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Archive for the ‘election 2012’ tag

America’s religious shift

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As it turns out, Barack Obama seems to have won the election, in part, by garnering support from evangelical Christian voters in key states like Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan‘s home state of Wisconsin, which is also, by the way, home to the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

This article, “The Great Religious Realignment,” provides a detailed explanation of the religious restructuring that is currently taking place in America.

Here is a summation of the trend from Sarah Posner:

The exit polls, like I have said, are imperfect: some states were not subjected to exit polling, and on religion questions, there’s so much inconsistency between how questions are asked in different states that it’s hard to compare two states where one includes data on evangelicals and the other does not. But given what we’ve learned recently about religious realignments—declining numbers of Catholics, declining numbers of mainline Protestantsdeclining numbers of evangelicals in the 18- to 29-year-old age group, and increasing numbers of unaffiliated voters, and in particular, atheists and agnostics in the 18- to 29-year-old age group—it seems like a significant shift is underway.

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The Romney blame game

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Mitt Romney seems to be resolute in his delusion about the election and why he really lost.

This week during a conference call with some big-money supporters, he threw plenty of blame around, most of it involving charges that Barack Obama offered various “gifts” for certain segments of voters, like women, blacks and Hispanics.

According to this New York Times article:

“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.”

This statement is contemptible for numerous reasons.

First, rather than Obama’s policies being viewed through a lens of necessity and obligation to move civil rights ever forward in order to actually help people — rather than, you know, merely giving lip service to the idea that you care about average Americans — Romney casts Obama as some kind of political profiteer, and indeed the whole election as just one big sales pitch. This approach not only dehumanizes politics; it dehumanizes and trivializes the candidates as well as the voters.

Romney’s statement above also happens to be a wild misrepresentation of what really happened. Obama didn’t just focus on civil rights and immigration during the debates and speeches leading up to the election, and Romney didn’t have anything new to offer on jobs, foreign policy or military strategy. Regarding employment, he said that he would create 12 million jobs in four years, true. But Moody’s Analytics has estimated that 12 million jobs will be created through 2016 regardless of who is president. Job creation estimates are based on policies that have already been implemented. This was Romney’s only substantive claim about job growth.

Further, during the final debate, other than the obligatory Republican call to expand the military, we couldn’t really tell how Romney was any different than Obama on foreign policy and the military. According to this Reuters article:

Monday night’s foreign policy debate between the Republican presidential nominee and the Democratic president was striking for the frequency with which Romney aligned himself with Obama’s strategies rather than distancing himself from them.

So, what was this “strategy” Romney was talking about that was focused on the big issues? On most of the big issues other than health care, he more closely aligned or even agreed with Obama’s policies.

I don’t make a practice of watching a lot of MSNBC because I think that would make me no better than FOX News viewers who tune in every day to have their own views confirmed, but Al Sharpton (He should not be a TV host for many reasons) did have an interesting segment tonight in which he featured a previously unreleased audio recording of Lee Atwater outlining what he thought should be the more modern GOP strategy for taking advantage of white bigotry in the early 1980s. Here is one of the more offensive parts:

You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

Romney, Bill O’Reilly, Paul Ryan and others within the GOP have essentially used this strategy to cater to the uneducated, white vote in the South and other rural parts of the nation. While they can’t say anything approaching the offensiveness of “nigger” anymore, they can play on the same white fears that they have for the better part of a century. It’s a hideous but effective strategy.

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Death of Reaganomics, rise of middle-out economics

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I believe you grow the economy from the middle out. — Barack Obama, 2012 election ad


Michael Tomasky with The Daily Beast argues that supply-side economics, as well as its ugly stepsister, Reaganomics, died on Election Day when Americans largely rejected the general economic platform of Mitt Romney in favor of a “middle-out” philosophy trumpeted by Barack Obama.

Tomasky makes a good case, but I would suggest that Americans began pulling the curtain on Reaganomics earlier in 2008. There was no secret at the time that the McCain/Palin ticket supported a policy of tax cuts for the rich and deregulation, while Obama wanted to go in a different direction. Even during the Clinton years, I don’t think Americans were completely convinced that Reaganomics was indeed suffering slow entropy. While the Gore/Bush race in 2000 was close — remember that Gore actually won the popular vote — a general ideological shift had yet to occur, as Bush was still commanding a lead in key states like Virginia, Ohio and Illinois. Judging by the votes Bush got in those states between 2000 and 2008, plenty of people still bought into the old guard strain of economic thought.

Here are the last four Electoral College maps from 2000-2012

Election 2000

Election 2004

Election 2008


Election 2012

By 2008, the shift had seemingly already begun, and the Democratic Party’s renewed influence in pockets of the nation that previously went for Bush two elections prior was built on three foundations: disdain and weariness about the Bush years, enthusiasm surrounding Obama himself and, most importantly, a collective realization that America’s focus should no longer be on propping up the wealthy, but bolstering the middle class, indeed, that economic growth flourished alongside middle class success. While the shift may have come full circle this election year, a case can be made that it definitely found its impetus in the 2008 election.

I call this growing up. Understanding that many pockets of America are still clinging to the former ideology, the majority of the nation has come of age and, at least in some measure, has recognized that Reaganomics was not tenable in the 1980s — Tomasky calls it “at best half a success” — and it’s certainly not tenable now.

Tomasky sums it up this way:

Supply side was rejected. And in its place, voters went for an economic vision that says: don’t invest in the wealthy in the hope that they’ll decide to spread the wealth around; invest in the middle class, because it’s demand from a prosperous middle class that ultimately creates more jobs, and because doing that makes for a healthier society all the way around.

Bill Maher and Chris Matthews make a related point in this video, that the election was not necessarily about Obama for a lot of people but about continuing on the path that we have been on that will put the middle class and civil rights in the forefront (See 3:45-5:00):

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The ‘feeble conservatives’

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“When radicals scream that victory is indubitably theirs, sensible conservatives knock them on the nose. It is only very feeble conservatives who take such words as true and run round crying for the last sacraments.” — British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper, as quoted by David Frum


I found myself agreeing with much of what David Frum has to say in this column about the future of the Republican Party. It is true; the modern Republican Party is filled with “feeble conservatives” who are masters at bitching, playing the blame game and identifying all that’s wrong with America while providing few substantive solutions. While I don’t necessarily have a dog in the hunt, I would prefer as a voting American that the GOP step away from the fringe cliff because as they drag their party further to the right, they legitimize all the nutcases who want to raze entire departments within the federal government and would go so far as to actually sign petitions in support of state secession.

For those folks, and for everyone else within the Republican Party, Frum has some reasonable advice, and it starts with calling out people who purposefully misconstrue the facts and those, like Bill O’Reilly, who clearly have a dim view of millions of their fellow Americans. Here is Frum’s response to the nonsense in the above video:

You’ll hear O’Reilly’s view echoed wherever conservatives express themselves.

Happily, the view is wrong, and in every respect.

America is not a society divided between “makers” and “takers.” Instead, almost all of us proceed through a life cycle where we sometimes make and sometimes take as we pass from schooling to employment to retirement.

The line between “making” and “taking” is not a racial line. The biggest government program we have, Medicare, benefits a population that is 85% white.

President Barack Obama was not re-elected by people who want to “take.” The president was re-elected by people who want to work –– and who were convinced, rightly or wrongly, that the president’s policies were more likely to create work than were the policies advocated by my party.

The United States did not vote for socialism. It could not do so, because neither party offers socialism. Both parties champion a free enterprise economy cushioned by a certain amount of social insurance. The Democrats (mostly) want more social insurance, the Republicans want less. National politics is a contest to move the line of scrimmage, in a game where there’s no such thing as a forward pass, only a straight charge ahead at the defensive line. To gain three yards is a big play.

Whatever you think of the Obama record, it’s worth keeping in mind that by any measure, free enterprise has been winning the game for a long, long time to this point.

Frum rightly says that the next step for the GOP was to “reassemble a new coalition for limited government and private enterprise,” one that will not just consist of a “white establishment” but one that must necessarily include multiple ethnicities. Criticizing O’Reilly again, Frum then added:

To assume from the start that only certain ethnicities will contribute, and that others aspire only to grab, is not only ugly prejudice; it is also self-destructive delusion.

He ends by saying that the GOP needs “more sensible conservatives” who are able to contribute something meaningful to the political discourse:

As for the feeble conservatives, they should take a couple of aspirin and then stay quietly indoors until the temper has subsided and they are ready to say and do something useful again.

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Americans for treason

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Via Twitter:


Interestingly but not surprisingly, among the petitions for various states to leave the union, South Carolina’s petition is the only one that does not include the word “peacefully.” Apparently, the spirit of 1861 is alive and well.

Written by Jeremy

November 12th, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Romney’s great delusion

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I’m with Ta-Nehisi Coates, who wonders how Romney or anyone in his campaign could have possibly been “shellshocked” by the loss on Election Day:

I generally thought that the actual Republican numbers people, and certainly the numbers people in the GOP campaign, were sharper than this. If I were Mitt Romney I would much rather spend the days leading up to the election preparing myself for a punch, then to have myself “sucker-punched” by reality. In other words, it wouldn’t be in my interest to have people around me believe the hype. On the contrary, I’d be really angry if I found out they had. Even buying the argument that the people behind the polling are somehow biased, how do you reconcile that with the fact that polls actually predicted Bush’s win in 2004?

On some level it’s hard to not conclude that the Romney campaign, and Republicans on a whole, were not simply ill-served by their media, and their experts, but they themselves were actually requesting ill service.

This sounds a lot like religion to me. In the absence of any tangible reason to believe in the validity or authenticity of the Bible itself, believers tend to pay attention to arguments that confirm what they want to believe. And so it was with Romney. All the polls and expert opinions to the contrary, Romney and his team still managed to trick themselves into thinking that their version of reality — that every poll in the nation was biased — was the right one and that they actually had a chance. A classic case of delusion.

It must be a wonderful existence spending your entire conscious life in a fantasy world.

Sullivan: ‘The American President’

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Really good piece from late last night — er, this morning — from Andrew Sullivan: The American President.

While I don’t agree with Sullivan on everything, I certainly appreciate his writing style and his ability to articulate a unique point of view:

The president’s oration (during his acceptance speech) was almost a summation of his core belief: that against the odds, human beings can actually better ourselves, morally, ethically, materially, and we can do so more powerfully together than alone, and that nowhere exemplifies that endeavor more than America. It was Lincolnian in its cadences, and in some ways, was the final, impassioned, heart-felt rebuke to all those, including his opponent, who tried to portray him as somehow un-American. How deeply that must have cut. How emphatically did he rebut the charge.

What he reminded me of was how deeply American he actually is – how this country’s experiment truly is in diversity as well as democracy. And his diversity is not some cringe-worthy 1990s variety. It is about being both white and black, both mid-Westernand Hawaiian, both proudly American and yet also attuned to the opinion of mankind.

As for the next four years, there is time enough for that. But I stand by these words. And one felt something tectonic shift tonight. America crossed the Rubicon of every citizen’s access to healthcare, and re-elected a black president in a truly tough economic climate. The shift toward gay equality is now irreversible. The end of prohibition of marijuana is in sight. Women, in particular, moved this nation forward – pragmatically, provisionally, sensibly. They did so alongside the young whose dedication to voting was actually greater this time than in 2008, the Latino voters who have made the current GOP irrelevant, and African-Americans, who turned up in vast numbers, as in 2008, to put a period at the end of an important sentence.

That sentence will never now be unwritten. By anyone.

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Four more years

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If Democrats had doubts about the outcome of the presidential race before Election Day or if the Republicans held any optimism that it would go in their man’s favor, both were about as deluded as Karl Rove proved himself to be late Tuesday night when he was refused to believe that Obama had won in Ohio:

When it became clear about midnight that President Barack Obama was safely on the way to re-election, a handful of cranky and inebriated Republican donors wandered about Romney’s election night headquarters, angrily demanding that the giant television screens inside the ballroom be switched from CNN to Fox News, where Republican strategist Karl Rove was making frantic, face-saving pronouncements about how Ohio was not yet lost.

And hence, as this article shows, GOP supporters quickly ran back to their safe haven, TV land comfort zone FOX News.

Back in reality, where fewer of the Republicans seem to be living these days, no comfort zone existed with regards to Election 2012. Here was a president who took the reins of leadership as the economy was on the path toward fast-track, financial entropy. Call it economic heat death. The real estate heyday was over. Bank executives had made millions in bonuses without having to be held accountable for speculative loan practices. In response to the recession, Obama passed the most expansive piece of financial regulation reform since the Great Depression, as well as an $800 billion stimulus plan to try to kick start the economy. Economists have said that even amid these sweeping reforms, it was not enough (and here) and that we could have done even more:

Nonetheless, it worked. In addition to all that, we finally got a sweeping health care reform bill that had been a vision of progressives for at least 40 years, if not more. Oh and by the way, Osama bin Laden is no more.

So, I would like to meet a Republican who seriously — seriously — thought that Romney had a legitimate shot of winning this election. Yes, the GOP made inroads in certain pockets of the country, but couple a dull candidate who mostly failed to portray himself as someone who had everyday Americans’ best interests at heart with an incumbent who accomplished more in his first year than most get done in four, and Romney didn’t have a chance in blue hell.

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Niall Ferguson’s recent column

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So, apparently, even tenured Harvard instructors cannot escape the allure of partisanism, as “historian” Niall Ferguson has mightily thrown his weight against the Obama camp and in favor of the GOP ticket. So much for college professors promoting exercises in free thought and inquiry rather than sheepish allegiances to whatever ideology is the flavor of the day.

But that’s actually not the bad news. The bad news is that Ferguson has made his case against Obama with a healthy disdain for accuracy, and in his numerous distortions of facts, he should probably not only ask for forgiveness from his students but from his superiors. Numerous writers from The Atlantic (here, here and here) have lampooned Ferguson’s recent cover story, no less, in Newsweek. Yes, I said Newsweek and I said cover story. Apparently, in addition to an absence of competent editors and a competent publisher, Newsweek doesn’t have fact-checkers either. And this is a leading news magazine. How and why does Newsweek not have fact-checkers? I don’t know. Tenure at Harvard does not and should not make a person immune to editing and fact checking. Tenure at Harvard means just that; whatever hot garbage you spew in other venues should come under the same scrutiny as anyone else, mighty degree or not.

Written by Jeremy

August 23rd, 2012 at 12:37 am

GOP convention: 1600 edition

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From The Borowitz Report:

Republicans Move Convention to Seventeenth Century

TAMPA (The Borowitz Report)—With the threat of Hurricane Isaac hitting Florida next week, the Republican National Committee took the extraordinary step today of moving their 2012 National Convention to the seventeenth century.

While the decision to send the convention four centuries back in time raised eyebrows among some political observers, R.N.C. spokesperson Harland Dorrinson downplayed the unusual nature of the move.

“After exploring a number of options, we decided that moving to the seventeenth century would cause the least disruption,” he said. “We’re not going to have to change a thing.”

Mr. Dorrinson added that despite recent controversy involving the U.S. Senate candidate Representative Todd Akin (R., Miss.), there would be no modification of the Party’s official platform: “After we ban abortion in cases of rape and incest, we’re going to focus on America’s spiralling witch problem.”

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