Tag: Politics

Politics as Sport – Metaphor

When any political movement loses all sense of self and has no unifying theory of government, it ceases to function as a collective rooted in thought and becomes more like fans of a sports team. Asking the Republican Party today to agree on a definition of conservatism is like asking New York Giants fans to have a consensus opinion on the Law of the Sea Treaty. It’s not just that no one knows anything about the subject; they don’t remotely care. All Republicans want to do is beat the team playing the Giants. They aren’t voters using active intelligence or participants in a civil democracy; they are fans. Their role is to cheer and fund their team and trash-talk whatever team is on the other side. This removes any of the seeming contradiction of having spent years supporting principles like free trade and personal responsibility to suddenly stop and support the opposite. Think of those principles like players on a team. You cheered for them when they were on your team, but then management fired them or traded them to another team, so of course you aren’t for them anymore. If your team suddenly decides to focus on running instead of passing, no fan cares—as long as the team wins.

Stevens, Stuart. It Was All a Lie: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump

You’ll never understand how politics works if you don’t understand Anna Nicole Smith

After a lecture, David Rieff, perhaps America’s most important writer on humanitarian issues, made this surprising comment: “You’ll never understand how politics works if you don’t understand Anna Nicole Smith.” What could Anna Nicole Smith have to do with politics—or brain scans, for that matter? Abundant clues to the answer could be found on any TV channel that night. There were viewers calling in, recounting their emotional responses to Anna Nicole’s life and death. Most of them were women, mourning her, idolizing her. To others, she was a gold digger, an empty-headed celebrity, a celebrity only because she was a celebrity. Her life and death resonated so profoundly with so many people because she exemplified a remarkable variety of narratives. Those narratives exist outside the body – in our culture – and inside the body – in the very building blocks of our brains. David Rieff was completely right—understanding the importance of Anna Nicole Smith will help us understand politics.

Lakoff, George. The Political Mind: A Cognitive Scientist’s Guide to Your Brain and Its Politics 

The Trump Hustle, Example of

…the leader slow-walks toward us, fist pumping slowly, with that trademark ponderous tread of his (dating back at least to his boardroom entrances in The Apprentice), adjusts the mike, leans slightly sideways, and lances into it all with a stark declaration: “We brought you a lot of car plants, Michigan! We brought you a lot of car plants. You know that, right?”

Comes in prompt response the ear-splitting roar of affirmation, clear as clear can be: Yes, Mr. President, we know that! A joyful knowledge, a knowledge to celebrate: all those jobs in all those car plants! But what exactly is it possible to know about those car plants? I could not have been the only one in that obstreperous crowd, made up overwhelmingly of Michiganders, to know the presumably important fact that, well…those car plants didn’t exist. Any member in good standing of the ancient “reality-based community” could have told you that since the coming of Trump no new car plants had been built in Michigan, that since his ascension not less than three thousand Michiganders had lost jobs in the vital auto sector.

Perhaps it wasn’t Trump’s fault, but it was a fact. But what was a fact exactly?

He had promised Michigan new car plants and within the chilly expanse of his own mind he had delivered. And the roar of worshipful approbation meant that he had carried these thousands of souls to that place with him. “Dang!” a sweatshirted middle-aged woman told me afterward as we waited in line to buy hot dogs and lemonade. “I had no idea he had done so much for the state! I mean, people hardly even talk about it…” She was a nurse, trained in anatomy, physiology, biology—science, that is to say. But to her the president’s word was Truth; the idea that “people hardly even talk about” the car plants because they don’t exist was not only heretical but inconceivable. She couldn’t conceive it and neither could the thousands of others shouting around me.

Mark Danner
New York Review of Books
The Con He Rode In On
Why do people hardly even talk about all the car plants Donald Trump has brought to Michigan?

The Pivot, Political Rhetorical Technique – Usage, Al Franken

Raising money (“It’s not uncommon to have three straight hours of call time scheduled as part of your day. … It’s brutal.”)

Campaigning (“Imagine the training montage from a Rocky movie … but instead of jumping rope, I’m eating hot dish at an assisted living facility. … [I]nstead of guzzling a dozen raw eggs, I’m being driven five hours to speak for five minutes at the Otter Tail County convention.”)

Remembering voters’ names (“Here’s a tip: if you want to get an officeholder to dislike you, go up to him or her and say, ‘I bet you don’t remember my name.’ “)

Franken says the strangest skill to learn was the art of the “pivot” — essentially, ignoring reporters’ questions. “If someone said, ‘Why are you 20 points behind?’ I explained, ‘Well, you know, we have a long time to go.’ ”

His campaign staff quickly shut that down. “They’d say, ‘No, no, no — just pivot! Just say, “Minnesotans don’t care about the polls. What they care about is their kids’ education and whether they’re going to go bankrupt if they get sick.’ ”

“It took me forever to learn how to do that,” Franken says.

Sen. Al Franken Embraces ‘The Funny’ Again In New Book
Scott Detrow, NPR

Impeachment Drinking Game Ideas

Now that PBS has announced they’ll be televising the impeachment hearings, what will the drinking game rules be? from AskReddit

If you still have a witches hat laying around from Halloween, you can have a person wear it. It’ll rotate around the room on time or whenever a new person is introduced during proceedings. Whenever the term witch Hunt is used you all scream burn the witch and the person in the hat takes a shot of fireball

And whenever someone says “I don’t know.” “I don’t recall.” Everyone takes a shot!

If you hear “That’s not in my purview.” Everyone has to shotgun a beer.

You could also pass a coach-style whistle around and take a shot every time someone says “whistleblower”

Drink every time someone doesn’t answer the question

This reminds me of the 2016 debates where the candidates would listen to someone ask a question before they talked about whatever they want

It’s almost as bad as having a speaking timer and doing nothing when it expires. What’s the damn point if they’re never going to cut them off anyway?