving of the nation's problems or addressing of the nation's issues. Tactics, framing, talking points, these are of course discussed by all politicians, but with Republicans it's the whole conversation. In the last forty years how much discussion has come from the Republican party about the separation of races in this country or income inequality> All the Republicans wanted to do with Jim Crow was exploit racist resentment about integration for their own advantage. And all they (the politicians and party "thinkers") have done about income inequality is promote hate talk radio, andmake astroturf resentment groups like the Tea Party to milk people for votes so they could promote their Ayn Rand philosophy.

Ideology and tactics. Not practical problem solving or grounded processing of feedback to see how well programs and policies are working.

That's the Hall of Mirrors and the lack of a reality-based approach to politics: the belief that the only problems worth addressing are theirs, the use of simple-minded self-serving ideological rhetoric to justify that selfishness, and the use of fake news to create their own facts.

And believing their own made up facts.

Skewed polls is the classic example.

"Meanwhile, GOP enthusiasm for the showdown, from both conservatives and grandees, is waning. Members are spending considerable time calling one another to lament, and they’re worried about fading public support. “We can’t get lower in the polls. We’re down to blood relatives and paid staffers now,” said Senator John McCain on CBS’s Face the Nation. “But we’ve got to turn this around, and the Democrats had better help.”

The quote from McCain made me laugh. He is being honest about a fact: poll results. He also insisted that a Fake News talking head be honest about who caused the shut down: he insisted against her lie that it was the Republicans.

Good for him.

I don't know what he means about the Democrats helping. Enabling isn't helping. IF he Democrats make any concessions, then the Republicans will just pull this stunt again. And again. And again. Seems to me the best help that anyone can give to the Republican party right now is to vote them out of office until they face up to how ideological and extremist their party ahs become and clean house.

At a site like this (do you mean OBWI, or do you mean a site like OBWI; if the former, stop hedging and write "at OBWI"), I find it remarkably easy to differentiate among conservative views expressed across a range of issues --- wj is not slart is not McKinneyTexas is not Sebastian is not Brett Bellmore.

Just so, at a site like this, I would hope Laura, Doctor Science, Russell, cleek, byomtov, Hartmut and company know that they possess many views which differentiate them from me, and each other, both in substance and certainly expression.

At the professional political level, given the differences in Party discipline, one of those observations is less true than the other.

Laura quoted McCain: “But we’ve got to turn this around, and the Democrats had better help.”

Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) in "Captain Phillips" tried to help the Somali Pirates who hijacked his ship and then kidnapped him turn things around (in his own interest, of course, but still), to no avail.

Why? Because the pirate leadership wouldn't take a polite, albeit small "yes" for an answer.

So the Navy Seals provided a great big bloody "NO!"

Well, most conservatives on this site would be totally unwelcome at the Values Voter Summit and mostly unwelcome at CPAC, so their conservative credentials would be quite questionable in 'professional' con circles.

I just can't stop harping on this!

Here's another example of how the Hall of Mirrors works:

The Republicans in Congress decide to shut down the federal government. As a result, national parks, forest, memorials and monuments etc. are shut down. This causes an embarrassing incident for the Republicans when a group of vets can't get into a memorial. So what do the Republican politicians do? They announce that the memorial is private and was being shut down out of spite by Obama (They lie). Mark Styne at NRO goes one farther and decides that all federally owned and managed lands are not federal after all. Posts proliferate on Facebook claiming that the WW2 memorial was privately owned.

Lie, lie, lie.

And when the lies don't work, modify the lie. The memorial is federal but has never been shut down in previous shut downs, the memorial is federal but Obama is wasting money by spending money he didn't need to shut it down...one confabulation after another.

And today a bunch of screaming meanies high jacked a rally that was supposed to be nonpartisan and turned it into an Obama hate-fest complete with Confederate flag. The fact that the organizers didn't want partisanship at the event will not be acknowledged at Fake News, of course.

That's how the Hall of Mirrors works.

Of course there's an element of human nature involved. Everybody seeks self-reinforcement. But only one party has a whole organized structure to promote whatever self-serving nonsense the leaders confabulate combined with a base willing to believe anything so long as it justifies their proclivity for being fearful and resentful.

Enough with the movies!

Let's revisit an early reality show from 50 years ago to see how one denizen of the confederate house of mirrors suggested how "liberals" should help him and fellow denizens save face:

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/political-animal-a/2013_10/template_for_dem_aid_to_republ047308.php

One gun drawn was embarrassing.

Please draw all of the guns and then we can maintain our pride. Odd people, these.

We're three days away from all guns being drawn by Federal troops.

If that will help the Republican Party save the face they see reflected in the House of Mirrors, I'm happy to oblige.

[R]esearchers found that conservatives understood liberals better than v.v., but they note that their subjects were all from very "blue" regions. It may be that where conservatives are the majority, the misunderstanding runs the other way.

I suspect there is something to that. During the past fifty years, the Democratic Party has nominated ten candidates for President. All can be fairly characterized as liberal. Four are native Southerners.

Each of these four won a plurality of the popular vote at least once. (The only non-Southern Democrat to do so is President Obama, and his Republican opponents were both from outside the South.)

Southerners. whether conservative or liberal, are steeped in a culture that respects religiosity and military service. This cultural background can be a distinct advantage in electoral politics, irrespective of ideology.

This:

http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/10/14/when-conservatives-boo-the-cops/

I applaud the cops' equanimity in the face of this stuff. Especially from people who thought the Chicago Police Force's murderous violence in 1968 against a previous group of hippie bubble-people was insufficient.

No doubt the late Moe Lane is running a post at RedShift decrying the raising of one eyebrow by one of the cops as a liberal, thuggish assault on his person, but I noticed the cops didn't stop the mob from scraping the paint off of the wrought-iron fence by slamming down metal barricades against it, which, unless the taxpayer wishes rust to set in, will have to be sanded repainted now, at my expense.

I read Haidt last year and wasn't that impressed. Because of that, he didn't leave much of an impression. I thought he stereotyped a bit himself, contrasting the secular left with the religious conservatives. As a leftie Christian, I felt left out. Admittedly churchgoers skew right these days, but I suspect this might be a relatively recent development in America, caused in part because so many of the loudest religious leaders skew right, such as the American Catholic bishops. Which is startling, since back in the 80's they were coming out with statements that leaned left on the arms race and social issues and rightwingers were saying they should stay out of politics. Maybe Pope Francis will change that. Anyway, I personally know people who stopped going to Catholic Church services because they felt they were being bombarded with reactionary propaganda--sometimes they switched over to the Episcopal Church (which is how I met them) or they stopped going altogether.

On whether conservatives understand liberals, I grew up in the immediate post Jim Crow South, where many whites were still pretty racist. But they knew what was "politically correct" (before that term was used) to say in public. So yes, they understood in some sense what the liberal pov was on race, the liberal pov that they saw on television and understood to be what they were supposed to think. I'm talking about both children and adults. In private the white kids would use the n word freely--around teachers they didn't. In the letters to the editor opposition to busing (not that this was all racist, of course) was invariably couched in non racist terms, but among the children I knew the n word again played a prominent part in the discussion. So the racists understood the nonracist pov in some sense--did they really understand what was wrong with racism? I'd guess they could recite the non-racist position on this. My point is not that modern day conservatives are racist (though some are, as shown by the Democracy corps focus groups), just that people can "understand" a viewpoint because they hear it in the media without really understanding it.

Conservatives can recite the liberal pov on social issues because the MSM is socially liberal. I seriously doubt that too many conservatives understand the liberal position on economics the way a liberal reader of Paul Krugman understands it. I was just told by a conservative friend of mine that America's problems are caused by poor ghetto blacks and immigrants who are living on the dole--he used the terms "takers" and "makers". White people are the makers. I provided him with the Democracycorp link that Laura mentioned and Dr Science provided and he agreed with the Christian conservatives, who said the same things.

He provided me with a link to this David Horowitz article below from Front Page. The interesting thing in it is that some of the criticisms of centrist liberals (on Iraq and Libya) echo what people say on the far left, but overall, if this is the sort of "understanding" that rightwingers have of the left, it's not what I'd call a very deep understanding. Maybe it would satisfy Haidt.

link

i made it two paragraphs and one sentence into that Horowitz article. that was enough for me to conclude that Horowitz does not know a fnckign thing about actual liberals. and that he's too busy fighting the imaginary commies under his bed to learn.

Welcome John Herbison to a site like this:

"Southerners. whether conservative or liberal, are steeped in a culture that respects religiosity and military service. This cultural background can be a distinct advantage in electoral politics, irrespective of ideology."

More like irrespective of reality.

Let me cover one ear to drown out the apparent yodeling from both echo chambers to ask how you account for the treatment meted out by both southern conservatives and liberals to George McGovern, war hero who flew 35 missions over Europe in World War II, and a religious man, as opposed to their support for Richard Nixon's southern strategy, which I don't believe included any military sacrifice on the latter's part.

Max Cleland? What say he? Did the Vietcong get his tongue too?

John McCain's military service certainly didn't gain him or his adoptive black child any respect in the 2000 South Carolina Presidential primaries among the hemorrhoid-riddled Southern draft dodgers like Ralph Reed, Rush Limbaugh and George W. Bush (the latter talks funny but I guess he doesn't count, having up north of the Mason-Dixon).

FF,
But I find them generally as immersed in the liberal echo-chamber as those other bloggers - and as Brett has noticed in the past, they tend to be just as unaware of the effect.

The last time this came up, the only example of echo-chamberism on the Left that could be offered was 'not aware of how your stance on guns damages your political position'.
And that struck me as laughably incorrect. For myself, Im entirely aware of the national polling on guns (ie people tend to like 'em but also think background checks at gun shows are a good idea), and Im not even anti-gun on a personal level.
Today, we have on offer:
"conservatives want to destroy the middle class"
"the only reason conservatives oppose Obama is his color"
Those don't sound like most of the commenters here, IMO. And we're seeing most of the liberal commenters disavow those statements or at least modify them significantly.
Here's the test- if you say all us libs are in the echo chamber and then say something that's indicative of that, we should mostly be *agreeing with you*. If you say something like the above, mostly I think you'll get people saying that these are comic exaggerations.
Now, there are boards where those will get a lot of traction. This just isn't one of them.
[For myself, I could modify those into statements about my beliefs, but as stated they are flat wrong IMO].

liberals seem to have a lot more trouble understanding conservatives than the reverse

Based on your understanding of what looked to you like the liberal consensus on this board, Im gonna say maybe not so much. :)

Briefly, they asked conservatives and liberals to answer questions about their own moral beliefs - and then asked them to answer as though they were of the opposite ideology. And he found that conservatives could answer the way liberals would a lot more reliably than the reverse.

That doesn't surprise me, but for a different reason that you suspect- liberals and liberal media do a fairly good job of displaying liberal policy preferences and positions. In my experience, conservative media display conservative positions that are radical compared to the general pool of Republicans. If one only hears conservativism via Limbaugh and The Corner, one gets a pretty biased viewpoint...
To take the gun example again: if one weren't looking at the poll data- just listening to conservative news sources and political rhetoric, one might think that the average conservative was strongly opposed to background checks for all firearms purchases. This isn't the case, but the conservative media do not do a good job of portraying the moderate positions of conservatives in general.
No one who listens to NPR or reads/watches the MSM thinks 'liberals are after all the guns' or 'liberals want to make everybody get gay married'. So only wingnuts who refuse to even see MSM info can believe that stuff.
But a liberal who eg listens to conservative talk radio gets a pretty ugly picture of conservative viewpoints, one not balanced by moderate positions because moderate conservatives either 1)mainly use MSM-type mainstream sources rather than partisan ones or 2)just aren't good at making themselves heard in an atmosphere that demands ideological purity.

Put another way: the idea I get of liberal views from the media I read matches pretty well with the range of liberals that I know personally. The idea I get of conservative views from the media I read diverges wildly from the conservatives I know personally. If I didn't know a lot of conservatives personally, it wouldn't be surprising that I thought Limbaugh was representative.

That last - that liberals were less accurate about their own beliefs than were conservatives or moderates about liberal beliefs is surprising to me.

That is surprising to me insofar as it doesn't make sense- ie I would've thought that for any group 'their own beliefs' was measured by what they say they believe, and therefore the same thing.

He provided me with a link to this David Horowitz article below from Front Page.

There's no fanatic quite like a convert.

It is much easier to see other's biases than to see your own. If there is a major asymmetry, it is that - as Haidt and some others have noted - liberals seem to have a lot more trouble understanding conservatives than the reverse.

Looking more closely, I see that this isn't a question of understanding the other side's political beliefs, but the other side's core moral beliefs. That is interesting, but using it as a proxy for 'understands the other side' doesnt strike me as a sound idea- particularly if the subject at hand is echo-chamber-ism and factual disputes.
I also note that Biggs generously observes that the original author does not agree with Biggs's assessment that this is indicative of a greater understanding of liberals by conservatives that vice-versa.

To echo sand mirror Russell ;), yeah, Horowitz, instead of taking the hard way from fanatic leftist revolutionary to sane person by migrating through moderate liberalism and then on to moderate conservatism, ducked out the back door of radical leftist revolutionary politics and re-enter the scene via the back of radical right revolutionary politics.

I guess he noticed the speaking fees are more remunerative if he supports the FBI murder of Fred Hampton rather than raging against it for free from the Left.

The house of mirrors begins to crack in the hedge-fund" community:

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/rich-hedge-funders-poor-feel-135414201.html

It's about time.

Poor Ayn Rand.

Of course, like any monolith (like a site like this), it really wasn't a monolith. It's just that the monolithic voices in the echo chambers were much louder than the minority voices who thought maybe the rhetoric had gone too far.

Until this week.

"I guess he noticed the speaking fees are more remunerative if he supports the FBI murder of Fred Hampton rather than raging against it for free from the Left."

Now that's an aspect of the right I freely admit I've never understood. Are people like Horowitz genuinely insane, or just in it for the money?
Or is it a little of both? For some insight into this important issue, here's the sentence that seems to have stopped Cleek from reading further--

"The president, his chief operative Valerie Jarrett and his chief political strategist David Axelrod all came out of the same Communist left and the same radical new left as I did, and all have remained heart and soul a part of it."

The differences (some similarities in kind, not in severity) in the parental political backgrounds and the activist and political trajectories of Horowitz, Jarrett, and Axelrod can be easily gleaned from each of their Wikipedia profiles.

It's a little like comparing the lives of, on the one hand, Ayn Rand careening out of the Stalinist terror to become the darling of the American Objectivist bodice-ripping set, and say, Reagan economist Bruce Bartlett or Jerry Brown.

The angles of the trajectories and the relative disfigurement of the resulting ideologies are completely different pathologies, though I'm sure Horowitz views himself as the exposer of truth regarding Stalinist fellow-travelers and Axelrod and Jarrett as undercover agents furthering our Stalinist future by providing healthcare insurance to folks in the Ukraine.

I still miss the good old days when the NPR station in my town mostly played conservative bluegrass music and traditional jazz. When they gave a show to that Liberal Nutcase Garrison Keillor we had to switch the dial to KFBK and listen to Rush.

whatever floats your boat, jeff

Fuzzy, my descriptions of what conservatives want, and their motivations, were much more understanding and generous in spirit before the Bush 43 administration.

During that dark time, conservative Republicans in power and in the electorate demonstrated to me over and over again that the worst things I had formerly said about them were far too generous, and the most complimentary things I had formerly said about them were simply untrue.

The 14th Amendment:

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/comment/2013/10/21/131021taco_talk_hertzberg

Congressional leaders are issuing happy talk today and the markets believe them.

Still in three days, the 14th Amendment could be invoked and next week we could be seeing impeachment proceedings in the House.

The usual suspects a la 1868.

Fun all around, these close shaves.

Never again.

So, no I don't think Republicans are all racists or even mostly racist. I think the basic difference between people who vote for Republicans and people who vote for Democrats is that Republicans think the government should serve them and represent them and Democrats think the government should serve and represent everyone.

I think this is indicitive of why there is so much confusion and talking past each other in these discussions. We are all of us quite sloppy in the definitions we are using.

For example, when you say "Republicans" do you mean:
- people who are registered Republicans?
- people who routinely vote for Republicans in general elections?
- people who run for state or national office as Republicans?
Not exactly identical sets, although there is natually some overlap. There are, for example, those of us who have been regiustered Republicans for years, and vote in Republican primaries. But have not see, in the past couple of decades, a Republican candidate in a general election at the state or national level that we could vote for. (For me, Bob Dole was the last one.)

Then there is "conservative." Does that mean:
- people who self-identify as conservatives? (regardless of how they define that)
- people who actually hold beliefs that in some way resemble conservatism? (You know, actually have respect for Burke, and know what the past was really like, etc. What today gets labeled "RINO" or "socialist" by the radical reactionaries who claim to be conservatives.)

That said, I think we can generally agree that, while not all Republicans (or conservatives, however you define that) are racists, the vast majority of racists are Republicans these days. And claim to be conservatives, dedicated to saving the country, even as they wave Confederate flags and proclaim the virtues of the nullification doctrine that drove politicians in the Confederacy.

The Republican Party gives it away to the rest of the world:

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/10/china-calls-de-americanized-world

Nixon and Kissinger went to China and now they live there.

Someone or other the other day said the House can make any rules it wants..

No, it can't.

It can't institute a de facto Parliamentary system into our governance with out asking my permission.

http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2013/10/can-america-survive-parliamentary-norms-presidential-system

Because the Constitution tells me so.

To do so without my permission is to risk death.

PZ Myers deconstructs Jonathan Haidt here.

Haidt strikes me as yet another disillusioned lefty of one sort or another, and whose work reflects that fact. Insofar as his recent work reflects his personal journey, it strikes me as not very good, or valuable scholarship. It's just another example of the tired old refrain of the "I used to be a Democrat, but the party left me" genre (cf saint Ronnie). If that is the case, the guy is just engaging in turd polishing (he won a Templeton!).

Red diaper baby David Horowitz exemplifies the quantum shift variety of turning one's political beliefs inside out.....It's been a long time, so I've forgotten if he was a Trot or a Mao/Stalinist, not that it matters.

wj,
I think there's even more fuzziness around the use of the word 'racist' and 'racism'. I think most Americans of both parties have some tendency to judge people based on their race; in my person experience this is more prevalent on the conservative side of things, but only somewhat.
Whereas people who openly disrespect different races, blame many or most of society's problems on racial issues, etc- that seems to me to be much more of a one-party thing, but even then that's a minority of a minority.
And then there's the great grey area in between...

I once tried to pay lip service to weekly comment quota for myself.

Just today, I went over the weekly quota in a single day before 2:00 pm MST.

Have at it, people.

I need to take a breath.

Insert a YOUTUBE video of all of youse guys heaving a sigh of relief --- Finally

I feel your pain.


"Conservative" means a lot of things. I read Andrew Bacevich occasionally and he is supposed to be a Catholic "conservative", with a military background and a son who died in Iraq, and I tend to cheer every word. Clearly he's not the sort of conservative that we have in Congress.

"Racist" is also complicated. So many or most or maybe all the whites in those democracy corps focus groups linked upthread would probably deny that they are racists and might, for instance, point to black conservatives on Fox News who say the same things they believe, but many think that poor are bankrupting the country with the assistance of a liberal political elite that wants their votes and gives them welfare. And they tend to think that these poor people are nonwhite. So no, they don't believe in some inherent genetic inferiority, necessarily, but what does one call that attitude? If it were really true that poor nonwhite people on welfare were somehow bankrupting the nation then, yeah, it would be reasonable to point that out, but since it isn't true, the whole idea smacks of something unpleasant.

Liberals value all three of "ingroup loyalty, purity and respect for authority", IME. We want a big cooperative in-group, an unpolluted environment, and experimental authority for material choices. Does Haidt not see this? I've never gotten very far in his writing.

The treatment afforded Senator McGovern and Senator Cleland, noted above by Countme-in, was indeed reprehensible. (As is the rank opportunism of Republican chickenhawks in general.) It is also not germane to the point I was attempting to make.

My comparison was between Southern and non-Southern Democratic presidential nominees. The former have generally run better than the latter. I would posit that a keener understanding of Southern culture (both good and bad) may be part of the reason. (Bill Clinton, for example, kicked George H. W. Bush in the gonads at every opportunity in a manner that I dare say Michael Dukakis never even dreamed of.)

What is "experimental authority for material choices"? Does it have anything to do with cotton vs. wool vs. polyester?

There's no fanatic quite like a convert.

russell's always a good source for stuff I can agree with, and have personally witnessed in action. In other contexts, as well.

I just can't stop harping on this!

Now Laura's saying things I can agree with. What's next? Mass hysteria?

But one should not discount the possibility that Northerners simply care less about the geographical origin of a candidate than Southerners. In Germany we have something of an inversion there in that it is assumed to be an axiom that a Bavarian can't ever become federal chancellor*. The conservatives tried twice and failed, in the first case with the active help of the non-Bavarian conservatives**. Merkel on the other hand defied the expectation that it would take decades for an East German to become chancellor. 'Never vote for a Yankee' seems to be strong enough in the US South that the risk-averse Dems tend to look for a Southerner as the preferred candidate when there is no obvious favorite.

*'I'd never vote far a Bavarian' is a quite common answer from people that usually vote conservative but change to social democratic (or by now even green) for that one election
**it is strongly believed that Kohl deliberately let Strauß lose, so he himself would become the unquestioned leader ('You had your chance and blew it')

I've forgotten if he was a Trot or a Mao/Stalinist, not that it matters.

if you go carrying pictures of chairman mao....

What is "experimental authority for material choices"?

yes, speaking from the left side of the fence, i don't mind saying that this one left me in the dust also....

What's next? Mass hysteria?

dogs and cats together, buddy. pandelerium!!

Hang on a sec.
If the liberals on the board here are typically in the lefty echo chamber...
And russell is a liberal on the board here...
And Slarti is agreeing with russell...

Welcome (welcome welcome welcome) aboard!

Actually, that does bring me to a serious note- Im comfortable discounting Brett on whether Im living in an echo chamber, but I wouldn't mind your take on it Slarti. Are there factual points that you think most of us libruls here would agree on but you think are demonstrably untrue?
Not exactly fair since lumping everyone on one side into a pile is a recipe for trouble IMO, and if you do have any points it's sort of an invite to a pigpile. :)

Meanwhile, some strange re-alignments going on in France involving the Front National:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/finance/ambroseevans-pritchard/100025783/time-to-take-bets-on-frexit-and-the-french-franc/

...Her four sticking points on EU membership are withdrawal from the currency, the restoration of French border control, the primacy of French law, and what she calls "economic patriotism", the power for France to pursue "intelligent protectionism" and safeguard its social model. "I cannot imagine running economic policy without full control over our own money," she said.
As I wrote in June, the Front has been scoring highest in core Socialist cantons, clear evidence that it is breaking out of its Right-wing enclaves to become the mass movement of the white working class.
Hence the new term in the French press "Left-Le-Penism". She is outflanking the Socialists with attacks on banks and cross-border capitalism. The party recently recruited Anna Rosso-Roig, a candidate for the Communists in the 2012 elections...

Now Laura's saying things I can agree with. What's next? Mass hysteria?

Oh. My. God. Are there any residential bomb shelter contractors left?

Agreeing on particular "facts" is one thing, but mostly it's how they all hang together that produces the zest of political combat.

We have a good example of conservative fact free thinking right here in this comment chain. BB tells us about how good machinists have it compared to engineers such as himself. Then boobyp runs this:

Mean annual wage for machinists: $40,860
Mean annual salary for mechanical engineers: $84,770.
US per capita income: $42,693

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This is typical of right wing thinking. Believe complete nonsense, and keep believing it in the face of blatant objective facts to the contrary.

There is no parallel in the liberal community (although their are plenty of liberal loonies, but that is nut-picking in comparison). So much right wing thinking is fueled by pure factual fantasy. Whether that is due to a bubble chamber or not hardly matters. Right wingers stick to this crap in the face of all evidence and reason.

Its really more about the mindset of conservatives than any bubble chamber, and in fact, the bubble chamber can exist only because of this immunity to fact and reason. It is the effect, rather than the cause. So many of them are immune to factual contradiction and reason. The more relevant question (answered elsewhere at length, I believe) is why they remain committed to fact free ideology, and are so impervious to reason.

Yes, if you live in a place where your point of view is markedly in the minority, you are relatively more likely to (a) not be that vocal about your point of view, and (b) have relatively greater understanding of the other point of view, because you're immersed in it.

Duh.

Duh indeed, but as a leftist who grew up in the rural Midwest (and for that matter, just came off of 3.5y AD in the Army), let me throw my own anecdata on the side of russel's and Donald Johnson's.

That last - that liberals were less accurate about their own beliefs than were conservatives or moderates about liberal beliefs is surprising to me.

That is surprising to me insofar as it doesn't make sense- ie I would've thought that for any group 'their own beliefs' was measured by what they say they believe, and therefore the same thing.

The easiest way I could make sense of this result was not very charitable - by assuming bad faith on the part of the researcher. If the researcher assumes a conservative POV of liberal beliefs to be an accurate one, it would follow that moderates and conservatives would cleave more closely to accurate descriptions than the liberals would themselves. Like I said, not a charitable conclusion by any stretch.

I think I have agreed with Slarti before but I am pleased that we are in accordance again, even if sort of at my expense.

but what does the conservative audience get out of it? And why are similar efforts from the Left Wing Media less popular and more leaky?

OK, so I'm thinking about this, and I'm not sure the overall thesis accounts for all of the phenomena. As it were.

What about the Daily Show, or Colbert, or Maddow, or the afore-mentioned Garrison Keillor, or Terri Gross?

These are all programs with very healthy audiences, all in the low millions. And, they all definitely skew left. And, they all make a lot of money.

That's sort of just off the top of my head, I'm sure there are others folks could name.

Conservative media does well with certain kinds of programming - talk radio, talk television, basically - but the left wing definitely has niches that it owns as well.

The left-wing stuff tends to be funnier and satirical, right wing tends to be more explicitly angry. So, there's a style difference.

But I'm not sure you can say all of the successful media programming is on the right.

I don't know the ratings numbers, but on the subject of MSNBC, in my opinion much of it is pretty bad. Not as bad as Fox, but bad enough. Chris Hayes was by far the best, when he had his two hour morning show on the weekends, but he has to do the cutesy stuff in his hour weekday evening show. The New Yorker had a piece about this several weeks back. He's still better than the others, but his ratings stink. (I have read that much.) Maybe there is no big audience for serious political TV. I'm apparently in the minority on this, but I don't think much of Maddow's show most of the time.

Now otoh Colbert and Jon Stewart are great--they do everything satirically, yet somehow I think it works better than Maddow (who tries to be funny sometimes, as does Chris Hayes in his new slot, and the results are usually painful to watch.)

Maybe lefties tend to be like me--more critical of the offerings we see from our side than Fox watchers tend to be of their fare. That said, I do hear a lot of liberals who seem to think highly of Maddow. She's occasionally good--most of the time,though, I think she talks down to her audience. Maybe each member of the audience thinks she's talking down to the other people watching the show.

Now otoh Colbert and Jon Stewart are great--they do everything satirically, yet somehow I think it works better than Maddow

One aspect is that the Colbert/Stewart audience are high information viewers, I think. Their audiences are aware of what is going on and want something added to the news, where as Maddow seeks to be an information source for low information viewers, much like the evening news tended to inform most people However, I don't think the audience for liberal low information viewers who need information and reinforcement is all that big. For Limbaugh, Beck and O'Reilly, their audiences are, it seems to me, low information viewers who want information. This sets up a dynamic where they are able to get more attention and then drive the news cycle in a way that Hayes and Maddow can't.

If there is someone 'talking down' on MSNBC that would rather be Lawrence O'Donnell on The Last Word. A real equivalent in style to Fox would imo be The Ed Show.

btw turning the dial to KFBK was democracy in action. I voted NO! I loved the Prairy Home Companion. I also loved Hilzoy.

Fuzzy Face,
A couple of quick responses.
1) Liberals consistently have a better understanding of empirical reality than Conservatives, you know, actual provable facts. If liberals live in a hall of mirrors, it is not one that just reflects what they want to know, but reality.
2)If you think Conservatives have a better understanding of what liberals believe, than vice versa, then you have clearly never been a liberal reading conservative blog comment describing what liberals think in the most bizarre and cartoonish terms. Apparently we want universal healthcare because we are tyrants who want to control everybody, and that is just the start.

weren't there studies (study?) that show that people who are more fearful and angry are more likely to have conservative politics?

seems to me that would explain why people who sell fear and anger (ex. Limbaugh and the Fox News gang) would do well with conservatives and why no liberal equivalents have been able to make it work. Colbert and Stewart, on the liberal side, are comedians, not red-meat vendors.

do other countries have the same media splits that the US does?

http://www.alternet.org/fascinating-differences-between-conservative-and-liberal-personality

Here's a study. I don't know how good it is as I haven't read it yet. I just found it from a quick Google.

I do think that the Tea party subset of the Republican party, which seem to over lap with the evangelical subset from the Democracy Corps study, has a proclivity for anger. I think that's party of why they are so unpopular with the general public and with more moderate Republicans. All that yell, yell, yell gets tiresome after awhile. But they seem to thrive on it.

Air America tried an angry liberal program but it didn't take off. I listened to it once or twice but found it unpleasant to have someone shouting in my ear.

I think I have agreed with Slarti before but I am pleased that we are in accordance again, even if sort of at my expense.

Awesome response, Laura. I am humbled, and a little bit penitent.

Two things I have mentioned a number of times in a number of places about the asymmetry between conservative and liberal views that seem germane here:

1. It is very common to see conservatives bicker about whether some position is "conservative"; it is much less common to see liberals bickering over whether some position is "liberal." Liberals favor a position or don't, but they don't worry about whether it is "liberal."
2. The right has a large constituency that is, at least nominally, in favor of small government as such, as an end in itself. While the left has constituencies that have material interests in public spending, and, therefore, tend to favor big government, there is no significant constituency in favor of big government as such, as an end to itself. It is fair comment that liberals may be too prone to think that a big government program is the best way to solve a problem, but the focus is on solving the problem, not expanding government as such, and most liberals I know or know about are open to the idea that some small government method would solve the problem better.

To me, the basic difference is this.

Liberals consider government to be a completely appropriate instrument for addressing economic and social issues.

Conservatives, much less so, and perhaps not at all.

And what seems to me to underlie this is a difference in understanding about what things do, and do not, belong to the public sphere.

I.e., what are the res publica.

If your understanding of what things are public is narrow, government involvement in them is going to seem intrusive and perhaps illegitimate.

If your understanding of what things are public is broad, government involvement seems appropriate and correct.

The most concise expression of the conservative form of this that I'm aware of was Thatcher's statement that there is no society, only individuals and government.

It's also evident in the sort of minimalist 'government as night watchman' concept that Brett articulates quite often.

Not picking on Brett or seeking to disparage his point of view here, it's just a handy example.

I also think that were folks find themselves on that spectrum rarely has a purely rational basis. It's a cultural stance as much as it is anything else.

Folks don't think about these things as much as they have feelings about them. Much thinking often follows, but the first principles are intuitive and affective, not rational.

And, are therefore *much* harder to change. It usually takes very very large events indeed - wars, widespread economic events, really transforming social or material changes on the order of, frex, the industrial revolution - to move the needle more than an inch or so in any direction.

What belongs to the public sphere? That's the root question.

That's my take on it, anyway.

Here's the trouble, FuzzyFace: right-wingers don't think.

This is empirically documented by many, many, many studies. Politically, "conservative" is a synonym for "ignorant, inconsistent, and thoughtless, but very certain".

This is why liberals come up with false interpretations for what the Republicans' plans are, or false interpretations for what the Republicans' beliefs are. Because liberals are giving Republicans *too much credit*. Liberals are assuming that Republicans *have a plan* (they don't), and assuming that they *have consistent beliefs* (they don't). Republicans are balls of pure Freudian id, like egomaniacal toddlers.

Once you figure that out, it's super-easy to predict their behavior, and liberals who have figured that out can figure out exactly what so-called "conservatives" are going to say in every situation -- the thing is, what right-winger say depends on stupid, meaningless emotional cues, so it can't be tested in a Haidt-style survey format, which is missing the cues.

So you're right: most liberals don't understand "conservatives", because "conservatives". Because liberals treat "conservatives" as if they're rational people -- and *they are not*. Liberals who recognize that "conservatives" are mentally defective understand "conservatives" pretty damn well. But of course (duh) "conservatives" don't like to hear this.

Footnote: I put "conservative" in scare-quotes because political "conservatives" aren't conservative by any dictionary meaning of the word. I like people who are actually conservative, who are often quite bright -- they are usually called "conservationists" or "preservationists", though.

Nathanael- take it down about 5 notches. FF has added to this discussion, you have not.

Liberals consider government to be a completely appropriate instrument for addressing economic and social issues.
Conservatives, much less so, and perhaps not at all.

That might be sort of true for some libertarians (and IMO actual libertarians are much more rare than those claiming the name), but doesn't seem at all true for run-of-the-mill conservative Republicans. They want to use the government for addressing *all kinds* of social issues, they just have a very different agenda.
And, Id argue, they want to address economic issues as well, but they're more likely to portray their positions as "market-driven" even when they're transparently not (eg subsidizing natural resource extraction).

both very good points, carleton.

back to the drawing board, for me...

Far too broad a brush there, Nathanael.
I see a general tendency for shortsightedness on the right but even that is imo feigned in case of some leaders. Yes, RW politicians rely on widespread ignorance to get elected* but that does not mean that they have to share that ignorance. And if their actions hurts their party, it does not necessarily mean that it hurts them. Failing and falling upwards is part of the game (just take the loonies that pretended to run for president and got publicity, book deals, entry to the public speaker circles and positions on FOX out of it).
Take a look at College Republicans and you see the school of sociopaths in training. They eat actual conservatives for breakfast, the poor for lunch and their moronic followers for dinner.
Similar though less extreme over here. Political student organisations on the left consist of salon bolsheviks and naive idealists, those on the right of professional cheaters looking for out for their career (unless they are among the dying breed that still hasn't noticed that the 19th century is over and both Goethe and Bismerack dead).
'Professional' conservatives are predators following the premise of 'after us the deluge'. Normal ones truly believe in 'leave us alone' (again with the exception of the puritans that cannot feel left alone ever when they know that there are people not subjected to their doctrine bt that's not 'mentally defective' either by necessity).

*to a degree most pols do, RWers just go farther out.

Carleton is right, with a twist, certainly when it comes to North Carolina politics. Since the GOP has taken over the state government (governor, both houses), not only have they advanced a rightwing agenda in general - including the most detailed voter "reform" (= suppression) legislation in the country - but the state legislature has repeatedly run roughshod over local governments (city, county) on issues such as zoning, resource allocation, taxation, billboard control, etc. Anyone who ever took seriously the "conservative" mantra that government should be, not just reduced in size, but shifted down to the lowest level possible - to the "people" - need only look at NC today to be disabused of that. When conservatives gain power, they wield it, with a vengeance, at whatever level they control.

otoh, I do agree that limited government is a meme conservatives often draw upon, but I would argue that they draw upon it selectively. Or, more generously, that they draw upon it *differently*. That is, it'd be easy to call this hypocrisy, but generously I suspect that it's at least as much a case of my lumping 'conservatives' together and demanding consistency (something that strangely bothers me more when done to liberals, go figure).
On the third hand, there are quite a few genuine hypocrites out there, I don't want to slight anyone who is genuinely disingenuous. :)

combining Carleton and dr ngo...

the GOP likes to sell itself as the party of small government, and uses the threat of "big government tyranny" as a motivator for its voting base. but, when elected, it mostly works to enact conservative Christian social norms and to make government smaller in areas that affect the immediate desires of the biggest businesses in its area. the little guy is told the latter is for his own good (BS about competition and the free market and freedom!), but in reality, it's about making things easier for businesses. that can include removing regulations or repealing burdensome laws and taxes; and it can also mean maintaining or erecting barriers to competition, if that's what helps local businesses (ask Tesla about selling cars in NC).

it's a sham.

Conservatives would not, and do not and will not support ACA or anything like it. As its flaws continue to reveal themselves, the reasons why conservatives don't support programs like these will become even more evident.

Conservatives do favor less regulation, lower marginal tax rates and a reasonable degree of certainty in terms of what the private sector can expect from the public in terms of new regs, things like ACA and whatnot that make future planning difficult.

Conservatives generally don't care that someone is filthy rich as long as that person earned the money honestly and, generally, we don't believe that someone who is filthy rich should have to give all or most of it back when he or she dies.

Here in Texas, compared to NY or CA, we have limited gov't and nothing like what Doc Ngo is reporting from NC. So, I guess we like federalism. People on NY, CA, TX and NC can go their own way. I'd like more of that, not less. I draw the line at the constitution, the Bill of Rights and most importantly the 14th and 15th Amendments.

Contrary to a constant theme on the left, federalism isn't code for Jim Crow. Please, even if you can find an individual or small group that is racist, give it a rest with respect to the rest of us.

Conservatives don't believe that you have to oppose Medicare and SS in order to oppose ACA. Accepting some gov't support doesn't mean having to agree to any and all subsequent adventures.

Conservatives tend to be pro-life. This gets conflated with being in favor of all kinds of control over individuals. No one other than outliers care about birth control. More and more conservatives are coming around on gay marriage. I agree there is a religous subset who seem to think that if Jesus were alive today, he would run for office. There is pushback on the right and among Christians on this topic.

I can't speak for Ted Cruz. I voted against him. Generally, I like to find common ground. I think that is true for the conservatives I know. Activists are not the same as 'all conservatives'.

On the left, there are those who would bend and those who think the left has already bent too much and who despise those on the left who continue to bend. Left, meet right.

Something funny, and without value judgement, is that I knew whose comment I was reading after the first 2 sentences.

Conservatives don't believe that you have to oppose Medicare and SS in order to oppose ACA.

conservatives stridently opposed Medicare when it was first passed:

Ronald Reagan: “[I]f you don’t [stop Medicare] and I don’t do it, one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” [1961]

George H.W. Bush: Described Medicare in 1964 as “socialized medicine.” [1964]

Barry Goldwater: “Having given our pensioners their medical care in kind, why not food baskets, why not public housing accommodations, why not vacation resorts, why not a ration of cigarettes for those who smoke and of beer for those who drink.” [1964]

Bob Dole: In 1996, while running for the Presidency, Dole openly bragged that he was one of 12 House members who voted against creating Medicare in 1965. “I was there, fighting the fight, voting against Medicare . . . because we knew it wouldn’t work in 1965.” [1965]


http://thinkprogress.org/health/2009/07/29/170887/medicare-44/

Gingrich tried to get it to "wither on the vine".

but "conservatives" all love it now. and the GOP runs every time on a platform saying the Democrats are going to kill it.

conservatives hated SS when ii was passed, and used the exact same language to describe SS that they use about everything else:

http://articles.latimes.com/2009/aug/14/opinion/oe-altman14#target=%22_blank%22

A Republican congressman from New York, for example, charged: "The lash of the dictator will be felt, and 25 million free American citizens will for the first time submit themselves to a fingerprint test."

Another New York congressman put it this way: "The bill opens the door and invites the entrance into the political field of a power so vast, so powerful as to threaten the integrity of our institutions and to pull the pillars of the temple down upon the heads of our descendants." A Republican senator from Delaware claimed that Social Security would "end the progress of a great country and bring its people to the level of the average European."

it's always the same old screechy nonsense from conservatives. about every damned that a liberal wants, some "conservative" is going to scream that it's the coming of tyranny, socialism, and the destruction of America.

tiresome.

Conservatives would not, and do not and will not support ACA or anything like it.

This despite its origins as a Heritage proposal and its implementation by GOP Presidential candidate Romney in Mass? I mean, you might not support it, but that's quite a few conservatives there.

As its flaws continue to reveal themselves, the reasons why conservatives don't support programs like these will become even more evident.

I think it's important to distinguish practical objections from theoretical/principle objections. Are you opposed to an ACA that is designed well and functions properly?

So, I guess we like federalism.... Contrary to a constant theme on the left, federalism isn't code for Jim Crow.

Unless it involves weed, assisted suicide, or electing Democrats to the White House (to mention three USSC cases that leap to mind). Or gay marriage (DOMA). etc.
That is, I think federalism is like 'small government'- a mild ideological preference, sure, but one that's easily discarded when it comes down to brass tacks. Now, not all conservatives wanted DOMA, but it was certainly popular enough at the time that I have a hard time saying it was anti-conservative.
I don't recall the modern GOP ever restraining itself at the Federal level due to federalism concerns. Exception: some of Justice Thomas's dissents.

Conservatives don't believe that you have to oppose Medicare and SS in order to oppose ACA. Accepting some gov't support doesn't mean having to agree to any and all subsequent adventures.

I think it does mean that if you accept those programs in principle, you cannot reasonably argue in principle that the ACA is a transgression against what government should do. That still leaves arguments against it on a practical basis, but once you've accepted program A I dont think you can raise categorical objections to program B when they have the same philosophical underpinnings.
Unless you think that the ACA is fundamentally different, but then Id want to hear exactly how that's the case.

Please, even if you can find an individual or small group that is racist, give it a rest with respect to the rest of us.

I would be glad to do that, if eg the NC GOP hadn't just gone whole hog on the black voter suppression thing, abandoning even the fig leaf of ID verification to branch out into limiting early voting on Sundays.
There are really only a couple of options on that point:
-argue that it's a coincidence that the NC GOP limited early voting on a day when blacks are more likely to vote
-argue that this is an unfortunate trend for the NC GOP and that it's not representative of conservatives in general
I don't think either of those are easy hills to climb, and I dont see another option (although Im certainly open to hearing one). And that sort of thing makes me say that the GOP- at least in the South- still has a race problem. Not that all Republicans are racists, or that most Republicans are racists, or anything like that. But that the party has issues, and needs to work though those issues- and that it would facilitate things greatly if the non-racists in the GOP (who I suspect are in the majority) would stand up and oppose this sort of thing as vocally as possible.

we don't believe that someone who is filthy rich should have to give all or most of it back when he or she dies

Tiny point there- dead people don't own things. And 100% estate taxes is a relatively extreme position, I dont even know how much support that would have on the left in America.

Note the use of "give all of it back." I think someone is admitting that people don't accumulate wealth in a vacuum, all by themselves, and that the wealthiest have benefited most greatly from the underpinnings provided by government in a stable and prosperous society. ;)

Talk about conservatives favoring less government and liberals allegedly favoring more is something of a trope -- a figurative expression that actually obscures the reality here. As noted above, conservatives love government power and regulation when it serves their ends.

I am reminded of the words of a former Republican president on this subject:

There once was a time in history when the limitation of governmental power meant increasing liberty for the people. In the present day the limitation of governmental power, of governmental action, means the enslavement of the people by the great corporations, who can only be held in check through the extension of governmental power.

Theodore Roosevelt, 1912 campaign speech.

The issue is not really about more or less government power, but about what purposes that power will serve. So much of the government regulation hated by the right dates from the Progressive era and was designed to curb the extraordinary power and evils of unregulated capitalism. 100 years later, we are at the same place in terms of this ideological conflict.

We would be far better off talking about that, than the canard that what separates the right and left is more or less government power.

I can't really fathom why I, as a liberal, would want more government for its own sake. What does that do for me, exactly?

I think it's a form of projection. Small-government types seem to fixate on this abstract notion about what government should or shouldn't do, like it's a natural law or something. So they think liberals have a view that works the same way, only in reverse. (All IMO, of course...)

For me, and from what I gather from what I hear from most other liberals, there is no particular notion about what government should or shouldn't do, aside from what works best overall. We're just not all bunched up about it either way.

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