Boehner Proposal Would Cut Non-Security Discretionary Programs 22 Percent, the Deepest Such Cut in Recent U.S. History — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

The Boehner proposal would continue tax cuts that average well over $100,000 a year for people making over $1 million — tax cuts that are double the entire income of the typical American household. He would do so even as his proposal would withdraw funds from basic programs and services that most Americans of ordinary means rely on, and despite the fact that CBO has rated the tax-cut extension dead last in effectiveness among an array of options for boosting the current weak economy.

AND it would cut $9 BILLION out of K-12 School Funding, Then there’s his 85% claim, that stuff besides invading countries and hassling people, and robbing us of our privacy, we’ve raised spending on stupied stuff, like trying to get people jobs…
Read the article, and call your representatives… I can’t imagine any of us REAL AMERICANS can afford what he’s asking for. Oh, did you catch that bit, he wants to give his buddies that contribute to his campaign $100K tax break? I could use a $100K tax break. That would cover several years worth of taxes for me 😉
Read this and then do something about it, call your prepresentatives, your Senators and Representatives.

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Commentary: The dumbing down of America | McClatchy

Maybe we, the people, have lost the intellectual capacity to manage a workable democracy. How else do you explain why nearly one in five Americans believes that President Barack Obama is a Muslim?
A recent poll by the nonpartisan Pew Forum found that 18 percent of all those polled — and 31 percent of Republicans — believe the president is a Muslim. That is up from 11 percent of all Americans last year.
Obama’s faith is not a matter of public opinion. He’s a baptized Christian who routinely prays with fellow Christians and invokes his “risen savior” when speaking of his faith.
He does not practice the Islamic faith. He has never been seen performing the ritual prayer, which Muslims do five times a day. He is not observing Ramadan, which requires Muslims to fast each day from Aug. 11 to Sept. 10. Nor has he made the required pilgrimage to Mecca.
It is ironic that many of the same critics who excoriated Obama for his close ties with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright now are accusing him of being a Muslim.
I suspect that a lot of people enjoy calling Obama a Muslim because they think it marks him as an outsider, an imposter, someone who assumed the presidency illegitimately. Many of those who call Obama a Muslim undoubtedly are “birthers,” too, the ones who believe Obama was not born in the United States.
Or perhaps they aren’t aware that Hawaii is a state.
That wouldn’t surprise me. As noted, it seems that a significant number of Americans are losing the capacity to accept facts, sift through valid evidence and come to reasonable conclusions about things.
Of course, we always have had wacky conspiracy theories and always will. Some people still believe that the Apollo moon landing was a hoax, that someone other than Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK and that the government is covering up evidence of UFOs.
A 2007 New York Times-CBS poll indicated that 22 percent of Americans thought President George W. Bush knew of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in advance. A Newsweek poll that same year found that 41 percent of Americans still believed that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in planning and carrying out the Sept. 11 attacks.
Those are disturbing statistics, but the flood of misinformation has only risen, topping the levees of rationality at every turn. To a large extent, we can blame the Internet and the ease with which all the false rumors, misstatements, nutty conspiracies and outright lies are disseminated.
I am bombarded with this stuff all the time, accompanied with urgent pleas to write my congressmen, alert my friends and neighbors, send money and lock and load. Here is one example: Obama has ordered the Justice Department to immediately bar all public broadcasting of Christian religious services because they violate the separation of church and state.
Did any of the people spreading that rumor stop and think before pressing the “send” button that the president might not have the authority to do that? Religious services have been broadcast on radio and TV for decades with no constitutional challenge. In fact, wouldn’t any attempt by the federal government to interfere with religious broadcasts be a violation of the separation of church and state?
Some of these rumors have a shred of truth that has been distorted to ridiculous extremes. Others are merely fantasy, the equivalent of the urban myth about alligators in the sewers of New York City.
While the Internet has been the source of many of these tall tales, it also can serve as the source of real information to dispute them. One invaluable source is snopes.com.
Go there and learn that President Bill Clinton never tried to fire “half the cattle guards” in Colorado, that Obama hasn’t signed an executive order allowing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to resettle in the United States, and that the artificial sweetener Aspartame is not responsible for an epidemic of cancer, brain tumors and multiple sclerosis.
But even with Snopes and other legitimate sites, the misinformation continues to flow. And if we can’t resolve the really stupid disputes — like whether Obama is a Muslim or not — then how are we going to resolve the important issues that require some nuanced thinking?
How can we talk sensibly about complex issues such as health care reform, Social Security, Afghanistan, taxes, anything that can’t be summarized on a bumper sticker? How do we get past the anger and the empty-headed slogans?
How do we counteract the cynical willingness to exploit baseless fears for political gain? How do we get back to having a national discussion instead of a national shouting match?
Maybe we could start by acknowledging that Obama isn’t a Muslim.

I’m directly quoting the entire text, which violates fair use, but I’m thinking the comments here are important enough to make available without anyone having to do another click. Yes, I’m trying to push everyone who encounters this to actually read it.
I’d be interested to know, and I suspect James Werrell would appreciate it as well,, what do people think is the cause of something like this? Intellectual laziness? Bad genetics? Media hypnosis?
Maybe I’ll find a way to set up a poll…

The Common Link with Climate Change, Peak Oil, Limits To Growth, Etc. – Belief Systems | Energy Bulletin

DENIAL/COGNITIVE DISSONANCE

Leon Festinger, seminal theorist in the area o...

Leon Festinger

Denial is a defense mechanism where a person is faced with a fact that is too painful to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence. A related psychological concept is that of cognitive dissonance, originally coined by social psychologist Leon Festinger. Cognitive dissonance describes the negative tension that results from having two conflicting thoughts at the same time, or from engaging in behavior that conflicts with one’s beliefs.

From Wikipedia,

A diagram of cognitive dissonance theory

Image via Wikipedia

The theory of cognitive dissonance states that contradicting cognitions serve as a driving force that compels the mind to acquire or invent new thoughts or beliefs, or to modify existing beliefs, so as to reduce the amount of dissonance (conflict) between cognitions. Experiments have attempted to quantify this hypothetical drive. Some of these have examined how beliefs often change to match behavior when beliefs and behavior are in conflict.”

Jared Diamond, in “Collapse” quotes the behaviour of people living below a dam that may break:

“Consider a narrow river valley below a high dam, such that if the dam burst, the resulting flood of water would drown people for a considerable distance downstream. When attitude pollsters ask people downstream of the dam how concerned they are about the dam’s bursting, it’s not surprising that fear of a dam burst is lowest far downstream, and increases among residents increasingly close to the dam. Surprisingly, though, after you get to just a few miles below the dam, where fear of the dam’s breaking is found to be the highest, the concern then falls off to zero as you approach closer to the dam! That is, the people living immediately under the dam, the ones most certain to be drowned in a dam burst, profess unconcern. That’s because of psychological denial: the only way of preserving one’s sanity while looking up every day at the dam is to deny the possibility that it could burst. If something that you perceive arouses in you a painful emotion, you may subconsciously suppress or deny your perception in order to avoid the unbearable pain, even though the practical results of ignoring your perception may prove ultimately disastrous. The emotions most often responsible are terror, anxiety, and grief.”

Reaching social limits to growth is potentially a world-sized dam break. It’s no wonder initial reactions to hearing how the world we know might change are met with skepticism. (Note: interestingly, and something I intend to explore on a subsequent post, is the concept of denial is related to the study of addiction.)

COGNITIVE LOAD THEORY

“Chocolate Cake?” “or Fruit Salad?”

Cognitive load theory suggests humans have a maximum capacity of working memory. At around 7 ‘chunks’ of information, our working memory maxes out and we can’t accept anything else without losing some of the previous ‘chunks’. Try remembering the following numbers 1-9-1-4-7-6-7-5-9-5-9. Its quite hard to do. But if they are rearranged in chunks 1-914-767-5959, it becomes much more manageable. Numerous studies have measured this phenomenon – a notable study by Shiv and Fedhorkhin asked a group of people to memorize a two digit number, walk down a corridor and at the end choose a dessert – either chocolate cake or fruit salad. A different sample of people were then asked to memorize a 7 digit number and walk down the corridor (while internally reciting this 7 digit number) and also choose a dessert. When required to memorize the 7 digit number, almost twice as many people chose the chocolate cake as in the sample only memorizing the 2 digit number – the implication being – ‘my short term memory is full – I cant access my rational, long term decision-making hardware – just give me the damn cake’.

Of course, in a society with cell phones, taxi-cabs, internet, coffee, soccer practice, Grays Anatomy, corporate ladders and a plethora of other chocolate cake-like stimuli, meaningful contemplation and education about energy depletion and our planet’s environment usually represents the fruit salad. Many people are just too cognitively taxed to take on much more.

Particularly useful way to sort things out… whether all aspects of the theory are correct, this works well when modeling the American People.