Thursday, December 23, 2010

Mark Lilla on Obama's Sales Problem; or The Passions

I found this a very interesting article. It follows my interest in persuasion, both as a professional concern (ever try to convince 8 or 12 strangers to come to a unanimous conclusion about some disputed point?) and personal (to paraphrase Sartre: hell is having no persuasive influence over people). I think Lilla is right about Obama; indeed, Obama has been poisoned, as are most persons who go through law school. We try to think all about rational argument. Nonsense! Oh, it's the icing on the cake, the flower of the plant, but only that. Persuasion is truly effective at much deeper levels. Obama should remember that he was elected by passion, misdirected or misunderstood as it may have been. For instance, Obama did not run as any kind of radical, at least in policy, although in person, as an African-American, he personally embodied huge change. But in policy? No, he has always been relatively centrist and conciliatory.

Anyway, the article, and the brief intellectual history are all worthwhile. How do you deal with Plato's triumvirate vying for power in each of us? Still, more than a couple of millenia on, a really key question.

Mark's Daily Apple: Great Source on Health & Nutrition

For no particular reason other than it popped up in my Google Reader, I want to give a shout-out to Sisson's site, which is an excellent source for health and nutrition information. Sisson is "primal", with loads of well considered and accessible information and advice. I'm gotten part way through his book The Primal Blueprint, which is a fun and interesting read. I'd be finished, but new books by Art De Vany & Tim Ferriss have created a reading backlog in the health and fitness category (all quite exciting). Anyway, this site is a good place to get a wide-ranging sample of Sisson's work. Enjoy. Health and fitness to you!

New START Treaty Passes; Grassley Disappoints

In a bit of uplifting political news, the New START treaty was ratified by the Senate today. Republicans--well, some of them--can act in the national interest and are not overtaken by thoughts of partisan political advantage and knee-jerk distrust of negotiated agreements (well, unless you want the Republican nomination for president). Sadly, one of my senators (Grassley) joined only 25 others in voting "no". I sent an email in reproach. I know that this is spitting in the wind, but I had to. My message below:

Dear Senator Grassley,

I was deeply disappointed to see that you voted against the New Start Treaty, while 1/3 of your fellow Republicans did support the treaty. I appreciate that the national interest can still come before partisan electoral posturing. Your position disturbs meet greatly because you ignored the recommendation of every living Secretary of State, Republican and Democrat, by voting against ratification. You also turned a deaf ear toward the recommendations of our military leaders. Your statement in opposition, while effectively echoing the talking points of the moment, fails to address the real underlying issues.

I hope that in the mean time, as a senator that voted in favor of the original START treaty, you will come back to the mainstream of arms control and not continue to support those who seem to oppose such efforts as a matter of habitually limited thinking.

Thank you for your attention to this.
Merry Christmas to you and your staff.
Steve Greenleaf