Friday, November 30, 2012

Going Around

“And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.”
Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on the successful Palestinian bid to become a nonmember observer state of the United Nations.
U.N. Assembly, in Blow to U.S., Elevates Status of Palestine

“These activities set back the cause of a negotiated peace.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on renewed construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Housing Move in Israel Seen as Setback for a Two-State Plan
Leave aside whether or not one feels that either or both sides are entitled to the actions that they've recently taken. The fact of the matter is that each side comes across as intent on thumbing their noses at the other.

Perhaps the single biggest obstacle to an agreement is that it really doesn't appear to be in the interests of either side to work with the other. For starters, it's difficult to look at the back-and-forth between the two sides and conclude that either of them really has any faith in the other to either bargain in good faith or live up to any agreements reached. Secondly, both sides have political constituencies that are opposed to the entire process. (Even if the factions on both sides who believe that they are the sole rightful owners of the entirety of the former Mandate of Palestine are in the minority, they are loud, vocal and active minorities. And in politics, that counts for a lot. While there may very well be Israelis and Palestinians who, were they to sit down in a room together, could hammer out a workable compromise, if they can't get into office on that because the hard-liners mobilize the votes to prevent it, it does no-one any good.) And both sides think it's worthwhile to go for the win. Compromise is what happens when people are tired of fighting - one side realizes that it can't win, and the other concludes that complete victory isn't worth the added costs. That both sides continue to antagonize the other means that they aren't really at that point.

Neither side is going to get what it wants. The simple realities of human nature are arrayed against them. Perhaps what this needs is a change in approach. Because no-one wants to be involved, Israel and Palestine simply hammer away at one another without making any progress. Maybe what needs to happen is that a different nation - say, Japan - calls in the top three allies of each side, and has THEM work out a compromise, with the idea that when one is reached, the allies of the two parties will be on the hook for doing the arm-twisting required to make each side accept.

Okay, so that's not the best idea. But it can't do any worse than what we have happening now. And considering that the international community started with without consulting with either side, maybe that's what needed to end it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I don't know if "menkhesis" is a real word, or if I've spelled it correctly. I came across it in a book some time ago, and it was presented as an antiquated term for what we would now call hypnosis. According to the text, it is best translated into English as "the taking away of responsibility," and this is what made if of interest to me, as it seems that American society has developed a habit, from time to time, of looking for ways to avoid taking responsibility.

Jim Zarroli: [...] Elena Seyer(ph) says she doesn't exactly like the idea of shopping on Thursday night when people should be with their families.
Elena Seyer: I feel bad for the employees who happen to work on Thanksgiving, but with the economy, you're kind of forced to have to do it. You know, if you can find something $100 cheaper, you kind of have to do it.
Holiday Season May Be A Good One For U.S. Retailers
Of course, no one sees low prices on consumer goods as being an actual form of coercion. What's really at work here is the process of becoming just another puppet, with a confluence of perceived poverty and the desire for the trappings or appearance of affluence pulling the strings. But the reluctance to own up to the willingness to have others spend the holidays away from their families in exchange for less expensive goods doesn't serve us well. If we're going to do these things, we need to own them. Ducking our choices makes it difficult to discuss them, and therefore to understand their causes and their effects.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks A Lot

With today being Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, we're supposed to take some time to remember what we're thankful for. As I came to understand American history better, I became more and more conflicted about Thanksgiving. Partly because, in my opinion, our supposed thankfulness has become a mixture of banal platitudes and pseudo-religious groveling. But partly because we don't really think about what it all means, in the big picture.

The United States exists because the European settlers and their descendants who ranged across the continent saw vast tracks of open land. The native peoples weren't really even regarded as people - you could make the case that they were mainly seen as uppity wildlife. And the first Thanksgiving came about mainly because some of those same native peoples had more compassion than foresight. The "endless opportunities" that drew, and still draw, people to the United States (and, for that matter, to other destinations in the Americas) looking for a new and better life were paid for with an awful lot of blood and death. The native peoples who once populated the whole of the United States were on the wrong end of an amazingly raw deal, and most of what made the country arguably the foremost power in all of history mainly passed them by. And it seems that we've swept all of that under the rug, in favor of a feel-good holiday that's little more than a gateway to the world's largest shopping spree.

While it's hard to imagine that one could write a thanks to all of the people (natives and otherwise) who paid very high prices for the position that we're in now without appearing to simply channel the bitterness of history's losers, that shouldn't stop us from acknowledging how the flow of history brought us to this point. That doesn't mean needing to see ourselves as complicit in what we now (sometimes, anyway) regard as the crimes of others. Just that we should spare some thought for those that wound up footing the bill for opportunities that they themselves were denied.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Camera Clueless

Sony Australia sent "Gary Heery, professional photographer," out to see if he could find the "DSLR Clueless;" people Sony defines as those who have "all the gear and no idea." Of course, Mr. Heery manages to find a group of people with Nikon and Canon cameras who leave the camera on "auto" all the time or otherwise basically don't know what they're doing. These good sports are mocked on camera with signs such as "Unfit to DSLR" and "DSLR Gear - No Idea." The point is a fairly simple one - promote their Alpha NEX-series cameras by creating the impression that Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras are too difficult, complicated and heavy for the average shutterbug.

The First Victim...
Surprisingly, despite the fact that Sony also sells DSLRs, which are supposed to "Take your photography to the next level" and provide "Pro features and top technologies," none of the DSLR Clueless seem to own them - even though the defining characteristic of the type is a belief (based on just such puffery) that it's the gear, and not the wielder, that makes the difference. And, predictably, Sony disabled comments on the video to prevent some wag from making that point - or asking why, if DSLRs are so awful, Sony bothers to sell them.

Most people who have made it a point to understand the technology of cameras know that eventually, the consumer DSLR market will likely fade to a few special-purpose niches, especially once Nikon gets their mirrorless offering together and Canon gets on board (or one or both fall by the wayside as another company eats their lunch). There are any number of reasons why the non-SLR cameras are excellent choices for the sort of general-purpose photography that most people engage in. If the Sony ads had addressed these issues, that would be one thing. Instead, they went after the idea that many SLR users are clueless n00bs who don’t know one end of a camera from the other, and so people should buy Sony mirrorless cameras instead. To a degree, I get it – it’s about making a catchy video that might go “viral” on the Internet. Mocking ignorant/stupid people tends to garner more publicity than dry technical-speak. But if someone who doesn't know what DSRL means is in over their head owning one, I don't see how that situation would be any better if they shelled out roughly the same amount of money for a MILC*. After all, it's not like a mirrorless camera is any better than one with a mirror if you don't know enough to change the default settings, or otherwise let the camera do all the thinking. Sure, they're smaller and lighter - and so I guess if you're going to suck, you may as well avoid straining yourself while you're at it...

Rather than pitching a product on: “This will suit your needs, and provide some advantages over the competition,” and incidentally being funny about it, Sony opted for “Buy our stuff so people (including us) don’t point and laugh at you,” and in the meantime, seemed to add a subtext of “Photography is hard, and you’re not smart enough to use the equipment that other companies (or we ourselves) sell.” I don’t think that this approach worked for Apple, and it seems that Sony is simply the latest company to conflate “moderately amusing” with “effectively communicates a value proposition.”

You. According to Sony.
*Mirrorless Interchangable-Lens Camera, for the MILC-Clueless among you. The main difference is that MILC cameras do not have optical viewfinders, so there is no need to have a mirror in the camera that allows you to look out through the lens. Even if the camera has a viewfinder, it shows you a smaller version of what the LCD screen on the back of the camera shows you, in the same way that the larger "point-and-shoot" cameras do. This allows the bodies to be much smaller, and simpler mechanically. This doesn't, however, make them automatically less feature-rich or easier to use.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


The following analysis develops a theory for why terrorist groups—especially ones that primarily target civilians—do not achieve their policy objectives. The basic contention is that civilian-centric terrorist groups fail to coerce because they miscommunicate their policy objectives. Even when a terrorist group has limited, ambiguous, or idiosyncratic objectives, target countries infer from attacks on their civilians that the group wants to destroy these countries’ values, society, or both. Because countries are reluctant to appease groups that are believed to harbor maximalist objectives, CCTGs are unable to win political concessions.
"Why Terrorism Does Not Work" Max Abrahms
I find myself going back to read this paper every time things in the Middle East escalate. I don't really know why I do this, because it simply makes me depressed. While the plight of the Palestinians garners a certain level of international sympathy for their willingness (if you can call it that) to gamely suffer yet another ass-beating at the hands of the Israeli military every time hostilities reach a boiling point, the fact of the matter is that the path that Hamas, Hezbollah, et al have chosen is simply has yet to work. For them, or for anyone else. During the time period covered by Mr. Abrahms paper, the success rate of groups achieving their stated policy objectives through attacks on primarily civilian targets was 0%.

By the same token, because groups like Hamas are not formal military bodies, and do not have bases and barracks that may be easily targeted, Israeli attacks on them can lead to numbers of civilian casualties (Although it seems that sometimes, the definition of "civilian" is anyone who didn't have a weapon in their hand right at the moment a bomb or missile blew them to smithereens.), thus leading the Palestinians (and others, for that matter) to infer that Israel wants to destroy Palestine's values, society, or both. And this creates a situation where concessions on the part of Palestinian leadership are viewed as appeasement of a hostile other that "doesn't understand peace."

And so the cycle of useless violence continues. The Palestinians, it must be said, were on the receiving end of a raw deal. But even if that could be undone, launching rockets and sending bombers into Israel is not going to manage that. And so people die, and keep dying, in vain.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bad Education

According to the Indian textbook " New Healthway: Health, Hygiene, Physiology, Safety, Sex Education, Games and Exercises:"

  • Non-vegetarians, "easily cheat, tell lies, they forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes."
  • "It is the waste products which largely produce the flavour of meat."
  • "[The Japanese] are vegetarians and live longer than most other peoples. The generous use of green leafy vegetables, soya beans and grams has helped the people to maintain vigour, strength and endurance throughout the centuries."
  • "The Arabs who helped in constructing the Suez Canal lived on wheat and dates and were superior to the beef-fed Englishmen engaged in the same work."
  • "[T]he Creator of this Universe did not include meat in the original diet for Adam and Eve. He gave them fruits, nuts and vegetables."
  • "To get married without a bad name is a dream of every young girl."
  • The Inuit are "lazy, sluggish and short-lived", because they live on "a diet largely of meat."
Because even students in the Third World should have access to ideological, inaccurate textbooks.

The Way Forward

Despite the fact that an electoral map - especially one that breaks things down by counties - will show you that large swaths of the nation lean Republican, the Grand Old Party couldn't manage to unseat the President, gain a majority in the Senate, or hold on to all of the seats they had in the House of Representatives. This despite the relatively low approval ratings of President Obama, and a constant drumbeat of optimism from Republicans across the country.

So, after an election that stunned Republicans, but seemed to surprise no-one who actually keep an eye on the public, the soul-searching, self-flagellation and recriminations begin.

Here's a dirty little secret about electoral politics in the United States of America - a lot of people don't follow politics or "the issues" closely enough to really make what you'd consider an informed choice. This isn't surprising. There are many, many more issues out there than most of us encounter on a daily basis, and most of us aren't paid to be political analysts. So most people have a general idea about things that informs a partisan affiliation, and they decide whether or not it's worthwhile to show up at the polls. In a nutshell, the Republicans simply couldn't get enough people do decide to show up at the polls. This is in large part because the current GOP has a large number of people in it who appeal to a core group of voters mainly by demonizing everyone else. And that core group just isn't big enough.

In the end, the Republicans are going to have to come to terms with the fact that they need to let go of the short term to position themselves for the long term. And that means allowing both the message and the platform to change to be in line with a greater percentage of the voting public. It's going to be painful. The extremists in the party are going to feel betrayed, and they aren't going to want to see their priorities let go. And the loss of those votes means that the Democrats are going to run things for a while. But the world won't end. Okay, so the Democrats believe in a broader distribution of wealth, and generally have trouble finding any other way to get their beyond taxing one group to provide benefits to another. As long as they don't let the borrowing get too far out of hand, the country will still be here when they are done. And so once the Republicans have excised the divisive parts of their party and platform, and can start working their way back into the levers of power, they can show people how their method would work. And if it's perceived as better, people will embrace it. It's time to get past the idea that partisan affiliation is a stand-in for an IQ test, or a measure of laziness and greed. It takes a well-articulated platform the communicates sound policies at the right time to get into office. Mistaking ideological purity for principled stands doesn't get you there. Sooner or later, someone will realize that. Whether or not it's the current Republican Party or a different group entirely is the only question.

The Blame Game

Don't Worry. They'll Be Back.
Now that Hostess Brands has (temporarily) closed up shop, the recriminations and blaming have started. Most of it is misplaced.

For starters, the reason why Hostess is not in business as I write this (a situation I expect to see change before not too long) is because the management team of the company chose to shut it down. End. It wasn't forced into liquidation by creditors or clobbered by market forces. The management team decided, honestly or cynically, that they couldn't be profitable with the current cost structure, so they closed up shop. They had every right to do so. The point can be made that they had some sort of moral obligation to their workforce to keep the doors open as long as possible, but no laws were broken when management decided to pack it in.

Okay, with that out of the way, you can debate whether or not the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union was wise to stay out on strike with the company threatening to close the company down and simply lay everyone off. Again, they had every right to go out on strike. The point can be made that they had some sort of moral obligation to their members to prevent a worst-case scenario, but no laws were broken. One thing that's worth keeping in mind is that "the Union" is actually a different organization than "the people who worked in Hostess' bakeries," and because of this, their interests don't always align 100%. While this turn of events sucks for the workers, it may actually turn out to be a good thing for the union. And it was, to a degree, to be expected. Strikes are successful to the degree that they a) deprive a company of skills and/or labor that cannot be replaced and b) have the ability to cause harm to the company. If Hostess could have operated indefinitely without its union workforce being on the job, a strike would have been utterly pointless, except perhaps in the Court of Public Opinion. (But when it come to cheap junk food versus the American Worker, smart money always bets the public at large sides with Twinkies.) For my part, I would be unsurprised to find that organized labor as a whole seeks to find ways to make an example of Hostess when they sit down with other employers.

It's only if you perceive the sole aim of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union to be the preservation of some level on income for the workers at Hostess does the union become blameworthy for a miscalculation. But even then, this is how games of Chicken are played. The threat of a collision is what makes them relevant.

Monday, November 12, 2012


There have been plenty of calls for a more "trustworthy" media, and an essay where Craig Newmark opines: "The press should be the immune system of democracy," is simply one more on the pile. But the fact of the matter is that "the media" is a collection of businesses, each with a customer base that it must attend to. And any number of internet commentators have made an important point about "free" media - if you're not paying for it, you're not the customer - you're part of the product.

It's nice for us to sit back and lament the current state of the news media. But the market forces that Mr. Newmark reference have lead us to where we are today, a media landscape that concerns itself mainly with attracting the largest audience, which in turn influences advertising, which in turn pays the bills.

When you look at those information sources that are really invested in being trustworthy, one notes that they all have something in common - people are basing important decisions on the information that is being presented. Whether it's financial information, or a surf report - when people are deciding what to do, and what to spend money on, based on the information they receive, they actively vote with their feet (and their wallets) when the information is not up to snuff. This is not normally an issue for the typical media outlet. If a local newspaper or broadcaster mangles the details of someone's life, or allows a candidate to skate by after making a dubious statement, they're not going to have one hundred thousand angry people switching to a new source because their business suffered or they missed an important opportunity. The simple truth of the matter is that most of us don't really need cable news or drive-time radio to be accurate. There's nothing riding on it. These low stakes, more than anything else, are the issue, and this is what drives the gray area between information and entertainment.

For the press to be important as "the immune system of democracy" there has to be a relevant, personal and immediate cost to being ill. For most of us, there isn't. Many of the problems that good-governance activists decry are, a) for many people, abstract and opaque, b) only really an issue for a minority of the public and/or c) have been brewing for years, if not decades. (By the same token, we're not going to fix them in any given single term of office for any particular political figure.) The constituency for putting in the work to fix any particular problem, therefore, is rarely, if ever, larger than the constituency for the status quo. Therefore, there isn't a large enough constituency for aggressively making sure that media coverage sticks to, and promotes, the facts.

In a society driven by polarization, the choice of whether or not to fact-check, and how vigorously to dig for the facts of the matter is often viewed as being indicative of taking sides. And many people in the United States today are all for that - as long as their side is the one taken. From where I stand, people's ethical perceptions are driven just as much by ideology as anything else - once people have chosen sides, the "out group" is seen as more ethically suspect than the "in group." Comments following Mr. Newmark's post were very revealing of that.

In the end, the press is not the problem - we are. The press is a tool. We must be the ones to wield it, and do so well.

Melding Movements

"If we do not become the movement of younger Americans and Hispanic Americans and any number of other Americans, then we will just become a retirement community," [...] says [Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary], "And that cannot, _that cannot_, serve the cause of Christ."
For Religious Conservatives, Election Was A 'Disaster'
It struck me, upon reading this, that Mr. Mohler may have his work cut out for him, because for the older, white Americans that currently form the core of the evangelical community in the United States, it's not just that they are out to serve the cause of Christ. It's that, to a certain degree, they understand that the cause of Christ serves them. To expand the evangelical movement into the ranks of non-evangelical youth and minorities, evangelicals are going to have to demonstrate that the cause of Christ serves _them_, too. This is going to mean that the difficult task of melding a number of communities into a coherent whole is ahead, and I do not envy them that, as it is a task made more difficult by the fact that many Americans are notorious for seeing moral turpitude in difference.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Jump, Jump

"[P]articularly important given the current state of the economy, immediate spending cuts or tax increases would represent an added drag on the weak economic expansion."
Congressional Budget Office. "Economic Effects of Reducing the Fiscal Restraint That Is Scheduled to Occur in 2013" May 2012.
Despite the fact that this report was prepared in May of this year, an accurate conviction that Congress would not move to deal with the "Fiscal Cliff," as it has been named, until after the November elections has kept most news outlets quiet on the topic until now. But now that President Obama has fended off the Republican challenge, the alarm bells are ringing, long, loudly and often.

"The fiscal cliff as a whole, if it went into effect for all of next year, could result in a drop of 0.5% in real gross domestic product, according to the CBO. And that contraction could push unemployment to 9.1% by the end of 2013," says CNN.

But it turns out that it's not all doom and gloom. After all, according to NPR: "In today's report, the CBO says if Congress does nothing and the U.S. jumps off the fiscal cliff, it would result in a huge reduction of the deficit. It would go from $1.1 trillion to $200 billion in 2022. The debt would decline to 58 percent of the GDP in 2022."

So why not do it? After all, as the CBO points out: "If all current policies were extended for a prolonged period, federal debt held by the public—currently about 70 percent of GDP, its highest mark since 1950—would continue to rise much faster than GDP. Such a path for federal debt could not be sustained indefinitely, and policy changes would be required at some point."

So it's not IF we go over the "Fiscal Cliff," but when. The CBO goes on to say: "The more that debt increased before policies were changed, the greater would be the negative consequences. Large budget deficits would reduce national saving, thereby curtailing investment in productive capital and diminishing future output and income. Interest payments on the debt would consume a growing share of the federal budget, eventually requiring either higher taxes or a reduction in government benefits and services."

And it's not as though the consequences would be the end of the world. "The Greek government had forecast a fall in gross domestic product of 'only' 3.8 per cent, but the troika [the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank] believes the fall in GDP is more likely to be of the order of 5 per cent, according to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini," says the Financial Times. And the current unemployment rate is 25.4%. And while Greece may not exactly be a model nation at this point, it's still there. The consequences of the Fiscal Cliff aren't projected to be anywhere nearly as dire. Of course, if we let things go far enough, the eventual consequences could be.

So maybe it's better to take that medicine now. Because it's only going to be more bitter later.

Monday, November 5, 2012

All Together Now

It was a statement that seemed off the moment I saw it.

Voters call for common-sense bipartisanship,[...]”

Mainly because it seemed so clearly untrue. In fact, in the very story that the words “common-sense bipartisanship” hyperlinked to, NPR's correspondent had mentioned research about bipartisanship from one Neil Malhotra “His research,” we are told in that piece, “suggests that most voters like the idea of bipartisanship in the abstract but want their individual representatives to be uncompromisingly partisan.” This does not strike me as a “call for common-sense bipartisanship” on the part of most of the voting public. So while voters may desire bipartisan compromise in the abstract, what they don't desire are their own values and priorities being traded away in the service of coming to a grand bargain. Instead, what they desire is that member of the political opposition knuckle under. It's the epitome of “Let's compromise - do it my way.” Or, as Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock put it after winning the Republican primary: “What I’ve said about compromise, I hope to build a conservative majority so bipartisanship becomes Democrats joining Republicans to roll back the size of government, reduce the bureaucracy, and get America moving again.” Later in the interview, he continued: “Well, the fact is, you never compromise on principles [...] What has motivated many people to get out and work for us and we are at that point where one side or the other has to win this argument. One side or the other will dominate.”

If “breaking the partisan fever may require the party that loses the White House this time to decide it must moderate its message, in order to appeal not just to core supporters, but to a greater share of the electorate,” we're not likely to see it, because that “greater share of the electorate” can't turn out in closed primary elections or for caucuses, and is unlikely to go to the polls even in open primaries. So it's the party faithful (like those who elected Mourdock over the more moderate Richard Lugar) that pick who runs in general elections, and if you cross them (by, say, being a moderate who's ready, willing and able to soften your position on things) they'll term you a traitor and find someone who'll run against you. So until the voters of the party that loses the White House decide that moderation is the answer, and back up their alleged “calls” for bipartisanship and compromise with votes for people who express a willingness to engage in them, we're liable to see more partisan gridlock.

On would expect NPR, or any other serious news outlet that covers politics, to understand this. To me, it seem that this is part of the unwillingness to publicly own up to the truth about the voting public in the United States, so as not to alienate people who are motivated to work for people like Richard Mourdock, yet who want to see themselves as simply pushing “common-sense” rather than seeking to force the rest of nation to go along with them. Note that this not meant to impugn their motives in doing so. My friend Ben (as I have noted before) once told me that he doubted the convictions of anyone who was unwilling to force anyone into doing what they claimed to believe was the right thing. And as political rhetoric has taken the pandering tack that the “principles” of the audience are all that stand between the nation and complete disintegration (or divine wrath) people's understandings of the stakes have grown, and with them their willingness to impose themselves on others.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


One of the stereotypical features of the American political left is a disdain for the intellect of the American political right. The comments around the Huffington Post story "Most Republicans Believe In Demon Possession, Less Than Half Believe In Climate Change: Report" illustrate this nicely. Charges of "intellectual laziness," fears of "slipping back into the Dark Ages" and interjections of "Yikes!" are prominent in the comments section that follows the peice.

But what often appears to be a level of intellectual snobbery masks a fear of being marginalized, just as the moral snobbery of the right does. But it's also indicative of a certain ignorance of how others think.

If the headline started with "Most Republicans Think Divine Miracles Are Real" the likely response would have been "and what else is new?" An overwhelming number of Americans are self-proclaimed Christians, and a belief that God can directly intervene in Earthly affairs is more or less an article of that faith. Reading the Bible (no matter which version one chooses) reveals stories of both God creating miracles and demons possessing people. After all, there are several stories of Jesus going around casting demons out of people and animals. So, if you believe that Jesus could feed a multitude of people with a handful of fish and loaves of bread, why should the idea that demons can possess people be out of bounds? After all, from the perspective of science, neither scenario is particularly plausible. While the left often complains that religious conservatives are selective about the parts of the Bible they want to believe in, the issue isn't the cherry-picking - it's that the left wants the right to pick the same religiously-progressive cherries they do, believing that their cutting-room edits to the Bible are self-evident.

As for climate change, climate denial is a better thing than one might think it is - as it indicates acceptance of the underlying assumption that if human activities are disrupting the climate, then the people doing the disrupting have an obligation to stop. If the Huffington Post headline had read "Less Than Half Believe Climate Change Is Worth Giving A Crap About" then, perhaps the left would have reason to be worried, as there would a large constituency for simply allowing disastrous consequences to occur. The current stance of the political right on anthropogenic global climate change is primarily an ideological one, designed to avoid the economic disruption (i.e., lowered standards of living) that would come from a rapid push to eliminate fossil fuels over a relatively short timeframe, and the (likely correct) belief that emerging economies would blow off any efforts in that area in the name of protecting their own economies. Find a way to blame climate change on China and India, and set American firms up to make billions in profits by halting it, and Republicans would be on board.

And it isn't as if Democrats are believers in the ironclad correctness of "science." When NPR's Planet Money blog ran a story (with a suitably catchy, yet bogus, headline) on the fact that economists think that rules against price gouging aren't a good thing, it didn't take long for one commenter to opine that economists are "brain damaged," and for another to claim that the economists surveyed valued free markets over people's lives. So the idea that proper science is that which agrees with one's predefined worldview is not limited to either side.

In the end, both sides refer to the other as stupid because it easier than understanding where the other is coming from, and it justifies fantasizing about (or action on) limiting enfranchisement to only those who are "right thinking" enough to vote "correctly." Neither of these are particularly worthwhile.