Demography of the House

Timothy Egan’s column today pulls together the statistics to make a pretty stark statement about the Republican House:

As a whole, Congress has never been more diverse, except the House majority. There are 41 black members of the House, but all of them are Democrats. There are 10 Asian-Americans, but all of them are Democrats. There are 34 Latinos, a record — and all but 7 are Democrats. There are 7 openly gay, lesbian or bisexual members, all of them Democrats.

Only 63 percent of the United States population is white. But in the House Republican majority, it’s 96 percent white. Women are 51 percent of the nation, but among the ruling members of the House, they make up just 8 percent. (It’s 30 percent on the Democratic side.)

It’s a stretch, by any means, to call the current House an example of representative democracy.

He goes on to make a pretty good case that this is related to how extreme the House Republicans govern.  True, but certainly subjective.  There’s nothing subjective at all, though, about how profoundly un-representative of America they are.

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Photo of the day

I didn’t realize that Telegraph has an “animal photos of the week” gallery.  That’s surely a well I’ll be coming back to.  Love this one:

This scaredy-cat was forced to run for cover when a herd of brave buffalo decided to strike back. The lion found itself outnumbered by its plucky prey and is pictured sprinting away from the African buffalo in the Kruger National Park. The tables turned on the predator when an attempt to pounce on some unsuspecting buffalo failed miserably and left the not so cunning cat with its tail between its legs
This scaredy-cat was forced to run for cover when a herd of brave buffalo decided to strike back. The lion found itself outnumbered by its plucky prey and is pictured sprinting away from the African buffalo in the Kruger National Park. The tables turned on the predator when an attempt to pounce on some unsuspecting buffalo failed miserably and left the not so cunning cat with its tail between its legsPicture: DAVE WOOLLACOTT/CATERS

 

Also reminds me of one of the coolest National Geographic documentaries I have seen, that tells the story of lions vs. Cape Buffalo.

Jobs

Presumably, you’ve seen the good jobs report yesterday.  Imagine what the economy might actually be doing if one party wasn’t doing all it could to basically sabotage it.  Anyway, I thought some of the Republican commentary/complaints in this CNN report was especially rich:

House Speaker John Boehner acknowledged there was “good news” in Friday’s report, but stressed “the president’s policies still aren’t providing the robust economic growth and job creation the American people desperately need.”

The President hasn’t been able to implement any of his preferred economic policies since the Stimulus four years ago.  The President’s policies are completely bottled up by the Republican House.  Now, if Obama had actually been able to try his policies, that would be one thing, but they’ve been almost completely thwarted by Boehner et al.  Boehner’s plan?  Pablum:

“To get things moving, we need to seize opportunities the president has been ignoring, and focus on growing our economy rather than growing more government,” the Ohio Republican wrote. “That means expanding energy production and modernizing our laws to make life work for more American families.”

Oh, right, if only we we had focused on “growing our economy.”  Why didn’t Obama think of that?!  I’m sure the Keystone pipeline alone is good for 1% a year GDP growth!  I especially appreciate Boehner’s specificity about “modernizing our laws.”  Of course!  What an obvious and simple solution.  And to think of all those great bills to modernize our laws that the Republican House has passed only to be thwarted by the Democratic Senate.  Oh right.

Oh for an opposition party that wasn’t a complete intellectual joke.

Apologize already

I really enjoyed this Shankar Vedantam segment on NPR about the great difficulty people have with apologies:

In a recent paper, researchers Tyler G. Okimoto, Michael Wenzel and Kyli Hedrick reported on what they’ve found happens in people’s minds when they refuse to apologize. They find that parents who tell their kids that saying sorry will make them feel better have been telling kids the truth — but not the whole truth.

“We do find that apologies do make apologizers feel better, but the interesting thing is that refusals to apologize also make people feel better and, in fact, in some cases it makes them feel better than an apology would have,” Okimoto said in an interview…

“When you refuse to apologize, it actually makes you feel more empowered,” he said. “That power and control seems to translate into greater feelings of self-worth.”

Ironically, Okimoto said, people who refused to apologize ended up with boosted feelings of integrity…

Okimoto believes the research, in fact, may provide a clue on how best to get people to apologize. Our conventional approach, especially with kids, is to force people to apologize. But if people are reluctant to apologize because apologies make them feel threatened, coercion is unlikely to help — that is, if a sincere apology is hoped for.

Support and love, by contrast, may be a more effective way to counter the feelings of threat involved in an apology.

In short, it seems to me you have to be confident in yourself to apologize and place yourself in a position of relative weakness.  A failure to apologize when one is clearly in order strikes me as a failure of confidence in oneself to be able to admit you were wrong.  As for myself, like most people, I used to have a lot of trouble apologizing and admitting I was wrong.  Not so much, anymore.  I would posit that as I’ve become more mature (and, yes, self confident), that it has made it much easier for me to apologize when I get things wrong.  And I do feel the better for it.  Only hinted at here, is that, for the most part, one is way better off admitting fault and accepting responsibility and moving on.  Seems to me that there’s few things most of us hate interpersonally than a non-apology (“sorry if you were offended”) apology.

I’ll leave the final word to Kurt Cobain.

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