No, actually you are the 47%

Going to get to a post on the silly 53% thing.  Till then, this tumblr is awesome (and here’s a sample):






When is a filibuster not a filibuster

Why when it is reported by a mainstream “unbiased” news organization of course.  Nice post by Steve Benen (with help from James Fallows) on this in relation to the successful filibuster of Obama’s jobs bill in the Senate:

The home page of the New York Times reported on Senate Republicans killing the American Jobs Act with this headline: “Obama’s Jobs Bill Fails in Senate in First Legislative Test.” The subhead read: “The vote of 50 to 49 to open debate on the measure was 10 votes short of the 60 needed to overcome procedural objections, forcing the White House to consider breaking up the package.”

There were no references to Republicans, the GOP, or obstructionism. A casual reader might not even realize that a majority of the Senate actually supported advancing the bill.

James Fallows sees a problem with this.

We have gone so far in recent years toward routinizing the once-rare requirement for a 60-vote Senate “supermajority” into an obstacle for every nomination and every bill that our leading newspaper can say that a measure “fails” when it gets more Yes than No votes. […]…

As Eric Boehlert put it a while back, “The Beltway press has mostly turned a blind, non-judgmental eye while the GOP has re-written the rules for governing from the minority. Yes, the press covers many of the votes that Republicans stymie. But there’s little or no media debate about what the Republican Party is actually doing, which is practicing obstructionism on a massive and previously unseen scale.”

The public almost certainly has no idea that this is happening, in large part because the media treats the status quo as a normal way of operating, rather than an unprecedented abuse that undermines American policymaking at a fundamental level.

Yep.  By constantly reporting “Senate fails” “Congress fails”  “Bill dies in Senate” etc., and presumably trying to be “fair,” the media just isn’t giving citizens the real picture of what’s going on.  The Republicans should at least have to own what they are doing, but they don’t.  Not to mention, ordinary citizens need to understand that a routine 60 vote is not something handed down by the Founders but is actually a highly unrepresentative perversion of democracy.  [Would I be writing this with Democrats in the Senate minority?  Maybe, but admittedly not as passionately.  Still, the filibuster has to go.  As Ezra has often suggested, they should agree to eliminate it sufficiently far into the future that its not clear which party would control the Senate.]

Cartoon of the day

Just seen on Facebook.  And if you’re too young to have read Calvin & Hobbes much, go find some of the books.  Seriously.  (And if you’re old enough to have read Calvin & Hobbes back in the day and didn’t– shame on you)

NC Gay Marriage, question wording, and framing

PPP hits the field to survey where North Carolinians are on the proposed gay marriage amendment:

PPP’s first look at the proposed marriage amendment in North Carolina since the legislature placed it on the ballot finds it leading 61-34. Republicans are overwhelmingly in favor of it (80/17) and independents (52/43) and Democrats (49/44) support it as well, although by more narrow margins.

The interesting thing is that 51% of this same set of voters supports legal recognition for gay couples. 22% favor gay marriage and another 29% civil unions, with only 46% completely opposed to granting same sex couples legal recognition.  The problem for those trying to defeat the amendment is that 37% of voters who support gay marriage or civil unions are still planning to vote for it.  That suggests a lot of folks aren’t familiar with how wide reaching the proposed amendment would be and it gives those fighting it a chance- they just have to get their message out effectively to the majority of North Carolinians who do support legal recognition for gay couples that the proposal goes too far.

Tom Jensen nicely points out the huge question wording effect here:

This is really a classic example of how small differences in poll question wording can lead to huge differences in how people respond. Last month we asked the following question “State legislators have proposed an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution that would prohibit the recognition of marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian couples. If the election was held today,would you vote for or against this amendment?” When you ask it that way only 30% of voters are supportive and 55% are opposed. Voters are against ‘prohibiting’ recognition for gay couples. But if you word it in such a way that all you’re doing is defining marriage as between one man and one woman, voters are ok with that.  [emphasis mine] You’re asking about the same thing in both cases, but the semantics make a huge difference and Republicans clearly know what they’re doing with the language that’s on the ballot.

I think you clearly have to give the pro-amendment forces the advantage, but it will be quite interesting to see if those opposed to the amendment are smart enough to run a campaign that focuses on the fact that this prohibits any legal recognition for gay couples– a position that clearly has a majority.  Once the politicking really gets under way this Spring, I think we’ll know if the anti-amendment forces have a chance by how they end up framing this issue to the public.

False narratives

I’ve sure got better things to do here than comment on the WSJ Op-Ed pages, but I just read something there via a friend’s FB link.  It is amazing to believe that somehow conservatives are still blaming the Community Reinvestment Act for the financial crisis.  It’s one thing for the politically unaware who just watch some Fox News to not really understand how the world works, but the WSJ Editorial page seems to be a way for even otherwise intelligent conservatives to think they know what’s going on but be completely wrong.  Here’s  a sample:

There is no mystery where the Occupy Wall Street movement came from: It is an offspring of the same false narrative about the causes of the financial crisis that exculpated the government and brought us the Dodd-Frank Act. According to this story, the financial crisis and ensuing deep recession was caused by a reckless private sector driven by greed and insufficiently regulated. It is no wonder that people who hear this tale repeated endlessly in the media turn on Wall Street to express their frustration with the current conditions in the economy.

Their anger should be directed at those who developed and supported the federal government’s housing policies that were responsible for the financial crisis…

The narrative that came out of these events—largely propagated by government officials and accepted by a credulous media—was that the private sector’s greed and risk-taking caused the financial crisis and the government’s policies were not responsible. This narrative stimulated the punitive Dodd-Frank Act—fittingly named after Congress’s two key supporters of the government’s destructive housing policies. It also gave us the occupiers of Wall Street.

Thing is Wallison constructs a narrative around Fannie Mae etc., that sounds all nice and coherent, but simply paints a false picture.   If this were a sampling of the only stuff I had read about the financial crisis, I’d actually believe him.  Fortunately for me, I’ve read enough to know how breath-takingly wrong this is.  Sure, the government’s policies were far from perfect, but again to those paying attention this was overwhelmingly based on Wall Street greed, stupidity, and malfeasance.  It’s like saying the government is responsible for a fire because they left some dry wood scattered in an empty lot near your house.  Then you made a nice pile of the wood, added some accelerant, and threw in a match.  But it’s the government’s fault for the fire.

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