My favorite ad of 2010

From Alaska Tea Partier Joe Miller:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEL5UKQxsUE

In the event you’ve been in a cultural cave and don’t get it, watch this, too:

Action Bias

If voters actually prefer Obama and Democrats in Congress to Republicans in Congress why vote Republican?  How about because when faced with difficulty, people always want to do something.  Personally, I’d rather spend 20 minutes on a 10 mile detour than sit in a traffic jam for 15 minutes.  Shankar Vedantam, who seems to have found a nice new home at Slate, has a nice column up on how our bias for action may be affecting voting decision on the midterms.  I love that he uses the analogy of goalkeepers stopping penalty kicks (they should stay in the middle more):

Goalies facing penalty kicks—a bad place to be if you are a goalie—are heavily predisposed to dive to one side or another to save a goal, even though their best odds of saving a goal are when they stay in the center. In one analysis of 293 penalty kicks in elite championship soccer, researchers Michael Bar-Eli, Ofer H. Azar, Ilana Ritov, Yael Keidar-Levin, and Galit Schein found that goalies had a 14 percent chance of stopping a goal when they dived to the left and a 13 percent chance when they dived to the right. The chance of stopping a goal when they stayed in the center was 33 percent. But, like voters and people stuck in traffic jams, goalies facing penalty kicks are drawn to action, not inaction. The analysis of the championship penalty kicks found that goalies stayed in the center only 6 percent of the time.

And, here’s the political part:

A goalie who dives and misses is heroic. A goalie who stays in the center and misses is just … ineffectual. Goalies dive because they seek to minimize their emotional losses, not their actual losses.

When things are stacked against us—we face a tough economy, we are fighting a war that appears lost, we are in a marriage that is fraying—people behave like soccer goalies facing penalty kicks. We make changes. We believe we are being bold when, in reality, we are flailing. We are minimizing regret, not loss.

None of this is to say that making a change is always bad. Staying in the center all the time is a losing strategy for goalies. (Bar-Eli’s study found that goalies save the most goals when they stay in the center 29 percent of the time.) But when things look bad, our unconscious bias favors action over holding steady, regardless of whether that makes sense.

Politicians intuitively understand this. Barack Obama’s winning 2008 campaign constantly reminded voters how weary they were with the Bush administration, even though George W. Bush was not running for president in 2008. Republicans this year have offered very few concrete counterproposals to the Democratic policies they say they detest. When times are bad, it turns out that all you need to say to voters to get them to come running to you is, “Had enough?”

In short, in all facets of our life, we generally choose to do something, rather than nothing, when things are tough.  Regardless of whether it actually makes sense or not.  Politics is no different.

Where the bailout money went

Tom Toles:

 

Quote of the day

I’m pretty sure I posted not long ago that you can count on conservatives and 1) ignorant or 2)  biased media organizations to blame any health care changes on the Affordable Care Act.  The latest was a number of stories blaming Boeing’s recent health care cuts.  Via Drum:

From Boeing spokeswoman Karen Forte:

If you would’ve asked me if we would’ve made these changes without the enactment of the law, I would’ve said yes.

Once again with feeling: healthcare reform is a wonderful excuse for companies to use when they decide to pare back benefits. It’s also a wonderful talking point for conservatives to haul out whenever anything changes in the healthcare industry. There’s just one thing: the claims are almost never true. Either the changes aren’t actually happening in the first place or they’re changes that would have happened anyway.

Keep this point very much in mind as you see these stories continue to come down the pipe.  And, you know what to make of “news” organizations that fall for this crap.

Constitutional Fundamentalism

I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for some time, but I haven’t gotten around to it.  Yesterday, though, I read a really good article in the latest Newsweek that explicitly details just how nutty the Tea Partiers ideas on the Constitution are.  They are amazingly similar to the ideas that Fundamentalists have of the bible (okay, it’s probably not amazing that the approaches are so similar).  The exact words are gospel truth– except for the words you ignore because they are inconvenient– and they all work to completely support your ideology.  How convenient!  The article actually opens with a nice little critique of how the media (doesn’t) cover this:

Since winning the Republican senate primary in Delaware last month, Christine O’Donnell has not had trouble getting noticed. When the Tea Party icon admitted to “dabbl[ing] into witchcraft” as a youngster, the press went wild. When she revealed that she was “not a witch” after all, the response was rabid. O’Donnell has fudged her academic credentials, defaulted on her mortgage, sued a former employer, and campaigned against masturbation, and her efforts have been rewarded with round-the-clock coverage. Yet few observers seem to have given her views on the United States Constitution the same level of consideration. Which is too bad, because O’Donnell’s Tea Party take on our founding text is as unusual as her stance on autoeroticism. Except that it could actually have consequences.

True dat.  Here’s my favorite quote:

Contemporary Constitution worshipers claim that they’ve distilled their entire political platform—lower taxes, less regulation, minimal federal government—directly from the original text of the founding document. Any overlap with mainstream conservatism is incidental, they say; they’re simply following the Framers’ precise instructions. If this were true, it would be quite the political coup: oppose us, the Tea Party could claim, and you’re opposing James Madison. But the reality is that Tea Partiers engage with the Constitution in such a selective manner, and for such nakedly political purposes, that they’re clearly relying on it more as an instrument of self-affirmation and cultural division than a source of policy inspiration.

Just like nuts every where look to religion and “sacred” texts to validate their particular nuttiness, the Tea Partiers treat the Constitution in much the same way to validate their pre-existing ideological beliefs.

Oh, and just because it’s related, a quick google search uncovered some great examples of how fundamentalist so selectively read the bible.   We all know they take it very seriously when Leviticus damns homosexuals, here’s a verse you never hear much about:

“For everyone who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death. He has cursed his father or his mother. His blood shall be upon him.”

Short version: Fundamentalism whether its biblical or Constitutional is generally self-serving BS.

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