Friday, October 24, 2014

Conservatives Get Their News From Fox. Who Knew?

What exactly do conservatives like about Fox News? The facts? Nah...

Holy obviouser-than-heck, Batman, a new Pew study finds that while liberals spread their favorite news providers over a large cluster and trust a good portion of providers beyond that, conservatives are broadly distrustful of most news outlets and rely primarily on Fox News for their "information."

I use information in scare quotes because Fox News has been caught red-handed doing a very bad job of informing its viewers. This might be old news, but it remains apt: A 2012 study found that Fox News viewers were less informed than people who didn't view the news at all.

Now more of this is coming to light. Amanda Marcotte at Salon has a good rundown of the new studies by Pew. Key paragraphs:
The findings were astounding. Out of the 36 news sources, consistent liberals trusted 28, a mix of liberal and mainstream news sources. Mostly, liberal respondents generally agreed, holding out a little more skepticism for overtly ideological sources like Daily Kos or ThinkProgress, but not actually distrusting them, either. The only news sources liberals didn’t trust, generally, are overtly right-wing ones, such as Fox News, the Blaze, Breitbart, or Rush Limbaugh’s show.
Conservatives, on the other hand, saw betrayers and liars around every corner. Consistent conservatives distrusted a whopping 24 out of 36 outlets and mostly conservative respondents distrusted 15 and were skeptical of quite a few more. The hostility wasn’t just to well-known liberal sources like MSNBC. Strong conservatives hated all the network news, CNN, NPR, and the major national outlets, except the Wall Street Journal.  Respondents who are mostly conservative fared better, but were still hostile to the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as skeptical of mainstream organizations like CBS and NBC News.
Conservatives watch Fox News because they're wildly distrustful of other sources, in part, I assume, because Fox News breeds this distrust. Liberals, on the other hand, spread their sources of information around because they're more apt to look for facts to inform their opinions rather than have their opinions ratified.

Now, I'm a liberal, and I listen to MSNBC -- I have Sirius XM in my car -- and I do so because I want to follow politics. MSNBC has a liberal slant, I grant that, but I'm in it for the political news, and I get that from them because they're obsessed with political rather than "news news," such as car crashes and car chases and murders in Dallas. I admit, though, that I'm comfortable with MSNBC's politics. I won't admit that "both sides do it." MSNBC has a liberal bias, which is also reality-based.

I watch Fox News from time to time, but not for the news. I watch to find out what they're up to, and generally they're fear-mongering and condemning Barack Obama and shouting Benghazi, IRS, and ISIS and Ebola and Obama! I wish that were an exaggeration, but it's not.

Also read the Ezra Klein article at about this. Aside from some pretty cool graphs that demonstrate the growing political polarization over the years, you'll find out that we are more polarized but not more extreme. That's an important distinction.

The far right is just as conservative as it's always been, and the far left is where it's been for a long time. What's changed is that, unlike in the past, there are much fewer conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans. Those days are over.

Finally, we as a nation tend to fear the results of the other side's winning an election, that the world as we know it will come crashing down if "they" win. While innately we know that's not true -- Bush spent money like a sailor, and Obama didn't dismantle the surveillance state Bush assembled -- each side does like to hold to its stereotypes. I do it, almost against my will.

It'll only get worse in the near-term. I actually long for the days when the shifting electorate puts more power in the hands of minorities, be they women, gays, blacks, Latinos, or Asian-Americans. We could use some fresh blood.

Let's go out with a taste of Fox News talking about media bias. Rich!

By the way, the graph showing how biased the "mainstream media" is against Republican news was provided by Media Research Center, described by Wikipedia as " politically conservative content analysis organization based in Reston, Virginia, founded in 1987 by activist L. Brent Bozell III." Here's a taste of where Bozell is coming from. It's not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yes, I'm for Dem Senators, but Joni Ernst, Seriously?

Needs a gun because government? Where have we heard that before?

Okay. Joni Ernst has a slim lead in the Iowa senator race to replace Democrat Tom Harkin. Maybe we should emphasize "slim." That's the only thing that can explain her recent actions.

First, let's take a trip to crazytown for just a minute. Here's Joni back in 2012:
Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, said during an NRA event in 2012 that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government.

“I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,” Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. “But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family – whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”
Of course, your next, first step is to get elected senator so you can, you know, join that government.

We remember Sharon Angle's "Second Amendment remedies," a comment that Ms. Angle rode from a lead against Harry Reid to oblivion in 2010. Maybe that's Joni's angle here.

That would be stupid, one would think, but I suspect the calculation -- most likely in parallel with Sharon Angle's -- is fire up the base! Consider them fired up.

But that doesn't explain why Joni is dodging the media, most especially the print press:
The cancelation was made public by The Des Moines Register's Rekha Basu, a columnist for the paper in a Facebook post [...]
Meeting with editorial boards of the newspapers most likely to endorse you (or not) has been de rigueur for quite a while now, so one has to wonder what she's dodging. People think they know:
Earlier in the week, the Des Moines Register, arguably Iowa's most prominent newspaper, called Ernst out on her support of a Personhood measure in a blistering editorial on Tuesday.
Specifically, the editorial criticizes Ernst for saying during the last U.S. Senate debate between her and Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA), that a Personhood amendment to the state Constitution that she supported "is simply a statement that I support life."
"Ernst's assertion that a personhood amendment is "simply a statement that I support is naive," the editorial said. "Amending the Iowa Constitution is a big deal. And it's a rare event, having been done fewer than 50 times since the constitution was adopted. A proposed amendment needs to be approved by both the Iowa House and Senate in two consecutive general assemblies and then approved by voters in the next general election."
When asked about it, Ernst spokesperson, Gretchen Hamel, dealt directly with the issue by pointing over there and saying, "Oh! Look! A pony!"

Stay classy, Ms. Ernst. Go back to castrating hogs.

Who's squealing now, Joni?

Please Explain Again Why the GOP Doesn't Want You to Vote

The Overpass Light Brigade of Milwaukee goes right at the heart of it.

Daily Kos flags the new election strategy of the GOP (well, not so new): Don't let 'em vote, they're too stupid!

As usual, though, Media Matters does a good job of covering the myriad conservative attacks on voting. Not surprisingly, Fox News is leading the way with the "women are too dumb to vote" movement.

National Reviews' Kevin Williamson goes all in with his "Five Reasons You're Too Dumb to Vote" column, saying "Voting is the most shallow gesture of citizenship there is."

I didn't know that! Jeez, I could have avoided voting all these years if...

Bottom line about this is that it's only the Republicans and their Fox News shock troops pressing this attack on voting. It's as if first we try different tacks to keep you from voting and then tell you, hell, voting is not all it's cracked up to be, so if you're too dumb to vote, well, that's OK!

And this is the party of Our Founding Fathers, the Constitution rocks!, and, uh, Patriotism, and "They hate us for our freedom!"

Except, uh, don't vote. You're too stupid.

Oh, yeah, I forgot. The Constitution originally only gave the vote to white, male landowners. I see where this is going. The white males of the moneyed class want their jobs back.

Hey, Lena, you and your kind can go ahead and have sex if you want. Just don't vote.

And these people think there's no war on women (and the young, and blacks, and Hispanics)?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Noah Smith Risks the Wrath of #GamerGate So I Don't Have To

Dudes, if you're looking for the ladies, you might not find them here...

I've always admired Noah Smith, up-and-coming econ blogger, who's worth taking seriously, even when he's not being serious.

In the post herein linked, he might be more serious than at first blush. He's on to something when he analyzes Omega, Beta, and Alpha males and the relative proclivity toward violence and aggression in general. Read his piece. It's somewhat important. Here's a taste:
It seems to me that a big problem in the world consists of angry young men doing aggressive things. One example of this is terrorism. Another is online intimidation and harassment of women, like we've seen with #GamerGate. Another is random outbursts of violent crime. I don't know why young men are so much more prone to aggression than other groups - most people just wave their hands and say "testosterone", while I tend to just shrug and say "whatever". But anyway, it's a fact, and pretty much everyone knows it.

One thing I have sort of noticed, however - and here we leave the realm of well-established fact and enter the realm of Noah Talking Out of His Digestive Tract - is that when young men feel like they can't get sex, they tend to feel angry and resentful toward the world. Actually, I've noticed that women, when they feel like they can't get sex, also seem to feel unhappy and grumpy. But since young men tend to be more aggressive than their female counterparts (see previous paragraph), the frustration that comes from feeling like one isn't able to get sex seems often to translate into aggression in men, but far more rarely in women.
Now, just to offer a little insight into what he has to say, let me say I've watched the mechanics of this for a good portion of my life. I've known some Alpha males, and I'm not one of them. In my active days as a musician, I was (mostly) a bass player. Bass players are usually Beta males, if only because lead guitars and lead singers hog all the Alpha space. But for me that was okay.

I quickly realized that Beta was just fine. I didn't even have to try. I had all the Beta females to work with because what choice did they have? (Me, and my Beta bandmates.) All the Alpha females were busy pursuing the Alpha males, which was okay by me.

We tend to think the Alphas are the best, but I never bought that, just like I never bought that being rich was all that big of a deal. Out in the working world, where you had to earn your happiness in the rough-and-tumble, now there's a life full of richness and rigor. I'd rather drink in a working class bar that the Top of the Mark.

While the Alphas were doing the Big Alpha Mating Dance, I was finding all the cool, relaxed ladies, and they were a blast. No drama, no problem. My Alpha friends had a corner on Drama, boy did they. If they didn't have any Drama, they whipped it up but quick, because, hey, they were Alphas. Sparks had to fly!

As for the problem with Omegas -- those for whom none of this feels natural -- I agree with Noah. Chill, stop thinking there's no one or nothing out there for you. Life is everywhere. Omegas are just Betas with a fear factor, or something.

And, like Noah, I'm no expert. But that's how it went for me, most of my life, and I've been happy, whatever that is. No, I know what that is. It's feeling alive, and knowing it, and accepting it. Opportunity is everywhere! (Please don't mistake my statement to be tacit approval of conservatives' notion that there's an equality of opportunity. There isn't, but I'm not talking economic cul-de-sacs here.)

That's what's missing in many Muslim countries, and it leads to angry young men. Let the ladies out, dudes! Let them be equal, and they'll hang with you but quick. Yes, that's an over-simplification, but apt, nonetheless. Not knocking Islam, but... Okay, I'm knocking Islam. It's got a big problem with the Love Thing. And that's just not okay, and where does it get you?

The other side of the Omega conundrum: Would Arab men be so angry if they
could score girl friends? Probably not... (Where are the women in this picture?)

Note. Reading the comments on Noah's post, it occurs to me that there isn't an easy consensus on this topic, you know, who has sex and why. For us to say, hey, relax, there's someone out there for everyone, well, just because we believe it may not make it so. The stars of Sleepless in Seattle were Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, for chrissake.

No, it's possible that a certain number of Omega men are going to be unsuccessful and hecka pissed. Maybe they'll be trouble all our days. Wish it weren't so. Of course, are the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries cool because more people are getting laid? Maybe. Hmm...

Chris Christie Gives Up the Game on Voter ID

Chris Christie: We tried lying, let's try telling the truth. If no one carps, it's all good.

Ed Kilgore of Political Animal tags NJ Gov. Chris Christie and his tongue slip. Or was it one? You judge:
When I said yesterday that the right to vote was increasingly being treated as a partisan political game, I had no way to know that a very prominent Republican politician would supply an instant illustration, per a report from the Bergen Record:
Governor Christie pushed further into the contentious debate over voting rights than ever before, saying Tuesday that Republicans need to win gubernatorial races this year so that they’re the ones controlling “voting mechanisms” going into the next presidential election….
Read the rest for true cringe inducement. We're getting into I-didn't-think-I'd-live-this-long-to-see-this territory. Yuk.

...adding that I grew up in an era when I thought Richard Nixon was a creep and Lyndon Johnson was a great man. Neither was categorically true. I'd take either of them now, for Pete's sake.

How to Support Multiculturalism in Developing Countries

The answer, apparently, is you don't, or can't.

Dudes in Pakistan: Our allies in the war on terrorism? Maybe not these guys.

Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast gets the right message from the Ben Affleck-Bill Maher face-off on Real Time. Can we in the developed world, where there is an infrastructure for multicultural acceptance and tolerance, support the view that other cultures have a right to their particular cultural views? Theoretically, but, er...

Affleck might think that we need to respect Islam as a world religion in order to be "liberal," but when Islam is used to suppress freedoms the West takes for granted, how "liberal" is he being? Whose human rights are we furthering when we grant developing nations the right to be seriously fucked up in the name of multiculturalism?

Interesting stuff. Foundational, even.

Note. Humanists like me have serious trouble with Christians who distort Christ's message. Sure, in Christ's day, women had extremely limited rights, but a reading of the Sermon on the Mount, for example, as well as other passages in the New Testament make it clear Christ was departing from the views of the Palestine in which he was formed. Now, American Christians hold "Christian" views that suppress women, oppress them, actually. How are these Christians superior to Muslims in much of the developing world?

Supporting multiculturalism doesn't excuse oppressive Christians in the West, nor does it offer shelter for Muslims whose treatment of women should be roundly condemned.

In other words, saying respect for diversity means they get to treat their women badly. No, it doesn't!

Note 2. My first note should not be construed to mean I focus on fundamentalist religionists' treatment of women. It's only an example. There is much to condemn whenever and wherever violence and repression exist in the world. Religions, however, do cause much of the world's problems. Then, of course, there's wealth and money.

The Republicans Love the Poor

Republican lawmakers at the state level help the loan sharks in our market economy. How? By raising the interest rates and fees the poor and ignorant pay for quick-fix loans. How is this not the Republican Party helping the rich steal from the poor?

Read the comments on the above linked article. Nobody thinks this is good for the country. Why anyone would support today's Republican Party amazes me. And yet...