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Old 05-23-2008, 10:37 PM   #46
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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Originally Posted by 70Chip View Post
I take it Frank makes the case that issues like abortion have distracted ordinary Americans from voting their economic interest. They have been deceived into thinking that social issues are more important than financial ones. But, couldn't one also make the case that the Democratic Party has decided that abortion, homosexual rights, etc are more important to them than the economic interests of Middle America? It seems to me that he is letting one side off of the hook too easily. But, you've read the book so maybe you can help. Isn't it a bit unrealistic to expect our proverbial 'Kansan' to pretend that abortion is inconsequential when the Democrats have been telling us for 30 years how consequential it is? Does the author deal with this at all?
What I think he would say is that nothing ever actually happens of substance in the culture wars; abortion isn't overturned, etc. That is, the conservative politicians who use cultural issues as wedge issues never actually deliver on the promises of any substantive cultural change. The only real substance that the working class foot soldiers of the conservative movement get is decreases in capital gains taxes and other economic outcomes that actually do them harm while benefiting the business class that makes up the durable historical constituency of the Republican party (the GOP has been about various things since the 1850s, but it has always been the party of business). He also would say that much of the cultural outrage directed at the 'decline' of American culture is misguided because what actually drives places like Hollywood (which so many cultural conservatives profess to loath) is not 'liberals' but profit margins. So by refusing to look at market capitalism with a critical eye and by de-coupling the language of economics from discussions of class, Conservatives have obscured one of the real targets that they should be aiming at.

Now, clearly Frank has a political horse to ride, but I'm not sure it in the name of the Democratic party that he writes. In the final chapter he says that the Democratic party has left itself open to cultural wedge issues because they have largely abandoned the language of class. The DLC of Clinton, McCullife, et al. attempted to move the party towards the right economically while holding onto issues like abortion. The hope, he says, was bringing more moderate Republicans into the fold while assuming that working class voters would stick with the party simply because they are slightly better (he would emphasize slightly) on economic issues for working class voters. But he says that by abandoning trade unions etc. in anything more than rhetorical flourishes the Democrats have abandoned the sort of economic justice issues that should really mark them as something distinct from Conservatives.

I think that might be something like what he would say. As I said, I think his historical analysis is lacking, I think he avoids talking about race (saying it doesn't play a role in Kansas politics, but I don't know how you can talk about modern political alignments and not discuss race), and I don't think he really takes religion as seriously as he should either. I'm kind of ambivalent about the book, but I think it is more complex (and much more personal ... partly his own memoir of growing up in Kansas) than just 250 pages saying 'culture trumps economics and therefore working class citizens who vote Republican are irrational'. If anyone else has read the book or would like to do so I'd be open to discussing further.
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Old 05-23-2008, 10:54 PM   #47
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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Of course, like 20+ years ago. I think in 5th grade maybe?

My favorite book from back then was definitely The Toothpaste Millionaire

yeah i first read it in 4th grade, man you are getting old smooty
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Old 05-24-2008, 12:42 AM   #48
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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Who has a good historical non-fiction they would recommend? I have a Stephen King in the wings, but not quite ready for that yet.
John Adams by Mcullough (spelling?) is great read if your into US history. I never would have realized how different the Founding Fathers were from each other.
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Old 05-24-2008, 12:46 AM   #49
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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I'll recommend a good book that I read some time ago. I have 2 small kids so i don't get much ME time anymore. Freakonomics. Very good book that makes you think about the real reason for certain social issues and opinions. Good book.
I borrowed that one from a friend and then bought it for myself. Totally get what you mean about the social issues. Also borrowed books by Paul Krugman from the same friend and thought they were pretty good (although I sort of got duped into buying The Great Unraveling which is not a book but a collection of editorials where Krugman rips the President a new one.)
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Old 05-24-2008, 12:57 AM   #50
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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What I think he would say is that nothing ever actually happens of substance in the culture wars; abortion isn't overturned, etc. That is, the conservative politicians who use cultural issues as wedge issues never actually deliver on the promises of any substantive cultural change. The only real substance that the working class foot soldiers of the conservative movement get is decreases in capital gains taxes and other economic outcomes that actually do them harm while benefiting the business class that makes up the durable historical constituency of the Republican party (the GOP has been about various things since the 1850s, but it has always been the party of business). He also would say that much of the cultural outrage directed at the 'decline' of American culture is misguided because what actually drives places like Hollywood (which so many cultural conservatives profess to loath) is not 'liberals' but profit margins. So by refusing to look at market capitalism with a critical eye and by de-coupling the language of economics from discussions of class, Conservatives have obscured one of the real targets that they should be aiming at.

Now, clearly Frank has a political horse to ride, but I'm not sure it in the name of the Democratic party that he writes. In the final chapter he says that the Democratic party has left itself open to cultural wedge issues because they have largely abandoned the language of class. The DLC of Clinton, McCullife, et al. attempted to move the party towards the right economically while holding onto issues like abortion. The hope, he says, was bringing more moderate Republicans into the fold while assuming that working class voters would stick with the party simply because they are slightly better (he would emphasize slightly) on economic issues for working class voters. But he says that by abandoning trade unions etc. in anything more than rhetorical flourishes the Democrats have abandoned the sort of economic justice issues that should really mark them as something distinct from Conservatives.

I think that might be something like what he would say. As I said, I think his historical analysis is lacking, I think he avoids talking about race (saying it doesn't play a role in Kansas politics, but I don't know how you can talk about modern political alignments and not discuss race), and I don't think he really takes religion as seriously as he should either. I'm kind of ambivalent about the book, but I think it is more complex (and much more personal ... partly his own memoir of growing up in Kansas) than just 250 pages saying 'culture trumps economics and therefore working class citizens who vote Republican are irrational'. If anyone else has read the book or would like to do so I'd be open to discussing further.
I will definitely read it now. What you said above about abortion being used as a wedge issue reminded me of a sermon I watched on TV once where the pastor basically said the same thing. The pastor sort of gave a history about how the party machinery never gave two shits about abortion, even when guys like Dobson and Paul Wyrick tried to make it a political issue. The party only got on board once they realized abortion could swing votes to get tax rates reduced for the wealthy.
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Old 05-24-2008, 01:07 AM   #51
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Re: What Are You Reading?

I forgot to mention I'm reading Common Wealth and it sucks. Not worth buying.
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Old 05-24-2008, 01:59 AM   #52
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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has no one read Where the Red Fern Grows
It's a fine story Quake. Dan and Anne if I remember correctly. And the part where he chops down a huge tree. 70Chip III enjoyed it not too long ago.
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Old 05-24-2008, 02:14 AM   #53
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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What I think he would say is that nothing ever actually happens of substance in the culture wars; abortion isn't overturned, etc. That is, the conservative politicians who use cultural issues as wedge issues never actually deliver on the promises of any substantive cultural change. The only real substance that the working class foot soldiers of the conservative movement get is decreases in capital gains taxes and other economic outcomes that actually do them harm while benefiting the business class that makes up the durable historical constituency of the Republican party (the GOP has been about various things since the 1850s, but it has always been the party of business). He also would say that much of the cultural outrage directed at the 'decline' of American culture is misguided because what actually drives places like Hollywood (which so many cultural conservatives profess to loath) is not 'liberals' but profit margins. So by refusing to look at market capitalism with a critical eye and by de-coupling the language of economics from discussions of class, Conservatives have obscured one of the real targets that they should be aiming at.

Now, clearly Frank has a political horse to ride, but I'm not sure it in the name of the Democratic party that he writes. In the final chapter he says that the Democratic party has left itself open to cultural wedge issues because they have largely abandoned the language of class. The DLC of Clinton, McCullife, et al. attempted to move the party towards the right economically while holding onto issues like abortion. The hope, he says, was bringing more moderate Republicans into the fold while assuming that working class voters would stick with the party simply because they are slightly better (he would emphasize slightly) on economic issues for working class voters. But he says that by abandoning trade unions etc. in anything more than rhetorical flourishes the Democrats have abandoned the sort of economic justice issues that should really mark them as something distinct from Conservatives.

I think that might be something like what he would say. As I said, I think his historical analysis is lacking, I think he avoids talking about race (saying it doesn't play a role in Kansas politics, but I don't know how you can talk about modern political alignments and not discuss race), and I don't think he really takes religion as seriously as he should either. I'm kind of ambivalent about the book, but I think it is more complex (and much more personal ... partly his own memoir of growing up in Kansas) than just 250 pages saying 'culture trumps economics and therefore working class citizens who vote Republican are irrational'. If anyone else has read the book or would like to do so I'd be open to discussing further.
Thank you for your thoughtful response. It sems to re-affirm my suspicion that Franks is merely re-packaging the old Marxist argument about false consiousness. The primary failing of the argument, IMO, is that it contends that ordinary people really don't deserve to have an opinion about things like abortion. These are extremely complicated issues that the proles out in the country needn't worry their tiny, supesrtitious brains with. The intelligentsia has decided that abortion is nesecarry because it reduces the growth of the underclass and that should be good enough for the rubes. What they miss and what Marx couldn't even begn to comprehend is that equality as defined by the American Revolution means that Everyman gets to own his own moral compass. If you're going to put over abortion on demand you'd better bring a moral argument to bear. If you attempt to do it by beauracratic fiat, you may find that Everyman gets annoyed.

Now, no one could argue with the fact that the Republican Party has received more than it has given when it comes to the abortion issue. Perhaps this fact should give some pause to those on the Left who believe strongly in abortion as a social good. I wish it would. However, the failure to deliver on a specific social policy by a given party really does not do anything to discredit the arguments or the motives of those true believers who maintain the ideological faith. African Americans haven't gotten much from the Democrats in the last few years so I guess we could be asking "What's the Matter with Compton?" Both parties tend to give the shaft to their most ardent supporters. It doesn't mean the supporters are wrong.
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Old 05-24-2008, 01:01 PM   #54
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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Thank you for your thoughtful response. It sems to re-affirm my suspicion that Franks is merely re-packaging the old Marxist argument about false consiousness. The primary failing of the argument, IMO, is that it contends that ordinary people really don't deserve to have an opinion about things like abortion. These are extremely complicated issues that the proles out in the country needn't worry their tiny, supesrtitious brains with. The intelligentsia has decided that abortion is nesecarry because it reduces the growth of the underclass and that should be good enough for the rubes. What they miss and what Marx couldn't even begn to comprehend is that equality as defined by the American Revolution means that Everyman gets to own his own moral compass. If you're going to put over abortion on demand you'd better bring a moral argument to bear. If you attempt to do it by beauracratic fiat, you may find that Everyman gets annoyed.

Now, no one could argue with the fact that the Republican Party has received more than it has given when it comes to the abortion issue. Perhaps this fact should give some pause to those on the Left who believe strongly in abortion as a social good. I wish it would. However, the failure to deliver on a specific social policy by a given party really does not do anything to discredit the arguments or the motives of those true believers who maintain the ideological faith. African Americans haven't gotten much from the Democrats in the last few years so I guess we could be asking "What's the Matter with Compton?" Both parties tend to give the shaft to their most ardent supporters. It doesn't mean the supporters are wrong.
As someone who's been surrounded by racial tension and the abortion issue I could not disagree w/ you more ardently about the "black vote" and the "abortion vote." To your point that liberals have not come through for a main constituency in recent history common sense provides that proactive legislation requires the power of the bully pulpit i.e. the presidency. While Clinton was pres he delivered legislative victories from increased student aid for poor/minority children to the assault weapons ban, which thousands of mayors and police chiefs nationwide have attested to as the primary reason for a diminution in violent crime with inner cities and ghettos (they're also working very hard to have the ban reimplemented). In fact, when Clinton became pres there was a very strong push among conservatives to end student aid altogether (you probably remember this if your about 30 or older) because default rates on student loans were too high. The Clinton admin forced an inquiry and found a handful of colleges nationwide were responsible for most defaults, and that those institutions could be counseled and eventually cut off w/o significant improvement. Minorities are especially benefited by student aid and probably would not have access to grants/loans today w/o the dogged support of the democrat party.
For the last eight years its required fierce battle by progressives/liberals to guarantee the tenets of social security/public services last into the 21st century. Bottom line: the left has delivered for me and people like me over and over again.

The "abortion vote" and the republican party have a much different history however. The highest abortion rates in the history of the country we're during Reagan's presidency (largely because he slashed every facet of social expenditure) and nobody on the right said boo. When abortion rates plummeted during Clinton's presidency the right still screamed and cried to no end that a crisis was underway, and when Clinton proposed the Arkansas law of no third trimester abortions unless for the life of the mom be adopted nationally Gingrich and the conservatives would not let it pass. Many from that group were asked why until years later when it was quietly admitted that the bill would have largely taken the issue away. I have not read the book about Kansas, but it's obvious that the "abortion vote" never wained in the face of such guile, and more pointedly, it's obvious pro-life voters were not even paying enough attention to know what happened. If that is a point the author makes... it probably doesn't much matter.
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Old 05-24-2008, 02:04 PM   #55
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Re: What Are You Reading?

I'm reading a book called "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson. It's about the significance of Chicago being awarded the World's Fair in 1893. It's got interesting sub-plots, some pretty cool architectural info, and a serial killer to boot. Very good read. I'm about halfway through it.
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Old 05-24-2008, 03:14 PM   #56
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Re: What Are You Reading?

Right now im reading "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA" by Tim Weiner. It's a great book if your interested in reading about the complete history of the CIA, their missions, and their utter incompetence.

Also recommended:
"Parallel Worlds" by Michio Kaku, "1984" by George Orwell, "The Age of Reason" by Thomas Paine, "Fingerprints of the Gods" by Graham Hancock, "The Cosmic Trigger" by Robert Anton Wilson, "Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life" by John Lee Anderson, "I am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter, "Undiscovered Self" by Carl Jung, "Sirius Mystery" by Robert Temple, "The Communist Manifesto" by Karl Marx, "The Second World" by Parag Khanna, "Supernatural" by Graham Hancock, "Dinner with a Cannibal" by Carole Travis-Henikoff.
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Old 05-24-2008, 04:42 PM   #57
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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As someone who's been surrounded by racial tension and the abortion issue I could not disagree w/ you more ardently about the "black vote" and the "abortion vote." To your point that liberals have not come through for a main constituency in recent history common sense provides that proactive legislation requires the power of the bully pulpit i.e. the presidency. While Clinton was pres he delivered legislative victories from increased student aid for poor/minority children to the assault weapons ban, which thousands of mayors and police chiefs nationwide have attested to as the primary reason for a diminution in violent crime with inner cities and ghettos (they're also working very hard to have the ban reimplemented). In fact, when Clinton became pres there was a very strong push among conservatives to end student aid altogether (you probably remember this if your about 30 or older) because default rates on student loans were too high. The Clinton admin forced an inquiry and found a handful of colleges nationwide were responsible for most defaults, and that those institutions could be counseled and eventually cut off w/o significant improvement. Minorities are especially benefited by student aid and probably would not have access to grants/loans today w/o the dogged support of the democrat party.
For the last eight years its required fierce battle by progressives/liberals to guarantee the tenets of social security/public services last into the 21st century. Bottom line: the left has delivered for me and people like me over and over again.

The "abortion vote" and the republican party have a much different history however. The highest abortion rates in the history of the country we're during Reagan's presidency (largely because he slashed every facet of social expenditure) and nobody on the right said boo. When abortion rates plummeted during Clinton's presidency the right still screamed and cried to no end that a crisis was underway, and when Clinton proposed the Arkansas law of no third trimester abortions unless for the life of the mom be adopted nationally Gingrich and the conservatives would not let it pass. Many from that group were asked why until years later when it was quietly admitted that the bill would have largely taken the issue away. I have not read the book about Kansas, but it's obvious that the "abortion vote" never wained in the face of such guile, and more pointedly, it's obvious pro-life voters were not even paying enough attention to know what happened. If that is a point the author makes... it probably doesn't much matter.

I follow politics extremely closely and I don't remember Bill Clinton proposing any limits on abortion. In fact he vetoed the ban on the D and X and D and E procedures twice. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the late Democrat from New york referred to these procedures as "infanticide". They are sometimes called "partial birth abortions". Abortion was the one issue that Clinton would never triangulate because he knew that it was the only thing that the feminists really cared about. It helped insure that they overlooked his other proclivities. President Bush, of course, signed the ban on partial birth abortions and the Supreme Court has upheld it. So in at least one area the Republican Party has delivered on this issue and made a difference.

As for Clinton's relationship with African Americans, if they can't see what should be obvious by now - that he is a phony and a hypocrite who has cynically manipulated their passions and their votes all these years - then nothing I could say will make a difference.
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Old 05-24-2008, 04:45 PM   #58
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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Right now im reading "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA" by Tim Weiner. It's a great book if your interested in reading about the complete history of the CIA, their missions, and their utter incompetence.

Also recommended:
"Parallel Worlds" by Michio Kaku, "1984" by George Orwell, "The Age of Reason" by Thomas Paine, "Fingerprints of the Gods" by Graham Hancock, "The Cosmic Trigger" by Robert Anton Wilson, "Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life" by John Lee Anderson, "I am a Strange Loop" by Douglas Hofstadter, "Undiscovered Self" by Carl Jung, "Sirius Mystery" by Robert Temple, "The Communist Manifesto" by Karl Marx, "The Second World" by Parag Khanna, "Supernatural" by Graham Hancock, "Dinner with a Cannibal" by Carole Travis-Henikoff.
Good grief. That stuff will rot your brain like crack cocaine. (apart from Jung and Orwell- If you want to read a great book by Orwell read "Homage to Catalonia" - easily his best)
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Old 05-24-2008, 05:07 PM   #59
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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Good grief. That stuff will rot your brain like crack cocaine. (apart from Jung and Orwell- If you want to read a great book by Orwell read "Homage to Catalonia" - easily his best)
Specifically what books are going to "rot my brain", and have you ever read those books? As for "Homage to Catalonia" I have read it and it was very good. The Spanish Civil War is an extremely interesting topic, and Orwell's account of it was fascinating.
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Old 05-24-2008, 05:19 PM   #60
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Re: What Are You Reading?

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Specifically what books are going to "rot my brain", and have you ever read those books? As for "Homage to Catalonia" I have read it and it was very good. The Spanish Civil War is an extremely interesting topic, and Orwell's account of it was fascinating.
I was only joking. You might try branching out a little, though. Especially since the Socialist Movement has moved on to it's museum phase. Colleges and Universities are still awash in it, but nobody else thinks its relevant. Try reading Witness by Whittaker Chambers. A great read and it offers a slightly different perspective.
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