December 2012

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Blogs & Sites We Read

Blog powered by Typepad

Search Site

  • Search Site



  • Counter

Become a Fan

Cat Quote

  • "He who dislikes the cat, was in his former life, a rat."

« Let us orate on the dignity of plant (prasad) | Main | Saving Pakistan... and India? Omar Ali »

April 17, 2012


I believed, from the moment that Barack Obama was elected, that manipulators like this asshole really want someone to assassinate the President. They will go to the very edge in their incitement, then, at the last minute, pull back and make the threat sound metaphorical.

Can't listen to the speech now, but I saw the story today. I don't know if it's selective memory, but I don't remember Democrats fantasizing about Bush being killed back in the day. Impeached, certainly, but not shot. It's hard for me to fathom the kind and level of hatred that'd cause one to want the death of someone who is, after all, a pretty bland politician.

So sad, Ted Nugent's lapse into old age. He was always a reactionary, of course, but he is also an amazing rock guitarist. I'll give him credit where it's due. As always, it's not hard to find a lurking irony: among rock stars, Nugent's "public image of a crazy" has never been all that potent. He has long spoken out against drug and alcohol use, and fashioned himself as a tough, no-nonsense disciplinarian parent. "Wang dang sweet poontang" is stock rock 'n' roll misogyny. If that makes Nugent crazy, well, so was Sinatra. I suspect Nugent takes his own off-the-cuff show-off yapping, his lame posturing, political commentary, and watered-down high school history about as seriously as he does his song lyrics. It may be imprudent to spout off like this in that particular venue, but to answer your question, Ruchira, a lot of vileness can and should be excused, or at least it was pre-9/11.

Q.E.D., perhaps.

"Ted Nugent To Meet With Secret Service Thursday." Dean, thanks for the link. IT'S ABOUT FRAKKING TIME!

No, Ted Nugent is no more "crazy" than other potty mouthed, room trashing rock stars in the arena of rock 'n' roll. But most of those crazies are not giving advice on how to solve a poltical problem. Since the death of Charlton Heston, the right wing has lacked a high wattage star they can call their own. The macho Clint Eastwood, who they mistakenly thought was on their side, has effectively told the GOP to take a hike. Nugent being a rock musician, his extreme uncivility lends him a kind of "cool" craziness in the world of right wing politics.

I saw the news before I left to run some errands that Mr. Nugent is going to have a chat with the Secret Service. I myself did not have that in mind when I spoke of not tolerating vile speech. I was thinking more about the time when Barack Obama was forced to distance himself from Reverend Jeremiah Wright after the right began to question his patriotism. What also bothers me is that the Dems always play scared when one of their own mouths off and they cannot apologize enough. Example, this recent phony baloney outrage for which the Obama operatives acted in the most craven manner and now we hear that the Romneys considered it an early birthday present for Mrs. Romney. Mitt Romney sought out Ted Nugent's endorsement and he got it in the form of the above video. I wanted to hear some firm denunciation of the dangerous tirade from the Romney camp. Haven't heard it yet. What makes Mittens so entitled?

As for misogyny on the left and the right, it is like a Möbius Strip; you can travel the entire gamut of this peculiar male disdain and not have to cross from one side to the other.

Buckling to political bullying has nothing to do with the First Amendment. If Romney decides there's political value in denouncing Nugent, he might get an earful of bad FA doctrine out of the Motor City motormouth, but it'll be irrelevant. That the Secret Service wants to attend Nugent's barbeque indicates a specific limitation to the FA. Now think about this: Nugent claims he has never threatened anybody. But he acknowledges the SS has a "duty" to respond.

I haven't paid much attention to the Rosen affair. I get and embrace the dialectical finer point: being a mom is work. But in a commonly understood sense, Mrs. Romney hasn't ever worked a day in her life. She thrives as one of the elite of the elite. Everybody knows this. Lots of people resent her for it. That somebody so worthy of disdain should be viewed as an authority on women's causes, if only by her husband, is baffling. That's what Rosen was saying.

The FA is being evoked by right wing operatives on behalf of Nugent, while not a word about decency has been uttered ... yet.

Again, I remind you about Reverend Wright ("God damn America") and the Dixie Chicks (" ...ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." ) and what happened to them. The Dems were as much to blame for not having the guts to stand up for their FA rights.

The GOP is just better in invoking patriotism, the US Constitution and freedom when it comes to defending the violent and vile rhetoric emanating from their side.

Ruchira, did you read The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt yet? He posits some interesting things on why the GOP always seems to succeed in the battle of propaganda, by appealing to the basic moral rules by which the mind operates.

Sujatha, I am only part of the way into the book. I had to set it aside because first I went through the Lingering Tide to see if it is worthy of review and now I have to finish a largish biography of Sam Houston for my book club. But I intend to get back to Haidt soon. I am familiar with his views regarding the left-right schism in our understanding of morality. He makes a point that conservatives value attributes like loyalty (what, the leftists don't have friends?), respect of authority among other things, more than those whose politics are left leaning. I don't know if that makes them better pack animals and therefore able to appeal to the lowest common denominator in popular sentiment. But definitely, something is at work here. The left seems scared of standing up for its own morality and is repeatedly shamed into caving into the spurious "flag, mom & apple pie" furor of the right. About Haidt, hopefully I will have more to say when Prasad publishes his review.


Full disclosure: I did not read Jonathan Haidt's book. I won't have time for it in the foreseeable future.

However, I have read someone's lengthy essay on it, and a number of reviews. I listened to a number of videos of Haidt talking about "The Righteous Mind," a video interview with Robert Wright, and a Public Radio interview with Leonard Lopate. So here goes.

Jonathan Haidt is a clever political observer, and can weave political philosophy into his discussions and commentary. At this, he's pretty decent and interesting. However, just about all his deductions about the culture and morality of thought for Liberals versus Conservatives are without foundation, if not ridiculous in some cases. All he has shown is a CORRELATION of factor analyzed self-reports to self identification with a tag of Liberal vs Conservative. He does not show that these factors do, in fact, cause them to behave, or decide, or vote in any particular way, or deliberate in a morally better or worse manner. He makes the fundamental mistake of treating Correlation as Causation.

Here's a sample of the simplistic ideas that flow so effortlessly from his lips. Liberals bring only half of the morality to being a liberal, than Conservatives bring to being Conservatives. In fact, the score is 3 to 6, in favor of the Right. On what basis does he say that moral judgment is lacking in any way because the number of characteristics of differentiation (correlation) are 3 out of six?

On your reference to success in "...propaganda, by appealing to the basic moral rules by which the mind operates," consider this point. Working class and middle class voters have been voting against their own best interests because they have internalized the lies told to them that they, themselves, are responsible for the failures of the economy, the lost value of their retirement investments, the loss of their own jobs, and finding themselves homeless and destitute. They have come to believe that their own greed, profligacy, failure of self reliance, and consorting with evil socialist-European political ideas brought our Nation's economy, and moral fiber, to bankruptcy. So they take the [im]moral choice of voting against health insurance even though they need it and can't afford it. They believe they have become fat and lazy and made this country uncompetitive in the world markets. And on, and on, and on.

Haidt says he asked Liberals and Conservatives to answer his questionnaires as if they were a person of the opposite political orientation. He finds that Conservatives are more accurate at mimicking a Liberal responder, than is a Liberal in mimicking a Conservative responder. Haidt gives an explanation for this, and makes it clear that this shows that there is a deficit in a Liberal's thought process. He says to the Liberal: They know more about you and your morality, than you know about them and their morality. Look at his results, and especially his explanation, then ask yourself if it might be that the Liberal knows the Conservative too well. Maybe you won't come to that conclusion, but you will see that there are varied possibilities that aren't even considered. I look at his questionnaires and methodology, and I am loathe to go anywhere with it nor consider anything.

There are umpteen SERIOUS methodological problems with his questionnaires. Not the least of which is putting the obvious self-revealing and self-identifying questions first. All demographic, biographic, and personal characteristic disclosures should go at the end of the survey, for a variety of reasons. Without being deceptive, you don't want to give away any clue as to what you are trying to link with what. Go online and take one of his questionnaires. And when he tells you how he measured and scored the responses, you can take a look at an earlier post of mine here at AB. See the part on MEASUREMENT

One of the occupational hazards of this survey business, is having to put in very bad questions (dreamed up by the client) because the paying client insists these will give truly insightful information. I don't have to read the client's report, or book, or Powerpoint presentation to know it will be totally useless. I argued with one client with no success in keeping the questions out. When the data were collected and statistical results were computed and printed, The client asked me to interpret the data on her questions. I had to say, with the printouts and charts in from of us, that I had no idea what they meant nor how to interpret it. Neither did she. This happens all the time.

Haidt's questionnaire items have some interesting elements in them. However, they are not sufficiently developed to produce good data that can survive critical review, and not having to apologize for it years later. I've learned over many years in the business, that "Too many cooks," do not spoil the questionnaire broth. You need lots of eyes to review and critique a questionnaire and its items. You ALWAYS wind up with a survey instrument that is better by far. There is a cleverness to his items, but they are no better than could be done by a good graduate student who still needs a lot of experience and the guiding hand of a old pro.

Thanks for this, Norm. I haven't read Chaidt, and I've only glanced at reviews of the book, but I've had a bad feeling from the get-go about its promise. You've given me solid reasons. This is yet another instance of what I typically refer to as bad popular science writing, social science in this case. With a tenuous framework of order and reason, and a bit of uneasy "Given these data, doesn't it make sense that...," such writing affords a sense one is being informed.

Along these lines, see this post featured by Brian Leiter today. One of the things I find marvelous about this discussion is how insular it makes the world of legal scholarship appear. It's as if knowledge is not cumulative, and fundamentals of social science research must be relearned. I'm not suggesting I already knew everything Strahilevitz recommends, but why would a law school want to hire an empirical legal scholar without knowing these basics? If a hiring faculty doesn't clearly recognize that "a good empirical scholar ought to caveat the heck out of those crazy results and other scholars citing that work need to understand those caveats to contextualize the results," then we have a long way to go toward interdisciplinary enrichment.


I trying to read Brian Leiter, but I can get past "Phase one: Collect data. Phase two: ???? Phase three: Profit." I'm laughing too hard. You set me up with, "..."Given these data, doesn't it make sense that...,"."

Yeah, I forgot that "given" and "data" make a pun.

One never knows where the discussion on a comments thread can go. This post is of course, about Ted Nugent's violent speech. But we are now discussing Jonathan Haidt even before Prasad has posted the review. I am plodding through his book of "carefully constructed" data which is not all that "given" until he "gives" them to us.

Anyway, I hope Norm & Co. you will remember to copy and paste when Prasad does in fact publish the review here. There may be more to talk about.

P.S. Is anyone else getting tripped up by the new word verification tool, Google's ReCaptcha, that Typepad installed recently on its blogs? It seems that every effort is being made to discourage people from commenting. Sometimes I spend more time to get past ReCaptcha with its illegible script than I do writing the actual comment !


Will do on the reposting.

On the word verification, I'm getting used to it and it's more like a Sudoku puzzle for me. I like the challenge, and I am on a roll between AB and 3QD. However, I remember a time when it was downright discouraging - on other blogs. I would hate to think that we are losing readers and comments. There is the odd SPAM for Nike shoes. But, infrequent and intermittent is tolerable.

The comments to this entry are closed.