Meta-coalitions as a Cultural Tendency
Jan 25, 2005

From The Anglosphere Challenge to the Political Left:

On the Right, I believe that it is still possible to discern the tensions and compromises that one would expect in an alliance-building environment. The loose coalition includes libertarians and moral conservatives, deficit hawks and tax-cutters, immigration supporters and immigration opponents.

What has emerged on the Left is a core of rigid, dogmatic, conformity enforcers. Its organizations, such as, the Howard Dean campaign, or the movement to resist Social Security reform, are self-marginalizing. They can achieve a high level of intensity, and with the Internet they can be successful at co-ordination and fundraising. However, they lack the flexibility in forming alliances that politics in the Anglosphere has traditionally required.

It hadn't occurred to me that our meta-coalition system in the US should be understood not just structurally, but culturally. I find myself in agreement with the article:

After reading Bennett on the importance of fluid relationships in the social, economic, and political sphere, one might be more skeptical about the nation-building project in Iraq. That country strikes me as one where loyalty to a clan or religious group is likely to supercede the ability to form a political coalition or a business relationship. If so, then democratic institutions will be difficult to establish.

This does seem the best reason to be rationally concerned about Iraq's ability to form a democracy. The people themselves are certainly capable individually (there is no special "Democracy" brain structure that evolved in Britain), but is the culture? Do democracies create democratic cultures, or do democratic cultures create democracies? Since the answer is most likely "Both, to some extent", which direction is more important?

Only one way to find out, I guess. Regardless of the outcome, this will probably be referred to as a Grand Experiment by future historians.

In tonight's episode, the FCC learns about giving in to bullies...
Jan 25, 2005

What this story doesn't say, but should, is that the Parents Television Council is the almost the sole source of the "mounting complaints" Powell refers to near the end. From a Mediaweek article:

The number of indecency complaints had soared dramatically to more than 240,000 in the previous year, Powell said. The figure was up from roughly 14,000 in 2002, and from fewer than 350 in each of the two previous years. There was, Powell said, “a dramatic rise in public concern and outrage about what is being broadcast into their homes.”

What Powell did not reveal—apparently because he was unaware—was the source of the complaints. According to a new FCC estimate obtained by Mediaweek, nearly all indecency complaints in 2003—99.8 percent—were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group.

Clearly the PTC has tasted blood. Giving in to them may not have been the smartest move in the long term.

It's mostly just humorous, though; the domain that the PTC is squabbling over grows ever smaller. Anything other than public broadcast, like cable, isn't ruled by FCC decency rules, only what the market will bear. Comedy Central has run the South Park movie uncut, which contains one song so profane it stops sounding profane by the end (your brain's "profanity circuits" temporarily burn out, kinda like saying the same work over and over for a minute). But they run it at 1 a.m., and seem to have not generated much complaint because they've done it several times. Between cable, satellite, the Internet, and the increasing desirability and utility of spectrum, broadcast TV over public airwaves day's are numbered anyhow. Even if the PTC got everything they dreamed of, they'd probably just hasten the death of public broadcast, rather than end up in the world they think they are creating.

XBLinJS 0.2 released
Jan 17, 2005

I've released XBLinJS 0.2, which includes some example widgets and much better documentation.

Dec 06, 2004

OK, forget my last post about what the Democrats need to do. After a
few more hours both online and on TV, I can't help but think that
those actions are a little
too mature for too many Democrats. Let's start more simply. Speaking
as a Bush voter, here's a short list of things various Democrats need
to stop doing, lest they continue to marginalize themselves.

Read the rest (1102 words)

Government Myths Interlude: Making Sense Of The Election
Dec 05, 2004

By now, the election results for the US are well known: The Republicans
keep the Presidency, they get more seats in the House, they get more
seats in the Senate, and they will almost certainly be placing some
people on the Supreme Court. Basically, while it isn't quite enough
to be considered a blank check, especially as party loyalty isn't what
it used to be, it is rather close; the Senate control is only a few
seats short of being able to unilaterally break a filibuster.

Read the rest (1262 words)

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