Oct 21, 2009

Nuance: It's not deception. Clarity: It's not truth

(noo'äns, nyoo'-, noo äns', nyoo -) n. 1. A subtle or slight degree of difference, as in meaning; a gradation. 2. Expression or appreciation of nuances: a performance full of nuance. [Fr <>nuer, to shade, cloud < nue, cloud <>nuba Lat. nubes.] – nu•anced' adj.

When I heard Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele proclaim loudly that he was not using nuance but rather was being very clear, I started to think about our understanding of subtlety. A while back, I wrote about the corpus callosum and the links between the hemispheres of our brains. It is easy to get into thought patterns that lead us to believe that ideas, policies and positions are very clearly this or that; black, or white; Right, or Left. In reality this is never the case. There is always degree of nuance.

Look at some of the great debates of the past several hundred years. Aquinas "proved" the existence of God with five proofs. The fifth, a teleological argument that since the universe appears designed to support people, god must have designed it. Like the existence of a watch proves the existence of the watch-maker. 400 years ago last month Galileo popularized the telescope and suggested that the Earth revolved around the sun, not - as the church said - the other way around. He was right. Folks believed the Earth was flat. It is in fact an oblate spheroid.

200 years ago, a boy was born who, in is 50th year would publish a theory so beautiful in its simplicity and insightfulness as to render all of botany, biology, geology, archeology, anthropology, and others in a completely new light! Charles Darwin was right.

150 years ago a couple of beer drinking young Europeans developed a political philosophy based on cooperation instead of cooperation. Recent research is showing that Marx and his benefactor Engles were right. Survival of the fittest doesn't mean "dog eat dog," it means the most able to cooperate will be the species that survives over the one who fights among itself all the time.

Time and time again, religious leaders tell us that something is true only to be proved wrong by the science. As a matter of fact, even facts are suspect. Humans are notoriously poor observers. The notion that there is an objective truth is false. We can't even be sure that anyone else is even conscious.

So back to Mr. Steele:
When he declared that he wasn't being nuanced - as if to say "no nuance here" he did so in a way that made it seem as if nuance was somehow a bad thing. He was being "Clear" as if simply stating his position was better than trying to explain the subtleties of it's implications. In this case he was talking about the health care debate and explaining that he and the GOP were against Government run health care. He went on in the next breath to say that Medicare should be expanded and secured for the future! The interviewer suggested there might be some nuance in the juxtaposition of these two positions. Steele jumped on the interviewer! No, there is no nuance in my position. I'm being very clear! Please, please remember that clarity is not truth or correctness. Nuance often conveys more than clarity. Here's to a complex understanding of our complex problems. Here's to an end of simple but, wrong political positions.
(Begun 9/3/09)

Oct 12, 2009

From: Stacyann Chin via C-SPAN|YouTube|Facebook to: YOU!

I am so lucky to know so many different people!
Thanks to Leigh Combs for posting this on Facebook for me to see.

Oct 2, 2009

Government: A plan means a good one, IF we follow the plan

I think I have finally figured out the Republicans.
They want to turn our country on its head & force it out of existence.
- Erik Riese

As every soldier knows before your go into battle you receive marching orders. Rocket scientists know that to hit a tiny piece of rock 30,000,000 miles away with a tiny piece of metal – like sending a rover to Mars – you need a really good plan. Every cook starts with a grocery list and a recipe; truckers plan a route. So too with governing the greatest countries in history. So too with the United States of America.

Our great & wonderful country was founded by leaders who were truly revolutionary in their thinking. They set forth in clear, concise language the reasons for government & a prescription for a fair honest one. Their language rings like a bell in my ears & still inspires even an evolutionary anarchist like me.

We are endowed with the right to life, liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; we need government, they said, in order to have unity, justice, tranquility, security, welfare, & liberty.

-Paraphrasing the Declaration of Independence & the Constitution

As long as our Republican leaders fight and yell; use lies & magical thinking -both antithetical to justice- our union and tranquility are not secure, our welfare is threatened and our liberty withers. Yesterday, our young, Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty formed Freedom First a national Political Action Committee to extend his national ambitions. You can tell by the name how he has flipped the structure of government on its head. He tries to say freedom, which our founders listed last of six great values, should be first. The Constitution is clear, a more perfect union is the primary goal of government.

We need to follow the plan. Let's look at how it would work on a controversial issue like Health Care. If we stand together and agree that everyone should have affordable basic health care options, if we implement a health care plan fairly, our security is enhanced, our welfare is bettered, our tranquility is easier, and our liberty is guaranteed. Freedom is not and should not be the first focus of government. Unity and justice must be our primary focus. Together we stand, divided we fall.

Let's look at justice. Lately I've heard Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann talk about several issues. In almost every case she lies, distorts or willfully misrepresents the facts. It is a real assault on truth and justice as she attempts to paint government as the problem. Justice requires fairness and adherence to fact based decision making. Sadly, Bachmann is only one of many Republican leaders who scoff at facts and scientific proof, replacing truth with faith based reasoning or personal opinion. In many cases opinion can be a driver in a debate but opinion does not and should not trump facts. Justice requires honesty, integrity and fairness. As we try to mend eight years of politicizing the Federal Department of Justice it is very important to base our policy making on facts.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan started his all out assault on the United States Government with statements like: "Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem" And, "The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Since then, Republicans have played on American's healthy skepticism of government. They shrink it & cut it & politicize it when in power and they attack it mercilessly when out of power.

We need government to secure our unity, our justice system, our tranquility, our common defence, our general welfare, and the blessings of liberty. Now that I've figured out the Republicans I am going to stand up against their attacks on my country's government.

Folks who care enough to follow my posts: