Driving safety

This is kind of weird, apparently driving safety plateaus for a while before undergoing dramatic improvements:

Okay, that came out ugly.  Just click the link.

Infographics of the day

What Americans do on their days off (via Planet Money):

What We Do On The Weekend

Breakdown of Selected Weekend Activities

As for me, I’m way higher on using the internet and reading.  Probably lower on watching TV and sleep (though, sometimes I’m up there when I get a good nap in).  Oh, and way higher on coaching youth soccer.

Whence the bounce?

Nice post from Nate Cohn looking at where Obama’s bounce came from (this is improvement in approval ratings):

The mean improvement is 6, so the key is to look at groups where the improvement was substantially more than that.  And survey say: Hispanics.  Cohn summarizes:

If nothing else, the DNC solidified the support of Obama leaning voters. Obama’s largest gains came among Hispanics, independents, non-white voters, moderate Democrats, and high school educated voters. In contrast, seniors, Republicans, and conservatives barely budged in Obama’s direction, if at all. Predictably, liberal Democrats and postgraduates held relatively firm as well, perhaps since Obama had already maximized his gains among those core constituencies. On balance, this suggests the DNC acted generally consolidated Obama’s existing coalition rather than persuade genuine converts.

I think one of the most telling (and good for Obama) indicators is that not just his performance vis-a-vis Romney has improved, but that his approval has climbed close to 50%.

Democrats and Catholicism

Read this Op-Ed this weekend about how liberal Catholics needs to make their voices heard more loudly from a distinctly Catholic-Christian perspective.  Here’s the conclusion:

If the Democratic Party is not listening to liberal Catholics, it is partly because they are not in a position to speak very loudly. They are dodging the sights of a Roman hierarchy more preoccupied with smoking out left-leaning nuns than nurturing critical thinking. “Is liberal Catholicism dead?” Time wondered a few years back. The answer is no: in some regards, liberal Catholic intellectuals are flourishing. They are writing and teaching, running social justice initiatives at the church’s great universities, ensconced in professorships around the Ivy League. Yet a cozy academic subculture can be as isolating as it is empowering. The handful of nationally known Catholic political thinkers who might be called progressive, or at least compassionate and cosmopolitan — like the journalist-scholars Garry Wills and E. J. Dionne Jr., blogmeister Andrew Sullivan, or the feminist nun and blogger Sister Joan Chittister — are far outnumbered by the ranks of prominent Catholic conservatives in the trenches of activism and policy making.

Progressive Catholicism may not lend itself to punditry or mobilization. Reconciling religious tradition with modernity is a more nuanced endeavor than defending orthodoxy from any murmur of compromise, and allying with the poor is not a recipe for easy fund-raising. But if liberal Catholic ideas are not great fodder for culture-war sloganeering, they do offer a path to secular Democrats who, at the moment, are failing to address the basic questions of the human predicament.

Earlier in the piece, there’s this, which I just don’t buy:

Allowing Republicans to claim the mantle of Catholicism might cost the Democrats the election. As commentators have noted, Catholics may be the nation’s most numerous swing voters. Over the past few decades, Democratic leaders have alienated voters in one of the party’s historically strong constituencies. Through a series of ideological moves and cultural misjudgments, they have also cut themselves off from a rich tradition of liberal Catholic thought at a time when American culture requires politicians to articulate a mission that inspires religious and secular voters alike.

Republicans are claiming the mantle of Catholicism because that’s what the damn Church hierarchy is doing.  To wit, this NRO interview with Archbishop Charles Chaput:

Do you believe a Catholic in good faith can vote for Obama?

I can only speak in terms of my own personal views. I certainly can’t vote for somebody who’s either pro-choice or pro-abortion.

I’m not a Republican and I’m not a Democrat. I’m registered as an independent, because I don’t think the church should be identified with one party or another. As an individual and voter I have deep personal concerns about any party that supports changing the definition of marriage, supports abortion in all circumstances, wants to restrict the traditional understanding of religious freedom. Those kinds of issues cause me a great deal of uneasiness.

But he’s “independent.”  Riiiiight.  And, on the Ryan budget:

What about the wing of the church that says a party that supports the Ryan budget also ought to cause concern?

Jesus tells us very clearly that if we don’t help the poor, we’re going to go to hell. Period. There’s just no doubt about it. That has to be a foundational concern of Catholics and of all Christians. But Jesus didn’t say the government has to take care of them, or that we have to pay taxes to take care of them. Those are prudential judgments. Anybody who would condemn someone because of their position on taxes is making a leap that I can’t make as a Catholic

To turn this around (all too easily), how about Democrats don’t say women have to have abortions or that gays have to marry each other, etc., just that the secular state government should allow these things.  Or how about given the fact that we live in a community known as the United States of America, how do you justify arguing that this community should not do what it can economically to support the poor, hungry, etc.  That’s a leap  I cannot take as a Catholic.

Romney’s arrogance

Romney said so many stupid things at the fundraiser, it’s easy to overlook something them, but Amy Davis keys in on this stupefying bit of arrogance and cluelessness:

And how can they stop being poor? Simply and only by taking “personal responsibility.” And this connects with something else Romney related in the video: the story of his own wealth.

I have inherited nothing. There is a perception, “Oh, we were born with a silver spoon, he never had to earn anything and so forth.” Frankly, I was born with a silver spoon, which is the greatest gift you can have: which is to get born in America.

Romney was the son of a governor and an auto executive who gave him a wealth of connections, a private education, college tuition, a stock portfolio that he lived on while in graduate school, help buying a first house. That he recognizes the value of none of these things is both dismaying and discouraging for anyone who thinks that he will be able to do much to actually encourage opportunity in America.

Truly breathtaking that Romney thinks he literally “inherited nothing.”  If that isn’t quite some insight into the “I deserve everything I have” conservative mindset.   Anne Richards had a famous quote that George HW Bush was born on third base and thinks he hit a home run.  Romney was born on home plate and thinks he built the stadium (I’m not sure if that actually makes sense, but you get the point 🙂 ).

47% and the media

To those of us who hang out in the liberal blogosphere, there isn’t anything all that surprising about Romney’s comments.  This 47% ridiculousness has been making its way all around the right-wing and Fox News types– and being appropriately debunked by liberal bloggers and thinktanks– for quite a while now.  Now, however, thanks to Romney, the 47% trope has gone into wide release.  And the good news is that it means not just Ezra Klein and Kevin Drum, etc., but CNN, NPR, the Post and Times News pages, etc., are now debunking it.  Of course, it’s obvious this debunking won’t affect the hard-core true believers.  But there’s plenty of non true believers who’ve had some vague sense of this 47% idea, but now presumably (hopefully) know better.  That’s a good thing.  In a perfect world, it would also mean people might be a little more skeptical or think a little harder next time they hear a statistic like this from Republicans.  Not that I’m holding my breath.

Photo of the day

Really great NPR story on the 150th anniversary of Antietam yesterday.   Also, to celebrate the same anniversary, Slate put together some amazing historical photos of the event:


Alexander Gardner/Library of Congress.

The burial crew at work.

Brooks on Romney

Devastating.  Read the whole thing.  Really.

The final thing the comment suggests is that Romney knows nothing about ambition and motivation. The formula he sketches is this: People who are forced to make it on their own have drive. People who receive benefits have dependency.

But, of course, no middle-class parent acts as if this is true. Middle-class parents don’t deprive their children of benefits so they can learn to struggle on their own. They shower benefits on their children to give them more opportunities — so they can play travel sports, go on foreign trips and develop more skills.

People are motivated when they feel competent. They are motivated when they have more opportunities. Ambition is fired by possibility, not by deprivation, as a tour through the world’s poorest regions makes clear.

Sure, there are some government programs that cultivate patterns of dependency in some people. I’d put federal disability payments and unemployment insurance in this category. But, as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other.  [emphasis mine] It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.

47% in chart form

Via Yglesias:


Damn moochers.

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