Friday, February 15, 2019

In Types of Communication, Transmission = Report, Ritual = Rapport?

Jay Rosen has interesting series of tweets about "transmission" vs. "ritual" communication.

The upshot is that some kinds of communication are meant to transmit information, while others are meet as a ritual of sharing to affirm our solidarity.

This seems to me to match Deborah Tannen's insight that a standard male form of communication is to "report" -- transmitting information, expecting the transmission of information back. 

By contrast, a standard female form of communication is designed to establish "rapport" - the sharing of experiences and feelings about them, meant to establish that we are similar.


Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Right is Moved By Wounded Status

The right hates the elite most of all, from a feeling of wounded status.  That is also the source of their racism.

They oppose "government" not from a theory of what makes society work better, or even what makes the capitalist economy work better.

They hate the government because it is run by people who think they are better than the right. 

To make things worse, the government elite helps people get ahead who the right thinks are beneath them or behind them in line.

Monday, December 17, 2018

What Churches and Parties Are For


Churches are institutions to turn occasional spiritual experience into habitual action.

Parties are institutions to turn occasional civic experience into habitual action.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Three Ideas for Expanding Congress

1. The size of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives have not changed in nearly six decades.  We take them for granted, but really, the Congress has always been an organic body.

The size of the House was last set in 1911 at 453, when the national population was 92 million.  That works out to about 200,000 people per representative.

Now the US population is 326 million.  Each House district now has roughly 700,000 people.

BUT Wyoming, the least populous state, has only 500,000 people in it.  So, in a sense, their lone Representative has disproportionate clout in Congress.

I have long thought that the District of Columbia should be fully represented in the House of Representatives.  Their sole delegate can vote in committee, but not in the full House.

I propose that DC get full representation in the House.  AND that the size of each district be set by the size of the District of Columbia.  At the moment, the population of DC is about 694,000 -- bigger that Wyoming. 

SO If we divided 326 million by 694,000, we would expand the house to 470 Representatives.

Changing to this rule - DC always gets a Representative, and the other district sizes are based on the size of the District of Columbia - would give a reliable bright line for the slow organic development of the House.

On this basis, let's consider two other ideas about expanding Congress that have engaged political nerds and election jockeys.

2. Liberals want statehood for DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam.  Six new senators, all likely Democrats, would help balance the over-representation of sparse, Republican farm states.

I think these are bad ideas, for different reasons.  The District of Columbia is a city, not a state.  To solve its under-representation in the Senate, I would let them vote for Senators from Maryland, from which their territory was carved in the first place.

Puerto Rico is certainly a state-sized entity.  But I think it is better off as a commonwealth, with U.S. citizenship.  I would not like to see English made the "official language" of the U.S., but I do think that the nearly universal use of a common language for public life is one of the great and necessary strengths of so large and diverse a country as ours.  It would be bad to try to have a bilingual country, but worse to try to force Puerto Rico to switch to English.

Statehood for Guam is a non-starter, I think.  The idea is only on the table as a bargaining chip, or a huge overreach.

3. Conservatives will discover that, if liberals get any traction on DC and Puerto Rican statehood, that they could split Texas into five states.  This was part of the treaty when Texas was admitted to the union.  Some imagine that this would mean ten Republican senators.  I think it would mean that the big Democratic cities would be freed from bondage to the vast Republican countryside.  The most urban of these new states would be at least purple, if not blue.  Be careful what you wish for.

SO my centrist proposal for expanding Congress: a modest expansion for the House, a modest rectification of an injustice to DC residents in relation to the Senate, and no new states.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

The Rainbow Party and the White Man's Party


Our politics is becoming increasingly partisan. 

The two parties are evolving into the Rainbow Party and the White Man's Party.

All the rainbow demographic groups are growing.

All the white man demographic groups are shrinking.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Difference Between Sex and Marriage is Like the Difference Between Swimming and Baptism.


Swimming is a behavior that we can describe neutrally.

Baptism is an action that is meaningful because of its context in a social institution.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Suppressing Yard Signs is a Class Privilege

In most suburban neighborhoods, political yard signs are prohibited by the Covenants, Codes, and Restrictions that the Homeowners Association enforces.

This rule is meant to promote civility and prevent conflict.

It is a sign of class privilege.  It assumes that, no matter who wins the election, the suburbanites will be protected.