Category Archives: Politics: US

ChatGPG on Republican Meanness

So I took ChatGPG for a spin.  Overall the results are really scarily good.  But.

Or maybe that is the best answer?

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Electronic Intrusions Not Yet Hated Enough to Stop

Seems like I’m not the only one fed up with emails and texts I didn’t sign up for. Comes Crooks & Liars with Democratic Fundraising Spam Is Turning Off Democratic Voters, citing the results of a new survey commissioned by DailyKos and Civic Shout. But we’re not a majority yet.

Maybe the punishment will stop?  Nah, no chance until that “Agree” number gets much larger.  Which, as the volume of calls and texts (and texts and texts) goes up, it will.

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Bob Dole

Remember when Bob Dole seemed like the meanest Republican?

Sadly, in politics what you name things can have powerful long-term effects. Consider what things might be like if the estate tax were commonly called the “child justice tax” or the “level playing field tax” or something like that; instead we have the party of money (more on what we should call it below) making great strides, if only in firming the spines of the faithful and semi-faithful, by working hard for decades now to brand the estate as the “death tax”. And lo and behold, there’s a lot less estate tax than there was when I was a kid.

Similarly, for many, many years, going back at least to Bob Dole, the ‘own-the-libs’-type Republicans have made it a point to call the majority party the “Democrat party”. I’m not entirely sure why, maybe just because “Democrat party” sounds so much harsher then “Democratic Party”? Anyway, maybe it’s time to take a leaf from that book and start referring to the second-largest national party as the “anti-Democratic” party. After all, its national electoral success are based not on the popular vote, but the functional gerrymandering of the Senate, of state Congressional district lines, and of the Electoral College. Plus, a major tactical objective of the Anti-Democratic party is to suppress turnout by reducing weekend voting, cutting polling locations and hours in the hopes of creating long lines and discouraging voters, banning ballot drop boxes, and enacting voter ID rules whose true purpose is to deter voters.

Now, consider the post-Dobbs world. Will we still refer to the sides as “pro-choice” and “anti-abortion”? I hope not. We should call the opponents of a right of a person to make intimate decisions about their body what they are: the proponents of “forced birth”. And to the hardest-core who would ban abortion in cases of rape or incest, ask them why “rapists should be allowed to choose the mother of their child?”. These may sound harsh today, but that is what it takes.

Names matter.

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Why ‘There’s No Way to Prevent This’

‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

Here’s why:

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The Real Inflation Crisis: Flattery Inflation

Like Digby, I found a lot to like in Paul Krugman’s recent column on how the Trump wing of the GOP (can you call it a ‘wing’ if it’s more than 3/4 of the whole?) has for several years increasingly resembled a cult of personality as exhibited in dictatorial regimes.

Signaling is a concept originally drawn from economics; it says that people sometimes engage in costly, seemingly pointless behavior as a way to prove that they have attributes others value. For example, new hires at investment banks may work insanely long hours, not because the extra hours are actually productive, but to demonstrate their commitment to feeding the money machine.

In the context of dictatorial regimes, signaling typically involves making absurd claims on behalf of the Leader and his agenda, often including “nauseating displays of loyalty.” If the claims are obvious nonsense and destructive in their effects, if making those claims humiliates the person who makes them, these are features, not bugs. I mean, how does the Leader know if you’re truly loyal unless you’re willing to demonstrate your loyalty by inflicting harm both on others and on your own reputation?

And once this kind of signaling becomes the norm, those trying to prove their loyalty have to go to ever greater extremes to differentiate themselves from the pack. Hence “flattery inflation”

Krugman points to Xavier Márquez’s paper, The Mechanisms of Cult Production as the go-to reading here, but anyone who remembers Trump’s creepy cabinet meetings1 will find the current reality distortion field in Mar-a-Lago to be just more of the same.

  1. For an example, see In Cabinet meeting, Pence praises Trump once every 12 seconds for three minutes straight. []
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On Juneteenth as a Federal Holiday

I’m fine with making Juneteenth a federal holiday, I just hope it won’t become an excuse for not making Election Day a federal holiday. I can just imagine the arguments: We just made another holiday, that’s enough for new holidays for the nexty 20 years, they cost too much money, etc. etc.

And I think making it easier for people to vote is forward-looking in an important way; yes, the right commemoration can be both forward- and backward-looking, but I still think an election day holiday is more important.

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