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Archive for March, 2012

An interesting exercise in political framing.

The lesson seems to be that the other side are always going to be creatively dishonest and manipulative in their use of political language, so you might as well get in on that too, but do it better.

This kind of thing – knowing what hot-button terms to avoid, and what more voter-friendly turns of phrase to couch your ideas in – dominates so much of political discourse, while having nothing to do with actual policy. I think it’s another reason why democracy in general is making me bang my head against more and more walls lately.

The site linked above provides a progressive attempt at a response to a rather odious leaked Republican playbook, but I don’t think either side of the aisle is left with much moral high ground to enjoy, if these are the word games they both find themselves forced into playing.

Never say Entitlements. –Instead, say Earned Benefits.

People don’t like you as much if you’re entitled as if you’ve earned something, you see, and “entitlement” is often used by the right as some kind of smear. But this doesn’t mean that this redefinition is necessarily a more accurate one. It could be argued that somebody with a life-long disability has done nothing to earn the benefits and assistance to which simple human decency nevertheless entitles them.

Never say Government Spending. –Instead, say we Invest in America.

Does that include the trillion-dollar wars? When do those investments start paying out?

And so on.

You can see why everyone in politics wants to reframe the issues in ways such as these, of course. It’s in the nature of the system. When the world is no longer run by politicians who are powerfully motivated to be weaselly, the world will be a very different place.

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– It’s important that certain facts about US military action overseas aren’t reported in the media. Otherwise the public might get “the wrong idea” – which, in this case, means “an accurate idea”.

– As the government keep telling us, these “workfare” schemes where jobseekers often do entirely unpaid full-time work for large, profitable corporations aren’t compulsory. There’s a voluntary work experience scheme in place. It’s just that, if you refuse it, you may be put on a mandatory one.

– Apparently both passive-aggression and actual aggression are among the standard ways in which elected officials interact with the general public. How reassuring to know we have people representing us who hold us in such high regard.

Tim Harford for Chancellor.

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I’ve not got a lengthy piece of my own for you about the “rogue US soldier” who recently massacred sixteen people in Kandahar. But here are some things I’ve read which I think you should also read, and which should give you a flavour of my own feelings on the matter.

Farzana Versey
Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers
Center for a Stateless Society
Practical Doubt

Also, Mitchell and Webb bring up an awkward question that perhaps America would do well to start asking themselves:

 

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So, I’ve done another one of these.

 

 

The camera quality’s still so-so, and I’m still not exactly Cyriak, but I’m having fun.

Let me know if this is something you think it’s worth keeping up with.

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It’s difficult, being an obnoxious, hateful, anti-abortion campaigner.

Not everyone who’s anti-choice fits this description, of course. But the ones who really commit to it? They have a tough time.

Case in point, this particular crowd who met one woman outside an abortion clinic, and didn’t get the reaction they might have expected.

…she told them her baby was already dead

She told them, through sobs, that she carried one baby til it was born dead and she couldn’t do that again.

Now, your anti-choice campaigner has a tough decision to make here. They’ve already taken it way further than most people take their philosophical commitments. They’re out on the streets, with placards or whatever, shouting at women, calling them murderers, making them feel as guilty as is necessary to “save a life”, through their own uninformed notion of what a “life” is. This isn’t something you do casually. These are people who have dug themselves in and identify strongly with what they’re doing now.

And the option that presents itself to them, in a case like this, is to admit that they’ve been shouting horrible, damning, guilt-inducing things at a totally innocent woman whose substantial trauma is only being made worse by their own actions.

The option they have is to accept that, in at least this one instance, they were wrong about this woman, they misjudged and mischaracterised her, her motivations weren’t at all what they’d assumed, they’ve been incredibly unfair and unkind to her, she’s gone through something horrible and they’ve become part of the reason she’s sobbing uncontrollably right now.

After taking up the position they have, that’s what they find themselves presented with.

So do they take reality up on the deal?

No.

Instead, they continued to tell her not to kill her already dead baby.

It shouldn’t be surprising. It’d be astonishing to see someone spontaneously break away from a picket line and address the chanting crowd of which they were until recently another homologous part, and say “Hey guys, I’ve just realised, we’re completely awful.” That’s not generally how people’s minds change. Maybe some of them will have had their confidence shaken by it. Maybe some of them slept fitfully that night, and didn’t feel quite so certain over breakfast the next morning that they were doing the right thing. I hope so.

It’s no surprise to see unkindness doubling down like this, when caught in the spotlight. It doesn’t take anything particularly monstrous or inhuman to seem so hateful. But it’s sad.

(h/t Antichristian Phenomenon)

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Awwww

Old lady at the end of Titanic: “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets.”

Kirsty: “My heart is a deep ocean of sharks, whales, and giant squids fighting each other.”

This is why my fiancée and I are superior to Oscar-winning romance.

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– Odd how there’s always an argument from somewhere that we should be taking less money away from rich people, on the grounds that they’ll end up giving more back to us that way somehow anyway.

Pro-life love, from another angle.

– Oh look, something I can agree with Obama on. Assuming Santorum’s not just talking gibberish again.

– Burzynski still hasn’t provided any data that his treatments can actually do anything to fight cancer. But thanks to his overly trusting patients’ continued generosity, the guy’s doing alright for himself.

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