Cory Leonard

Archive for March, 2011|Monthly archive page

Fringe Mormon Group Makes Myths with Glenn Beck’s Help | Southern Poverty Law Center

In politics on March 21, 2011 at 6:56 am

A report from the Souther Poverty Law Center on the industry that Glenn Beck is fueling in extreme groups:

In some ways, the NCCS worldview can sound remarkably similar to that of antigovernment “Patriots,” whose movement has exploded in the last two years. So its not much of a surprise that it has found a number of new organizational allies among “Constitutionalist” groups such as the conspiracy-obsessed John Birch Society, the ultraconservative “pro-family” group Eagle Forum, and the Oath Keepers, a group of ex-police and military personnel who publicly promise to resist orders if they find those orders at odds with their understanding of the Constitution. At the 2010 National Liberty Unity Summit, a powwow of far-right groups, NCCS president Earl Taylor delivered the keynote address following speeches by leading Oath Keepers Richard Mack and Guy Cunningham.But mostly, the NCCS focuses on its seminars. And business has never been better.

via Fringe Mormon Group Makes Myths with Glenn Beck’s Help | Southern Poverty Law Center.

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On Republican Foreign Policy

In politics on March 20, 2011 at 8:57 pm

What does a Tea Party foreign policy look like?  We’re still unsure, and not clear that it will matter.  (If its isolationism, that doesn’t seem to be getting any traction except for Haley Barbour’s lone voice in the wilderness.)  But the more important battle is between neo-cons, the ones who brought us Iraq 2 and Afghanistan, versus a diminishing species called “realists,” whose Iraq War 1 was successful in military objectives and economic viability.

“Once upon a time, there was a debate within the party between realists of the Brent Scowcroft variety and the neo-cons,” said Elliott Abrams, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former adviser to Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bush. “It seems like realists have lost that debate.”

via GOP 2012: Return of the neo-cons – Ben Smith and Byron Tau – POLITICO.com.

An effective Republican candidate in 2012 will strategically need to edge toward the Tea Party sentiment and incorporate greater skepticism and the ability to be the “adult in the room” without moving back 100 years in thinking.  This is a useful trend that the Tea Partiers gave us in the past electoral cycle. An effective Republican candidate will look more like the Republicans of the past–only starting wars they can finish and afford, the true manifestation of real American leadership.

As far as effective Democrats go, President Obama is playing the game right now, rewriting the rules as he goes.  We’ll see how his approach fares.

Book List: The Social Animal by David Brooks

In politics on March 12, 2011 at 6:55 am

Summing up Brooks’ new book, which gets a pick, a pan (Forbes: “incompleteness,” “incoherence), but a lot of middle-marching (CSMonitor,.  I still say its worthy of consideration and a close reading.

In “The Social Animal” Mr. Brooks surveys a stunning amount of research and cleverly connects it to everyday experience. The lessons he draws are often insightful, but they are not reliably correct. Perhaps experiencing his own surges of dopamine and overconfidence, he too often abandons his stance of “epistemological modesty” and instead peddles frothy notions that probably won’t last long. But in observing the broader trends of social science—and of contemporary life—he gets a lot right. His own achievement here signals a plateau in the market for social science, not a peak.

via Book Review: The Social Animal – WSJ.com.

It seems that Newsweek captures best that this is a socially-sciency take on the larger issue (that isn’t an academic one, necessarily) about civil discourse and what makes us think, argue, and decide.

What’s Civility Worth?

In politics on March 12, 2011 at 6:11 am

A better response to those amigos, amigas, and so-called “Friends” who take over my Facebook to rant, argue, and push for a rise in others blood pressure:

The problem is that an argument can be both civil and rational and still not be fair. Sure, it’s more civil for the GOP to publish misleading policy papers than it is for Sarah Palin to affix crosshairs to a map of congressional districts. Is that what the folks calling for civility really want? As Paul Krugman pointed out in a recent column, “All [Republicans] ever needed or wanted were some numbers and charts to wave at the press, fooling some people into believing that we’re having some kind of rational discussion. We aren’t.”

And then:

 

They don’t understand that civility won’t help debate, because they don’t understand that “debate” is just politicians taking turns issuing sound bites meant for members of their own base, not as persuasive points attempting to sway the other party. The halls of Congress are not a place where two sides look at an agreed-upon set of facts and then debate the best way forward. Much of the debate is about the facts themselves.

Like it or not, facts do exist. The question that’s worth exploring is not how can we make our political discourse more civil. It’s how can we make sure that it is a productive conversation rooted in those facts. Because agreeing to disagree might be a way to survive an awkward Christmas dinner, but it’s no way to run a country.

 

via What’s Civility Worth?.