The partisanship of TV characters

This is fun, via Slate (click the link for the interactive version):

Quick hits

1) Stephen Pearlstein on the “judicial jihad” against the regulatory state:

The dirty little secret is that dysfunctional government has become the strategic goal of the radical fringe that has taken over the Republican party. After all, a government that can’t accomplish anything is a government that nobody will like, nobody will pay for and nobody will want to work for. For tea party conservatives, what could be better than that?

Nowhere has this strategy been pursued with more fervor, or more success, than the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, where a new breed of activist judges are waging a determined and largely successful war on federal regulatory agencies.

2) We should be careful about genetically modified foods, but government agencies (European ones) should respond to real science, not trumped up propaganda.

3) Krugman on Romney and health insurance:

So let’s be brutally honest here. The Romney-Ryan position on health care is that many millions of Americans must be denied health insurance, and millions more deprived of the security Medicare now provides, in order to save money. At the same time, of course, Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan are proposing trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy. So a literal description of their plan is that they want to expose many Americans to financial insecurity, and let some of them die, so that a handful of already wealthy people can have a higher after-tax income.

It’s not a pretty picture — and you can see why Mr. Romney chooses not to see it.

4) How climate change favors Democrats in 2012.

5) Epigenetics and fatherhood.

6) Chait on how the GOP destroyed its moderates.

7) If you are in the Raleigh area, you need to come to this.

ABC Poll

Wow– everybody is a sophisticated poll watcher now.  No sooner had the latest ABC/Washington Post poll come out then everybody was pointing out that it had a D+9 advantage.  Now, we know that’s not going to happen.  But given recent polling, this has to be seen as a very positive result for Obama.  A more realistic D advantage puts Obama in a dead heat, but that’s certainly better than the couple points behind he’s been faring on many national polls of late.

I did find the last item about voter contacts especially interesting:

Presidential debate does little to change a locked in electorate

Certainly does suggest that the Obama organization is definitely doing it’s part in the swing states.  Mark Blumenthal has a thorough run-down on what to make of the poll.



I’m a dying breed

love my physical copy of the newspaper.  How better to eat my morning cereal than with the bowl atop the paper spread out before me.  I’ll never give it up until I have to.  Which, will be much sooner than I want if these trends continue.  Via Pew:

Number of Americans Who Read Print Newspapers Continues Decline

Naturally, I also love my print magazines and books.  Sadly, I haven’t written a personal letter in a long time, but I still receive them on occasion from students.

Photo of the day

From an In Focus set of the Space Shuttle Endeavour in LA.  The Space Shuttle and donuts– what could be better:

Endeavour is slowly moved across Interstate 405 by a Toyota Tundra, on October 12, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Confessions of a former Republican

This is from a month ago, but it’s great and I never got around to posting it before.  Honestly surprised it never got wider play.  I think he truly gets to the heart of some key differences between Democrats and Republicans.  You should read the whole thing, but if you don’t here’s some of my favorite parts:

From then on, I started to notice a lot more reality.  I noticed that the criminal justice system treats minorities differently in subtle as well as not-so-subtle ways, and that many of the people who were getting swept up by the system came from this underclass that I knew so little about.  Lingering for months in lock-up for misdemeanors, getting pressed against the hood and frisked during routine traffic stops, being pulled over in white neighborhoods for “driving while black”: these are things that never happen to people in my world.  Not having experienced it, I had always assumed that government force was only used against guilty people.  (Maybe that’s why we middle-class white people collectively freak out at TSA airport pat-downs.)

I dove into the research literature to try to figure out what was going on.  It turned out that everything I was “discovering” had been hiding in plain sight and had been named: aversive racism, institutional racism, disparate impact and disparate treatment, structural poverty, neighborhood redlining, the “trial tax,” the “poverty tax,” and on and on.  Having grown up obsessed with race (welfare and affirmative action were our bête noires), I wondered why I had never heard of any of these concepts.

Was it to protect our Republican version of “individual responsibility”?  That notion is fundamental to the liberal Republican worldview. “Bootstrapping” and “equality of opportunity, not outcomes” make perfect sense if you assume, as I did, that people who hadn’t risen into my world simply hadn’t worked hard enough, or wanted it badly enough, or had simply failed.  But I had assumed that bootstrapping required about as much as it took to get yourself promoted from junior varsity to varsity.  It turns out that it’s more like pulling yourself up from tee-ball to the World Series.  Sure, some people do it, but they’re the exceptions, the outliers, the Olympians.  [emphasis mine]

The enormity of the advantages I had always enjoyed started to truly sink in.  Everyone begins life thinking that his or her normal is the normal.  For the first time, I found myself paying attention to broken eggs rather than making omelets.  Up until then, I hadn’t really seen most Americans as living, breathing, thinking, feeling, hoping, loving, dreaming, hurting people.  My values shifted — from an individualistic celebration of success (that involved dividing the world into the morally deserving and the undeserving) to an interest in people as people…

My old Republican worldview was flawed because it was based upon a small and particularly rosy sliver of reality.  To preserve that worldview, I had to believe that people had morally earned their “just” desserts, and I had to ignore those whining liberals who tried to point out that the world didn’t actually work that way.  I think this shows why Republicans put so much effort into “creat[ing] our own reality,” into fostering distrust of liberals, experts, scientists, and academics, and why they won’t let a campaign “be dictated by fact-checkers” (as a Romney pollster put it).  It explains why study after study shows — examples herehere, and here — that avid consumers of Republican-oriented media are more poorly informed than people who use other news sources or don’t bother to follow the news at all.

Waking up to a fuller spectrum of reality has proved long and painful.  I had to question all my assumptions, unlearn so much of what I had learned.  I came to understand why we Republicans thought people on the Left always seemed to be screeching angrily (because we refused to open our eyes to the damage we caused or blamed the victims) and why they never seemed to have any solutions to offer (because those weren’t mentioned in the media we read or watched).

Short version: Republicans are much more likely to simply think they have earned and deserve the success they have in life and resent being “punished” for it.  Democrats, without denying the importance of individual agency, recognize how damn lucky they are.

People do die for lack of health insurance

Like many a Republican, Mitt Romney frequently repeats the claim that people don’t really need health insurance because there’s always the ER.  I’m not going to waste a lot of time going through just how dumb that statement is. That’s what this NPR story is for:

In a discussion of that plan with editors ofThe Columbus Dispatch, Romney said this:

“We don’t have people that become ill, who die in their apartment because they don’t have insurance. We don’t have a setting across this country where if you don’t have insurance, we just say to you, ‘Tough luck, you’re going to die when you have your heart attack.’ No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it’s paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital.”

But Romney was talking about something slightly different in Ohio: the idea that the U.S. doesn’t have people who become ill or die because they don’t have insurance. That, however, is belied by a large and growing body of academic studies, starting with a landmark study from the nonpartisan Institute of Medicine in 2002 that found 18,000 people died in the year 2000 because they lacked health insurance.  [emphasis mine] Various updates of that study have come up with even larger numbers, mostly because of a growing number of uninsured people, combined with the increasing cost of medical care. In other words, there’s a growing gap between what you can get with insurance and without.

That’s okay, though, because I’m sure most of those people are just moochers and takers who are part of the 47%.

%d bloggers like this: