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    • The politics you’ve got
      MANDOS POST Take a look at Joe Biden—he appears to have, for now at least, considerable staying power in the Democratic primary opinion polls (although, of course, this may change as the actual primaries come through). If your model of political psychology can predict a strong core of popular support for Trump without also predicting […]
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Iranian Autumn? and other news

The Iranians are in the streets again, protesting the regime of mullahs and Ahmedinejhad.

To paraphrase an old Sting song, “The Mullahs say they will bury you, I don’t agree with their point of view, it’s such an ignorant thing to do, if the Persians love their children too.”

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Americans are visiting the doctor less frequently.  It looks like the bipartisan plan to control medical costs via a program of sustained mass unemployment is working.

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Check these maps out in TheAtlanticCities if you want to see what happened to job growth since 2001 and in the last four years.  Not very pretty.

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Todd Akin (R), who is running for Senator of Missouri against eau-de-Democrat Claire McCaskill says that the government shouldn’t interfere with the way businesses operate even if it results in pay discrimination against women.

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Michael Lynch says in his article for the NYTimes Opinionator that persuasion by reason isn’t useless, it just takes longer than we like.  Eventually, we’ll have lost absolutely everything but maybe that’s what it will take before the gullible buy a clue.

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There really is a white male affirmative action program.  Let’s just cut the bullshit about all of the progress women have made and look at the facts, ok?

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True story: a couple of guys bought a house in Arizona a few years ago assuring the former owner’s daughters that they were going to restore it to its former architectural glory.  They didn’t.  Instead, they submitted plans to the local planning board to demolish the house, split the land into two lots and develop on it.  Except that this particular house was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his son, David, and it was one of the prototypes for the Guggenheim Museum’s spiral design.  If the couple who bought the house don’t get a buyer who meets their asking price of $2.2 million by tomorrow, it’s curtains for the house.  Thursday is when the demolition is scheduled to begin.  The Wright foundation says this house flew under their radar because David Wright never let anyone visit it even though it’s about 10 miles from Taliesan West.  It would be awful to see it destroyed.  The place looks like it would be beautiful if someone gave it some TLC.  Unfortunately, the new buyers are going to have to have a lot of money to restore it and maybe that’s the sticking point.  Preservationists are racing against the clock to get it designated as a historical landmark.  It looks like they’re not going to make the deadline though.

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Hey!  There’s a debate tonight.  The New York Times says you can learn a lot about candidates in debates by their body language.  They’re a little late to this party because that’s the way The Confluence used to watch debates during the 2008 season.  Here’s the plan: tune into the debate on C-Span or set your DVR, and turn off the sound.  It doesn’t matter what they say anyway and you can always rewatch the debate later.  Now, watch their bodies.  Record your impressions.  You may come to different conclusions about who won based on their body language.  We’ll run a liveblog simultaneously.

As for me, I’m inclined to do like James Carville and join the Cocktail Party.  I love a bit of whiskey in the fall.  But if your tastes lean in the effervescent direction, check out this pumpkin beer recipe served from a real pumpkin:

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Study shows how morals can be changed by others

Well, this certainly explains the typical Fox News viewer who only 15 years ago was perfectly rational and sane:

People can be tricked into reversing their opinions on moral issues, even to the point of constructing good arguments to support the opposite of their original positions, researchers report today in PLoS ONE.

The researchers, led by Lars Hall, a cognitive scientist at Lund University in Sweden, recruited 160 volunteers to fill out a 2-page survey on the extent to which they agreed with 12 statements — either about moral principles relating to society in general or about the morality of current issues in the news, from prostitution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.

But the surveys also contained a ‘magic trick’. Each contained two sets of statements, one lightly glued on top of the other. Each survey was given on a clipboard, on the back of which the researchers had added a patch of glue. When participants turned the first page over to complete the second, the top set of statements would stick to the glue, exposing the hidden set but leaving the responses unchanged

[…]

People were even willing to argue in favor of the reversed statements: A full 53% of participants argued unequivocally for the opposite of their original attitude in at least one of the manipulated statements, the authors write. Hall and his colleagues have previously reported this effect, called ‘choice blindness’, in other areas, including taste and smell and aesthetic choice.

[…]

The possibility of using the technique as a means of moral persuasion is “intriguing”, says Liane Young, a psychologist at Boston College in Massachusetts. “These findings suggest that if I’m fooled into thinking that I endorse a view, I’ll do the work myself to come up with my own reasons [for endorsing it],” she says.

These researchers took their good sweet time getting around to researching and publishing this stuff.  Where were they 4 years ago??  Of course, we can’t ignore the effect of peer pressure and the “pain of independence”.  Once you identify with a group, it’s hard to break away from it even it it’s going over a cliff morally, like the Democratic loyalists are doing currently.

Still, it makes sense.  Think about all the times Geroge W. Bush confused Osama bin Laden for Saddam Hussein when he was trying to gin up support for stupidly invading Iraq.  Or think about how many people were snookered into supporting the Patriot Act or the Department of Homeland Security or think that Occupy protestors are lice ridden sex addicts.  Or that Sandra Fluke is a slut.  Or that 47% of Americans don’t deserve the social security they paid into all of their adult working lives.  Or that it is OK to call your opponent’s supporters racists.

It’s easier than we think.

And for those Democrats out there who think that Romney has screwed up so badly that he’s bound to lose, be careful to not jump to conclusions.  This election is still a referendum on Obama who was no FDR during the worst recession since the Great Depression.  Negative feelings towards him are running pretty high right now.  If people want to get rid of him, they’ll find a reason.  It won’t be that hard.