The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, March 26, 2010

My position: Anyone who believes the "other political party" are fools or knaves is part of the problem, driven by fear rather than logic.


Lobo said...

Which that doesn't preclude the existence of said fools and knaves.

Travis said...

What about those of us who think both (or all if you want to branch out past the two major ones) are fools and knaves?

I'm kidding a little bit, but not entirely.

Unknown said...

I know I'm a fool.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

49% approve of the health care bill
40% disapprove
11% don't know

I'm sure this won't stop the various allegations by conservatives that this bill was overwhelmingly unpopular; it's untrue and the Gallup poll shows it, but it was untrue before then too, and they knew it.

Anonymous said...

Oh, if only you were right, Dan! Then the Democrats could sail into electoral success in November, buoyed by how much the public loves Obamacare!

However, this poll by CBS suggests that things might not quite so rosy, with a 48-37 majority disapproving of Obamacare; this other one by CNN indicates that Americans aren't thrilled with Obama's handling of health care or things in general.

But if you're right, things ought to be great in the elections this year for the Democrats in Congress; so, would you care to predict that they'll gain seats? Or even keep the number of seats they have?

--Erich Schwarz

Pagan Topologist said...

Fear, yes, Steve. It does seem that modern day conservatives want to make our nation a place of misery for all but the very rich. The rest of us better just know our place. I most definitely fear that, profoundly.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

If I were right, Erich? I'm wrong about the Gallup poll?

As to the midterms, Dems are going to lose seats. This was guaranteed the day Obama won. But they'll lose fewer seats now than they would have had health care not passed -- Obama's favorability jumped nine points after health care passed, and unhappy Democrats got a lot happier. Midterms are all about the base, and Obama's is twice as happy today as it was a week ago. Spin that if you can. "Conservatives are twice as angry?"

Not. Possible.

Anonymous said...

"Anyone who believes the "other political party" are fools or knaves is part of the problem, driven by fear rather than logic."

I have to agree with this, because otherwise the world just becomes unintelligible. 52% of the U.S. voted for Obama in Nov. 2008, and a lot of my best friends and brightest colleagues either absolutely were or probably were in that group. Thinking that they're all fools and knaves doesn't make much sense.

Likewise, 47% in Nov. 2008 voted for McCain. That's a lot of people to slag off as fools, knaves, racists, "people driven by fear," etc.

What makes this basic idea hard to follow isn't that it makes fundamental sense. It's the nature of political ideas in a strongly divided country during a stressful time. Anybody who supported Obama is more likely than not to have a particular set of ideas that they think would work to make things better in the U.S. Anybody who supported McCain, likewise, will have their set of preferred nostrums, but it'll be a different set of nostrums than the pro-Obama group. Both groups are likely to believe their own agenda quite sincerely and strongly. Given that, each group's likely to find it hard to see the other group's agenda as being well-motivated; at best, you'll get a lot of disparagement about how the other side means well but is wrong-headed, and at worst you'll get them calling the other sides Nazis, traitors, etc.

And it can be hard to see how one's own rhetoric falls into this pattern. E.g., Paul Krugman considered burning Joe Lieberman in effigy to be reasonable in Dec. 2009, but is less tolerant of protests against Obamacare's supporters now. Either stance is understandable, but he probably wouldn't appreciate having the difference in his attitudes pointed out to him.

--Erich Schwarz

Anonymous said...

"Obama's favorability jumped nine points after health care passed..."

No, it didn't.

--Erich Schwarz

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

Not all Republicans or Democrats are fools or knaves, but substantial numbers are. Right now Republican knavery poses a far graver threat to freedom and rationality than does Democratic. The Republicans currently consist of two extreme camps: Christian fanatics and Neocons hawks. The Neocons, whose only concern is American Empire, are the more rational of the two. However, the Neocons, who arguably are Machiavellians seeking to fashion a stable global order through military power, require the support of the fundies masses to enact their agenda. In the process, traditional fiscal conservatives like William Buckley or Jerry Pournelle, who often offered rational and workable programs, have been marginalized. Make no mistake: the Christian Fundamentalist movement that holds hostage the Republican Party is a direct threat to the continuation of the freedoms and values of The Republic. Further, the fundies often conflate their religion-based aspirations with longings for the Pre-Civil Rights order. A such, the civil program favored by the bulk of the Republican constituency is both theocratic and fascist, seeking simultaneously to enshrine extreme Christianity as law, and to undo the civil freedoms extended to People of Color, women and gays, effectively re-establishing 1950's America.

Anonymous said...

"I'm wrong about the Gallup poll?"

If you're wrong about the Gallup poll being as reliable and significant as you seem to think it is, yes.

I saw that poll cited happily too. The first thought I had was, "Of course, people are happy it passed -- they're sick of hearing about the topic, so any resolution is better than hearing Obama and the Dems endlessly yammer about how glorious Obamacare's going to be and how our very nation's future depends on it being passed right this minute."

So, yes, I noticed that Gallup poll, but given the existence of two other polls (to which I've helpfully given hyperlinks) with considerably less favorable numbers for Obama, I have to wonder what questions the Gallup pollsters asked their subjects -- maybe something like, "Would you rather see one more photo of Nancy Pelosi grinning, or be dumped into a tank of sharks by Ernst Stavro Blofeld with J.S. Bach's Air in G playing in the background?"

(Heck, ask me that question, and I'd poll "in favor" of Obamacare. You can only be eaten by hungry sharks for so long; but Speaker Pelosi's sempiternal.)

--Erich Schwarz

Anonymous said...

"Right now Republican knavery poses a far graver threat to freedom and rationality than does Democratic."

Demonstrating my point about just why Steve's effort to persuade people to see the intelligence and good faith of the other side is probably doomed.

--Erich Schwarz

Daniel Keys Moran said...

My bad, Erich; it was an 11 point swing, not 9, from -2 to +9.

Or, for those of us who can't cut and paste, here.

Anonymous said...


That Gallup poll was definitely an outlier -- as one can see simply by following a link on the page you cited!

--Erich Schwarz

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

"Demonstrating my point about just why Steve's effort to persuade people to see the intelligence and good faith of the other side is probably doomed."

To reiterate, I view both parties as being chock full of fools, knaves and downright nuts who pursue fantasy in place of political reality are thus dangerous. Technophobic Democrats who hamstrung nuclear power are just as responsible as Republicans for America's Middle East quagmire. And the eagerness of many Democrats, Obama included, to appease Islam may poses a grave looming danger. However, the pressing danger urgently threatening our freedoms is the populist Fundamentalist clique that has seized control of the Republican Party, and which strives undo the social progress of the previous century and to gut the essence of American democracy.

Shady_Grady said...

Actually I think the Christian fundamentalists are not as big of a threat as some. Or maybe they aren't as direct of a threat as the neo-cons.

The Christian fundamentalists generally didn't get very much in terms of legislation from the Reagan Presidency or either of the Bush Presidencies. The powers that be like to get them riled up with red meat from time to time but are generally not interested in pursuing their agenda.

As the brouhaha over the Texas school standards or other instances show they have gone local but there's nothing new there. Those fights will continue to be won or lost state by state for years.

Abortion and birth control are still legal and the trend lines show increasing acceptance for the legitimacy of gay relationships. I think many Christian fundamentalists view themselves as fighting a battle just to be left alone by a secular godless society, not to impose their morals on others.

Daniel Keys Moran said...

Erich, a funny guy I know once explained "outlier" as a poll he didn't like...

Anonymous said...

"a funny guy I know once explained "outlier" as a poll he didn't like..."

Look at the reality-based data. Then try to tell me with a straight face that an opinion poll going 10 points in favor of Obama isn't an outlier, as of 3/28/2010.

Or if that isn't enough, try reading about the Washington Post's latest poll on Obamacare. Hint: it's still not showing a majority being "pro". And if you look at the basis of that poll, those numbers look even worse.

Meanwhile, the world bond markets don't seem to think that Obamacare will lower the deficit, or even pay its own way: they're pushing up the interest rates on Treasuries instead.

Being reality-based, not faith-based. Great idea, wasn't it once?

--Erich Schwarz

Nancy Lebovitz said...

I'm pretty much with Ethiopian infidel. "Both parties are about equally honest and decent" is a useful rule of thumb, but I've never seen anything like the Republicans (both famous and ordinary folks) saying "My party has betrayed me".

I don't know if this has ever happened before with any major party in American history or elsewhere.

At the same time, I've seen too many on the left say that all the decent Republicans have left the party, and then some more say that their party has betrayed them.

It's going to be interesting to watch-- these people don't have a political home. The Coffee Party may well do some good work, but I'm not sure that it's going to have policy positions rather than simply pushing for civility and transparency.

Taking the Republican party back might be easier than starting a new party, but either would be very difficult.

Anonymous said...

Yet more reality-based stuff:

"In the [USA TODAY/Gallup] poll, 50% call passage of the bill 'a bad thing' and 47% say it was 'a good thing.' That's at odds with the findings of a one-day USA TODAY Poll taken a week ago -- a day after the U.S. House approved the legislation -- in which a 49%-40% plurality called the bill 'a good thing.'"

If you want to argue that Obamacare's a great thing, feel free. But claiming that the polls running against it are some sort of Republican lie is, itself, a lie.

--Erich Schwarz

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