Sailing Away to Irrelevance, Part II

“But there is another kind of light; a light that fills even the darkest places.  For if this meat-light did not exist, how could darkness be seen? And so it is with the truth. There are some things which appear to be the truth, but which are not the real truth.  The real truth must sometimes be protected by a labyrinth of lies.” –  The character Vorbis, explaining his justification for disseminating factually dubious propaganda in Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me three times, that’d be me again – I just said ‘fool me twice shame on me.’  Fool me four times – well, that’s definitely me.” –  David Cross, Bigger and Blackerer

 

The most important take-away from the Nate Silver hubbub is not that Nate Silver called the presidential race correctly.

Although my goodness, he sure did.  Not only did he call each state, it appears as the last votes are tallied that he may well come within a tenth of a percentage point of nailing the popular vote.  (A performance which the conservative Examiner, after both criticizing Silver for looking too effeminate and confidently predicting a Romney landslide, hilariously gives a grade of Solid B but Not B+.)

Nor is the most important take-away that conservative pundits pretty universally (and confidently!) stunk up the joint with their own predictions.

Although my goodness, they sure did.  Among those conservatives who reviewed data that appeared to predict an Obama victory and declared a Romney White House were conservative statisticians Rasmussen, Michael Barone, Wayne Allen Root, Stuart Rothenberg, Mason Dixon and the Suffolk group – which was so confident of Mitt’s chances that they stopped polling many swing states altogether.  Conservative “thinkers” who projected a Romney victory or landslide (mostly landslide) include Karl Rove, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, John Bolton, George Will, Dick Morris, Pat Toomey, Charles Krauthammer, Fred Barnes, Joe Scarsborough, Glenn Beck (who claimed God would intervene to ensure it), Dylan Byers, Bill Kristen, David Brooks, Ari Fleisher, James Pethokoukis, David Weigel, Jay Cost, Jennifer Rubin, John Kaish (who claimed inside knowledge of “secret polls”), Sean Hannity, Andrew McCarthy, Frank Donatelli, John Boehner, Tom Ridge, Jeb Bush, Eric Cantor, Newt Gingrich, Bob McDonnell, Peggy Noonan, and can I please stop typing now because my fingers are getting really tired?[1]

No, the most important take-away is the reasoning the entire right wing media machine used to support its Electoral College Maginot Line:

The conservative media rejected polls pointing to an Obama win because they were being reported by the mainstream media, whom they did not trust, and because they overvalued their own anecdotal anti-Obama experiences.  Therefore, they explained to their audience, the data was by definition untrue.  Their jaw-dropped shock in the election’s aftermath showed us that somewhere along the way the media machine’s spokespeople had come to believe their own propaganda.  They fell back on the same circular and enclosed reasoning that had assured them that a primary of scapegoating Latinos, mocking women who wanted healthcare coverage to include birth control, and promising to preemptively invade yet another Middle East country was not just the key to victory, but the key to burying the liberal agenda for a generation.  Their assumption that high ratings and advertising revenue equated to a national consensus contaminated their entire reasoning apparatus, and so they planned accordingly – and then they proceeded to have their asses handed to them.

And the lesson from that most important take-away is this: the conservative media machine that the Republican Party has leaned on so heavily for so long is starting to be a greater liability than asset in terms of national electability.  The media machine’s ratings-driven reliance on ever-increasing shock-value over accuracy has finally reached the tipping point; as various income streams for the media machine increase, support for the party it was created to promote drops off.

America’s conservative media machine is slowly but surely killing America’s conservative party.

_______________________

Back in September as the election was coming into the home stretch, I received some criticism from fellow Leaguer Jonathan McLeod on a post that I had written.  The post was critical of FOX News, and Jonathan noted – correctly – that I had already done several pieces critical of FOX this past year.  I appreciated the feedback, and thus later in the week when the Fair (and Balanced) Folk held up a shiny, glimmering tidbit I checked myself and swallowed the whistle.

But while I still feel that Jonathan was entirely right in his well-intentioned attempts to keep me honest (and interesting), in light of the post-election meltdown I have come to believe that I was wrong for choosing to ignore what I thought was important to write about.  Because while each nugget was simply an interesting anecdote on its own, together they point to a rather consistent pattern that ultimately, I believe, helped the Republicans lose a very winnable presidential election.

In the course of about two weeks as the election approached, FOX ran three different stories that were brought to my attention by readers.  One, which was the story Jonathan took issue with me for bothering to write about, was an expose they did on President Obama taking the time celebrate National Pirate Day when he claimed he was too busy to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Another was a story on Obama driving the real unemployment rate up a staggering seven points since his election in 2008.  The last was a story on how Obama has grown government spending as a percentage of GDP to unheard-of levels of 24%; as a comparison point, FOX reported that in 2008 George W. Bush kept government spending at just barely 3% of GDP.

All of these stories have three things in common – and as we shall see, they share these three commonalities with the almost every other “big story” that FOX, Limbaugh, Drudge, the Daily Caller, Beck, NRO and every other arm of the other right wing media machine ran in the months leading up to the general election:

  1. Each story was crafted to fit into the narrative that President Obama was an evil, socialist “other” that was cunningly and systematically destroying America by design.
  2. The fact that the “mainstream media” was not covering these stories was itself drafted into part of each story’s narrative as proof that the non-right-wing media was in on the con, and – one might assume – therefore also had designs on destroying America.
  3. Though seemingly damning, each of these stories was a complete fiction that was entirely manufactured by the media source that reported it.

As I noted in my Pirate Day post, the President had not in fact held a National Pirate Day celebration of any kind.  The photograph FOX used to sell the story was one taken as a lark for a correspondent’s dinner in 2009; it was one FOX had in its own archives.  The story about the seven point increase in the unemployment rate was done by sleight of hand: FOX compared Bush’s ending official unemployment rate with Obama’s real unemployment rate.  (The actual comparisons between the official rates were 7.9 vs. 8.1; between the real rates were 14.2 and 14.7.)  A significantly greater kind of bulls**t gymnastics was required for the government spending story.  Bush’s numbers looked so low because FOX created a separate calculation to reflect federal spending growth pegged to federal revenue; Obama’s looked so high because FOX used an entirely different calculation – one that reflected spending growth as a share of the economy.  If you use the same calculation for government spending the numbers in Bush’s last full year, the year Bush and Obama share, and Obama since are actually very similar: 20.8/25.2/23.8.

I want to be very clear that, in each of these stories, FOX was not discussing reports made by other news organizations or commentators, nor were they passing along newly released government statistics or press releases.  They were not even presenting things that the Romney campaign was claiming without “fact-checking.”  In each case, FOX simply created the story in-house – stories they knew to be completely fictitious – to make the president’s record better fit the narrative their viewers wanted to see reported.

They could, for example, have reported that Obama had unemployment numbers similar to Bush’s number in 2008 and argued that they should have been better – certainly that could be an accurate and compelling anti-Obama argument to make.  But in the world of the ratings-driven media machine, this isn’t enough.  The story needs to fit the narrative that the seemingly moderate, technocratic Obama – despite using an economic playbook not dissimilar to Bush’s – is a sleeper Stalinist who is plotting a Communist state.  That’s a story that gets your audience to keep obsessively coming back, calling in and buying over-priced gold from your advertisers.

This week I’m going to be doing a series of posts that take a look at the big stories that the right wing media machine pushed hard in the months leading up to the general election.  All of these will be stories that were covered extensively in the media machine’s more mainstream outlets as well as those considered more “wingnut.”  These will include the story that the President ordering his own people be abandoned in Benghazi, the story that the president started Operation Fast & Furious to overturn the second amendment, the story that UN forces will soon be entering the United States to collect the guns of private citizens, and the story that once reelected, the President is set to enact some kind of national Sharia law.

Each of these started as real stories about actions taken by the current administration.  As we will see, however, in each case a pattern begins to emerge:

  1. The original story, while absolutely showing a potential miscalculation by the White House, isn’t really damning as initially reported (usually by FOX).
  2. The story is then taken by bloggers, talk radio show hosts, and FOX “expert” commentators and reworked to better fit the narrative of Obama as evil usurper.  The facts are changed entirely, but no real journalism is used to gather new information; instead, the media machine relies on self-referencing its own continually shifting commentaries on the original story until a very different and far more nefarious sounding story emerges.
  3. The huge whirlwind of the media machine is assumed to itself be indicative of “unreported” news, and thus the original reporting source (again, usually FOX) re-reports the story with the new “facts.”  (Reminding one of that moment in the children’s game Telephone when the original child announces what their starting phrase has morphed into.
  4. The media machine and its audience point to the mainstream media’s ignoring of the new, factually dubious story as “proof” that the new story is true.

If it were simply a case of the media machine working itself into a lather, the net effect would be (mostly) harmless.  As it stands, however, the GOP has tied its fortunes to the machine, and the wackier the machine sounds, the more the GOP loses support among moderates and independents.

Worse, the individual campaigns themselves have become dependent upon the machine to do their groundwork.  For small Congressional races in solidly social conservative communities this can actually be a boon.  However, for races that require the buy-in of moderates and independents, such as the White House or the Senate, it often leads to disaster.  (If you want a concrete example of this, consider the credibility damage among moderates and independents that was done to Romney in the second debate when he discussed Benghazi.  Rather than criticize the President on miscues the president might have actually committed, Romney’s people were got caught up on the media machine’s morphed story that, because of his love for foreign Muslims over Americans, the president refused to use the phrase “terrorist act” in his remarks.  The morphed story was far more interesting than the actual story, and it certainly fit the terrorist-sympathizer narrative better than reality did.  But as we all know now it was factually incorrect – and Romney was made to look like a fool on national television as a result.)

If the Republicans are to become a dominant force once again (and to do so in spite of the growing demographics they have so tirelessly worked to alienate) than they will need to find narratives that, frankly, don’t sound bat-s**t crazy to anyone outside of their deflating bubble.  Unfortunately for them, a more realistic kind of narrative is anathema to its media machine, because shock radio will always draw more listeners than a guy reading the news on air.

Trying to build a case that Obama is a centrist not so different from Romney, but that Romney would be a better manager and executive to lead the White House is a far more compelling argument for securing a GOP victory than the one that Obama and the UN are going to come to your door and take your guns.  But it doesn’t lead to higher ratings, and right now higher ratings are what the Republican Party is dedicated to achieving.

 

 

[1]  I spend a while googling conservative election predictions, and I could not find a single one that looked at the aggregate data and said they thought Romney would lose.  The closest I got was PJ Media columnist Claudia Rosett, who said that, while she wasn’t sure enough to say who would win, she was confident enough to say that the only range of realistic outcomes was somewhere between Obama barely eking out a drawn-out nail-biter and Romney winning in a quick landslide.  Bill O’Reilly makes it a practice not to predict election outcomes, so on his show he explained that he would not be making a prediction, but he couched that statement in a way that made it clear there was no way he believed the people would be reelecting the president.  Are there others out there that did say, “I really wish it weren’t the case, but unfortunately the data seems to show the race leaning for Obama?”  Maybe, but I couldn’t find them.

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123 thoughts on “Sailing Away to Irrelevance, Part II

  1. I will anticipate these posts attempting to restrain my salivation for the thoughtful reflection and lucid prose which are your calling card.

    You are a giant amongst Gentlemen, Mr. Kelly.

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    • You are a giant amongst Gentlemen, Mr. Kelly.

      Seconded! I’m very excited about this series, and admittedly awestruck (and envious!) that Tod has the patience, focus and measured-calm to treat these issue in what I’m quite sure will be a constructive, fair and informative way.

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  2. a more realistic kind of narrative is anathema to its media machine, because shock radio will always draw more listeners…

    This jumped out at me.
    It reminded me, somewhat reflexively, of Howard Stern and Wolfman Jack.

    Wolfman was more of a nuts & bolts kind of guy. He got big because he got real.
    Stern in just a jackass. I still don’t understand why anyone would want to listen to that crap.
    Both of them got a TV show. Wolfman did much better.

    I think what I’m trying to say here is that the Right could really use Wolfman Jack right about now.
    Ditch Stern.

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    • Your comment on Stern hits home. I seem to recall in his autobiographical movie that it was revealed that many people who detested him continued to tune in to his radio show. Why? “To see what he’ll say next.”

      If the GOP and/or FOX are equating their ratings to the GOPs popularity, they’re committing a huge mistake of the same kind. I admit to occasionally tuning in just to see what BS they’re spouting. And I suspect their real followers don’t don’t tune in to the “liberal media” to balance the score.

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  3. The reports of the GOP’s demise have been as greatly exaggerated as the recursive mortification of the Democrats in 2010. Oh, the moaning and self-examination, the donning of hair shirts, the weeping, the wailing, the davening and recitation of the tikkun chatzot. Remember all that? Wasn’t it tiresome?

    And what of all the great host of naysayers in the Democratic camp who loudly sang The Thrill is Gone, irritatingly flat, sobbing and blowing their noses ’bout how Obama couldn’t get all those Disenchanted People who’d sung hosannas for him in 2008 to vote for him again. How mawkish. So very wrong, all of them.

    The GOP is in great shape. It should and could have done better. Even with their 2010 gerrymandering, the GOP couldn’t overcome the inertial momentum of incumbency, any more than John Kerry could, back in the day when he was running for president.

    Why do we watch the Sabbath Gasbags anyway? Paragraph 4, hey, we’ve all seen them and it was a great chore for Todd to enumerate that Confederacy of Dunces. If they live in denial of what’s now obvious — but while I had my little RBOB/unemployment model running, I kept dicking with it, adding a spread for the difference between market gasoline and pump gasoline… and it blew up on me when the East Coast spread exceeded the price itself, the model said Romney had an excellent chance of winning. When Karl Rove said Hurricane Sandy made a difference, Sandy blew up my model, which was tracking between +.4 and +1 for Obama, then went insane.

    Republicans aren’t the only political party with Confirmation Bias-itis. Despite all the GOP partisan spin from the Benghazi issue, the situation in Libya is still burning brightly. Each day’s news bringeth fresh hell and there is no apparent shortage thereof. Let us not, in our entirely justified sneering at the Dunces of Paragraph Four, forget our own biases and shortcomings. Polls aren’t everything. There may be wisdom in the crowd at a statistical level but no such wisdom is given to the individual.

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    • I somewhat agree. There are a lot of young conservatives. They are just largely invisible from my urban core of people who are largely college and grad school educated.

      However, do you think we could be entering a cycle where power switches every two years or so?

      2008: Democratic Party sweeps the election

      2010: Tea Party/Republicans gain control of the House by huge numbers. They also gain control of many state legislatures including a super-majority in New Hampshire.

      2012: Obama wins reelection pretty easily despite some strum und drang. The Democrats increase their majority in the Senate. They gain a super-majority (or near) in California and retake the Minnesota and New Hampshire legislators. New Hampshire seems to be an especially strong showing of Tea Party overreach.

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      • 2010 was an outlier that brought us some ugly truths.

        One of those was reflected in the initial 2010 effects of Citizens United. Conservatives – being the plaintiffs – knew what was going on. They mobilized their money, LOTS of money, and specifically, strategically targeted House races and more to the point the state houses.

        The goal of 2010 was to take over as many state houses in order to control the gerrymandering, er, redistricting process and try to cement a “permanent” lead in the House of Representatives as well as permanent control of various state houses.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mky11UJb9AY

        I’ll say this much: the Republicans were smart on this one. They knew that even as an off-year election, 2010 was important, and that there was major strategic importance in throwing money at state election races. Democrats, had they been wise, would have countered the same way but the Democrats were still resting on their laurels after their 2008 victory.

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  4. As a proud liberal, I have to say: there’s nothing that I fear more then other liberals talking smack that sound anything vaguely like Rove’s “permanent Republican majority.”

    Because we know how that worked out.

    The voting public, it’s fluid. You can count on some of the votes all of the time, but on the margins, you’ve got to earn mobilize the voters and earn the votes with actual policy and boots on the ground, engaged on the act of governing.

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  5. Anecdotes of Fox News’ anti-Obama bias will not address the mainstream’s bias in his favor. Unless you have some methodology you’ve not revealed yet.

    There was reason to favor Rasmussen, first confirmation bias of course, but also that he finished atop the 2008 heap along with Pew.

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    • I do think that bias that takes into account things that are happening will, all things considered, be considered more fit than bias that fails to take into account things that are happening.

      When it comes to number aggregators, “what have you done for me *LATELY*?” is a fair question.

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    • Tom, I’m not convinced there’s a bias toward Obama in the mainstream media.

      What we do know is that most journalists are liberal. But that does not mean that their reporting is biased toward being liberal; if they’re any good at their jobs, they know to push against that bias.

      I’m definitely liberal. During the 2004 election, I spent most of my time working as a freelance journalist, mostly writing the intersection of the military and small business. In that capacity, I regularly spoke with people high up in the Bush Administration, including cabinet members; and I talked with hundreds of business owners and military brass. When the election came up (subjects brought it up, I never did,) most of these people were conservative. They knew my work, and presumed I was conservative, too. Many called me with tips for future stories — to the point I actually quit because I felt like I was becoming a tool.

      I’ve been a democratic voter since I was old enough to vote. I’m liberal to my core. I decided to pursue this line of writing because I wanted to push against my biases; to learn about things I wouldn’t necessarily learn about if I just followed where my bias led. I thought invading Afghanistan wrong, let alone going in to Iraq. Yet to a tee, my writing was based on the reporting, I tried to be honest, and if I had something bad to say about someone, to present them fairly.

      I know I’m not all reporters, but I know a lot of reporters; particularly business writers who tend to, more often then not, be conservatives.

      And most will tell you: you push against your bias hard. It informs where you start, and you counter it, you try to tell a truthful story. And when you don’t, it typically comes back to bite you in the ass.

      So I’ll admit, there is a liberal bias in reporter’s views of politics. But I am far from convinced that there’s a political bias because of those views.

      And if there is a bias, it’s mostly by individual organization; as FOX is biased, MSNBC is biased. It’s the total space liberal vs. conservative perspectives are given; the types of images chosen, the placement within a given product. And if you were to go start counting that up, measured over repeated productions cycles, I think you’d be surprised at the outcome.

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      • Zic, you did a level job of stating my argument, so I buy you tried to be a fair journalist. And probably succeeded far better than most. As for the bias, as I wrote elsewhere in the thread, my own objection is to the shading of the news, putting in paragraph 12 what should be the lede. And of course declaring legitimate stories “non-news.”

        Drudge’s big break came from when the mainstream news buried the Lewinsky thing. They had already successfully buried the Gennifer Flowers thing on Clinton’s behalf. I felt that getting your mistress a state job [not the banging her part] was enough of a corruption to disqualify Clinton from the presidency. The media decided it wasn’t however, but that choice should have been made by the American people.

        If Clarence Thomas’s nomination to the Supreme Court could have been threatened by a comment about a pube on a Coke can, the old rules of covering up for JFK had long been trashed, and Clinton’s behavior should have been front page news.

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        • Tom, I like old Bill; like him a lot. He’s about the only politician that I genuinely enjoy hearing him speak. And I agree with his politics.

          But when the whole Lewinsky thing was going down I was a petty officer in the Navy. And if I had been caught boinking someone junior to me in my chain of command I would have been up for court-martial.

          Contrary to the general consensus on the issue, I actually was more bothered by the affair than the cover-up. By which I mean… I totally get lying about having an affair. That’s everybody’s natural first reaction. Most of us don’t have to deny such a thing on national tv or to a congressional inquiry, but still, I understand the impulse there.

          There were probably millions of women who would have been willing to sleep with him. Why he chose that little chubby aide is beyond my comprehension. Kennedy at least had the sense–and taste!–to play with Marilyn.

          As much as I liked Clinton as a President his recklessness was breathtaking and seriously diminished his effectiveness as a leader.

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          • Rod–me, I was more disturbed by giving his mistress Gennifer Flowers a state job. Corruption in office. I had voted Dukakis in ’88, always lukewarm on GHWB. But the Flowers thing disqualified Clinton in my eyes.

            And, as you note, his wandering eye got him in trouble and diminished his effectiveness as president. As it turned out, every “House manager” who pushed the impeachment was shortly out of office, as was Gingrich, the Speaker who permitted it, so the GOP didn’t quite get away with overblowing it. No pun intended.

            As for that woman, Miss Lewinsky, if I have the story correct, the thing is that she pursued Bill, and after trying to resist for months, he finally gave in. Of all his life history of being a dog, this one was least his fault. She might have been his only slip-up while president.

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            • Well, I wasn’t following politics that closely prior to the ’92 election. I was vaguely aware of the Jennifer Flowers thing, but it wasn’t decisive for me. Heck, I think I may have voted Libertarian that year… if I voted at all. I really don’t remember. But in retrospect I wouldn’t be inclined to argue with you, and for the same reasons the Lewinsky thing bothered me.

              And hell, she wasn’t that cute. He could have and should have resisted. Maybe arranged a cushy job somewhere else and sent her away, whatever.

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            • Clinton should have been out because of it, but it blew up in the faces of the congress critters that pushed it because the hypocrisy was so stunning.

              I mean, Gingrich? The guy who divorced his first wife after she got cancer in order to marry his mistress, who was, if I’m recalling correctly, also employed by his party. Of course, he later dumped her for the intern he’d started boinking after she got sick…

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        • Tom, you sort of missed the point. I don’t know all journalist, but I know many. And from what I know, I’m not the exception to the rule.

          Rather, is it possible that you’re experiencing reader bias? The news that confirms your bias slips by without consideration; the news that pushes against it makes you feel agitated?

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          • Zic, I’m confident I could call most every bit of bias, factual or rhetorical, on the right as well. In fact, my favorite game in reading “non-partisans” and “libertarians” is how they parse their arguments to appear so!

            My reference to Diogenes was a hope you might spare me the kill the messenger trip; I spend most of my time dealing with ad hom just to get a word out and not have it drawn & quartered. Along with my own humanity.

            We’re discussing elections right now: I thought Romney might win because like TeddyR said, I don’t know what the American people think, I know what they should think. I knew Mitt would run a good and principled campaign and he did, getting far closer than his critics ever thought he would.

            We’re not playing Jeopardy at the moment, BTW, we’re playing Family Feud, if you follow me here. It’s not about what’s true, it’s about what people THINK is true.

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            • Well, what this is what you think: I knew Mitt would run a good and principled campaign and he did, getting far closer than his critics ever thought he would.

              And I don’t. I think he led a campaign of rich in deception and pettiness and short on principle and honor.

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              • Too much ouch and ugly for me, Zic. How Romney Could Have Won is all yours.

                I don’t think he could’ve. Don’t think any American alive [or dead!] could have. 2012 was what it was. Barack Obama wasn’t just some guy off history’s street. He was, and is, as they say, “historic.”

                Your guest essay on How Romney Could Have Won is approved in advance not only at the Dutch Courage sub-blog, but gladly sponsored by me for the LoOG ‘s front page [which I rarely post upon meself, lest all be lost].

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                • She didn’t ask How Romney could have won: she probed your reader bias, and you proved her point. See “Jeep jobs being sent to China” for an example of what you see as a ” good and principled campaign”.

                  And that was just the latest lie.

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                  • “Jeep jobs to China” is a valid gotcha. Knew that. Bad.

                    “Romney wanted General Motors to go belly-up.” An Obama lie. A better lie, won 2 states, Michigan and Ohio. Obama got away with his.

                    I’m not going to litigate the campaign with you, Jeff. Obama won. My call is that Romney could have lied more or he could have lied less and it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. You’re right about the Jeeps to China riff. Bad. Worse: stupid and ineffective.

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        • , my own objection is to the shading of the news, putting in paragraph 12 what should be the lede.

          That’s certainly a fair criticism. But I have a difficult time seeing how it really compares in seriousness to just making up stories, or purposely falsifying the analysis that underlies them.

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        • No way, Bob. JournoList true believers may lie cheat or steal for their party but they are not for sale. That’s the entire point. They already get paid for shit and use it as a Get Out of Truth card.

          You don’t pay me enough to tell the truth. You barely pay me enough to lie.

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          • Journalist… heh.

            What I find most interesting about you, Tom, is that you are an intelligent person who is so deeply (or shallowly, depending on how you’re looking at it) informed by just few talking heads (or radio voices, and a few bloggers here and there). I would say it’s incongruous, but it’s something else, something more disturbing and more interesting at the same time. It is as though you have the ability to reason for yourself, but have abrogated the responsibility for doing so. The result is that, as intelligent as you are, your views are entirely predictable based on a quick perusal of what’s being talked about on the Fox opinion shows, Hannity or Rush, and a couple right-wing blogs.

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  6. The point is that the conservative media did a disservice to it’s constituents. They never showed a moment of doubt in Their Guys impending victory. It was was akin to religious fervor every day, from practically every commentator: MITT ROMNEY WILL WIN! MITT ROMNEY WILL WIN!

    Personally, I like a little doubt. It keeps me thinking, and on my toes. And I don’t take myself as serious. I think our friends on the right could use a little of that; it would be healthy for them.

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    • It’s absolutely impossible to discuss indirect quotes. The right said blahblahblah. What I heard was that things looked good in some polls [pretty much Rasmussen], but that it was turnout turnout turnout. I meself mentioned anecdotally that I thought the Obama hardcore might come out in full force despite his dreadful record, which is what happened. So too, many potential Romney voters appear to have been convinced by the Obama attack ads that it wasn’t worth turning out for Romney. This appears to have happened too. [Acc to exit polls, the Romney anti-Obama attack ads had nil effect.]

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            • This.

              The argument is that it’s not an increase in the minority vote, but a decrease in the white vote, and the author’s gut says it’s because of those nasty Obama ads that turned voters off from Romney early on.

              And you may keep your dollar as a hedge against the potential need for foodstamps.

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              • Thank you, Zic. Yes, I linked to that link several days ago, and elsewhere that it was the exit polls that said Obama’s negative ads were effective and Romney’s weren’t.

                IOW, not my imagination. See, that wasn’t so hard. Word up, everybody.

                BTW, a friend of mine who reads this blog but isn’t interested in the abuse that goes along with commenting emailed me that

                Are you thinking of going on [food stamps]? I would get as much as you can from govt while you can. I’m sure govt has taken enough from you and your wife and other members of your family.

                Do you agree, Zic? Anyone? Bueller?

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                • My son was laid off when the economy collapsed. Because we have enough, he did not go on unemployment or foodstamps.

                  I grew up on the forerunner of foodstamps, army surplus food. Every month, my mom would go down to the town hall and get boxes of food so that we’d have enough to eat. That, plus what we grew ourselves, was what I learned to cook with. I’m grateful, but I’ll never again eat American cheese. Our time on army surplus food ended when my mother enrolled in a CETA grant program, and trained to be a lab tech and then a histologist. We were lifted out of poverty by this program. I still remember the day she took me to buy new clothes — a pair of jeans and two tee shirts — the first time I’d had something besides hand-me-downs since I was a small child.

                  I do not think there’s anything wrong with receiving help if you need it. There’s no shame in being poor, and I resent the implications many people make about folks who do receive help. Back in the early 1980’s, one of my first off-the-farm jobs was working as a computer programmer for a state welfare dept. I remember watching the TV ads, the attacks on welfare queens. But I also knew the data, that was my job. Mostly white women with children, who’s husbands had financially abandoned them. Most only received help for 2 years. But we got Pink Cadilacs. Ads — both sides got ’em, Tom. (Because of those ads, I got to help write the nations prototype welfare-fraud detection systems. I still don’t know which cost more — the fraud or the systems to detect the fraud.)

                  Perhaps it wasn’t just the early ads Obama ran; perhaps it was a Candidate Romney who shape-shifted so much that those voters, mostly good honest folk who think telling lies is a violation of the ten commandments, stayed home for other reasons.

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                  • Diogenes is delighted, Zic. Pleased to meet you.

                    The question as I posed it is that is I can scrape by without public assistance, do I have a communitarian obligation to do so? Eat Velveeta instead of brie? [Actually I prefer Velveeta, but you know what I mean. With food stamps I could eat Niblets instead of Springfield.]

                    This is no trivial question. In what appear [at this time] to be successful communitarian societies, say Sweden, there’s is zero sympathy for freeriders and there is a strong obligation to take no more from the public stores than you really really need.

                    I would think that if I can scrape by on Velveeta and Springfield on my own, I have some sort of obligation as a citizen to do so.

                    That this little conundrum is not part of our national discussion, but government entitlements as a “right” are front and center makes me think that we are culturally unsuited to a workable communitarianism.

                    And so, culture or human nature being what it is, the alternative is government cheese and county clinics and making public assistance less than cozy. There was an ethic in the America where one would rather work for 40 hours than be on the dole, even if the economics came out the same.

                    Frankly, I consider such an ethic preternatural, and one that certainly doesn’t exist in the now-failing welfare states of Europe. Yet I think such an ethic is the only way a generous communitarian state can sustain.

                    So again, when my pal writes

                    Are you thinking of going on [food stamps]? I would get as much as you can from govt while you can. I’m sure govt has taken enough from you and your wife and other members of your family.

                    I think his advice is typical of America 2012: get it while you can.

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                    • The “truly needy” have never been at issue, Zic. The duties of citizenship need some big sorting out, and I fear we are culturally no longer suited for a cooperative relationship with our government.

                      It is adversarial, it is zero-sum.

                      I’ve never been one for fairness arguments, whether it’s unfair that lazy people get a free ride or it’s unfair to tax the rich too much. The Laffer Curve, the invisible hand, the barbarians at the gates, A Christmas Carol. Those I like.

                      Ayn Rand is probably my least favorite, but like Nietzsche she has this annoying habit of being right, and therein is our rub.

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                    • Food stamps “spent” on Velveeta creates more domestic jobs then those spent on brie. Ask anybody.

                      As a newcomer to this site I will go out on a limb here; I reckon food stamps actually help our economy.

                      And Tom you are under no obligation to scrape by.

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                • Yes, I linked to that link several days ago, and elsewhere that it was the exit polls that said Obama’s negative ads were effective and Romney’s weren’t.

                  And what might the reason for that be? Maybe it was because the attack ads against Romney resonated because they were talking about something real, whereas the ads against Obama were disingenuous? I know that’s an impossible narrative for you to integrate, but it has to be said.

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                    • I have a TV, but no cable, and live in a bowl in the mountains. We only get PBS. So I blissfully didn’t get to see any election ads. That’s to explain my ignorance in this question: Did Romney run any negative ads? Surely Obama wasn’t the only one saying the other dude’s bad for business?

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                    • Zic, I wasn’t complaining about Obama’s negative ads, neither really was Rove. If you’d ever like to know what I think, please read what I wrote. Or just ask me. ;-)

                      As I copied elsewhere,

                      ,i>No wonder Campaign 2012 just set a new record for campaign-ad negativity. According to a Wesleyan Media Project study, 86 percent of Obama’s ads and 79 percent of Mitt Romney’s ads were negative. That’s a big increase from 2008, when Obama and John McCain spent a combined 69 percent of their ad budgets on negative ads; and 2004, when George W. Bush and John Kerry spent a combined 58 percent on negative ads.

                      There’s your numbers.

                      As to Rod’s question, no, I don’t think the anti-Romney ads’ effectiveness was necessarily correlated to their truth or importance in the scheme of things. But I got outvoted on that one. I don’t think his success at Bain was illegitimate or immoral or irrelevant, and I don’t think all Romney’s charges against the president’s record were worthy of the complete dismissal they got.

                      But hey, voting for president is an organic thing, a gestalt, a “wholistic” judgment. Bill Clinton is a complete shitheel, but would probably beat Obama and Romney combined. So it goes.

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        • Well, it’s been a weak of counting the late votes and Obama still lost 11% of his 2008 vote, the first time in American history that an incumbent had fewer votes than his first election and still won, aside from George Washington who ran unopposed both times.

          Romney came in about 2% below McCain’s support, but added voters in the key battleground states, whereas Obama lost voters there.

          I think the negative attacks worked well against Romney, who was essentially an unknown (this time he was the empty canvas), whereas Obama supporters had spent four years coming up with excuses for his failures, so negative attacks wouldn’t work on Obama, nor would his record work against him among the 89% of his 2008 voters who were willing to vote for him a second time. It was probably a case of “I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to Bush.”

          The number of food stamp recipients just set a new record, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics will probably have to add a note to the next employment release saying that the dip in the employment rate is due to anyone involved with Benghazi suddenly leaving the workforce, including AFICOM commander General Ham, CIA director General Patreaus, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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          • The Obama white “voter suppression” meme seems to be gaining credence on the right. A quick google shows the conservative commentators believe anywhere between 3 million (Limbaugh) and 16 million white voters went missing this go round. Ah, life in the bubble:

            http://www.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeedpolitics/there-are-no-missing-voters

            I know you desperately want to delegitimize Obama’s victory George, but, in doing so, you’re falling for the same set of fake numbers that lead conservatives to grossly over-estimate Romney’s strength in the first place. Gingrich and Santorum were the first to hit Romney with vicious anti-Bain ads; the line of attack denigrating his business skills started in his own party. That the Romney campaign failed to anticipate that Obama would attack on similar grounds shows their lack of political acumen. He who fails to define himself allows the other side to do it for him. Romney never offered a clear picture of who he was and what he stood for.

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  7. Besides just calling the election all wrong, there’s something much bigger here, as Tod rightly notes. Much of the conservative media diet has consisted of infotainment, not anything even trying to be dispassionate empirical analysis.

    The bright side of conservative infotainment is that you can always laugh it off, at the expense of liberals, whenever liberal outrage arises: “Ann Coulter is just a performer. Get a sense of humor, guys!”

    The dark side of conservative infotainment is that in the long run it makes you stupider.

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    • “The dark side of conservative infotainment is that in the long run it makes you stupider.”

      I think this nails it why the fox-o-sphere is bad in principle. For better or worse fox is the gold standard of Conservative media. And when fox decides it is better to entertain and spin stories out of whole cloth than to give their viewers a straight dose of reality, it hurts those conservatives ability to realize when the fox reality does not mesh with real reality. It gives them “facts” that are only true in the bubble and now it has infected the party as well as just regular viewers. The fact the even those who are in congress and the statehouses rely on those “facts” makes it harder and harder to come to any sort of compromise or even to discuss what separates the two parties.

      I really do think that this is the greatest disservice that the conservative media did to it’s audience this year. the whole CM was saying that Romney was going to win hands down. even those who waffled placed it like Claudia Rosett did. When all you hear is how well you are going to do and how bad the other side is you cant help but feel smug and self assured. then the election happened and the wrong team won from the Fox perspective.

      I think the gulf between expectation and reality is what is behind a lot of the harsh personal meltdowns like the “libertarian republican” guy and the stories you hear of people unfriending their friends on FB. Also put up Trumps post election twits and the NUGES calling people who voted for Obama “pathetic Scumbags” or “Parasites”. The right just knew they were going to win because the media told them they would(and if other sources told them differently they could easily discount it because it was good old evil Liberal Media saying that).

      I think that this election just showed how dangerous it is to live in any bubble for too long. the air gets thin and your brain stops working.

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    • CNN and MSNBC, as well as network news, are just as guilty of infotainment as Fox. None of them commits much in the way of serious journalism. Mostly, CNN and the networks engage in he-said, she-said tit-for-tat without challenging the veracity of what’s said. And MSNBC is Fox reversed but with a closer relationship to actual facts. They’re all in it for the ratings. For Fox, outrage sells. If they presented a more sober presentation of the news, they’d lose a good chunk of their audience.

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      • CNN is absolutely worthless as far as I am concerned. They are the feather-weights of Cable News.

        MSNBC is left-leaning but there is a big difference in the books that Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes writes and the books written by Hannity and company. Maddow and Hayes write about actual serious issues and put forward policy changes like restoring Congress in their war-making powers. Hannity writes a book long elementary-school bully taunt that roughly translates as “Look at those dumb libruls”

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      • All this being said, I never understood why 24/7 news is a viable market. It is true that only a small handful of people watch each station but they seem to do so constantly. All three repeat stories numerous times a day and this makes it kind of dull.

        Do people just like it as background noise?

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  8. It reminds me when so many thought Bush had lost, when others were telling them that Bush would win. Every election there are winners and losers regarding predictions. I can’t fathom the discipline, obsession and focus it takes to organize neighborhoods for two to three years, so I missed that. I just didn’t think, given the results that Obama produced and how his interventions caused such negative consequences, that voters would come out and vote like they did in 2008. Plus, I just knew that many more would vote for Romney. It’s seemed so rational to expect this, I had to think the assumptions in the polls were wrong — not that they were rigged, just assuming too much Democratic turnout. But the turnout machine was well-oiled and extremely devoted, and this is disconcerting if political parties now have to compete at this sophisticated level for power — something is terribly wrong in America. There is too much power at stake.

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    • I don’t understand this. Parties have always relied on get out the vote mechanisms. Always. Thats what parties are to a great degree, a group of people dedicated to electing people they think should govern. Why is being a good at it a problem? Would you rather have a leader/party that is bad at it? ( as apparently the R’s were this cycle if you listen to the stuff that has come out about the campaign)

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      • I think I do understand MFarmer’s perspective, at least a little bit. On one level, I *know* that’s what parties do. At the same time, it surprises me that they do so.

        I also find it a little disconcerting, although I have trouble on what a realistic, workable alternative would be right now, or how to achieve it.

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    • I can’t fathom the discipline, obsession and focus it takes to organize neighborhoods for two to three years, so I missed that.

      That’s an interesting statement. I like the blunt forthrightness of it. Alone among our Romney-win predictors here, MFarmer has avoided niggling justifications and made the effort to figure out where he made his error in calculation. That’s a model for all of us (because we’ll all surely be wrong some time).

      the turnout machine was well-oiled and extremely devoted, and this is disconcerting if political parties now have to compete at this sophisticated level for power — something is terribly wrong in America

      For my own part, this is a perspective I can’t really fathom. The old days of the party machines, promoting turnout was the primary activity of the party (and it was done mostly by ensuring direct benefits to those who pumped up the turnout). I recommend the short and fascinating little book, “Plunkett of Tammany Hall” for insight into that.

      The party machines mostly have been broken or are still being broken (by the Feds–see Blagojevich, Rod), but turnout still matters, because it doesn’t matter how many people like you if they’re not willing to turn out for you. It’s risky to assume that people will necessarily take the trouble to vote just because they prefer you. If we were to make our presidential selections just through polling data, we wouldn’t need to worry about turnout, but since we require actual votes, turnout always has mattered. It’s not a new phenomena in any way, although sophisticated GIS has allowed the means to become more sophisticated than in the past.

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  9. I recognize that the Republican media has become increasing crazy and detached from reality.

    But after a succession of posts, on this and other sites, about what Republicans must do to avoid irrelevance, I’m starting to roll my eyes.

    All of the past 6 presidential elections have actually been very close, compared to earlier ones. Eisenhower (both times), Kennedy (I don’t know why everyone talks about this one as being close; it was 56%-41% and 303-219 electoral votes), Johnson, Nixon (in ’72), and Reagan (both times) all won substantially larger victories than have been since in the Clinton-Bush-Obama elections. Electoral swings and the number of states changing hands appear to be historically small, though my historical perspective is limited as I’ve only collected results as far back as Truman. The very idea of “swing states” deciding an election looks like a recent phenomenon.

    There haven’t been any landslide victories since Reagan (no, not even Bush-Dukakis or Obama-McCain). When the Republicans are losing everything but Idaho, Wyoming and a couple southern states, then you can come back and say they’re facing irrelevance. Or at least, wait until they’re losing Texas – that will be the big warning light.

    Currently? There’s no doubt they’re facing a demographic challenge, what with doing their best to alienate anyone who isn’t white, but even the current bleach coalition is managing to hold its own, and will likely continue to do so for the next few elections cycles.

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      • Fortunately Katherine’s a leftperson, so factual errors are forgiven. As they should be, mind you: her actual point seems sound apart from that quibble. That’s how it works among historians reviewing each other’s books—when they’re friendly they forgive each other’s minor errors; when they’re ideological enemies, the errors are why you shouldn’t believe a word he says!

        I think Katherine’s right here. The Dems were dead in 2004, the GOP in 2008.

        Although I do not know for sure what Katherine means by the GOP’s “current bleach coalition,” but I suspect I do. Heh. If so, I find the locution offensive and I hope this “bleaching” is a growing phenomenon.

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    • Irrelevant? No. Not yet at least. But here’s a few facts to consider:

      From the Washington Post

      In the past six presidential elections, including 2012, the Democratic nominee has averaged 327 electoral votes while the Republican nominee has averaged just 210. (A candidate needs 270, a simple majority of the total of 538 electoral votes, to be elected.)

      During those two-plus decades dating back to 1992, the most — repeat most — electoral votes a Republican presidential candidate has won is 286, when George W. Bush claimed a second term in 2004. In that same time frame, Democratic nominees have received more than 300 electoral votes four times: Barack Obama in 2008 (365) and 2012 (332) and Bill Clinton in 1992 (370) and 1996 (379). The lowest total for a Democratic nominee during that period was Sen. John Kerry’s 251 electoral votes in 2004; Republicans’ floor during that same period was 159 electoral votes in 1996.

      That Democratic electoral-vote dominance is the mirror image of the huge edge Republicans enjoyed in the six elections prior to 1992. From 1968 to 1988, Republican presidential nominees averaged a whopping 417 electoral votes per election while Democrats managed just 113. The most electoral votes a Democratic nominee won was 297, when Jimmy Carter claimed the presidency in 1976. Ronald Reagan, in beating Carter four years later, rolled up 489 electoral votes — and followed that up with a 525-electoral-vote victory in 1984. From 1968 to 1988, Democrats never broke 300 electoral votes, while Republicans broke that barrier five times: 1968 (301), 1972 (530), 1980 (489), 1984 (525) and 1988 (426).

      The numbers paint a very clear picture: Republicans now face the same low electoral-college ceiling that Democrats confronted for much of the 1970s and 1980s — needing everything to go right to win the presidency, much less break the 300-electoral-vote barrier.

      There’s also this from Princeton University:

      Analysis finds during the 2010 Midterm elections the Republicans won the popular vote 53.5% to 46.5%. Now a mere two years later the GOP lost the popular vote 50.3% to 49.7% across all congressional elections and still managed to maintain control of the house.

      According to the original report, the “discrepancy between popular votes and seat counts is the largest since 1950.”

      Basically, due to gerrymandering following their wins in Statehouses in 2010, Republicans managed to pull off what amounts to a popular/EC split in the House. They lost ~10 seats this time around (a couple races are still being counted/recounted, AFAIK) so they have a 15 seat advantage, down from 25.

      When you combine that with losing two Senate seats–and not to conservadems, but honest-to-God liberals–and the referenda on gay marriage and marijuana, it’s hard for me to see how they negotiate this.

      In particular, I’m not sure how they can massage their positions on issues to gain more than they lose. It’s just a consequence of the coalition they hammered together in the ’80s. I’m trying real hard not to engage in rose-colored triumphalism here, but seriously… this looks good for the Dems going forward.

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        • Likely it just makes the task of gerrymandering easier for Republicans. I do like the methodology of the study and it makes intuitive sense when you look at a county level red/blue map. But the point remains that gerrymandering had significant effects in certain states like PA.

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        • May be part of it, but there’s definitely some weird-looking districts out there. Virginia looks like a jigsaw puzzle.

          I think that an even more pernicious effect than giving one party the electoral advantage is that it makes it very difficult for anyone to lose their seats, because most seats are deep-blue or deep-red due to the way they’re configured. It’s bad for accountability, and it’s bad for circulation; it’s why you can have so many seats up for election and so few changing hands. And it means that the parties can run any old schlub in most of their districts, and so the House ends up with nutbars, which is also not ideal.

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          • There’s another thing, too. And I’m not sure how significant it is.

            The only contested race on my entire ballot was the Presidential. The rest of it–all the way down–were Republicans running unopposed. Now I didn’t vote for any of them, but I also didn’t have the opportunity to vote for anyone else. And I know from looking at the Secretary of State’s website that my situation was repeated in several places across the state (at least in my congressional district).

            So what I’m getting at here is that the official vote tallies don’t even give you a true read on the state of the popular will. Opinion polls would actually be more accurate.

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        • Zic,

          Districts don’t have to be focused just on a city or just in the rural area. It’s true that Dems and Repubs have a tendency to be segregated in that way, but that doesn’t mean the district lines have to follow the ideological segregation. If we strived to make districts as competitive as possible, then Congressional control would be much more responsive to changes in the overall public preference.

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          • I’m not disagreeing, and did not offer that as my opinion so much as an alternative analysis which I thought shouldn’t get lost, a consider all the evidence.

            But one aspect of districting is recognizing political boundaries whenever possible — not splitting existing towns/cities when unnecessary; this was a large part of the recent redistricting efforts in my state. And believe it or not, after a few false starts, it was done on a bipartisan basis.

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      • Dubya was an exceptionally weak president who had already made some very unpopular decisions by 2004. He is not necessarily the high-water-mark of the best the Republicans can do.

        As the WP notes, the Republican floor has been 159. The Democrats, in the 1968-88 period, got 17, 49, and 13 electoral votes in three separate elections. The Republicans got over 400 electoral votes in two elections and over 500 in another two; the Democrats have cracked neither of those barriers. It’s simply not the same kind of situation.

        That the House is gerrymandered all out of whack, I agree, but it’s not particularly germane to my point.

        The only thing the state totals from this election shows is that the Democrats won the swing states. In another year, with a better GOP candidate and a weaker Democratic one, they might win them. That kind of an electoral swing would be nothing to the kind that America has typically seen throughout its presidential election history.

        The Republicans may be in serious trouble 10-20 years down the road, if nothing changes, but 10-20 years is an awfully long time in political history

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        • I’m not saying they can’t win, and neither is the article saying that. It’s just that as things stand demographically, the structural advantage in the EC has swung over to the Dems. Basically, as long as the Dems can reasonably count on CA, NY, and IL and the only sure big state for the Reps is TX, the Dems start with an advantage going into the race.

          And that’s significant when you consider that given the outsized leverage that rural states have in the EC and the urban/rural divide between the parties, the Reps should have the advantage. But they currently don’t.

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          • Yes, the Dems have the advantage at the moment. I just don’t think that’s sufficient to be predicting the imminent demise of the party if they don’t make major reforms. People said the same about the Dems in 2004 (in the same circumstances: inability to defeat a relatively weak incumbent president with a weak challenger) and they were wrong then.

            Areas of strength are currently relatively balanced: the GOP have the southeast and the interior west, the Dems have the northwest and west coast, and those areas give roughly equal numbers of EVs to both parties. The swing areas are the southwest and the midwest (why is it called that!? it’s in the east, or at least the comparative centre! it’s south of Ontario!). If the Republicans can win back the “midwest”, or a fair part of it, they win the presidency. If they can’t, they’re in trouble.

            They’re challenged by Obama making inroads in the south, but it still basically comes down to those two regions. It’s different from elections where a part was basically wiped out everywhere but a few states.

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          • Well, the real forces in play aren’t regional, they’re demographics. Conservatives are outbreeding the liberals by a wide margin, but the liberals are compensating by importing Mexicans. Republicans were trying to shift more people to their party by wealth creation, but Democrats countered with massive increases in poverty. Kennedy faced the conundrum that if the economy did well under his stewardship, more people were projected to start voting Republican because richer people tended to vote that way. The economic boom under Clinton may have contributed to Buh-43’s successful races, and the obvious way to reverse that defeat is to keep the country mired in anemic growth and high unemployment while deftly avoiding the blame for it, which seems to be Obama’s forte. That means the Democrats have a high likelihood of holding on to the White House in 2016.

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            • You might want to take a look at Reagan’s immigration programs before you blame the entire rise of the Latino population on the Democrats. You might also want to look at who’s hired all the Mexicans who crossed the border illegally. If your answer is “liberals,” you’re seriously mistaken.

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            • Well, that is true. Yet the Republicans were thinking of them was workers, not voters, and both parties in Texas and the South West were quite used to hispanics, since they themselves had originally immigrated into the hispanics’ territories.

              It will be interesting to see how hispanics pull the Democrat party to the right, since they’re very family-oriented conservative Catholics whose values are much like those of an American from the 1950’s – stepping out of a time-machine. Combine them with the blacks, who are very religious, and the Democrat party becomes the Baptist/Catholic alliance party, which is going to be hard to square with gay rights, abortion rights, etc. Perhaps their new slogan will be “Progressivisim – going back to the 1950’s so we can start all over again.”

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              • Yet the Republicans were thinking of them was workers, not voters,

                Heh, the conservative thinks Republicans are electorally stupid. Personally I think they’re smarter than he gives them credit for.

                It will be interesting to see how hispanics pull the Democrat party to the right, since they’re very family-oriented conservative Catholics whose values are much like those of an American from the 1950?s

                Are you sure? Maybe they’re not from the ’50s as much as your understanding of them is.

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                • Perhaps the article didn’t say quite what you think it said.

                  When California voted for a gay marriage ban in 2008, 70 percent of African Americans voted for it, and when North Carolina overwhelmingly passed a similar measure earlier this year, many cited the black vote as a big reason.

                  That’s a big turnaround from recent years. In 2008 and 2009, a Pew Research Center survey showed just 28 percent of African Americans and 39 percent of Latinos backed gay marriage. And by 2010, support in those communities was rising slower than it was among whites.

                  The exit polls suggest both groups have now moved in large numbers toward supporting gay marriage. Their shifts may not be bigger than other demographics, but the fact that they are shifting at all (after sticking to their opposition) is what’s really significant here.

                  And as the article states, 58 percent of black men still oppose gay marriage. You wouldn’t be trying to drag them along if they were Berkeley liberals.

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        • He is not necessarily the high-water-mark of the best the Republicans can do.

          Are you sure about that? They nominated McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012, and the other choices were the likes of Gingrich and Perry and Palin.

          It’s possible that the Tea Party, combined with the right wing media bubble, have created enough of an echo chamber that there are no real thinkers and no real, strong leaders on the Right left in this generation. Instead, it’s all about rage and anger and quickly leads into outright bigotry (against gays, against muslims, against anyone without lily white skin, und so weiter…) each election cycle.

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      • The composition of the House won’t reflect the total popular vote in all the House races because Democrats tend to be highly concentrated. Republicans will post 55 to 45 wins all across the country, and then Democrats will post 80 to 20 wins in places like San Francisco and 105 to -5 wins in Philly and Chicago.

        The Republicans didn’t gerrymander blacks into living in nice contiguous clumps, the Democrats put them there, and gerrymandering requires the creation of districts that look like gerrymanders, which is an amphibian.

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      • “When you combine that with losing two Senate seats–and not to conservadems, but honest-to-God liberals”

        The Dem pickups (if you don’t count the Ct seat, and treat the Maine & Nebraska seats as a wash), were Elizabeth Warren and Joseph Donnelly.

        Warren sure – and really, what are the odds of Mass putting a liberal in a US Senate seat?

        Donnellythough. is a self described ‘Blue Dog’ that, for instance, once upon time had a 0% rating from NARAL. (he has since raised it up to 20%).

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        • If you don’t want to consider this a pick-up for the Dems, consider this: Snow held the seat since 1994. She was behind numerous moves that moderated the Senate; from voting to move ACA to the floor for a vote in the Senate (no filibuster) to Clinton’s impeachment (she and Collins tried to separate the verdict from the finding, and when that failed, both voted to acquit.) Even life-long Democrats kept voting for her because of these actions of moderation.

          Angus King is well-loved in Maine. And with our last election, where independent Eliot Cutler and the Democratic candidate, Libby Mitchell, split the liberal/moderate vote, handing the election to our current embarrassment of a governor, voters were concerned we did not repeat and put another Republican tea-party candidate in office. (Summers is our AG, and we all know him well from his expensive ‘investigation’ into non-existant voter fraud.) Voters turned out in large numbers, and replaced the extreme Republican candidates at the state level with Democrats. Many moderate Republicans survived. Both houses, which had been under Republican majorities for the first time in many years, were returned to Democratic majorities.

          While it might be easy to suggest the Maine Senate seat isn’t a win for Democrats, as a politically active resident, I know that’s not true. The down-ballot races are proof. The election where our governor won his seat and the legislature turned red had a ballot referendum to throw out a law allowing same sex marriage. The evangelicals turned out because of the marriage law; and it was struck down. We fixed that bit of bigotry with this election, too.

          The most important thing here was the calculas many voters did; the lesson learned in what happens if you don’t get out and vote. We’ll see if they remember come next two Novembers.

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          • The Maine seat *is* a win for the Democratic caucus – balanced out by the Nebraska loss from that caucus. And the new Connecticut US Senator is more liberal than his predecessor, ’tis likely, but Lieberman was always a fairly reliable caucus vote on anything that didn’t impact foreign policy. (and who knows where the Dem caucus is these days on foreign policy with their guy in the White House).

            In the spirit of battling innumeracy whenever and wherever it exists, I’m merely saying that I count 1 where Mister Rod counts 2 ‘honest to God liberals’ picking up to formerly GOP seats.

            If you’re saying that King is an honest to God liberal, I’ll take your word for it and stipulate the pick-up of 2.

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  10. Not to defend Fox on the federal spending story, since they did indeed misreport it, but there was a real story there for them to misreport. Federal domestic spending as a percentage of GDP has been at unprecedented levels for the entirety of Obama’s term. This really is a big deal, and should be regarded as a major scandal.

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    • I have only one small quibble with what you say. GDP took a dive in 2008 so even if spending had stayed flat it would look like spending grew as a % of GDP. not to say we are not spending a lot of money, because we are. I think that right now thought with corporate America unwilling to spend the Gov is the spender of last resort. unless we feel the need to repeat 1937 or join the E.U. in the austerity poverty party.

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      • Russell,

        From my viewpoint it’s more like the government has preventing private sector spending and investment through all its ongoing spending and interventions. The private sector was basically shut down by decades of government spending and interventions which finally took their toll. It does no good to blame any one President because this has been going on for a long time. In a free market, the economic ups and downs would be short transitions from unproductive efforts to productive efforts, but myriad government interventions has now caused a central, statist management that is killing the economy — it’s the system, not the temporary Presidents, although each President can make it worse, and Bush and Obama made it worse.

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  11. Lovely to see how this discussion has been van dyked, tu quoqued and brodered into taking the focus off of the conservative media. Y’all fall for it every time. But it’s so important for balance or something, allegedly.

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