Nov 08 2012

After action report.

Its Thursday now, and after 13 hours of sleep last night-I went to bed at 6:15 PM- I feel much better.

Meanwhile, the post mortems on the election have begun. And as I expected, some people are learning all the wrong lessons. Writing off the results of the election to a bunch of parasites doesn't get you any friends. Giving your pompous speeches on self sufficiency won't either. I already work hard as does just about every member of the 60,000,000 who voted for Obama. The more you guys delude yourself about this misguided idea of "dependency"-the more it makes the rest of the country want to kick your ass. People don't want handouts-they want a level playing field. They want the incredibly rich to understand that decently compensating and benefiting one's employees is not an act of kindness-its an obligation of being part of the civilized world. And they don't want pompous bastards telling them what to do with their bodies-and what they should do if they are raped.

John Cole has it right, "  when you insult folks and dismiss them, they tend to get mad and they tend to want to kick your ass.". That had a lot to do with my feelings on the election-the more I heard that because I felt strongly about decent benefits and wanting what I was entitled to, that I was a "moocher" the more emotionally invested in Obama's victory I became. Well played wingnuts-well played. 

So what are the lessons learned here?

First for the Democrats, they should heed Jon Chait's warning:

Democrats will not keep winning forever. (In particular, their heavy reliance on young and non-white voters, who vote more sporadically, will subject the party to regular drubbings in midterm elections, when only the hardiest voters turn out.) Eventually, the Republican Party will recast and reform itself, and the Democratic Party’s disparate constituencies will eat each other alive, as they tend to do when they lack the binding force of imminent peril. But conservatives have lost their best chance to strike down the Obama legacy and mold the government in the Paul Ryan image.

Which of course begs two important questions. 1) How effectively will the Democrats use that time they have before the day of defeat comes? And 2) How well will they be prepared to persevere when the day of defeat comes? More importantly, will they heed the message that came from the stridency of the folks who didn't vote for Obama? The unspoken message is that admit it or not-steps will need to be taken to get America's financial house in order. The real challenge will be to do so in a responsible fashion that does not resort the Draconian-and quite evil-methods of Romney's running mate, the "zombie eyed granny starver" Ryan. Spending cuts are going to have to come-as is the repeal of the Bush tax cuts. Finding a good middle ground will be hard. And much as he might rightly be able to point to the immensity of the damage done by the idiot who preceded him, in the second term, Obama will own everything that happens, for good or bad.

For the Republicans the lessons are more stark: "Being in bed with extremism doesn't work-it just pisses people off".

Alas I fear that the GOP won't learn this lesson but will learn exactly opposite. The forces of lunacy, who say that the party should be even more conservative are already gearing up their efforts.  The slime is already starting to crawl out of the woodwork, like Herman Cain advocating the creation of a third party. I find this more than a little amusing-since its clear that the GOP could probably have won this election, just as they could have won in 2008,  if they had not gotten so off the deep end groveling to people who are not worthy of anything but utter contempt. The Teabag wing has to be put out of its misery, like Old Yeller,  taken out back and dispatched quickly with aid of a loaded shotgun.

Will the Republican Party mature, reach out, and bring in the old guard centrists who were/are the adult voices in the room so that they can be competitive and work for the Common Good? Or will the Tea Party GOP dig in, become even more extreme, and further obstruct the Common Good in order to advance their increasingly narrow partisan agenda? Does Romney's defeat lead to a more reasonable Republican Party or one that is even more extreme and intransigent? 

 

 

The answer should be a definitive yes-the party has to go back to its roots. Unfortunately this requires and honest understanding of the facts and the truth-and the information machine of conservative American is quite ill equipped to do this. Connor Friedsdorf, writing at The Atlantic points out very well how the right is not served well by its insistence on living in an echo chamber. One big reason that so many conservatives are disappointed today-is that they had no one telling them the honest truth. They believed they could live in a world where they made up the "facts"-and they bought those lies hook line and sinker. In a proper world, it should lead to a massive loss of revenue for Fox and a decline in readership for  Hinderaker and the rest of the swine like William Jacobsen who inhabit the Liars Club. But it won't:

Barack Obama just trounced a Republican opponent for the second time. But unlike four years ago, when most conservatives saw it coming, Tuesday's result was, for them, an unpleasant surprise. So many on the right had predicted a Mitt Romney victory, or even a blowout — Dick Morris, George Will, and Michael Barone all predicted the GOP would break 300 electoral votes. Joe Scarborough scoffed at the notion that the election was anything other than a toss-up. Peggy Noonan insisted that those predicting an Obama victory were ignoring the world around them. Even Karl Rove, supposed political genius, missed the bulls-eye. These voices drove the coverage on Fox News, talk radio, the Drudge Report, and conservative blogs. 



Those audiences were misinformed.



Outside the conservative media, the narrative was completely different. Its driving force was Nate Silver, whose performance forecasting Election '08 gave him credibility as he daily explained why his model showed that President Obama enjoyed a very good chance of being reelected. Other experts echoed his findings. Readers of The New York TimesThe Atlantic, and other "mainstream media" sites besides knew the expert predictions, which have been largely born out. The conclusions of experts are not sacrosanct. But Silver's expertise was always a better bet than relying on ideological hacks like Morris or the anecdotal impressions of Noonan. 

Sure, Silver could've wound up wrong. But people who rejected the possibility of his being right? They were operating at a self-imposed information disadvantage.

Conservatives should be familiar with its contours. For years, they've been arguing that liberal control of media and academia confers one advantage: Folks on the right can't help but be familiar with the thinking of liberals, whereas leftists can operate entirely within a liberal cocoon. This analysis was offered to explain why liberal ideas were growing weaker and would be defeated.


For all the conservative whining about the "main stream media" they missed the main point-those folks understand the profession of journalism far better than their conservative counterparts. Jon Stewart pointed this out a couple of times last year when interviewed by Fox. The media as a whole is not biased politically-it is biased towards sensationalism .Still, even with that handicap they for the most part kicked the right wing news media's ass:

In conservative fantasy-land, Richard Nixon was a champion of ideological conservatism, tax cuts are the only way to raise revenue, adding neoconservatives to a foreign-policy team reassures American voters, Benghazi was a winning campaign issue, Clint Eastwood's convention speech was a brilliant triumph, and Obama's America is a place where black kids can beat up white kids with impunity. Most conservative pundits know better than this nonsense — not that they speak up against it. They see criticizing their own side as a sign of disloyalty. I see a coalition that has lost all perspective, partly because there's no cost to broadcasting or publishing inane bullshit. In fact, it's often very profitable. A lot of cynical people have gotten rich broadcasting and publishing red meat for movement conservative consumption. On the biggest political story of the year, the conservative media just got its ass handed to it by the mainstream media. And movement conservatives, who believe the MSM is more biased and less rigorous than their alternatives, have no way to explain how their trusted outlets got it wrong, while the New York Times got it right. Hint: The Times hired the most rigorous forecaster it could find. It ought to be an eye-opening moment.

It would be nice if folks would learn the right lessons from this and move back to a more balanced seeking of information-but they won't. And ass rockets like the National Review and Michael Barone are determined not to let them. Which leads to one final point, this cycle of self destruction cannot continue. Americans have to figure out how to have political conversations without them devolving into a shouting match. I tried to have one at work today with my incredibly still pissed off co-workers. It failed miserably. The Economist writing in a post yesterday points out I am not alone in this dilemma.

 

AFTER a panel discussion on the US elections hosted by a Dutch radio station the other night, I got to talking to a fellow American who's looking for work stateside. His Dutch government-funded job had been eliminated by austerity measures, so he was trying to convince his wife of the virtues of moving back to America. The main reason he was hesitating was the mood of vicious and increasingly entrenched political animosity. "Do you get the feeling," he asked, "that it could get violent?"

I said I didn't know. But it's certainly not a silly question. A recent broadcast of "This American Life", which focused on people who have lost close friends in recent years over politics, seemed to capture the mood pretty accurately. One sequence portrayed a student with a life-threatening pre-existing condition that until recently rendered him uninsurable, who has stopped talking to a conservative friend who refuses to support ObamaCare because he said it felt as though the friend didn't value his life. A conservative man describes being unable to continue talking to a former friend who supports a president he is convinced is destroying the country. Two sisters can't agree on who is being rude and condescending to whom after a furious falling-out over political philosophy.

Barack Obama has just won re-election, but America remains a country bitterly divided, as it has been for well over a decade. The divide is simultaneously very narrow in numerical terms, and gaping in ideological or partisan terms. This is what strikes one most strongly looking back at America from across an ocean: the country seems repeatedly embroiled in savage 51-49 electoral campaigns, and it seems to be increasingly paralyzed by irresolvable rancor between right and left.

And think about it for a second: this is bizarre. If Americans are in fact divided between two extremely different political ideologies, it would be an extraordinary coincidence if each of those philosophies were to hold the allegiance of nearly equal blocs of support. That situation ought not to be stable. Adherence to these two ideologies ought to shift enough just due to demographics that the 50-50 split should deteriorate. And yet the even split seems to be stable. What's going on?

 

I'm not sure-but I blame a part of it on my tea sniffing friends who have decided that there are moral absolutes in politics. There are not, and it would be better if we stopped pretending that there were. Realistic arguments over policy don't happen any more especially in places that are rather backward to begin with,  like it was in Alabama. After enough bad starts you quickly learn to avoid politics altogether, since it is impossible to have a political conversation. Every conversation one tries to have risks a descent into Republican talking point hell. When I try to refute those points with facts, it falls on deaf ears. This has to change.

Setting aside the policy issues we're facing over the next four years, I think the most immediate need is for Americans to find a way to live civilly with each other. "This American Life" brought on a pair of writers, liberal Phil Neisser and conservative Jacob Hess, who've written a book ("You're Not as Crazy as I Thought (But You're Still Wrong)") about their efforts to find a way to talk to each other and agree to disagree on fundamental philosophical and moral issues. There need to be a lot more similar efforts along these lines. This election has put Barack Obama back in office, and returned him a Democratic Senate and a Republican House. Over the next four years, legislative battles are going to continue to be savage and hard-fought. Neither conservatives nor liberals are going to change their minds en masse about fundamental issues of political philosophy. The top priority is for Americans to figure out a way to keep these divisions from dividing the country into two hostile armed camps that are incapable of talking to each other.

The extremes have gotten too much influence on both sides of the aisle. The biggest lesson learned is that the center has to come back to the fore and the extremists have to be marginalized so we can go back to having the national conversation that must be had-what kind of a nation does the citizenry want to build and how do we work together to achieve it?

That's a lesson we all should be able to learn. But, alas, I fear the US just won't want to.

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9 responses so far

9 Responses to “After action report.”

  1. Curtison 08 Nov 2012 at 11:52 pm

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

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  2. Skippy-sanon 09 Nov 2012 at 12:54 am

    Curtis-that does not even make sense. You have to get over this selfish idea that someone is trying to "steal" something from you. The United States is found on the idea of a commonwealth  of people working together for a common good. 

    You lost because your party has become demented.




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  3. Mauriceon 09 Nov 2012 at 1:43 am

    Skippy,
    Just so you know, I will be "giving" more if we do head to the "Fiscal cliff" in Jan.  For a person in my income range of $60K-$109K, I will have to give up an additional $1700, that is from a repeal of the Bush era tax cuts (in my case around $670 a year) and the $1,170 from the payroll tax cuts that will no longer be there .  Not to mention the tax increase that I somehow still have to pay for the state that I am a resident ot which were voted in, my taxes to Caesar will increase, even though in my old home, the roads still suck, crime is rising, and the schools need help.
    It may seem like a small amount to you, only about $141/month, but that's money that I will not be spending in the economy.  Some family in my situation may put off on buying a new car since that extra $141 will not be there, while they face rising prices on food and utilities and other goods.  For those who make below my income, they will be the ones most affected by this since they will be in the "middle" where they make too much to receive any government assistance, but yet will not have enough to spend extra.
    What I see happening to the economy is what is happening to the Japan music industry.  They passed a law that went into effect on 1 Oct that made it a crime to download copyrighted music.  They made campaigns to agressiviely go after people who do so, and the penalty is 2 years in jail or a $20,000 fine.  This law was really pushed by the recording industry here.  Now the very same industry is seeing a decreas in sales of downloaded music and CD sales.  The reason why is people are starting to just "opt out" and have decided that CD's are too expensive and not worth buying the whole thing just for one song, or that the music really sucks and why spend their money.  Same thing is going to happen with the American economy.  People will pay their taxes, but then begin to say, why bother buying those "extra things" that are not really needed.  People will begin to spend wisely, and while that is good, it will mean that less of a consumer demand, and since the US has gone more into service industry economy, less need for workers, and increased unemployment.
    That's just my thoughts, and I hope that it doesn't happen that way, but all I can say is that I fell sorry for the "gentlemen's clubs" that I may visit when I get my liberty card.  That extra $141 a month can buy quite a few HE's.

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  4. Granton 09 Nov 2012 at 8:26 am

    Well said Maurice as I am in the same boat as you.  I am looking at ways to cut expenses as well.  I killed my home phone to save 35 dollars, raised the deductible on my home insurance from 1 to 2 per cent.  This will give me an extra 75 dollars to pay our ever rising utilities bill.  I may give up on our long term care insurance too.  I'm a retiree from the military so maybe I can get care from them or follow the end of life counseling that is sure to come.  I will work an extra few years to sock away as much as I can and the kids will go to junior college for the first 2 years.  My neighbors are worse off than I am for sure.  My wife and I closed her business and put 2 people out of work from a 15 dollar an hour pay check.  Rising utility costs, insurance, taxes and the cost of raw materials ate up too much of the gross income from sales.  Just could  not make it work.  Oh we'll…

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  5. Curtison 09 Nov 2012 at 11:25 am

    Skippy, you just make my point again. As usual. I'm the selfish one? Who calls the crime victim selfish for seeking to hold on  hard to his money? Why you do.
    Who forcefully announces that any failure to promptly knuckle under to the violent demands of you and those like you to the new democracy is a crime? Why you do.
    This country was founded as a Republic. Not a Commonwealth. I and many others don't believe that paying for abortions or birth control is somehow 'for the common good.' Yet you do. Your belief deeply contradicts the sincere beliefs of others but your answer is "fuck 'em." Who is selfish in this regard?
    Why am I giving my money to the PLO and Hamas? Hundreds of millions of $ to terrorists. Yet you are in favor of that and probably in favor of sending money to prop up democrats in Libya and Egypt and Greece etc. You may favor that along with giving money to crony capitalists in the green faux industry but I don't and I don't see any of it as providing anything described by you as for the common good. Yet I'm the selfish one for not finding agreement with you on this?
    Fortunately, the country spoke and it elected a sizeable majority of republicans to Congress and they don't have to stir themselves one bit more now than the democrats have done for the last 4 years. See, that's me thinking of the good of other people. Of course, that's not how it will work now but I don't think you'll care for what will follow. Why not go in to the House and pass good legislation repeatedly including budgets that are fiscally sound and try to reform entitlements only to have the democrats kill them in the Senate or veto them. I imagine that can only work to our advantage since it really is hard to buy votes when there is no money.

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  6. Skippy-sanon 09 Nov 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Curtis,
       You answered your own question in that the US is a Republic. A majority of the citizenry rejected your moral contentions ( which are completely bogus since its not you having the abortion or using contraception and therefore you don't have the right to tell me or anyone else what to do with their bodies.). The elected representatives considered your moral objections, found them to be selfish and not worth considering and moved on. Same thing happened with the Iraq war something I find objectionable.  Get over it-and stop telling others how to live their lives, its none of your business.
         The rest of your assertions are just stupid. The adminstration made a decision to invest in green energy. Its a good one-but not without risk. But the majority of firms they invested with succeeded ( this is a fact, don't even try to dispute it). Some failed but not many and certainly less than 10%.
          Now getting to Congress. I hate it when people talk about "entitlement reform" because you need to be specific about which ones. Social Security? Doesn't need it-just lift the cap and its funded through your lifetime and beyond. Medicare-universal heatlh care does exactly that, what voters rejected was Ryan's cruel approach of screwing senior citizens at the drive through by putting them at the mercy of private insurance companies. Other entitlements-be careful there-your retirement is an entitlement. Not all entitlements are bad. Besides they are called entitlements for a reason. 
           The Republicans in Congress have been unreasonable on taxes. Period end of statement. Taxes have to return to normal rates-which is not a tax increase but a restoration of a condition that should have been in place for the last 10 years. Boehner can just drop dead. Which gets to your point "Why not pass good legislation? The House does not know how to pass good legistlation so long as it has so many tea baggers. Fortunately for all of us, one less will be there thanks to my contributions to Patrick Murphy who beat that worthless piece of shit Allen West.
          The GOP is demented. 

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  7. Mauriceon 12 Nov 2012 at 2:51 am

    I think it is ironic that we keep touting that America is the big melting pot, and people from around the world want to come here so that they can achieve their dreams and make it.  Where America is a place where you can succeed not based on your background or race, or but by your hard work and determination that give one unlimited potential.
    Yet, when a person who is here, does just that, pushes themselves to achieve the American dream and "build a better mousetrap" and when they do it and become successful from it, you have those same Americans saying, "you're making too much and you need to give some back" by increasing the taxes on the income one makes just by being successful.
    Seems to me that the Dems are talking out of both sides of their mouths.  Open the borders and let everyone in to achieve the American dream, and oh by the way, if you get too successful, you need to give more of it back to the government.

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  8. Curtison 12 Nov 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Skippy,
    You got it all wrong and backwards, again. The majority of citizens and others who voted voted Republican as attested by their control of the House. You might say the same about the Senate but no, only a third of them were up for a vote this time. One may say that there is something to your argument since a majority of voters did vote for a democrat for president but the role is largely ceremonial and has very few enumerated/meaningful powers….:) and the incumbent spends most of his time playing golf or traveling.
    You have a hurra for the decision to go green. Every single one of the sunk costs is wasted and the companies invested in are bust. ie, a complete and total waste of money sucked up by cronies of the administration.
    What died and made the demand for revenue drive you to keep raising and raising and raising taxes? What keeps getting more expensive as the government spends money on it? Do we need an HLS and TSA? No. A DOE, no. DOA, no. etc. Do we really need to have the fleet spend over $20/gallon of fuel so we can all feel good about being greener? For me its just exactly like adding crap to gasoline that is known to be a carcinogen and which poisons the water supply.
    You pretty much nailed the argument on moving on. After a brief look at Obamacare the majority of voters decided they don't like it. We'll see how efforts to limit the damage proceed.

    I don't tell other people how to live their lives and by the same token I don't let them tell me what to do either. That includes stealing money from me and the next 3 generations.

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  9. chefantwonon 14 Nov 2012 at 7:59 pm

    As one of those people who are in the lower middle class (less than $40k a year income), I can tell you that it IS getting way too damn expensive to live and it WILL get worse in the next 4 years. The gas prices alone hit me for more than $120 a month and I have a car that gets almost 40 MPG. I can't forget about the rising food prices and my health care and prescription costs.  
    The only good point about my health care is that until July of 2013, I still am under the county low cost health care plan. (the one for people making less than $20,000 a year) Once July 2013 is here, I will no longer qualify for the program and unless the company I "contract" for hires me, I won't be getting any type of health care. (Obamacare doesn't cover contractors, although I will still end up having to pay the penalty for not having health care insurance) Obamacare effectively kills off much of any full time hiring due to the mandatory health care everyone HAS to have.
    Businesses are going to get around most of the language in the bill by just not hiring anyone anymore. They will use temp agencies to "contract" out all of their positions so these people will effectively have to fend for themselves for their benefits. (you know, like paid vacations, sick days, paid time off, and of course, health care)
    By the way, I do have a copy of the Obamacare law if anyone wants to actually read the damn thing. Like Pelosi, most people haven't even bothered to….

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