From that poll about whether or not Obama was born in the U.S., this breakdown:
Note that Independents are not anywhere close to the Republicans on this issue.
Independents are a key to winning elections. The real question isn't whether Obama was born in the U.S., but what Independents think about those (Republicans) who think Obama is not the legitimate president of the nation. Is it something that will keep Independents from pulling the R-lever?
RELATED: This St. Petersburg Timesarticle which includes:
Larry Sabato, professor of politics at the University of Virginia, likened the political situation posed by the birthers to that of the conservative John Birch Society in the 1960s. Though the group once enjoyed acceptance in conservative circles, many Republicans cut ties with the Birchers due to their increasingly extremist views that the federal government was filled with Communists, including Republican President Dwight Eisenhower.
Republicans need to follow their predecessors' lead with the birthers, Sabato said, or risk alienating politically necessary moderates in and out of the party. "It's poisoning the bloodstream of their party," he said. "If they lose some nutcases, all the better."
Do you believe that America and Africa were once part of the same continent?
Leading in the "No" category were Republicans (24%Y/47%N) which was an outlier compared to the other groups (although the South was close with 37%N).
Independents were close to Democrats on this question (I: 44%Y/23%N, D: 51%Y/16%N).
There's been a lot of talk about how the Republicans have become a southern party, but these results show that it's better to say that Republicans are the party of bible fundamentalists. They don't think America and Africa were once connected since that couldn't have happened over the last 6,000 years.
With a fundamentalist-religion-based party, which is what the Republicans are now, you cannot use reason to argue for an economic policy, an environmental policy, or a foreign policy. They believe what they believe, and that's that.
Oddly enough, this contingent can be good for Republicans as long as their beliefs are kept hidden from the general electorate. They are firm Republican voters. In the past, they may have been distributed more-or-less evenly between Republicans and Democrats, which would have helped the latter. If you were a Democratic strategist, wouldn't you want a dependable, though small, percentage of voters like that? Well, they aren't available right now.
The way Republicans can benefit from these people is to give them lip service on social issues (gay marriage, abortion, drug policy) to get their votes, but (somehow) signal to the wider electorate that a radical agenda isn't going to be implemented. Reagan did that fairly well. Bush Jr. too. But the failure of moderates or moderate-conservatives in the party make that seem unlikely today. So the Republicans will be seen as a kind of kooky (birther) and overly religious party.
I'm already impressed with the every-two-weeks security update that Microsoft throws at XP machines, triggering a shutdown if I'm not at the monitor (and losing whatever work I may have done but not saved).
These days, Yahoo mail give you the extra feature of odd chat-boxes popping up (for invites from people I've never heard of) that occasionally trigger a massive memory suck, a nearly locked machine, and a delicate hand to properly close the browser (FF3).
It's all good. So I expect even better things from this pair of technology giants going forward.
She's against national health care. But get a load of these lines from her (longish) post: (emp add)
.. what are the government's incentives? I think they're bad ...
... the government goes to elaborate lengths to convince us that we're getting the best possible health care, without actually providing it.
... my assumption is that the government will focus on the apparent at the expense of the hard-to-measure.
[Whatever that's supposed to mean.]
The government is not going to price to some unknowable socially optimal amount of pharma market power.
The one industry where the government is the sole buyer, defense, does not have an encouraging record of cost-effective, innovative procurement.
[But conservatives don't complain about the defense budget.]
[Some years ago] I was, if anything, even more militant than I am now about government takeover of insurance.
Once the government gets into the business of providing our health care, the government gets into the business of deciding whose life matters, and how much.
There are serious problems with her other arguments (like the fact that her allergies and asthma is comparable to a life-ending disease), but this post is focusing on one aspect:
This notion that "the government" is not responsive to voters.
Sure, there are problems with representative democracy (especially in this country where the representation is skewed in the Senate), but it's not like there's no connection. Witness how Social Security hasn't been reduced by "the government" (as much as the Washington Post would like to). In fact, Social Security benefits have gradually expanded over the decades.
McArdle is positing a lazy argument. That if you give "the government" something to do, then it's like handing off authority to an unaccountable entity. That argument can work for anything. But it's not realistic.
CODA: Hadn't read anything substantial by McArdle before. She comes off as a grouch who's not particularly happy in life, which allows here to be tough on the less fortunate since she's being so stoic herself. Ugh.
UPDATE: Via commentor riffle, it turns out that Ezra Klein weighed in on McArdle's post. He has much to say, but it's notable that he picks up on this:
Megan's argument against national health insurance boils down to a visceral hatred of the government.
Tomorrow John Stossel will bash the Canadian health care program:
On 20/20. It will be full of stories about long wait times. Probably skip over the fact that at least those in need get treated or that Canada has overall good health compared to other nations (and with much lower costs). If Stossel's segment is anything like his global-warming-denial one from six years ago, it'll be a joke.
I expect Stossel to get picked apart by various blogs in the following days, but the damage will have already been done.
If you are a (paid) Fox News Channel commentator, you can say anything:
Bill Shine, Fox News senior vice president of programming, told the TVNewswer Web site that Beck had "expressed a personal opinion which represented his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel. And as with all commentators in the cable news arena, he is given the freedom to express his opinions."
With Obama's preferred British-style "single payer" system, costs go up faster compared to private insurance which happens to deliver lower life expectancy only because we have so many people in this country.
Home sales, while still far below the levels of a year ago, have risen for three straight months—a first since 2004. The stock market has rallied 44 percent since March, thanks to renewed optimism and improving earnings from big companies like Goldman Sachs and Apple. In June, seven of the 10 indicators in the Conference Board Leading Economic Index pointed upward, including manufacturing hours worked and unemployment claims. Macroeconomic Advisers, the St. Louis–based consulting firm, says the economy is expanding at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the current quarter. Economic activity "will increase slightly over the remainder of 2009," Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress.
That's not a whole lot. Home sales are low and to say that the stock market and Goldman Sachs are doing well hardly means things are okay in the broader economy.
The article admits that unemployment will be high (and higher) and that whatever recovery we see will be anemic.
Here's the deal: For most Americans, the last decade did not deliver good wage growth. Thus, the borrowing and the resulting asset bubble (in houses). Because this country is not protecting against low-wage labor overseas, and without some sort of European social-insurance/redistributionist policy, the United States labor pool is going to feel the heat from workers in India and China, and that means stagnating or declining wages for two or three decades. Which will certainly feel like and endless recession.
In case you are wondering, the Newsweek essay pegs the recovery on:
The Obama stimulus plan
Broadband (!) which up until til now has hastened job outsourcing.
Electronic health records
That's not much. It's nothing like the tech boom of the 1990's (before the insane dot-com bubble). It's not like post-WW2 industrialization. The Newsweek article is overly optimistic.
OF NOTE: It took 5 writers to come up with the 3,477 word essay. Daniel Gross and four assistants. That's productivity!
The District Attorney's Office reviewed the case and declined to prosecute Officer Lopez in December. Eight days later, he was reissued his weapon and returned to full duty. (...)
[A lawyer involved with the case] said it's also troubling that so many officers apparently sought to dispose of the video, the key evidence in the case, and suffered no consequence after Internal Affairs investigated.
Remember this: CONFIRMATION OF LONG-TERM TRENDS REQUIRE LONG-TERM DATA
All this arguing about what did or did not happen in the last 10 years is a waste of time. Kevin Drum vs Jim Manzi is sort of interesting, if you like to get deep into the statics of noisy data, but it's a diversion.
For the last century, carbon emissions, CO2 atmospheric content, and temperatures have gone up. The generally accepted view is that they are all related, and until carbon emission stop, the trend will continue. Looking at a small segment of the data (for any time period) to argue that temperatures have stalled in their upward trajectory is discounting the long-term model. If people want to discount the long-term model, then they will have to come up with compelling long-term data that makes the case. Such long-term data does not exist (so far). So don't waste your time with arguments from folks like George Will about what happened in the last decade.
Kevin Drum has a post about the retreat from (possible) legalization of pot. In particular, he cites this:
The federal government is not going to pull back on its efforts to curtail marijuana farming operations, Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, said Wednesday in Fresno...."Legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine," he said.
...."Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit," Kerlikowske said in downtown Fresno while discussing Operation SOS — Save Our Sierra — a multiagency effort to eradicate marijuana in eastern Fresno County.
According to the Labor Department, 5 of the 10 occupations expected to add the most jobs through 2016 are “very low paying,” up to a maximum of about $22,000 a year. They include retail sales jobs and home health aides. Another 3 of the 10 are “low paying,” from roughly $22,000 to $31,000, including customer-service representatives, general office clerks and nurses’ aides.
Those are the careers that are left when high paying manufacturing and white collar jobs are shipped overseas.
8 of 10 jobs will be low or very low paying. That means the median income will surely drop over the next decade, which makes you wonder how consumption can stay robust - without borrowing.
Will had another silly op-ed about climate change, including a reference to Mark Steyn that was invalid. But never fear, the FOX Nation has flagged this convincing data point:
Gore's Home State Sets Record Cool Summer Temps
Cool weather has broken a previous low temperature for July 21 in Nashville that was set when Rutherford B. Hayes was president. When the temperature at the National Weather Service station dipped to 58 degrees at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, it wiped out the previous record low for the date of 60 degrees, which was set in 1877.
A low temperature for one day in one place in the world. Voilà, no global warming. Can't you see?
Seeing the difficulty Obama is having with getting health care legislation passed, it's apparent why, so far in his presidency, he's aligned himself more-or-less with the military establishment on various policies (DADT, Afghanistan). Clinton ruffled feathers right away, and that probably dissipated his political capital. Obama won't make the same mistake.
... the Senate on Wednesday rejected a measure allowing a person with a concealed weapon permit in one state to also hide his firearm when visiting another state.
The vote was 58-39 in favor of the provision establishing concealed carry permit reciprocity in the 48 states that have concealed weapons laws. That fell two votes short of the 60 needed to approve the measure ...
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the sponsor, said it would not provide for a national carry permit, and that a visitor to another state would have to obey the limitations of that state, such as bans on concealed weapons in restaurants or other places.
"Law-abiding individuals have the right to self-defense," even when they cross state lines, Thune said, citing the example of truck drivers who need to protect themselves as they travel.
Opponents, however, said the 48 states with permits have a broad range of conditions for obtaining those permits: some such as Alaska and Vermont, give permits to almost all gun owners. Others, such as New York, have firearm training requirements and exclude people with drinking problems or criminal records.
New York Democrat Charles Schumer raised the possibility of his state having to accept gun carriers from states that have few or no restrictions. Thune's proposal, he said, was "the most dangerous piece of legislation to the safety of Americans when it comes to guns since the repeal of the assault weapons ban."
Thune shot back that if a person from South Dakota with a carry permit visited Central Park in New York City, "Central Park will be a much safer place." (...)
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., another sponsor, reminded his colleagues that the NRA and Gun Owners of America were scoring the vote, meaning it would be considered in their election evaluation of lawmakers.
Baucus (D-MT), Bayh (D-IN), Begich (D-AK), Bennet (D-CO), Casey (D-PA) Conrad (D-ND), Dorgan (D-ND), Feingold (D-WI), Hagan (D-NC), Johnson (D-SD) Landrieu (D-LA), Lincoln (D-AR), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Reid (D-NV) Tester (D-MT), Udall (D-CO), Udall (D-NM), Warner (D-VA), Webb (D-VA)
States where both Senators voted Nay are: (in decreasing order of population)
California (11.9%) New York (6.3%) Illinois (4.2%) Ohio (3.7%) Michigan (3.3%) New Jersey (2.8%) Washington (2.1%) Massachusetts (2.1%) Kennedy presumably would have voted Nay Maryland (1.8%) Mikulski presumably would have voted Nay Minnesota (1.7%) Oregon (1.2%) Connecticut (1.2%) Hawaii (0.4%) Rhode Island (0.4%) Delaware (0.3%) Vermont (0.2%)
Which collectively represent 43.6% of the nation. I would have thought it might have been greater, what with the tendency of places with urban areas - and hence larger populations - to be averse to conceal-carrying visitors from other states.
Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told Christian Zionists that U.S. policies in the Middle East must be "firmly grounded" in Judeo-Christian principles.
"Reaching out to the Muslim world may help in creating an environment for peace in the Middle East, but we must insist as Americans that our policies be firmly grounded in the beliefs of the Judeo-Christian tradition upon which this country was founded," said Cantor (R-Va.), the House minority whip and the only Jewish Republican in Congress, in a speech to the Christians United For Israel annual conference in Washington.
Hey Eric, don't try and fool us with this talk of "Judeo-Christian principles". Get rid of the prefix. All this great country needs are "Christian principles".
At some point, however, as economic recovery takes hold, we will need to tighten monetary policy to prevent the emergence of an inflation problem down the road. The Federal Open Market Committee, which is responsible for setting U.S. monetary policy, has devoted considerable time to issues relating to an exit strategy. We are confident we have the necessary tools to withdraw policy accommodation, when that becomes appropriate, in a smooth and timely manner.
What tools? All it takes is a vote by the Fed to raise rates (or reverse policies like quantitative easing). Why make it sound more techo-geek-complicated by talking about "tools"?
Was a kid back then and a big fan of the NASA program.
In the summer of 1969 my mother took me and my sister to England to visit the grandparents. Turned out that the flight back home was on the 20th of July. So I watched the launch from England, saw the splash-down from the U.S., but I never saw the walk on the moon since we were in the air crossing the Atlantic at the time.
I was not pleased. The captain did announce the landing and the passengers applauded at the time, but everyone was tired and there wasn't much one could do in a cramped airplane.
America's unemployment rate recently hit its highest mark in more than 25 years and is expected to CONTINUE CLIMBING. :-(
Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the *personality-driven* political gossip of the day than on the GRAVITY of these challenges. So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be:
American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. ;-) ;-)
There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn't lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive!!!!!!
In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan. For example, the cost of farming will certainly increase, driving down farm incomes while driving up grocery prices. The costs of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also increase. [I'm Bill Kristol and I helped write this.]
We have an important choice to make. Do we want to control our energy supply and its environmental impact????? Or, do we want to outsource it to China, RUSSIA and Saudi Arabia??!??!!??!!!
For so many reasons, we can't afford to kill responsible domestic energy production or **CLOBBER** every American consumer with higher prices.
Did the CIA deliberately keep its own director in the dark about a secret program? The latest storm to break over Langley emerged after the New York Times reported over the weekend that former Vice President Dick Cheney had ordered that the program be kept from Congress's oversight committees. Apparently, CIA Director Leon Panetta was told of the program's existence on June 23, four months after he took over the agency. Within 24 hours, he had canceled it and briefed the congressional oversight committees of its existence.
Makes you wonder what it was if Panetta canceled it so promptly.
Republican party continues to shrink and become more right-wing:
The Young Republicans are moving more and more to be the party of straight whites: (emp add)
Audra Shay, accused of endorsing racial slurs and hate, was elected to lead the Young Republicans yesterday. (...)
The Young Republicans faced a stark choice at their convention in Indianapolis yesterday as they chose their next leader: a center-right twentysomething interested in greater outreach, or a self-described “true conservative” who is almost 40 and spent last week dealing with Daily Beast reports about her beliefs, which are, at best, often hateful, and at worst, downright racist. The delegates, in a vote of 470-415, chose the latter. (...)
“They just took a vote that may have set the party back 30 years,” said the co-founder of HipHopRepublican.com, Lenny McAllister, speaking from the floor of the Hyatt convention hall. “They just voted for a candidate who has a demonstrated tolerance for racial intolerance. She has joked about lynching and then claimed to be a victim. As a black man, I still don’t see what’s funny about that.”
More on Shay here, which includes this observation: (emp add)
[This week] hundreds of Young Republicans—many of whom, tellingly, given the party’s recent troubles with Generation Y voters, are pushing 40 — descend on Indianapolis to chose their leader
Dying party? History says that's unlikely, but the prognosis as about as bad as it can be.
Can't get enough of John McCain, since he's so rarely on the Sunday chat shows. And Bob Shrum! A delight, and, an incredibly effective political manager. Of course, let's not forget the charming Karen Hughes.
I do not understand why this is allowed. The potential for harm is great (especially if the animals get out into the wild) and the upside is the gratification of a very few. The current set of domesticated animals should be enough. (Also, let's not pretend that ferrets are domesticated.)
I believe something has been happening in the GOP over time, that has transformed it from a regular political party to more of a counterculural movement. (...)
These days, it seem that conservatives tend to just do the opposite of what liberals do. It’s no longer enough to just offer conservative solutions to problems, one must denounce the problem itself as a liberal plot to turn the United States into a socialist republic. While Democrats are interested in health care reform and pushing for a public option, the Republicans either balk or go as far as saying there isn’t really a problem with health care. The same goes for issues like global warming. (...)
The problem that Republicans face in the near future is between those who see the GOP as a political party, and those who see it as a lifestyle. My guess is that the lifestyle conservatives will be in charge for sometime. How long, I don’t know. But a lifestyle party isn’t going to be a winning party, able to compete with the Democrats.
God Bless America and all its white people! Who was that singer at the beginning? He was really talented! He even made the words rhyme. I had a tea party at my place on the fourth of July and it was a blast! I live on a farm and spent the whole day teabagging all the animals before my neighbors showed up and the serious teabagging started. I can't wait for the next one! Get your filthy hands off my gun you liberal wimp! Woohooo!
UPDATE: Looks like they pulled it. Should have gotten a screen shot.
He's the guy who was the only vote against a resolution authorizing the placement of a marker inside the new Capitol Visitor Center to acknowledge the work of slaves in its construction.
Pressed later for an explanation, he said: (emp add)
"... of the 645,000 Africans that were brought here to be forcibly put into slavery in the United States, there were over 600,000 people that gave their lives in the Civil War to put an end to slavery. And I don’t see the monument to that in the Congressional Visitor Center, and I think it’s important that we have a balanced depiction of history."
600,000 is the total deaths of Union and Confederate forces. The actual number "putting an end to slavery" was 360,000.
What's puzzling is why didn't the Republican leadership tell this guy to vote yes and shut the hell up. The resolution costs nothing. If blacks read the news about the resolution and learn that the only vote against it came from a Republican, that doesn't help their outreach to African-Americans.
The fact that in the wake of Palin's resignation, a substantial number of Republicans retain positive views of her (even more than before!) tells you all you need to know about where the Republican party stands at the moment. It's the party of Limbaugh and Palin - with nothing to offer in the policy arena - and that's a severe handicap.
Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Finance Committee and a key player on health care, has indicated some openness to compromising on abortion rights in exchange for Republican support for a final reform bill.
By trading away medical coverage, you get a few not-needed Republican votes and no change to Democratic "ownership" of the final legislation.
Such a move hurts the Democrats' constituents that need abortion services. Hurts Democratic politicians as a result. It's brilliant bipartisanship in action.
Someone wrote to Dreher about Palin, but also said this:
This story [regarding Palin] shows how small and "normal" our state is. Our 10 year old daughter is involved in the first ever American Heritage Girls Troop to start up in Alaska. This scouting organization is the Christian answer to the liberal agenda and changes in Girls Scouts of America.
What is the liberal agenda of the Girls Scouts?
What's their nefarious plan? Is there a mind-altering substance in their Thin Mints? Should we be worried, or extremely worried?
Via John Cole, this transcript of Anderson Cooper talking to Sarah Palin's spokeswoman, Meg Stapelton: (emp add)
COOPER: So, when it -- when it comes to those ethics complaints, Governor Palin said that -- she said -- and I quote -- "It is pretty insane. My staff and I spend most of our day dealing with this stuff, instead of progressing our state now. I know that I promised no more politics as usual, but this isn't what anyone had in mind for Alaska."
Is it really true she spends most of her day dealing with this stuff? And -- and, if so, isn't that what a leader is supposed to do, even in the face of frivolous charges, you know, leading?
STAPLETON: I think she is leading right now by saying, "I'm not going to do the same old thing."
I mean, you know her by now, Anderson. And you know that she is a very independent person, a very spirited person. She is not wired just to say, OK, I know that my sitting here is causing millions of dollars to go down the drain, and I know that I have got certain values and ideals that I want to progress, and I have got to spend time behind the desk, so I will just keep doing that.
What she is saying, OK, I'm not going to let any more of Alaska's dollars be wasted, any more of Alaska's time wasted. I know I'm not running for reelection. I know my lieutenant governor and I have the same exact goals. So, I'm going to...
COOPER: But what if every governor made that decision? I mean, if every politician who decided, well, I'm not going to run for reelection, so I'm just going to resign, I mean, that is not leadership.
STAPLETON: It is leadership, Anderson, because she can effect greater change, far greater change, in the United States, for the United States, and for Alaska away from the governor's seat.
Okay, I've been focusing too much on that website and will cut back, but it's so interesting to see what they do over there. This week they have a story/teaser that reads: (emp add)
President Barack Obama wanted to put a human face on his plans to overhaul health care, and a Virginia supporter did just that Wednesday. Fighting back tears, Debby Smith, 53, told Obama of her kidney cancer and her inability to obtain health insurance or hold a job. The president hugged her -- she's a volunteer for his political operation -- and called her "exhibit A" in an unsustainable system that is too expensive and complex for millions of Americans.
The outrage here is that Smith was a suporter of Obama. And here's how the FOX Nation titled their post:
Obama Busted Stacking Town Hall... What If Bush Had?
Yeah! What if Bush had? Because you know he never, ever stacked his meetings or barred non-supporters from key events. But, to take up the FOX News rhetorical question, if Bush had, you can be sure that Fox News would have been all over it.
The point of this is that, at least for now, the right-wing (and Fox especially) is living in an alternative-world. Past "facts" are not to be bothered with. Whatever argument you make today is sufficient, and consistency is of no value. It's pure fantasy.
Jack Shafer writes about changes in journalism: (emp add)