Observations by and for the vaguely disenchanted.
Risking the wrath of the whatever
from high atop the thing.
A democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost
without issues and with interchangeable candidates.
A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a
tax can escape the obligation to pay it.
-Alexis de Tocqueville
A fool and his money are soon elected.
A low voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls.
A society is not "free" merely because the freedoms the people are doing
away with are those they voted at the last election to do without.
-William F. Buckley, Jr.
A straw vote only shows which way the hot air blows.
Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may
cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.
-John Quincy Adams
America is a land where a citizen will cross the ocean to fight for
democracy- and won't cross the street to vote in a national election.
An election is a bet on the future, not a popularity test of the past.
An election is coming. Universal peace is declared, and the foxes have a
sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.
Any sufficiently advanced coup is indistinguishable from an election.
-John Alejandro King (The Covert Comic)
Applause, mingled with boos and hisses, is about all that the average
voter is able or willing to contribute to public life.
As people do better, they start voting like Republicans... unless they
have too much education and vote Democratic, which proves there can be
too much of a good thing.
As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are
used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by
destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people
will solemnly vote against their own interests.
Ask a man which way he is going to vote, and he will probably tell you.
Ask him, however, why, and vagueness is all.
Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
-George J. Nathan
Being elected to Congress is regarded as being sent on a looting raid
for one's friends.
-George F. Will
Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least.
Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to
find out if the polls were right?
Domestic policy can only lose elections. Foreign policy can kill us.
-John F. Kennedy
Don't get mad. Don't get even. Just get elected, then get even.
Don't vote. It only encourages them.
During an election campaign the air is full of speeches and vice versa.
Elected office holds more perks than Elvis' nightstand.
Elected officials should be limited to two terms: one in office and one
Election year is that period when politicians get free speech mixed up
with cheap talk.
Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote
against somebody rather than for somebody.
-Franklin P. Adams
Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.
Finally, it occurs to me that the biggest problem with our elections is
that however you vote, you wind up electing a politician.
Florida's number three industry, behind tourism and skin cancer, is
Free elections, a free press and an independent judiciary mean little
when the free market means they are on sale to the highest bidder.
Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything.
Given the choice between a Republican and someone who acts like a
Republican, people will vote for the real Republican all the time.
-Harry S. Truman
Given a choice between two bald political candidates, the American
people will vote for the less bald of the two.
Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than
Christianity has made them good.
I can understand the poor and stupid voting for Marxism or one of its
fashionable variants. If you've no hope of being other than a slave, you
may as well opt for the most efficient form of slavery.
I didn't vote for change, but that's all I have left.
I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior
men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do
-Alexis de Tocqueville
I have never had a vote, and I have raised hell all over this country.
You don't need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!
-Mary Harris Jones (Mother Jones)
I like to remind people the choice the American electorate had in 1796
for candidates for President. You could choose between the chairman of
the American Society of Arts and Letters and the founding president of
the American Academy of Sciences. There's been a bit of a decline in the
standards of candidacy since then.
I think it's about time we voted for senators with breasts. After all,
we've been voting for boobs long enough.
I will feel equality has arrived when we can elect to office women who
are as incompetent as some of the men who are already there.
I'll be glad to either reply to or dodge your questions, whichever I
think will help our election most.
-George Herbert Walker Bush
If all power is in the people, if there is no higher law than their
will, and if by counting their votes, their will may be ascertained-
then the people may entrust all their power to anyone, and the power of
the pretender and the usurper is then legitimate. It is not to be
challenged since it came originally from the sovereign people.
If elected, I will win.
If pigs could vote, the man with the slop bucket would be elected
swineherd every time, no matter how much slaughtering he did on the side.
-Orson Scott Card
If the Gods Had Meant Us to Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates.
If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.
If you don't vote, then you may be leaving the decisions up to someone
dumber than you.
If you make less than $50,000 a year and vote Republican, you are a
If you think too much about being re-elected, it is very difficult to be
If you voted for change, you better start counting it.
If you're listening to a rock star in order to get your information on
who to vote for, you're a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock
stars? Because we're morons.
In a democracy, the votes of the vicious and stupid count. On the other
hand, in any other system, they might be running the show. (from The
In any relatively close election you can generally credit almost any
subgroup as providing the marginal votes.
In democracy it's your vote that counts. In feudalism it's your count
In most places in the country, voting is looked upon as a right and a
duty, but in Chicago it's a sport.
In nature, stupidity gets you killed. In the workplace, it gets you
fired. In politics, it gets you re-elected.
In politics it is necessary either to betray one's country or the
electorate. I prefer to betray the electorate.
-Charles de Gaulle
In really hard times the rules of the game are altered. The inchoate
mass begins to stir. It becomes potent, and when it strikes... it
strikes with incredible emphasis. Those are the rare occasions when a
national will emerges from the scattered, specialized, or indifferent
blocs of voters who ordinarily elect the politicians. Those are for good
or evil the great occasions in a nation's history.
It doesn't matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.
It makes no difference who you vote for- the two parties are really one
party representing four percent of the people.
It's not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting.
Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights.
Because you can't have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have
Men may make laws to hinder and fetter the ballot, but men cannot make
laws that will bind or retard the growth of manhood.
-Booker T. Washington
Never pass up an opportunity to appear on C-Span. C-Span viewers vote.
Never vote for the best candidate. Vote for the one who will do the
Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard
working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two percent that get all
the publicity. But then, we elected them.
No amount of charters, direct primaries, or short ballots will make a
democracy out of an illiterate people.
Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a
-Mark B. Cohen
Nothing is quite so wretchedly corrupt as an aristocracy which has lost
its power but kept its wealth and which still has endless leisure to
devote to nothing but banal enjoyments. All its great thoughts and
passionate energy are things of the past, and nothing but a host of
petty, gnawing vices now cling to it like worms to a corpse.
-Alexis de Tocqueville
Our elections are free, it's in the results where eventually we pay.
People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an
-Otto von Bismarck
People vote their resentment, not their appreciation. The average man
does not vote for anything but against something.
-H.H. Munro (Saki)
Politicians are always realistically maneuvering for the next election.
They are obsolete as fundamental problem-solvers.
Some politician some years ago said that bad officials are elected by
good voters who do not vote.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
Son, if you can't take their money, drink their whiskey, screw their
women, and then vote against 'em, you don't deserve to be here.
The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with
the average voter.
The difference between a politician and a statesman is: a politician
thinks of the next election and a statesman thinks of the next
-James Freeman Clarke
The difference between a real horse race an election is that in a horse
race the whole horse wins.
The effort to calculate exactly what the voters want at each particular
moment leaves out of account the fact that when they are troubled the
thing the voters most want is to be told what to want.
The first thing I'll do if elected is demand a recount.
The goal in the end is not to win elections. The goal is to change
The great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to
do something stupid.
The methods now being used to merchandise the political candidate as
though he were a deodorant positively guarantee the electorate against
ever hearing the truth about anything.
The next time they give you all that civic bullshit about voting, keep
in mind that Hitler was elected in a full, free democratic election.
The only way to win an election by a greater margin than Saddam Hussein
in Iraq is to be a Democratic candidate in Chicago.
-John Alejandro King (The Covert Comic)
The problem with political jokes is they get elected.
The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work; then
they get elected and prove it.
The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which
other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man
to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of
another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives
is in this case.
The Senate is just what the mode of its election and the conditions of
public life in this country make it.
The universe is not rich enough to buy the vote of an honest man.
There are two fundamental problems in American politics. The first is
that most Americans do not believe that elected officials represent
their interests. The second is that they are correct.
There are worse things than losing an election; the worst thing is to
lose one's convictions and not tell the people the truth.
-Adlai E. Stevenson II
There is no Constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution
is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong- deadly wrong- to deny
any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is
no issue of States' rights or National rights. There is only the
struggle for human rights.
-Lyndon B. Johnson
There's a true schizophrenia where if you say to voters, you know, do
you think the federal government spends too much money and they should
spend less, they say yeah, absolutely. Then you name specific things,
like Pell grants for students and they say, no, not that. How 'bout NIH,
medical research funding? Nah, you really shouldn't cut that. And pretty
soon you've proved that what the American public is against is
Things on the whole are much faster in America; people don't "stand for
election", they "run for office."
Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our
ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.
Trickery is what humans are all about. They're so keen on tricking one
another all the time that they elect governments to do it for them.
Truth is not determined by majority vote.
Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying
to prove that the other party is unfit to rule-and both commonly
succeed, and are right.
Unfortunately, you can't vote the rascals out, because you never voted
them in, in the first place.
Usually an elected official who has compromised to get nominated,
compromised to get elected, and compromised repeatedly to stay in office.
Vote for the man who promises least; he'll be the least disappointing.
Vote: the instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of
himself and a wreck of his country.
Voters don't decide issues, they decide who will decide issues.
-George F. Will
Voters inclined to loathe and fear elite Ivy League schools rarely make
fine distinctions between Yale and Harvard. All they know is that both
are full of rich, fancy, stuck-up and possibly dangerous intellectuals
who never sit down to supper in their undershirt no matter how hot the
Voters quickly forget what a man says.
-Richard M. Nixon
We already know the winners of the next election. They'll be old white
men who don't care about you or your problems.
We elect Democrats to the Congress to give us stuff and we elect
Republicans to the White House so we don't have to pay for it.
We live in a country where voting rights get gutted but Sharknado gets a
We live under a republican form of government. We need forever to
remember that representative government does represent. A careless,
indifferent representative is the result of a careless, indifferent
electorate. The people who start to elect a man to get what he can for
his district will probably find they have elected a man who will get
what he can for himself.
We need to be asking for the vote in the most powerful way possible,
which is to have people asking for the vote who are comfortable and look
like and sound like the people that we're asking for the vote from.
We'd all like to vote for the best man, but he's never a candidate.
-Frank McKinney (Kin) Hubbard
We're not going to have the America that we want until we elect leaders
who are going to tell the truth- not most days, but every day.
What's real in politics is what the voters decide is real.
-Ben J. Wattenberg
When your opponent sets up a straw man, set it on fire and kick the
cinders around the stage. Don't worry about losing the
Strawperson-American community vote.
Why take a chance on a candidate who might lose? You can always buy them
after the election.
-Santo Trafficante, Jr.
Years ago, fairy tales all began with "Once upon a time..." Now we know
they all begin with "If I am elected."
Yet in all our rejoicing let us neither express, nor cherish, any harsh
feeling towards any citizen who, by his vote, has differed with us. Let
us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a
common country, and should dwell together in the bonds of fraternal
You have the army of mediocrities followed by the multitude of fools. As
the mediocrities and the fools always form the immense majority, it is
impossible for them to elect an intelligent government.
-Guy de Maupassant
You tell me your favorite novelists and I'll tell you whom you vote for,
or whether you vote at all.
You will never escape the will of the mob. About the best anyone has
ever figured out to do is herd them into voting booths.
A famous Frenchman once said, War has become far too important to
entrust to the generals. Today, business, I think, should be saying:
Politics have become far too important to entrust to the politicians.
-Dwight D. Eisenhower
A hungry child knows no politics.
A lot has been said about politics; some of it complimentary, but most
of it accurate.
A typical vice of American politics is the avoidance of saying anything
real on real issues.
A week is a long time in politics.
All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies,
evasions, folly, hatred, and schizophrenia.
All politics are based on the indifference of the majority.
All politics is a matter of working hard without reward, or with a
living wage for a time, in the hope of booty later.
All politics takes place on a slippery slope. The most important four
words in politics are "up to a point."
-George F. Will
Although He is regularly asked to do so, God does not take sides in
American capitalism is predatory, and American politics are corrupt: The
same thing is true in England and the same in France; but in all these
three countries the dominating fact is that whatever the people get
ready to change the government, they can change it.
Americans have a tendency to think the problem with politics lies with
their candidates and not themselves. The truth is Americans deserve the
blame for the state of our politics and the state of our media.
An Independent is someone who wants to take the politics out of politics.
-Adlai E. Stevenson II
Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart
enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's important.
Engineering is the implementation of science; politics is the
implementation of faith.
Everything begins in mysticism and ends in politics.
Everything is politics.
Finishing second in the Olympics gets you silver. Finishing second in
politics gets you oblivion.
-Richard M. Nixon
For the first time in history, the human species as a whole has gone
into politics. Everyone is in the act, and there is no telling what may
come of it.
I always wanted to get into politics, but I was never light enough to
make the team.
I don't know a lot about politics, but I can recognize a good party man
when I see one.
I don't take art as seriously as politics.
I hate all bungling as I do sin, but particularly bungling in politics,
which leads to the misery and ruin of many thousands and millions of
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I have never found in a long experience of politics that criticism is
ever inhibited by ignorance.
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study
mathematics and philosophy.
I reject the cynical view that politics is inevitably, or even usually,
a dirty business.
-Richard M. Nixon
I seldom think of politics more than 18 hours a day.
-Lyndon B. Johnson
I wasn't involved in politics at all- until about the age of four.
-Theodore (Ted) Sorensen
I'm afraid the Constitution doesn't say anything about the separation of
church and politics.
-Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr.
I'm not so much interested in politics as I am in overthrowing the
I've always said that in politics, your enemies can't hurt you, but your
friends will kill you.
Ideas are great arrows, but there has to be a bow. And politics is the
bow of idealism.
Ideas matter in American politics, but results matter more.
If everybody in this town connected with politics had to leave town
because of [chasing women] and drinking, you'd have no government.
-Barry M. Goldwater
If you doubt that it is stinky personality that is the driving force
behind conservative politics, look back to your pre-political youth. A
dollar to a doughnut everyone of those childhood friends and
acquaintances who was an asshole then is a conservative today.
If you ever injected truth into politics you'd have no politics.
In America the absence of honest passion is a distinguishing feature of
both professional wrestling and politics.
In nature, stupidity gets you killed. In the workplace, it gets you
fired. In politics, it gets you re-elected.
In politics it is necessary either to betray one's country or the
electorate. I prefer to betray the electorate.
-Charles de Gaulle
In politics nothing is immutable. Events carry within them an invincible
power. The unwise destroy themselves in resistance. The skillful accept
events, take strong hold of them and direct them.
In politics the middle way is none at all.
In politics you can't be true to all of your friends all of the time.
-Perry S. Heath
In politics you have no friends, only allies.
-John F. Kennedy
In politics you must always keep running with the pack. The moment that
you falter and they sense that you are injured, the rest will turn on
you like wolves.
In politics, a community of hatred is almost always the foundation of
-Alexis de Tocqueville
In politics, a lie unanswered becomes truth within 24 hours.
-San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown, Jr.
In politics, an absurdity is not an impediment.
In politics, if you want anything said, ask a man. If you want anything
done, ask a woman.
In politics, nothing is contemptible.
In politics, nothing is permanent and, therefore, nothing is too late.
In politics, what begins in fear usually ends in folly.
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Instant analysis is the occupational disease. There are no smokestacks,
there's no black lung. Politics is the only industry.
It is known, however, that men enter local politics solely as a result
of being unhappily married.
-C. Northcote Parkinson
It is, therefore, a just political maxim, that every man must be
supposed a knave: Though at the same time, it appears somewhat strange,
that a maxim should be true in politics, which is false in fact.
Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean
politics won't take an interest in you.
Let me tell you, sisters, seeing dried egg on a plate in the morning is
a lot dirtier than anything I've had to deal with in politics.
Liberal comes from the Latin liberalis, which means pertaining to a free
man. In politics, to be liberal is to want to extend democracy through
change and reform. One can see why the word had to be erased from our
Loyalty in politics was simply devotion to the side which a man
conceives to be his side, and which he cannot leave without danger to
Modern politics is, at bottom, a struggle not of men but of forces.
My political life has been informed by the view that if there was any
truth to religion there wouldn't really be any need for politics.
No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of
Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.
-John Kenneth Galbraith
Nowadays almost every business is like show business, including
politics, which has become more like show business than show business is.
Of course politics is an interesting and engrossing thing. It offers no
immutable laws, nearly always prevaricates, but as far as blather and
sharpening the mind go, it provides inexhaustible material.
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you
end up being governed by your inferiors.
People who are wise, good, smart, skillful, or hardworking don't need
politics, they have jobs.
Politics and prostitution have to be the only jobs where inexperience is
considered a virtue. In what other profession would you brag about not
Politics and the shape of mankind are shaped by men without ideals and
without greatness. Men who have greatness within them don't concern
themselves with politics.
Politics are a lousy way for a free man to get things done. Politics
are, like God's infinite mercy, a last resort.
Politics are almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous. In war,
you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.
Politics are not the task of a Christian.
Politics are usually the executive expression of human immaturity.
Politics cannot be a science, because in politics theory and practice
cannot be separated, and the sciences depend upon their separation.
Politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth.
Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get
Politics have no relation to morals.
Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are
fueled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions.
Politics is a science. You can demonstrate that you are right and that
others are wrong.
Politics is about compromises... really stupid compromises.
Politics is about who wins and loses. The rest is of marginal interest.
Politics is an act of faith; you have to show some kind of confidence in
the intellectual and moral capacity of the public.
Politics is applesauce.
Politics is applied biology.
Politics is developing more comedians than radio ever did.
Politics is how you live your life, not whom you vote for.
Politics is just like show business, you have a hell of an opening,
coast for a while and then have a hell of a close.
Politics is knowing when to pull the trigger.
Politics is like a race horse. A good jockey must know how to fall with
the least possible damage.
Politics is like the bumper cars at the amusement park. It's a delusion
to think that by refusing to move, you can protect yourself from being
-Unattributed (From The Weekly Standard)
Politics is like the stock market: it's a bad business for people who
can't afford to lose.
-Richard M. Nixon
Politics is made up largely of irrelevancies.
Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards,
if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book.
Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between
the disastrous and the unpalatable.
-John Kenneth Galbraith
Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is
-Robert Louis Stevenson
Politics is show business for ugly people.
Politics is the art of controlling your environment.
-Hunter S. Thompson
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists
or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.
Politics is the art of postponing decisions until they are no longer
Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs
which properly concern them.
Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without
Politics is the conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.
Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign
funds from the rich by promising to protect each from the other.
Politics is the only field of human endeavor where the more experience
you have, the worse you get.
Politics is the pursuit of trivial men who, when they succeed at it,
become important in the eyes of more trivial men.
-George J. Nathan
Politics is the science of urgencies.
Politics is the science of who gets what, when, and why.
Politics is the skilled use of blunt objects.
-Lester B. Pearson
Politics isn't about left versus right; it's about top versus bottom.
Politics should be limited in scope to war, protection of property, and
the occasional precautionary beheading of a member of the ruling class.
Politics should share one purpose with religion: the steady emancipation
of the individual through the education of his passions.
-George F. Will
Politics would be a helluva good business if it weren't for the
-Richard M. Nixon
Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the
systematic organization of hatreds.
Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned
with right or left instead of right or wrong.
Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.
Politics: the art of keeping as many balls as possible up in the air at
one time- while protecting your own.
Politics: where fat, bald, disagreeable men, unable to be candidates
themselves, teach a president how to act on a public stage.
Practical politics consists of ignoring facts.
Real politics are the possession and distribution of power.
Sometimes I wonder if we shall ever grow up in our politics and say
definite things which mean something, or whether we shall always go on
using generalities to which everyone can subscribe, and which mean very
Son, in politics you've got to learn that overnight chicken sh*t can
turn to chicken salad.
-Lyndon B. Johnson
Statesmanship is harder than politics. Politics is the art of getting
along with people, whereas statesmanship is the art of getting along
The central conservative truth is that is it culture, not politics, that
determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that
politics can change a culture and save it from itself.
-Daniel Patrick Moynihan
The difference between politics and baseball is that in baseball, when
you get caught stealing, you're out.
The flood of money that gushes into politics today is a pollution of
-Theodore H. White
The great difficulty with politics is, that there are no established
The history of American politics is littered with bodies of people who
took so pure a position that they had no clout at all.
The introduction of religious passion into politics is the end of honest
politics, and the introduction of politics into religion is the
prostitution of true religion.
The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to
admit that each party is worse than the other.
The only thing worse than a silly politician analyzing art is a silly
artist analyzing politics.
The ordinary politician has a very low estimate of human nature. In his
daily life he comes into contact chiefly with persons who want to get
something or to avoid something. Beyond this circle of seekers after
privileges, individuals and organized minorities, he is aware of a large
unorganized, indifferent mass of citizens who ask nothing in particular
and rarely complain. The politician comes after a while to think that
the art of politics is to satisfy the seekers after favors and to
mollify the inchoate mass with noble sentiments and patriotic phrases.
The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and
hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless
series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
The word "politics" is derived from the word "poly," meaning "many," and
the word "ticks," meaning "blood sucking parasites."
The world of politics is always twenty years behind the world of thought.
-John Jay Chapman
There are corrupting influences on religion and politics, and those who
practice them in the name of religion or in the name of the Republican
Party or in the name of America shame our faith, our party, and our
There are no true friends in politics. We are all sharks circling, and
waiting, for traces of blood to appear in the water.
There are times in politics when you must be on the right side and lose.
-John Kenneth Galbraith
There are two fundamental problems in American politics. The first is
that most Americans do not believe that elected officials represent
their interests. The second is that they are correct.
There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is
not capable; for in politics there is no honor.
Things get very lonely in Washington sometimes. The real voice of the
great people of America sometimes sounds faint, and sometimes sounds
distant in that strange city. You hear politics until you wish that both
parties were smothered in their own gas.
This is quite a game, politics. There are no permanent enemies, and no
permanent friends, only permanent interests.
Those against politics are in favor of the politics inflicted upon them.
Those people who treat politics and morality separately will never
understand either of them.
-Jean Jacques Rousseau
To do evil that good may come of it is for bunglers in politics as well
To err is human. To blame someone else is politics.
-Hubert H. Humphrey
Tolerance is an admirable intellectual gift, but it is worth little in
Too often in politics, there are fallacious either/or arguments put up
as a justification or an excuse for an action or view which is skewed in
such a way as too suggest that there is only one acceptable choice.
Truth is a habit of integrity, not a strategy of politics.
Trying to take money out of politics is like trying to take jumping out
War is nothing more than the continuation of politics by other means.
-Karl von Clausewitz
We live in a world in which politics has replaced philosophy.
-Martin L. Gross
What art needs is greater men, and what politics needs is better men.
What's real in politics is what the voters decide is real.
-Ben J. Wattenberg
When a politician starts preaching, I tend to react the same way as when
a preacher starts talking politics. I become very, very wary.
When a thing defies physical law, there's usually politics involved.
When I die, I want to be buried in Chicago, so I can still be active in
When I entered politics, I took the only downward turn you could take
When politics and religion are intermingled, a people is suffused with a
sense of invulnerability, and gathering speed in their forward charge,
they fail to see the cliff ahead of them.
When religion and politics travel in the same cart, the riders believe
nothing can stand in their way.
When you get into politics, you find that all your worst nightmares
about it turn out to be true, and the people who are attracted to large
concentrations of power are precisely the ones who should be kept as far
away from it as possible.
Without alienation, there can be no politics.
You can't ignore politics, no matter how much you'd like to.
Ok, let's get it all out of our systems...
"I've got a nice house and a kid in college, and I'll tell you we cannot
handle it. Giving our paycheck away when you still worked and earned it?
That's just not going to fly.
-Congressman Lee Terry (R-NE)
"It's a problem for us because the other side has locked up the stupid
-Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL)
The Republican Party is like the corpse in Weekend at Bernie's,
and the Tea Party is the two guys who put a hat and sunglasses on it and
dragged it around town."
"The government shutdown could cost the American economy $300 million a
day. To put that in perspective, it would be like every day the economy
released a new Lone Ranger movie."
I wasn't happy about the country being controlled by the richest one
percent, but I really hate it being controlled by the dumbest one
"At least here in America, crucial agencies like the U.S. Border Patrol
are still on the job. That's a good thing. The last thing we need is an
influx of Canadians, with their politeness and a government that's open
There is nothing I dread so much as a division of the Republic into two
great parties, each arranged under its leader and converting measures in
opposition to each other.
Thanks to God that he gave me stubbornness when I know I am right.
REMEMBER: You go to war with the army you have but you don't get people
health insurance until every detail is perfect.
The Science Is Awesome page on Facebook noted in a post that the Curiosity rover has been on Mars for one year. It's measured radiation there, found dried up stream beds which shows Mars once had flowing water, became the first machine to drill into the surface of another planet, and has discovered some of the elements that are essential for life.
Meanwhile on Earth, the US House of Representatives has voted 40 times to repeal Obamacare.
If the doctors told Sen. McConnell he had a kidney stone, he would
refuse to pass it.
-U.S. Senate candidate Alison Grimes (D-KY)
The Big Mac was introduced in 1968. It cost 45 cents.
The federal minimum wage was $1.60 an hour.
Excluding taxes, a McDonald's worker could buy 3.5 Big Macs for one hour of work.
The price varies by location, but today a Big Mac is about $3.99.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
One hour of work now equals only 1.8 Big Macs.
Now do you see the problem?
Rehab is a failure if you come out of it and you're still a politician.
Regarding the Boy Scouts, I'm very suspicious of any organization that
has a handbook.
First, we cannot enhance our own security if we place in jeopardy what
is most precious to us, namely, the centrality of human rights in our
daily lives and in global affairs. Second, we cannot maintain our
historic self-confidence as a people if we generate public panic. Third,
we cannot do our duty as citizens and patriots if we pursue an agenda
that polarizes and divides our country. Next, we cannot be true to
ourselves if we mistreat others. And finally, in the world at large, we
cannot lead if our leaders mislead.
Used to be there were no second acts in American life. Now it's a
theater without exits.
-Brent S. Sirota (@BrentSirota)
Slate reports that New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner admitted during a press conference that he is serial sexter "Carlos Danger," and that he sent sexually explicit chat messages and photos to additional women even after he resigned his seat in Congress under identical circumstances.
Slate has also helpfully provided The Carlos Danger Name Generator so you can quickly develop an online alter ego of your own.
Just call me Santiago Verboten.
Suppose a small group of extremely wealthy people sought to systematically destroy the U.S. government by:
Would you call this treason?
You stand on your own two feet. You don't voluntarily participate in any socialist programs like insurance. And when you get into an auto accident, you get out your checkbook and scribble out a series of checks for half a million dollars, made payable to your doctor, your hospital, the testing labs, the rehabilitation facility and a couple of dozen other related entities. In other words, you pay your own way. But you don't mind this. After all, you're a capitalist. You believe in self-reliance and you will not participate in any liberal social program like insurance. I mean, you could pay into an insurance plan for your whole life, and if you never get sick, you'll never see a dime back! Where is the fairness in that? That's not any better than paying taxes! And the thought of your premiums going to all of those other socialist scumbags who get cancer or are shot in a robbery - you simply can't stand for that. If you let your guard down and participate in a socialist program like insurance, you'll be contributing to the destruction of our way of life! And morons who don't look like they're smart enough to have a job will scream at you at town hall meetings.
And don't think for a second that I'm only talking about health insurance here. Auto insurance and homeowner's insurance are exactly the same. If you carry any of these products, you are a socialist.
Feeling stupid yet? You should be.
The Family Research Council is either adorably oblivious,
or their PR outfit is just plain evil.
Variations on a theme:
When this man smiles, a fairy dies:
Speaking of smiles:
(YouTube video: formerly captive ducks see water for the first time).
The GlobalPost asks, "What if journalists covered the United States like they covered other countries?"
This is satire. Although the news is real, very little actual reporting was done for this story and the quotes are imagined. It is the first installment of an ongoing series that examines the language journalists use to cover foreign countries. What if we wrote that way about the United States?
BOSTON, Mass. — Human rights activists say revelations that the US regime has expanded its domestic surveillance program to private phone carriers is more evidence of the North American country’s pivot toward authoritarianism.
The Guardian, a British newspaper, reported this week that a wing of the country’s feared intelligence and security apparatus ordered major telecommunications companies to hand over data on phone calls made by private citizens.
“The US leadership in Washington continues to erode basic human rights,” said one activist, who asked to remain anonymous, fearing that speaking out publicly could endanger his organization. “If the US government is unwilling to change course, it’s time the international community considered economic sanctions.”
Over the last decade, the United States has passed a series of emergency laws that give security forces sweeping powers to combat “terrorism.” But foreign observers say the authorities abuse those laws, using them instead to monitor ordinary Americans.
While the so-called Patriot Act passed in 2001 is perhaps the most dramatic legislation to date curbing freedoms here, numerous lesser-known laws have expanded monitoring of news outlets, email, social media platforms and even opposition groups — like the Occupy and Tea Party movements — that are critical of the regime.
US leader Barack Obama, a former liberal community organizer and the country's first black president who attracted a wave of support from young voters, rose to power in 2008 promising reform. He was greeted in the United States — a country of about 300 million people — with optimism. But he has since disappointed those supporters, ruling with a sometimes iron fist and continuing, if not expanding, the policies of the country’s former ruler, George W. Bush.
On a recent visit to the United States by GlobalPost, signs of the increased security apparatus could be found everywhere.
At all national airports, passengers are now forced to undergo full-body scans before boarding any flights. Small cameras are perched on many street corners, recording the movements and actions of the public. And incessant warnings on public transportation systems encourage citizens to report any “suspicious activity” to authorities.
Several American villagers interviewed for this story said the ubiquitous government marketing campaign called, “If you see something, say something,” does little to make them feel safer and, in fact, only contributes to a growing mistrust among the general population.
“I’ve deleted my Facebook account, stopped using email, r visiting websites that might be considered anti-regime,” a resident of the northern city of Boston, a tough-as-nails town synonymous with rebellion, told GlobalPost. It was in Boston that an American militia first rose up against the British empire. “But my phone? How can I stop using my phone? This has gone too far.”
American dissidents interviewed by GlobalPost inside the United States say surveillance by domestic intelligence agencies is just one part of a seemingly larger effort by the Obama administration to centralize power.
The American leader, for example, has in recent years personally approved the jailing — and in some cases execution — of American citizens suspected of involvement in what the regime calls “terrorist activity.”
“What exactly is terrorism? The term is used so loosely these days it could include just about anyone,” said one anti- government protester, who was tear-gassed and then arrested in 2011 for participating in a peaceful demonstration in New York, America’s largest city and its economic capital.
Obama has also overseen a crackdown on whistleblowers, most famously jailing Bradley Manning, a US soldier, for leaking documents that called into question US military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The government quietly imprisoned Manning for three years before finally trying him in a military court this week. He spent the first nine months of that in solitary confinement, where prison officials forced him to sleep naked without pillowsor sheets and prevented him from reading newspapers, watching television or even exercising.
Activists also criticize the US regime for imprisoning without trial foreigners it deems threatening to national security in an offshore prison camp called Guantanamo Bay. This week an investigation revealed that the US regime force-fed Guantanamo inmates participating in a hunger strike. Force-feeding is illegal under international law.
Meanwhile, whispering in the streets about what the regime might do next has reached a dull roar. But after a national uprising in 2011 by the leftist Occupy movement ended in evictions, arrests and tear gas, Americans appear hesitant to take their anger into the streets.
Most major media outlets, which in the United States are largely controlled by politically-connected corporations — many of them, in fact, finanncially supported Obama’s election — have been relatively quiet on such issues.
Foreign observers, however, say the recent news about domestic surveillance is spreading wildly in other ways — on Twitter and around the dinner table. They say the news has the potential to spark an uprising — at least among urban, educated elites in the country’s major cities — mirroring those happening now in Turkey and that earlier swept parts of the Arab world.
One foreign businessman who works closely with the US government on issues of security said he thought Obama was too well-established and had too strong a security force for any challenge to its authority to take hold.
“This isn’t Tunisia,” he said. “This is more like China, where a massive security presence could easily put down any organized opposition movement.”
The businessman added that Obama was democratically elected twice, which he believes gives the leader enough credibility to weather any serious opposition to his rule.
In a small, unassuming house near Boston’s bustling seaport, though, supporters of the opposition disagreed, saying the leader had lost “all credibility.” The group said the opposition continued to organize and grow, and that it was just a matter of time before the rest of the American population joined them.
Indeed, different political factions are beginning to unite over the issue of domestic surveillance, despite their strong differences.
“We meet in person these days to talk about strategy, phones and email are no longer safe for us,” one of them said. “Our goal now is to just get out the message to the world about what is going on here. That’s the first step. We need to educate not only Americans but the world about the extent the US regime is controlling the lives of its citizens.”
Morton Lyon "Mort" Sahl (born May 11, 1927) is a Canadian-born American comedian and actor best known for his stream of consciousness monologues centered on current events and politics. His low-key, droll delivery of withering, ascerbic observations prompted Time to refer to him as "Will Rogers with fangs." (Sahl has his own web site here.
A conservative is someone who believes in reform. But not now.
A social historian is someone who reports accidents to eyewitnesses.
Did anyone ever wrestle with his conscience and lose?
God is watching us. If we support someone we don't believe in and say he's electable, then God will make sure he's not elected and hope we do better the next time.
Hitler said that he always knew you could buy the press. What he didn't know was that you could get them cheap.
"I Aim for the Stars, But Sometimes I Hit London." (suggested title of Werner von Braun's autobiography)
I don't think there's any reward beyond participating, beyond being here.
I made the mistake early in my career, when I moved to Hollywood, of being attracted to actresses. I used to go out exclusively with actresses and other female impersonators.
I'm not so much interested in politics as I am in overthrowing the government.
If anybody comes up to you and says, "My kid is a conservative- why is that?" you say, "Remember in the 60s when we told you if you kept using drugs your kids would be mutants?"
If you maintain a consistent political position long enough, you will eventually be accused of treason.
If you were the last man on earth, I'd have to oppose you. That's my job.
In the forties, to get a girl you had to be a GI or a jock. In the fifties, to get a girl you had to be Jewish. In the sixties, to get a girl you had to be black. In the seventies, to get a girl you've got to be a girl.
I’m for capital punishment. You’ve got to execute people. How else are they going to learn?
Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they've stolen.
Most people past college age are not atheists. It's too hard to be in society, for one thing. Because you don't get any days off. And if you're an agnostic you don't know whether you get them off or not.
My whole life is a movie. It's just that there are no dissolves. I have to live every agonizing moment of it. My life needs editing.
People tell me there are a lot of guys like me, which doesn't explain why I'm lonely.
Reagan won because he ran against Jimmy Carter. If he ran unopposed he would have lost.
Say what you will (about former Disney chairman Michael Eisner), he made the monorail run on time.
Television is never more false than when it's openly sincere.
That feeling of hopelessness only serves your masters.
The bravest thing that men do is love women.
The Democrats don't want anyone to be born, but if you are, they will take care of you from the cradle to the grave. The Republicans don't mind if you are born, if you assure them that you don't plan to live long enough to collect your Social Security.
There's a danger our fiscal bankruptcy might overtake our moral bankruptcy.
There's a magazine of obscure poetry - called Whither.
This matter of two sides to every question is bad logic and bad practice: sometimes there are no sides; sometimes there are a hundred.
Those who learn nothing from history are condemned to rewrite it.
Those who the gods would make rich and famous on TV, they first drive mad.
Two hundred years ago, we had Jefferson, Washington, Ben Franklin and Tom Paine, and there were four million people. Today we have 220 million, and look at our leaders. Darwin was wrong.
Washington couldn't tell a lie, Nixon couldn't tell the truth, and Reagan couldn't tell the difference.
We all know that America is the worst country in the world, except for all the others.
We claim we believe in compassion, which is an abstract, and when it's personified we discredit the man.
We would have broken up except for the children. Who were the children? Well, she and I were.
When the Democrats form a firing squad, they stand in a circle.
President Obama's one-liners from the 2013 Gridiron dinner:
Now I know that some folks think we responded to Woodward too aggressively. But hey, when has- can anybody tell me when an administration has ever regretted picking a fight with Bob Woodward? What's the worst that could happen?
Of course, maintaining credibility in this cynical atmosphere is harder than ever- incredibly challenging. My administration recently put out a photo of me skeet shooting and even that wasn't enough for some people. Next week, we're releasing a photo of me clinging to religion.
And in the words of one of my favorite Star Trek characters- Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise- "May the force be with you."
All of you, I am sure, have heard many cries about Government interference with business and about
“creeping socialism.” I should like to remind the gentlemen who make these complaints that if events
had been allowed to continue as they were going prior to March 4, 1933, most of them would have no
businesses left for the Government or for anyone else to interfere with- and almost surely we would
have socialism in this country, real socialism.
-Harry S. Truman (in 1950)
(FDR assumed the Presidency for the first time 80 years ago today.)
The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting
from one manufactured crisis to the next.
-President Barack Obama
America tries to recover from two major disasters- Hurricane Sandy and the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.
("The Daily Show" video.)
KGB Report welcomes you to 2013: May this arbitrary, transient point in your solipsistic sense of the space-time continuum delineate the initiation of a series of random events which trend in a manner which you perceive to be favorable.
There are really only two small sections of the Unites States Constitution that I've memorized. There's the last part of Article VI:
"...no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public trust under the United States."
The emphasis is mine, and identifies the only place in the entire document where the word "ever" appears. This is handy when dealing with those who refuse to acknowledge the founders' intent to keep religion and government separate. I mean, what part of "ever" don't you understand?
And I also know the Preamble.
Boy, do I know the Preamble.
I recited it for a Veterans Day program in Homestead's Frick Park in 1962. I remember it was cold, and I was wearing my Cub Scout uniform. And I didn't make any mistakes, because I had been studying it, living with it, for an entire month.
I learned the Preamble from Margaret McGeever, the principal of my elementary school. And when Margaret McGeever taught you something, you not only memorized it, mastered it, and could recite it on command, you assimilated it into your very DNA structure. It left a virtual, indelible mark on your psyche, not unlike the actual physical hand print of hers that I still have on my left shoulder, a result of The Bell Telephone Movie Incident In The Auditorium.
Miss McGeever not only principaled, she taught drama. She emphasized that the Preamble was not a jumble of words to be hurriedly recited in a dull monotone. It had to be read correctly, with a combination of zeal, reverence and perfect enunciation. "This is the very foundation of who we are," she rumbled in her high-pitched yet gravelly voice. "Just fifty-two words that define who we are."
And I learned them. Really learned them. I spent a half hour every day finding the words in the huge dictionary in her office and transferring their definitions to sheets of blue-ruled white bond paper, the good stuff we used when taking our penmanship tests.
It took me more than a week. She looked through the sheets. She stacked them, placed her folded hands on the neat pile, then gazed at me over the top of her glasses.
I froze. It was not the look of satisfaction I had expected.
Her brow was furrowed. Actually, it was always furrowed; the woman had the forehead of a Shar Pei. But the creases were even deeper, and her voice was sharp.
"Mister Barkes," she intoned. "Your work is not acceptable. You have forgotten one very important word: Preamble. You've managed to omit the title of the work."
I looked at the copy of the Constitution I held in my pudgy, shaking hands. I didn't see the word "preamble" anywhere.
"You won't see the word 'preamble' anywhere," Miss McGeever said, which was simultaneously comforting and terrifying. "I don't see your name written anywhere on your body, but I know who are, and if I were to write about you, I would certainly put your name at the beginning."
"Preamble," she said. "An introduction. From the Latin 'pre', meaning 'before', and 'ambulare', to walk. Literally, to walk before, or to lead. 'Ambulare' is interesting. So many English words are derived from Latin. What English words come from 'ambulare'?"
"Ambulance?" I asked. She nodded. "Amble?" She nodded again.
I was blank. "Do you know what they call baby strollers in England?,"
"Prams?" I replied. "Right. Pram is English slang for perambulator. 'Per' from the Latin through or for, and 'ambulator' from..."
"Ambulare!" This was fun.
Miss McGeever spent the next half hour listing Latin antecedents ("ante-", before; "cedere", to go) for English words. I was sorry when the end of day bell sounded.
"I'll tell Miss Sullivan she has a prospective Latin student," she said, smiling. Miss Sullivan taught first year Latin in ninth grade at the junior high school.
Then the smile disappeared. The stack of Preamble words reappeared. "Review them. We'll have a verbal quiz on Monday."
Wait. Where was I?
Wow. I hate when I have one of those Billy Pilgrim unstuck in time moments.
Right. The Constitution.
There are a lot of people who say the Constitution has but one purpose: to restrict the federal government and limit its power. Anything not explicitly covered within its original 4,543 words and subsequent amendments should not even be considered.
I think they're missing the big picture. Miss McGeever explained it quite well. I remember her florid cursive writing on the blackboard:
Who are "We"? The people of the United States of America.
What do we want? We want to:
1. Form a more perfect Union. (The Articles of Confederation just weren't working.)
2. Establish justice.
3. Insure domestic tranquility.
4. Provide for the common defense.
6. Promote the general Welfare.
7. Secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity. (We're serious about this.)
How are we going to do this?
We do ordain (from the Latin ordinare, to arrange or order) and establish (from the Latin stabilire, to make stable) this Constitution (from the Latin constituo, to confirm, arrange, decide) of the United (L. unus, one, a union) States (L. status, fixed, set) of America.(Mod.L. Americanus, after Amerigo Vespucci).
Sometimes I think this guy must have been one of Miss McGeever's students. And after this past election, I know how he feels:
Failure to write a concession speech is what sealed Mitt Romney's fate:
(YouTube video: "Election Night" episode, The West Wing)
Sam Seaborn: You wrote a concession?
Toby Ziegler: Of course I wrote a concession. You want to tempt the wrath of the whatever from high atop the thing?
Sam Seaborn: No.
Toby Ziegler: Then go outside, turn around three times and spit. What the hell's the matter with you?
"The point is that we are all capable of believing things which we know
to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently
twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it
is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only
check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against
solid reality, usually on a battlefield."
Diagnosing the Republican Brain
Fact: Conservatives deny science and facts. But there's a reality check that liberals need too.
By Chris Mooney
Mother Jones, Fri Mar. 30, 2012 2:00 AM PDT
We all know that many American conservatives have issues with Charles Darwin, and the theory of evolution. But Albert Einstein, and the theory of relativity?
If you're surprised, allow me to introduce Conservapedia, the right-wing answer to Wikipedia and ground zero for all that is scientifically and factually inaccurate, for political reasons, on the Internet.
Claiming over 285 million page views since its 2006 inception, Conservapedia is the creation of Andrew Schlafly, a lawyer, engineer, homeschooler, and one of six children of Phyllis Schlafly, the anti-feminist and anti-abortion rights activist who successfully battled the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. In his mother's heyday, conservative activists were establishing vast mailing lists and newsletters, and rallying the troops. Her son learned that they also had to marshal "truth" to their side, now achieved not through the mail but the Web.
So when Schafly realized that Wikipedia was using BCE ("Before Common Era") rather than BC ("Before Christ") to date historical events, he'd had enough. He decided to create his own contrary fact repository, declaring, "It's impossible for an encyclopedia to be neutral." Conservapedia definitely isn't neutral about science. Its 37,000 plus pages of content include items attacking evolution and global warming, wrongly claiming (contrary to psychological consensus) that homosexuality is a choice and tied to mental disorders, and incorrectly asserting (contrary to medical consensus) that abortion causes breast cancer.
The whopper, though, has to be Conservapedia's nearly 6,000 word, equation-filled entry on the theory of relativity. It's accompanied by a long webpage of "counterexamples" to Einstein's great scientific edifice, which merges insights like E=mc2 (part of the special theory of relativity) with his later account of gravitation (the general theory of relativity).
"Relativity has been met with much resistance in the scientific world," declares Conservapedia. "To date, a Nobel Prize has never been awarded for Relativity." The site goes on to catalogue the "political aspects of relativity," charging that some liberals have "extrapolated the theory" to favor their agendas. That includes President Barack Obama, who (it is claimed) helped publish an article applying relativity in the legal sphere while attending Harvard Law School in the late 1980s.
"Virtually no one who is taught and believes Relativity continues to read the Bible, a book that outsells New York Times bestsellers by a hundred-fold," Conservapedia continues. But even that's not the site's most staggering claim. In its list of "counterexamples" to relativity, Conservapedia provides 36 alleged cases, including: "The action-at-a-distance by Jesus, described in John 4:46–54, Matthew 15:28, and Matthew 27:51."
If you are an American liberal or progressive and you just read the passage above, you are probably about to split your sides- or punch a wall. Sure enough, once liberal and science-focused bloggers caught wind of Conservapedia's anti-Einstein sallies, Schlafly was quickly called a "crackpot," "crazy," "dishonest," and so on.
These being liberals and scientists, there were also ample factual refutations. Take Conservapedia's bizarre claim that relativity hasn't led to any fruitful technologies. To the contrary, GPS devices rely on an understanding of relativity, as do PET scans and particle accelerators. Relativity works- if it didn't, we would have noticed by now, and the theory would never have come to enjoy its current scientific status.
Little changed at Conservapedia after these errors were dismantled, however (though more anti-relativity "counter-examples" and Bible references were added). For not only does the site embrace a very different firmament of "facts" about the world than modern science, it also employs a different approach to editing than Wikipedia. Schlafly has said of the founding of Conservapedia that it "strengthened my faith. I don't have to live with what's printed in the newspaper. I don't have to take what's put out by Wikipedia. We've got our own way to express knowledge, and the more that we can clear out the liberal bias that erodes our faith, the better."
You might be thinking that Conservapedia's unabashed denial of relativity is an extreme case, located in the same circle of intellectual hell as claims that HIV doesn't cause AIDS and 9-11 was an inside job. If so, I want to ask you to think again. Structurally, the denial of something so irrefutable, the elaborate rationalization of that denial, and above all the refusal to consider the overwhelming body of counterevidence and modify one's view, is something we find all around us today.
Every contentious fact- or science-based issue in American politics now plays out just like the conflict between Conservapedia and physicists over relativity. Again and again it's a fruitless battle between incompatible "truths," with no progress made and no retractions offered by those who are just plain wrong- and can be shown to be through simple fact checking mechanisms that all good journalists, not to mention open-minded and critically thinking citizens, can employ.
What's more, no matter how much the fact-checkers strive to remain "bi-partisan," it is pretty hard to argue that, today, the distribution of falsehoods is politically equal or symmetrical. It's not that liberals are never wrong or biased; in my new book, The Republican Brain, The Science of Why They Deny Science- and Reality, from which this essay is excerpted, I go to great lengths to describe and debunk a number of liberal errors. Nevertheless, politicized wrongness today is clustered among Republicans, conservatives, and especially Tea Partiers. (Indeed, a new study published in American Sociological Review finds that while overall trust in science has been relatively stable since 1974, among self- identified conservatives it is at an all-time low.)
Their willingness to deny what's true may seem especially outrageous when it infects scientific topics like evolution or climate change. But the same thing happens with economics, with American history, and with any other factual matter where there's something ideological- in other words, something emotional and personal- at stake.
As soon as that occurs, today's conservatives have their own "truth," their own experts to spout it, and their own communication channels- newspapers, cable networks, talk radio shows, blogs, encyclopedias, think tanks, even universities- to broad- and narrowcast it.
We've been trained to equivocate, to not to see this trend toward anti-factualism for what it is- sweeping, systemic. This is particularly true of reporters. Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome, and that's precisely where our country stands now with regard to the conservative denial of reality. For a long time, we've been trained to equivocate, to not to see it for what it is- sweeping, systemic. This is particularly true of reporters and others trained to think that objectivity will out. Yet the problem is gradually dawning on many of us, particularly as the 2012 election began to unfold and one maverick Republican, Jon Huntsman, put his party's anti-factual tendencies in focus with a Tweet heard round the world:
"To be clear, I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy."
The cost of this assault on reality is dramatic. Many of these falsehoods affect lives and have had- or will have- world-changing consequences. And more dangerous than any of them is the utter erosion of a shared sense of what's true- which they both generate, and perpetuate.
Consider, just briefly, some of the wrong ideas that have taken hold of significant swaths of the conservative population in the U.S:
The Identity of the President of the United States: Many conservatives believe President Obama is a Muslim. A stunning 64 percent of Republican voters in the 2010 election thought it was "not clear" whether he had been born in the United States. These people often think he was born in Kenya, and the birth certificate showing otherwise is bunk, a forgery, etc. They also think this relatively centrist Democrat is a closet- or even overt- socialist. At the extreme, they consider him a "Manchurian candidate" for an international leftist agenda.
Obamacare: Many conservatives believe it is a "government takeover of health care." They also think, as Sarah Palin claimed, that it created government "death panels" to make end-of-life care decisions for the elderly. What's more, they think it will increase the federal budget deficit (and that most economists agree with this claim), cut benefits to those on Medicare, and subsidize abortions and the health care of illegal immigrants. None of these things are true.
Sexuality and Reproductive Health. Many conservatives- especially on the Christian Right- claim that having an abortion increases a woman's risk of breast cancer or mental disorders. They claim that fetuses can perceive pain at 20 weeks of gestation, that same-sex parenting is bad for kids, and that homosexuality is a disorder, or a choice, and is curable through therapy. None of this is true.
The Iraq War: The mid-2000s saw the mass dissemination of a number of falsehoods about the war in Iraq, including claims that weapons of mass destruction were found after the US invasion and that Iraq and Al Qaeda were proven collaborators. And political conservatives were much more likely than liberals to believe these falsehoods. Studies have shown as much of Fox News viewers, and also of so-called authoritarians, an increasingly significant part of the conservative base (about whom more soon). In one study, 37 percent of authoritarians (but 15 percent of non-authoritarians) believed WMD had been found in Iraq, and 55 percent of authoritarians (but 19 percent of non-authoritarians) believed that Saddam Hussein had been directly involved in the 9-11 attacks.
Economics: Many conservatives hold the clearly incorrect view- explicitly espoused by former President George W. Bush- that tax cuts increase government revenue. They also think President Obama raised their income taxes, that he's responsible for current government budget deficits, and that his flagship economic stimulus bill didn't create many jobs or even caused job losses (and that most economists concur with this assessment). Perhaps most alarming of all, in mid-2011 conservatives advanced the dangerous idea that the federal government could simply "prioritize payments" if Congress failed to raise the debt ceiling. None of this is true, and the last belief, in particular, risked economic calamity.
American History: Many conservatives- especially on the Christian Right- believe the United States was founded as a "Christian nation." They consider the separation of church and state a "myth," not at all assured by the First Amendment. And they twist history in myriad other ways, large and small, including Michele Bachmann's claim that the Founding Fathers "worked tirelessly" to put an end to slavery.
Sundry Errors: Many conservatives claimed that President Obama's late 2010 trip to India would cost $200 million per day, or $2 billion for a ten day visit! And they claimed that, in 2007, Congress banned incandescent light bulbs, a truly intolerable assault on American freedoms. Only, Congress did no such thing. (To give just a few examples.)
Science: In a nationally representative survey only 18 percent of Republicans and Tea Party members accepted the scientific consensus that global warming is caused by humans, and only 45 and 43 percent (respectively) accepted human evolution.
In other words, political conservatives have placed themselves in direct conflict with modern scientific knowledge, which shows beyond serious question that global warming is real and caused by humans, and evolution is real and the cause of humans. If you don't accept either claim, you cannot possibly understand the world or our place in it.
But why? Why are today's liberals usually right, and today's conservatives usually wrong? I devoted a book to trying to understand the science behind the political brain- and though I first wrote about some of my findings in Mother Jones let me touch on a few of its findings here.
One possible answer is what I'll call the "environmental explanation." I've told a version of it before, in my 2005 book The Republican War on Science:
At least since the time of Ronald Reagan, but arcing back further, the modern American conservative movement has taken control of the Republican Party and aligned it with a key set of interest groups who have had bones to pick with various aspects of scientific reality- most notably, corporate anti-regulatory interests and religious conservatives. And so these interests fought back against the relevant facts- and Republican leaders, dependent on their votes, joined them, making science denial an increasingly important part of the conservative and Republican political identity.... Meanwhile, party allegiances created a strange bedfellows effect. The enemy of one's friend was also an enemy, so we saw conservative Christians denying climate science, and pharmaceutical companies donating heaps of money to a party whose Christian base regularly attacks biomedical research. Despite these contradictions, economic and social conservatives profited enough from their allegiance that it was in the interests of both to hold it together.
In such an account, the problem of right-wing science denial is ascribed to political opportunism- rooted in the desire to appease either religious impulses or corporate profit motives. But is this the right answer?
It isn't wrong, exactly. There's much truth to it. Yet it completely ignores what we now know about the psychology of our politics.
The environmental account ascribes Republican science denial (and for other forms of denial, the story would be similar) to the particular exigencies and alignments of American political history. That's what the party did because it had to, to get ahead. And today, goes the thinking, this leaves us with a vast gulf between Democrats and Republicans in their acceptance of modern climate science and many other scientific conclusions, with conservatives increasingly distrustful of science, and with scientists and the highly educated moving steadily to the left.
There's just one problem: This account ignores the possibility that there might be real differences between liberals and conservatives that influence how they respond to scientific or factual information. It assumes we're all blank slates- that we all want the same basic things- and then we respond to political forces not unlike air molecules inside a balloon. We get knocked this way and that, sure. And we start out in different places, thus ensuring different trajectories. But at the end of the day, we're all just air molecules.
But what if we're not all the same kind of molecule? What if we respond to political or factual collisions in different ways, with different spins or velocities? Today there's considerable scientific evidence suggesting that this is the case.
For instance, the historic political awakening of what we now call the Religious Right was nothing if not a defense of cultural traditionalism- which had been threatened by the 1960s counterculture, Roe v. Wade, and continued inroads by feminists, gay rights activists, and many others- and a more hierarchical social structure. It was a classic counter-reaction to too much change, too much pushing of equality, and too many attacks on traditional values- all occurring too fast. And it mobilized a strong strand of right-wing authoritarianism in US politics- one that had either been dormant previously, or at least more evenly distributed across the parties.
The rise of the Religious Right was thus the epitome of conservatism on a psychological level- clutching for something certain in a changing world; wanting to preserve one's own ways in uncertain times, and one's own group in the face of difference- and can't be fully understood without putting this variable into play.
The problem is that people are deathly afraid of psychology, and never more so than when it is applied to political beliefs. Political journalists, in particular, almost uniformly avoid this kind of approach. They try to remain on the surface of things, telling endless stories of horse races and rivalries, strategies and interests, and key "turning points." All of which are, of course, real. And conveniently, by sticking with them you never have to take the dangerous journey into anybody's head.
But what if these only tell half the story?
As I began to investigate the underlying causes for the conservative denial of reality that we see all around us, I found it impossible to ignore a mounting body of evidence- from political science, social psychology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and genetics- that points to a key conclusion. Political conservatives seem to be very different from political liberals at the level of psychology and personality. And inevitably, this influences the way the two groups argue and process information.
Let's be clear: This is not a claim about intelligence. Nor am I saying that conservatives are somehow worse people than liberals; the groups are just different. Liberals have their own weaknesses grounded in psychology, and conservatives are very aware of this. (Many of the arguments in this book could be inverted and repackaged into a book called The Democratic Brain- with a Spock-like caricature of President Obama on the cover.)
Nevertheless, some of the differences between liberals and conservatives have clear implications for how they respond to evidence in political debates. Take, for instance, their divergence on a core personality measure called Openness to Experience (and the suite of characteristics that go along with it). The evidence here is quite strong: overall, liberals tend to be more open, flexible, curious and nuanced- and conservatives tend to be more closed, fixed and certain in their views.
What's more, since Openness is a core aspect of personality, examining this difference points us toward the study of the political brain. The field is very young, but scientists are already showing that average "liberal" and "conservative" brains differ in suggestive ways. These differences may be related to a large and still unidentified number of "political" genes- although to be sure, genes are only one influence out of many upon our political views. But they appear to be an underrated one.
What all of this means is that our inability to agree on the facts can no longer be explained solely at the surface of our politics. It has to be traced, as well, to deeper psychological and cognitive factors. And such an approach won't merely cast light on why we see so much "truthiness" today, so many postmodern fights between the left and the right over reality. Phenomena ranging from conservative brinksmanship over raising the debt ceiling to the old "What's the Matter with Kansas?" problem- why do poor conservatives vote against their economic interests?- make vastly more sense when viewed through the lens of political psychology.
Before going any further, I want to emphasize that this argument is not a form of what is often called reductionism. Just because psychology seems relevant to explaining why the left and the right have diverged over reality doesn't mean that nothing else is, or that I am reducing conservatives to just their psychology (or reducing psychology to cognitive neuroscience, or cognitive neuroscience to genes, and so on). "We can never give a complete explanation of anything interesting about human beings in psychology," explains the University of Cambridge psychologist Fraser Watts. But that doesn't mean there's nothing to be learned from the endeavor.
Complex phenomena like human political behavior always have many causes, not one. Human brains are flexible and change daily; people have choices, and those choices alter who they are. Nevertheless, there are broad tendencies in the population that really matter, and cannot be ignored.
We don't understand everything there is to know yet about the underlying reasons why conservatives and liberals are different. We don't know how all the puzzle pieces- cognitive styles, personality traits, psychological needs, moral intuitions, brain structures, and genes- fit together. And we know that the environment (or nurture) is at least as important as the genes (or nature). This means that what I'm saying applies at the level of large groups, but may founder in case of any particular individual.
Still, we know enough to begin pooling together all the scientific evidence. And when you do- even if you provide all the caveats- there's a lot of consistency. And it all makes a lot of sense. Conservatism, after all, means nothing if not supporting political and social stability and resisting change. I'm merely tracing some of the appeal of this philosophy to psychology, and then discussing what this means for how we debate what is "true" in contested areas.
Now, conservatives won't like hearing that they're often wrong and dogmatic about it, so they may dogmatically resist this conclusion. They may also try to turn the tables and pretend liberals are the closed-minded ones, ignoring volumes of science in the process. (I'm waiting, Ann Coulter.)
But what about liberals? Aren't we wrong too, and dogmatic too?
The typical waffling liberal answer is, "er . . . sort of." Liberals aren't always right, but that's not the central problem. Our particular dysfunction is, typically, more complex and even paradoxical.
On the one hand, we're absolutely outraged by partisan misinformation. Lies about "death panels." People seriously thinking that President Obama is a Muslim. Climate change denial. Debt ceiling denial. These things drive us crazy, in large part because we can't comprehend how such intellectual abominations could possibly exist. I can't tell you how many times I've heard a fellow liberal say, "I can't believe the Republicans are so stupid they can believe X!"
And not only are we enraged by lies and misinformation; we want to refute them- to argue, argue, argue about why we're right and Republicans are wrong. Indeed, we often act as though right-wing misinformation's defeat is nigh, if we could only make people wiser and more educated (just like us) and get them the medicine that is correct information.
In this, we both underestimate conservatives, and we fail to understand them.
To begin to remedy that defect, let's go back to the Conservapedia-relativity dustup, and make an observation that liberals and physicists did not always credit. Whatever else Andrew Schlafly might be- and no matter how hard it is to understand how someone could devote himself to an enterprise like Conservapedia- the man is not stupid. Quite the contrary.
He's a Harvard law graduate. He has an engineering degree from Princeton, and used to work both for Intel and for Bell Labs. His relativity entry is filled with equations that I myself can neither write nor solve. He hails from a highly intellectual right-wing family- his mother, Phyllis, is also Harvard educated and, according to her biographer, excelled in school at a time when women too rarely had the opportunity to compete with men at that level. Mother and son thus draw a neat, half-century connection between the birth of modern American conservatism on the one hand, and the insistence that conservatives have their own "facts," better than liberal facts thank you very much, on the other.
So it is not that Schlafly, or other conservatives as sophisticated as he, can't make an argument. Rather, the problem is that when Schlafly makes an argument, it's hard to believe it has anything to do with real intellectual give and take. He's not arguing out of an openness to changing his mind. He's arguing to reaffirm what he already thinks (his "faith"), to defend the authorities he trusts, and to bolster the beliefs of his compatriots, his tribe, his team.
Liberals (and scientists) have too often tried to dodge the mounting evidence that this is how people work. Perhaps because it leads to a place that terrifies them: an anti-Enlightenment world in which evidence and argument don't work to change people's minds.
But that response, too, is a form of denial- liberal denial, a doctrine whose chief delusion is not so much the failure to accept facts, but rather, the failure to understand conservatives. And that denial can't continue. Because as President Obama's first term has shown- from the healthcare battle to the debt ceiling crisis- ignoring the psychology of the right has not only left liberals frustrated and angry, but has left the country in a considerably worse state than that.
Purist conservatives are like idiot hipsters who can't like a band that's popular. They believe that a group with any kind of a following can't be a good band, just as show-off social conservatives consider it a mark of integrity that their candidates- Akin, Mourdock, Sharron Angle, Christine O'Donnell- take wildly unpopular positions and lose elections.
It was the same thing with purist libertarian Barry Goldwater, who... nearly destroyed the Republican Party with his pointless pursuit of libertarian perfection in his vote against the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
(No, I'm not going to give a link to her site. I don't want kgbreport.com showing up in her server logs.)
I'm seeing Americans post photos of our Flag hung upside down because the President won reelection. They're defending this action as a "Naval sign of distress". Let me tell you something: you are not on a battleship, you are a manager at McDonalds in Follansbee, WV, and you are in fact, a lunatic.
I've avoided "spiking the football" over a great night for the President and for common sense in the Senate - Richard Murdock and Todd Akin deserved more than a loss. But I've held off, because I respect, am friends with, and on certain issues agree with, many patriotic Republicans who work hard to make this country a better place and simply disagreed with who should be Commander in Chief. That's fair and healthy.
And, I also didn't spike the football because I've lost elections before and I know how terrible it feels.
It's called maturity and not enough people in either party have it.
The following jaw punch is not directed at common sense Republicans, nor does it condone radicals on the Left. It is directed at the right wing fanatics who put party before country, conspiracy before reality, and ideology before science and intellect.
To Tea Party Patriots and hardcore Religious Engineers:
Republicans lost because their party leadership and most candidates feared you, listened to you, and looked the other way on important issues as you picked the dumbest, craziest nominees in key primaries (Murdock and Akin), or converted otherwise sensible, experienced candidates to Crazy Town (Romney).
There's nothing wrong with wanting limited government. I do. There's nothing wrong with believing in God, the Golden Rule, or wanting to reduce abortions. I do, too. But you've taken it too damn far and scare the shit out of people you could otherwise persuade.
Yes, the message and messenger matter (you're failing at both, BTW), but no Madison Avenue PR firm, K Street lobbying firm, Fox News "analyst", or local chapter of "Freedom Works" can sell the flaming dung you're slinging.
Smart people can lose. But smart people always learn.
You didn't lose because you "weren't conservative enough" or because the country has become full of lazy "takers" who don't want to earn a living or just want America to "turn in to Europe".
You didn't lose because of Hurricane Sandy or because Chris Christie hugged the President on TV- they were both doing their jobs.
You didn't lose because of a liberal media, liberal college campuses, liberal polls that were "weighted to Democrats" (mostly because they were accurate), or because of "election fraud"... actually, that probably benefited you this time.
No. You lost because your policies, tone, conspiracies, rigid inflexibility and irrational rhetoric helped align enough moderates, swing voters, and minority groups whom otherwise could be persuaded by Republicans, to align with Democrats and a beatable incumbent.
It's not that you didn't get your message out, it's that we all actually heard it and threw up a little in our mouths.
There isn't a mandate for Democrats in this election. Liberalism wasn't rewarded in this election. However, calm pragmatism, compassion, working together, compromise and sincerity were rewarded. People may not have agreed with President Obama, but more felt he was sincere and that he understood their daily problems, fears, and dreams. If you don't trust what the polls say, take a look at who is sworn in on January 20th. I thought you'd at least believe in math when it came to counting to 270.
Sincerity is the only thing in politics you can't fake. You can't teach it. No matter how shiny a candidate's bio is, how smooth he is, or how perfect the gray hairs rest on his temples- any average Joe on the street can spot a bullshitter.
Mitt is a generous and good man, but he didn't know who he was or "needed" to be at any given time in that campaign. That's largely his fault for lacking core convictions or personal toughness (Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush possessed both traits- that's why they won).
But you, the right wing base of the party, who drove so many of us moderate republicans out the door years ago, were the main catalyst. Your inability to reason, compromise, or let new facts and evidence challenge your predetermined outcomes led millions of moderates to no longer be able to stand on stage with you.
Frankly, you're embarrassing- more so than a crazy family member at dinner, or having your mom drop you off at a high school dance.
You say stupid shit and look stupid saying it.
You pass amendments to ban flag burning and then hang it upside down and post it on Facebook when you lose.
You preach limited government in the economy when Democrats are in charge and then look the other way when you're in charge.
You want a government small enough to stay out of corporations and banks but big enough for bedrooms and hospital respirators (see Schiavo, Terri).
There's a hatred inside of you that burns in a way that scares normal people.
You made unlikely allies in large corporations who are more interested in tax breaks and loopholes even if the government has to cut your Medicare and Social Security or cut education to a point where states and local governments have no financial choice but to educate your children in portable trailer classrooms with 35 other students.
Would these corporations do this just to help pad their quarterly earnings reports with certain tax and regulatory policies? You bet your sweet ass they do. And you better believe they're happy to have you make the "freedom" argument as "concerned citizen patriots" on their behalf.
Yet, after those corporations spent billions on TV adds and herded you like sheep over the last half decade to discredit Barack Obama for everything from being a "Godless communist"- to his "being born in Kenya and hatching a secret plot to take down America"- to Obamacare's "death panels and job killing regulations"-
YOU still lost.
After having a Senate Republican Leader state that his party's top priority in Congress was to make "Obama a one term President" and a House of Representatives that blocked everything he tried to do and then had the brass to criticize him for "not getting anything done"-
YOU still lost.
After attacking gay people who want equal protection under the law (BTW, I'm referring to the 14th amendment to the constitution, I know you forget most of the amendments after the 2nd one)-
YOU still lost.
After attacking the Hispanic community who's tired of being spoken "at" like criminals, attacking low income women who rely on Planned Parenthood for services of which 98% have nothing to do with abortion, and attacking relatively trivial things like PBS that children and adults enjoy as "1" damn television channel that doesn't include Honey Boo Boo or a "Fox News Breaking Alert" announcing Obama's latest "Czar" appointment-
YOU still lost.
And after throwing all the red meat in your warped political base out to the rest of the country to eat, the majority of Americans weren't hungry for it and didn't trust ordering from your unhealthy, de-regulated menu-
YOU still lost.
You can read me the constitution, but you clearly don't have a practical understanding of what you've read, heard on television, or forwarded to your entire email list of like minded xenophobes.
This country is great because our founders were smart enough to limit the government's power and give the people enough freedom and authority to correct their own mistakes in pursuit of a "more perfect union" (it's in the first damn line of the Preamble, in case you can't find it in your Tea Party Constitution Cliffs Notes).
Our founders were utterly brilliant and sophisticated. I don't like to speak for them, but I doubt they would have been friends with Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh or Sarah Palin. Nah, they wouldn't have made the guest list at Mt. Vernon or Monticello.
But let's be clear, our founders weren't perfect. They owned slaves. Only white male property owners had a say in things. Women, blacks, native Americans, and other constituencies had to wait for an American dream and in many cases, are still waiting and working for it. Speaking of work, children were working 12-16 hour days with zero safety protections in statute. Zero.
The constitution, subsequent amendments and Supreme Court rulings and opinions since 1800 aren't perfectly clear (those who think they are tend to have had a healthy serving of Kool-Aid and have never watched oral arguments at the Supreme Court).
The founders knew that they, and the constitution they drafted, weren't perfect. This is why they added a Bill of Rights and why they created a Supreme Court and a process that has allowed us to add 27 amendments to their work of art.
Their imperfection is what led to a Civil War to prove that human and civil rights aren't a "states' rights issue" - they're endowed by our creator, not by legislatures in Mississippi or Alabama, and they're protected equally in our constitution, but also in our democratically passed laws.
I run from the Capitol steps to the Lincoln Memorial most mornings that I'm in Washington. I may not be fast or smart, but I can read what's carved in stone.
Please. I welcome a challenge to what I've said. If you think because I voted for President Obama that I'm a socialist or that I don't want a better America, I'm happy to take time from running a business I've co-founded and time from money I'm trying to raise for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America to pause and give you a fresh one. At no charge.
But I do ask this: be a real Patriot. Look at that flag you've hung upside down. Look at what you've done to it and what that means. Thousands of our bravest men and women, braver than me, just lost limbs and in many cases their lives so that Iraqis and Afghanis could vote however they see fit. I did that on Tuesday and so did you. That's what that flag stands for- equal access to a process, not a guarantee for any of our desired outcomes.
A country that defeated Hitler, Mussolini, and bin Laden won't crumble because the guy you wanted to be President got beat.
You lost. Now learn from it.
A Proud American
That famous quote by Mythbuster Adam Savage is, simply, the reason why the Republicans were handed their lunch on Tuesday.
Here are two essays which address the issue in a sane, rational manner. The videos that follow, from last night's Daily Show, are a bit more... bombastic.
Ohio really did go to President Obama last night, and he really did win. And really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately President of the United States. Again. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to over sample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math. And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a thing. And Benghazi was an attack on us. It was not a scandal by us. And nobody is taking away anyone's guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually. And Saddam Hussein did not have Weapons of Mass Destruction. And the moon landing was real, and FEMA is not building concentration camps. And UN election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in the country are not the same things as Communism.
Listen. Last night was a good night for Democrats and liberals for very obvious reasons. But it was also possibly a good night for this country as a whole. Because in this country we have a two party system in government. And the idea is supposed to be that the two sides both come up with ways to confront and fix the real problems facing this country. They both propose possible solutions to our real problems. And we debate between those possible solutions. And by the process of debate, we pick the best idea. That competition between good ideas from both sides about real problems in the real country should result in our country having better choices, better options, than if only one side is really working on the hard stuff. And if the Republican party and the conservative movement and the conservative media are stuck in a vacuum-sealed door-locked spin cycle of telling each other what makes them feel good, and denying the factual lived truth of the world, then we are all deprived as a nation of the constructive debate between competing feasible ideas about real problems.
Last night the Republicans got shellacked. And they had no idea it was coming. And we saw them in real time, in real humiliating time, not believe it as it was happening to them. And unless they are going to secede, they are going to have to pop the factual bubble they've been so happy living inside... if they do not want to get shellacked again. And that will be a painful process for them, I'm sure, but it will be good for the whole country, left, right and center. You guys, we're counting on you. Wake up. There are real problems in the world. There are real knowable facts in the world. Let's accept those and talk about how we might approach our problems differently. Let's move on from there. If the Republican party and the conservative media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night, we'll all be better off as a nation.
And in that spirit, congratulations everybody.
If You're Surprised By The Election Results, You're The Reason You Lost, Or: A Plea for Useful Republicans.
I know the despair you feel this morning, and sympathize, because I've been there. In 2004 my stiff, robotic millionaire lost to a President he should have soundly thumped, and I was so hurt I took a week off from the Internet afterwards. I am completely sympathetic with that slow terror that the country is now in the hands of an incompetent, and the voters don't even know it.
But I noticed a weird difference between the way Republicans and Democrats reacted to a losing candidate. In 2004, when the polls turned against Kerry and it was obvious he was going to lose, the Democrats asked "How can we fix that?" Oh, they asked in their glum, incompetent way, but when I personally talked to other Democrats both in real life and online, we were all pretty cognizant of the fact that Kerry was the underdog.
The Republicans of 2012, however, became increasingly convinced that Romney was going to win.
Everywhere I looked on Twitter and Facebook, I saw my Republican friends- not straw men, but actual people- talking about how terrible Nate Silver's methods were, how these Rasmussen polls showed Romney's real strength, and eventually you got the travesty of UnSkewedPolls.com, which cherry-picked the data and even today has their prediction of not just a Romney win but a landslide, Romney 311 to Obama 227. (Actual result: Obama 332, Romney 206.)
It all crystallized for me when my friend Brad Torgerson said, "Liberals and Democrats have Nate Silver and his 538 blog. Conservatives and Republicans have the U of CO guys. It's an epic cage match of predictive numbers geekery!"
Look there. Right at that post- one not too dissimilar from a thousand other dismissals of Nate Silver and the other aggregated polls. See what Brad did there? The way the guy bringing you news he didn't like was automatically assigned a partisan bias, and the only rational solution was to get a guy on your side with better numbers? As if reality was merely a function of getting enough guys on your side?
That's why you lost.
Stop confusing hard reality for partisan opposition.
It's time to step out of the bubble, dear Republicans, because we fucking need you. I don't trust the Democratic party to run the country single-handedly. I want a Republican party I can rely on for real solutions- and you've become lazy, voodoo-like, dismissing any data you don't like as partisan opposition.
Jay Lake is fond of saying, "Reality has a liberal bias." That's not because reality inevitably verifies liberal thinking, but because the Republican response to anything that challenges them is now to write off the data.
And let me repeat: we need you. I want a counterweight to Democratic power, not a deadweight that refuses to acknowledge the issues. I want a Republican party that will look at the numbers for climate change and not go, "I don't like what those scientists are saying, so I'll call it a silly liberal bias!" but say, "We're business experts, we know how to motivate rich people to do what we want, how do we fix this?" I want a Republican party that will realize while yes, we're spending far too much and should cut down, the results of thirty years of trickle-down theory and tax cuts won't actually provide enough revenue, because we are at the lowest effective tax rates we've had in thirty years.
And yes, you can argue all my statements here. But in that, smart person, you're like a driver with an SUV in Alaska. A person with a car in Alaska is going to get stuck in the snow eventually; that's a fact. But if you have an SUV, you're gonna get stuck way the heck out in the woods where no one can get at you, because you have the strength to do it and won't stop when common sense tells you to. I had a ton of Very Smart friends dissecting all the reasons why Nate Silver was wrong, why his methodology sucked, why these pollsters who said what they liked over here had better ways of slicing the data- and all that flurry of so-called "facts" amounted to was an elaborate justification of personal biases that had no basis in reality.
It's time to stop fighting the obvious. It's time to stop assuming that anyone who presents contradictory data is out to get you.
You should have won, guys. You had a President with an economy in the doldrums, a guy who'd lost a lot of his electoral mojo in the realities of politics. But instead of rising from the grave, you chose a candidate who never actually gave us firm numbers on what expenses he'd cut to fix the economy. You chose a candidate who said he'd get rid of Obamacare, but never actually named the parts he'd destroy. You chose someone who, though all politicians lie, lied a lot more than almost any modern Presidential candidate.
You had a guy who should have sliced Obama to ribbons- and he lost, in large part, because he said, "Trust me" instead of giving us a plan. And you let him get away with it.
You let him get away with it because you're indulging in a great deal of magical thinking. You let him get away with it because facts have ceased to matter; as long as someone tells you something you want to hear, you'll find a way to justify it with pseudo-science and trust and spit and baling wire. You don't like to hear how bad a candidate Mitt was, because you came so close this year, but it's true; the problem is that so much of the country has abandoned listening to reality that you can get massive votes and never touch a fact.
If you can't be honest today, in the aftermath of this great defeat, then you're never going to see the truth.
If you seriously thought that Romney had a good chance of winning, then you're part of the problem. Wake up. I implore you: learn from this. Look at your deepest beliefs, and see whether the numbers support them. Start thinking, maybe those people with data I don't like are right.
If you think the lesson to be learned is "We weren't conservative enough," then you're handing me a great victory in 2016. I want to have a real choice then.
T.F. (The Ferret)
Megyn Kelly teaches Karl Rove the power of scientific gobbledygook.
"If only President Bush could have been so lucky as to have a massive hurricane on his watch, then... oh, right..."
It's just arithmetic.
Categories: Barack Obama, Bill O'Reilly, Chick-fil-A, Daily Show, Elections, Fox News, Hypocrisy, Jon Stewart, Karl Rove, Megyn Kelly, Mitt Romney, Nate Silver, News Media, Politics, Rachel Maddow, Sarah Palin, The Ferret, YouTube
Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military has changed.
We have these things called aircraft carriers where planes land on them. We have these ships that go
underwater, nuclear submarines. And so, the question is not a game of Battleship where we're
counting ships, it's “what are our capabilities?”
From social media, collected in real time during the debate:
“Boca Raton.” Mouth of the Rat. Just sayin'.
Maybe Mitt could fire Iran.
Mitt: “Gender equality for the middle east.” But not for American women.
Wait. Is this a rerun?
He's gonna ask his parents for the money.
Blame the tumult of the middle east on Obama, because it started only four years ago.
Tumult, that's three! Can meshuga be far behind?
We owe China billions. They've kept us afloat. Let's threaten them!
Mali just declared war on Appleton Wisconsin.
Forget the flag pins. They should have worn squirting carnations.
Romney won the coin toss so the line between them is white.
Romney can see Russia from two of his houses.
Even Syria is bored with this debate.
Romney's expression says “The afterlife is going to be so tough for you.”
The Pentagon just turned to Monday Night Football.
A half hour in. What have we learned? They both don't like war and like peace. Wow.
I don't know who's winning but Iran has just gone to Def Con 4.
Okay. We're back home again. They couldn't talk foreign affairs for more than 30 minutes. That scares me.
Romney keeps bragging about the Olympics. I saw him. His figure skating was embarrassing.
This Christmas Neiman Marcus is selling maps without Israel.
Get tough on China. Make Walmart close at six.
If Romney sweats any more, I get a royalty.
Romney will call China a currency manipulator. China will laugh and sell him another flag pin.
Romney needs a binder full of kleenex.
It's unfair to say Mitt Romney is politicizing the tragedy of Benghazi when he's actually exploiting it.
“The only way to deal with your enemy is to make him your friend.” Abraham Lincoln, appeaser.
“We can't kill our way out”- Mitt Romney. “We need to kill them.”- Mitt Romney, two minutes later
“We have to help these nations build civil societies”- Mitt Romney, previously opposed to Nation Building.
If Iran develops a nuclear weapon Romney/Ryan would respond with the strongest possible tax cuts.
Barack Obama just said the debate table was round & Mitt Romney said it's actually flat.
Mitt Romney will stand up to Iran, Syria & Putin and is also afraid to go on The View.
”Attacking me is not an agenda“ Mitt Romney, whose foreign policy plan has consisted of attacking the president on Benghazi.
Romney strongly supports gender equality in middle east; and will get back to you with his opinion on Lily Ledbetter act here.
It's fitting that Mitt Romney resembles Reed Richards from Fantastic Four as his magic power is superhuman stretching.
Mitt just said we should've been more involved in Syria & also been less involved. Those Bush aides were worth every penny.
Mitt Romney believes our government has to solve problems in Syria while letting the Free Market solve problems here.
Romney is clearly winning on making the foreign policy debate not about foreign policy
Mitt Romney just found a way to bash teachers' unions during a foreign policy debate.
I want Bob Schieffer to grab Romney by the lapels and scream “WHERE'S THE MONEY, LEBOWSKI?!”
Mitt wants to repeal Obamacare and increase the Pentagon budget to defend Israel's right to universal (health) care.
Mitt just mentioned how he balanced the budget for the Olympics, leaving out the millions in government earmarks that balanced it.
Non millionaires who voted for Bush and support Romney deserve presidents like Bush and Romney.
Hey, Mitt- If you hate our tax system and want a religious conservative government with no abortion or gay marriage, Iran is waiting for you.
Mitt Romney is ahead on impersonating Albert Brooks' flop sweat from Broadcast News.
“The tightest sanctions must be tightened.”- Mitt Romney. He said that.
Obama took out bin Laden but wait til President Romney takes out Oscar the Grouch
Somewhere in Hell Richard Nixon is embarrassed over Mitt Romney debate sweat
GOP blaming Obama for the slow recovery is like Lucy blaming Charlie Brown for missing the football.
Romney: “No one has more experience abroad than my money.”
Romney: “I would bring all female troops home in time to cook dinner.”
Both candidates' use of the numbers 1 through 5 underscores the importance of keeping Sesame Street.
If he loses, Mitt Romney has a bright future as a Clipart character.
Romney: “Across the Middle East, women are being kept in binders.”
When Romney is listening he looks exactly like my dad did when I told him a lie.
We are now discussing the most pressing foreign policy issue facing America today, the reading tests of fourth graders.
Romney: “There's no place more important to me than Israel except Ohio.”
Romney: “If the Prime Minister of Israel called me, I would do what I do whenever someone talks to me: interrupt him.”
Romney: “Not only do I believe in drones, I am one.”
Romney: “The greatest threat to the world is nuclear powered women.”
Suddenly every schmo on Twitter is a foreign policy expert.
“That's a perfect segue into the next question which neither of you will answer.”
“And now, a ridiculous question that allows each of you to dispense talking points to your base.
Trouble already: Mitt says he wants to impose sanctions on ”Romnesia“.
“Kill our way out of this mess” is the theme of every American movie not about talking animals or weddings.
Aside from talking points, Mitt doesn't know his Assad from a hole in the ground.
Mitt, you do know that most of America thinks Mali is one of Obama's daughters, right?
It's good they agree armed Americans should be involved with everyone, everywhere. We loved armed intervention like Paula Dean loves butter.
Aside from talking points, Mitt doesn't know his Assad from a hole in the ground
Mitt's entire debate strategy: What he just said, but from a white guy.
That's an amazingly specific number Mitt keeps pulling out of his ass, 12 million new jobs. But fellas, this is the foreign policy debate!
Jobs, teachers, education - gentlemen, please, can we get back to killing foreigners?
Bob Scheiffer, could you ask about what's IN the military budget? If people knew specifics,”I wouldn't cut nuttin'” wouldn't sound so good
I like hearing Mitt say how great he was for Massachusetts, the state that will never, ever, ever vote for him.
I can't be the only one who's surprised to find out Buster Posey is a white guy. Sorry, flipped to the game.
I've seen wider ideological differences between Jehovah's Witnesses.
Oh no he din't- Romney said his ultimate BubbleFact, “Apology Tour” right in front of the guy who NEVER WENT ON ONE.
To clarify, Mitt is for moving heaven and earth, but only in regards to mining.
You're losing, Mitt- bring up the fact that we have fewer knives and rocks than we did during the French and Indian War.
Shorter version of Romney: Me strong. Obama weak. Hulk smash.
OK Mitt, one more try: we have fewer catapults and barrels of boiling oil than we had in the crusades.
First debate, all agreed, Obama lost; second one, i say he won, but Romney not trounced. But this one? Only bubbledwellers can say Mitt won
Mitt keeps taking issue with being criticized tonight - did they tell him this is a debate?
OK, one last try: We have fewer Andrews Sisters and Ritz Brothers than we did in 1944. So glad we're done with THAT!
“The audience has taken a vow of silence.” But not celibacy, one hopes.
We are debating during the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This is very important, because we are painfully aware that neither of these men is a Jack Kennedy.
Cutting Obamacare, which the CBO has projected will reduce the deficit, will save money, because MAGIC.
Mitt is in favor of crippling sanctions like the ones Barry has put in place. If elected, he will have the Doctor take him back to the Bush administration to put them in place sooner, and more crippling-er.
Mittens, again with the “tumult.” Why does it sound like Yiddish when he says “tumult”?
You know all about shipping jobs overseas, don’t you Governor? BOOM!
Mitt is pretending that he can feel empathy... Brent Spiner pulled this off a lot more convincingly.
Various fact checkers:
Politifact rated the claim that the U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force are smaller than in 1917 and 1947 “pants on fire.”
Romney wants to add $2 trillion to defense that it didn't ask for it. True.
Obama 'promised' 5.4 percent unemployment? Mostly False.
Romney Pledges To Replace All Foreign Policy With Jobs Right Here In America
(YouTube video in which The President of The United States offers hope to those suffering from "Romnesia")
Quotes of the day- Arthur Miller:
Arthur Asher Miller (October 17, 1915 – February 10, 2005) was an American playwright and essayist. He was a prominent figure in American theatre, writing dramas that include plays such as All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), and A View from the Bridge (one-act, 1955; revised two-act, 1956).
Miller was often in the public eye, particularly during the late 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s, a period during which he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee, received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Prince of Asturias Award, and was married to Marilyn Monroe. (Click for full article)
A character is defined by the kinds of challenges he cannot walk away from. And by those he has walked away from that cause him remorse.
A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.
A suicide kills two people... that's what it's for.
An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted.
Don't be seduced into thinking that that which does not make a profit is without value.
Few of us can surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that The State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.
He's liked, but he's not well liked.
I believe in work. If somebody doesn't create something, however small it may be, he gets sick. An awful lot of people feel that they're treading water- that if they vanished in smoke, it wouldn't mean anything at all in this world. And that's a despairing and destructive feeling. It'll kill you.
I figure I've done what I could do, more or less, and now I'm going back to being a chemical; all we are is a lot of talking nitrogen, you know...
I love her too, but our neuroses just don't match.
If a person measures his spiritual fulfillment in terms of cosmic visions, surpassing peace of mind, or ecstasy, then he is not likely to know much spiritual fulfillment. If, however, he measures it in terms of enjoying a sunrise, being warmed by a child's smile, or being able to help someone have a better day, then he is likely to know much spiritual fulfillment.
If I have to be alone I want to be by myself.
Immortality is like trying to carve your initials in a block of ice in the middle of July.
It is time, I think, that we who are without kings, took up this bright thread of our history and followed it to the only place it can possibly lead in our time- the heart and spirit of the average man.
Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.
The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less.
The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.
The enemy is within, and within stays within, and we can’t get out of within.
The structure of a play is always the story of how the birds came home to roost.
The wedding of Christianity or Judaism with nationalism is lethal.
The world is an oyster but you don't crack it open on a mattress.
There might be a dragon with five legs in my house, but no one has ever seen it.
Until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven.
When any creativity becomes useful, it is sucked into the vortex of commercialism, and when a thing becomes commercial, it becomes the enemy of man.
When the guns roar, the arts die.
Where choice begins, Paradise ends, innocence ends, for what is Paradise but the absence of any need to choose this action?
Why is betrayal the only truth that sticks?
Without alienation, there can be no politics.
Work a lifetime to pay off a house- You finally own it and there's nobody to live in it.
You can quicker get back a million dollars that was stolen than a word that you gave away.
You can't eat the orange and throw the peel away- a man is not a piece of fruit.
You specialize in something until one day you find it is specializing in you.
I made the Federal income tax electronic filing deadline with three minutes to spare last night (we had an extension), and my experience underscored the lunacy that is our tax code.
I did three returns; one joint filing, and two married filing separately. The tax liability varied from a $5 refund to owing nearly $1,500. All were accurate and all were legal, and, frankly, that's just crazy.
$1,500 may not seem like much (especially to someone who makes $10,000 debate bets on health care), but that's what I spent in prescription drugs last year. Which, incidentally, I could not deduct from my taxes because my total medical expenses didn't exceed 7.5% of my adjusted gross income.
I should start drilling for oil in my basement.
The Rumble in the Air Conditioned Auditorium: Bill O'Reilly vs Jon Stewart. NSFW language.
"Why is it if you take advantage of a tax break and you're a corporation, you’re a smart businessman, but if you take advantage of something you need to not be hungry, you’re a moocher?”
One of these things is not like the other,
One of these things just doesn't belong
Can you guess which thing is not like the other
Before I finish singing this song?
Jon Stewart and The Daily Show again display why they've won ten consecutive Emmy Awards.
Stewart draws disturbing comparisons between Charlie Gordon in Flowers For Algernon and Mitt's accelerating, inexorable descent into madness...
Mitt Romney's most memorable quotes, so far...
My sons are all adults and they've made decisions about their careers and they've chosen not to serve in the military and active duty and I respect their decision in that regard. One of the ways my sons are showing support for our nation is helping me get elected because they think I'd be a great president.
I'm not a big-game hunter. I've made that very clear. I've always been a rodent and rabbit hunter. Small varmints, if you will.
Corporations are people, my friend.
Don't try to stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.
I like being able to fire people who provide services to me.
If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.
I'm not concerned about the very poor.
No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.
I should tell my story. I'm also unemployed.
We have a president, who I think is a nice guy, but he spent too much time at Harvard, perhaps. (Romney has two Harvard degrees.)
We've always encouraged young people: Take a shot, go for it, take a risk, get the education, borrow money if you have to from your parents, start a business.
I love this state. The trees are the right height.
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. ... My job is not to worry about those people.
I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America that's the America millions of Americans believe in. That's the America I love.
I'm not sure about these cookies. They don't look like you made them. No, no. They came from the local 7/11 bakery, or whatever. (Insulting my local bakery.)
I don't manage the money that I have. In order to make sure that I didn't have a conflict of interest while I was governor or while I was considering a run for national office, I had a blind trust established. (in 2012)
The blind trust is an age-old ruse, if you will, which is to say, you can always tell the blind trust what it can and cannot do. You give a blind trust rules. (1994)
I'm not familiar precisely with what I said, but I'll stand by what I said, whatever it was.
It's the 21st century, and a major party Presidential nominee doesn't understand why airplane windows don't open.
(YouTube video: Martin Short sings "It's Raining Mitt")
When campaigning in the Deep South
He pretends to like eating grits
Rick Santorum's gone post-mortem 'cause
It's gonna start raining Mitt
It's raining Mitt
Everyone needs a hit- of Mitt
There's a future in sight
Where all our trees are the right height
It's raining Mitt
What a wager
I'll make you a ten
Thousand dollar bet
So white, rich and fit
It's stormin' for a moment Mitt
Mitt Romney says you're to blame
For too much federal spending
Though your healthcare plans look the same
I don't know economics
But when Mitt mentions income tax
Then I guess he must know something
Since his wife drives two Cadillacs
(She drives two Cadillacs!)
It's raining Mitt
I ain't lyin'
It's raining Mitt
It's raining Mitt
Let's show the kind of Mitt that we are
And tie the dog to the roof of our car
It's raining Mitt...
Good God it's raining mitt, yeah...
"...For there are even more on the government dole than even his 49% accounts for. Like those welfare queens at ExxonMobil, AT&T, GE, et al... 250 corporations that from 2008 to 2010 got nearly a quarter trillion in tax subsidies. Although to be fair, at least ExxonMobil and AT&T give us back cheap gas and reliable cell phone service..."
"If they have success, they built it. If they failed, the government ruined it for them. If they get a break, they deserve it. If you get a break, it'a a handout and an entitlement.
It's a baffling, willfully blind cognitive dissonance...
(Watch the top of the video- you can skip the ad after a few seconds...)
"Mitt Romney is a political contortionist. He can shoot himself in the
foot while it's still in his mouth while his head is up his ass. The
exit wound is spectacular. Then for an encore, he gets the other foot."
It's why Al Gore invented the Internet:
Bill O'Reilly and Jon Stewart debate!
Fact: Of the ten states with the highest percentage of people who pay no income tax, nine are red states.
Romney is starting to make his trip to the London Olympics look like the pinnacle of modern diplomacy.
You would think Mitt Romney would be better at foreign policy given how much time his money has spent overseas.
When our embassy is attacked, we are attacked. Romney's Libya comments display the patriotism of someone who keeps his money in Switzerland.
As reprehensible as Romney's Libya comments are, it's comforting to know that he'll soon contradict them.
The Aurora shooter was able to buy 6000 rounds of ammo on the internet and Tommy Chong went to prison for selling bongs.
I'll sign on for results-based pay for teachers the day Congress gets the same deal.
Mitt Romney has learned that "Entitlement Reform" sounds way better than "Have some more catfood, Nana."
I'd still like to know when "Wit" turned into "Snark."
What do you get when you take all of the vowels out of Reince Priebus' name? RNC PR BS!
... and today's youth know the difference...
Stuff that caught my eye this week:
Of course, the new Eastwood meme:
My son Doug and my daughter-in-law Angela
Family and cute animals::
Bella keeps a stiff upper lip as she prepares to watch my granddaughter Leanna depart for the first day of fourth grade.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory Curiosity Mars Lander Team visits the cast of The Big Bang Theory: