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The thing I hate most about conservative smears like “Obama is a socialist” is the easily discovered fact that the constituency least mollycoddled by the Obama administration is the far-left.  I mean, think about it, could you imagine the Republicans telling off their teabagger rightwing base like this?
Joe Biden tells the base to “quit whining” and get out there and “look at the alternatives. This president has done an incredible job. He’s kept his promises.”

And last night on Lawrence O’Donnell’s new show, he said: “Those who didn’t get everything they wanted, it’s time to just buck up.”

I mean, fergawdsake, single-payer healthcare was never even uttered by administration officials during the debate and anyone wanted to pipe up about it was shut up right quick.  Then they ultimately get behind a compromise plan that was basically poured from the same mold as the Republican alternative to Hillarycare in the 90s and, what, that makes him a communist?

I really don’t get it.  I don’t get the wildly false conservative smears that Obama is very much left-wing at all and I certainly don’t get how stupid the Democrats are being about the run-up to the midterm elections.  I agree with the crux of what Biden said above (i.e., What are you gonna do?  Vote for a Republican?) but there are a lot of irrational simps on our side of the aisle too who will be all-too-happy to stomp away from the voting booth, dragging their toys behind them.  Telling them to quit whining ain’t gonna help.

Update:  However… I somehow find this approach by Obama to be more compelling and savvier in terms of the politics:

“One closing remark that I want to make: It is inexcusable for any Democrat or progressive right now to stand on the sidelines in this midterm election. There may be complaints about us not having gotten certain things done, not fast enough, making certain legislative compromises. But right now, we’ve got a choice between a Republican Party that has moved to the right of George Bush and is looking to lock in the same policies that got us into these disasters in the first place, versus an administration that, with some admitted warts, has been the most successful administration in a generation in moving progressive agendas forward.

“The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible.

Everybody out there has to be thinking about what’s at stake in this election and if they want to move forward over the next two years or six years or 10 years on key issues like climate change, key issues like how we restore a sense of equity and optimism to middle-class families who have seen their incomes decline by five percent over the last decade. If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we’d better fight in this election. And right now, we are getting outspent eight to one by these 527s that the Roberts court says can spend with impunity without disclosing where their money’s coming from. In every single one of these congressional districts, you are seeing these independent organizations outspend political parties and the candidates by, as I said, factors of four to one, five to one, eight to one, 10 to one.

“We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up. Bringing about change is hard — that’s what I said during the campaign. It has been hard, and we’ve got some lumps to show for it. But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.

Wow, what a surprise.  A new Pew survey shows that Americans consider themselves to be a “deeply religious people” but turn out to be droolingly ignorant about their own religion, and others.  Guess who knows the most about religion?  The Atheists:

Americans are by all measures a deeply religious people, but they are also deeply ignorant about religion.

Researchers from the independent Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life phoned more than 3,400 Americans and asked them 32 questions about the Bible, Christianity and other world religions, famous religious figures and the constitutional principles governing religion in public life.

On average, people who took the survey answered half the questions incorrectly, and many flubbed even questions about their own faith.

Those who scored the highest were atheists and agnostics, as well as two religious minorities: Jews and Mormons. The results were the same even after the researchers controlled for factors like age and racial differences.

“Even after all these other factors, including education, are taken into account, atheists and agnostics, Jews and Mormons still outperform all the other religious groups in our survey,” said Greg Smith, a senior researcher at Pew.

This is the best quote from the article:
“I have heard many times that atheists know more about religion than religious people.  Atheism is an effect of that knowledge, not a lack of knowledge. I gave a Bible to my daughter. That’s how you make atheists.”  — Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists
(h/t BJ)

I agree with Jonah Goldberg that public schools are US liberalism’s greatest failure.

This gives me some pause, as Goldberg’s analysis can be pretty shoddy at times. In particular it’s not illuminating to compare DC Public School spending to the GDP of Belize.  Better to highlight a country with schools that perform well and compare its per-pupil budget using a cost of living adjustment like PPP.

But the central points are sound: the US overspends and underperforms, and left-liberalism is responsible for this failure as it basically controls everything related to the education sector.  It’s their baby.

Given that we’re overspending and underperforming, clearly we shouldn’t be listening to pleas to throw more money at the problem.  We need to reduce spending and use existing money more efficiently. And obviously the biggest obstacle to this are the entrenched interests of existing educators and their portrayal of reformers as being against teachers.  We saw this recently with the ousting of DC Mayor Adrian Fenty for trying to pass reforms over the objection of public school teacher unions.

As a libertarian individualist, my favored solution is school choice: put all per-pupil public spending in the hands of parents, and let them put it towards educating their children at any institution, public or private.  That’s how you get a competitive market in which all schools strive to provide the best value for the money. To me it seems like a clear-eyed and fair solution that would be a significant improvement from the status quo.

Obviously US liberals–particularly public teachers, aptly described as the “base of the base” of the Democratic party–have raised all kinds of self-interested objections, some of which might touch on legitimate tradeoffs.  But I don’t see how they have anything resembling a case that school choice is bad on net, and to me the debate seems to have become as fruitless as arguing with opponents of abortion and climate change deniers.

So let’s set the issue aside for the sake of argument: suppose we don’t get school choice.  What’s the alternative? Where are US liberalism’s proposals to fix the mess it has wrought?  When will US Democrats stop demagoguing for more education spending the way Republicans do for tax cuts?  Where are the real solutions?

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Let it be known that after two years of online sniping here on Library Grape, Gherald and I finally met up for an unprecedented diplomatic summit some grub while he was passing through.  We are both still alive.

Oh, and the one thing we came to agreement on while he was here was that the most important thing to implant in an ignorant fuck’s brain to make them more humanly potentiated is an inquiring mind.

So say we all.

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Since watching the Democrats the last couple of weeks has been like watching someone trying to commit suicide by driving their clown car off a cliff but running over their foot before they can get it out of the parking lot, I’m going to take Anne Laurie’s advice and not think about politics today.

I will note that since Virginia has reaffirmed her right to execute the severely mentally handicapped, I’d be worried if I were a tea partier.

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Beer distributors and the police.  Ryan Grim does a nice job on the politics:

The California Beer & Beverage Distributors is spending money in the state to oppose a marijuana legalization proposition on the ballot in November, according to records filed with the California Secretary of State. The beer sellers are the first competitors of marijuana to officially enter the debate; backers of the initiative are closely watching liquor and wine dealers and the pharmaceutical industry to see if they enter the debate in the remaining weeks…

Public Safety First is largely funded by a different industry whose interests are threatened by the legalization of marijuana: law enforcement. Police forces are entitled to keep property seized as part of drug raids and the revenue stream that comes from waging the drug war has become a significant source of support for local law enforcement. Federal and state funding of the drug war is also a significant supplement to local forces’ budgets.

 (via Marginal Revolution)

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