Be careful what you say!
I think that my professional writing is ok; for samples click here:
and scroll down to the preprints section. I need to add to this and to finish the paper that I am currently working on.
But when it comes to writing for the general public, I have a knack for getting my readers off track.
Exhibit One: my Daily Kos Diary on the Bennett remark (the "we could reduce crime by aborting black babies")
The point I was attempting to make is that, given the way that our society blantantly mistreated African Americans (and I gave three good examples: of programs: the medical experiments, the forced sterilizations, and the infamous CHEERS program; I know that the latter merely picked on the poor, but African Americans are disproportionally represented in that group), they were not being unreasonable by reacting negatively to what Dr. Bennett said.
But if you scan the comments to my diary, many people read my diary as if I were supporting what Dr. Bennett said!
Then there was a recent post of mine on this diary:
where I made some guesses as to how the personal images of the two candidates for Illinois governor (Topinka, who is a smoker and Blagojevich, who is a runner) would play to the citizens of Illinois. My conclusion is that most citizens of Illinois would, in this issue, relate to Topinka better as there are more smokers/out of shape types than there are athletic types. Boulder, Colorado we ain't.
But evidently some thought that I was saying that I was giving a reason to vote for Blagojevich!
Not at all! For one, the person I worked for during the Peoria District Two City Council race is a big time smoker; nevertheless I thought that she would do a better job than her opponent. I think that she is doing a good job and I would work for her reelection campaign.
Another example: consider FDR (a smoker whose body was a complete wreck) and George W. Bush, who is an excellent recreational athlete. FDR was one of our best presidents ever; President Bush is a complete disaster.
But the fact is that superficial factors such as the physical apperance of the candidates or public's perception of the personas of the candidates is a major factor in elections, as much as we want to believe that voters, as a whole, choose deliberately or rationally.
For example, see:
Inferences of Competence from Faces Predict Election Outcomes
We show that inferences of competence based solely on facial appearance predicted the outcomes of U.S. congressional elections better than chance (e.g., 68.8% of the Senate races in 2004) and also were linearly related to the margin of victory. These inferences were specific to competence and occurred within a 1-second exposure to the faces of the candidates. The findings suggest that rapid, unreflective trait inferences can contribute to voting choices, which are widely assumed to be based primarily on rational and deliberative considerations.
One final note: the following was amusing to me:
Wed Apr 05, 2006 at 03:24:16 PM PDT
It suddenly occurs to me that I've been going about this all wrong. As I wrote in a recent newspaper column, life could be a lot easier for me if I were to join the GOP.
- JDRhoades's diary :: ::
My good friends, I have a momentous decision to announce.
For years, I have proudly listed my voter registration as "Unaffiliated." I've been proud of my stance as a political independent. But in these troubled times, with deep divisions that have rent our country, I think it's time I made a stand and declared for one party or the other.
So I've decided to become a Republican.
I know this comes as a shock to some of you. And, I confess, it wasn't an easy decision for me. After all, there are a lot of things that the Republicans have claimed to stand for lately that I don't agree with: Teaching religious theories in the public schools. Warrantless wiretaps in blatant disregard of well-established law. Stuff like that.
But then I looked around and I realized that all of that stuff is just window dressing. The current Republican Party stands for just one principle. That principle is summed up in the acronym IOKIYAR, which stands for It's OK If You're A Republican.
I think, deep down, I've known about this for years. I mean, Republicans continued to lionize former Education Secretary William Bennett, even after it was revealed in 2003 that Bennett had lost up to $8 million at the Las Vegas gambling tables.
Now, if I were a famous Democrat, losing $8,000, much less $8 million, would get me pilloried by every right-wing pundit in Christendom. But not ol' Gamblin' Bill. It's nobody's business, right-wing pundits insisted. It's a victimless crime, after all. What they were really saying, of course is: IOKIYAR.
Then there's Rudy Giuliani. Rudy's had, shall we say, a little fidelity problem. At one point, his wife had to get a restraining order to keep Rudy from moving his mistress into the mayoral mansion, considering that said wife and kids were still living in the mansion at the time.
If a Democratic elected official gets accused of a little extramarital hanky-panky in the house provided for him by the government -- well, need I say more? But IOKIYAR! Rudy was invited to be a keynote speaker at the Republican Convention. He's even being touted as a possible successor to Lord Dubbya Bush.
I could go on. Rush Limbaugh's admitted prescription drug addiction. Sexual predator Bill O'Reilly's obscene phone calls and falafel fetish. And, of course, there's Dick Cheney's whole shooting your buddy in the face and telling the police to buzz off till the next morning thing. These guys aren't just tolerated by the GOP. They're heroes.
I took note of all of these things at the time they were happening. Fool that I am, however, I never realized what IOKIYAR could mean for me personally.
But the scales finally fell from my eyes after I heard the story of former Bush domestic policy adviser Claude Allen.
Allen, a former aide to Republican icon Jesse Helms, a former Bush nominee for a judgeship in the Fourth Circuit, recently left his cushy job at the White House to "spend more time with his family." Then, in a shocking twist, Allen was arrested and charged with, of all things, defrauding Target stores. Allegedly, Allen was buying merchandise, taking it to his car, going back in with the receipt, picking the same item off the shelves, and going to the service desk and demanding a refund.
Now, a black Democratic politican (say, Jesse Jackson) accused of this sort of thing would be lucky not to be given a symbolic public flogging of Clintonian proportions. It's absolutely true that a person in Allen's position committing this type of offense is showing signs of a serious mental illness and that he deserves our sympathy.
I doubt seriously, however, that a Democrat, if caught committing petty theft, could expect any sympathy from the compassionate conservatives of the right. But that's exactly what Allen's getting from no less a source than the president his ownself.
"If the allegations are true, something went wrong in Claude Allen's life, and that is really sad," George Dubbya said after hearing the news.
And if Republican pundits and bloggers mention it at all, their tone ranges from sympathy for Allen's plight, to suggestions that the crime was actually committed by Allen's "Evil Twin" (no, I didn't make that up) to (and this is the most common) indignation at those awful, awful, AWFUL liberals for daring to even bring this up.
And that's when it hit me. The Republican Party is the place for me. Because whether it's adultery, drug addiction, gambling or petty theft, you can always count on the party to pull together, circle the wagons and back you up.
Not that I'm planning any of those things, of course, but, you know, stuff happens. And it's got to be a warm and fuzzy feeling to know that, whatever your personal failings or peccadilloes, IOKIYAR. Next week, I'm headed down to join up.
Now if I could only get my wife on board with this ...