“Partisan Polarization” Just Another Pathology of Hypercompetition?

13 09 2011

Conservative ideology and racial resentment swamp every other factor. Maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s counterproductive to even mention racial resentment these days. Maybe it’s unfair to lots of tea partiers who care only about taxes and big government. But unless there’s a problem with Abramowitz’s data, it’s there. Pretending that it’s not doesn’t make it go away. . .

These fears and resentments were of course stoked by right wing politicians, media commentators and websites . . .

There’s been an exhaustion of all patience followed by widespread progressive grumbling (or was that just me?) about the single-minded, spittle-flecked viciousness of win-at-all-costs in our politics, denying the humanity of one’s opponents let alone enemies, up to and including television caesars pandering to the bloodthirsty hordes, Dick Cheney still defending torture for personal profit, Rick Perry supporters cheering executions as pro-life governance.

“How you play the game” isn’t much of a consolation prize for the defeated even when it’s just a game, much less when the stakes are so high that you literally can’t afford to lose. “Living well as the best revenge” only adds insult to injury in forced competition that puts your health, wealth, dignity, liberty and life itself at risk.

We’ve cocked a snook several times at competition versus collaboration in different spheres, wondering whether it’s gotten all out of whack and what those experiences can do TO kids rather than FOR them. We’ve even looked at killer-instinct gameplay about chess specifically, the power of this next story:

I dare say this chess board may survive a nuclear blast! The pieces are made using .223 caliber bullet shell casings, decorated with cuts, slashes, curls and bends.

Photo source

She was, and is, a ferocious competitor, a psychological attribute that is quite separate from purely intellectual ability. As the former US chess champion Joel Benjamin reported after playing her: “It was all-out war for five hours. I was totally exhausted. She absolutely has a killer instinct.

Well, there you go! If only all our daughters were so ferocious about “winning” think what Read the rest of this entry »

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Asking Candidates About Their Faith (and Extraterrestrial) Beliefs

26 08 2011

“God chose me for that moment!” she thrills . . .

Following up after the GOP debate controversy around asking Rep. Bachmann about the implications of her bible-based wifely submission beliefs should she become President:

This year’s Republican primary season offers us an important opportunity to confront our scruples about the privacy of faith in public life — and to get over them. We have an unusually large number of candidates, including putative front-runners, who belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans.

Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons, a faith that many conservative Christians have been taught is a “cult” and that many others think is just weird. (Huntsman says he is not “overly religious.”) Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann are both affiliated with fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity — and Rick Santorum comes out of the most conservative wing of Catholicism — which has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction.

And let’s not skip too quickly over Read the rest of this entry »





“Derailing for Dummies” — How to Sabotage Civility and Ruin Conversation!

30 01 2011

Derailing for Dummies is a major collection, not one article. Here are the section headings:

Just follow this step-by-step guide to Conversing with Marginalised People™ and in no time at all you will have a fool-proof method of derailing every challenging conversation you may get into, thus reaping the full benefits of every privilege that you have. . .

Read on, and learn, and remember… you don’t have to use these in any particular order! In fact, mixing them up can really keep those Marginalised People™ on their toes! After all, they are pretty much used to hearing this stuff, so you don’t want to get too predictable or they’ll get lazy!

If You Won’t Educate Me How Can I Learn
If You Cared About These Matters You’d Be Willing To Educate Me
You’re Being Hostile
But That Happens To Me Too!
You’re Being Overemotional
You’re Just Oversensitive
You Just Enjoy Being Offended Read the rest of this entry »





What I Heard From Sanity and/or Fear Rally

31 10 2010

An echo.

“When we amplify everything, we hear nothing.” Llike an echo of my own refrain as a new blogger at Culture Kitchen five years ago, urging (in a quite civil indoor voice!) some well-modulated post-partisan Sam Waterston Unity ’08 thinking and talking: Amplifying Our Differences

Amplified sound, in effect, may diminish rather than amplify our individualism, our audience, even our own ability to pay attention or care about all we’ve lost. . .

Should we care, if the heavy bass and deafening levels of powerful modern difference-amplifiers blow out everybody’s eardrums along with our will to live, and thus our chances for ever building any majority audience able to appreciate artistic, nuanced and truly innovative political theatre?

. . .Does it matter if we the people learn to prefer politics to problem-solving, screaming to singing, mass media to personal passion?

I wish the ralliers more luck with being heard now than I had then. America’s appetite and audience seem bigger now for subtle, intelligently designed sounds of sanity, so that’s something.

Maybe as usual I just peaked too soon? I’ve been straining to hear and understand for many years while guns were blazing and sirens shrieking, tuning in earnestly to years of FOX and right-rant radio, trying to figure it out.

It’s insidious. Amplification deafens you to the wrong thing! — by trying so hard to be intellectually curious, fair-minded, engaged and reasoning, I’ve been systematically deafened BY the loudest and craziest, FOR the loudest and craziest, TO all but the loudest and craziest! It feels like a lifetime ago that I could comfortably hear (or speak) real hope about America’s chances of restoring sanity.

So could my personal power of story be that I’ve paid a hubris price for going it alone without publisher or party, hoping I could individually trade off small damage to myself in return for contributing to the common good but failing miserably, like Dr. Jekyll experimenting on himself for good cause but becoming Mr. Hyde?

Halloween two days before a momentous election, is a better time than most, I guess, for ghostly fears to echo. I won’t scream it, but please. Vote.





Getting Out the Youth Vote

25 10 2010

UPDATE: Awesome video (from the future!) here

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Tell Them What Republican Plans to End Net Neutrality Will Feel Like
:

If Republicans win Congress, then all messaging will no longer be treated equal. Ever again.

. . .First on the agenda: kill and bury net neutrality, the principle that all messages are treated equal, that there are no “fast speed” and “slow speed” lanes based upon one’s ability to pay.

Once destroyed, net neutrality can never return. Messaging to return to net neutrality will be routed to the bridge to nowhere. With the news media under corporate control already, you do not even see this issue covered, even by good people like Ed Schultz.

Otherwise, voters, especially those 30 and under who were raised on and expect a neutral internet, would be flocking to the polls.

This is no joke.





BBC’s Katty Kay Knows Joes

6 10 2010




More Than Muslims, Remember Real Threat Today

11 09 2010

I’m a Southern girl born and bred. So I know a lot about burning — of books and flags and bridges, with passion and anger, repressed resentments and expressed bigotry. In my childhood culture, the resident gods saw everything in black and white and stayed too busy punishing teen sex with babies or at least shunning and damning Yankee carpetbaggers to hell from morning to night and twice on Sundays, to kindle culture war against furriner infidels.

The first book I loved enough to make me hate those who would burn it or ban it, was a bible as worth living by and dying for as any other, by god, the SOUTHERN bible — Gone With the Wind!

You never read it because it’s not your bible? Oh well, maybe you saw the movie, or at least a clip of the ignorant yet self-aggrandizing Prissy “don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies” as played by Butterfly McQueen, who as a real woman in real life read from many books and learned not to take its real meaning on faith:

What is the “faith of our forefathers” and how much faith does it have left in what’s right? Which identity is it we’re fighting to save, and which “them” is the real threat to it?

Their first class discussion was about the complex meaning of identity, thinking critically about how (and why) you define who you are as an individual within any society — or mob — relentlessly pressing individuals to conform with (often quite radical) norms.

Stubborn symbolic belief in “who we are” beyond all reason and science is all some folks have, the only story with any power to put them on top of a social group, and so they are willing to turn the sciences of larger society upside down, on the basis of that belief.

On this notorious day as Americans remember, reconstruct and reject both the best and worst of our national identity all at once — because whatever else we the people may be, we’re never easy! — the images of hate in my mind aren’t of burning towers but burning books, burning flags, burning bigotry and yes, burning flesh. Read the rest of this entry »