Ok, GOP, Let’s Talk About Compromise November 3, 2010Posted by Jamie Friedland in Congress, Election, Politics.
Tags: Bipartisanship, Compromise, Election 2010, GOP, John Boehner, Obama, Tea Party
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I made the mistake of turning on the TV this morning. Ms. Generic Correspondent was interviewing triumphant supporters from John Boehner’s district in Ohio about what their win means for America. What I heard floored me. This was live and I was too stunned to think to record it, so I’m paraphrasing:
OHIO RESIDENT: “For the last 2 years, it’s been Obama’s way or the highway. Finally we’ll get some compromise in this country.”
REPORTER: “You really think this election will result in more compromise?”
OHIO RESIDENT: “Yup. That’s what this election said to Congress. It’s time for Democrats to actually work with Republicans now.”
For starters, we really need to set the record straight on the alleged liberalism of Obama’s first two years. He embraced tax cuts and offshore drilling and punted on much of the liberal agenda. There’s a reason the base didn’t come out to support Democrats yesterday, and it’s not because we went too far. More on this later.
Back to Boehner’s band of merry [white] men, this was not an isolated incident. Most of the guys that were interviewed in this segment spoke about compromise. What’s wrong with a conciliatory post-victory tone? It’s a disingenuous 180-degree reversal. Sure, one district’s Kool-Aid could go bad, but Boehner’s? That’s bizarre.
Just last week, in Boehner’s own words:
“Now is not a time for compromise, and I can tell you we will not compromise on our principles.”
And you want to tell Democrats about misinterpreting a mandate? Please.
I know conservative activists only listen to their Fox News echo chamber, but surely they must at least listen to their candidate when he’s on Fox News! Especially when that man is now a glowing beacon in the House of Representatives, piercing the darkness to guide them through.… ok, I don’t have an end to this metaphor – the man is orange.
The point is, the next two years will be nothing but gridlock. Congressional Republicans have come right out and said that their single highest legislative priority is making sure Obama doesn’t get reelected.
That means the only “compromise” they will propose or accept is the kind that makes Obama less appealing to his base. They will advance nothing that doesn’t detract from Obama’s re-electability. House Republicanswill reach across the aisle, but they will extend a sword, not their empty hands; they will allow Obama to move forward only by pulling himself up their blade towards the hilt.
With this strategy in place, let me assure you, compromise is dead. Conservatives hijacked the contemporary narrative, but in retrospect we will see that Obama briefly attempted centrist bipartisanship – and it failed. Liberals were unsatisfied and conservatives either feigned or successfully deluded themselves into their trusty partisan outrage.
Obama’s attempt at compromise was unilateral disarmament, and the GOP hit with everything it had the moment he let down his shield. Clearly, that was good short-term electoral strategy. Obama had hoped that Americans would appreciate this effort to transcend partisan politics. That did not happen.
So yesterday, the GOP won big. But conservatives, don’t you dare for a second claim to have the moral high ground and make false overtures of cooperation. That’s not what’s going to happen and it’s not even what you want. You wanted gridlock and now you’ve got it. Congratulations.
Now own it. Or as your mercifully endangered Mama Grizzlies would say, “Man Up.”
What the Primary Elections Mean for the Environment September 16, 2010Posted by Jamie Friedland in Climate Change, Congress, Election, Politics.
Tags: Christine O'Donnell, Climate Denial, Election, John McCain, Mark Kirk, Midterms, Mike Castle, Tea Party
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Check out my first post at Change.org on what the primary elections mean for the environment:
Despite a Democratic supermajority and a successful bill in the House of Representatives, this summer witnessed another climate failure in the Senate. Unfortunately, the situation is not improving. In our warming world, the term “glacial pace” is now a completely appropriate description for climate policy progress: Decades of frustratingly slow advance are now reversing into a rapid retreat.
Mike Castle is not the first moderate conservative to fall to an extremist challenger sure to be a solid ‘no’ for environmental protection. Last month, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) lost her primary to another climate-denying Tea Partier, Joe Miller. It is sadly telling that even lame duck Murkowski—who is already back in Washington trying to gut EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions—is being mourned in some pragmatic environmental circles. Her bid to block EPA essentially involves replacing uncontroversial climate science with partisan political science—and she lost her primary for being too moderate?
As of now, I’ll be posting at Change.org on a weekly basis.
The Political Climate is now on Twitter! Follow @PoliticalClimat for updates as well as daily tweets linking to important and under-reported environmental news.
Glenn Beck’s Miracle | Three 8/28 Thoughts August 29, 2010Posted by Jamie Friedland in Media, Politics.
Tags: 8/28, Conservatives, Faith, Glenn Beck, Political Climate, Politics, Restoring Honor, Tea Party, ThePoliticalClimate
Towards the end of his spectacle this weekend, Glenn Beck offered definitive proof of god’s existence. He started recounting a personal tale about the most holy type of divine intervention: the fundraising miracle.
Beck said that although having raised $3.1 million for a charity he’d pledged to help, he was still $600,000 short of his target. But alas, there were no more donors to be found.
On the flight back from his final fundraiser, Beck says he raised his face to the ceiling of the airplane cabin and, for the first time, actually questioned god (he cried as he said this). But that makes sense, because falling $600,000 short of a fundraising target would test the faith of the most fervent believer.
So Beck called out to god. Then, he tells us, without saying a word to anyone but god, the final $600,000 were miraculously donated in just two days. God himself saved Beck’s fundraising effort when all hope was lost. Ask and you shall receive.
It’s a moving story: god helped Beck meet his fundraising target when there was literally no more money to be found anywhere – except perhaps the $32 million Beck made last year…
Three additional observations:
1) Focus. Wasn’t this event supposed to be about supporting the troops? It was called “Restoring Honor.” I came a little late to the theatrics, but what I saw was solely about restoring faith. Glenn Beck just attempted to evangelize America. Maybe I missed something, but is that really how this event was advertised?
A friend of mine spoke to some tea partiers as they were leaving the rally, and they seemed to echo this sentiment. To paraphrase them, “we thought he was going to talk about the troops and the Constitution. We thought he was going to tell us what to do since we came all the way here. Instead, he just told us to go to church.” I am curious whether there may actually be some resentment from his base about this.
2) Size. Beck and his conservative gang are using the size of the rally as proof of the strength of their movement. But how big was it actually? The U.S. National Park Service no longer makes official tallies since being accused of low-balling the numbers for the Million Man March (and because they get nothing out of making the tallies so that’s a lot of hassle and no benefit to them). Unfortunately, the absence of an official tally opens up the crowd size to conservative hyperbole.
Instead of just guessing, CBS commissioned an estimate based on aerial photos that came to 87,000 +/- 9k. NBC Nightly News said tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands. ABCNews said more than 100,000. The event had a permit for 300,000. Beck said between 300,000 and 650,000 were there. Fox News “reported” at least 500,000. (Just our of curiosity, anything happen if your event exceeds its permitted size?)
But my favorite crowd estimate was conducted by Rep. Michele Bachmann (TP-MN). At her own little rally at the Washington Monument, she asked her audience how many people thought that more than one million people were there. The crowd cheered. And so it was. Having compiled that scientific data, she said “We‘re not going to let anyone get away with saying there were less than a million people here today because we were witnesses.”
This is exactly the kind of manufactured conservative reality I have been talking about – it’s a “we believe it, so it’s true” perspective. Democracy is a good form of government, not a good tool to determine what is objectively factual.
3) Class. Beck told his audience that they needed to accept god “so that we can guide [America/the world] down the stairs and out of the building to safety.” I was confused for a minute, but then I got the reference. I don’t find that imagery particularly tasteful.
But then what do you expect from Glenn Beck? John Avlon has a good critique of the rally at The Daily Beast that highlights the blinding hypocrisy of this event. Beck’s actions invite media commentators to rightly call him out because external criticism only further endears Beck to his faithful audience, and he doesn’t have to worry about them noticing the hypocrisy because they only trust Fox News.
Another Day on the Campaign Trail: GOP Lies = News August 17, 2010Posted by Jamie Friedland in Climate Change, Congress, Election, Media, Politics.
Tags: Climate Change, Election, Global Warming, GOP, Jon Stewart, Journalism, Media Bias, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Political Climate, Politics, Ron Johnson, Russ Feingold, Senate, Steve Schultze, sunspots, Tea Party, The Daily Show, ThePoliticalClimate, Wisconsin
On Monday, a GOP senate candidate in Wisconsin made the following statement:
“I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change. It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination.” –Ron Johnson, six-figure BP stockholder and oil spill apologist.
This “forgotten Tea Party candidate” went on to expound his misguided opinion in detail. He said some other stupid things, but I think my favorite was that a strong economy would keep the environment clean. Isn’t that cute?
It always angers me to see such baseless denial, especially when excreted by a man who would seek to become among the most powerful decision-makers in our country. But what really set me off was how this story was covered.
The national press will do what they always do, so for Congressional races, I prefer to take a look at how these stories are covered locally in order to better gauge what effect they will have on the people who can actually vote. The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel has more than twice as many readers as the next biggest newspaper in Wisconsin.
This is the article they ran by Steve Schultze. Suffice it to say that it did not calm me down.
In the ~800 word piece, the word “said” appears 25 times and makes up 3% of all the words used. This “article” isn’t journalism, it’s stenography. Worse, in letting Ron Johnson dictate to the newspaper, this reporter just spread blatant misinformation.
Yes, I know this guy was reporting an interview. I am aware that Mr. Johnson is entitled to his opinion, even if it’s wrong, and that a reporter’s job is, in this case, to present that opinion to the electorate. But journalists are supposed to pursue the truth, not just balance.
Let me offer a more specific example from the interview. Johnson is 100% sure that humans aren’t warming the planet. So how does he explain the rising temperatures?
“It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity,” he says.
That’s Johnson’s opinion, that’s what Schultze reported. Why is that poor journalism? Because it is demonstrably false.
Solar output does vary, and that radiated energy does exert some influence on our climate systems. So at first blush, sunspots do appear to be a valid hypothesis for global warming. …That is, until you take even a glance at solar output data and discover that we are in a drastic solar minimum; the sun is currently cooler than it’s been in over a century.
Fact: the sun is not causing our current climate change. If anything, decreased solar output is masking what would otherwise be even more extreme warming!
After reading Schultze’s article, Wisconsinites know that Ron Johnson thinks the sun is causing global warming. Don’t the voters deserve to know that he is unquestionably wrong? Wouldn’t that help them make a more informed decision? I think so.
In the hallowed name of fairness and balance, Mr. Schultze did offer a counterpoint to Johnson’s falsities:
[Democratic Sen. Russ] Feingold has taken a completely opposite position on global warming, saying that “most people think man had some role in it.”
And that was that. A difference of opinion, nothing more.
In political news coverage, media outlets strive to maintain objectivity by offering both candidates equal coverage, without appearing to favor one or the other. That 50-50 coverage, presenting both sides of the story in a “we report, you decide” paradigm, accomplishes objectivity when covering differences of opinion.
However, when the media provide 50-50 coverage to a situation where one party is clearly lying or wrong, that attempt at objectivity becomes what is called the “bias of balance,” about which I have blogged extensively and wrote my honors thesis.
This problem pollutes the debate about every major issue our country faces today. Gutless, “balanced” media coverage enables conservative demagogues to successfully manipulate public opinion against effective and desperately needed legislative reforms. And the situation is not improving.
Everyday, critical policy considerations are buried further and further beneath piles of manufactured yet diligently transcribed political drama. THAT is why I am among the majority of people who think this country is on the wrong track.
And no, Mainstream Media, that is NOT bad news for Democrats – it’s bad news for America. And it is in no small part your fault.
Case in point a la Jon Stewart and the NYC mosque ridiculousness (as usual, worth watching in its entirety, but most directly relevant starting at 4:00).