Posted by: Dan | August 22, 2006

I Drink Liberally

drinkingliberallyWith the New York Democratic primaries coming up in a couple weeks, it’s perhaps high time I make a reference to my favorite Wednesday night diversion here in Ithaca: Drinking Liberally at Felicia’s Atomic Lounge.

Besides just giving local progressives a place to vent about the Republican misdeeds since 2000 (and even before), Drinking Liberally gives us a chance to speak to our base, on sane family values, equitable social policies, and just foreign policies. And some in the regular group are doing more than just talking – Maura has an overwhelming number of committments on bringing progressive views into discussions on world affairs, and Roger is working on his small nonprofit organization called Honest Insight USA. The Honest Insight plan is simple – bring together business advertising with insightful information to empower the public and hold government accountable for its actions. They do this with nothing more than radio and newspaper adds, and in recent months, they’ve also started running columns in the Ithaca Pennysaver.

So stop on by, sometime around 6:30-7ish on Wednesday, at Felicia’s on W. State St.


Responses

  1. and Roger is working on his small nonprofit organization called Honest Insight USA. The Honest Insight plan is simple – bring together business advertising with insightful information to empower the public and hold government accountable for its actions. They do this with nothing more than radio and newspaper adds, and in recent months, they’ve also started running columns in the Ithaca Pennysaver.

    I’ve seen that, and was favorably impressed. Maybe it’s some sort of cultural bias, but I expected any political writings in the Pennysaver to be fairly conservative and anti-intellectual. From your description, it sounds like these are paid ads, rather than editorial content supplied by the Pennysaver.

  2. From your description, it sounds like these are paid ads, rather than editorial content supplied by the Pennysaver.

    I can ask tonight at DL, but I’m not entirely sure that they’re paid ads – I think the Pennysaver gets a benefit out of it also. Previously, with the Pennysaver being wall-to-wall classifieds, most people (including myself) rarely even picked it up – they editors were looking for a way to get readers to keep and read the Pennysaver instead of throwing it away immediately.

    It’s worked for me – I actually save the Pennysaver for reading purposes now, instead of immediating recycling it.

    But yeah, the conservative slant is what one would’ve otherwise predicted, isn’t it? I guess it’s just a combination of the local mindset, and pragmatic business sense.

  3. Mostly I just do the crossword.

  4. The Honest Insight plan is simple – bring together business advertising with insightful information to empower the public and hold government accountable for its actions.

    Ah, “empower” and “hold accountable” all in one plan. Do those terms really mean anything significant, or are they just useful as talking points?

  5. In a sense, I think all political discussion is centered around “talking points,” but diseminating facts that the current administration finds inconvenient, and holding the President accountable for his many bungled policies (both at home and abroad), does empower the people in a democracy.

    Is it not a truism that an uninformed public stifles democracy?

  6. I can see you like to stay “on message”. Repeat “empower” and “hold accountable”, but don’t really attempt to give any objective meaning to said words.

    No, I don’t think all political discussions center around talking points, but I will admit it is very popular today.

    As for being “uniformed”, we all are to a certain extent. I’m not sure merely indulging one particular POV benefits democracy much. YMMV.

    FWIW, an example of “empowering” the citizenry from Honest Insight USA:

    the best solution to our energy crisis today is what some politicians see as a difficult sell: mandating cars get better mileage.

  7. Specifics first: Indeed, raising CAFE Standards is an excellent way to empower the average citizen. The full quoted paragraph is as follows:

    Funding research into alternative fuels and renewable energy sources makes sense, but the best solution to our energy crisis today is what some politicians see as a difficult sell: mandating cars get better mileage. If politicians are serious about national security and protecting the environment, the first step toward making the United States less dependent on foreign oil and reducing carbon dioxide emissions is conservation.

    And indeed, there are legitimate security and environmental aspects to fuel efficiency standards, but there’s also consumer choice. As the Union of Concerned Scientist site describes it:

    Consumers have more choices today in the shape, size, and color of the car or truck they purchase than ever before—choices that exist under current fuel economy standards. Requiring the auto industry to meet higher fuel economy standards across all vehicle types will expand consumer choice, no longer limiting consumers to smaller, no-frills cars if they want to get more than 30 miles to the gallon. Currently, there is virtually no choice available to consumers if they choose to purchase an SUV or other larger vehicle. Detroit has the technology to improve the fuel economy of all passenger vehicles, but has opted to focus on increasing size and power instead of gas mileage. Higher fuel economy standards would mean that consumers could choose to save fuel and own an SUV, minivan, pickup truck, or family car without sacrificing the power and performance they currently enjoy.

    Doesn’t that qualify as empowering the average citizen?

    By “Hold accountable,” I of course mean something a little bit different – that politicians who go against the public interest should not be re-elected, and appointees who do so should be removed from their posts. Of course we can debate, however, what the public interest is, what the common good is, etc.

    But I would say that for this example, facilitating greater consumer choice is in the public’s interest, wouldn’t you?

  8. Doesn’t that qualify as empowering the average citizen?

    Putting aside for the moment that “empower” still lacks any objective definition from you, I would say “no”. The mere claim from some group of elites, while it may be persuasive to you, isn’t to me. A mandatory fuel efficiency standard isn’t likely to prompt any significant new consumer choice. It isn’t gonna make an 18 MPG SUV get 30 MPG. The standards don’t operate that way in the real world.

    But, if you and Human Insight and the UCS think you can provide a more platable consumer choice, get into the car-making business. Either GM or Ford would probably be willing to partner with you if you can put up the money to implement your ideas. One doesn’t meed a govt mandate to do that.

    By “Hold accountable,” I of course mean something a little bit different – that politicians who go against the public interest should not be re-elected, and appointees who do so should be removed from their posts. Of course we can debate, however, what the public interest is, what the common good is, etc.

    And those concepts, elections and petitioning the govt for a redress of grievances, predate Human Insight. So, what they are peddling is not “holding the President accountable”, but pushing their own agenda. Nothing wrong with the latter, but why don’t thay just admit it? Groups like that demonstrate their untrustworthyness from the get-go.

    But I would say that for this example, facilitating greater consumer choice is in the public’s interest, wouldn’t you?

    Putting aside that you haven’t made any case that “greater consumer choice” would be the result of this govt mandate, there have been a few scientific studies making the case that greater choice isn’t necessarily in the “public’s interest”, but can frequently be the opposite for many people.

  9. Sorry, I would’ve thought that “empower” was a relatively simple word to understand:
    em·pow·er (ĕm-pou’ər) pronunciation
    tr.v., -ered, -er·ing, -ers.

    1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority. See synonyms at authorize.

    Or Empowerment:
    Empowerment refers to increasing the political, social or economic strength of individuals. It often involves the empowered developing confidence in their own capacities.

    You argue that I’m making claims from “elites” – like who? Concerned scientists? Yeah, sure, they’re “intellectual elites,” but why does that disqualify their arguments? And, do you forget that the chiefs of corporate and congressional America that have agendas contratrary to fuel efficiency are even more elite, with their self-interests often running contrary to the common good?

    A mandatory fuel efficiency standard isn’t likely to prompt any significant new consumer choice. It isn’t gonna make an 18 MPG SUV get 30 MPG. The standards don’t operate that way in the real world.

    Bullshit – sure, not everyone would buy more fuel efficient cars, but you bet your ass that the number of people that buy for MPG are significant. Ford and GM are just starting to realize this, and have an overwhelming job of playing catch-up with Honda and Toyota, which are dominant in the auto industry – and I argue that this dominance is because they’re leading the way in fuel efficiency, and the domestics missed the bus.

    But, if you and Human Insight and the UCS think you can provide a more platable consumer choice, get into the car-making business. Either GM or Ford would probably be willing to partner with you if you can put up the money to implement your ideas.

    Ha ha, is resorting to bad jokes your way of compensating for a losing argument? Oh, and it’s Honest Insight, FYI.

    And those concepts, elections and petitioning the govt for a redress of grievances, predate Human Insight. So, what they are peddling is not “holding the President accountable”, but pushing their own agenda.

    Huh? Petitioning the govt predates Honest Insight, alright, and the right (no, the responsibility) to “elections and petitioning the govt for a redress of grievances” is Constitutional and part of our value system, not some hidden agenda.

    …there have been a few scientific studies making the case that greater choice isn’t necessarily in the “public’s interest”, but can frequently be the opposite for many people.

    Like what? Let’s talk about them then (I don’t want to ignore any relevant information, if it’s valid).


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