All of a sudden, right-wingers love polls again.

And, as always, the so-called liberal media are not liberal at all. The news business is about business and this week the business involves Romney’s “stunning” comeback. The reversal in fortune will, no doubt, generate interest and thus revenue.

The source for all the Romney hype is a Pew Research Center poll that shows a dramatic turnaround in the horse race:

That same polling firm conducted a poll before the first debate, and it showed Obama with a 51-43 lead.

And now the gender gap is gone. Yes, gone. Almost overnight, according to this poll, the 18 point advantage President Obama had among women voters has disappeared. It’s 47-47 now, droves of women apparently now enlisting on the side of the aggressors in the War On Women.

One glaring micro-result of this poll is that before the debate Mr. Obama enjoyed a 52-35 advantage over Romney on being “a strong leader,” and now it is 44-44. That is breathtaking, and shows how much damage Obama’s debate performance did to his reputation.

Perhaps more telling, though, is that Mr. Obama has lost ground to Romney on the “Is honest and truthful” polling. Again, that is not a typo. Before the debate Obama was considered much more honest and truthful, enjoying a 14 point advantage. The latest results show the President with only a 5 point advantage.

That’s right. After all the Romney-Ryan campaign subterfuge, after all the lies Romney has told, after all the flips and flops he has engineered, after that unbelievably revealing “47%” secretly-recorded video, voters almost see him as honest and truthful as Mr. Obama. That, to me, is the real news in this poll.

And although the President did have a poor debate performance, that performance is not the cause of the change in these honest-truthful numbers. Romney lied through his pearly whites during that debate, and although Mr. Obama failed to call him out on most of them, journalists—mainstream journalists—have failed to do their job and point out the lies to the wider public who doesn’t get their news from MSNBC or The Huffington Post.

Instead, the Beltway Press gives us a variant of “both sides do it.” Both sides fudge the truth and round off the corners of the facts. Both sides. One is no worse than the other. That’s what I hear in the mainstream press.

Oh, you can tune into some programs on MSNBC and hear a lot of chatter about Romney’s utter untruthfulness. You can see his false statements juxtaposed with the truth or his prior statements compared to his present statements, which in many cases are complete reversals. You can visit HuffPo and see the same thing.

But mostly in the mainstream press the idea is that Romney and Obama are both—equally—guilty of spinning, of misleading, of lying. All of which allows Romney to say one thing one day and say another thing on another day, and when the Obama campaign calls him on it, it gets lost in the noise about “both sides do it.”

I will give you just one example of how Romney can say something in September (at least that is when it was discovered) and then completely contradict it in October, without so much as a whimper from big-time journalists on television.

On Monday, Romney gave a much-touted foreign policy speech. Here is the headline from a piece by Rick Ungar, “The Token Lefty” on Forbes:

“Lies and Reversals” is certainly what that speech entailed. Ungar listed as a lie Romney’s claim that Obama has not signed any new free-trade agreements in the past three years. But Obama signed agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Colombia a year ago. So, Romney told a bold-faced lie.

But Ungar, a liberal writer whose audience is numbered only in the thousands and not the millions the networks attract, makes a more important point about Romney’s foreign policy speech, one that should be important to all Americans. Remember when Romney said the following in his “47%” speech (highlight mine):

I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way. So what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.

Hope. Passivity. Romney’s statement, for which he received some criticism when it was revealed, announces hope and passivity as his strategy on those “thorny issues” in the Middle East.

Yet on Monday, Romney criticized Mr. Obama this way:

I know the President hopes for a safer, freer, and a more prosperous Middle East allied with the United States. I share this hope. But hope is not a strategy. We cannot support our friends and defeat our enemies in the Middle East when our words are not backed up by deeds, when our defense spending is being arbitrarily and deeply cut, when we have no trade agenda to speak of, and the perception of our strategy is not one of partnership, but of passivity.

Not only did Romney slander President Obama with the charge about defense spending “being arbitrarily and deeply cut” (it is not) and the charge about the trade agenda (which, as we have seen was based on a lie), but Romney repudiated his own prior stated position on hope and passivity, instead attributing it to President Obama! This guy is unbleepingbelievable.

Now, at the very least, one would expect that the morning after such a breathtaking reversal of a position Romney advanced in secret, behind closed doors, when he thought only fat cats were listening, that the mainstream press would call out Romney and his campaign for such a self-serving maneuver, especially on such an important issue.

Uh, no. Just this morning I surveyed mainstream news coverage—I’m talking mainstream news coverage here not partisan programming—via the CBS and NBC morning shows (these two networks also happen to be “liberal” in the minds of hysterical media critics in the conservative talkosphere).

Beginning the 7:00am C.S.T. segment, Rudy Giuliani was on CBS and John McCain, making his one-millionth TV appearance, was on NBC. These two gentlemen specialize in slandering the President, which they do often and well. The topics were, naturally, the debate “bounce” and Romney’s foreign policy speech yesterday. Here’s the respective headlines from those appearances:

You can read these articles and you can watch the segments, but you will not see any mention of that “47%” speech in which Romney talked about hope and passivity in the Middle East. Not a word. Not one bleeping word. Thus these Romney surrogates were not challenged on that issue in front of the millions of viewers who get their news in the morning via “trusted” news sources, CBS and NBC. Thus Romney gets away with yet another flop, another round of deceit.

Thus it is that folks begin to see Obama and Romney as pretty much equally “honest and truthful,” which can only work to Romney’s advantage, especially since he has shown, as I have said from the beginning, his willingness to say anything, absolutely anything, to become president.

With help from mainstream journalists, grease guns in hand, Romney may enter the White’s House as the greasiest presidential candidate in modern history.

A Black Chunk Of Republican Economics

On Wednesday the Pew Research Center released a report titled, “The Lost Decade of the Middle Class: Fewer, Poorer, Gloomier.” I want to highlight just one part of the report:

For the half century following World War II, American families enjoyed rising prosperity in every decade—a streak that ended in the decade from 2000 to 2010, when inflation-adjusted family income fell for the middle income as well as for all other income groups, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. 

You don’t have to be Stephen Hawking to connect what happened in the last decade to the policies of the political party in charge when things went south. Here’s a better graph that shows the damage:

That last little black chunk of negative growth is the George W. Bush-Republican Party legacy, the result of a brand of economics that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are at this moment weirdly championing as the solution to our slow recovery from the ravages of that black chunk of negative growth. Go figure that one out.

Here, in case your eyesight isn’t what it used to be:

Say what you want about Bill Clinton (and I have said plenty of negative stuff myself), if you look back at the decade he dominated, a decade in which taxes were raised to pay for the government people wanted, a decade that saw the budget come into balance, and a decade that saw millions upon millions of new jobs created, you have to admit that the following commercial with its simple message is something folks ought to pay attention to:

Disturbed And Disturbing Democrats

There is always some correlation between what pollsters call “engagement” with an upcoming election and the eventual electoral turnout on election day. Just how well prior engagement and turnout correlate is a matter of debate, but the news from the latest in-depth Pew Research survey is not good news for Democrats in terms of a voter interest gap in the November election.

While it is true that more Democrats are juiced about their candidate than Republicans are juiced about Etch-A-Romney, this bothers me a lot:

Republicans hold the edge on several turnout measures, in contrast to 2008 when Democrats had leads – some quite substantial – on nearly every indicator. More Republican voters than Democratic voters are giving quite a lot of thought to the election (73% of Republicans vs. 66% of Democrats) and paying very close attention to election news (45% vs. 37%). In 2008, Democrats held leads on both interest measures, the first time that had occurred in campaigns dating to 1992.

Moreover, GOP voters are more likely than Democrats to say it really matters who wins the 2012 election (72% vs. 65%). Four years ago, Democrats were more likely than Republicans to say it really mattered who prevailed.

How can it be that only about two-thirds of the Democrats polled believe it “really matters” who wins? What narcotic, legal or illegal, is being ingested by the one-third of Democrats who don’t think it really matters? Whatever it is, Democratic leaders had better figure out how to pound reality into the heads of these disturbed and disturbing Democrats in the next four months or all of us will need narcotics to endure the reality of a Romney administration.

Racial Inequality: An Assault On White Americans?

The following is a rather lengthy piece, probably too long for the Internet these days, but for anyone interested in the problems we still have with inequality in America, particularly racial inequality, you will hopefully find it worth your time should you undertake the task of reading it. 

I was listening to NPR on Saturday morning and I heard this:

The Pew Research Center recently found that the median white household has net assets worth 20 times that of the median black household and 18 times that of a Hispanic family — assets such as housing, savings and investments, minus any debt.

So, I went to the Pew Research Center site and found that its analysis was based on 2009 government data on wealth in America.  Indeed, the data demonstrated that there is an alarming disparity between the net worth of whites compared to blacks and Hispanics and that the gap has increased dramatically since 2005. 

And as the following chart demonstrates, just as we might expect, an economic downturn—the Great Recession in this case—is much harder on those who have less than on those who have more*:

Now, I want to explore a typical know-nothing conservative response to the Pew Research Center analysis from a website that represents mainstream conservatism these days:  The Chairman of the Board of RedState is Erick Erickson, a CNN—I repeat, a CNN—commentator.  Here is part of a published response to the Pew study of income disparity between whites and black and Hispanics:

This whole charade about racial inequality is just another assault on white Americans who get up and go to work every day and pay taxes and do the right thing. You know, like those Tea Party people. Tens of millions of blacks, on the other hand, have been taught by the Democrat party to be irresponsible, live on the dole, have no cares about illegitimacy or sloth, and complain like hell about their lot in life. Because that is what the Democrats teach to all Americans.

Southwest Missouri’s congressman, Ozark Billy Long, once had posted on his 2010 campaign website (the page has since been scrubbed) that liberals “wish to do away with the moral center of our nation.” Perhaps what he meant by that is similar to what the writer on RedState meant, I don’t know.

But I do know that the RedState writer represents a lot of folks on the Right, a lot of white folks who believe that those “irresponsible” blacks are the way they are because they are morally deficient.  And they believe that they are morally deficient largely because of liberalism.  Here’s more from the RedState-published writer on the Pew Research Center study:

This is a sham. Go and listen to older blacks talk about their lives in the 1930s or 1940s or 1950s before their “civil rights” were granted. Many of them talk wistfully and longingly about a world of close families and safe communities where blacks cared about one another. Because despite their lack of many rights in those years, blacks had four things that liberals and the Democrats have since destroyed – they had their strong families, their businesses, their churches and their morals.

Today the Democrat party has wiped out all four and reduced tens of millions of black Americans to dependency, irresponsibility, violence and stupidity.

The implication here, which one confronts much too frequently, is that blacks were much better off as victims of Jim Crow, or better yet, slavery, than they are as victims of liberal do-gooders who coddle them and want them to have “civil rights.”  Who can forget what Republican congressman Trent Franks, one of the most conservative members of the House, said last year:

Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery.

Or who can forget the Iowa Christian group, Family Leader, that talked some Republican presidential candidates into signing its pledge which included:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

The brazen claim  underlying all this nonsense is that liberals are to blame for not only the economic condition of minorities, particularly blacks, but liberals are also to blame for the deterioration of the black family and community.

It so happens that I have been re-reading some old books, some from the 1960s, written by my one-time intellectual hero, William F. Buckley.  Surely even RedStaters would welcome the father of modern conservatism—their own political father in so many ways—into their Tea Party?  Well, I’m not so sure.

In 1965 Mr. Buckley acknowledged that white people—white people!—were indeed morally responsible for contributing to what he called “the helplessness and despair that breed ignorance and lawlessness [among so many Negroes].” In his 1966 book The Unmaking of a Mayor, Mr. Buckley quoted without contradiction a 1965  New York Times article about him:

He [Buckley] said that Negroes should be given opportunities to advance to justice and to “the kind of special treatment that might make up for centuries of oppression.”

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the famous Tulsa-born Democrat and sociologist that Republican conservatives admire—Buckley was and George Will is a fan—spent a lot of time thinking and writing about blacks in America. In a famous report in 1965 for the Department of Labor, he described the beginnings of the “liberal’ efforts—it was the Kennedy-Johnson Administrations—on the part of the federal government to achieve “Negro equality.”  Notice the dates:

First, beginning with the establishment of the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity and on to the enactment of the Manpower Development and Training Act of 1962, the Federal government has launched a major national effort to redress the profound imbalance between the economic position of the Negro citizens and the rest of the nation that derives primarily from their unequal position in the labor market. Second, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 began a major national effort to abolish poverty, a condition in which almost half of Negro families are living. Third, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 marked the end of the era of legal and formal discrimination against Negroes and created important new machinery for combating covert discrimination and unequal treatment.

So, you can see that the liberal efforts at the federal level to comprehensively right historic wrongs done to black folks didn’t begin in earnest until 1962.  The problem for RedStaters and other teapartiers is that the deterioration in black communities they blame on liberals had begun well before 1962

In The Unmaking of a Mayor, Buckley quoted at length a passage from Beyond the Melting Pot, an influential book on race and ethnicity published in 1963 by Nathan Glazer (another sociologist that conservatives admired and still admire) and Daniel Moynihan.  Again, pay attention to the date:

The rate of illegitimacy among Negroes is about fourteen or fifteen times that among whites. When we find such an impossible situation as that discussed in the New York press in 1960, in which babies are abandoned in hospital by their mothers, and live there for months on end, for there is no room for them anywhere else, most of them are Negro children…

More Negro children live apart from parents and relatives; more live in institutions; more live in crowded homes; more have lodgers and other related and unrelated persons living with them.

Broken homes and illegitimacy do not necessarily mean poor upbringing and emotional problems. But they mean it more often when the mother is forced to work (as the Negro mother so often is), when the father is incapable of contributing to support (as the Negro father so often is), when fathers and mothers refuse to accept responsibility for and resent their children, as Negro parents, overwhelmed by difficulties, so often do, and when the family situation, instead of being clear-cut and with defined roles and responsibilities, is left vague and ambiguous (as it so often is in Negro families).

An impartial reader can see that the problems in the black community, however one characterizes them, existed before—as I am about to argue,  long before—the popular efforts by liberals, both Democratic and Republican, to help them.  

I am persuaded that the effects of slavery—the protracted and utter disregard for even  the most basic human rights of blacks—are still present today, albeit in subtle forms.  Slaves were often not allowed to marry and those who were married were not legally protected from forced separation, and couples were often separated for sale.  Children were also often similarly separated from their parents. This abject powerlessness over family stability, while not infecting each and every black man or woman at the time or in the future, undoubtedly had a profound effect on the evolution of black social behavior after the Civil War.

The extreme negative socialization that slavery represented simply cannot be ignored in any analysis of the cultural condition of black folks then or now. Add to this the economic powerlessness of post-war “liberated” blacks, who though technically free were in reality still prisoners of their past and strangers in an unwelcoming society.  Thus, the integration of blacks into the larger white culture was bound to be difficult and troublesome, despite the fact that exceptions abounded and still abound to the rule.

Which leads us to 21st century America, where the effects of years of domination, years of unstable socialization and acculturation are still apparent, still active, still in need of remediation.

We can accept the fantastical notion, expressed by RedStaters and other conservatives, that pointing out the disparity in incomes and wealth between whites and blacks “is just another assault on white Americans who get up and go to work every day and pay taxes and do the right thing.”

And we can accept the criticism that,

Tens of millions of blacks…have been taught by the Democrat party to be irresponsible, live on the dole, have no cares about illegitimacy or sloth, and complain like hell about their lot in life.

Or we can accept the fact that millions of Americans—of Americans—are still in need of, in the words of the father of modern American conservatism, “the kind of special treatment that might make up for centuries of oppression.”

What that treatment might entail going forward—Moynihan and Glazer came to believe that government could not effectively address what they considered to be the behavioral causes of the social dysfunction they saw—is a subject for real debate, as opposed to blaming liberals for a problem that originated in the institution of slavery, an institution the defense of which, as the The New York Times pointed out more than 150 years ago, “should be regarded as ‘conservative.'”


* As further confirmation of the intuitive fact that the rich suffer less during bad times than do the poor—and a fact that supports President Obama’s call for higher taxes on the wealthy—the Pew Research Center analysis also found:

During the period under study, wealth disparities increased not only between racial and ethnic groups, but they also rose within each group. Even though the wealthiest 10% of households within each group suffered a loss in wealth from 2005 to 2009, their share of their group’s overall wealth rose during this period. The increase was the greatest among Hispanics, with the top 10% boosting their share of all Hispanic household wealth from 56% in 2005 to 72% in 2009. Among whites, the share of wealth owned by the top 10% rose from 46% in 2005 to 51% in 2009. These trends indicate that those in the top 10% of the wealth ladder were relatively less impacted by the economic downturn than those in the remaining 90%.

The Bully, The Bullied, And The Bitch-Slapper

The Joplin Globe regularly features Morton Kondracke’s columns.  Kondracke has a reputation for being a middle-of-the-road guy, someone who isn’t an ideologue but seeks practical solutions to our problems.  And like a lot of people who try to stay above the political fray, he mistakenly equates the actions of one side with the actions of the other.

It’s sort of like this: If little Billy were on the playground bullying little Johnny, and if little Jimmy decided he needed to come to the rescue of little Johnny and stop little Billy’s bullying by bitch-slapping him, Kondracke is the kind of guy who would rush to the scene and scold each child for their behavior. Billy the bully, Johnny the bullied, and Jimmy, the peace-making bitch-slapping rescuer, would be equally guilty in his eyes.

Likewise, Kondracke, in his column today, addressed Americans’ “displaced fear that working hard doesn’t guarantee prosperity anymore” by saying this:

Instead of figuring out together what to do, politicians would rather blame each other and stick to their ideologies.

Democrats want more government-funded stimulus packages and continued tax cuts for the middle class even though the national debt is nearing 100 percent of gross domestic product, the highest since World War II.

Republicans want to extend tax cuts for everyone — especially the wealthy — even though the census numbers show that income disparities are as great as they’ve been since the 1920s, and growing. Cutting domestic spending would add to the woes of those at the bottom.

This kind of stuff, my friends, is why the word “bullshit” was invented.  Citing Democratic efforts to kick-start the slumping economy—”stimulus packages and continued tax cuts for the middle class”—as the equivalent of Republican efforts to give wealthy folks tax cuts while wanting to cut vital domestic spending is, well, it’s like saying little Jimmy the bully-fighter is just as guilty as Billy the bully because both of them were fighting.


Kondracke cites a couple of depressing statistics:

  • The “deplorable fact” that 43 million Americans (one in seven or 14.3%) lived below the poverty line in 2009; however, what Kondracke didn’t mention was that between 1993 and 2000 (roughly the Clinton years), the poverty rate fell each year to a low of 11.3% in the year 2000.
  • Median family income in 2009 was $49,777; to his credit Kondracke mentioned that the median family income in 1999 was a whopping $52,338, although folks would just have to remember on their own that 1999 was the next to last year of the Clinton administration;
  • American optimism about the future, as measured by the Pew Research Center, has dropped since 1999, or, as Kondracke didn’t mention, it has dropped in rough correspondence to when Republicans took over control of the White House and Congress (for most of six years) and nuked the economy, the fallout from that nuking still lingering in many people’s minds today.

Now, remember that what led to these dismal facts is that Billy the Republican bully was having his way on the economic playground.  And for Kondracke or anyone else to say that Jimmy the Democrat, trying to undo the damage done by Billy the Republican, is equally to blame for apathy on the playground is, again, why the word bullshit is in our vocabulary.


For nerds, read these three paragraphs from the National Poverty Center for an overview of post-WW II poverty in the U.S.:

How has poverty changed over time?

In the late 1950s, the poverty rate for all Americans was 22.4 percent, or 39.5 million individuals. These numbers declined steadily throughout the 1960s, reaching a low of 11.1 percent, or 22.9 million individuals, in 1973. Over the next decade, the poverty rate fluctuated between 11.1 and 12.6 percent, but it began to rise steadily again in 1980. By 1983, the number of poor individuals had risen to 35.3 million individuals, or 15.2 percent.

For the next ten years, the poverty rate remained above 12.8 percent, increasing to 15.1 percent, or 39.3 million individuals, by 1993. The rate declined for the remainder of the decade, to 11.3 percent by 2000. From 2000 to 2004 it rose each year to 12.7 in 2004.

Since the late 1960s, the poverty rate for people over 65 has fallen dramatically. The poverty rate for children has historically been somewhat higher than the overall poverty rate. The poverty rate for people in households headed by single women is significantly higher than the overall poverty rate.

Astute observers will notice a correlation, since 1980, of conservative Republican administrations and the rise of poverty rates.

I’m just sayin’.

Have You Noticed? Obama Is Not A White Christian American

Steve and Cokie Roberts’ columns appear regularly in the Joplin Globe, and I confess I often pass them by because I’ve found them to be somewhat bereft of the kind of toughness necessary to combat the other conservative columnists the Globe runs.

But when it comes to pummeling Glenn Beck, the husband-wife commentators have written quite forcefully.  In March, they wrote a column that ended with this:

…Beck is worse than a clown. He’s more like a terrorist who believes he has discovered the One True Faith, and condemns everyone else as a heretic. And that makes him something else as well — a traitor to the American values he professes so loudly to defend.

I don’t remember if that particular column appeared in our Joplin paper, but today’s edition did feature the Roberts’ latest effort to define Glenn Beck for what he is:

Listen carefully to Beck and his pals on right-wing radio, such as Rush Limbaugh, and their message is unmistakable. Obama is not “one of us.” He’s “the other.” He’s “un-American.”

But that sentiment itself is deeply un-American. The great genius of this country is that it welcomes all colors, creeds and nationalities. Unlike the British, say, or the French, we don’t have one image or archetype that defines our identity. Barack Hussein Obama is as American as Glenn Lee Beck, but Beck cannot seem to accept that and neither can his followers who crowded the Mall on Aug. 28.

Citing the sentiments of a Beckerhead at the D.C. rally—”I want our country back“—and Limbaugh’s hilarious reference to our President as “Imam Hussein Obama” and Beck’s pre- and post-rally comments about Obama’s affection for Marxism, the Roberts’ write:

Beck and Limbaugh have built a fire under a boiling stewpot of resentment, and they’re tossing in every incendiary innuendo they can put their hands on. Their critique might be incoherent but their mission could not be clearer: to brand Obama as a devil, not just a Democrat. He’s not just misguided; he’s a Marxist, a heretic, an apostate. 

And who are the true believers? The real Americans? Why the good white Christians who showed up at Beck’s rally, of course. “America today begins to turn back to God,” he assured his followers, “For too long, this country has wandered in darkness.”

So what? many of you may say.  These crazies are only influencing a small number of folks, most of them who wouldn’t have voted for Obama even if the Holy Spirit endorsed him.*  But read on:

This drumbeat of denunciation — this deliberate distortion of the president’s background and beliefs — is having an effect. The Pew Research Center found that 18 percent of Americans now think Obama is a Muslim, up from 11 percent at the start of his presidency, and only 34 percent can correctly identify him as a Christian. 

The correlation of religious views with political views is stunning. Sixty-seven percent of those who say Obama is Muslim disapprove of his presidency; 62 percent of those who call him a Christian like his performance.

What is even more stunning to me is the brazenness with which Republican politicians play on the ignorance of intellectually lazy voters.  Never mind the Becks, Hannitys, O’Reillys, and Limbaughs, who depend on such ignorance and indolence to put more cars in their garages.  Politicians, who are striving to get back in power, are sending definite, if sometime subtle, racially-loaded messages to fact-challenged white voters.

In April, Newt Gingrich said this at a—are you ready?—at a Southern Republican Leadership Conference, as reported by CBS News:

“What we need is a president, not an athlete,” Gingrich said during a question and answer period after his speech. He added: “Shooting three point shots may be clever, but it doesn’t put anybody to work.”

Now, among others, Norah O’Donnell on Morning Joe suggested there might be a hint of race-talk in there somewhere, for which she was subjected to some derision.  But let’s look at some other things Gingrich said in that speech before his Southern brethren:

Mr. Obama is “the most radical president in American history,” Gingrich said. “He has said, ‘I run a machine, I own Washington, and there is nothing you can do about it.'” […]

“On every front,” he said, “they’re increasing government” and trying to “micromanage our lives,” raise taxes, increase government power and strip citizens of their power. 

“This is a fundamental fight over the core definition of America,” Gingrich said. He told the crowd they should be talking about culture, not politics. “The more we make this a choice about the nature of America, the weaker they are,” he said…

The debate should be framed, he said, not as “Obama vs. Anti-Obama, but America vs. a secular socialist machine.”

There it is: “This is a fundamental fight over the core definition of America.”  “This is a choice about the nature of America. ” “America vs. a secular socialist machine,” led by Obama.

Now in that context one can read his post-speech comment about Obama as an “athlete” and fairly conclude that Gingrich is saying something to his audience that has less to do with Obama’s alleged inattention to the economy and more to do with the uppity negro’s role in the Great Culture War, which many Republican politicians are apparently jockeying to command.

Meanwhile, there’s no doubt that much of the angst in America is related to the sluggish economy and its slow resurrection from its near-death experience caused by over-exposure to Republican economics. 

But there is also no doubt that what is fueling the enthusiasm of many, many voters who can’t wait to stick a fork in President Obama this fall and in 2012 is a fear of this strange black man, a fear began and perpetuated by white culture-war conservative commentators and politicians, whose fortunes depend on keeping alive the idea that Obama is not one of us—not  one of us white Christian Americans.


* Yes, of course I know the Holy Spirit only endorses Republicans. It’s just hyperbole.

[Roberts’ photo: Max Hirshfeld for USA WEEKEND]

Democrats Should Educate The Public

Why is it that Republicans believe they can make a larger-than-historically-normal comeback in the 2010 elections?

The Pew Research Center sheds some light on why that is possible.  In a “news quiz” conducted among 1003 adults a couple of weeks ago, it reported, among other things:

Asked how many GOP senators voted for the chamber’s health care bill on Dec. 24, only 32% know that the measure received no support from Republican members. About as many answer incorrectly, saying that five (13%), 10 (8%) or 20 (8%) GOP senators voted for the bill. About four-in-ten (39%) do not know or decline to answer.

Who’s fault is that?  It’s the Democrats’ fault. That fact should have been part of a media blitz running night and day, kind of like those gold commercials that run on Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and Rush Limbaugh broadcasts or on late night television.

But more relevant to how the Republicans are getting away with absolute obstruction is this:

A smaller percentage (26%) knows that 60 votes are needed to break a filibuster in the Senate. About as many (25%) mistakenly say that a simple majority of 51 votes can break a filibuster.

Here is a chart on the two issues, the filibuster and the lack of Senate GOP support for health care reform:


Notice the responses of the much-heralded “independents.’  Only 3 in 10 know that 60 votes breaks a filibuster and, sadly, only 34% know that not one single Republican voted for the Senate health reform bill. 

Finally, the quiz found that even adjusted for a difference in demographics (“Republicans tend to be older, well educated and male, which are characteristics associated with political and economic knowledge”), Republicans “do somewhat better than Democrats.”

Again, all of this is the fault of Democrats and the Democratic Party’s political arm, which doesn’t do enough to fight apathy and ignorance among potentially sympathetic voters.

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