Monday, April 27, 2009

Most Polarized Electorate Ever?

A recent Pew Research Center study showed a wide partisan gap in President Obama's approval ratings. The news media immediately seized upon this, declaring Obama the most divisive president ever. Hyperbole aside, is this really a logical conclusion based on this data?

I disagree with this line of thinking. Rather, I think the polls better reflect what's been happening to the American electorate: right or wrong, this is the most polarized and partisan electorate in memory, and there may not be much President Obama can do about it. This is most clearly reflected by the shift in news media coverage in the last decade or so.

I grew up watching CNN, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings, and other network news programs which all covered the news in a neutral manner (truly "fair and balanced"). In the last decade or so, there has been a marked shift in coverage: many news programs have opted to lean politically left or right. This isn't some media conspiracy to get you to pick a side; you want this coverage, and this is bourne out in the ratings: MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Fox's Bill O'Reilly host the most popular news programs in their time-slot, shows which offer clear opinions in one political direction.

(By the way, is anyone else disturbed by this report? There are way too many people buying into the factually dubious bilge propagated by Fox. And yes, this blog leans a particular direction too!)

TV news isn't the only indicator: conservative radio is wildly popular across the country, while liberal radio continues to make in-roads in this market. Even newspapers have adopted such ideology (e.g. the New York Times versus the Chicago Tribune). People no longer want to hear all the news, presented in an even and unbiased manner, or all the sides of an opinion; they want affirmation of their opinions.

Whether this is a good thing remains to be seen, but it may better account for the polarization of the American electorate. There's no doubt some of Obama's ideas may not appeal to conservatives, but at least he more faithfully subscribes to his political principles than the Bush administration (an exercise in political versus ideological contradictions). The bottom line in all this: the Obama administration won the election, and at the very least the majority supports his ideas to bring a new direction to American legislative policies. We should remember that all of us stand to benefit should he succeed.

UPDATE: This article is along similar lines, published in yesterday's NYTimes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Just when you think the world can't get any more stupid...

...I think we are running out of adjectives to describe the ignorance in the Republican party.

In the video, Representative Joe Barton, of Texas, questions Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Laureate, about where oil comes from (a question any 4th grader could easily answer). A stunned Chu tries to explain this without insulting the intelligence of everyone present (little did he know, there was no intelligent life present).

What is even more stunning - Barton assumes Chu's hesitation to carefully phrase his words as meaning he is somehow puzzled by the question (did I mention he is a Nobel Prize winner?). If people can get dumber than this, then just shoot me now, please.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fat-based Tactics

A couple of interesting policies to combat the ever-growing American waistline.

1) Both New York and Maine have proposed taxes on sugary beverages (in New York, this tax can levy as much as $3 per case of soft drink).

2) Meanwhile, United Airlines has joined several other air-carriers by charging double for passengers who cannot fit into the normal seat. This is certainly a relief for the normal-sized folks who have sat uncomfortably in the middle seat between a pair of not-so-svelte fellow travelers.

How will the public respond to these tactics? I'm sure the latter policy will generate some consternation and perhaps even rage. A legitimate case can be made for obesity being a disease, and such a policy, while beneficial to the majority (and for the cost-cutting airlines) may be viewed as unfairly discriminating by some. However, if any of these policies give someone pause next time they try to order a cruller or a 32-oz Coca Cola, consider them successful.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

'Twas the night before teabagging...

Brilliant stuff from MSNBC's Keith Olbermann:

More tea-bag humor from the Rachel Maddow show yesterday, which had Conservatives hot and bothered today.

More Conservative Stupidity


I have a rebuttal, but Krugman says it all here.

What's ironic is the original Boston Tea Party, the inspiration for this travesty, protested a tax cut for the East India Company, which the British government was trying to prop up by giving an unfair advantage.

Anyway, this Slate writer has a great suggestion: let's rename the Republicans the U.S. Teabagging Party.

One can only anticipate what the U.S. Teabagging Party has in store next.

Perhaps a protest of illegal immigrants with a nationwide "Do a Dirty Sanchez" day?

Or perhaps protest vegetarianism by a "Tossing Your Salad" day?

Monday, April 13, 2009


Rather than laying off employees, a New York law firm is paying associates to take some time off, while Europe is encouraging many workers to take vacations.

I also encourage you all to check out the Ed Schultz Show's Recession Busters webpage, where the popular liberal talk-show host attempts to provide his own economic stimulus solution.

Are we finally seeing some 21st century solutions to the world-wide economic downturn?