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Yesterday we explored psychologist Jonathan Haidt's research on how progressives and conservatives use different equations - different weights on moral principles - to guide our moral decision-making.  Today I'd like to continue that discussion through the lens of some of President Obama's (seeming) decisions and actions, and how we progressives respond.

Is President Obama entitled to the benefit of the doubt if we're unsure whether he's making a right decision, and when we wouldn't have given the same benefit of the doubt to former President Bush?

More below the fold....

Moral Equations and Benefit of the Doubt

In yesterday's Morning Feature we explored psychologist Jonathan Haidt's research on the biological bases of moral reasoning, and how our moral equations map to our political leanings.  I say "we explored" because it was a wonderful discussion.  Thank you all.  Haidt's research was a "light bulb moment" for me, and apparently I wasn't alone in that.

Today I'd like to continue that discussion, through the lens of how we progressives respond to President Obama's apparent decisions and actions.  I say "apparent" because a lot of the time we're not entirely sure whether President Obama has made a decision or taken an action, nor exactly what the decision or action is.  That's not because President Obama operates in some black box of secrecy, but simply because we're often responding to incomplete media reporting, sometimes about decisions or actions that have not happened yet.  Or President Obama has given a statement that allows multiple interpretations, or has made a decision or taken an action that might have several possible rationales and intentions.

In short, a lot of the time, we're in doubt.  That's common in human experience.  In fact, you could fairly say that wrestling with doubt and uncertainty is central to the human experience.  So when do we give the benefit of the doubt?  Should we give President Obama the benefit of the doubt if we would not also have given former President Bush the same benefit of the doubt?  If we do, are we merely saying "It's OK if You're In My Group?"

Haidt's thesis - a brief review:

Jonathan Haidt has identified what he considers the five most likely candidates for the biological bases of moral reasoning, based on his observations of moral norms among humans of varied cultures, including very young children, and also among other social mammals.  These are, Haidt argues, evolution's "first draft" of moral reasoning, hardwired into our brains.  It's important to note that these moral principles are not about seeking "truth;" they are about helping us to cooperate and survive as a social species.  We rewrite them with life experience, and the ways we rewrite them seem to map closely to political leanings of progressivism or conservatism.

The five principles are: (1) avoid harm and care for others; (2) fairness and reciprocity; (3) group identity and loyalty; (4) obedience to authority; and, (5) personal purity.

Note: I didn't explain what Haidt means by personal purity in yesterday's diary, though I did in comments.  In brief, it's self-denial.  In its most basic form, it is the disgust response that steers us away from tainted food, water, and other toxins; it's why we don't eat our own feces.  We layer other behaviors onto that by social custom, such as sexuality, diet and exercise norms, and aspects of social etiquette.  At a surface level, the purity impulse steers us away from sheer hedonism, doing whatever feels best in any instant, encouraging us to defer some personal pleasures, at least in time, place, or manner, for the greater benefit of society.  At a deeper level, the purity impulse serves as a buffer against cognitive dissonance when we do the right things and get bad outcomes, as happens often in life.  The purity impulse gives us one way to rationalize those outcomes - "I was being selfish anyway" - so we're not quite as resentful of a universe that is not inherently fair.

Haidt's research shows that progressives tend to weigh the first two principles - avoid harm and care for others, and fairness/reciprocity - more highly than we weigh the other three.  In contrast, conservatives tend to weigh all five principles about equally.  That difference has profound moral implications.

Specifically, conservatives treat group identity and loyalty as a cardinal virtue alongside harm/care, fairness, and the rest.  This means conservatives will more often judge an action morally correct if they share a group identity with the actor: "It's OK if You're In My Group."  In contrast, progressives are more likely to value fairness over group identity and loyalty, and thus apply the same moral judgment even if that judgment would disadvantage a member of "our group."

But do we really?

Hardly a day passes without President Obama reportedly considering or making a decision or action that disappoints at least some progressives.  Hardly a day passes without someone expressing that disappointment here on DKos.  And no sooner do such diaries get posted than others rush to President Obama's defense.  No sooner do their comments get posted than the diarist or another commenter invokes some language of hero worship: "Obamabot" or other words to that effect.

In Haidt's principles, the critic is suggesting that group identity and loyalty shouldn't matter.  If we would criticize a reported decision or action made by former President Bush, then we should criticize the same reported decision or action made by President Obama.  Haidt's research suggests that is the more progressive outlook.  And while Haidt is not normative - his emphasis is on moral principles that help us cooperate and survive as a social species, and not on what yields a "better" or "more virtuous" society - almost every religion and ethical philosophy does include a principle of universality.  In that principle, one's group identity should not matter; the same rules should apply to everyone.

So whether by the descriptive construct of Haidt, or by the normative construct of universality, when progressives defend President Obama - where we would almost certainly have criticized former President Bush given the same information - aren't we placing group identity and loyalty over fairness and equity?

Aren't we being "conservative" in defending President Obama because he's "one of us?"  Maybe.  But not necessarily.

The benefit of the doubt.

I've tried to be careful in using words like "apparent," "reported," and "considering" in referring to President Obama's decisions and actions.  A lot of the time we're not sure, for the reasons I described above: the media are reporting on incomplete information, sometimes about decisions or actions that haven't yet happened, or we're responding to statements or actions that allow multiple interpretations or intentions.  We're in doubt, as is so common in human experience.  Is it 'fair' to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, where we wouldn't have given former President Bush the benefit of the doubt?  I think it can be ... so far.

I don't recall the issue, but in mid-2006 a pundit was discussing some alleged mistake of the Bush administration.  The pundit said "I think we owe the president the benefit of the doubt here."  I turned to Herself and replied, "He lost the benefit of the doubt about six lies ago."

In general, I do tend to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume they're being honest and reasonable.  I may disagree, but I usually don't infer dishonesty or unreasonableness in the other person.  A lot of the time, reasonable people can reasonably disagree because we have different information, make different estimates of inexact information, or we're simply applying different values.  I try not to infer dishonesty or unreasonableness unless I have some specific reason to do so.  I'm not saying that's the best approach, but it's my approach.

And I tried that approach with former President Bush.  But by mid-2006 I treated anything the Bush administration said with deep suspicion.  It wasn't partisan, or I'd like to think it wasn't, but because they'd been caught in lies or misjudgments so often that it seemed foolish to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Thus, "He lost the benefit of the doubt about six lies ago."

Has President Obama "lost the benefit of the doubt" yet?  For me, no.  To me, it would be a mistake to attribute former President Bush's dishonesty and unreasonableness to President Obama.  Not because of group identity, but simply because they're not the same person.  For me, the inference of honesty and reasonableness is personal.  I've know conservatives who are honest and reasonable, and progressives whom I've caught in lies or very serious misjudgments.  My default is to assume everyone - regardless of political leaning - is honest and reasonable until and unless I have some reason to infer otherwise.  And I don't yet have a reason to infer that President Obama is not honest and reasonable, so he still gets my default assumption on both.

But that's merely my own approach.  Yours may differ.  You may assume everyone - or at least every politician - is dishonest or unreasonable unless they prove otherwise.  Or you may treat everyone with skepticism until they prove themselves honest or dishonest, reasonable or unreasonable.  Which default status you choose, and your standards of evidence for changing from that default status, will color your views of every action President Obama or anyone else takes.

So what's your default on benefit of the doubt?  Does it change by group affiliation?  Has it changed for President Obama?  What would or would not change it?


Happy Thursday!

Originally posted to NCrissieB on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 04:02 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for exploring our moral defaults. :) (43+ / 0-)

    It's important to recognize our moral defaults - the assumptions we make about others' behavior - and to acknowledge and respect that others may use different moral defaults.

    As always, ::smoooooooooooooochies:: to Kula, wherever she is, and ::hugggggggggggs:: to the Kula Krew.

    I'm off to drive Springoff the Fourth to carpool, and will be back in about a half-hour.  Have fun!

    •  Excellent diary, Crissie! (10+ / 0-)

      Nothing quite like being challenged to think and reflect this early in the morning.

      Tipped and recced!

      "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." JFK - January 20, 1961

      by rontun on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:06:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Good morning Crissie and Krew! (7+ / 0-)

      Very interesting discussion yesterday and in today's diary. My default position is the same as yours Crissie. I can't imagine having to live being suspicious or doubtful of others until proven wrong. I am willing to trust Obama until I have reason not to.

      •  That's another good rationale. :) (6+ / 0-)

        Like you, I find it disturbing to contemplate living in constant suspicion of everyone until and unless they prove themselves honest and reasonable.  I know people who do that, and I'm not sure how they do it.  For me, it would be a bleak social desert.  But some don't see it that way.

        Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  I think (7+ / 0-)

        as NCrissieB said in the diary, there are many who automatically distrust politicians...and with good reason given a look at history.

        I would consider myself one of those people. The difference for me is that, as I watched Obama closely, he gave me reason to open up the trust valve. But I still think that with  someone we give that much responsibility and power - it pays to be cautious with the trust.

        •  Agreed: politicians shouldn't get that benefit (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NLinStPaul, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

          The very act of practicing politics involves advocacy, misdirection and insincerity.  It is the profession of telling half-truths at best.  

          We open our hearts and place our trust in any politician at our peril.  We will inevitably be disappointed and disillusioned, because no politician plays only to our audience.

          Better to maintain a healthy skepticism of any politician, judge deeds ahead of words, and always, always be prepared to pressure him or her in any way possible to advance one's views in the political arena.  That's not a moral judgment, but simply a recognition of the world as it is.

          Godwin is dead. Glenn Beck killed him.

          by Dallasdoc on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:14:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  "Not a moral judgment, but a recognition...." (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dallasdoc, ShadowSD

            If I had a dollar for every time I've heard someone say that or words like it, I could afford to replace the reusable drink cup from which I'm sipping my coffee.... :)

            Of course it's a moral judgment.  It may be one you can defend in light of experience, but it's still a moral judgment.  Deciding that a certain class of people are not to be trusted - that we should assume they are not honest or reasonable - is very clearly a moral judgment.

            Don't hide from that.  We all make moral judgments.  To the extent that we make them for valid reasons, they can be good judgments.  If we make them for bad reasons, they're bad judgments.  But we oughtn't try to avoid responsibility for our judgments by claiming we're just "recogniz[ing] the world as it is."  That is one thing we're never doing.

            Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

            •  Doesn't have to be a moral judgment (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Deciding to to take politicians at face value is like deciding not to believe everything a lawyer says in court.  They are advocates, rhetoricians who use words for ends that aren't necessarily obvious.  That's inherent in the nature of law and of politics.

              I don't judge politicians harshly for doing what they have to do in their profession, as long as they don't go overboard with dishonesty or have goals I deeply disagree with.  But not expecting complete candor from them is merely a recognition of what their job entails.

              Good morning, and thanks for the thoughtful discussions.

              Godwin is dead. Glenn Beck killed him.

              by Dallasdoc on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:57:33 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It may be a semantic point. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                You seem to be reading "moral judgment" as implying sanctity or condemnation.  I'm not using that phrase that way.  To me, a "moral judgment" is simply any decision on a moral issue.  We could debate whether reasonableness is a moral issue, but I think we'd agree that honesty is a moral issue.  So a decision about whether to impute honesty is, by my definition, a moral judgment.

                I agree that it needn't imply sanctity or condemnation, as we can recognize that someone may have valid reasons for being less than completely candid.  As I noted in a response below, we just had eight years of "I've made my stand and I'm not going to budge no matter what" - complete candor, in that respect - and it wasn't pretty.  For a leader, there are advantages to hedging one's statements and being sure you can back away from them if events demand it.

    •  Good Morning, Crissie and Krew! (8+ / 0-)

      :::::::::::hugs:::::::::: to all.

      Yesterday's diary was one of those great discussions that will remain with me for some time.  I have bookmarked it for future reference.

      As far as giving the President the benefit of the doubt, that has always been my default position with any elected official until that person betrays himself.  

      Does that mean one misstep and he is toast?  No, not at all.  Betrayal is a pattern, not a single event.  In the case of President Obama, even as skillful a politician as he is, I believe he is finding out just how difficult maneuvering legislation through Congress is.  In particular, I am afraid of what is going to happen to healthcare.

      While we progressives would love to have a purely progressive President who is able to push through our wish list of legislation, President Obama is a pragmatist with progressive ideals, and when the two are not compatible, pragmatism wins.  I understand this and accept it because it is better than whatever alternative we had.  

      "in the wake of Sept. 11, a frightened nation betrayed one of its core principles -- the rule of law -- for the fool's gold of security." Leonard Pitts

      by gulfgal98 on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:31:34 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with your assessment. (0+ / 0-)

        And especially that if faced with an irreconcilable conflict between progressive principle and pragmatic action, President Obama will choose the latter.  Does that trouble me?  Yes, somewhat.  On the other hand, I think that every time he takes a pragmatic action that actually helps real people with real problems, that action benefits and is benefited by the gloss of decisions where he's stood on progressive principle.  To the extent that he is seen as "progressive" by most Americans, his "pragmatic" actions that work help burnish the progressive movement, even if we progressives didn't think they were the best possible choices.

        His "pragmatic" actions that fail, by contrast, have the opposite effect.  Then he's both not stood by his progressive principles - and unlike some I believe he does have progressive principles - and he's failed as a pragmatist.  But his "pragmatic" failures, like his "pragmatic" successes, will be attributed to progressivism.  So we get the worst of both worlds: blamed for a failed policy we did not support.

        Good morning! ::huggggggggggggggs::

        •  Pragmatic progressiveism (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I would like to think that some pragmatic actions are simply laying the foundation for future more progressive actions.  For example, the outcry that the stimulus bill was not big enough and did not have enough funding for the environment and energy.  The first course was to get A stimulus bill passed quickly and lay a foundation for recovery.  

          Maybe I am being overly optimistic, but I still believe we will see significant funding bills for energy and environmental programs down the line. If President Obama was not a long range thinker, I might not be as optimistic.  But I believe that he has a strategic agenda and a long range plan for implementing that agenda.

          "in the wake of Sept. 11, a frightened nation betrayed one of its core principles -- the rule of law -- for the fool's gold of security." Leonard Pitts

          by gulfgal98 on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 07:02:13 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Recommended, one of your best so far (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I almost wrote a very similar diary a couple months ago called "A Leap of Doubt" about the pitfalls of judging Obama like Bush for fear of otherwise applying an unfair double standard (great minds think alike); one other thing that also separates progressives from conservatives is a tendency towards basing political opinions on science over belief, on independent fact over dogma, and on individual logic over accepting the conclusions and edicts of the group.  Focusing on facts and objective historical example tends to be the more progressive approach, and going by that standard, based on the histories of Obama and Bush, assuming they have equivalent credibility when they make the same statement is actually not a very progressive conclusion at all, because it is not reality based.

      Furthermore, it creates a horrible conundrum: since Bush repeatedly said "we do not torture" and we knew he was lying, does that mean no President can ever say those words in the future and be telling the truth?  This is a real problem, because while we can demand accountability and oversight, at the end of the day, proving 100% that we not torture is proving a negative - impossible.  Therefore, the existence of SOME trust and goodwill in the President among not only citizens but peoples abroad is vital when he makes a statement like "we do not torture", because if we are at the point where no President in the future can ever make that statement credibly, then why would he even make the attempt?  If we expect the President always to lie, we begin not to care what he says at all (see America and the two years of Bush); that is no permanent way for the Presidency to exist going forwards.  While the crimes of Bush have made us as a country more vigilant against the excesses of executive power, something for which I am hugely grateful every day, we cannot go to the other extreme and let his tenure permanently poison the Presidency with such inherent distrust that the office becomes meaningless as a way of swaying public influence (because no one is listening or buys a word of it), and functionally becomes a behind the scenes post of power only - precisely what we do not want the Presidency to become.  I think this is the other side of the trap that many kossacks fail to see; if our distrust of Bush is our template going forwards in dealing with Presidents, that's a template that both drowns the concept of a publicly accountable leader in the bathtub as the Grovers of the world (the non-cuddly ones) would wish, and at the same repositions and empowers the Presidency as a behind the scenes fascist dictatorship.

      Republicans criticizing Democrats on torture is like a bunch of foxes complaining that the henhouse wasn't well guarded enough.

      by ShadowSD on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 09:20:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  And just when I cndna' be prouder, NcB went (12+ / 0-)

    ....and made me even more proud to be a morning featurerer.

    yesterday was as , bsrh jr once said,

    my dream come true finally happening

    and then alongs comes NcB with the key to the kingdom of Kostalk as I would like it to be. heavenly rational and principled.



    •  And to be first to say it, too, w/o coffee! nt (7+ / 0-)
    •  What was your dream come true yesterday? (7+ / 0-)

      Did you get some exciting news?  Or were you as delighted by the conversation yesterday as I was?

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

      •  Conversation, Enlightening. Just ask M. Foucault (6+ / 0-)

        One of the best,
        the most klarifying
        as Aufklarung explained, the most Enlightening, Capital E.
        Aufklarung being the German name for the Enlightenment. You know, the times that gave us the principles on which this country was founded.
        so if our conversation was about principles that might be considered Enlightenment principles and in so far as it was it was a question posed for which you did not  have a solution, we meet the criteria the French 'theorist' philosopher/historian/public intellectual Michel Foucault for an Enlightening conversation. MF wrote an essay "What is Enlightenment" on an essay answering that question by Immanuel Kant and then reposing it for today. My point is not to agree with his answer, but with his remark about the fact that the question was posed in a newspaper by an editor who was truly looking for an answer.

        Today when a periodical asks its readers a question, it does so in order to collect opinions on some subject about which everyone has an opinion already; there is not much likelihood of learning anything new. In the eighteenth century, editors preferred to question the public on problems that did not yet have solutions. I don't know whether or not that practice was more effective; it was unquestionably more entertaining.

        In any event, in line with this custom, in November 1784 a German periodical, Berlinische Monatschrift published a response to the question: Was ist Aufklärung? And the respondent was [Immanual] Kant.

          •  Forgot the wordy, too (7+ / 0-)

            Englightment explained from a US perspective

            The Enlightenment in America

                Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, many of the intellectual leaders of the American colonies were drawn to the Enlightenment. The colonies may have been founded by leaders of various dogmatic religious persuasions, but when it became necessary to unite against England, it was apparent that no one of them could prevail over the others, and that the most desirable course was to agree to disagree. Nothing more powerfully impelled the movement toward the separation of church and state than the realization that no one church could dominate this new state.

                Many of the most distinguished leaders of the American revolution--Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Paine--were powerfully influenced by English and--to a lesser extent--French Enlightenment thought. The God who underwrites the concept of equality in the Declaration of Independence is the same deist God Rousseau worshipped, not that venerated in the traditional churches which still supported and defended monarchies all over Europe. Jefferson and Franklin both spent time in France--a natural ally because it was a traditional enemy of England--absorbing the influence of the French Enlightenment. The language of natural law, of inherent freedoms, of self-determination which seeped so deeply into the American grain was the language of the Enlightenment, though often coated with a light glaze of traditional religion, what has been called our "civil religion."

                This is one reason that Americans should study the Enlightenment. It is in their bones. It has defined part of what they have dreamed of, what they aim to become.


        •  What a delightful compliment! (8+ / 0-)

          Not just to me, but to everyone who participated in yesterday's conversation.  And yes, we were exploring rather than expounding, something I try to focus on here in Morning Feature.  If there were easy answers to most of the questions of the day, we'd have found them long ago.  We're not a stupid species that can't find easy answers.  Big Questions, by the fact that they've perplexed us for so long and remain so contentions, tend to be those for which there are no easy answers.

          And yes, when we consider those honestly and reflectively, rather than glibly and reflexively, we're seeking Enlightenment.  For me, the seeking - not the finding - is our true objective.

          Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

          •  Foucault explains POTUS diappointment in MSNBC (8+ / 0-)

            This was discussed last week, and is relevant to principles and group identity here at Dkos, as we have a heavy investment in MSNBC KO and RM.

            Obama to Brian Williams.  on why he does not watch cable news. including MSNBC. I paraphrase:

            I am not learning anything new. When Chris Matthew and Buchanan talk, they are both playing roles.


            Today when a periodical asks its readers a question....there is not much likelihood of learning anything new.

            •  That was a good point... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ... that Obama made -- there's no real reason for him to watch cable news because he pretty much already knows what a given news commentator (or network) is going to be saying on an issue.  And he's right, 'cause I can pretty much predict the same thing. (and of course, he's got staff who are keeping an eye on what the cable news channels are saying, just in case).

              And that's probably why cable news channels are popular with their particular audiences -- because the audience knows what to expect and wants to hear their particular world view validated. More particularly, the audience does NOT want to hear their world view successfully challenged by contrary viewpoints.

        •  I also find the questions asked (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          are small. Easily fit into nice little boxes. If we were constantly asked to think big and our conventional wisdom challenged from time to time, there might be deeper thought invoked and fewer sound bites. Nice series of comments, BSR.

          Taxation without justification is an obamanation! - Lamar Smith, alleged Texas (R) legislator (and, sadly, my Congresscritter)

          by MKSinSA on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 07:42:06 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Good Morning All! (12+ / 0-)

    I trust Obama'a principles, and found GWB to be unprincipled.  Obama, in Cairo, stressed #1 avoid harm and care for others throughout his speech (which rocked, by the way.)  I may not agree sometimes where his principles lead him in making decisions, but having some confidence that he is a man of principle, he warrants my benefit of doubt.

    •  I conflated some ideas in the diary. (8+ / 0-)

      Someone who is "principled" could be honest and reasonable, or not.  One can have principles, and be committed to them, but the principles themselves may invite dishonesty, or one may often not apply them well (bad judgment).  But I think we're speaking to the same ideas, as usually when we say "a man of principle" that implies someone is both honest and reasonable.

      And I agree with you regarding your evaluations of President Obama and former President Bush.  I guess the deeper question is: were those your initial evaluations on both, or has either changed?  What are your default assumptions when you meet or hear about someone new?  What evidence do you need to change those assumptions?  Does the setting matter (see my comment about Springoff the Fourth distinguishing face-to-face and online interaction)?

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

      •  +1 to having principles that can cause issues (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winterbanyan, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

        If you principle is get the bad guy at all costs (Vic Makey style) or I'll protect my wife at all costs (Darth Vader style) then you might be in for some not quite 'moral' actions.

        Does the end justify the means?

        Abolish gun control, marriage, and helmet laws. -7.00, -3.79

        by KVoimakas on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 04:58:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I like Jon Stewart's quip on that. (7+ / 0-)

          I'm quoting from memory so I may be wrong, but he said something like "If you don't stick to principles when they're hard, they're not principles.  They're hobbies."

          Which is to say, if your moral principles don't give you difficult questions with which you must struggle, and sometimes you're never entirely sure you have or can make the Best Choice ...

          ... there's probably something lacking in your moral principles.

          Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

          •  Close, I keep a file of Kos Quotes (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Orinoco, winterbanyan, MKSinSA, NCrissieB

            handy, 'cause I'm good at remembering the info that caught my attention, and rotten at remembering the attribution-

            "If you don't stick to your values when they're tested, they're not values. They're hobbies." (Jon Stewart, 1/22/2009)

            BTW, Crissie, did you know that someone's quoting you in their sig line?

            Our system of law is premised on the idea that an unfettered government - rather than criminals - is the greatest danger to our lives and liberty.

            Good morning! :::Huuugggsss:::

            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

            by FarWestGirl on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:54:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Benefit of doubt is what it comes down to (5+ / 0-)

      But then again, I heard that argument (which is nothing more than one of personal trust) from my relatives applied over and over in the last eight years to people I'd determined to be criminals by 2003. Obama has everyone's trust right now in part because of the horrendous place the previous administration put us all in: some of that trust (or faith) comes from the reality that there is literally nowhere else to turn. Every other institution in our country is either blatantly corrupt or ineffective to deal with the scale of our problems.

      •  And our standards for changing our assumptions. (9+ / 0-)

        For me, I don't infer dishonesty unless I have evidence of a intentional lie.  Merely that someone said X and we later learned the facts were not-X is not sufficient for me, because we all make mistakes of fact.  We say something we believe and hope to be true and later learn it was false.  Or someone else says something he/she believes and hopes to be true, but I believe and/or hope it to be untrue.  Often the data are incomplete or inexact enough that it's hard to be certain.  So I look for intentional lies before I'll infer dishonesty.

        Similarly, I don't infer unreasonableness merely because I disagree with someone.  It may be that I'm being unreasonable.  Or we're both reasonable, but again the facts are incomplete or inexact, or we're applying different moral equations.  So before I'll infer unreasonableness, I need to see a pattern of inexcusably bad judgment.

        Those standards are arguable.  I'm not saying those are the "correct" standards.  They're mine, as best I can apply them.  Yours may reasonably differ. :)

        Good morning! ::hugggggggggggggs::

        •  Inference (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          guyeda, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

          I agree with your general standards, but politicians are a special case. The actual intentions of politicians should be treated as particles in a cloud chamber. Getting a politician to admit to anything honestly and completely, forever and ever, is a physical impossibility, and no effort should be wasted to do so. It's like nailing jelly to the wall. The politicians' true intentions (assuming they have any at all) can only be inferred by the existing evidence in the trail of actions left behind them. And some of those are more elaborate curly-cues than a cloud chamber can produce. (Good morning!)

          •  I agree with you there. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Where people have an interest in dissembling - and it may be a valid interest, as unambiguous, declarative statements quickly narrow a leader's options! - then we have valid reason to treat his/her statements with caution.  At the very least, we should recognize that he/she may (should!) be leaving him/herself room to back away from a statement if later facts and events demand it.

            In that respect, we just went through eight years of "I've made my stand and I'm not budging," and it was not pretty.

            Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

      •  Beneft of the doubt is a function of credibility (4+ / 0-)

        for me. I'm with Crissie and Springoff IV for in-person defaults: reasonable until someone proves thay can't be trusted, but politicians start a peg below that and have to earn their way back up to a regular person credibility level for me. Because they have more incentive to hide info and manipulate me than the average person on the street. The more credibility a person has earned, the more likely I am to give them that benefit.

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

        by FarWestGirl on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:09:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Springoff the Fourth's opinion and insight: (12+ / 0-)

    I posed this question to Springoff the Fourth as I was driving him to his carpool, and he offered an interesting answer.  He said that in face-to-face interactions, he tends to be "skeptical but leaning toward giving people the benefit of the doubt.  I like to give each person a clean slate until they screw it up for themselves."

    But he applies a different standard in online interactions.  "Online, I meet so many posers and idiots that I take everything people say online with a huge grain of salt until I know I can trust them."

    It's an interesting insight that I hadn't considered in writing the diary.  Do you apply different default assumptions of honesty and/or reasonableness in different contexts, such as face-to-face vs. online interactions?

    •  Online is a little weird for me. (11+ / 0-)

      People seem to get angry very easily so I get wary and am tentative on line. Maybe its my age, still a new way to communicate and its difficult to get the hang of it.

    •  Default assumptions? (9+ / 0-)

      I'm a morning reader, therefore somewhat familiar with the diarists and commenters in the diaries I read.  One's personality is revealed pretty quickly, if one reads enough of their posts.  Some people are great at spotting "posers" and alert the brothers and sisters who aren't so good at spotting the posers.  For that I'm grateful as my 'poser-dar' is challenged.  

      I tend to resort to default assumptions that most people are trying to be reasonable and honest unless proven otherwise, but there are certainly many here on DKos that approach everyone with suspicion. I exit stage left very quickly in those diaries.

      •  Curious abt your modus operandi of reading dkos (5+ / 0-)

        [this may seem to be OT, but I think it is about the default principles we deply as bloggers]

        ...Which am blogs do you read and how can I learn from the poser alerters.
        Serious question for me, here's why:

        I mean I can spot a troll and a johnny-one-noter thread hijacker, but as
        a poser (or poseur, another frequent spelling)is posing as someone other than him/herself,
        and as
        in pseudononymous land, everyone is posing unless we are told otherwise,
        I would be hard put to say I knew where being an 'online protect your privacy person' ends and posing begins.

        For me a non-poser would be one who has consistent principles and applies them to issues at hand.

        I would like to be that person.
        Any advice.

        And on that rambl-ing note, off for the coffee and to lurk mode.

        •  I was using Chrissie's son word "poser" (5+ / 0-)

          where troll could have applied also.  I suppose we are all 'posers' in the sense that we don't endanger ourselves or our families to someone who would do us harm because of disagreements.  

          You've always seemed pretty consistent and principled to me, BlueStateRedhead (unless you dye your hair red that is...)

          •  Hair is as red as heart blue and sox red (5+ / 0-)

            and as red as is face about this most valued of all compliments.*

            thank you a million recs................

            made my day, no my week.

            I can't explain why and how w/o giving something away abt myself but I am a committed neo-Kantian married to an unreconstructed Kantian.

            so reason and moral imperatives rule the roost and the posts.

            although as prof. of analytical linguistics, I don't mind learning that the K words have enlightening and word plays have amused. But that's not a requirement. A 'Luck Strike extra' if anyone remembers when cigarettes could advertise.

      •  By "poser" I don't (quite) mean "troll." (5+ / 0-)

        Springoff the Fourth was referring to people he meets in his online gaming and related chats.  It's very common for people to adopt different personae online, perhaps "the person I wish I could be" or simply "the person I think you would like."  I think we roleplay personae online, not so much here at DKos but more often elsewhere, and that's not always "lying" in the strictest sense of the word.  Still, it does give us reason to take people's online personae with a grain of salt, if for no other reason than we're seeing a very tiny slice of someone's personality here ... and a slice that includes a backspace key....

        Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

        •  "the person I think you would like" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          forms the echo chamber that is the online community. Peer pressure often leads not just to assuming an identity acceptable to the community but to censoring ideas knowingly at odds with the predominant mindset. Few want to be the inspiration for that recipe-laden FAIL diary so they comply with the norms of the majority.

          In fact, it's encouraged. "You need to get to know the community before you speak" or words to that effect are so commonly used to bring the wayward into line. "Know the community" is code for "You're not fitting in because this falls outside our accepted ideas."

          Taxation without justification is an obamanation! - Lamar Smith, alleged Texas (R) legislator (and, sadly, my Congresscritter)

          by MKSinSA on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 07:49:26 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's true, though I meant one-to-one. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Online "posers" are often simply trying to be the person they think the person they're talking to would like to spend time with.  "Oh, you like dogs?  I LOVE dogs!"  They might then spin an entire persona off of that, invoking wonderful dogs they've never had ... not because they don't like dogs but simply they've never had one ... because they find you interesting and don't want to admit "Sorry, I've never had a dog."

            People often adopt personae that are older, or younger, or of a different gender, or simply based on their idea of who they wish they could be, might have been but for the unlucky breaks of life, etc.  And I think it's a mistake to call all of that "lying."  Some of it is more aspirational than presentational, but sometimes living our aspirations can inspire us toward them.

    •  And here my default setting is (5+ / 0-)

      cynicism and skepticism unless I have had no previous interaction with the person; then I give them the benefit of the doubt.

      That applies to in person, on the phone, on the internet, watching TV, etc interactions.

      Abolish gun control, marriage, and helmet laws. -7.00, -3.79

      by KVoimakas on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 04:55:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  On-line impressions (9+ / 0-)

      Gee Crissie, that sounds like a diary in itself!  My impression of people I know from on-line is sort of like those air-brushed pictures of authors on the back of the book.  My sister wrote a book and when I saw the picture of her that was going to be used in the book, I said "Who's that?"  I have an image of people here in the Krew and in my mind you all are quite attractive, thoughtful-looking, and generally above average, just like my sister's picture.  In reality she looks a lot like me!  I kind of like the on-line relationships - insults are just virtual insults, if I don't like someone I just ignore their diaries and/or comments.  No real harm is done by fakers and trolls, they're usually pretty easy to spot or they're exposed sooner rather than later, and people I do like tend to be more supportive and kind than face-to-face interactions.  I get and give way more virtual hugs than actual hugs.

      Sheesh, here I go again - I need to quite typing and read some comments.  

  •  I've been involved with electoral politics (13+ / 0-)

    for a very long time so I'm always prepared to be disappointed. I think I disappointed some of my supporters when I was an elected official. I believe our disappointment level will always be high as long as campaigns are funded the way they're funded. The group identity and loyalty I fear is the group that gets access to our president and other leaders.

    Just before election day I had this conversation with myself: this is an historic election. It's almost good enough that we're about to elect a black man no matter what he does. Be prepared to be disappointed though (and I am) but before you get crazy remember the good stuff that he will do.

    So cheers to Schip, Lucy Ledbetter fair pay law, stem cell research and new clean air regs.

    I'll get back to you on energy, healthcare and finance industry reform.

    This is a great series, Chrissie

    •  In the specifics, I agree. (6+ / 0-)

      I'm sure President Obama will disappoint me in some of his decisions and actions.  In fact, some already have.  Which is to say, I disagree with some, and I'm sure I'll disagree with more as time passes.  But I don't take mere disagreement as evidence of either dishonesty or unreasonableness.  For me to change my default assumptions of honesty and reasonableness, I need specific evidence of dishonest or unreasonable behavior: caught in an intentional lie, or repeatedly showing bad judgment.

      But those are my defaults.  What are yours?

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  I think I'm changing my defaults for Obama (5+ / 0-)

        If you compare his campaign statements and statements as a State Senator and US Senator about a host of issues, he's backpedalling. But I want him to succeed, I want him to bury the Republican party.

        Civil rights and civil liberties are important issues to me. If Obama doesn't end DADT and doesn't support gay marriage and if Holder doesn't pursue some of these criminals in the Bush Admin, then my default position is I'll vote for Obama against any Republican but my wallet stays closed.

        In the meantime, I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt.  

        •  Obama said something interesteing re:gay marriage (4+ / 0-)

          last night on Brian Williams' show:  "I support civil unions.  I support of the right of gays to have access at hospital, and to benefits.  I don't think the government should be involved in marriage."

          Hmmm... But I guess that goes back to his stated belief that civil unions should be legal, but "marriage" is a religious question.  A splitting of hairs?  

          Regardless, the man just said on NBC that he supports legalizing of gay unions, just without that M word.

          And there is actually a good argument to be made for this perspective.  As a lesbian myself, I can't quite argue.  Do you want the piece of paper that gives you all the legal rights, or do you just want one particular word.

          Something more for me to think about.

          Huggs, and good morning, Mike :)

          The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

          by winterbanyan on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:05:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I Trust People (10+ / 0-)

    in general. No matter how many disappointments I've had, this cockeyed attitude continues.

    It seems to be in my genes, unshakeable.

    It's caused me to do stupid things, but no catastrophes. Well, one, but I survived it.

    Anybody else have this characteristic?

    •  I do too. (8+ / 0-)

      Have you any idea why you trust people until they prove themselves untrustworthy?  Have you ever asked yourself that question?

      I have, and the reason I've come to is this: I don't assume I'm morally exceptional.  I try to be honest and reasonable, and I assume other people do because the alternative would imply I'm morally exceptional.  I try not to estimate myself as morally exceptional, as I've found that leads to all sorts of pride-based failures.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  The reason I tend to think the (12+ / 0-)

        best of people and trust people is because my experience is that most people can be trusted and are good in most ways.  Of course I know everyone has flaws, but basically I've found that there's good in almost everyone and if I treat someone with respect they tend to respond well.  I used to have to wake hospital patients up to draw blood.  Want to bring out the worst in someone?  That's the way!  I found that addressing them as Mr. or Mrs. and Sir or Maam and apologizing for waking them got us off on a much better footing than saying, "Sorry hon" or calling them by their first name.

      •  A friend of mine put it this way once (7+ / 0-)

        "If you believe that most people are basically honest and want to do the right thing, you will find enough evidence to support that.  On the other hand, if you think the world is full of (insert favorite derogatory term -- let's say jerks) out for themselves and looking to take advantage of you, you'll find plenty of evidence for that as well.  So you get to decide -- which world would you rather live in?"

        •  That's a valid argument, yes. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JanetT in MD

          It's the old story of the Two Travelers and the Gate Guard.  The first traveler comes to the city and asks the gate guard, "What are the people like here?"

          "What were the people like where you came from?" the guard replies.

          "Oh, they were horrid," the traveler replies.  "They were gossipy, always backbiting, lying, cheating ... just awful!"

          "You'll find they're the same here," the guard says.

          Later another traveler comes to the gate and asks the same question.  And the guard replies with the same question: "What were the people like where you came from?"

          "Oh, they were lovely," the traveler replies.  "They were polite, courteous, honest, salt-of-the-earth ... just wonderful!"

          And the guard gives the same answer: "You'll find they're the same here."

          To some extent that story is true: we see in others what we expect to see.

          But as NLinStPaul noted below, that's not entirely true, and sometimes there are valid reasons to be distrustful.  That's especially likely to be true among disadvantaged groups, where people will often pretend (or perhaps sincerely intend!) to be honest and reasonable ... yet behave in ways that reflect (perhaps subconscious) bigotries.

          So while I think your argument is valid, it's important that we're aware of others' circumstances and respect that they may have reasons to take a different perspective.

          Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

      •  I think unless we've had overriding experiences, (5+ / 0-)

        we assume others to be basically like ourselves until they show themselves not to be so. And I think that using ourselves as a rule of thumb is innate to a degree. For instance, children give gifts that they themsleves would like until they understand that others can be different.

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

        by FarWestGirl on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:19:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And that's actually quite reasonable. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It makes sense to assume that we're generally in the majority on a given issue.  By definition, most of us are.  The majority is the majority because most people feel that way.  Unless we have reason to assume otherwise - or that no majority exists - it makes perfect sense to estimate that we are part of the majority.

          Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

    •  Hell no. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I don't trust anyone until they've proven themselves worth of trust.

      Abolish gun control, marriage, and helmet laws. -7.00, -3.79

      by KVoimakas on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 04:59:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Generally, same here in person (8+ / 0-)

      I have no problems smiling at strangers and talking to people in stores.  I figure that no harm comes from it and if it makes someone else's day better, that's great.

      On line, is a little different, depending on the site.  Here at kos, it is fairly easy to spot the problem children, so I avoid them.

      But Springoff the Fourth is pretty much spot on.  Face to face, we have more than one dimension upon which to make our judgements.  On-line, it is basically one dimension and requires a greater skepticism and filtering before coming to a conclusion.

      "in the wake of Sept. 11, a frightened nation betrayed one of its core principles -- the rule of law -- for the fool's gold of security." Leonard Pitts

      by gulfgal98 on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:22:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And in political leaders? (5+ / 0-)

        There it's a curious context.  On the one hand, we do have more information than we do online, at least in some ways.  On the other hand, most of what we know about most political leaders is carefully scripted and polished, either to present them in the best or worst light, depending on the inclinations of those doing the scripting and polishing.

        What are your default assumptions in that context?

        Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

        •  Political leaders start (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          at a slightly lower level because they already owe something to a great many other people (and lobbyists) than just me.  They do not know me personally, unlike someone I meet on a daily basis.  However, what I do believe is that most politicians tend remain fairly close to their core principles.  Therefore, my judgement of them is more based upon what their core principles are.

          "in the wake of Sept. 11, a frightened nation betrayed one of its core principles -- the rule of law -- for the fool's gold of security." Leonard Pitts

          by gulfgal98 on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:27:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Good morning, gulfgal :) (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mommaK, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

        I'm much more skeptical online, too, because of some bad experiences.  But it took bad experiences for me to learn that skepticism.  I always start with the assumption that people are being honest.

        Sometimes you pay for that.  But by and large, as SoCal put it, it's the world I prefer to live in.

        Huggs and have a great day!

        The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

        by winterbanyan on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:10:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good Morning to you too! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          winterbanyan, NCrissieB

          ::::::::::::;hugs:::::::::::: to you too, winterbanyan.

          Here on line, we really have only one dimension upon which to judge others and that is their written words.  Face to face, we get input from multiple dimensions upon which we can more accurately judge another person.  

          "in the wake of Sept. 11, a frightened nation betrayed one of its core principles -- the rule of law -- for the fool's gold of security." Leonard Pitts

          by gulfgal98 on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:30:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Yes. I do too and my 86-yr-old mother (6+ / 0-)

      reminds me on occasion that I'm too trusting. But I just am and find it hard to be any other way. It has only caused me a problem once, though. I've found most people are trust-worthy.

    •  Me, too, JG. (5+ / 0-)

      I always trust until I've been given a good reason to do otherwise.  Then regaining my trust, as my children have discovered, takes a long, long, long time.

      Hugggs and good morning!

      The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

      by winterbanyan on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:07:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes, I'm in the (7+ / 0-)

    give them enough rope to hang themselves category.

  •  All My Defaults Are Founded On the Circumstances (9+ / 0-)

    and our circumstances are in crisis.

    Returning to my ship-of-state metaphor, since I've been a sailor most of my life, you don't start with a social or political analysis of the crew or of the ship's log of its governance history when you come on watch.

    You poll the weather and the lookouts. Most of the time, historically, you proceed from there in what should be a moderate program of governance well in line with standard practice, though you might have a philosophy about it that puts you in one school of command or another.

    Well, when the blogs came on watch in this country, the weather was and is extremely stormy, and the lookouts say we're running fast over coral shoals that stretch out in all directions and there are rocks close ahead.

    So I'm almost totally involved with where we are and with our prospects of getting into the future with the best of the ship and most of its company intact.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 04:44:01 AM PDT

    •  That's a great insight! (5+ / 0-)

      Sometimes our default assumptions of honesty and reasonableness change according to circumstances.  If we're in a crisis, the opportunity and transactional costs of waiting to learn if someone is dishonest or unreasonable may be too high.  By the time we have enough information to make a reasoned judgment, it may be too late to change course.

      On the other hand, our current crises are not of a sort where immediate decisions will have immediate and irrecoverable consequences, because the ship of state is not really analogous to a yacht in a storm or an aircraft in flight.  Any decision made takes time to filter into implementation, and time for its implementation to show any effects, and we are not blind and helpless during those time lags.  We can (and should) monitor developments and suggest changes of course as events unfold.

      There is a danger in assuming "crisis mode" - where we have to make decisions immediately and decisions made cannot be changed - when the circumstances and decision matrix are not quite that immediate or irrecoverable.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

      •  Patience v. Instant gratification (8+ / 0-)

        This makes perfect sense and explains why some people are saying Obama offers "no plan, all speech and no action."  The Shrub, Rummy, Cheney all took ACTION - Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!  And the nation was immediately gratified that we had decisions we could either love or hate.  Obama's measured long range thinking means our ice cream cones will have melted way before we get to eat them.  

        It becomes a matter of patience.  On some issues, the 'youngins' here want it all NOW, while the 'olders' realize some things, like working for peace and stability in the world, are going to take more time than a day or two.  

        •  Good point! I think there is a (8+ / 0-)

          difference based on age and experience. We older folks have been around long enough to realize that we're not going to get what we want right now every time. Most of the time, we have to watch, reflect, and be patient when that seems to be the sensible course.

        •  Excellent post! (8+ / 0-)

          As someone who worked in local government nearly my entire career, I realized how important long range thinking is.  Most elected officials only think in terms of their time in office, so it is up to the staff to understand and promote long term solutions whose effects will still be felt long after any one elected official is out of office.  

          With Obama, we have a man who appears not to need the ego trip from instant solutions (like most elected officials) to some of our greatest issues.  He is a big picture and long term thinker.  

          "in the wake of Sept. 11, a frightened nation betrayed one of its core principles -- the rule of law -- for the fool's gold of security." Leonard Pitts

          by gulfgal98 on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:39:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's certainly part of it, yes. (6+ / 0-)

          And many of us have been conditioned by our media to think in "crisis" terms: BREAKING UPDATE ACTION ALERT!

          The news media discovered, big surprise, that we watch more news during a crisis.  We want to know what's happening, to the extent we can, while it's happening, and especially if it may affect us or our loved ones.  This gives the media an advertising motive to present everything as a crisis requiring our immediate and full attention ... to their ads.

          But crisis viewing breeds crisis thinking, and crisis thinking is very different from the kind of patient, reflective, deliberative thinking that often leads us to better conclusions.  So while presenting every event as a crisis serves the news media's advertising interests, it does not serve the public's decision making interests.

  •  This is a good question (8+ / 0-)

    and it's one I wrestle with a lot.  My first inclination is to say that it's not the same thing.  We know that President Bush used to say "I have information that you don't have", but it's not entirely clear that he did have all the information available, that he was left out of the loop on purpose by his handlers, and that some of the information was cherry-picked by somebody - Cheney, Bush himself, or others.  Bush also was rather proud of the fact that he made decisions based on instinct, not by giving careful thought to all sides of an issue.  Add to that the lies he told and the evidence that he was just plain lazy and intellectually incurious and I think we on the left were justified in our criticisms.  My confidence in President Obama's judgment is based on the impression I have that he does take his time making a decision, the appearance of looking at an issue carefully from different perspectives, and the fact that he can articulate his thoughts clearly.  I also base my confidence in him on what I perceive is his political skills - he might make a decision that I think is strange, but he manages to outmaneuver his political opponents so skillfully that I just am in awe.  But what it may finally boil down to is that I decided fairly early in the political process to back President Obama, based on what he was doing and saying in his campaign.  I helped elect him and from what I observed, I trust him.  I didn't help elect President Bush, I opposed him and I didn't and still don't trust him.  I know I won't agree with President Obama on every issue - I always knew that - but I have no reason not to trust and support him.  I will say I don't have the same confidence in every Democrat.  So is it a "group" thing?  Yes, to some extent.

    Sorry this is so long, but I think I got my thoughts in order early enough today to comment.  Hugs to all and thanks again, Crissie.  

    •  Cognitive dissonance + confirmation bias do play. (5+ / 0-)

      But what it may finally boil down to is that I decided fairly early in the political process to back President Obama, based on what he was doing and saying in his campaign.  I helped elect him and from what I observed, I trust him.

      Those of us who actively campaigned for President Obama do have cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias to consider, yes.  That is, having taken some action, we're prone to see events in ways that confirm the correctness of our action.  That's normal human behavior, and so long as we're aware of it - or try to be - that's about the best we can do as mere humans with our imperfect minds.

      That is, we need to be sensitive to the possibility that we may evaluate President Obama's statements, decisions, and actions in a more favorable light because we actively campaigned for him.  That doesn't mean we should leap to the other end and distrust him (and ourselves), but we should try to be self-aware enough to recognize our potential for self-confirming perceptions and analyses.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  hi again (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    myrealname, NCrissieB

    Specifically, conservatives treat group identity and loyalty as a cardinal virtue alongside harm/care, fairness, and the rest.  This means conservatives will more often judge an action morally correct if they share a group identity with the actor: "It's OK if You're In My Group."  In contrast, progressives are more likely to value fairness over group identity and loyalty, and thus apply the same moral judgment even if that judgment would disadvantage a member of "our group."

    And for those of us who know that it's wrong, tell the person in our group that it's wrong, don't approve of it, but don't do anything about it?

    And if we leave one or two of the 5 out of the equation completely?

    Abolish gun control, marriage, and helmet laws. -7.00, -3.79

    by KVoimakas on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 04:54:10 AM PDT

    •  There are too many unstated variables to answer. (4+ / 0-)

      These moral decisions - regardless of which of the two "equations" one applies - are difficult to make in the abstract.  Group identity and loyalty may be expressed merely as "the benefit of the doubt" (given to members of one's own group, not given to others), or go all the way to rationalizing what we would deem unconscionable behaviors in others because the actor is "one of our own" (e.g.: torture).

      If you were a soldier or intelligence officer and you saw a colleague torturing a prisoner - take it as a given for this example that what he/she is doing is "torture" - would you simply mention to him/her that you disapprove, or would you report him/her to the authorities?  What other factors, such as emotional context (is he/she taking sadistic glee, or caught up in the heat of combat?) or how many times you've seen it happen, would affect your answer?

      •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        If you were a soldier or intelligence officer and you saw a colleague torturing a prisoner - take it as a given for this example that what he/she is doing is "torture" - would you simply mention to him/her that you disapprove, or would you report him/her to the authorities?

        I would stop him from doing what he was doing. I don't approve of torture for information under any circumstances.

        What other factors, such as emotional context (is he/she taking sadistic glee, or caught up in the heat of combat?) or how many times you've seen it happen, would affect your answer?

        When it comes to emotional context, I don't think it'd matter to me unless it was ME doing it. If I see someone getting tortured and the torturer is enjoying it, it'd still be torture. If they weren't enjoying it, it'd still be torture. If they were enraged, I could sympathize but it'd still be torture.

        Now if it was something I was used to due to constant exposure, I don't think I'd have an issue with it because familiarity breeds contempt (or apathy.)

        Abolish gun control, marriage, and helmet laws. -7.00, -3.79

        by KVoimakas on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:41:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But would you report it? (0+ / 0-)

          "Stop him from doing it" is more than I'd asked in "say you disapprove," so yes I hope any of us would not only casually mention that we disapprove but try to intervene and stop it.

          But would you report it?  It is a crime, after all....

          •  Ahh...but what makes a crime? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Personally, I wouldn't report a crime for breaking a law I didn't believe in. Remember that whole obedience/authority thing I mentioned yesterday?

            I don't believe in torture so yeah, after stopping him, I would report him. Though I do have to be honest and say that if he brother, I probably wouldn't the first time. If it happened again, yeah, I would.

            I would also say I'd beat my brother's ass for torturing someone.

            Abolish gun control, marriage, and helmet laws. -7.00, -3.79

            by KVoimakas on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 07:29:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Someone may call me an Obamabot (10+ / 0-)

    if he wishes, but I am still basking in the glow of his election, the end of the Bush era and what it says about America. I grew up in the segregated South and have vague memories of puzzlement over segregated drinking fountains. I expect that glow to last for some time. I have been voting since 1968, when I campaigned as a 17-year old for Gene McCarthy, and this is the first time  that my candidate of choice won both the nomination and the Presidency. I had no expectation that Obama would please me with all his decisions. No one who would could ever get elected in this country. But I have been surprised by how many on this site did not share the euphoria I continue to feel.

    Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear... Aesop

    by mr crabby on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 04:57:07 AM PDT

    •  What decisions or actions might change that? (0+ / 0-)

      Which is to say, what are your standards of evidence for changing your evaluations of honesty and/or reasonableness?

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

      •  While nothing could change the signifcance of (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winterbanyan, NCrissieB, addisnana

        of his election, in vague,general terms,should he repeatedly (or even occasionally) be to the right of what Congress were willing to accomplish or the public prepared to accept then I would be greatly disappointed. Yes I want him to push Congress and the public toward more progressive policy but so far I think that is happening. He was dealt a very ugly hand regarding both the economy and our military adventurism, which allows me to cut him some slack. But no progress in disentanglement from Iraq and Afghanistan could doom his presidency much as Vietnam destroyed Johnson's. I would also be pissed if at some point he doesn't address gay equality issues. Not sure I answered your question but hugs back at you.

        Better beans and bacon in peace than cakes and ale in fear... Aesop

        by mr crabby on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:29:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Same here... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mr crabby, NCrissieB

      I am over 60 years old, white, grew up in the segregated South, and the child of a staunchly Republican family.  I never understood segregation and racism.  That segregation was bad was not taught to me, it just came naturally.  

      President Obama was the first candidate for President that I supported from the very beginning.  He is also the first President who seems to actually represent me and my values. Perhaps that is why I am willing to give him a greater benefit of the doubt than any other President in my lifetime.

      There is an irony here too.  After marching to my own political drummer all these years, my parents came over to my side and voted for Obama for President.

      "in the wake of Sept. 11, a frightened nation betrayed one of its core principles -- the rule of law -- for the fool's gold of security." Leonard Pitts

      by gulfgal98 on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:51:47 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The difference between Bush and Obama is like ... (8+ / 0-)

    night and dawn.

    It's just that I expect a good many of us were hoping for day.

    But he's not even five full months into his presidency - so Pres. Obama has more than just the "benefit of the doubt" from me.

    •  That's a good statement of it ... (4+ / 0-)

      ... in the specific question of President Obama and former President Bush.  But in general, what are your default assumptions of honesty and reasonableness?  What evidence do you need to change those assumptions?  Do you apply different assumptions for political leaders vs. people you meet in ordinary life?

      These are the questions I'm hoping to explore today. :)

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggggs::

  •  I doubted the benefits of Bush (10+ / 0-)

    from the moment I learned who he was.

    As for Obama, his personal, and therefore political cautiousness and willingness, almost compulsion, to treat all viewpoints as potentially valid, has always worried me.  It makes for a great scholar but a less effective politician.  

    It's why I was an Edwards leaner for so long--he planted his flag deep in New Deal territory and didn't back away.  Sadly, he planted some other things elsewhere. . .

    I suppose I give Obama the benefit of much doubt because he's demonstrated deep intellect and a thorough understanding, if not an unwavering commitment, to progressive Democratic principles.

    And wtf else am I going to do?  Vote Republican?

    Songs up at da web site! Also. . . It's Kostown, Jake. . .

    by Crashing Vor on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:02:30 AM PDT

    •  And how many times did we (7+ / 0-)

      give the Bush Administration the benefit of the doubt?  From September 11 on...the standard mantra was to give Bush, et al the benefit of the doubt.  To me, "benefit of the doubt" actually meant no questions, no investigation, bow to authority.

    •  That's a reasoned response. (5+ / 0-)

      I was never pleased with former President Bush.  I would not have voted for him in the primary had I been a Republican, and I campaigned and voted for both Gore and Kerry in the general elections.  Still, I remember in the first weeks after Bush took office, looking for reasons to be hopeful.  I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, because of course any of us can be wrong in our impressions of people.

      For me, that had passed before 9/11.  It passed when John Ashcroft announced that the DOJ would back any denial of a Freedom of Information Act request, no matter how arbitrary.  It passed when Dick Cheney told the Congress, the media, and the American people that it was none of their and our business who he invited to his Energy Policy Task Force or what decisions they reached.  By the summer of 2001, I'd concluded that this was going to be a secretive, power-expansive, near dictatorial administration.  Their response to 9/11 - rushing through the USA PATRIOT Act with no real debate, indeed with Congress not even having an opportunity to read the complete bill before voting on it - just confirmed that for me.

      So far, for me, President Obama hasn't made those kinds of mistakes.  The mistakes he's made, as I see them, are of the sort where reasonable people may reasonably disagree.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  This is what Right Wing Hate Media is all about: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winterbanyan, NCrissieB, FarWestGirl

    Denying President Obama "the benefit of the doubt" when trying out new ideas to solve old problems.

    The longer conservative Americans can be kept in doubt, the more likely it is that they will remain loyal to the GOP.

    My suggestion to President Obama: Invite third-party leaders to the White House for a summit on how they might begin to replace the GOP as America's second party.

    It would be a brilliant counter-stroke to Rush Limbaugh: It may not be possible to make progressive inroads into conservatives with Limbaugh's ongoing bloviating, but we could at least make it possible for libertarians to benefit from it at the expense of conservatives.

    I know the special interests and lobbyists are gearing up for a fight as we speak.
    My message to them is this: So am I -- President Barack Obama

    by Jimdotz on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:12:47 AM PDT

  •  Edwards: he planted some other things elsewhere. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    winterbanyan, NCrissieB, addisnana

    Bwhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa,boo hoo and what a crying shame.

    and if his initial planting had brought him the fruit of the candidacy, where would we be now?

    Edwards' behavior is a riddle in general, and in the context of our discussion of default principles.

  •  Granted I have looked at Haidt's stuff, BUT.... (4+ / 0-)

    I have to be really skeptical for a biological basis for anything that are defined through socialization and the reinforcement of cultural norms through traditional avenues such as family, education (or lack there of), regional mores and other avenues.  

    If one goes down this road, beyond discounting the "human experience" as shaping who we are, we then are only a skip away from legitimizing biological differences for "Moral Equations" on the basis of race or other innate biological characteristics that obviously play no part determining values.

    For example, what makes me a liberal? Is in a biological basis based on the five points you outlined?

    Or is it that I am Puerto Rican who grew up in a very conservative town in New Hampshire in the 1970's by very strong lesbian parents and suffered the loss of a very important family member to AIDS in the 1980's. Then went to a extremely "leftist" orientated college in Vermont...

    It's the latter that has made me who I am and lead me to strive to radical equality for everyone.

    ¡Despierta, borinqueño que han dado la señal!¡Despierta de ese sueño que es hora de luchar!

    by HGM MA on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:24:33 AM PDT

    •  meant to say I "haven't" read his stuff (n/t) (3+ / 0-)

      ¡Despierta, borinqueño que han dado la señal!¡Despierta de ese sueño que es hora de luchar!

      by HGM MA on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:26:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Perhaps see the video first? (4+ / 0-)

      Haidt makes very clear that if these are biological bases for moral thinking - and there is evidence that these impulses are genetically hardwired to enable us to cooperate and survive as a social species - they are only a "first draft."  We can and do change them with life experience, and he's very explicit about that from the very start of his presentation.  He does not make an argument for genetic determinism.

      As to your concerns about race, it's worth noting that Haidt finds essentially the same moral split between progressive and conservative values in every culture he's studied.  The curves for responses from the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia are almost identical: people who identify as progressive/liberal in their own culture tend to weigh the first two principles more highly, while those who identify as conservative in their own culture tend to weigh all of them about equally.

      I understand your concerns, but I think if you'll take the time (18 minutes) to watch the video, you may be less suspicious.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  The roots may be in evolutionary biology. A (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winterbanyan, NCrissieB

        dynamic opposition between expansion and inclusiveness, (progressive) vs maintenence and exclusiveness or tribalism, (conservatism), would cover the bases for strategies that would have the most survival benefit in different situations. And since one of those two were the most likely to work in the greatest number of circumstances, they're the ones that survived in our innate biases.

        I tried to say something about this yesterday, but the site stopped posting my comments again, after the first couple. ::grrr:::

        Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

        by FarWestGirl on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:48:54 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  That's entirely possible. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Haidt notes that both outlooks have benefits in certain situations, so it would make sense that we evolved to breed both kinds of people.

          But Haidt stops short of arguing that progressive or conservative moral equations - actually that's my concept and I shouldn't attribute it to him - are biological.  He makes clear that the five principles he offers seem to be only biology's "first draft," and that evidence suggests we can and do rewrite them with life experience.

          As with so many issues, this may be one where we find there's a genetic predisposition, but that is not the same as genetic determinism.  The predisposition can be overcome with life experience.

          •  Agree, impel not compel. Almost anything can be (0+ / 0-)

            overwritten by experience and learning if there's inclination to do so. Nature covers most of the bases, most of the time.

            Gotta run, at least the site let me post everything this morning.


            Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

            by FarWestGirl on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 07:36:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  This is so timely (7+ / 0-)

    in light of President Obama's speech in Cairo. I found it direct and eloquent — a good effort to start the process of beginning to repair our stature and image and to (re)open dialogue.

    I hear shrieks of the wingers and the "Israel can do no wrong even when what it is doing is tantamount to suicide bunch" already. The former group especially has been carefully and deliberately taught to hate and mistrust Obama (for some, hating Obama was just building on earlier hatred and bigotry).

    I tend to believe and trust people. And yes, I've occasionally been bitten by snakes. I am skeptical of politicians generally and I know from both academic study and observation how people in positions of power and authority can change dramatically (generally for the worse) and forget both who they really are and where they came from (with the corollary loss of vision about who we are and where we come from or are).

    And this all said, I have found it harder and harder not to dismiss anything out of hand if it comes from the right side of the political spectrum, rather than giving fair consideration to arguments and ideas. I have allowed my disgust with the over-the-top dishonesty of a few of the noisiest wingers to affect my ability and willingness to search for reason in their discourse.

    Hm. I will think on this further. Thanks for this thought-provoking diary, Crissie!

    Book excerpts: nonlynnear; other writings: mofembot.

    by mofembot on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:35:09 AM PDT

    •  We've all been "bitten by snakes." (5+ / 0-)

      One of the things I find most frustrating is when I say that I assume people are honest and responsible unless I have evidence to the contrary, and someone responds, "That's so naïve!  Get back to me after you've been betrayed a few times!"

      We've all been "bitten by snakes" in life, or at least everyone I've ever met has been.  We've also met honest and reasonable people who did not betray us.  Why should we assume that everyone we meet will be a "snake," in the absence of evidence?  What do we gain (and lose) by assuming the worst?

      Conversely, what do we gain (and lose) by assuming others are honest and reasonable until they prove otherwise?

      And (a hint of tomorrow's diary) how does the math of that - Game Theory - reflect biases that may or may not hold up in real human interactions?

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

  •  Quite often I am influenced by (7+ / 0-)

    what others say when it sounds reasonable so I am willing to give the information (analysis) the benefit of the doubt until I see other information that would make me change my mind.  The problem is that so much of the news/information we get is colored by opinion.  It can be manipulated by word choice and by body language.  It can also be manipulated by who we trust and don't trust as the deliverer of the information.  We rarely get all the information and so we give or don't give the benefit of the doubt based on 'first read.'  

    For instance, if we were told "dog bites man" by someone we trust we would be sympathetic to the man.  

    If we were told that "dog bites man" with the emphasis and unsympathetic facial expressions on the word man, we might think that the dog had a reason but still blame the dog.  

    If we were told that "dog bites man because the dog was taunted and teased while chained" then I would sympathize with the dog of course.  

    Now if Rush Limbaugh said to me "dog bites man" I would be disinclined to believe it ever happened.

    Nature's laws are the invisible government of the earth - Alfred Montapert

    by whoknu on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:39:17 AM PDT

    •  Very important point! (4+ / 0-)

      The extent and shape of the "doubt" about someone is indeed influenced by whether we trust those bringing us the information.  If you watch only Fox News, and trust Fox News, you're not likely to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt on any issue.

      But by the same analysis, if you're distrustful of the media in general, that expands your zone of doubt on every issue.  Thus whether you give President Obama the benefit of the doubt has much greater importance, because you will be evaluating doubt-based issues more often.

      Excellent insight!

      Good morning! ::huggggggggs::

  •  Great diary and good morning :) (7+ / 0-)

    I will probably continue to give President Obama the benefit of the doubt, and not only because I believe him to be an honest man, but because of something else he said to Brian Williams:

    He said:

    I question my own decisions frequently.

    This is not a man acting according to hidebound notions, or one who thinks he's invariably correct.  A man who can question his own decisions frequently is one who tries to be honest with himself.

    So for now, he most definitely gets my benefit of the doubt.

    Hugggs and good morning to all!

    The austerity you see around you covers the richness of life like a veil -- Anonymous

    by winterbanyan on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:53:38 AM PDT

    •  That's an important issue, yes. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mommaK, winterbanyan, addisnana

      Like you, I tend to believe that people who question their own assumptions and decisions are more likely to be honest and reasonable.  Of course, I think it's honest and reasonable to question one's assumptions and decisions.

      But others may read that as a reason not to believe he's honest and reasonable: either he's lying about doing that, or he's too stupid or cowardly to trust his own instincts.

      Which is a way of saying, how we interpret evidence of someone's honesty and reasonableness can change, in part based on what we consider honest and reasonable practices, and in part based on the evaluation we want to justify.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

    •  And is someone who makes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      winterbanyan, NCrissieB

      assessments rather than judgements. Assessments are by their nature open to reassessment and correction, whereas judgements are more 'carved in stone and move on'. Bush was a 'judgement' person, and Obama's an 'assessment' person. Much better for us.

      I'd bet that if someone added that to their progressive vs conservative study, they'd find that assessment was more common in progressives and judgement in conservatives.

      Good morning, Winter! :::Huuugggsss:::

      Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

      by FarWestGirl on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 07:02:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The clearer semantic version ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        winterbanyan, FarWestGirl

        ... is not "judgment" vs. "assessment" - that's a matter of how you choose to define the terms - but rather "certainty," or willingness to revise your decisions in light of new facts and circumstances.  It's clearer to treat certainty as a separate dimension, rather than wrapping it into a definition of "decision," "judgment," or "assessment."

        •  Agreed. I see it through the lens of my training, (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          so it's a familiar way to explain it. From the first day of nursing school we were taught to assess a pt at the beginning of a shift and reassess at the end or prn, (as needed), so paying attention to new info and updating was just habit. And I've found that most people can relate to it from that standpoint, so I do tend to fall back on that phrasing, even though there are undoubtedly better ways to make the point.

          Information is abundant, wisdom is scarce. The Druid

          by FarWestGirl on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 08:59:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Here's a good example of group affiliation (6+ / 0-)

    My sister has a habit of mis-remembering how things happen.  She likes to change facts or fabricate the past to suit her own view.  Even though I know she has done this time and time again, I still tend to believe her unless I know for a fact she is wrong when she says this stuff because she is my sister.

    BTW, most of what she fabricates is just our memories of personal family history so in the grand scheme of things it isn't really important.  That could affect my benefit of the doubt quotient.

    Nature's laws are the invisible government of the earth - Alfred Montapert

    by whoknu on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 05:58:17 AM PDT

    •  Consequences should affect your analysis, yes. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      myrealname, addisnana

      It could be that you're giving your sister the benefit of the doubt because she's your sister.  It could also be, as you speculated, that you do so because the things she's discussing are trivial enough that it doesn't really matter.  In the latter setting, giving her the benefit of the doubt has an obvious transactional value: you don't waste a lot of time, energy, and sibling goodwill chasing down The Truth of some trivial family factoid.

      Most languages have some variation on "making a mountain out of a molehill" for that reason.  The English would call it a "tempest in a teapot."  In German it's Sturm im Wasserglass, a "storm in a water glass."

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggggs::

  •  One of the most (8+ / 0-)

    interesting things I've learned recently is a bit of an over-generalization, but I think it has some merit anyway.

    I've been working alot on the issues of racism and white privilege in both my professional and personal life over the last few years. In that process, I've found that the default "benefit of the doubt" is something that I have adopted that rests alot on my white privilege.

    In other words, as a white person - the world has proven itself to mostly be a place where that works for me.

    As I interact with African Americans in this culture - I get a totally different response. Giving the benefit of the doubt to people and systems can be very dangerous for them both physically and emotionally. So most of them have set up a default of "prove yourself."

    When I began to understand this, I finally understood some of the barriers I've faced in relationships with people of color. And its made a BIG difference in both my patience and defensiveness.

    •  Wonderful insight! (4+ / 0-)

      And yes, whether we're prone to give the benefit of the doubt is, in part, based on our experience.  If you're a member of a disfavored group and you've been kicked repeatedly by people who presented themselves as being honest and reasonable ... at some point your default assumptions can reasonably change.

      That's one of the reasons I made clear that own my preference for giving the benefit of the doubt unless I have specific reason not to is only my own preference.  Others' default assumptions may differ, and I'm not going to say mine is the "correct" one.

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  Why Obama has lost "the benefit of the doubt" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for me. I certainly don't expect everything to be "fixed" after 5 months but come on... There is no ambiguity in my mind about the words "end the war" yet he has pushed us ever deeper into this murderous exercise in evil and futility. People of conscience cannot compromise on this. No more war. Also, domestically, every single "reform" that has been proposed or enacted is bogus, bait and switch, and insulting to those desperately wanting reform. Mandatory purchase of health insurance - from these bloodsucking corporations?? Trigger to blow our heads off waiting another 7 years? Bailouts by the trillions? Closing one corporate tax loophole yet conveniently missing the other dozen that allow he and his wealthy friends to cheat and evade taxes, Preventive detention- remember the Japanese American internment (and please don't say it's different because we're locking up potential "terrorists" of darker hue that us. You may fit that defintion sooner thyan you think) What more do we need to see? I was ecstatic and hopeful on election night and now I'm really angry and feel betrayed. I would have voted for Hilary Clinton had I known that's what I'd be getting anyway. Actually, I feel pretty certain she would have stood up for some principles whereas Pres Obama doesn't seem to have any principles. Words are cheap and we were duped.

    •  That's certainly an indictment. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      addisnana, FarWestGirl

      We could argue the particulars, though I won't.  Instead I'll ask whether this was your initial evaluation of President Obama, whether you usually give political leaders (or others) the benefit of the doubt, and what specific evidence you usually require before changing your evaluations.

      Good morning! ::hugggggggggs::

  •  I don't assume dishonesty (4+ / 0-)

    when dealing with authority, but I do assume hidden agendas and manipulation. I suppose I mean management more than authority, but it applies to politicians, too. FarWestGirl reminds us that the greatest peril to our democracy is an unfettered government, I see my job as a citizen to look to those fetters.

    Regarding Obama, though, as I got to know his style during the campaign (I didn't start out rooting for Obama) I became impressed with his ability to play the long game. That's not something I've seen on the left center for a long time. The first time some mistake he made, according to progressive thinking, turned out to be a good move, I thought it was a coincidence. The second time, maybe he got lucky. The third one, and I came to think it was not coincidence or luck, but damn, he's good at this.

    I am pretty much still there. I do have serious reservations about some of the people he has surrounded himself with, especially in finance, but the long game takes a long time to play out.

    ::hugggggggggggggs:: :) good morning!

    "You can't get something for nothing...It's time to stop being stupid." Bob Herbert

    by Orinoco on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 06:51:11 AM PDT

    •  Hidden agendas and manipulation ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Orinoco, myrealname

      ... are certainly reasonable assumptions in dealing with government leaders.  At the very least, they're having to juggle more balls than most of us are aware of in any given moment, in terms of the personalities of those with whom they have to work, etc.  We may know (or think we know) some of those elements in a general sense, but that's very different from having that "element" in the same room or on the other end of the telephone in a conference.

      Add to that other factors like classified information, and simply one's need to leave oneself maneuvering room should events turn out unexpectedly, and it would be unreasonable to assume that anything a political leader says is his/her best estimate of "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

  •  Charisma (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    myrealname, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

    I think, in spite of the packaging, sound bites and
    presentation, after a time certain characteristics emerge as authentic and part of the "real" person. I know I am a sucker for charisma. Give me a good storyteller, a well done speech, and my willingness to engage goes up. I could appreciate Reagan's charisma even while disagreeing with his positions.

    I had been wrestling with a charisma versus conman dilemna in my personal life when Obama started running. I was more careful to listen to the content and positions he took because I was working on my charisma alert system...aka BS detector. So far, he has been consistent with his campaign rhetoric. What bothered me then (Afghanistan) still bothers me.

    I still give him the benefit of the doubt and call and write on issues that are important to me. I'll have to see, next election, how far my support will go. Will I actively campaign (door to door) again? Will I contribute again? Or will I just vote?

    •  A very reasonable position. Further questions... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What decisions or actions would make you more or less likely to donate, volunteer ... or just vote ... in the 2012 election?

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggggs::

      •  Good question (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        myrealname, NCrissieB

        More likely... progressive position pursued in single payer health (I know Obama didn't campaign on this), strong financial regulation, investigation of war crimes by Bushco, climate change legislation,

        Bottom line. I know Obama is a pragmatist and I can relate. But, I think the current crises provide an opportunity to be more progressive and even bold. I don't want the administration to always have the pragmatic as their first approach and to continually say to the progressive community, "You are too far left of what is doable."

        Less likely..No action on don't ask don't tell and equal rights for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals; expanding the military operations;

  •  Damn sorry I missed yesterday's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    diary. Glad I caught today's. Mornin' Krew!

    Moral equations are something I've pondered for quite some time only to come down generally on the side of Utilitarianism. I'd never been able to understand my inability to create Categorical Imperatives and stick to them in my own thinking, despite what I've believed is my need to do so. I think I hit on the problem as I saw it, through my personal lens.

    I discovered that in my experience that there's no single code by which we all seem to live but three:

    1. The morality of what I do to another
    1. The morality of what another does to me
    1. The morality of what one does to another

    #1 allows for the greatest amount of gray area reasoning and ethical leeway, excusing what we might otherwise not tolerate from others. #2 culls from the largest number of philosophical resources to create the most favorable argument in our favor. #3 is the most consistent, as it is dispassionate and allows for the strict construction of ideas along the boundaries of logic.

    I suspect that I could drill down into that concept and derive a formulation that parallels Haidt's formulas. That was spot on. Sorry I missed it! Glad I caught this one!

    Taxation without justification is an obamanation! - Lamar Smith, alleged Texas (R) legislator (and, sadly, my Congresscritter)

    by MKSinSA on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 07:27:01 AM PDT

    •  To some extent they're informational differences. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      myrealname, MKSinSA

      You usually know what you do to others, though there are some exceptions.  And you usually know why, as you're privy to your own thoughts, even if we sometimes act on unreasoned impulse or intuition and only later 'understand' our reasons.

      You often know what others do to/for you, though we're all often unaware of many things others do that affect us and what we're trying to do.  We're less aware of their reasons, even when we ask, and sometimes we can't ask.

      In that third category, we assume some awareness of what Able did to/for Baker, or else we wouldn't be considering the issue at all.  But in the abstract we tend to filter out reasons, or most of the reasons, and offer principles that take only minimal account of the reasoning.

      Why?  One theory is that we all recognize how easy it is to rationalize anything, and we're afraid of letting people rationalize their behavior and "get away with" harming others.  So we want rules that don't leave too much rationalizing wiggle room.

      Until the rules are applied to us.  Then we want "our day in court," and an opportunity to present "our side of the story."  We want our reasons to matter, even if in general we disfavor rules that allow for rationalizations.  Because our reasons aren't rationalizations....

      Good morning! ::huggggggggggs::

      •  Not unlike the old "ACLU is bad ... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        myrealname, winterbanyan, NCrissieB

        until I'm the one needing civil liberty protections" or "Authority, such as law enforcement, is aggressive and out of control" until the victim of such thuggery was so victimized on behalf of me and mine. We, The People, can be a confusing and confused lot.

        Taxation without justification is an obamanation! - Lamar Smith, alleged Texas (R) legislator (and, sadly, my Congresscritter)

        by MKSinSA on Thu Jun 04, 2009 at 07:56:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We see that in law all the time. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          myrealname, MKSinSA

          On the one hand, people want "clear, simple laws that anyone can understand."  Okay, sounds good.  Then you get on the wrong side of one of those laws, and you want "reasoned, nuanced laws that account for (my) exceptional circumstances."

          The law leans more toward the latter, most of the time, and that's why it's so "complicated."  It's not as of legislators, judges, and lawyers set out to write the most complicated laws they could, just to confuse and annoy ordinary people.  (Well, that does happen sometimes.)  It's that the institution of law recognizes that its legitimacy rests, in part, on the perception that anyone charged with violating it will get "my day in court" and a chance to "tell my side of the story."  And sometimes the stories make enough sense that judges (or later legislators) say "Y'know, that's a good point...."

  •  the answer is no (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Is President Obama entitled to the benefit of the doubt if we're unsure whether he's making a right decision, and when we wouldn't have given the same benefit of the doubt to former President Bush?

    Neither should be given the benefit of the doubt, until the outcome proves how correct they were.

  •  Blending trust and suspicion (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    myrealname, NCrissieB

    I do trust Obama, the man. By that I mean, I trust the moral kernel I "sense" within him, the core module that makes moral evaluations and initiates moral actions.

    Further reasons for a high degree of trust: I respect his knowledge, his intellect, and the range and subtlety of his political instincts. I respect his drive, strength, and endurance. On the whole, I respect the team he has put in place around him. Certainly, he compares favorably to the previous president on all these standards.

    The items in that second graf, however, are also the basis to question his decisions and actions, despite my near-total trust in his moral kernel, because they are where errors could begin to creep in. The best moral intentions will not yield  a good policy if the information is poor or the analysis faulty. Even if the info and analysis are good, the execution is limited by the skill, strength, and comprehension of the lieutenants who must implement the policy, then limited again by the political environment in which they must act.

    It gets rather complicated, rather quickly, does it not?


    Is it possible that a man of Obama's quality could have bad information and a poor analysis? As we look at his administration's attempts to grapple with the financial crisis, for example, one must wonder. Even a great mind cannot be an expert on everything, but must rely on the advice of experts. When the experts (Geithner, Summers) are the very people who caused the problem... well, one must wonder.

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