Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bashing partisanship - the saga continues

Oh, poor Rush, the liberals are being mean to him and he can't be an owner of a football team. Poor, Obama too, the conservatives are making fun of him for not getting the Olympics for Chicago. This is what you both get for your tactics, even if the attacks are unfair. We all get what you deserve - more mindless bickering and unfair character assassinations. I do believe we can do better. It's not a utopian dream although it will not be realized any time soon, probably not in my lifetime.

A few weeks ago I was challenged by a friend/reader as to my political assessment that "partisanship makes everyone a little bit crazy". I will state my position, discuss some studies I think are relevant, and throw it open for criticism. My friends' belief – and I'm pretty sure this covers it - is that my position (1) is offensive to people who have an ideological position (2) confuses that ideology with partisanship, and (3) merely evidences my own bias that everything has to end in some “nice” amorphous middle ground.

I disagree with the first two points and can give some credence to the third.

My central position is this - the biggest problem we face in this country is hard to define because it is not an issue, it is procedure. The control of congress by the two national parties, steeped in partisanship, stifles debate and legislation. This is a long standing problem and not surprising. We should train ourselves to be more open minded.

If it is ever to change it must be bottom up as we cannot expect the people in power to willingly surrender theirs. One of the reasons we cannot get past it is the strong partisanship felt by so many people towards one party or the other based on their identification with conservatism or liberalism, the two parties’ central ideologies. Many Americans share these beliefs, yet, because of the nature of independents, there are no central or common positions they repeatedly rally around. As it stands now, few people with a chance to win will run as an independents, and the few who do successfully must almost then always ally themselves with one of the two parties to even have a voice. The eventual flame out of Governor Ventura in Minnesota and Ross Perot’s Reform Party being taken over and essentially destroyed as a powerful political presence by Pat Buchanan’s party takeover in 2000, are good reasons for independent minded people to pause before they support independent candidates. It may not only waste their vote but help those they most dislike politically to win.

Thus, we can't simply "throw the bums out," because no side wants to take the chance that they would throw their bums out but the other side wouldn't, leaving them completely and utterly in control.

Partisanship can be very different from ideology, although often you can't tell the difference. You could alternatively use the phrase "ideological partisanship" instead of just "partisanship" and it would mean the same thing. Ideology means that the person has a position based on theories of government, jurisprudence, society, culture, science, etc., that is, something based on evidence or reason. Aside from the obvious definition, partisanship means knee jerk reactions as what party (sometimes person) proposes or opposes; liking or disliking or disparaging a public figure (or ordinary person even) or entity based on their party or ideology or belief system; forming positions on issues based on who is supporting them; rejecting policies out of hand because of who proposes it. It means being more likely to believe in the negative "facts" about the other side, and less likely with your own, and also taking the most extreme opinions from the other side and tarring the entire -ism with it.

Likewise with how important you think a scandal is - the question is rarely the real issue for many people, but who's ox is being gored? As an example, a very strong conservative once complained to me that Frank Lautenberg was flouting the election laws in NJ because of a late entry after scandal came out over the Democrat candidate. I agreed with him but asked if he thought that Dick Cheney was flouting the federal laws by pretending to live in Wyoming at the time he became a VP candidate to satisfy the election law in the constitution. That he said, was a silly thing to argue because it wasn't important, even though the two issues were quite similar.

I don’t mind admitting a bias towards the middle and opposition to extreme. We tend to have a bell curve shaped universe and most issues (not issues like slavery) seem to resolve themselves toward the middle over time. But by middle I do not necessarily mean some “feel good” kumbaya compromise, although that is a possibility sometimes. But, I have always been attracted to Ben Franklin’s closing speech (read for him) at the Constitutional Convention, which I will excerpt here:

I confess that there are several parts of this constitution which I do not at present approve, but I am not sure I shall never approve them: For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged by better information, or fuller consideration, to change opinions even on important subjects, which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others. Most men indeed as well as most sects in Religion, think themselves in possession of all truth, and that wherever others differ from them it is so far error. Steele a Protestant in a Dedication tells the Pope, that the only difference between our Churches in their opinions of the certainty of their doctrines is, the Church of Rome is infallible and the Church of England is never in the wrong. But though many private persons think almost as highly of their own infallibility as of that of their sect, few express it so naturally as a certain french lady, who in a dispute with her sister, said "I don't know how it happens, Sister but I meet with no body but myself, that's always in the right — Il n'y a que moi qui a toujours raison."

. . . For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men, all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the Builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure, that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors, I sacrifice to the public good. . . .
Rejecting partisanship or being independent in no way means you always believes a compromise or some soft middle position is the right thing to do, or, that important principals are not worth fighting hard for (hopefully, politically, and rarely otherwise). Independents or moderates might be more willing to compromise than partisan warriors, but where a true principal exist, they can be as strongly for or against a given position as any partisan. For example, for me, first amendment rights are most important and I am also quite passionate about the economic ruin I believe both parties are forcing upon us.

There are limits to everything and you can take any of the above statements to their extreme and find them untenable. But, in the main, I solemnly believe they are correct.

When I say “partisanship makes everyone a little crazy,” I often follow it up by saying something like - "not wacka wacka crazy." I say that not just because, clearly, being partisan doesn't make one nuts in the way we usually mean it, but also because I’d rather not offend people unnecessarily.

That leads to a paradox. I dislike ad hominem arguments and prefer to argue with people who don't regularly make them. That is, when people tell me that my position on something is because I'm a liberal, I'm a conservative, I'm a lawyer, I'm a psychology major (college), I only want to be controversial, I have too many rules, I'm illogical, I'm overly logical or technical, etc., I only take extreme positions, everything I say is a generalization, etc. (and I've heard all of those), I don't find it leads to a good discussion. Yet, when I am faced with regular ad hominem argument (the preferred method, not just of partisans) I find that the only way to deal with it is to call the person on it, point out that it the arguments they make are regularly ad hominem and encourage them to stop. Sometimes they do (although never for long). But I admit that doing so is itself an ad hominem attack on them. However, it is the only thing that seems to work other than not discussing anything with them. The same goes with partisanship. Extreme partisanship is merely one form of ad hominem attack and the only way to deal with it is call everyone on it.

Now, partisans might think my saying that partisanship makes everyone a little crazy is an insult, but, at least I am not singling out one side or the other. I do believe that devotion to a side causes people to make irrational arguments to bolster their sides chance of winning. The irony is that partisans regularly use far stronger language to describe each other than "a little bit crazy," even regularly calling each other Hitlerians, Stalinists, murderers, etc. But, both sides have a special place in hell for moderates – who they often chide as worse than their opponents – even though we agree with them roughly half the time. Now, why is that? Because moderation and independence requires looking at the issues, not the asserter's character or the label and that is the last thing partisans want.

Here’s Andrew Sullivan on partisanship from August, 2007 – Practically every pundit and public intellectual thinks that their pet idea - whether it's neo-Reaganism, Sam's Club Conservatism, or whatever the heck Peter Beinart was selling his fellow liberals - is at once the solution to America's ills and the ticket to a lasting political majority. This can produce some deep silliness, like Linda Hirschman's argument that the repudiation of John Rawls will cement a new Democratic majority, but there's nothing particularly sinister about it. . . .

Too true. Even this month Democrats or liberals will tell you that the Republican Party is finished and Republicans or conservatives say that Obama is on his last legs. Both are silly. After next years election, one of them will get to say, see, we were right - it’s all swinging our way. But, they both have been wrong so many times before, that it is just meaningless to declare victory. It has been swinging back and forth since Washington took office. But, how is it, if people are being rationale, that conservatives come to one belief and liberals another every election? How is it that they routinely are convinced their own side will win even if the polls show the opposite (and the polls are usually right). It is more like rooting for a sport’s team.

The examples of partisan thinking as opposed to ideological thinking are too numerous to list comprehensively. But, I will hazard a few. It may be ideological to believe that abortion is right or wrong, but it is more partisan than not to believe that most pro-life or pro-choice people are evil, stupid or cruel just for disagreeing with your position. It may be ideological to think that Obama’s policies are right or wrong, but it is partisan to say that he is actually a Marxist seeking to make us at least a pre-dominantly socialist country or that those who disagree with him are racist. It may be ideological to like or not like John McCain policies, but it was partisan for conservatives to call him a liberal (he has over 80% lifetime conservative rating according to the rating system relied upon by conservatives) because he sometimes disagrees with them or that he was a Neanderthal right winger who was determined to give us “four more years of Bush” as the two had butted head many times over the eight years of Bush’s terms and McCain was long the favorite Republican of many liberals and least favorite Republican of many conservatives.

It is partisan for liberals to think that Michelle Obama is exceptionally attractive or for conservatives to think she is doesn’t even have a pretty face (I've heard both a number of times). It is ideological to disagree with a president’s policies, but both liberals and conservatives mind when their president’s speech is interrupted and are glad when the other guy’s is – if that isn’t partisan – what is? I’ve never heard the conservatives approve of the Pink Ladies the way many approve of Joe Wilson’s outburst, and never heard the liberals complain about Cindy Sheehan the way they do about Wilson.

Are moderates and independents just smarter than anyone else? No (although partisans on both sides frequently are dismissive of the intelligence of those who disagree with them). But intelligence has little to do with it. All I can claim for myself is that I have made a strong conscious effort for the last half of my life to avoid the knee jerk reactions we all have, however often I may fail in it. I am skeptical about many political things I hear or read until I see what I think is strong evidence of it, and I do not believe it is necessary to have a position on things I just don’t know enough about (which is a lot of things). Example – it took me about ten years to come to my conclusion about the death penalty. I remain ambivalent about global warming although I don’t see any real evidence of it reported or of human contribution to it despite it being stated as a "fact" and find it laughable that people’s views about the climate are so influenced by their political party.

Fence sitting is something that I admire. It is deplored by the more partisan people. They do not want open minds; they want to be told that they are right. Nor do I claim not be without biases. In fact, I believe it is impossible to be without them. One could argue that I am just slow, of course. I accept that criticism. I’d rather be slow than hasty when it comes to policy (but not when ordering from a menu). I notice that conservatives I know tend to believe news stories from the media or blogs they hear which support their positions and liberals their positions. Both know that many things reported turn out to be false or at least exaggerations. If being cynical about the truth of stories that seem to overwhelmingly favor one side over the other is wishy-washy, I’m willing to shoulder that characterization. Non-partisanship is cynical by nature. For the same reason, it is often come to much slower than a partisan one. Is there any other area of thought where people are encouraged not to be deliberate, thoughful and to look at the other side?

I also freely acknowledge my bias towards non-partisanship may be no more a function of my free will than someone else’s partisanship. I believe there is strong evidence that political beliefs are to a large degree emotionally determined. Partisanship itself may also be genetically determined to a large degree. If that doesn’t sound right to you, consider the following study out of the University of California at San Diego (Partisanship, Voting, and the Dopamine D2 Receptor Gene (Dawes & Fowler 2008). It looks formidable, but the central point is easy to make out.

Abstract: Previous studies have found that both political orientations . . . and voting behavior . . . are significantly heritable. In this article we study genetic variation in another important political behavior: partisan attachment. Using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we show that individuals with the A1 allele of the D2 dopamine receptor gene are significantly less likely to identify as a partisan than those with the A2 allele. Further, we find that this gene's association with partisanship also mediates an indirect association between the A1 allele and voter abstention. These results are the first to identify a specific gene that may be responsible for the tendency to join political groups, and they may help to explain correlation in parent and child partisanship and the persistence of partisan behavior over time.
Psychological studies rarely make broad conclusions. In fact, like most good studies, these scientists state their “suspicions” or “suggestions” carefully. You can read the study itself, but I offer these two further paragraphs as the gist of it:

While no studies to date have considered a link between specific genes and partisanship, previous association studies have identified genes that are important in shaping personality traits and behaviors integral to instrumental and social psychology theories of partisanship. The social psychology theory of partisanship suggests variation in partisanship can be explained in part by variation in social attachments, whereas instrumental theories suggest that differences in information processing, as well as the level of individual-level noise, are important determinants. Although there are likely to be dozens of genes involved in complex political behavior, here we identify one, the DRD2 dopamine receptor gene, that is believed to play an important role in both the development of social attachments and cognitive functions that may be critical to the formation of partisan ties.

Based on the political science and behavior genetics literature, we hypothesize that the DRD2 gene influences whether or not a person will identify with a political party. Using both case-control and family-based gene association tests, we find that the A1 allele of the DRD2 dopamine receptor gene is significantly associated with partisanship. Specifically, individuals who are homozygous for the A1 allele of the DRD2 gene are 8% less likely to become partisans than those who are homozygous for the A2 allele. Furthermore, this reduction in the likelihood of partisan attachment also mediates a significant negative association between the A1 allele and voter turnout. Finally, tests of cognitive function as a mediator suggest that the DRD2 gene does not influence partisanship via its effect on cognitive function. As a result, we suspect that DRD2 specifically influences partisanship via its effect on mood and social attachment, but more study is needed to elaborate the causal pathways responsible.

They go into much greater detail concerning brain chemistry and it is difficult for most of us to thoroughly analyze it. We don't have the background. With science, of course, there are few final answers and it is an ongoing process of learning. But, one of their conclusions thus far is as follows:

It must be emphasized that we have only found an association and cannot make any causal claims about the relationship between the DRD2 gene and either partisanship or turnout. However, the empirical link between the D2 dopamine receptor and DRD2 gene, as well as the known functions of dopamine in the brain, suggest at least two channels through which the A1 allele may influence partisanship. We hypothesize that difficulty in forming social attachments and impaired cognitive function, both of which have been shown to be associated with the A1 allele, reduce the likelihood an individual will form and/or maintain an attachment with a political party.
Now, the last statement is somewhat obvious when you think about it (much science just confirms or disproves obvious things) but it strikes me in a personal way. Difficulty forming social attachments has always been a hallmark of my life. In fact, the idea of joining a group is close to anathema for me and I had reservations even about nominally joining a bar association just to get better rates on continuing education lectures (although, I did eventually - needed to save the money). I don’t mind being this way, but it is nothing to be proud of either. Does it explain my anti-partisan bias to some extent? Is it wired into me? Certainly there is evidence for it.

The evidence for partisanship affecting reasoning gains ground all the time. A functional mri study out of Emory University (Westen, Etc., 2006) entitled Neural Bases of Motivated Reasoning (that's the short version) suggests that when one applies reasoning to a problem threatening to one’s political preferences (that's "motivated reasoning," but you could call it partisan thinking as well) it activates different parts of the brain than it does when cold reasoning is going on, such as putting together a puzzle. That means that partisans on both sides of the aisle are applying one part of their brain when figuring out the best way to get from uptown to downtown, but with another part when deciding whether they believe in global warming or for whom to vote. My belief, and this is a hypothesis, is that the difference will turn out to be that motivated reasoning is result oriented. The person has a result in mind and is reasoning to come to that conclusion, whereas cold reasoning is attempting to find the best solution to a problem. Some day perhaps they will test my hypothesis.

David Brooks of the New York Times, probably my favorite columnist at this time (yes, because he is more moderate than others) loves to cite research to back up his opinions. Recently, he did an article (10/13/09) on neurobiology in which he summarized recent studies indicating, among other things:

that people whose parents had lower social status than others exhibited higher activation in the part of the brain involving emotion;

that Arabs and Jews in Israel had different perceptions of pain when viewing body parts in painful scenarios;

that different areas of the brain were activated when subject watched home teams played baseball as opposed other teams;

that the so-called “reward” centers of the brain were activated by dominant behavior for Americans but submissive behavior by Japanese; and, that our brains are quicker activated by viewing members of a group we identify with undergoing pain than an outsider, even if by milliseconds.

The above studies all tend to support beliefs not only that decisions we perceive as rationale may be much less so than we think but also that culture may deeply affect our reasoning process. Further studies need to be taken to determine if these traits are inherited or social in nature - or both. Brooks also discusses a study suggesting that these reactions can be changed by cognitive therapy (a fancy way to say training). That is, we do not have to be slaves to partisanship.

As I have written in early posts, I believed I was a slave to liberalism when I was young, due to my being raised in that philosophy. I accepted it without much thought and demonized those who thought differently. My conscious training starting in my 20s led me not to be a conservative but to be skeptical and cynical about political (and other) claims and to pay attention to perspectives and frames of reference. It wasn’t easy, but it may be that I got there because I also had a bias for cynicism, moderation and independence. The studies Brooks’ discusses would seem confirm my beliefs, if true, so it is no surprise I pay attention to them and believe the suggestions are correct. David Brooks and I likely share some psychological traits which makes us look for and tend to believe information like this.

I have no problem with the concept that I am biased towards moderation, independence or cynicism. In fact, I recommend them to everyone. Which leads me to one of my two favorite quotes:

Loyalty to petrified opinion never broke a chain or freed a human soul – Mark Twain.

Okay, I’ve attacked your belief systems and suggested that "what you think you think" is already programmed into you. I await with pleasure your response (just kidding - usually no one comments when I say something like that).


  1. You do cover the belief accurately. It's after you describe it that you go off the into the weeds again.
    Gotta run now but will comment at lenghth later.
    In the interim don't get splinters in your butt from that fence rail.

  2. Waiting with breath baiting.

  3. On the fence about global warming??? You really need to do some more of your beloved research on that one. And my feelings about it have nothing to do with my politics. A scientist from Denmark just finished a study of arctic ice that shows the arctic circle will be open ocean in the summers. Look it up. There are significant impacts coming our way once we go through a few cycles of that. Read "Diversity of Life" by Ed Wilson.
    Otherwise, I agree with your treatise on the difference between partisanship and ideology, though I quibble slightly with your interpretive definition of ideology. I prefer my definitions out of a good dictionary.

  4. I'm glad you mentioned global warming. It is a very partisan issue. It has been so politicized it is difficult to trust any source and I doubt much I hear. However, let me deal with your particular issue.

    You'll note a few weeks ago on yet one more interminable harangue on partisanship from yours truly, dealing with absurd myths of the two ideological camps, I noted as a myth of the right that they refuse to admit that polar ice is melting. I noted then that I wasn't discussing whether or not global warming exists at all, but that the right was so hot against it that they can't even concede that the ice is melting. However, as I noted then, the evidence seems overwhelming that it has been melting for about thirty years. To be more precise, the ice around the edges is shrinking faster than the ice in the middle is thickening (and it is growing). What some scientists have said is that there is a good chance the ice will be melted in the Summer within the next decade - not right away. However, if you look back a bit, you will see that there were predictions of this for this year and last year, and it did not happen. A prediction for within a decade is safer.

    Now, it might happen if the ice keeps melting in the summers at the pace it has been going. But that does NOT indicate GLOBAL warming. According to the same stats Al Gore and co. use, NOAA,the earth has either been minimally cooling or remaining the same since 1998, our hottest year. This is true despite worldwide increases in so-called greenhouse gasses.

    There are many people who are excited about this possibility - fisherman, shippers (the fabled Northern passage), military, scientist, geologists, oil and mineral companies, etc.

    There might be effects due to all that ice melting, but, melted ice that was not overland does not increase world wide water levels. The scare that the water is going to rise all over the world has been shown to be at best, a gross overstatment, and this has even been admitted by some pro-global warming "experts" (I'm not sure there is any such thing).

    With respect to partisanship, Note - Polls show that whether or not you believe in global warming, or if you do, whether man is the cause, runs with political ideology. Why should political considerations correspond with what we believe about the climate?

    All that aside, thanks for commenting. But, how can you prefer a dictionary to my winging it? Now, I'm offended.

  5. Some of your statements above to not coincide with evidence I've read. Also, the latest, worst predictive study about the arctic ice melt just came out. The newest evidence supports impacts within this decade. In fact, the arctic could be open ocean by next summer. I don't know of any evidence that suggests the gobal ice melts are caused by anything other than a warmer earth. Perhaps the disagreement stems from what exactly "global warming" means. Anyway, thank you for the thoughtful blog and your erroneous follow up comment. Debate is good. Keeps Oog from going postal.

  6. I'll offer a few possibilities of how ice melts without global warming. Change in currents over time; geothermal activity; change in climate for a geographical area.

    Actually, I need to respond little. Don will read this and go postal on the no global warming side. Essentially, I'm a fence sitter.

  7. OK, as I indicated you generally stated my position correctly.
    But I think you use the word partisan like race hustlers use the word racism and racist. It is designed to delegitimize the argument and the person making the argument.That's the part of your use of the term that I believe can be insulting. It's as if one can dismiss the position out of hand by calling partisan.
    I think part of the problem is that you have a definition of partisan with which I do not agree. I would agree if you stated that it is partisan to oppose a position or argument that you would actually be for were the argument being made by someone of a different political persuasion. I would be partisan, in this sense, if let's say Chuck Schumer came out tomorrow in favor of full individual gun rights and right to concealed carry and I decided to oppose it because a Democrat proposed it.
    However, my political positions whether arrived at after a short period of thought or after longer amounts (Such as your death penalty example) are the result of having adopted an ideology that I believe is more worthy than the opposite. And once I have arrived at those (I believe) well thought out positions I will support them and argue agaisnt that which would be in opposition to them. This is not partisan it is cogent and congruent. This does not mean I may never or will never alter a position. But it means that I'm never interested in kumbaya compromises on issues of central import. And I'm not talking about issues such as whether to fund some insignificant program 1 billion or 2 billion dollars. Then, just like in settling a court case compromise may be best. But, to use a court example as well you were not open to compromising your claims last summer. And I recall you saying something to the efeect that the other person involved was a thief and one doesnt compromise with thieves one fights them I totally agree with that.
    On those central tenets of my political philosophy I see nor room for compromise(ie slavery) and that does not make me partisan it makes me principled.
    I agree with you that if one's position causes irrational arguments or character assassination then there is either a weakness in that person or that person's positions. I won't be held accountable for stupidity, ignorance or the purposeful misuse of information.
    I don't see that yhe studies you refer to suport what I am discussing here. I 'm not interested in studies involving the stupid or misinformed. Just as I won't apply to myself studies illustrating how stupid college students are/ were because it doesnt apply to me.
    What I will grant you (and it speaks to the horseshit Bear is spewing about AGW) is that people tend to adopt CAUSES that support their underlying philosophy. Bear wants desperately to believe the hoax of anthropogenic warming because he wants another excuse to aggrandize power in the hands of govt and bureaucracies at the expense of the individual. He will gloss over the falsifications of data (removing the Medieval warm period) and inaccuracy of of the previous agw models (they keep being wrong)because he wants to believe that irresponsibe men need to be directed and limited by a corcive government. That is why those like minded people want to believe in agw.
    As I am a great believer in individual liberty the issue of gun rights is important to me. I believe this to be legally correct and it supports my beliefs that the individual needs to be able to protect himself on his own without resort to calling in the govt or its agents.
    You are assuming that anyone with strong beliefs has arrived at them for stupid or frivolous reasons. Many may have. Others such as myself (I hope) have not.
    So to have years of thought and experience denigratede by an epithet such as partisan (or racist) is insulting and inaccurate.

  8. I ran out of room.

    And Bear might want check out why the earth (against ALL agw computer models) has been cooling for over a decade.
    Try checking into the PDO, ENSO or even the the input of that irrelevnt and inconsequential (in comparison to SUV's) little object known as THE SUN and the effect it has on the earth.

  9. Dude - now you got all partisany on me.

    A few points: First, yes, if someone says, I won't vote for conservatives (or liberals) because they are all sex addicts or we don't have a capitlist country anymore (Glen Beck), etc., yeah, saying partisanship makes everyone a little crazy absolutely delegitimizes their position. And it should.

    However, as I explained, I have no problem with reasonable (and I have a fairly broad definition) posititions. Those are what people should be doing. I don't believe and no more suggested that strong positions are stupid or frivolous than I suggested Santa Clause comes twice a year. In fact, I said pretty much the opposite - "Independents or moderates might be more willing to compromise than partisan warriors, but where a true principal exist, they can be as strongly for or against a given position as any partisan."

    You can have a reasonable position on either side of the 2d amendment, or abortion, etc. Some more reasonable than others, but that's where the debate comes in. Partisanship denies this, attacks on other grounds, often personal. Slavery, pretty much everyone agrees on at this point, at least in this country. I've never heard the most prejudice people I know suggest there is anything good about it. It is an outlier.

    Look at your response to Bear. You give some reasons you think he is wrong and some I agree with (some I just don't know what you mean), but then attack him on the statist stuff, which, you can't possibly know about him. He's hardly a communist. What would you have thought if Bear said - e.g. - Don doesn't believes in global warming because conservatives don't care about the environment or if people, particularly poor people, die. You would think it unfair and it would be. So was your suggestion about him.

    Now, I will agree that you can derive from comments here that Bear appears to be much more comfortable than you with federal regulation, and that in general, liberals are much more comfortable with it than conservatives. However, you'll note that ideology often goes out the window when it disfavors the parties' sides. That's why, for example, conservatives went to federal court over Bush v. Gore, and tried to pass a federal law over the Schiavo case, and, liberals took the opposite positions. Both sides through out their ideology in a partisan fashion for political ends.

    I don't know why you would disagree with the studies I cited. It has nothing to do with being smart or stupid. They tend to show (generalizing here - I already wrote it) that there is some evidence to suspect that partisanship itself is genetic and that political beliefs is possibly genetically or culturally imbedded in us and as much or more emotional than rationale.

    Okay, I thank you all for your comments and have to write a new blog for tomorrow.

    Over and out.


Your comments are welcome.

About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .