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The Morning Grumpy – 3/1/2012

1 Mar

All the news and views fit to consume during your morning grumpy.

1. Jon Stewart does a damn fine job every night. Regularly conducting acts of journalism with a snarky smile and pithy graphics. However, once in a while, this sole media arbiter of veracity really nails Fox/RNC News to the wall.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
I Can’t Believe It Got Better!
www.thedailyshow.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:409301
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

Thanks, Jon.

2. Damning Chris Fahey with faint praise.

Why is it a good thing that Mark Schroeder trusts anyone? Three years ago, I moved into the Assembly district Schroeder represents and I’d struggle to name one major initiative that he advanced or one significant legislative accomplishment in that time or in previous years. He was a South Buffalo political machine apparatchik without any sort of charisma or persuasive platform. In fact, he was so effective as a legislator that he was shuffled into the City Comptroller’s Office where he could really, umm, do something or other.

Also, what I find interesting about this mailer is Fahey’s claim that he’s an “independent democrat“. What does that even mean? From whom is he independent? He has the support of the Erie County Democratic Committee and has spent nearly his entire adult life working for either Schroeder or Higgins. Is he independent of those groups? Fahey might be a very nice and smart guy, but his campaign has told me little about his positions aside from how he agrees with Higgins on everything. Since his candidacy is related solely to Brian Higgins’s desire to have him in Albany, I fail to see a whole lot of independence ahead.

Fahey Smash Smith For Criticism. FAHEY ANGRY!

Mickey “Independent Democrat/Carl Paladino Beneficiary” Kearns is also running for the seat…as a Republican. Ugh.

3. I studied political science in college and I still dabble in the statistical analysis of voting trends and polling data. I generally don’t include that type of information here because most people find political science to be as exciting as a root canal. And I don’t blame them. However, a new site is making political science accessible to everyone, even those who abhor statistics and such. And since Rachel Maddow referenced the site during a segment last night, I thought it was time to bring it up here. Do you like data and charts? Political charts? Well, welcome to nerdvana

First topic up for discussion is the polarization of our political parties. It seems our national politics have never been nastier (untrue) or more polarized (also false), but things do seem pretty nasty and more personal in recent years.

Is it a “pox on both houses” situation as the media so often suggests with liberals pulling the Democratic Party to the hard left and the Christian conservatives pulling the national Republican Party to the right? Nope.

In this post we use DW-NOMINATE scores to examine historical patterns in the ideological distribution of the parties in Congress. Specifically, we sort Republican and Democrats in the House and Senate from most liberal to most conservative, then mark the position of the members in the 10th and 90th percentiles. For example, a Democrat in the 10th percentile would be one who is more moderate than 90% of her party colleagues, or more liberal than only 10% of the party. Likewise, a Democrat in the 90th percentile would be one who is more liberal than 90% of his co-partisans. These figures give us an idea of how party coalitions in Congress are ideologically distributed over time.

(Click to embiggen)

This chart shows a number of things:

– The years when the moderate factions of both parties controlled the agenda were incredible boom years in the American century.

– Since 1976, there has been a radical shift rightward in the Republican Party. During that same time, Democrats essentially remained static. Which is why we so often find Democrats asking why formerly Republican ideas (cap and trade, individual mandate for healthcare, DREAM Act, etc) are now considered tyrannical or communist by those same Republicans.

– The result of this dramatic race to the right has meant that policy consensus building is only found north of the center. The Republicans are simply better at messaging and discipline whereas Democrats are still looking for compromise, thus policy often ends up as individual mandates rather than Medicare for all – the position of the far left.

– The Republicans have raced so far right, so quickly, that they risk “outkicking their coverage” as it were. After this radical shift, the Republicans are left with only a few core demographic chunks of Americans – aging white voters, rural denizens, evangelical christians, corporate tycoons, and confused people. The rabid right wing rhetoric about “God, Gays, and Guns” serves to maximize turnout in the dwindling voter base, which further alienates larger constituencies.

This is a race. Can the Republicans secure enough power using their shrinking base to make long term changes to public policy that will take generations to unravel or will they shrink their base to uselessness and be forced to return to the center before they get the chance? Based on the low turnout and enthusiasm in the primary season, I’d say the latter is more likely.

4. Fervent Michigan tea partiers overwhelmingly supported Rick Santorum. If the tea party movement is about liberty and shrinking the size of government, why did they support a big government christian conservative? Oh, because limited government has little to do with it!

Limited government, separation of powers, protection of individual rights, fiscal responsibility and transparency, free trade and commerce, and taxes.

And the voters who say they support these principles have chosen, as their preferred 2012 nominee, Rick Santorum, the social conservative who says he voted contrary to his beliefs in order to be a “team player” during the big-spending, federal-government-expanding Bush Administration. Their least favorite is Ron Paul, the most consistent champion of all the issues they say that they care about most. It’s almost a  joke.

The Republican Party is a rocky place, where seeds of reason can find no purchase.

Fact Of The Day: There is enough water on Mars to cover the entire planetary surface to a depth of more than 11 meters.

Quote Of The Day: “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.” – Adolf Hitler

Video Of The Day: Do you believe in a secular America? I’m an atheist American and I do.

Cartoon Of The Day: “Homesteader Droopy” – Tex Avery

Song Of The Day: “Johnny’s Got A Boom Boom” – Imelda May

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