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Ideological Purism Is Making American Politics Stupid

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In a post titled ”Ideology is making America stupid,” Naval War College Professor John Schindler points out the extent to which the bitter partisan divide that has come to characterize American politics is negatively impacting the country:

The Right has developed the loathsome habit of stating that groups supporting the Left broadly and the Democratic Party particularly – here they cite blacks, women, gays, et al – are residing ”on the Democratic plantation.” If only they woke up and looked at their real interests, the FoxNews logic goes, they would suddenly become the “natural Republicans” that they actually are. It seems not to have occurred to the Right that African Americans, single women, LGBT people, and increasingly Hispanics too, support the Left because the Democratic Party is a better vehicle for their collective interests than the GOP, in its current guise, will ever be. Moreover, the use of “plantation” rhetoric, with its enormously freighted historical baggage, indicates how out of touch its rightist purveyors are. At best, such talk is deeply, unacceptably patronizing to vast swathes of the American people.

But the Left does the exact same thing. Rather than accept that there are lots of Americans, mainly white, often religious, many of them traditionalist in their views, who reject the progressive agenda, it’s easier for the MSNBC set to mock them, while more erudite progressives will explain at great length how they are well-meaning but stupid people who sell out to corporate interests. This view has become so commonplace on the Left that back in 2008 then-candidate Obama felt it wise to talk about clinging to Bibles and guns to describe such fellow citizens, while more recently leading celebrities have told them they need to hurry up and die already, so the golden progressive future can be realized. As a historian, I can affirm that when such hatred for your fellow citizens becomes normative, your republic is in deep trouble. Yet, as I said, it’s become entrenched on both the Left and the Right, the only difference I can tell being that if you’re on the Leftyou can make a very lucrative celebrity career out of it, while doing the same on the Right makes you Larry the Cable Guy.

This really all comes down to ideology, meaning the substitution of preset cliches over actual thought. I’m not here to knock down the notion of ideology altogether, since all of us have some sort of one (and if you don’t realize you do, the more powerful a hold over you it has), rather I want to point out the hazards of letting that framework shut down genuine thought, discussion, and debate, because you know the answer already. The German word Weltanschauung(worldview) comes closest to what I’m discussing here, and in 21st century America lots of people get their designer worldview, pre-fab, off TV and the Internet, without ever thinking critically about what it might actually mean. Contrary evidence is ignored, out of hand, as lies or propaganda – which of course only the other side has – and perhaps “hatred.” The problem isn’t that Americans have ideologies, it’s that so many of them have embraced a worldview based on self-deception. Simply put, they devoutly, unshakably believe things that simply are untrue.

This isn’t exactly a new observation, of course. Other pundits have made similar comments in the past about how the rise of strident ideologies on both sides of the left/right divide has poisoned the well of political discourse in the United States. Schindler goes on to cite specific examples of this in domestic politics, including the gun control debate, which I’ve already written about in the wake of the UC-Santa Barbara shootings last Friday. He also mentions the debate over the Affordable Care Act and health care reform in general, where we see people on the left claiming that conservatives don’t care about the health care of the less fortunate and conservatives claim that it is “government-run health care” when, in fact, it is the biggest subsidize to the insurance and health care industries since the adoption of Medicare some 50 years ago. Anyone on either side of the aisle who takes a step toward the middle on these or any of the other hot button ideological issues — and are there any issues left in this country that aren’t hot button ideological issues? — is immediately denounced as a traitor. More importantly, there’s no real desire by any of the hardliners on either side of the divide to listen to opposing points of view and consider the possibility that their either their own views could be wrong, or that the others side’s position may actually have some merit even if they disagree with it. Instead, the opposition is typically described as evil, stupid, racist, manipulated by outside forces, or any other number of epithets designed to demonize ideas by attacking the people who hold them.

Something else that zealous adherence to ideology seems to lead to is the rejection of factual arguments not so much on their merits but because you don’t like the conclusions that they might lead to. Perhaps the best example of this, of course, is the near universal rejection on the right of any of the scientific evidence suggesting that average temperatures have been rising or that the climate is changing at a more rapid pace than it has in the past. The evidence in favor of these propositions seems to be indisputable, even if the role of human activity is a matter that remains up for debate, and yet the ideological divide on those questions is as stark as the divide between left, right, and middle on issues ranging from gun control to marriage equality. The left has its own willing blind spots when it comes to facts that tend to contradict a preconceived world view on issues ranging from the impact of the minimum wage or increased taxes, to the often deleterious effect of government welfare programs, to the evidence that tends to contradict the idea that more gun control leads to less gun crime.  In both cases, the ideology becomes a substitute for facts to the point where its adherents can’t even see

Schindler goes on to point out the extent to which ideology, on both sides of the aisle,  has also had a negative influence on American foreign policy:

[F]oreign policy is where the confusion-masquerading-as-thought we call ideology really gets going. The Left seems to think – here President Obama bears his share of the blame – that mere words, especially dramatic speeches, can compensate for a lack of strategy or definable and implementable policy. Words, themselves, count only modestly. Churchill’s inspirational “we shall fight on the beaches” speech in 1940, as Hitler stared with ill intent across the English Channel, would have been irrelevant had not the British military been up to the job, barely, to repel German efforts to subdue Britain by air. Additionally, many Democrats believe that hashtags can change the world. Hope is not a strategy, as I teach my students, and neither is Twitter.

Yet the Right is besotted with equally powerful delusions, namely that what hashtags cannot do, the application of firepower can. This is not to malign the transformative effect of military force – I teach at a War College, after all – rather to observe that, in 2014, there are distinct limits on what it can achieve. The blow-it-all-up approach that prevailed as late as 1945 is simply not on the table anymore while the world is watching; even the Russians have toned down their mayhem, and their soft-touch aggression in Ukraine now, what I term Special War, bears little resemblance to the high-explosive horrors that Moscow’s forces inflicted on Chechnya as recently as the mid-1990s. Moreover, the failure of U.S.-led forces to subdue frankly third-rate insurgencies in both Iraq and Afghanistan in the past decade, thanks largely to a basic political illiteracy about those societies, has seriously eroded the prestige of American military might around the world. Only American right-wingers, who continue to fantasize about using kinetic force to fix problems everywhere on the globe, seem to have missed that memo.

Political illiteracy, misguided by ideology, is the core of the problem. When they look at the world, Left and Right in America today both see several billion people who are either very much like us, or want to become just like us as soon as possible. This, of course, is the WEIRD conceit I’ve discussed before, and it seems to be second nature to Americans in 2014. The only real difference is how we want to help the world to become just like us. While the Right prefers using American capitalism with periodic injections of UAVs and TLAMs   – drones and cruise missiles, that is – the Left likes employing “values,” which in most places boils down to dispatching platoons of activists pushing present-day American views on race, gender, and sexuality. It seldom occurs to either Left or Right that both approaches generate considerable push-back around the world.  My family is more European than American, and over the past decade, I’ve watched many of them transition from strong support of America in the world to various forms of discomfort and worse, thanks to policies enacted by Washington, DC. And if Europeans, who share enormous political, cultural, and historical ties with the United States, feel this way, you can imagine what poorer countries around the world, who have much less ability to tone down U.S. policies they dislike than Europeans do, must feel.

All of the policy areas that have been impacted by the ideological blindness that Schindler points out are serious in their own way, of course, but this strikes me as being potentially the most important of them all. As much as his supporters may not wish to admit it, the damage that was done to America’s international reputation by the Bush Administration has not been significantly repaired under Barack Obama. The drone war, the inconsistency when it comes to the civil war in Syria, the fact that Guantanamo Bay is still open, the revelations about NSA spying on allies and the citizens of allied nations, and what some have criticized as muted responses to events in Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea have all served to just reinforce the negativity that pervaded the world when Barack Obama took office. Meanwhile, here in the United States, the same ideological blindness that pervades domestic politics plays an even bigger role when it comes to foreign policy, as Schindler quite succinctly notes. The fact that neither side realizes the dangerous game they’re playing is really quite astounding.

As Schindler puts it in his own post, none of this is to suggest that people shouldn’t have political ideologies. In fact, I’m not even sure that’s even possible because people are always going to have certain worldviews that are going influence their opinions on political and cultural issues. The problem arises when, as has been the case here in the United States in the past several decades, those ideologies become so rigid that they make rational discussion and compromise essentially impossible. I’m not sure what the solution is, but I do believe that if we continue down this road much longer we’re going to pay the price for it. At that point, it won’t matter how “pure” you were in your political ideology.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rafer Janders says:

    What’s most important to remember, though, is that both sides do it….

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 45 Thumb down 0

  2. Rafer Janders says:

    Admit It, Political Scientists: Politics Really Is More Broken Than Ever: Scholars restrain themselves out of fear of being seen as partisans, but what’s happening now is different, and false equivalence is no virtue.

    THOMAS E. MANNMAY 26 2014, 8:00 AM E

    That mismatch between parties and governing institutions is exacerbated by the fact that the polarization is asymmetric. Republicans have become a radical insurgency—ideologically extreme, contemptuous of the inherited policy regime, scornful of compromise, unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence, and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of their political opposition. The evidence of this asymmetry is overwhelming.

    ….Asymmetric polarization has found its way to the public: Republican Party voters are more skewed to their ideological pole than Democratic Party voters are to theirs.

    Yet many political scientists, like most mainstream journalists and political reformers, refuse to even acknowledge or take seriously the case for asymmetric polarization. It makes us uncomfortable because some people will characterize the idea as partisan, even if it accurately captures reality.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/05/dysfunction/371544/

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 27 Thumb down 0

  3. Yet, as I said, it’s become entrenched on both the Left and the Right, the only difference I can tell being that if you’re on the Leftyou can make a very lucrative celebrity career out of it, while doing the same on the Right makes you Larry the Cable Guy.

    Larry the Cable Guy earned $13 million last year and is the 7th highest earning comedian, so it appears to be a very lucrative celebrity career regardless of leaning.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/12/top-earning-comedians-2013_n_3586775.html

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  4. Pinky says:

    Three problems: the Right has demonized the Left, the Left has demonized the Right, and the Center has demonized both. This last one may be the newest and most dangerous. No one puts himself in a position to attempt compromise. We bellyache over how one side or both sides won’t listen to a possible solution, but who is actually proposing these solutions? We’ve all seen this at the mall, two bickering children and a parent who stoops to their level rather than being the adult. I don’t see the moderate voices on either side, or any side, or no side, doing anything other than complaining.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 9

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Yes. Republicans lie and say the interests of minorities, women, the 99% would be better served by Republicans. Democrats truthfully say the interests of most Republicans would be better served by Democrats. Gee, I guess both sides do do it.

    On foreign policy I don’t know any liberal who thinks, or says, what Schindler claims we all seem to think. All Mr. Schindler is saying is, that like most people, he finds pragmatism emotionally unsatisfying. His problem, not ours.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 18 Thumb down 4

  6. danimal says:

    I get angry, really angry, with this simplistic analysis of our failed political system. While I identify with the “left” more than the “right”, to simply characterize the two as different sides of the same coin is THE EXACT SAME ANALYTIC FAILURE the author is proposing faces the American political system. By failing to rigorously analyze policies, the full range of available options, the probable and possible outcomes derived from policy, the costs and the benefits of each individual solution, the centrist simply clicks his or her tongue at the extremists without developing any expertise.

    The “centrist’s critique” is a lazy analysis; the kind of lazy analysis they criticize the partisans over. “Both sides…” allows the writer to float above the fray without making distinctions over the policy details. This one-dimensional thinking allows cynical politicians to drive the debate to the extremes, with the knowledge that simplistic centrists will assume the best policy is found at the midpoint of the debate. To ignore that the GOP has used the lazy centrist’s critique to drive the debate rightward is either deliberate or feigned ignorance. Centrists thus become a part of the problem as they aimlessly drift rightward attempting to find the centerpoint.

    I am not an extremist. I value conservative thinking even when I don’t believe it is correct. I have changed my mind on some issues as a result of compelling conservative arguments. I believe, or at least hope, that normal, non-elected conservatives can be engaged in a similar manner. I yearn for the day when sensible conservatives engage the extremists who have taken over the GOP. I do not see any evidence at all that the GOP leadership has shown the same willingness to engage intellectually or compromise sensibly. And that’s the problem we face today.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 2

  7. Moosebreath says:

    “Yet, as I said, it’s become entrenched on both the Left and the Right, the only difference I can tell being that if you’re on the Leftyou can make a very lucrative celebrity career out of it, while doing the same on the Right makes you Larry the Cable Guy.”

    Or Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, or practically any other nationally syndicated talk show host.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 0

  8. Mikey says:

    Everyone gets on Doug for what they see as his incorrect assertion that “both sides do it,” but you are missing a very important point: it doesn’t matter if the polarization is asymmetric or symmetric. What matters is whether the sides PERCEIVE it as asymmetric or symmetric. And I can tell you, knowing the views I see expressed by my conservative friends, the right is as strongly convinced that the left is responsible as the left is that the right is responsible.

    Holy crap, getting everyone to simply admit “both sides do it” would be enormous progress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 2

  9. al-Ameda says:

    I wonder where in Schindler’s “both sides do it” continuum, the president’s ACA (an idea derived substantially from conservatives) fits in? Perhaps Schindler doesn’t realize that it wasn’t ideologically pure liberals who rejected ACA, and obstructed its implementation in Republican controlled statehouses across the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  10. Modulo Myself says:

    A quick Google on John Schindler shows that he’s quite deep within the national security apparatus and wants nothing more than to have Cold War 2.0 with Russia. So he’s probably got issues with the ‘stupidity’ of Americans in not recognizing the dire situation experts like he know we are in.

    I’m also guessing that there’s a great deal of class stuff going on also: super-smart men who come through the military tend to have enormous chips on their shoulders when dealing with Ivy League liberals.

    The next model of Rush Limbaugh may be the angry centrist white male, who starts off admitting politely that conservatives really blew it with climate change, taxes, religion, and Iraq and then ends up sneering furiously at liberals because they would have staged D-Day with trans activists and a gay awareness day.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 2

  11. LC says:

    you mean both sides do it?! what a novel argument I’ve never heard Doug make before! still doesn’t make it true, but points for consistency I guess.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  12. Scott says:

    This really all comes down to ideology, meaning the substitution of preset cliches over actual thought.

    I kind of disagree with the whole premise of the argument. What Schindler describes is tribalism not ideology. Ideology has a lot of actual thinking with a firm set of premises and logical arguments that flow from the premises. Tribalism is more “my way, right or wrong” which is unthinking at its finest. In tribalism, loyalty and ascendence of the group is more important. And the group is more important than the country as a whole.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  13. Tillman says:

    I’d really like to meet an extremist moderate one day. God, the conversations I could have with them…

    What makes a man turn moderate?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  14. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Here’s an example of one side doing it: anyone who isn’t sufficiently supportive of gay marriage. Especially after the whole Proposition 8 fight in California, pro-gay-marriage activists went after people who donated money to supporting it, out to ruin their lives.

    One restaurant was targeted for a boycott because the owner donated.

    There was a push to boycott Chick-Fil-A because the owner opposes gay marriage. (This even led to a domestic terrorist attack that left one wounded, but had the intent of killing many.)

    The CEO of Mozilla was forced out because of his opposition to gay marriage.

    A professor in Virginia (Douglas Laycock) is being attacked not because he opposes gay marriage (he doesn’t), but because he said that religious opposition has some validity.

    There was a (failed) move to get Duck Dynasty off the air because the patriarch said some things about homosexuality that others didn’t like.

    In the first three cases, the businesses themselves had NOTHING to say, one way or another, about gay marriage, but since officials had done things IN THEIR OWN TIME, WITH THEIR OWN MONEY, the businesses were punished.

    I don’t see too many outspoken leftists having to fight to keep their jobs and livelihoods for simply holding unpopular political opinions, and expressing them in perfectly legal and respectable manners.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 24

  15. LC says:

    Also have to take issue with this:

    As much as his supporters may not wish to admit it, the damage that was done to America’s international reputation by the Bush Administration has not been significantly repaired under Barack Obama.

    And of course, a quick Google search would inform you otherwise:

    Opinions about the United States were not close to historic lows, however, according to Richard Wike, associate director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project.

    “It is worth keeping in mind when talking about Obama and America’s image, he is still considerably higher than during (the presidency of George W.) Bush,” Wike said. “In 2009, we generally saw a real improvement in America’s image (and) in general that pattern still holds.”

    http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/06/13/12184262-survey-worlds-opinion-of-us-obama-slips

    but who needs facts when both sides do it?!?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 1

  16. Ken says:

    But the Left does the exact same thing.

    Well, it’s nice to see things here are getting back to normal.

    *** wanking motion ***

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  17. Tillman says:

    @Mikey: Yup. The differing perceptions of our politics is incredibly frustrating. I’d say it contributes more to science denialism, whether you’re talking climate change or genetically-modified food, than anything else.

    We can’t agree on what a fact is anymore. Sometimes it’s like Florack and Jenos, who just stubbornly deny basic facts like how Valerie Plame was covert at the time of her outing. Other times, it’s in the murkier areas of economics with think tanks publishing contradictory findings on taxes and minimum wage increases. Your tribe determines your ideology there, and confirmation bias takes over with whatever else you learn from that point on.

    The fact that the right was the first to start polarizing in this fashion doesn’t excuse the left for following them with MSNBC and radio shows like Ed Schultz’s, which are every bit as thought-deadening as what you find on the right. “But they don’t have the audience of the right!” Give it time, the right built its bubble over two decades. The left is only getting started.

    It’s part of the reason I go gadfly here occasionally with pointing out when some lefty commenters are descending to the level of their opponents rhetorically.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  18. mannning says:

    It seems to me that divergent goals will always result in conflict, and rarely in compromise. If one examines the short and long term solutions to our problems through the lens if Liberals and progressives and then do the same for Republicans and Conservatives there will emerge huge disconnects between the various solutions, and this is simply because of the differing goals of these groups. Were these groups to come up with a common set of goals to begin with conflicts would be reduced dramatically and compromises would be easier. I could imagine this to occur in the short term, but almost never in the long term! The groups are ideologically poles apart, and hence their long term goals are quite different, and in fact unacceptable to each other. An example is the concept of Redistribution of Wealth which appears to be the current favorite of progressives and is anathema to conservatives. The goals diverge radically! One can discover the same divergence in just about every sphere of legislation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. Tillman says:

    @Pinky: Ooh, gotta get my weekly quota of partisan points or they’ll revoke my Bleeding Hearts card…

    No one puts himself in a position to attempt compromise.

    Obama offers Social Security cuts in exchange for more tax revenue. Keep in mind this was a very uncomfortable position in his own party to take, and they might have gotten a chance to reject it if the Republicans hadn’t flatly rejected any tax increase.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  20. Dave Schuler says:

    @Tillman:

    Sort of like radical apathy. That’s when you really don’t care.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  21. C. Clavin says:

    @mannning:

    Were these groups to come up with a common set of goals to begin with conflicts would be reduced dramatically and compromises would be easier.

    Fvcking genius!!! Why didn’t anyone think of that before??? If we all want the same thing we can finally compromise. Amazing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  22. Pinky says:

    @C. Clavin: Did you read his comment where he discusses this very problem?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  23. Gustopher says:

    @Pinky:

    the Left has demonized the Right

    But the right is filled with actual literal Demons! How can anyone not demonize them?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  24. C. Clavin says:

    This is just more BOTH SIDES DO IT nonsense. Doug must have spooged on his computer screen when he read it.
    On the current gun debate, spurred by Santa Barbara….it’s just not a standoff between two extreme positions…only one side is being absolutist. Policies on the table include universal background checks, the gun show loophole, and high-capacity magazines. No one serious on the left is asking for confiscation or a complete ban. But the Right is responsible for blocking even the most practical common sense measures.
    Health Care…Obamacare is a Republican program which was implemented by a Republican Governor who then ran on the Republican ticket for President. Yet not a single Republican voted for it and they have held 50 votes to repeal it.
    Climate Change? Seriously.
    Schindler is as full of it as Doug is, with this BOTH SIDES bull$hit.
    In fact one of the biggest problems we have is this make believe BOTH SIDES crap. If the Republicans were called out for being the radical extremists they are…instead of being coddled by the press…then we might actually get somewhere.
    Just don’t look to Doug for anything that resembles insight.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 2

  25. CB says:

    At least nobody’s been caned on the Senate floor yet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. yetanotherjohn says:

    I could argue that it is the biased press that contributes most to this. By excusing and not holding accountable the dems, or accusing without justification or holding to a one sided level of accountability the GOP, the press is the amplifier that makes the problem worse. If the shortcomings of solutions from both ends of the spectrum were equitably shown, then the push towards the compromise middle would be much stronger.

    On the other hand, your statement on “climate change” indicates such a lack of grounding in reality that you make the rest of your argument suspect. Arguing that “average temperatures have been rising or that the climate is changing at a more rapid pace than it has in the past” indicates an ignorance on the subject. Look up “the little ice age” and the times before and after it, then come back and make that statement. But you present your own cast in concrete prejudice as inescapable scientific truth that only the knuckle draggers on the right could possibly deny.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 18

  27. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: “Larry the Cable Guy earned $13 million last year and is the 7th highest earning comedian, so it appears to be a very lucrative celebrity career regardless of leaning.”

    Right, but he doesn’t seem to be rich, so it’s completely different than those terrible lefty celebrities.

    If there was a key to all the falsehoods in this piece, you nailed it right out of the box…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  28. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    Yes…I was ridiculing it.
    Of course we can compromise if we have the same goals. That’s why football teams have goals on the opposite ends of the field…if they were both working towards the same goal it wouldn’t make for much of a game.
    The only way for the two parties will ever share the same goals is for Democrats to decide they are only interested in protecting the earnings of the wealthy and controlling the uterus’s of women.
    Having different goals is fine. The problem is that Republicans have become absolutist. You can’t ever compromise when you have decided the President is the devil and the only job you have is to get him out of office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  29. Pinky says:

    @Tillman: There probably aren’t any extremist moderates, but they can be partisan, and they can be proud.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  30. Pinky says:

    @C. Clavin: No, you didn’t ridicule it; you repeated it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  31. george says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    What’s most important to remember, though, is that both sides do it….

    Actually, speaking as someone who’s a centrist in Canada, where even our most right wing party is left of the Democrats on most issues, and who thinks the GOP is currently bat sh*t crazy, I’d still say that in fact both sides do it. And in Canada all three sides, four in Quebec).

    They do it in different ways, but they all do it. Which is why so many people don’t like, let alone trust, any side (as seen in among other things, low voter turnout). And partisans (of the dreaded all sides) suggesting people who don’t vote for their side are some combination of is mind numbingly arrogant, which probably serves chiefly to turning people away from the party of whoever suggested it.

    I note I only have to read Salon to become conservative, to which the antidote is to read national review and become more liberal. I suspect that’s a fairly common reaction to highly partisan sources.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  32. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:
    http://xkcd.com/1357/
    Idiot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  33. humanoid.panda says:

    @yetanotherjohn: It’s pretty amazing that none of the tens of thousands of scientists who study climatology never thought about the little ice agee. Silly sods.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  34. C. Clavin says:

    @Mikey:

    Holy crap, getting everyone to simply admit “both sides do it” would be enormous progress.

    No! No! A thousand time, no!!!!
    BOTH SIDES DON’T DO IT!!!
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lets-just-say-it-the-republicans-are-the-problem/2012/04/27/gIQAxCVUlT_story.html

    We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  35. C. Clavin says:

    @Pinky:
    Reading comprehension problems rearing up again???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  36. humanoid.panda says:

    @humanoid.panda: Seriosly, how can seriously think that he can refute the works of tens of thousands of scientists by referring to an even they would have been total idiots not to include in their models, if one was not himself either an idiot or a bullshitter?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  37. Modulo Myself says:

    I just read that post about the WEIRD elite who don’t grasp Putin’s true objectives. It’s basically an analysis of geopolitics via the complex prejudices of a man who has issues with feminists and feels emasculated by gays and reflexively puts tolerance and diversity in quotes. It’s crap and completely about the writer, just like the post Doug cited. Schindler is the last guy in the world who should be going on about purism, which should be obvious, because everything ever written in the both sides do it genre is written by the last guy in the world capable of rising above his prejudices.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  38. superdestroyer says:

    The problem is politics and why the U.S. has so many issues is that virtually everyone in politics wants a long list of government services but just does not want to pay for it. The Republicans seem to want to run up huge debts while pretending that economic growth will solve the problem. The Democrats believe that they can raise taxes on the rich to fund a Nordic style nanny state.

    What both sides fail to realize is that people are not willing to pay for the government that they want. About the only thing that will revitalize the Republican Party in the U.S. is if the Democrats ever raise taxes enough to balance the budget and fund the government that most of the core groups of the Democrats want.

    All of the other partisan arguments are meant is distractions. The progressives going on about global climate change is just meant is a distraction because those same progressives refuse to name the specific politics that they want that will actually lower emissions enough to prevent the environment changes that they rant about. The progressives cannot force themselves to limit immigration into the first world let alone cut real emissions in the first world.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  39. Modulo Myself says:

    I note I only have to read Salon to become conservative, to which the antidote is to read national review and become more liberal. I suspect that’s a fairly common reaction to highly partisan sources.

    Salon sucks, but it’s also not being sued because one of its star writers claims that calling someone’s research ‘fraudulent’ is purely pejorative.The right wing has become the home of people who like to write political fanfic, but somehow, the wires in reality were crossed and their characters are being treated like they are real.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  40. James Pearce says:

    @gVOR08:

    “On foreign policy I don’t know any liberal who thinks, or says, what Schindler claims we all seem to think.”

    Yes, reading some of his excerpts I was struck with the thought, “This guy is a conservative.”

    It’s pretty obvious in how he misreads the left and soft-gloves the right.

    At any rate, I think all this “ideological purity” is a sign of the old ideologies crumbling. The new ones have not been formed yet, but the old ones are basically obsolete.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  41. Mikey says:

    @C. Clavin: Well OF COURSE Mann and Ornstein are going to say that, they’re good little Lefties.

    (You see how that works? I meant it sarcastically. My friends on the right do not.)

    What I mean by “getting everyone to simply admit ‘both sides do it’ would be tremendous progress” is this: to admit both sides do it, you have to admit your side does it too.

    That wouldn’t be progress?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  42. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin:

    BOTH SIDES DON’T DO IT!!!

    Nah, both sides do it. One side is just insane.

    There’s nothing wrong with admitting both sides do it. It’s only when you insist on “both sides do it” as an excuse for ignoring one side being insane that it becomes a problem. It also doesn’t work for everything; I don’t recall the last time Democrats as the minority used the debt ceiling to extract concessions from Republicans by threatening a default.

    There is absolutely no hypocrisy in acknowledging your side is full of scumbags. After all, if you had to do the job, you would eventually become a scumbag. (It’s not a fun job!) But scumbags can be sane or insane, and insane scumbags have no redeeming qualities. You cannot say of them, “Well he’s an utter asshole whose principles are completely opposed to mine, but at least he and I agree on the temperature at which water freezes.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 1

  43. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    simply holding unpopular political opinions

    Don’t try to trivialize what’s actually happening. Opposition to marriage equality is not simply “holding unpopular political opinions.” It is actual discrimination. It is speaking and acting in favor of denying a group of people a right.

    “George W. Bush was a fantastic President” is an unpopular political opinion. “That group of people must not be allowed to exercise a right because of an inherent characteristic” is far more, and far more damaging.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1

  44. Tillman says:

    @yetanotherjohn: Oh look at you, you can read graphs. Now go interpret the ice core data from the Antarctic and tell me what conclusions you reach about the period of warming starting around 1860 and continuing in a rough trend line upwards towards the present day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  45. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    I don’t see too many outspoken leftists having to fight to keep their jobs and livelihoods for simply holding unpopular political opinions, and expressing them in perfectly legal and respectable manners.

    Bill Maher lost his TV show for that. But there are tons of examples of ordinary folks being fired for their political views. You know, people who are not public figures who must appeal to an audience or CEOs responsible setting company policies.

    This Alabama woman was fired from her home insulation job in 2004 for having a Kerry bumper sticker.

    This woman was fired in 2012 for voting for Obama.

    UC Irvine law school dean was fired a week after signing the contracts because he is a liberal.

    There are many more examples, of course. Next time the topic comes up you’ll again pretend it doesn’t happen.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  46. @wr:

    If you want to see something really odd, try and find a clip of Dan Whitney’s act before he came up with the Larry the Cable Guy character, when he was mostly a Seinfeld knock off.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  47. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    What both sides fail to realize is that people are not willing to pay for the government that they want.

    We agree on this point.
    Many Americans do not want to pay for the government they want or the government they have.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  48. Moosebreath says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    “I don’t see too many outspoken leftists having to fight to keep their jobs and livelihoods for simply holding unpopular political opinions, and expressing them in perfectly legal and respectable manners.”

    You don’t recall The Dixie Chicks? Bill Maher?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  49. wr says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Interesting… Doesn’t surprise me though. It’s the rare comedian who arrives at his persona fully formed.

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  50. stonetools says:

    The problem is not that ideology makes us stupid. The problem is that stupid ideology makes us stupid. The Republican Party is now simply the party of stupid, wrong ideology and they are blocking all attempts at intelligent government.

    The left has its own willing blind spots when it comes to facts that tend to contradict a preconceived world view on issues ranging from the impact of the minimum wage or increased taxes, to the often deleterious effect of government welfare programs, to the evidence that tends to contradict the idea that more gun control leads to less gun crime

    These are examples of conservative ideology being wrong on the facts. Its just that simple. No, Doug, increasing the minimum wage doesn’t hurt the poor overall : economists have come to a consensus on that.
    The evidence from nonbiased academic studies is overwhelming that gun control does lead to less gun crime-which is why the NRA is dead set against federal funding of scientific study of the issue. They know the likely result.
    As to the deleterious effect of government welfare programs, the result is mixed-but again, well run government programs help more than they hurt. If you bought a house, I’m pretty sure you are happy with the result of that middle class government welfare program called the mortgage interest deduction, amirite?
    There are right and wrong answers to a lot of these issues and the plain fact is that the conservatives have been wrong most of the time. They just don’t want to admit it. Rather they just want to block progress toward achieving the right results.
    Obamacare is the classic case of conservatives being wrong. Conservatives (including the OP) were viscerally opposed to even the idea of the universal health insurance and dedicated themselves to killing the ACA by fair means or foul. Yet it is succeeding and looks like it is going to be as much an accepted part of the social safety net as Social Security and Medicare-which conservatives also opposed.
    Conservatives need to give up being stupid and move toward a reality-based ideology. This is really what Obama has been asking the Republicans to do from day one. Its why he p!ssed off liberals and went with a conservative, market-centered solution to universal health insurance instead of holding out for what he and most liberals (including this liberal) thought was the optimal solution-single payer. The conservative response was to reject reality and opt for massive resistance-an approach as stupid and shortsighted as the original Republican opposition to Social Security.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  51. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:
    You seem to forget that Democrats dragged Republicans along kicking and screaming and balanced the budget….only to have Republicans blow it to high heavens. Today the deficit is dropping fast…until another Republican takes office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  52. C. Clavin says:

    @Tillman:
    @Mikey:
    You are talking about this as if it were a matter of degree…it’s way past that.
    If BOTH SIDES DID IT to the same degree….fine. But Republicans are using extremeism as a weapon. Do apologize for them is to perpetuate the problem. Tillman said above that Obama was willing to make concessions on entitlements even though it was uncomfirtable. Imagine if Republicans did the same.
    Oh wait…they did before…just not now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  53. Hal_10000 says:

    @stonetools:

    “The evidence from nonbiased academic studies is overwhelming that gun control does lead to less gun crimewhich is why the NRA is dead set against federal funding of scientific study of the issue. They know the likely result.”

    Uh, which is it? Is the research not being done or is the research “overwhelming”. The research is, at best, mixed, depending on how much weight you put on John Lott’s work. The only studies I’ve seen claiming that gun control leads to less crime are heavily cherry-picked.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  54. C. Clavin says:

    @C. Clavin:
    I realize I am acknowledging Democrats a$$holedness and letting it slide. If Republucans operated on the same plane we would be fine. If Demicrats operated on the same plane as Republicans we would be even more fvcked. What more needs to be said???

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  55. Andre Kenji says:

    Both sides do it. But the difference is that the Republicans have more money.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  56. stonetools says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Federally funded research has not been done lately -thanks to the NRA. They are barring those studies because previous studies were consistently yielding results that the NRA didn’t like -which is why they funded their own “studies” by folks like Lott and Meisner who could be relied on to produce results that the NRA would like.

    How much firepower does the gun lobby have? Consider this: since the mid-90s, the NRA has “all but choked off” money for research on gun violence, according to a story today in the New York Times. “We’ve been stopped from answering the basic questions,” said Mark Rosenberg, the former director of the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention, part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which used to be the leading source of financing for firearms research. Thanks to the gun lobby’s obstruction, questions like whether more guns actually make communities safer, whether the ready availability of high-capacity magazines increases the number of gun-related deaths, or whether more rigorous background checks of gun buyers make a difference, remain maddeningly unanswered.

    From the Times:

    The dearth of money can be traced in large measure to a clash between public health scientists and the N.R.A. in the mid-1990s. At the time, Dr. Rosenberg and others at the C.D.C. were becoming increasingly assertive about the importance of studying gun-related injuries and deaths as a public health phenomenon, financing studies that found, for example, having a gun in the house, rather than conferring protection, significantly increased the risk of homicide by a family member or intimate acquaintance.

    Alarmed, the N.R.A. and its allies on Capitol Hill fought back. The injury center was guilty of “putting out papers that were really political opinion masquerading as medical science,” said [Chief NRA lobbyist Chris] Cox, who also worked on this issue for the N.R.A. more than a decade ago.

    Pro-gun lawmakers failed to shutter the injury center in 1996, but did manage to prevent the CDC from using its injury prevention funds to push for gun control measures. As a result: the CDC has tiptoed around gun safety issues in the years since, keeping meaningful data on gun violence out of the hands of lawmakers who could use it to help pass sensible reform legislation. Until then, the NRA can rest easy and ask: where’s your proof

    This is typical of conservative ideologues, btw. Don’t like the facts? Suppress them-and/or make up your own. In the meantime, FACT-In countries all over the world-including ones quite similar in history and culture to the USA, like Canada and Australia-gun safety legislation has resulted in gun death rates much lower than the USA.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  57. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    The Democrts during the Clinton presidency did not drag anyone, anywhere. In case you have forgotten, the Clinton Administration threw the Congressional Democrats under the bus and made a deal with the Republicans who controlled the House and Senate. If Dick Gebhardt had been the speaker of the House, the budget would have never budget.

    Also, I doubt that the Congressional Democrats had much to do with the dot.com bubble that cause the receipts of the IRS to do up for a couple of years.

    However, if you look at current budget projections. http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45229 the deficits are not going to go away. Given that the U.S. is becoming a one party state and the Democrats have plans for large expansions of spending, the deficit will just get worse since there are not really enough rich people to pay the taxes that the Democrats want to spend. http://www.vox.com/2014/5/7/5681002/the-buffett-rule-wont-pay-the-tab-for-the-liberal-agenda

    One can easily make the argument that the Republicans are idiots who cannot plan for the long-term when it comes to government policy but the Democrats are not much better. The only difference is that all of the demographic changes are on the Democrats side so that no matter how much they screw up in the future, they will remain in office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  58. Grewgills says:

    @humanoid.panda:
    Well, the climate has changed naturally before, therefor all changes in climate are natural. It’s obvious if you don’t think about it. After all when I left my glass outside yesterday it naturally filled with water, now my glass is full again… must be natural.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  59. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:
    Thanks for proving my point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  60. Pinky says:

    @Moosebreath: Beg pardon? As I recall, Bill Maher was a liberal when ABC hired him, then he was a liberal with a low-rated show, then he was a liberal who said something I agreed with (that the 9/11 perpetrators weren’t cowards), and he was fired quickly after that. Is “the 9/11 perpetrators weren’t cowards” a liberal position? If so, how does it fit into liberal ideology, and which liberal candidates have run on it? Just because something bad happens to a liberal doesn’t mean that he was punished for being liberal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  61. jomike says:

    Scarborough – Schindler No Labels ’16. The bus’ll have doors on both sides.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  62. Hal_10000 says:

    @stonetools:

    “In the meantime, FACT-In countries all over the world-including ones quite similar in history and culture to the USA, like Canada and Australia-gun safety legislation has resulted in gun death rates much lower than the USA.”

    Wrong. Inference. And a poor one at that. The United States has also seen a huge decrease in gun death and gun assault over the last twenty years even as gun control laws were loosened. No matter how much people try to wish away that fact, it still exists. In fact, Dan Kahan listed this as a specific example of when liberals are willing it ignore or rewrite facts to suit their agenda.

    I do disagree with the NRA’s opposition to research. On the other hand, I also understand it. Public health advocates have a shaky record on these kind of issues, such as when the CDC used 50 year old morbidity numbers to estimate that 400,000 Americans die of obesity (real number closer to 25000) or when the EPA changed weighting values to draw the conclusion that secondhand smoke kills. A few months ago, the left wing ecosphere exploded because of a “study” that claimed Missouri saw a huge increase in murders after their background checks ended. Ignored: other states with similar changes in law so no increase, Missouri didn’t see an increase in other crimes, Missouri’s crime was already increasing rapidly before then.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  63. Moosebreath says:

    @Pinky:

    ” As I recall, Bill Maher was a liberal when ABC hired him, then he was a liberal with a low-rated show, then he was a liberal who said something I agreed with (that the 9/11 perpetrators weren’t cowards), and he was fired quickly after that. Is “the 9/11 perpetrators weren’t cowards” a liberal position? If so, how does it fit into liberal ideology, and which liberal candidates have run on it? Just because something bad happens to a liberal doesn’t mean that he was punished for being liberal.”

    Way to move the goalposts. What you said was, “I don’t see too many outspoken leftists having to fight to keep their jobs and livelihoods for simply holding unpopular political opinions, and expressing them in perfectly legal and respectable manners.” Please explain which portion of that quote has to do with the unpopular political opinions being part of “liberal ideology”.

    And your failure to respond on the Dixie Chicks is duly noted.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  64. Buffalo Rude says:

    I eagerly await Doug’s well reasoned response to the absolute demolition of his post’s premise in the comments. I won’t hold my breath, however. . .

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  65. Pinky says:

    @Moosebreath: My mistake was blurring your comment and Mantis’s, as well as assuming that you both meant he got in trouble for his liberal views. (A reasonable assumption, given what this thread’s about.) Your mistake was blurring my comment and Jenos’s, as well as using the phrase “move the goalposts”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  66. PAUL HOOSON says:

    I sure like the notion that this Website always brings together both liberals and conservatives in very civil and intelligent discussions. I only wish that all politics outside of this Website could be as reasoned, this intelligent, and this civil.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  67. dennis says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Well, you started off pretty good, but, I guess because you can’t help it, you digressed to your usual tribal diatribe. That’s okay, though; I still thumbs-upped you.

    — DED

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  68. wr says:

    @Hal_10000: “The research is, at best, mixed, depending on how much weight you put on John Lott’s work”

    Well, sure, if you want to include a proven fraud in your collection of research you can find whatever you want.

    John Lott.

    That guy who wrote Dow 36,000 was pretty good, too, if you want to throw him into the mix.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  69. Keith says:

    If you’ve spent a few minutes on twitter talking politics or national security, you’ve run across John Schindler. I’m shocked he has time to blog given the time he spends telling people they are stupid or calling attention to his PhD and position at the Naval War College. I think he’s a deeply embarassing human. http://schindlertweets.tumblr.com/

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  70. Moosebreath says:

    @Pinky:

    You’re right — sorry about that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  71. Barry says:

    “He also mentions the debate over the Affordable Care Act and health care reform in general, where we see people on the left claiming that conservatives don’t care about the health care of the less fortunate and conservatives claim that it is “government-run health care” when, in fact, it is the biggest subsidize to the insurance and health care industries since the adoption of Medicare some 50 years ago. ”

    He’s a liar. Note that one side is telling the truth, and the other side is lying. Note that the right actually doesn’t care about the health care of the less fortunate – their only policy is to repeal Obamacare and they’ve overwhelmingly rejected Medicaid expansion without doing *anything*.

    “The Left seems to think – here President Obama bears his share of the blame – that mere words, especially dramatic speeches, can compensate for a lack of strategy or definable and implementable policy. ”

    He’s lying again – ask the people[1] killed by drones about Obama’s policy on ‘words’ vs. deeds.
    What Obama has done is to try to get the ‘War on Terror’ on a sustainable basis[2].

    Doug, can you find a guy who can actually write a few pages without lying through his teeth?

    [1] Both terrorists and ‘collateral damagees’ (so to speak).

    [2] Which is not a good thing, overall; Obama has found a way to keep an unending war against whomever going for a looooooooong time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  72. Tillman says:

    @C. Clavin: I think of it like a Cartesian plot where the X axis is, for want of a better term, the measure of assholery, and the Y axis is the measure of sanity.

    Where Democrats and Republicans fall on the X axis relative to each other is debatable, although I would place both of them in negative territory. (My politics being what they are, I’d think the Democrats were closer to 0 than the Republicans.) The Y axis? Democrats maintain a positive rating if only because we have to contrast them to the extremely negative Republicans. So we’re comparing a point in quadrant II to one in quadrant III here.

    Next time someone says both sides do it, just say they’re demonstrating one-dimensional thinking.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  73. Mikey says:

    @Tillman:

    Next time someone says both sides do it, just say they’re demonstrating one-dimensional thinking.

    Or perhaps don’t infer that “both sides do it” always means “both sides do it equally.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  74. Tillman says:

    Here is a neat little piece also analyzing Schindler’s post.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  75. jomike says:

    @Hal_10000:

    The United States has also seen a huge decrease in gun death and gun assault over the last twenty years even as gun control laws were loosened.

    Technically true, but misleading. First, the “huge decrease” in U.S. gun deaths over the last twenty years was from the historical peak of just under 40,000 in the early ’90s (approx. 15 per 100,000) to about 32,000 today (just over 10 per 100,000). A dramatic decrease, to be sure, but really just a regression to the mean, from “appalling, narco-state-like all-time high” to merely “appalling, mind-numbing, sad new normal.” Compared to other developed countries, U.S. gun violence is off the charts — 20 times the OECD average, and about 10 times the NATO average.

    Second, “even as gun control laws were loosened” implies, in seductive contrarian style, that despite what They have been telling you all these years, there is no relationship between gun prevalence and gun deaths. (Or, more absurdly, that there’s an inverse causal relationship — more guns make us safer.) It looks cool in its contrarian leather jacket, but it’s nonsense:

    Guns do not make a nation safer, say US doctors who have compared the rate of firearms-related deaths in countries where many people own guns with the death rate in countries where gun ownership is rare.

    Their findings, published Wednesday in the prestigious American Journal of Medicine, debunk the historic belief among many people in the United States that guns make a country safer, they say. On the contrary, the US, with the most guns per head in the world, has the highest rate of deaths from firearms, while Japan, which has the lowest rate of gun ownership, has the least.

    …”There was a significant correlation between guns per head per country and the rate of firearm-related deaths with Japan being on one end of the spectrum and the US being on the other. This argues against the notion of more guns translating into less crime. South Africa was the only outlier in that the observed firearms-related death rate was several times higher than expected from gun ownership.”

    “Regardless of exact cause and effect, the current study debunks the widely quoted hypothesis that countries with higher gun ownership are safer than those with low gun ownership.”

    The experience of Australia since the Port Arthur massacre is probably the most convincing real-world evidence we’ll ever get of a causal link between gun prevalence and gun deaths. But somehow it never penetrates our epistemic bubble, and so we keep right on arguing about pseudo-facts and contrarian nonsense that’ve been debunked a thousand times as the rest of the world looks on in horror.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  76. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: Don’t try to trivialize what’s actually happening. Opposition to marriage equality is not simply “holding unpopular political opinions.” It is actual discrimination. It is speaking and acting in favor of denying a group of people a right.

    IOW, demonizing people is OK when they’re actually demons.

    Grow up and get a little perspective. It wasn’t that long ago when “gay marriage” was, to the majority of Americans, a joke, and “gay-bashing” was both literal and funny. Now gay marriage is legal in most states, and moving even faster. The second most popular NFL draftee is a very late-round pick whose most notable distinction is that he’s gay — and the one player who said anything remotely bad about him was punished for it.

    And if “gave money to opposing the legalization of gay marriage” is hateful an inhuman, what terms do you reserve for those who say that gays should be killed simply for being gay? For those who say that “forget about being allowed to marry — gays shouldn’t be allowed to live?” You’ve wasted your best rhetoric on those who simply say things you don’t like, and never even come close to any kind of violence.

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  77. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    And if “gave money to opposing the legalization of gay marriage” is hateful an inhuman, what terms do you reserve for those who say that gays should be killed simply for being gay? For those who say that “forget about being allowed to marry — gays shouldn’t be allowed to live?”

    Is this really your argument? “At least I don’t want to physically kill them!” There’s a hell of a lot of discrimination that can happen short of actual murder.

    Also I never said “hateful and inhuman.” I simply stated a clear fact: those who speak and act against marriage equality are engaging in discrimination. I’m pretty sure many of them don’t have any hatred at all for gay people. But hatred isn’t a necessary driver of discrimination.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  78. Pinky says:

    @Mikey: Mikey, step back and go meta on this.

    We tend to think of our side’s victories as justice, just setting things right. The other side’s victories in our eyes are political at best, immoral at worst. That’s not the whole problem, but it’s part of it. And the fact that it’s perfectly natural means that we all need to keep an eye out for it.

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  79. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: I simply stated a clear fact: those who speak and act against marriage equality are engaging in discrimination.

    No, they are engaging in political discourse. You just don’t like their position. You don’t like what they advocate, so you decide that simply saying things and supporting legal proposals that you don’t like constitutes a horrid offense against humanity.

    I believe that the best answer to bad speech is more speech. You seem to believe that the best answer to bad speech is to shut them up and punish them. There are terms for that sort of belief system.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  80. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Moosebreath: There’s a bit of an exception when it comes to celebrities like Maher, the Dixie Chicks, and the Duck Dynasty guy. Their livelihood depends on a certain level of good will from the general public.

    Personally, I thought Maher got a raw deal over his firing. There is a certain element of truth in what he said. However, he’s a misogynistic a-hole who had already committed several offenses that should have merited his firing, so I didn’t feel too bad about him. It was kind of like Al Capone for me — he got sent up for tax evasion. Even if he’d been railroaded on that one, there were enough other reasons to lock him up that I didn’t mind it too much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  81. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mantis: Let’s look at your three cases, and I’m going to assume that you picked your best three examples.

    1) Individual taking action, and only alleged.

    2) Individual taking action, and only alleged.

    3) Stated reason wasn’t because of conservative attacks, but “fear of conservative attacks.” Also, action taken by an individual.

    So you have three cases where three people (two allegedly) acted to enforce their own political views. Whereas I was citing examples where there were large groups of people organizing to seek out and punish people.

    I’m talking apples, you’re talking the square root of negative one.

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  82. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    No, they are engaging in political discourse. You just don’t like their position. You don’t like what they advocate, so you decide that simply saying things and supporting legal proposals that you don’t like constitutes a horrid offense against humanity.

    They are advocating the denial of a right to a group of people based on an innate characteristic. The use of political means to achieve that end does not somehow legitimize it.

    You seem to believe that the best answer to bad speech is to shut them up and punish them.

    Your inference is incorrect. I don’t advocate boycotts (or other penalties) or suppression of speech in response. But I will point out advocacy for actual discrimination when I see it.

    And again, that’s what’s going on, this isn’t just mere “political discourse” any more than advocating for separate facilities for black people was “political discourse.” There is an actual harm in play here.

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  83. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: So, then, Mikey, if I’m mischaracterizing your position, can you clarify it a little? Suppose someone genuinely and sincerely opposes gay marriage. Just what do you think they should be allowed to say or do to express their beliefs? So far, as far as I can tell, they can’t vote against it, they can’t donate money to groups that oppose it, they can’t speak their beliefs, they can’t even passively refuse to go along with it (witness bakers and photographers being sued for not wanting to service gay weddings).

    So, they can believe whatever they want, but they can’t let anyone know what they believe? Is there any way they can express that belief that you find acceptable?

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  84. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Actually, as far as I’m concerned they can do all those things (except as far as some states bar public accommodations from discrimination based on sexual orientation). I won’t stop them speaking or voting their consciences, nor would I advocate anyone else do so. But their position is still advocacy for discrimination, however “genuinely and sincerely” they hold it.

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  85. Rafer Janders says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Also, I doubt that the Congressional Democrats had much to do with the dot.com bubble that cause the receipts of the IRS to do up for a couple of years.

    Um, well, we DID invent the Internet. No Internet, no dot.com bubble….

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  86. Rafer Janders says:

    @Hal_10000:

    The United States has also seen a huge decrease in gun death and gun assault over the last twenty years even as gun control laws were loosened.

    Yes, due to other factors such as demographic changes, immigration (more immigration from countries without a strong gun culture and less white men overall), more movement of the population to the cities (which have more gun control) away from rural and suburban areas (which have less gun control), more advanced medical trauma techniques which now save gunshot victims who previously would have died, increased mental health awareness, the fact that fewer and fewer households overall own guns, increasing incarceration, etc.

    If we have factors 1-10 causing fewer gun deaths, and then factor 11 is loosening gun control laws, you can’t point to factor 11 and say aha, loosening gun control laws saves lives! You’re completely ignoring every other relevant statistic.

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  87. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mikey:

    But their position is still advocacy for discrimination, however “genuinely and sincerely” they hold it.

    I never get this claim that just because someone “genuinely and sincerely” believes something that it’s somehow OK. Southerners, after all, used to genuinely and sincerely believe that blacks were inferior. Men used to genuinely and sincerely believe that women were not as smart. Nazis genuinely and sincerely believe that Jews are evil. Fundamentalist Islamists genuinely and sincerely believe that women should not be educated, allowed to work, or leave the house.

    Who cares if your belief is genuine and sincere if it’s still noxious? At best you get points for not being a hypocrite.

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  88. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: I won’t stop them speaking or voting their consciences, nor would I advocate anyone else do so.

    You should introduce yourself to the Mikey I’ve been debating… he’s all about shutting them up.

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  89. Rafer Janders says:

    @Mikey:

    Mikey, your mistake seems to be trying to hold an honest discussion with that poster. You should know it’s just going to be an exercise in mischaracterization, goal-post moving, straw-man beating, out of context quoting, and outright lying.

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  90. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: There is literally nothing in any comment I’ve posted that even remotely supports what you are asserting as my position. Not a damned thing. In fact, there are several statements expressing the EXACT OPPOSITE.

    The most obvious conclusion I can draw is Rafer Janders is correct.

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  91. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So far, as far as I can tell, they can’t vote against it, they can’t donate money to groups that oppose it, they can’t speak their beliefs, they can’t even passively refuse to go along with it (witness bakers and photographers being sued for not wanting to service gay weddings).

    See, the problem here is that Jenos doesn’t understand what the word “can’t” means. Don’t blame him though; he’s pretty stupid.

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  92. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Mikey: Mikey, let me spell it out to you, then.

    Your response to people expressing their opinions isn’t to argue that they’re wrong, it’s to point at them and yell “THEY’RE DISCRIMINATING! THEY’RE DENYING PEOPLE THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS!”

    That isn’t dialogue, that isn’t discussion, that isn’t debate. That’s shuttupery.

    FACT: Most major religions have strictures against homosexuality.

    FACT: By definition, “major religion” means “a lot of people follow it.”

    FACT: People who belong to those religions have an obligation to live by its tenets.

    FACT: I believe that those aspects of those faiths are wrong.

    FACT: I believe that they have the right to be wrong, and support their right to be wrong.

    FACT: There are ways that they can express their beliefs, and there are ways that they cannot.

    So, when the Catholic church says that it will not allow gay weddings to be conducted in their churches, or will not in any way sanction a gay marriage, I think that’s their right and perfectly fine. If you don’t like that, you probably shouldn’t be forcing yourself on the Church anyway.

    On the other hand, Muslims who say that gays should be killed shouldn’t be allowed to kill gays. I don’t mind them saying it (it makes it easier to identify the dangerous ones), but the instant they try to act on those beliefs they need to be stopped.

    And yes, gays are killed for being gay in quite a few Muslim nations, by their governments, with the support of the clergy (sometimes one and the same).

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  93. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Let’s look at your three cases, and I’m going to assume that you picked your best three examples.

    No, I just found a couple of them on my phone that I remembered off the top of my head while taking the train home from work.

    I’m talking apples, you’re talking the square root of negative one.

    No, I responded to what you wrote:

    I don’t see too many outspoken leftists having to fight to keep their jobs and livelihoods for simply holding unpopular political opinions, and expressing them in perfectly legal and respectable manners.

    My examples all fit that description. Now you are claiming you meant something else, because you know I’m right and you are a lying little turd. And rather stupid to boot.

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  94. Tillman says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    So far, as far as I can tell, they can’t vote against it, they can’t donate money to groups that oppose it, they can’t speak their beliefs, they can’t even passively refuse to go along with it (witness bakers and photographers being sued for not wanting to service gay weddings).

    What you’re arguing for is for someone to be able to do those things and still retain the respect of the community that disagrees with them entirely. That is not how the world works. If a prominent politician revealed himself as a neo-Nazi, he could not claim his free speech was infringed upon the moment no one voted for him anymore because he suffered the consequences of his speech, not an inability to speak.

    Or as mantis said, you don’t understand what the word “can’t” means.

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    On the other hand, Muslims who say that gays should be killed shouldn’t be allowed to kill gays. I don’t mind them saying it (it makes it easier to identify the dangerous ones), but the instant they try to act on those beliefs they need to be stopped.

    But wait, I thought you were all about engaging in dialogue with people with opinions you don’t have. But suddenly, the moment a Muslim wants to kill a gay, this is out of bounds for discussion? Dude, what are your principles again?

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  95. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    That isn’t dialogue, that isn’t discussion, that isn’t debate.

    Yes, it is exactly that.

    That’s shuttupery.

    You, like most dimwitted wingnuts, believe that anytime anyone disagrees with your batshit beliefs that they are “silencing” you or “not allowing” you to express your beliefs. Yet you morons continue to express your dishonest propaganda regurgitation all day, every day, unabated. People may not want to work for, work with, or give money to assholes, but that in no way restricts your right to be one. Oh, and you don’t get to break the law just because you don’t like it. Sorry, thems the breaks. Assholes are not exempt from the law..

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2

  96. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    FACT: People who belong to those religions have an obligation to live by its tenets.

    FACT: There are ways that they can express their beliefs, and there are ways that they cannot.

    This is another common misunderstanding of religion, treating it as if it’s something inherent to someone, rather than a belief that they CHOOSE to have, just as they choose their political party or hobby.

    It’s like saying “I’m a Communist, and so I have an obligation to live by the Communist Party’s tenets.” Yeah, but no one is forcing you to be a communist. You’re always free to switch parties, and you can’t shelter from the consequences of your actions by pointing to the group you’re in and saying “but the group! The group made me do it!” You chose the group, you can un-choose it.

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  97. jomike says:

    @Keith:

    I’m shocked (Schindler) has time to blog given the time he spends telling people they are stupid or calling attention to his PhD and position at the Naval War College.

    The United States Naval War College must be proud of the way their most prominent tenured professor represents himself, his institution, and the Navy.

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  98. Mikey says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Your response to people expressing their opinions isn’t to argue that they’re wrong, it’s to point at them and yell “THEY’RE DISCRIMINATING! THEY’RE DENYING PEOPLE THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS!”

    That isn’t dialogue, that isn’t discussion, that isn’t debate. That’s shuttupery.

    No, it isn’t. It is a statement of fact. They are advocating discrimination.

    I’m not here to shut anyone up. They should be free to express their belief, even work within the political system to advance it, but that freedom doesn’t change the fact of what it really is and how it affects people. And I am going to point that out.

    If they feel in some way shamed when confronted with the truth of their genuinely and sincerely held belief, perhaps they should ask themselves why that shoe fits so well.

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  99. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Suppose someone genuinely and sincerely opposes gay marriage. Just what do you think they should be allowed to say or do to express their beliefs?

    Say anything you want. There is no law against being a bigot. But don’t get your panties in a twist when you get called out for being a bigot, or if your livelihood depends on the free-market and the free-market doesn’t agree with you.
    Your freedom of speech doesn’t mean that I’m not free to say or do anything I want in response to your homophobia.
    What you advocate is protecting the speech you believe in and silencing the speech you don’t believe in.
    http://xkcd.com/1357/

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  100. Moosebreath says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    “Their livelihood depends on a certain level of good will from the general public.”

    And the examples you cited of the CEO’s of Mozilla and Chick-Fil-A do not because…?

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  101. Pinky says:

    Glad to see everyone’s using this article as an opportunity for self-reflection.

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  102. Tillman says:

    @Pinky: I thought we were in a discussion. Isn’t that a good thing?

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  103. jomike says:

    My own process of self reflection led me to congratulate myself for remaining above it all, and resisting the impulse to sneer at the blinkered partisans on Both Sides. It was a powerful urge, but I refused to yield to it.

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  104. C. Clavin says:

    @Tillman:

    Dude, what are your principles again?

    http://whippetmedia.com/peoplefitconsulting.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/moving-target.jpg

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  105. Rafer Janders says:

    @Moosebreath:

    And the examples you cited of the CEO’s of Mozilla and Chick-Fil-A do not because…?

    Because shut up, that’s why.

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  106. An Interested Party says:

    You should know that you are losing an argument when you use religion to try to justify bigotry…after all, religion was used in the past to justify slavery, racial discrimination, subjection of women, war, and on and on and on…and I do apologize so sincerely that very little self-reflection was involved in typing the previous comments…

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  107. mannning says:

    @C. Clavin: How very astute! Did you ever consider the obverse to your statement? If we don’t want the same things (read goals), we can almost never compromise. Which is what separates the main parties almost irrevocably day by day. You reveal your bias with your example of a football game, which is by design meant to have opposite goals, whereas in good legislation the goal should be to provide the greatest good for the nation, and unanimity through compromise ought to become the goal of this game. In the real political world, this ideal falls to the many opposing ideologues on both sides.

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