Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Britain becomes a nation of conservatives for the first time in 20 years
People's views are becoming more conservative and there has been a mass move away from tax-and-spend values, an influential annual study said yesterday. Even Labour supporters have weakened in their belief in equality and redistribution of wealth, said the British Social Attitudes report. It said that after a dozen years of New Labour, 'British public opinion now has a more conservative character'.
For the first time in 20 years, more people called themselves Conservative than Labour, 32 per cent against 27 per cent. The large-scale survey, carried out every year since 1983, points to a hardening of views on many issues. People are less willing to consider legalising cannabis than they were just a few years ago and more than half think a single mother with a school-age child has a duty to go out to work to support the household. But there has also been a liberal swing on family life, with increasing numbers tolerating homosexuality and fewer condemning cohabiting couples.
The survey also found a declining sense of civic duty, with only 56 per cent believing everyone should vote in an election, down from 68 per cent in 1991.
The report says the shift of thinking against high public spending and the use of the tax system to redistribute wealth is the first resurgence of conservative values since Margaret Thatcher's premiership was nearing its end in 1989.
The survey, taken among nearly 5,000 people by the social research group NatCen, found that only two out of five back higher taxation, down from nearly two-thirds in 1997. However, the public remains devoted to spending on health and education - only eight per cent think those areas of spending should be cut.
Only 38 per cent now back spending to move wealth from the well-off to the poor, down from 51 per cent in 1994. Just one in five think unemployment benefits are too low, down from half in 1994.
The shift has been especially pronounced among Labour supporters who have followed the Blairite rejection of Old Labour values. Their belief in redistribution of wealth has dropped from 68 to 49 per cent since the mid-1990s, while Tory views have hardly changed. John Curtice, one of the authors of the report, said: 'Labour's increased public spending on health and education was an astute recognition of the public mood in the late 1990s. But the public's thirst has now been satisfied.'
The survey was funded by Whitehall ministries and quangos including the Economic and Social Research Council.
Obama's loose grip on reality
President Obama's response to the catastrophic political failures of his freshman year in office is to fight harder for more of the same. Presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett made the point explicitly on Sunday, asserting that the White House is "not hitting a reset button at all." That reflects the kind of political savvy that handed the safest Democratic Senate seat in America to a Republican.
Mr. Obama seems unaware that he is part of the problem. The president credited Scott Brown's historic Senate-race victory in Massachusetts last week to the same voter frustration that swept him into office in 2008. The glitch in that worldview is that Mr. Brown ran explicitly against the Obama agenda.
Mr. Obama's response to comparisons to 1994, when Democrats lost control of both the House and Senate, is that "the big difference here and in '94 was you've got me." Mr. Obama certainly is making a big difference, but none that should give comfort to his party.
Gallup polling data show he is the most polarizing first-year president since records have been kept, significantly more so than Bill Clinton, the previous record holder. Mr. Obama's approval rating dropped faster than Mr. Clinton's in his first year, and generic ballots for the 2010 race show Republicans in an as good or better position compared to 1994 or 2006, when Congress last changed hands. A Fox News poll from January 2006 found a 51 percent disapproval rate for the then-Republican Congress. The same poll this month shows disapproval with the Democratic Congress at 63 percent.
The White House claims it hasn't reached out enough to the American people, but the real problem is that Mr. Obama's vaunted oratorical skills have had a short shelf life. In the administration's first months, the president regularly took to the airwaves to push his agenda, attempting to mimic President Reagan's effective use of television to circumvent congressional roadblocks. However, networks began to push back when it became clear that giving up valuable prime-time slots to Mr. Obama meant ratings death. Now the half-serious story making the rounds is that the State of the Union speech was scheduled so as not to conflict - or compete - with the premiere of the final season of "Lost." The president's relentless reliance on teleprompters likewise has become a national joke, building the impression that America elected a reader when it needs a leader.
The Obama team is reaching out to 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe for damage control, which suggests that since they cannot govern, they might as well campaign. Mr. Plouffe counsels pushing ahead vigorously on health care, which would doom many Democratic members of Congress. He suggests that the government "create" jobs, which it claims to be doing even as unemployment swells. He says the Democrats should not accept any "lectures" on spending, even though last year's $1.42 trillion deficit tripled the record set in 2008. Mr. Plouffe advises that Democrats "run great campaigns," which is the equivalent of a coach telling his team that the way to win is to score more points. He also helpfully cautions against "bed-wetting," an echo of Mr. Obama's admonition not to get "wee-wee'd up." Apparently Democrats see bladder control as the key to victory.
Mr. Obama is in a state of denial. His party's losses in Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts all sent the message that the American people want the party in power to govern more wisely. For the time being, Democrats still enjoy substantial margins in both houses, but their agenda is stalled because it's painfully out of step with what the country wants. Mr. Obama pledges to keep on fighting, but pushing harder for ruinously bad policies is not populism; it is political suicide.
NYT columnist slams the Donks
Noted black columnist Bob Herbert writing below. If the Donks have lost the NYT, what is left?
How loud do the alarms have to get? There is an economic emergency in the country with millions upon millions of Americans riddled with fear and anxiety as they struggle with long-term joblessness, home foreclosures, personal bankruptcies and dwindling opportunities for themselves and their children.
The door is being slammed on the American dream and the politicians, including the president and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill, seem not just helpless to deal with the crisis, but completely out of touch with the hardships that have fallen on so many.
While the nation was suffering through the worst economy since the Depression, the Democrats wasted a year squabbling like unruly toddlers over health insurance legislation. No one in his or her right mind could have believed that a workable, efficient, cost-effective system could come out of the monstrously ugly plan that finally emerged from the Senate after long months of shady alliances, disgraceful back-room deals, outlandish payoffs and abject capitulation to the insurance companies and giant pharmaceutical outfits.
The public interest? Forget about it.
With the power elite consumed with its incessant, discordant fiddling over health care, the economic plight of ordinary Americans, from the middle class to the very poor, got pathetically short shrift. And there is no evidence, even now, that leaders of either party fully grasp the depth of the crisis, which began long before the official start of the Great Recession in December 2007.
A new study from the Brookings Institution tells us that the largest and fastest-growing population of poor people in the U.S. is in the suburbs. You don’t hear about this from the politicians who are always so anxious to tell you, in between fund-raisers and photo-ops, what a great job they’re doing. From 2000 to 2008, the number of poor people in the U.S. grew by 5.2 million, reaching nearly 40 million. That represented an increase of 15.4 percent in the poor population, which was more than twice the increase in the population as a whole during that period.
The study does not include data from 2009, when so many millions of families were just hammered by the recession. So the reality is worse than the Brookings figures would indicate.
Job losses, stagnant or reduced wages over the past decade, and the loss of home equity when the housing bubble burst have combined to take a horrendous toll on families who thought they had done all the right things and were living the dream. A great deal of that bleeding is in the suburbs. The study, compiled by the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, said, “Suburbs gained more than 2.5 million poor individuals, accounting for almost half of the total increase in the nation’s poor population since 2000.”
Democrats in search of clues as to why voters are unhappy may want to take a look at the report. In 2008, a startling 91.6 million people — more than 30 percent of the entire U.S. population — fell below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, which is a meager $21,834 for a family of four.
The question for Democrats is whether there is anything that will wake them up to their obligation to extend a powerful hand to ordinary Americans and help them take the government, including the Supreme Court, back from the big banks, the giant corporations and the myriad other predatory interests that put the value of a dollar high above the value of human beings.
The Democrats still hold the presidency and large majorities in both houses of Congress. The idea that they are not spending every waking hour trying to fix the broken economic system and put suffering Americans back to work is beyond pathetic. Deficit reduction is now the mantra in Washington, which means that new large-scale investments in infrastructure and other measures to ease the employment crisis and jump-start the most promising industries of the 21st century are highly unlikely.
What we’ll get instead is rhetoric. It’s cheap, so we can expect a lot of it.
Those at the bottom of the economic heap seem all but doomed in this environment. The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston put the matter in stark perspective after analyzing the employment challenges facing young people in Chicago: “Labor market conditions for 16-19 and 20-24-year-olds in the city of Chicago in 2009 are the equivalent of a Great Depression-era, especially for young black men.”
The Republican Party has abandoned any serious approach to the nation’s biggest problems, economic or otherwise. It may be resurgent, but it’s not a serious party. That leaves only the Democrats; a party that once championed working people and the poor, but has long since lost its way.
Another bad sign for Democrats: Sarah Palin is popular in liberal San Francisco
In San Francisco, I haven’t seen too many bumper stickers saying “Palin for Prez in 2012,” but if you’re looking for a gauge of America’s current political temperature, look no farther than liberal San Francisco, where Sarah Palin – yes, that Sarah Palin – has a widespread fan base. In the city that begat the Summer of Love and jump-started the counter-culture movement, the conservative ex-governor of Alaska has become a much-admired figure – among both women and men.
Let me name some names. Nancy Workman. Steve Rodriguez. Shevon O’Rourke Dieterich. Mark Silverman. Roy Azem. Maureen Ennor. All of them are connected to San Francisco, and all of them admire Palin in a public way. How public? Workman, Rodriguez, Dieterich, Silverman, Azem, and Ennor spotlight their support for Palin on Facebook, which is the place to go these days and advertise your allegiances.
Rodriguez told me that Palin “is a leader who could bring this country true change,” adding that, “Sarah Palin is a perfect example of a strong-minded and strong-willed woman who can be an extremely positive role model for women who don’t have to abandon their values in order to achieve a high professional status. She is not afraid to stand up for her beliefs.”
Rodriguez supports the Republican Party, but he and other San Francisco fans of Palin are no fringe group. Rodriguez enjoys the Sopranos, listens to Marvin Gaye, and is a fan of a tattoo site that shows off celebrities (Rihanna, Eminem, et al.) and their fashionable markings. Silverman, a producer for a San Francisco radio station, is into stand-up and improv comedy. Workman, who works for a consulting firm, admires the heroic airline pilot Sulley Sullenberger and comic Dennis Miller. Azem watches South Park, and listens to Bon Jovi, Van Halen, and Michael Jackson. Ennor also likes Michael Jackson – along with Johnny Depp and Johnny Cash. Dieterich is a Facebook fan of a company that makes gourmet alcohol.
In the last week, there’s been lots of handwringing about the Democrats’ loss of Ted Kennedy’s old Senate seat. Yesterday, New York Times columnist Frank Rich weighed in, writing that Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts is “a dire omen for the White House” – that President Obama has shown too little backbone in taking on the U.S. banking system and pushing through healthcare reform, while jobs continue to evaporate. Into this void came Scott Brown, who credited his victory to Massachussets’ “independent majority,” then warned Obama and his fellow Democrats: “For them it is just the beginning of an election year filled with surprises. They will be challenged again and again across this country. When there’s trouble in Massachusetts, there’s trouble everywhere – and now they know it.”
Yes, they do. So does Palin, who hopes the Democrats’ troubles continue until 2012, when the Iowa caucus will be held. Political columnist Walter Shapiro has outlined a scenario where Palin could win the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination. For the legions of anti-Palinates out there, the idea of a Palin presidency is more than sickening. It’s absurd. But Palin – unlike Obama – has seen her poll numbers go up of late. I once called Palin “the Wicked Wink of the West,” but she could have the last laugh if former Democratic seats continue to go into the Republican column. Talking to Rodriguez online has given me a greater sense of Palin’s power to attract voters looking for a giant change of pace.
Who is Ellie Light?
I predict you’ll start seeing the question as a popular bumper sticker soon (a la “Who is John Galt?”…and voila, someone has already made a t-shirt!). It’s a handy rhetorical rejoinder the next time the White House or your nutroots neighbors and co-workers try to tar the Tea Party or any other grass-roots revolts against President Obama as phony, top-down operations.
When Obama’s Soros-funded, Big Labor-directed, K Street-organized goons engage in classic projection and you need a glib way to call out the pot calling the kettle black, just snap back: "Who is Ellie Light?"
A Cleveland Plain Dealer blog first broke the story over the weekend of a “suspicious” letter-writer named “Ellie Light” who submitted more than a dozen pro-Obama letters to the editors in recent weeks using addresses from Philadelphia to California and all points in between. Open-source-optimizing blogger Patterico has added much more information on both “Donald Trump Astroturfing” (”a letter published in multiple places from one person claiming to live in multiple cities”) and “David Axelrod Astroturfing” (”identical letters published in multiple places claiming to be from different people”).
Kudos to the Plain Dealer for smoking out the initial ringer and Patterico and his readers/tipsters for delving deeper. But so much for the rest of the vaunted gate-keepers of the Fourth Estate, eh?
The bogus letters are just the latest example of Obama theater — doctors in costumes, town hall stage props, trumped-up Obamacare anecdotes, kiddie proxies, etc., etc., etc. Underscoring this administration’s dependence on centrally planned, teleprompter-dependent perpetual campaigns of manufactured support, the other half of Obama’s Astroturf Twin Power — David Plouffe — will soon rejoin Chicago cronies David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, and the rest to rescue the Democrats in a new expanded role as outside White House adviser.
Obama knows he is finished: "US President Barack Obama would rather be a good one-term president than a "mediocre" leader who served eight years. As he navigates his latest political storm, Mr Obama told ABC News ahead of his State of the Union address tomorrow that he wanted to look back in future at his time in office and say he had tackled the most challenging issues - not just what was popular. “I'd rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president,” Mr Obama said in the interview, excerpts of which were released on the ABC News website. The president, who last week saw his Democratic Party lose its super-majority in Congress when Republicans snatched a Senate seat in Massachusetts, said he would not shirk from tackling big issues. “You know, there is a tendency in Washington to believe our job description, of elected officials, is to get re-elected. “That's not our job description. Our job description is to solve problems and to help people. “I don't want to look back on my time here and say to myself all I was interested in was nurturing my own popularity.” Mr Obama goes into the State of the Union address with his ambitious health care reform plan in limbo, doubts clouding his wider agenda and his poll numbers hovering around the critical 50 per cent level".
Obama does something half-right: "The Obama administration has agreed to sell a new package of arms to Taiwan in a move that is expected to be met with an angry response from China, according to U.S. officials. The long-delayed arms package will include offers of sales of UH-60 Black Hawk military helicopters and additional Patriot PAC-3 missile defenses, but not additional F-16 jets that the island's government has sought to modernize its air forces, according to congressional and administration officials. Additionally, the Taiwanese military will be offered defense communications equipment, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information. One official familiar with the discussions said the F-16 sale was rejected as "too provocative" to the Chinese. A Taiwan diplomatic source said the F-16s were needed to replace aging warplanes and because the production line for the jet could be closed soon."
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Posted by JR at 1:16 AM