Demand better news

Article: The Media’s 10 Rules of Hate

By: The Washington Spectator



For many years, unity and conformity in the news were more profitable and desirable, with only a “narrow median strip of political ideas” was available to the public. Today, the primary product being sold is division and hatred.

  1. There are only two ideas – the range of ideas being presented is binary with the intent that people will line up behind one of them. Diversity just means that both binary sides are presented.
  2. The two ideas are in permanent conflict – present the idea that politics is a fight and the goal isn’t to come to an agreement but maintain a debate to the end. Debates are not about ideas or solutions but partisan sniping and talking point recitation.
  3. Hate people not institutions – Large companies will not only sue for unfavorable news stories, they’ll pull ads. New audiences have been trained not to value detailed and fact filled investigative journalism.
  4. Everything is someone else’s fault – the public likes easy stories that can be blamed on one or the other party. In reality, most problems are systemic, bipartisan and bureaucratic and most of us own a little of most disasters
  5. Nothing is everyone’s fault – topics that are all or some of the above (bloated military budget, mass surveillance, embarassing or immoral involvement in foreign affairs, drone assassination program aren’t covered in the major news. These stories are hard to sell and market. If something isn’t for or against Trump right now you don’t get airtime.
  6. Root don’t think – we’ve modeled our political coverage after our sports coverage
  7. No switching teams – the model we live in today is one side’s media covering the other side’s corruption. Being out of touch with what the other side is thinking is no longer seen as a fault.
  8. The other side is literally Hitler – A critical part of Fox’s post 9/11 success was that liberals were actively in league with terrorists and traitors. Not just wrong but evil. Hannity and Glenn Beck were masters of this push. Once you’ve made this comparison it’s a rhetorical dead end, because comparing your opponents to Hitler means there can’t be (and shouldn’t be) any compromise or middle ground. You don’t compromise with Hitler. While some of Trump’s behavior can be correctly characterized as white supremacist and fascist, trying to characterize 60 million people who voted for him in 2016 as racist white nationalist traitor Nazis isn’t appropriate.
  9. In the fight against Hitler, everything is permitted – you don’t need to apologize or take responsibility for shameless behavior against Hitler. You’re morally obligated to do whatever it takes to stop him.
  10. Feel superior – We are winners and our opponents are losers. Americans don’t tolerate losing. The news you’re shown is demeaning disgusting, pointless, and not intended to inform but you’re too embarrassed to admit you spend hours every day poring through content specifically designed to stroke your point of view.


Tarun Khaitan has my vote.

Podcast: Democracy

By: Philosophy 24/7



Some countries like Hungary, Turkey, and Poland have greatly eroded their democratic institutions in recent years.

Others like the US, India, Israel, and South Africa, are following similar strategies.

Democracy’s success in the late 20th century set the stage for some of the problems it’s now facing. As the only game in town, those who are interested in eroding it have to come from within, often pitching themselves as the only ones who can save it. They’re attacking some of the institutions that keep democracy in check, such as the courts, the opposition party, and the free media.

A lot of the limitations on autocratic takeover are unwritten rules that can be taken advantage of to seize authority without actually breaking any laws. It’s very difficult to write laws for everything into a constitutional document, but the more a government relies on these unwritten rules to keep power in check, the more vulnerable they are.

Some things liberal democracies can do to weaken the risk of autocratic takeover:

  • Preferential Voting (Ranked Voting) to empower the centrists and weaken the radicals of each party
  • Revive the discourse on opposition rights and reduce any winner take all situations.
  • Campaign finance reform.
  • Empowering and entrenching the fourth branch institutions, things like anti corruption bodies, electoral commissions. Non partisan offices that seek to protect democracy.

We should only be contemptuous of contempt itself.

Opinion Piece: Our Culture of Contempt

Written By: Arthur C. Brooks



We make an assumption that our ideology is based in benevolence and love and our opponents is based in hate and evil.

Contempt makes political compromise and progress impossible, and also increases anxiety, depression, and sadness. It also stimulates stress hormones in the contemptuous person.

Large majorities of Americans will privately say they’re tired of how divided we are and that compromise is important.

Disagreement is not contempt. We need to disagree, but disagree better.

When you find yourself hating something, someone is making money or winning elections off of your contempt. Unless a leader is actually teaching you something you didn’t know or expanding your worldview, you are being used.

Make a commitment to never treat others with contempt. Contempt makes persuasion impossible – no one has ever been hated into agreement.

To address this, we need to se contempt as an opportunity, not a threat. When treated with contempt, respond with warmheartedness and good humor.

How was this even a question?

Podcast: Ancestry

By: Constitutional



In 1879 a court case involving Chief Standing Bull of the Ponca tribe came before a Federal court that demanded an answer to the question:  Are Native Americans considered people by the U.S. Constitution.

In 1878, despite having two separate treaties with the U.S. Senate, the Ponca tribe were forcibly removed off their land by the U.S. Government. As a result of the sickness and starvation conditions, Chief Standing Bull’s only son died that winter. Before he died, his father promised him he would bury him in their traditional ceremonial burial grounds.

Chief Standing Bull and about 30 other members of the Ponca Tribe went on a three month journey to bury his son. They were detained by the U.S. Army 2 days short of their goal.

General George Crook took the Native Americans under guard but doubted the morality of his orders and informed several news stations and lawyers of the situation.

Chief Standing Bull filed for a writ of habeas corpus.

This was the first civil trial for a Native American in U.S. History.

During the trial, Chief Standing Bull was quotes as saying, “That hand is not the color of yours, but if I prick it, the blood will flow, and I shall feel pain. The blood is of the same color as yours. God made me, and I am a man.”

Judge Elmer S. Dundy ruled that “an Indian is a person” within the meaning of habeas corpus, recognizing that an Indian is a “person” under the law and entitled to its rights and protection. He concluded “The right of expatriation is a natural, inherent and inalienable right and extends to the Indian as well as to the more fortunate white race.”

Just in the Sputnik of time

Podcast: The Space Race | Starting Gun

By: American History Tellers



Werner Von Braun was a key part of the Nazi V-2 Rocket Program. Near the end of WW2 he and his team were deliberately captured by the Americans and settled in Huntsville Alabama to prevent their knowledge from going to the Soviets.

The thought was that rockets combined with atomic weapons would give the host nation an insurmountable lead in the years to come.

Von Braun’s potential degree of involvement with pretty horrific war crimes under Nazi rule was ignored and deliberately glossed over. Supposedly he just wanted to build rockets to get to space.

Because of his German background he wasn’t fully trusted by American politicians and military figures.

This led to his projects not being allowed to put a satellite into orbit, and allowed the Soviets to take the lead with Sputnik. This created a huge fear in America about ceding space to the Soviets.

The 411 on 901

Podcast: The incredible shrinking city

By: Vox



For decades, Memphis annexed wealthy suburbs around the city as a way to increase their tax revenue.

After studying the effects of this, they found that these suburbs required more public money than they were generating, essentially being subsidized by the poorer neighborhoods in the center of the city.

Memphis is now undergoing an effort to de-annex some of these suburbs.

End of the Age of Jackson

Podcast: The Age of Jackson – Manifest Destiny

By: American History Tellers



After the Mexican War of Independence in 1821, the United States considered the territories of Texas and California up for grabs even though they were considered by the Mexican government as part of Mexico.

American settlers began settling both territories.

The Wilmot Proviso was an attempt to ban slavery in the newly acquired lands from the war with Mexico, although it’s intent wasn’t for moral reasons, but to ensure that poor whites wouldn’t compete with slavery for jobs and opportunities.

Part of the Compromise of 1850 was the Fugitive Slave Act which required Northerners to report and assist with the tracking down of escaped slaves, which further solidified anti slavery sentiment.

During the European revolutions of 1848 there were groups that supported the existing governments rather than side with the liberal revolutions.

The presidential election of 1848 is considered the first modern election where all states electors voted on the same day. It also saw three main political parties, including the Free Soil party which was founded on the eradication of slavery but also split the Democratic party vote.


There seem to be quite a bit of parallels between the arguments made for the wars and subsequent annexation of Texas/California by the United States and the arguments made for the wars and annexation of Crimea/Ukraine by the Russian Federation in 2014. Both seem to be making the statement of “Citizens of our country who live in the territory claimed by a different country want to be a part of our country, and we’re just honoring their wishes and protecting them from threats from the other country”

Don’t Eat the Failure Cake

Podcast: Denmark’s paternity leave problem

By: Vox



Denmark has a child leave policy where the family is given one year of paid leave to split any way they want between the mother and father. While many companies there will offer fairly generous policies of several months, after that the government will subsidize pay at a percentage of normal pay.

They’re finding that the mothers take a majority of this time. There seem to be two main reasons for this: cultural and economic.

Culturally it’s viewed as a woman’s job to raise a child and care for the house – men don’t want to ask their bosses for leave or have to deal with their coworkers ridicule. The act of getting their partner pregnant causes them to have to bake a failure cake for their coworkers as a indication they have made a mistake.

Economically men make more income than women, so it makes sense for the women to use the leave policy.

However, this perpetuates the cycle that women are going to be taking a lot of leave for child care and men aren’t, which significantly contributes to the gender pay gap. Employers are less likely to want to hire women in their 20s and 30s assuming they’re going to take at least two years off on leave.

Iceland has addressed this problem by making a policy of obligatory 4 months of leave for each parent. The hope is that this reduces the hiring/pay discrimination against potential mothers by treating both genders equally with the obligation of child care and leave.


The First President to Die in Office

Podcast: The Age of Jackson | The Little Magician

By: American History Tellers



The economic growth of the 1830’s wasn’t equally distributed and led many to think they were being left behind – the gap between rich and poor was increasing.

The combination of new federal lands opened up by the forced relocation of the Indian tribes, the veto of the Second National Bank (which gave less regulated State Banks the ability to significantly relax their lending standards) caused a huge increase in loans for land speculation.

The Specie Circular was an executive order from Jackson that mandated federal lands could only be purchased by gold and silver. The price of both jumped and shortages developed.

The economy went into a depression that lasted for four years.

Martin Van Buren was elected essentially as Jackson’s third term and followed his policies closely. Despite his initial popularity, the economic problems soon led to his nickname being Martin Van Ruin

Because of this, Van Buren was easily defeated by William Henry Harrison in the election of 1840

Harrison only lived for 31 days after being elected and was succeeded by his vice president, John Tyler.

Tyler made the annexation of Texas a primary issue, and had to use some significant executive power overreach to sign a treaty with the independent state. The plan to admit Texas into the union as a slave state was highly conscientious, and lead to Tyler being in a situation where he was unable to run again, instead agreeing to drop out and support James K Polk in the election of 1840 if the Democrats supported the Texas annexation.


Freedom and Unity

Podcast: What schools look like when we fund them fairly

By: The Impact



Across the United States, schools are almost universally funded by local property taxes. This means that schools in less wealthy areas have less funding for their students. This can make it hard to keep up on basic things like maintenance but also buy new textbooks or science equipment.

A lawsuit against this method was filed in Vermont in the 1990’s. They argued that it violated the state constitution that all students were guaranteed an equal education. They won.

As a result, the Vermont legislature passed laws where each school district made their budget each year, the budgets across the state were combined, and wealthier communities paid a higher percentage than poorer communities.

This created some pretty fierce resentment and bad blood between wealthier communities and poorer ones. A lot of people didn’t like the state government involved in something like this.

Recently, because of an aging population, the number of students enrolled statewide has dropped from around 100k to about 85k. But because many schools have fixed costs regardless of how many students they have (building maintenance, electric and water bills) the cost per student has gone up.

As a result, Vermont has started passing laws requiring small districts to merge together and has been closing some of the schools.


This all seems fine to me. I’m a believer in spending equally on education for all students. The typical nationwide method of better schools being in wealthier areas seems just a sneaky way of preserving a the wealthy gap generationally and also ensures the very groups that need the most help won’t get it.

As to the second part part of the podcast, I’m also fine with that. If there are smart ways to cut costs we should be considering them. Continuing to spend almost the same money on a school that only has half as many students as twenty years ago doesn’t seem economical.