This is a topic I also have a post about from earlier this year. I don’t know if this new book offers any new info that hasn’t already been written about in previous books. Even if it is the same old info, I’ve always been a fan of the method of repeating the obvious or restating the facts until ignorance is obliterated… or would be obliterated in a just world. Then any ignorance remaining can be dismissed as willful. It’s a good way of determining who is genuinely interested in rational and moral discussion.
Besides its merit as truth-telling, what caught my attention was another book a commenter linked to. Here is the preview of that book and the following is the relevant quote:
Analysis of poll data shows more educated sections of the public to have generally provided the greatest support for continuing American involvement. In February 1970, for example, Gallup asked its national sample: “Some U.S. Senators are saying that we should withdraw all our troops from Vietnam immediately—would you favor or oppose this?” Of those having an opinion, more than half the grade-school-educated adults favored immediate withdrawl, about two-fifths of those with high school backgrounds, and only 30% of those with at least some college. This was not a fluke. In May 1971, 66^ of those college-educated persons with opinions claimed that the war was a mistake, but the figure rose to 75% among the grade-school-educated. In general, a careful review of public opinion data over the last seven years shows that on most war-related issues, the greatest opposition to continued American involvement in Vietnam has come from the least educated parts of the population.
This data goes back to my extensive analysis that the silent majority is often quite liberal about major issues, not unusually even to the left of the liberal elite.
Last week, a Pennsylvania county court gave this new movement a boost – declaring that corporations are not “persons” under the Pennsylvania Constitution, and therefore, that corporations cannot elevate their “private rights” above the rights of people.
[ . . . ]
In a landmark ruling, President Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca of the Washington County Court of Common Pleas denied the corporation’s request on the basis that the Pennsylvania Constitution only protects the rights of people, not business entities.
In the ruling, Judge O’Dell-Seneca declared that “in the absence of state law, business entities are nothing.” If corporations could claim rights independent from people, she asserted, then “the chattel would become the co-equal to its owners, the servant on par with its masters, the agent the peer of its principals, and the legal fabrication superior to the law that created and sustains it.”
She further found that “the constitution vests in business entities no special rights that the laws of this Commonwealth cannot extinguish. In sum, [corporations] cannot assert [constitutional privacy] protections because they are not mentioned in its text.”
Judge O’Dell-Seneca cited sections of the 1776 Pennsylvania Constitution in support of her contention that corporations were never intended to be constitutionally protected “persons.” She declared that “an even more dubious proposition is that the framers of the Constitution of 1776, given their egalitarian sympathies, would have concerned themselves with vesting, for the first time in history, indefeasible rights in such entities. . . that language extends only to natural persons.”
Finally, she tackled the very nature of corporations by declaring that “it is axiomatic that corporations, companies, and partnerships have no ‘spiritual nature,’ ‘feelings,’ ‘intellect,’ ‘beliefs,’ ‘thoughts,’ ‘emotions,’ or ‘sensations,’ because they do not exist in the manner that humankind exists. . . They cannot be ‘let alone’ by government, because businesses are but grapes, ripe upon the vine of the law, that the people of this Commonwealth raise, tend, and prune at their pleasure and need.”
The natural gas companies “have failed to oppose (the) press’ motion to unseal the record under” case law,” O’Dell Seneca wrote.
Corporations, companies and partnership have no spiritual nature, feelings, intellect, beliefs, thoughts, emotions or
sensations because they do not exist in the manner that humankind exists … They cannot be ‘let alone’ by government because businesses are but grapes, ripe upon the vine of the law, that the people of this Commonwealth raise, tend and prune at their pleasure and need.
“Therefore, this court must grant those motions and reverse (Pozonsky’s) Aug. 23, 2011, order, unless a higher authority forestalls the common law’s application.”
The decision became the responsibility of O’Dell Seneca after the state Superior Court said Pozonsky erred in ordering that the Hallowich case “be sealed indefinitely in its entirety” without first holding a hearing. The appellate court sent the case back to Washington County court in December, nearly six months after Pozonsky resigned from the bench amid reports of a state grand jury investigation.
“It was a scholarly opinion that weighed the constitutional issues and came down on the side of the public’s right to know,” Fitch said of O’Dell Seneca’s 32-page opinion and order.
“After all, this is a taxpayer-funded court that exists to serve the public. Unless there is a serious privacy issue, the presumption of openness applies and the record should be open to both the public and the press,” he continued.
O’Dell Seneca discussed the press’ and the public’s right of access: “The press’ investigative role is itself a
constitutional and common law bulwark, safeguarding the courts from lapsing into the clandestine abuse found in PA Childcare LLC, known as the Luzerne County Cash for Kids scandal,” Judge O’Dell Seneca wrote.
“It is not ‘mere curiosity’ as (the natural gas firms) contend.”
It looks like the IRS was not just targeting conservative groups, but was targeting political action groups who may have been violating the tax exemption guidelines. If the IRS wasn’t targeting conservatives, but trying to deal with the surge of dark money groups applying for tax exempt status, this story takes on an entirely different context.
Reuters has obtained part of a yet to be released report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) that confirms that the IRS was targeting groups on the left and right who focused their activities on advocating for expanding or limiting of the size of the government. The report also states that the screening process was not influenced by the Obama administration, and that none of the groups screened were denied tax exempt status.
Without the claims of a partisan witch hunt against conservative groups, this latest Republican fueled Obama scandal is set to lose all of its sizzle.
The real reason why Republicans are desperately trying to drum up a scandal here is because they don’t want the IRS forcing their dark money groups to pay taxes. The IRS is threatening their Citizens United fueled political slush fund, and Republicans want it to stop. Republicans are trying to bully the IRS into backing off.
It turns out that Obama isn’t Richard Nixon after all. He wasn’t using the IRS to attack his enemies. In their own bungling way, the IRS was trying to deal with the problems caused by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. First, Benghazi crashes and burns, and now the IRS scandal could be fading fast.
Republicans will pull from their usual “Obama scandal” playbook and hold lots of hearings, but thing looks to be on the fast track to nowhere. Congressional Republicans will try their best, but the IRS “scandal” could backfire and end up making the case for why we need to get rid of Citizens United ASAP.“
“The latest Republican Obama scandal is starting to fall apart too. The IRS didn’t just target conservative groups. They also questioned the tax exempt status of liberal groups too.
In 2012, The Chicago Tribune reported on the IRS denying tax exempt status to a liberal political group,
The IRS announced in May and June that it took the actions against two groups defined as tax-exempt under the 501(c)(4) section of the tax code. The IRS on Thursday declined comment on its tax-exempt final rulings. Tax-exempt groups raising money for both major political parties ahead of the Nov. 6 election walk a fine line between promoting “social welfare” for tax-exempt purposes and purely political interests.
A 501(c)(4) group denied tax-exempt status by the IRS would run afoul of Federal Election Commission rules and could be required to disclose its donors. Emerge America, a group…
I sometimes feel like I’m living in Bizarro America.
Al Gore is a veteran and a successful businessman. He is of Scots-Irish descent from the Upper South where he spent summers working on the family farm in Tennessee where they grew tobacco and raised cattle. Al Gore is boring, if anything, in his being a generally upstanding citizen. He is smart and accomplished. He has lived the American Dream, if you’re into that kind of thing.
George W. Bush is a draft-dodger and a failed businessman, not to mention an alcoholic. He was born in New England to a political family of old wealth, but he pretended to be a good ol’ boy Southerner and a rancher. Even Bush’s Christianity always seemed like pretense. Everything about Bush seemed like pretense, even simple things like putting on a flight suit and declaring ‘Mission Accomplished!’.
Al Gore was an example of what conservatives idealize as a moral citizen, but they attacked him. Instead, conservatives supported George W. Bush who demonstrates the worst attributes of the ruling elite.
Now, conservatives claim Bush jr never was a real conservative. The last real conservative to be president, they claim, was Ronald Reagan.
However, Reagan was the president who chose to use deficit spending which created the permanent debt that later on both Bush presidents grew even larger. Also, Reagan was a part of the Hollywood elite, a union leader, passed the most liberal pro-choice abortion bill prior to Roe v. Wade, and was the first president to invite an openly gay couple to sleep over at the White House. Reagan’s sunny optimism and idealism was a straightforward expression of his liberal-mindedness. He was a former progressive who simply turned his progressivism toward realpolitik and became a neocon. There was nothing particularly conservative about him.
Before Reagan, Jimmy Carter was a Deep Southern Evangelical. He was an actual compassionate conservative, what Bush jr was always pretending to be. He was an old fashioned conservative of a conservationist bent, a type of conservative that used to be more common. It was Carter who was the first Evangelical president and he took his religion more seriously than any other recent president. His so-called malaise speech was all about America’s moral fiber and everything he said about America has turned out to be true.
Despite many perceived successes, Reagan was responsible for the permanent debt which is one of the greatest failings of any president in all of US history. Despite many perceived failings, Carter’s one great achievement was passing an EPA regulation to decrease lead in gasoline which is directly and positively correlated to the largest decrease in violent crime in US history and hence one of the greatest achievements of any president in all of US history.
I just don’t get what is conservative about Bush jr or Reagan nor what is praiseworthy about such ideology, whatever one wishes to call it. It’s equally confusing trying to figure out what liberalism means in all of this. The most liberal president in recent history may have been Reagan who supposedly hated liberalism. Obama is probably more of a conservative than Reagan. Conservative or liberal, there is plenty of cynical and confused, maybe even deceptive, rhetoric to spread equally around.
“While the disparity between the free-wheeling philosophy of the market and the reality of coercive capitalism has long been known, the last four decades have sharpened it. Partly because of the rise of an aggressive defense of untrammeled markets in the name of liberty, partly because of the assault on the welfare state and social democracy. For some on the left, today’s disparity between libertarian theories of the market and the reality of capitalism proves that the idea of the free market is a simple ideological mystification. “Nietzsche’s Marginal Children” takes a different tack: it tries to show that the practice is built into the theory, that it is not elided there but embraced.
“[ . . . ] the libertarian defense of the market—while often treated as a source of tension on the right because it conflicts with the conservative commitment to stability and tradition, virtue and glory—is in fact consistent with the right’s reactionary project of defending private hierarchies against democratic movements from below.”
I’d also recommend checking out another article in The Nation by Corey Robin:
Someone once made the argument to me that there was a particular bias in social science research. The argument was based on the anecdotal evidence of the research this person had come across I suppose by way of what was reported in the media and maybe the blogosphere. His observation was that researchers had focused their studies more on conservatism than liberalism.
It would be surprising if there weren’t any biases such as this or something similar. More social scientists and scientists in geneal identify as liberals than as conservatives (and I’m sure that even the conservatives in this field are relatively liberal-minded). It does make sense that liberals and the liberal-minded would be greatly curious about those so different from their own attitude and worldview, especially considering that liberal-mindedness strongly correlates to open-minded curiosity.
Nonetheless, I doubt that curiosity is a zero sum game. A curious-minded person would probably be just as interested in liberalism as conservatism. Besides, most research I’ve seen in this area tends to simultaneously test for both sides of the political spectrum. I suspect it is rare research that would only study conservatism while entirely ignoring liberalism.
The bias I might see along these lines is more in the media reporting. The right-wing has caught the public imagination since the homegrown right-wing terrorism made itself violently known in the 1990s and especially since 9/11 brought the foreign right-wing terrorism to the attention of Americans. During the Cold War, the media focused on left-wingers while ignoring right-wingers. But the Cold War has been over for more than two decades now. With fundamentalist terrorism, Americans are learning new respect for Godlessness, despite its former association with the Communist Threat.
There is a more direct bias that is pertinent to the original hypothesis. Ever since the world wars, social scientists have been obsessed with authoritarianism. That was the era when right-wing fascism came to power. Many people escaped fascism by coming to America. The social scientists among these refugees were quite intently focused on understanding right-wing authoritarianism in the hopes of preventing its return.
There is good reason that authoritarianism has become associated with the right-wing and from there associated with conservatism. Indeed, there is a correlation in the American population between these three. The question is whether this correlation implies a causal link or is it merely an issue of historical conditions. At least for decades now, conservatism has attracted right-wing authoritarians into its ranks, seemingly as an intentional seeking of alliances by movement conservatives and GOP strategists, whether or not they fully appreciated the psychological profile of their allies. Some (e.g., Corey Robin) theorize that this is more than a temporary and circumstantial connection.
Here is the key point for me.
An authoritarian type can be either right-wing or left-wing; the reason for this is because right-wing and left-wing are more about ideology (and rhetoric) than psychology. An authoritarian type can be a conservative or anyone who is conservative-minded, the commonality of social conservatism being a reason political alliance are so easy to form. An authoritarian can even be a liberal, just as long as they are fairly conservative-minded or not too strongly liberal-minded in all ways. I’m fairly sure the one thing an authoritarian can’t be is liberal-minded, pretty much by the very definition of liberal-minded traits (which have a strong correlation to liberalism itself)
This is where its important to clarify a point. Liberalism correlates to liberal-mindedness and conservatism correlates to conservative-mindedness. However, there are still a significant number of conservative-minded liberals (and left-wingers) along with liberal-minded conservatives (and right-wingers).
Another clarification needs to be made. Fascist statists are right-wingers and communist statists are left-wingers. This is a distinction of ideology (specifically economic ideology), but there is no clear distinction when it comes to their personalities. Both kinds of radical ideologues tend to be authoritarian and, more significantly, conservative-minded. When looking at authoritarian states, including communism, the thing that stands out to me is they are against all forms of social liberalism and liberal-mindedness (and all that leans in that direction or is conducive towards it): social democracy, multiculturalism, feminism, gay rights, free speech, free press, free intellectual inquiry, free artistic expression, freedom to assemble and protest, etc etc.
This points toward the knot of confusion and so we can now disentangle the most interesting strand of bias. With my explanation so far, I hope it is beginning to be clarified why mainstream notions of liberalism aren’t an equivalent category to mainstream notions of conservatism. To nail it down, let me offer a little refresher on traits theory.
Traits exist on a spectrum with most people being closer to the midpoint than to the extremes. The typical person has some range of comfort and ability that might include to some extent both sides of the spectrum, although there will tend to be a natural resting point that an individual returns to. The extreme cases remain important for they demonstrate traits in their purest form.
Two separate traits correlate to liberalism and conservatism. Respectively, they are Openness and Conscientiousness. They are completely separate traits and so how an individual tests on one measure has no effect on how they test on the other. This can create the not unusual situation of a person measuring high on both the liberal-minded trait and the conservative-minded trait or else low on both.
I propose this as an explanation for why liberal-mindedness hasn’t been studied as fully. Most scientists, academics, college students, activists, politicians, journalists and reporters who identify as liberal probably don’t measure extremely high on Openness while also measuring low on Conscientiousness. It is true that most self-identified liberals measure relatively higher on the liberal-minded trait of Openness, but those who are highly motivated and self-disciplined enough to go to college, pursue politics and/or succeed in a professional career wouldn’t measure low on the conservative-minded trait of Conscientiousness.
Based on this, one would assume that, in respectable mainstream society, there would be a disproportionately small percentage of extreme liberals or even just people who are consistently liberal across all traits. This is predictable based on how Conscientiosness is described in the research literature. Conscientiousness is the single greatest indicator of social success (i.e., success by other people’s standards and according to the status quo). This would explain why professionally established and economically successful artists tend to have higher ratings on Conscientiousness, despite this conservative-minded trait being low among art students. I would speculate that there is a connection to why the most innovative and genius (i.e., unconventional) artists often remain poor and unknown in their own lifetimes.
In an outwardly success-oriented society, conservative-minded conscientiousness is given central priority. However, at the same time, it makes for a bias in all aspects of such a society, including research on psychological traits:
“Let it not be misunderstood, conscientiousness is recognizably an important predictor of performance and many other organizational outcomes (e.g., Barrick & Mount, 1991; Ones & Viswesvaran, 1996). But is it possible that this continued and concentrated focus on the validity of conscientiousness may overshadow other perhaps stronger personality predictors of job performance? Could it be that a plateau has been reached, and the time has come to move beyond conscientiousness in search of other predictor discoveries?”
Those who are extremely liberal-minded tend to have lots of social issues. Along with lacking success-orientation, they tend to be less healthy and more prone to becoming criminals (i.e., breaking laws and generally not being obedient and subservient). However, there being seen as criminals by society is the very same reason they are less likely to commit immoral acts that are the norm for a society or demanded by authority figures. So, high conscientious conservative-minded types are more likely to do horrific things and be successful at it, just as long as it meets standards of social approval. High conscientiousness, for example, will lead one to make sure the trains run efficiently in order to bring the enemies of the state to the concentration camps.
This is what irritates me. The conservative-minded project onto the liberal-minded their own conservative-minded predilections. The strongly liberal-minded will never make for good authoritarians. They may be losers who are alcoholics, drug addicts, criminals, sexual deviants, etc. They may even be terrorists of the anarchistic variety. But they won’t be authoritarians or not very successful authoritarians.
The anarchism angle is what intrigues me most of all. That seems like the polar opposite of authoritarianism. Even conservatives seem to understand that. More than the over orderliness and oppression of authoritarians, what conservatives fear more than anything from liberals is that they will undermine conservative order by undermining moral authority and social hierarchy. Liberals will only ever be authoritarians to the degree they are or become conservative-minded.
I wish liberals would be criticized for their actual faults and weaknesses, instead of being blamed for what goes against their own nature. And to return to the original point of this post, I don’t know about researchers who are self-identified liberals, but I think it unfair to blame their supposed liberal-mindedness for their heavy focus on conservative-mindedness, assuming such a biased focus even exists. If anything, the conservative-mindedness (relatively higher conscientiousness) should be blamed for their having ignored the fullest and most extreme expressions of liberal-mindedness.
We’ve already had decades of extensive research on authoritarianism. Let us check out the polar opposite side of things. Definitely, I’d like to see some insightful research on anarchism.
There are many challenges to a democracy, but education has to be one of the most important. Everything begins with education, specifically as it relates to enculturation and indoctrination. Here is an article from The Guardian that touches upon one aspect of this, although it isn’t as thorough as I’d prefer:
“The fundamentalist home schooling world also advocates an extraordinarily authoritarian view of the parental role. Corporal punishment is frequently encouraged. The effects are, again, often quite devastating. “People who experienced authoritarian parents tend to turn into adults with poor boundaries,” writes one pseudonymous HA blogger. “It’s an extremely unsatisfying and unsustainable way to live.”
“In America, we often take for granted that parents have an absolute right to decide how their children will be educated, but this leads us to overlook the fact that children have rights, too, and that we as a modern society are obligated to make sure that they get an education. Families should be allowed to pursue sensible homeschooling options, but current arrangements have allowed some families to replace education with fundamentalist indoctrination.
“As the appearance of HA reminds us, the damage done by this kind of false education falls not just on our society as a whole, but on the children who are pumped through the ideology machine. They are the traumatized veterans of our culture wars. We should listen to their stories, and support them as they find their way forward.”
This is put into context with a comment to the article and another comment responding to it:
the consequences of putting ideology over children include anxiety, depression, distrust of authority, and issues around sexuality.
“This is bad, but it’s not really necessary for a condemnation of the religious home schooling movement. After all, mainstream education can produce these effects too. It is enough that children are being lied to and deliberately manipulated for the purpose of engineering society.
“Should attendance at state approved schools be mandatory? It may be the only way to prevent this kind of brainwashing.
“Incidentally, why is the piece illustrated with a picture of a house in Cleveland?”
“Yeah, it’s those damn lefties in Kansas that are trying to get creationism pushed into science classes at public schools. And those lefties in Texas that are trying to rewrite the historical record to suggest the Founding Fathers didn’t envision a secular society. Oh, wait, it’s actually right wing lunatics trying to re-shape the educational curriculum in this country. That’s right.”
The problem isn’t homeschooling or any particular activity, rather particular tendencies that can undermine society in an infinite areas and in infinite ways. The same people who want to use homeschooling for indoctrination also want to use public schools for indoctrination. These are dangerous people. They are dangerous to democracy when they gain power and influence.
The danger with fundamentalism is complex. I don’t want to blame conservatives, but conservatives have become complicit with this problem by aligning themselves with fundamentalists and hence aligning themselves with right-wing authoritarians and social dominance types. This wasn’t inevitable. It was a choice made by movement conservatives and Republican elites. They made this Devil’s Bargain because it gained them immense power.
The bigger issue is that now we all have to deal with this problem. Indoctrination is a dangerous road to go down. It only takes a small group of well indoctrinated children to grow up to create a movement that could destroy democracy and take over the country. Before the masses can be indoctrinated, first a small vanguard must be indoctrinated. Indoctrination can never be taken lightly. It was a small movement in the beginning that took over Italy, Germany, Russia and China. Is our democracy strong enough to resist a totalitarian takeover? I doubt it.
I’m fine with homeschooling, but we better think twice before we let children be brainwashed. It doesn’t matter who is doing the brainwashing and for what purpose. It doesn’t matter if it is right-wing or left-wing, although we shouldn’t ignore the fact that this danger is at the moment coming from right-wing fundamentalists. We should consider carefully why this is the case.
Let me try my best to briefly offer some choice insights from Larry M. Bartel’s Unequal Democracy (with some slight commentary added by me).
1) One of the biggest points of the book is that the lower income class, as defined as the bottom third, has never turned away from the Democratic Party. They haven’t even lost the white lower income class across the country, only in the South. They haven’t even lost the lower income class in the South, just poor whites.
Actually, Democrats are supported by the majority of eligible voters. The problem is that generations of disenfranchisement allows Republicans to control the South with only a minority by using voter purges, long polling lines, etc. This simple truth seems even lost on Bartels.
2) There is good reason the lower income class votes Democrat. Research shows that society is better for most people under Democratic administrations and Democratic majorities in Congress. Economic inequality and poverty goes down. homicide and suicide rates go down, and on and on. Bartels shows that even the rich do better with Democrats. This is based on long-term data and so appears to be strongly compelling.
3) There is a weird phenomena related to class and ideology. The lower class tends to be more socially conservative while also being more fiscally liberal. And the upper class tends to be more socially liberal while also being more fiscally conservative. The middle class, unsurprisingly, is in the middle somewhere. What is enticing about this is that, if anything, the correlation between fiscal and social ideologies, whether liberal or conservative, is a negative correlation.
4) The problem with politicians isn’t that they pander to the lower class. If anything, the problem is that they don’t pander to the lower class. Other data even shows that most politicians are clueless about the average American. As for the below average American, fuggetaboutit.
I’ve only skimmed this, but it looks worthy of a deeper study. It apparently is the first large-scale political science survey of the Tea Party. It’s published in The American Prospect and written by Abby Rapoport.
For a movement that’s helped to reshape the Republican Party—and by extension, reshape American politics—we know shockingly little about the people who make up the Tea Party. While some in the GOP once hoped to co-opt the movement, it’s increasingly unclear which group—the Tea Party or establishment Republicans—is running the show. Politicians have largely relied on conjecture and assumption to determine the positions and priorities of Tea Party activists.
Until now. The results of the first political science survey of Tea Party activists show that the constituency isn’t going away any time soon—and Republicans hoping the activists will begin to moderate their stances should prepare for disappointment. Based out of the College of William and Mary, the report surveyed more than 11,000 members of FreedomWorks, one of the largest and most influential Tea Party groups. The political scientists also relied on a separate survey of registered voters through the YouGov firm to compare those who identified with the Tea Party movement to those Republicans who did not. (Disclosure: The political scientist leading the survey was my father, Ronald Rapoport, with whom I worked in writing this piece.)
For the first time, we can now look at what a huge sample of Tea Party activists believe, as well as examine how those who identify with the Tea Party differ from their establishment GOP counterparts. Here are the three biggest takeaways from the study: