What The American People Want!

Whenever I hear anyone say “this is what the American people want”, I immediately discount what they have to say. “The American people” is made up of people of all sorts of different beliefs, liberal, conservative, moderate, libertarian, socialist, fascist, capitalist, communist…we have a myriad of opinions that can’t be boiled down to one question on a robo-poll.  It is never accurate to generalize what America believes or wants because “America” is not monolithic in its thinking. At the health care summit we kept hearing the Republicans repeat that the American people don’t want this bill. This poll from Newsweek (and polls are the problem here) shows that when you explain the details of the plan, they do support it.

When asked about Obama’s plan (without being given any details about what the legislation includes), 49 percent opposed it and 40 percent were in favor. But after hearing key features of the legislation described, 48 percent supported the plan and 43 percent remained opposed.

Either way, it’s not a huge margin and no one should claim what the American people want based on it. If one were honest, they would say something like a “small plurality” of the American people prefer, but even that is really not honest since the margin of error for that particular poll is +/- 3.6 % which means it could be as much as a 7.2 % swing either way. Who knows what the American people want? Morning Joe Scarborough is the worst at using polls to try to beat up politicians and put pressure on them. Just this morning on “Press the Meat” with David Gregory, David had a run of questions that were all laced with “what the American people want” or “going against the will of the American people”…..which American people? All of them? Or just those 200 who answered the poll question you are using to make your gross generalization?

I also have a problem with populist governing, let’s take a poll and then decide how we want to proceed. Let’s take a complex, detailed problem with all sorts of minutia and ask the general public what they think about it. How fucking stupid is that? This phenomenon lays open the opportunity for misinformation campaigns, distortions, lobbyist money, all directed at swaying the public so when they take that slanted poll (see link in the next paragraph), they can get the results they want. It becomes a battle of propaganda, who can con the American people the best.

Polls are becoming weapons, just ask Vic Snyder who decided not to run after getting ambush polled by Janey Hamsher. The tactics used by the supposed progressive Jane Hamsher and her organization is just one example of how methodology by pollsters can have a huge influence on results. So once again, how useful is the information gleaned from polls considering all the ways the numbers can be influenced or interpreted? It’s crap.

Now when it comes to election polls, as you get closer to an election the results start to get more accurate when done by reputable organizations with sound methodology. You always have the partisan polling groups on either extreme, but these serve more to try to sway public opinion using the “bandwagon” effect. They try to swing momentum one way or another by upsetting the ongoing narrative. So I guess polls serve a purpose as we get closer to election day, but really to the extent that they do sway opinion, it isn’t a good thing. Shouldn’t people vote for their candidate based on issues and leadership, not because it’s all the rage.

Atheists Listened To For The First Time!

From The Raw Story

Some conservative commentators are accusing the Obama administration of inviting “hate groups” into the White House by holding a meeting with a coalition of secularist and atheist groups.Officials from the Justice and Health and Human Services departments met Friday with representatives of the Secular Coalition for America, an umbrella group that includes American Atheists and the Council for Secular Humanism. The coalition called it “the first time in history a presidential administration has met for a policy briefing with the American nontheist community.”

Now that is some change for your ass. Finally a president who really does value all opinions and beliefs, who isn’t afraid to hear a contrary point of view and isn’t so arrogant in his own beliefs so as to foist them on others. Cheers to the Obama administration for this. The right wingnuts are freaking out, they would just as soon burn those atheists at the stake, ya know?

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, said the meeting provided a “definitive answer” about the administration’s stance towards religion.

“People of faith, especially Christians, have good reason to wonder exactly where their interests lie with the Obama administration,” Donohue said in a statement. “Now we have the definitive answer. In an unprecedented move, leaders of a presidential administration are hosting some of the biggest anti-religious zealots in the nation.”

And your point is? You have to wonder what they are so afraid of, if they are so right in their beliefs, don’t they have God in their corner? What fascinates me about the religious right is how all the different branches of Christianity and Catholicism have joined forces, even though they differ so much on beliefs that are “fundamental” to them. But somehow they seem to vote as a block and have become susceptible to the brain washing of the right, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the whole gang. They often vote against their own self interest, swept up in the propoganda and mind numbing lies and twisted reality.

So for the first time ever, these groups who are interested in separation of church and state and the rights of “non-believers” are being listened to, it has to feel pretty good for them since I imagine their battle has been a tough one.

But Dr. Ed Buckner, head of American Atheists, praised the Obama administration for including non-believers in the political dialogue, something he said was missing from previous administrations.

Over 13 percent of the population is considered ‘non-religious,’ and this includes millions of atheists, freethinkers, humanists, rationalists, and other citizens,” Buckner said. “We are committed to the separation of church and state and to equality for non-believers in the political arena. Religious speakers must not continue to be given special privileges.

In the previous administration, the military made several moves to try to institutionalize religion among the troops. People are being harassed and pressured to participate in christian services. A lot of work has to be done to repair our country and make it open to all religions and non-believers. That was the reason my ancestors came to America, to be able to practice their religion without interference, they understood the problem of governments getting mixed up in religion.

Doh! Listen To Rush Limbaugh, Screw Yourself!

This is too funny. Remember back in the 2008 campaign when Rushie Limpbaugh was telling people in Ohio to jump parties and vote for Hillary and screw with the democratic primary. Well, it’s now come back to bite them in the ass. Apparently some of the local “GOP Central Committee” folks did just what their leader Rush told them to do, but now they are ineligible to be on the GOP Central Committee…..they checked Democratic on the form, oh shit. Crooks and Liars has the story here.

These aren’t just voters who screwed up, these people are the leaders of the local Republican party, they are the loyal ones, the die-hard ones and they are now being DENIED! I love it.

Pass The Bill – Democrats

It’s time for President Obama and the democrats in congress to just pass the bill. They need to do it quickly so there is time for it to start working before the November elections. The Republican plan all along was to stop the democrats from accomplishing anything and if they succeed in doing that, they can claim the Democrats can’t govern. Since the internal polls show that people like the reform when it’s explained to them, or the specifics are given to them, it isn’t exactly a risky vote.  I think part of the disgust with the congress is not doing anything and part of it is the partisanship.

Pass the bill, there is no other option. The Republican talking point that we should start over is so disingenuous. It’s like Lucy pulling the football away when Charlie Brown goes to kick it. What a bunch of blatant liars, not one of them really wants to pass anything and by making it sound like they really want to be a part of the process, bullshit! Where were they for the last year, if they were so concerned they would have taken up one of the many opportunities that the President and Democrats gave them. Don’t believe them lying bastards, they have a history.

Health Care Summit, Republican Smackdown Round 2

Unfortunately I won’t be able to watch it live for very long, I get to go sit in a dentist chair and then go to work. I hope it is as good as the last event where the president showed us why we elected him. All signs point to the Republicans acting like children and lying like crazy. You would think they learned their lesson the last time they were humiliated by the president. But that would mean they actually think, not much of that happening in the Republic Party these days. Let the fun begin. I’ll weigh in later during my dinner break at work.

Gotta Love Rep. Anthony Weiner, No One Says It Better!

I just have to weigh in on the great moment on the floor of the House of Representatives today. Anthony Weiner from New York, told the truth.  Here is the clip.

Man I wish I had a representative like that, we have the one and only Peter Hoekstra here in west Michigan, cough. My friend Kay in Maine from White Noise Insanity turned me on to this clip that goes to the heart of the health care issue, watch it!!!!! I’m telling you!

Now that’s a good liberal.

Republican Bloodlust, Why Do They Love Torture?

This clip is from last week on Morning Joke. It’s amazing, Lawrence O’ Donnell goes off on Marc Thiessen who wrote a book called “Courting Disaster: How The CIA Kept America Safe and How Barack Obama Is Inviting The Next Attack”. Lawrence kicked his ass and went right for the jugular, Joe Scarborough cut him off and went to commercial.

A couple of days ago, Joe Scarborough had Marc Thiessen back on to debate the issue with Daniel Freedman, who does an excellent job countering the many lies that Thiessen is pimping around. Here’s that exchange…

It just amazes me that some on the right, Dick Cheney, Liz Cheney and Marc Thiessen are so intent on torturing people. WTF is wrong with these people. This passage from Elizabeth Holtzman’s piece on MichaelMoore.com says it much better than I ever could. (emphasis mine)

Military interrogations in wartime are critically important. They might reveal, for example, where the enemy is going to strike next, and affect the lives of thousands of American troops. Yet until the Bush Administration took office, the US did not adopt torture as an official tool to extract such information. It’s good to recall why.

After horrific mistreatment of detainees during World War II, including the torture of American POW’s by the Japanese, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the supreme commander of Allied forces, urged the US to ratify the Geneva Conventions. General Douglas McArthur voluntarily instituted the Conventions for American troops in the Korean War, even before they were ratified.

There are very good reasons why America as a country shouldn’t torture. They all seem obvious to me, but I guess the lessons of history don’t mean a whole lot to some. So many of the people who are the biggest supporters of torture also claim to be patriotic, how patriotic is it to dishonor those soldiers that fought in previous wars and who learned the lessons of war? More from Elizabeth Holtzman…

These commanders supported the Geneva Conventions, not because they thought it acceptable to “tie our hands” during combat and expose American troops to unnecessary risk, but because they realized the real danger to our country lay in using torture, not in abstaining from it. They saw professional interrogations produced important information without torture. They knew torture only weakens our reputation and our ability to project “soft power” — to command respect and persuade abroad. They perceived inhumane treatment of the enemy would only further endanger the lives of American troops.

David Patreus, the hero of the right until recently, was on Meet the Press this past weekend and reiterated his feelings about torture. Here’s part of what he said on that show.

I have always been on the record, in fact, since 2003, with the concept of living our values. And I think that whenever we’ve perhaps taken expedient measures, they’ve turned around and bitten us in the backside. We decided early on, in the 101st airborne division, we just said, we decided to obey the Geneva Conventions…

Abu Ghraib and other situations like that are non biodegradable. They don’t go away. The enemy continues to beat you with them like a stick…. Beyond that, frankly, we have found that the use of interrogation methods in the army field manual that was given the force of law by Congress, that that works.”

Whenever I hear one of the neo-cons arguing for torture, I can’t help but think to myself that there is some other reason why the crave torture. Why could they be so adament about it in the face of so much evidence from psychologists, professional interrogators in the FBI and by people like John McCain who actually was tortured? Why do they ignore all that evidence and continue to pine for the days of torture under Bush/Cheney’s regime? In a post by Peter Levine called “What’s Wrong With Torture”, he helps to explain a possible reason.

While there are no major ancient or medieval critiques of cruelty, the classical liberals (who were the intellectual ancestors of today’s conservatives and progressives alike) focused on cruelty as a special evil because it represented what they feared most: state tyranny…

it tends to “normalize” torture. Normalization is a powerful and dangerous pyschological phenomenon. As Luban writes (pp. 1451-2):

“we judge right and wrong against the baseline of whatever we have come to consider “normal” behavior, and if the norm shifts in the direction of violence, we will come to tolerate and accept violence as a normal response. The psychological mechanisms for this re-normalization have been studied for more than half a century, and by now they are reasonably well understood.”

Dick and Liz Cheney along with Marc Thiessen seem almost desperate in their attempts to “normalize” torture and they like to use people’s fears and emotions to gain their support. I’m certainly thankful that President Obama has put a stop to it and we are returning to the morals and principles that our country was founded on.