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What the People “Want” November 11, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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Interpreting the results of the recent election as a mandate is not only risky but logically impossible. From Ed Kilgore:

Frightened by joblessness, “the American people” rewarded the party that not only opposed the stimulus but also blocked the extension of unemployment benefits. Alarmed by a ballooning national debt, they rewarded the party that not only transformed budget surpluses into budget deficits but also proposes to inflate the debt by hundreds of billions with a permanent tax cut for the least needy two per cent. Frustrated by what they see as inaction, they rewarded the party that not only fought every effort to mitigate the crisis but also forced the watering down of whatever it couldn’t block.

In philosophy, we call theseperformative contradictions. As assertions, contradictions are meaningless in that they express no coherent idea. But as signals of irrationality they could not be more clear.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

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Intellectual Giants November 10, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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House Republicans are deciding who should be chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

Apparently a leading candidate for the job is John Shimkus Republican from Illinois who thinks:

(1) We don’t have to do anything about climate change because the Bible says God promised not to destroy the world again after Noah’s flood.

(2) We shouldn’t reduce carbon emissions because it would be “taking away plant food.”

(3) “Today we have 388 parts per million in the atmosphere. I believe in the days of the dinosaurs, where we had the most flora and fauna, we were probably at 4,000 parts per million. There is a theological debate that this a carbon-starved planet, not too much carbon.”

(4) “When we breath in, we breath oxygen. When we breath out, we breath out carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is not a toxic emittent.”

This is the sort of person we depend on to solve the variety of problems this country confronts.

That Shimkus is a candidate for this committee tells us a lot about the intellectual capabilities of congressional Republicans and the people who put them in office.

It also tells us something about our increasingly slim chances of surviving for another century.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com

Venn Diagrams and Tea Parties April 15, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.
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The  New York Times/CBS News poll takes an in-depth look at the Tea Party “movement.” The results—tea partiers are very confused.

Of course they are opposed to the usual things conservatives oppose such as health care reform, government spending, and aid to African Americans. But when you get into specifics the ideology collapses like a deflating balloon.

Via Steve Benen:

[I]n follow-up interviews, Tea Party supporters said they did not want to cut Medicare or Social Security — the biggest domestic programs, suggesting instead a focus on “waste.”

Some defended being on Social Security while fighting big government by saying that since they had paid into the system, they deserved the benefits.

Others could not explain the contradiction.

“That’s a conundrum, isn’t it?” asked Jodine White, 62, of Rocklin, Calif. “I don’t know what to say. Maybe I don’t want smaller government. I guess I want smaller government and my Social Security.” She added, “I didn’t look at it from the perspective of losing things I need. I think I’ve changed my mind.”

As Steve Benen said in a very memorable line:

If you were to make a Venn Diagram of the issues Tea Party members care about, and the issues Tea Party members are confused about, you’d only see one circle.

Benen goes on:

These folks claim to be motivated by concerns over taxes, but Tea Partiers tend not to know anything about the subject. They claim to be angry about the Affordable Care Act, but they don’t know what’s in it. They claim to hate expensive government programs, except for all the expensive government programs that benefit them and their families.

And there are some more fun facts in the poll. 57% have a favorable view of George W. Bush, and most absolve the Bush administration from responsibility for either the economic situation or current budget deficits. And a remarkable 84% of tea partiers believe their views “reflect the views of most Americans.”

Sincerity only goes so far. At some point strong beliefs have to bump up against reality.

But Tea Partiers have a long way to go before they are likely to encounter anything that looks like a fact.

book-section-book-cover2 Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com