“The President’s speech today will be viewed by terrorists as a victory,” said Chambliss, who recently golfed with the president, in a statement. > more ... (1 comments)
… there’s no doubt about how mad Republicans are about Benghazi. 41% say they consider this to be the biggest political scandal in American history
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Four researchers at three different institutions joined forces to ask a simple question: why is it that people have such extreme positions on subjects that are rather complicated and nuanced?
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Interesting (and not at all unexpected) finding to come out of a study probing the correlation between political predisposition and openness to energy efficiency:
All participants were asked a bit about their demographic information and their political leanings. Then, one set was asked a series of questions about energy efficiency, which gauged how much the participants valued things like energy independence, limiting carbon emissions, or simply saving money on energy.
In the initial analysis, each of these factors appeared to be a negative for the conservatives, which didn’t make a lot of sense—who actually devalues saving money on energy? But the lack of enthusiasm for curbing carbon emissions among the conservatives was rather dramatic, so the authors separated that out. When it was controlled for, it turns out that the conservatives in the study actually valued energy independence and saving money more than the more liberal study participants. It’s just that they disliked the thought of avoiding carbon emissions so much that it overwhelmed these tendencies.
Anything to fuck those dirty hippies. (via)
This Times article is simply horrible. The article implies that it’s some deep failing that Obama was unable to twist enough Democratic arms on background checks, ignoring the fact that even with every Dem on board the filibuster would have ensured it wouldn’t have mattered. So the idea of whether Mark Begich feels intimidated or not is moot. With only four GOP votes, the venture was doomed to failure. People looking for a place to vent ought to focus either on the filibuster or the power of the NRA, not on Obama. This one really isn’t his fault.
Admittedly, a lack of fight has been a problem for the Obama Administration in places. But it’s been a very small problem in the grand scheme of things. The major problems do not include a lack of fight so much as poor assumptions and lousy priorities. The former comes in the form of baseless assumptions that Republicans are always close to pulling the trigger on a grand bargain and thus must always be placated and not have their feelings tweaked, and the latter comes in the simple reality that, with some exceptions*, if it won’t reduce the debt, the White House simply doesn’t care all that much. Put these together and they account for most of the teeth-gritting, frown-generating moments of the Obama Era. Endless health-care delays? Negotiating strategies that even little kids could outwit? The Smoot-Hawley-esque Budget Control Act of 2011, which included sequestration? Letting Tim Geithner guard the henhouse of FinReg? Shrugging at a climate bill? That’s most of them, and they’re all easily explained by one or both of the two flaws. Toss in an inexplicable fear of conservative talkers and a misguided attempt to placate coal country and you get a few more, like the Plan B decision, delay of climate regs, the indefensible SMOG decision, and so on. But really, between fear, assumptions and priorities, there’s really not much failure unaccounted for. Additionally, in those situations, Obama was in a position to act, and his actions were flawed. With gun control, Obama was in no position to act, making blaming him silly.
Since a lot of critiques of this argument involve Aaron Sorkin, I think it’s time to identify the flaw with Sorkin’s politics. There are different kinds of liberals out there. One kind believes that all you have to do is put the best argument out there and you will win (this assumes that dreaded cliche, the “free marketplace of ideas” along with the supremacy of reason, a curious Victorian idea whose time has long since passed). That’s it! If you don’t win, it’s because you didn’t put the idea out there enough, or didn’t phrase it right, or whatever. Sorkin obviously believes this, and so do quite a few (most?) liberals. But it’s completely wrong and glib and stupid and probably damaging too. Making the big speech is merely the beginning. After that comes organizing, action, and all the other hard work of molding public opinion. I do think the background check episode will wind up having helped. No, we didn’t win, but things will be different from now on. The NRA is never going to command the same prestige it used to. They don’t own the issues, they own the politicians, and politicians change. The NRA were revealed to be extreme, unctuous nutcases whose vision of a world in flames doesn’t have any appeal outside the Right. It’s never going to be the same again. I think so, anyway, and I’m not usually the “find the silver lining” type.
* I actually think Obama played gun control about right. Immigration is the other major outlier here–you could make a bankshot case that making undocumented workers legal, taxpaying citizens would have some impact on the deficit, but that’s a long way off. I think Obama’s support for it is partly political and partly out of social justice concerns, with a small fraction about possible long-term revenue gains.
The predictability of this makes my already bleeding mind bleed:
Remember those warnings about how instead of welcoming President Obama’s adoption of Chained CPI, Republicans would continue to deny him a budget deal and attack him for proposing to cut Social Security?
Well Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) — who also happens to be chairman of the House GOP’s re-election committee — just showed how it’s done, saying Obama’s budget “lays out a shocking attack on seniors.”
“I’ll tell you when you’re going after seniors the way he’s already done on Obamacare, taken $700 billion out of Medicare to put into Obamacare and now coming back at seniors again, I think you’re crossing that line very quickly here in terms of denying access to seniors for health care in districts like mine certainly and around the country,” he said on CNN Wednesday afternoon.
The upshot of the scandal involving NY State Sen. Malcolm Smith is that it’s only half shocking. He chose a stupid, illegal avenue to try to become NYC Mayor, but his stupidity at least we knew about when he and a handful of Democrats decided to bolt their party’s caucus and join with the GOP.
Why was this stupid? Because it was such a short-sighted and illogical move. The State of New York was, until Al Smith and FDR, a reliably Republican state. Since then, it’s gone the GOP way in a competitive elections one time, in 1948, when there was a favorite son on the GOP ticket, and come on, it was 1948! Harry Truman won Utah. Still, realignments in US politics tend to go top down and take a long time to complete. In Texas, the state first broke with Democrats for Ike. Then they elected John Tower. Then came other statewide officials, governors, and an increasing number of U.S. Congressmen. Finally, the coup de grace occurred in 2002, when Republicans retook the legislature. It took, in other words, nearly fifty years for the state to go from completely Democrat to completely Republican, and it was entirely top-down. New York is one of the most Democratic states presidentially, hasn’t had a GOP senator since the late nineties, and the GOP has about a handful of Congresspeople left out of nearly thirty. The last thing they won statewide was in 2002, a decade ago. If you assume that George Pataki is the equivalent to Ann Richards here, then that means the GOP’s purchase on the legislature is essentially doomed, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s gone forever. And that does seem to be the case: you went from several decades of GOP control of the Senate, to a brief Democratic takeover in 2010, to a bare GOP majority in 2011 after the strongest GOP year since 1994 (i.e. as good as it’s ever gonna get), to a situation now where they don’t hold a majority and need a couple shortsighted turncoats to form a coalition. The trend here is not good for them, to put it mildly, and is driven by the fundamentals of realignment. To essentially screw over your own party in order to seize power that simple logic and history says will not last very long is really incredibly stupid. Additionally, the collapse of the GOP in the legislature has been delayed mostly by Michael Bloomberg’s generous help to State Senate Republicans for his own reasons–the government structure of New York State makes the City highly dependent on what happens in Albany, which he undeniably has an interest in participating in–but that help will likely stop flowing next year when he’s finally out of office. And then nature will take its course.
So, we knew that Smith was stupid to join the rest of the IDC, at least. Of course, other states have had bipartisan coalitions in recent memory, Alaska being one. But in Alaska, Republicans left their caucus because of the state’s legendary corruption. The Independent Democratic Caucus left the Democratic Caucus explicitly because of Smith, who ironically joined them. With his intelligence and awareness, he fit right in.
Jack Kemp used to say, “No one cares what you know until they know you care.” … The perception, revealed in polling, that the GOP does not care about people is doing great harm to the Party and its candidates. …
Our policies and actions must take into account that the middle class has struggled mightily and that far too many of our citizens live in poverty.
Our job as Republicans is to champion private growth so people will not turn to the government in the first place. But we must make sure that the government works for those truly in need, helping them so they can quickly get back on their feet. We should be driven by reform, eliminating, and fixing what is broken, while making sure the government’s safety net is a trampoline, not a trap.
If it wasn’t so sad, you could almost be amused by the one-dimensional infantile thinking in there.
“Gee whiz, if we just go in there and (a) help plutocrats become more rich, and (b) reform [i.e., gut] some of that
hateful socialism safety net, all those capable, upwardly mobile wage-earners will bounce right off the public dole in a few weeks and go on to make enough middle class money to support a family.”
Oh right, I guess they forgot that the hyper-financialization of our economy over the past few decades has driven a huge share of corporate earnings into executive pay and gargantuan piles of hoarded cash that no one knows what to do with. In a period of never-ending record corporate profits, employment rolls remain frozen (or contracting) – driven largely by employers taking advantage of the financial crisis to squeeze existing workers even harder to make them do more work for the same (often inadequate) pay. Why hire more moochers when you can just add 5 more tasks to everyone else’s job description? After all, they should be thanking Jesus that they even HAVE a job, amirite??
Perhaps Republicans might want to ruminate on the millions of hard-working families who work three or more jobs and still have to collect food stamps because their wages, in real terms, have continued to decline year after year. Maybe they want to ponder the Sophie’s Choice millions of people have to make between relying on public assistance or going to work at a shitty job that pays hardly anything and (naturally) offers no health insurance – in many cases because someone in the family is sick, and the loss of health care coverage would be too financially devastating.
But no, Republicans. Keep on keeping on with your heartless “All people need is a kick in the ass to get them out of poverty and make them stop sucking off the government teat.” Never stop believing that larding up corporate balance sheets will trickle down largesse upon the little people. Continue to have faith that tearing down government will result in the private sector choosing to do the right thing all by themselves.
Because eventually even the idiots who don’t know it yet will catch on.
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