Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Clinton on Driver's Licenses for Illegal Immigrants

I guess I didn't see that Clinton's answer was such a big deal. Policy x makes a lot of sense, but it's troublesome is not contradictory, and not even all that weird. That's my view about a lot of things, including a lot of policies. Nationalized health care, for example: it makes a lot of sense, but it's troublesome. Building a fence along the Mexican border: same thing. And the same seems to go for driver's licenses for illegals.

But one note to Clinton: anybody who pushes for a policy like that will not win the general election. Drop it. Drop any positive reference to it now. It does not matter whether or not it is a good policy.

I just think that this kind of exaggerated gotcha reaction to relatively minor inconsistencies is stupid and tactically bad. The GOP has a drawer full of all-purpose ad hominems that they are searching through even as we speak trying to figure out which one will look worst on which candidate. Clinton seems to me to be one of those fairly generic candidates--not much to love, not much to hate. So the generic, all-purpose labels will become more relevant. That's what happened with Kerry (the laughable "flip-flopper" charge), and with Gore and that kind of inchoate dishonesty charge (the internet, James Lee Witt...). Anyway, the Dems shouldn't make the GOP's job any easier for them.

I know the other candidates are in a bind: Clinton looks like almost a lock, but she also looks like one of the few Dems who could lose in the general. So it seems really important to beat her...and the most efficient way to do so is by using these kinds of Atwater/Rove tactics, tried and true. But, since she IS likely to be the candidate, we might pay a high price for these tactics.

I think the best line of the night was Dodd's: it is, in fact, imperative--for the country and for the world--that we get a Democrat in the White House in 2009.


Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Clinton seems to me to be one of those fairly generic candidates--not much to love, not much to hate.


1:37 PM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

I'm actually legitimately interested in your opinion here, Tom.

I haven't done much political research lately, and you seem be pretty opinioned (not opinionated - I made up a word so it wouldn't have bad connotations, but rather just be neutral), so enlighten me. Why should we like or dislike her?

3:27 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I like "opinioned." Compliments du chef.

The question is whether she's just a liberal like Bill, or a leftist. The right is convinced her true sentiments are collectivist, not center-right, Democratic Leadership Council [neo-liberal, some call it] like Bill. Not that you'll ever pin her rhetoric down: she's good, real good.

But she's quite on record as being outright hostile to the other party, and not just on a given issue [Giuliani has smacked the Demos by name on Iraq for instance, but not in blanket condemnation].

To her left, her calculated fuzziness is frustrating---is she left enough? She's certainly not as patent about it as Obama and especially Edwards.

And strangely enough, if you read the rightosphere (altho most here won't, they'd prefer one of DA's colo-rectals to the cognitive dissonance), there's a feeling (and respect) that unlike the other leading Demos, she won't fold her/our hand in Iraq while there's still a chance of a positive outcome. This sits not well with the left, who have been ready to muck almost since the outset, and even recent positive events on the ground have not changed that sentiment.

(Not that it's likely to cost her many votes in the general: I doubt there will be a Nader Effect this time around.)

So there's plenty of reason not to like her. On the other hand, maybe nobody (few, DA) actually like(s) her. She's certainly not warm and charismatic like Bill, and lacks the common touch we like from our leaders. She's the gal in school with the starched collar and the fleet of gold stars on it, and nobody liked her. If you sat down and had a beer with her, she'd tell you you're drinking too much.

4:13 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I agree with the Mystic that your opinion is particularly important here, Tom, and my guess is that you have a far better feel for HRC than I this is in no way a criticism, but just a question of clarification: is what you said incompatible with thinking 'there's not a lot to love and not a lot to hate'?

5:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But she's quite on record as being outright hostile to the other party, and not just on a given issue

There are some folks on the left who think of that as a virtue, not a vice, but that wouldn't be enough to get her my vote.

her calculated fuzziness is frustrating

I don't know where you got the notion that calculated fuzziness is frustrating, Legate Van Dyke.

Uncalculated fuzziness, OTOH..........

Let's hear from the other side:

Now ... there are lots of numbers that might support the argument that Senator Clinton would have a tougher time than another Democratic nominee and there are lots of numbers that show some Americans have strong negative views of her. Fine and dandy. But the case that she is irrefutably, undeniably, unquestionably unelectable just suggests that many observers and even lots of Democrats just aren't looking at this thing soberly.

And strangely enough, if you read the rightosphere (altho most here won't, they'd prefer one of DA's colo-rectals to the cognitive dissonance), there's a feeling (and respect) that unlike the other leading Demos, she won't fold her/our hand in Iraq while there's still a chance of a positive outcome.

Well, they're certainly misinformed:

Clinton has refused to "come out against" the Iraq war

Some media figures have depicted Clinton as hesitant to oppose the war. For instance, on the February 8 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews said of Clinton, "I'm sick of what`s going on in Iraq. I wish she would come out against it." But as Bob Somerby noted on his blog, The Daily Howler, Clinton had clearly stated a week earlier that she would end the war if elected president. Indeed, in a February 2 speech, she said, "If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as president, I will."

Further, Clinton co-sponsored and was one of 38 Democrats who voted in favor of a resolution by Democratic Sens. Carl Levin (MI) and Jack Reed (RI), introduced on June 19, 2006, calling on the Bush administration to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2006.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

WS, on domestic policy, conservatives "hate" Hillary (more accurately, have grave philosophical disagreement), but think she will be pragmatic enough on foreign policy. From her left, it's vice-versa.

I do not think she would simply pull the plug on Iraq come January 2009. On this, I think left and right largely agree, or at least have the same suspicions. That she would ratchet up (and ratchets go only one way, up) social programming I think is even less in dispute.

DA, I am at a loss to parse Hillary, and that's the way she wants it. As a general rule, and her case particularly, it's a mistake to confuse rhetoric with reality. Her statement on the Iraq war resolution of 2002 contains alternating paragraphs any of which could be used to support one position or the other.

In the end, she voted yes. That's the reality. The rest I leave for the parsers, whose project I think cannot succeed given the raw material.

Does anyone "like" her? I dunno. Somebody, I guess.

6:49 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

So it's that conservatives hate Hillary, but pretty much nobody loves her?

11:05 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

You can answer about the love part. I know a lot of Democrats, but Obama's the only one that I hear any genuine visceral enthusiasm for.

But my original intent was not to get personal, only to respond to what you wrote:

not much to love, not much to hate

Leftists love collectivist solutions, conservatism hates leftism (not necessarily liberalism, and I've tried consciously to draw a distinction in my writings over the past year or two). Both left and right suspect (hope or fear as the case may be) that Hillary, unlike Bill, is an unrepentant leftist underneath the rhetorical fog.

What's the difference, you may ask. (Of course you do.) In domestic policy, liberals want to help the poor; leftists believe they can cure poverty.

As for foreign policy---and I don't think she's a leftist there---it gets more complicated, and beyond the purview of this inquiry, except to note that even her major opponents for the nomination seem to be to her left, and she got a lot of flack for that the other night.

4:49 AM  
Blogger The Mystic said...

So then you're saying a reason to dislike her is because she has such collectivist solutions as public health benefits?

I'm interested in your analysis (not just general comments about why some people like her and why some don't) of why we should like her and why we should dislike her, if you'd be so kind as to render it.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Come in, said the spider.

I answered once but it didn't show. Apologies if it pops up and I seem redundant. I wrote something like my intention was not to make it personal with Hillary, as that is infantile. Perhaps she's a good person, perhaps she's not. I have no real way of knowing.

The reason that conservatism "hates" leftism is elemental, and turnip-truck stuff. I'm not into remediation, but if you give a clue that you have a clue about why that might be, I'll be happy to dialogue with you.

I'm not arguing at this point that leftism is wrong, only that modern conservatism is diametrically opposed to it philosophically. I'm commenting on the horse race here, not the horses.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leftism may or may not be *wrong*, but most of this country is leftist, and just doesn't know it:

8:15 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Yes and no. The Media Matters piece depends a lot on rhetorical twists and turns. Can you see any, or does it seem straightforward and neutral to you?

Also, can you think of any issues that they didn't include that might point to the opposite conclusion?

Just axin'.

4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, I don't know. Part of the problem is that it depends on how specific an issue you mean, or whether you mean just our general approach to things.

For example, I didn't see any polling in there about whether international agreements or sovereignty should be given more weight in international relations, but there was a question where

"respondents were asked to rate a series of strategies for the degree to which they would strengthen the nation's security, the top-ranking moves were "Improving the effectiveness of our intelligence operations" (with 63 percent saying it would enhance our security a great deal) and "Becoming less dependent on other countries for our supply of energy" (55 percent). Only 17 percent said "Attacking countries that develop weapons of mass destruction" would enhance our security a great deal, the lowest-scoring strategy in the group. Forty-two percent said "Showing more respect for the views and needs of other countries" would enhance our security a great deal."

So depending on how specific or general you are about what consititutes an *issue*, I could come up with the following, in addition the one I mentioned above, for which there was no data in the MM report:

- Federalism: federal vs. state powers
- Nuclear proliferation policy
- Separation of church and state
- Net neutrality
- Privacy
- Amount of international aid

Did you have one or more others specifically in mind?

1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and I also just thought of one more: education policy e.g. vouchers, NCLB, testing, the teaching of evolution and/or intelligent design in schools etc.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I'm not a prosecutor at heart, so I was lazy about this. Let's take a look:

61 percent of Americans support embryonic stem cell research;
77 percent of Americans think Congress should increase the minimum wage; 66 percent believe "upper-income people" pay too little in taxes

These are OK, the latter being human nature and class envy.

53 percent feel the Bush administration's tax cuts have failed because they have increased the deficit and caused cuts in government programs.

This is a lie. There were very few cuts and usually the money was merely redirected [Pell grants or something, I forget], unless you use leftist newspeak that slowing the rate of growth is a cut.

62 percent want to protect Roe v. Wade

Misleading---70-80% support more restrictions on abortion than Roe has traditionally allowed. Neither would overturning Roe ban all abortions---many or most are unaware of that and "Roe" is a symbol for them, with no realation to the actual facts.

43 percent of Americans say we are spending too much on our military;

A plurality, and one would have to see how the question's posed, as is true with many of these.

60 percent feel the federal government should do more about restricting the kinds of guns that people can purchase.

Not the same as Sarah Brady-like gun control.

75 percent of Americans would be wiling to pay more for electricity if it were generated by renewable sources to help reduce global warming;

Maybe. How much more is key here. Double? Uh-uh, pal.

79 percent want higher emissions standard for automobiles.

A nice, consequence-free wish. I'd like more trees.

52 percent of Americans believe "the best way for the U.S. to reduce its reliance on foreign oil" is to "have the government invest in alternative energy sources"

Well, they'd have to see the cost-benefit analysis. The thing about the Manhattan and Apollo projects was that their real goal was to get there first before the other side; nobody knew for sure if either could actually be done.

57 percent of Americans feel "most recent immigrants to the U.S. contribute to this country" rather than "cause problems." Sixty-seven percent of Americans feel that "on the whole," immigration is a "good thing for this country today."

Pure dishonesty, unless the word "illegal" is included.

69 percent of Americans think it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have access to health coverage;

"Access" being the word here that makes the proposition meaningless.

76 percent find access to health care more important than maintaining the Bush tax cuts

The most dishonest one of the bunch. Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?

three in five would be willing to have their own taxes increased to achieve universal coverage.

Again, a happy thought, divorced from reality unless you tell them how much their taxes would be increased. So far, the left has been offering a free lunch, or nearly so. Free lunch? Count me in!

As for stuff missing, sure, school vouchers and illegal immigration would probably lead the list. And there is no substantial support for unlimited and unrestricted abortion, which is a shibboleth of the left (not necessarily liberals, mind you).

But---and I'm on record as saying the right is uncreative at solving people's problems---thumbs up or down on a laundry list of putatively desirable social programs is always going to structurally favor the progressives. Only a closer look at the case is gonna reveal anything. For instance, the GOP pushback on the S-CHIP question yielded this:

* Among a different half-sample of 502 adults, when prompted with "As you may know, the Democrats want to allow a family of four earning about $62,000 to qualify for the program. President Bush wants most of the increases to go to families earning less than $41,000," 52% favor Bush's position while 40% favor the Democrats'.

A lot depends on how you frame the question. And there's a lot of objection on the right about how most polls are conducted. [A recent LA Times poll gave Obama over 20% of the Republican vote. Does this sound reasonable to you?]

In closing, the right [putatively, again] has the advantage on foreign policy, and putting platitudes in the form of a poll question cannot derive any real truth. Do you favor letting states proven to be supporters of terrorism develop and proliferate nuclear weapons, or do you favor doing nothing and hoping for the best?

Look, I answered this as a courtesy and to not duck what appeared to be a legitimate challenge. And I have no problem with the other side---I'm an admirer of The Nation's factual honesty albeit not their rhetoric. But please, no more Media Matters, OK? If you're not aware of the criticism that's out there about them, you need to get out more. And if none of the above objections to what I believe is a fundamentally dishonest essay have any legitimacy in your eyes, well, it was not for lack of trying.

You'll forgive me if I ignore Media Matters in the future, as it's not worth my time. If folks find my contributions here to be equally nonsensical, I invite them to ignore me. I'm no troll, I don't insist on a point or a comment if no one wants to take it up. It's only when my character is besmirched that I'm compelled to reply. I'm happy to make a point and as they say (or used to), Move On.

3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the latter being human nature and class envy."

Either that or a belief in fairness and economic justice, but thanks for the irrelevant editorial anyway.

"There were very few cuts and usually the money was merely redirected [Pell grants or something, I forget], unless you use leftist newspeak that slowing the rate of growth is a cut."

Bullshit and more bullshit. Off the top of my head, the COPS police program was cut, and HUD programs certainly didn't keep up with inflation. Try spending the same amount on groceries as you did five years ago, look what's on your table, and then tell me it's not a *cut*.

"Misleading---70-80% support more restrictions on abortion than Roe has traditionally allowed."

1. Evidence, please?

"A plurality, and one would have to see how the question's posed, as is true with many of these."

Ah, now we come to a big source of the problem. Tom is too lazy to look at the poll data, questions, and responses, which are linked to in the MM report. He'd rather just spin it his way, come up with some favorable framing for his bizarre interpretation, and be done with it. With a side helping of smarmy attack on the messenger, MM. For the record, here is the exact wording of the question:

"There is much discussion as to the amount of money the government in Washington should spend for national defense and military purposes. How do you feel about this? Do you think we are spending too little, about the right amount, or too much?"

As for the immigration, you can sit there and talk out of your ass regarding whether the illegality of immigrants changes the picture, or you can read this from an article on the poll:

"Taking a pragmatic view on a divisive issue, a large majority of Americans want to change the immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status and to create a new guest worker program to meet future labor demand, the poll found."


"Two-thirds of those polled said illegal immigrants who have a good employment history and no criminal record should gain legal status as the bill proposes: by paying at least $5,000 in fines and fees and receiving a renewable four-year visa."

And as for this other of your greatest hits:

"* Among a different half-sample of 502 adults, when prompted with "As you may know, the Democrats want to allow a family of four earning about $62,000 to qualify for the program. President Bush wants most of the increases to go to families earning less than $41,000," 52% favor Bush's position while 40% favor the Democrats'."

Cite, please, and did they preface it with the average cost of a family health insurance plan being $1200 per month in the NY Metro area?

That's enough of my doing your homework for you. It's bad enough that you go through life ignorant, but lazy too?

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. Did they also mention that there are sliding PREMIUMS for the s-chip, or did they just let the respondents believe that it was *free*, and therefore like expanding Medicaid up to people earning $60k?

1:34 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I have rejoinders, but you just crossed the line. I was not impolite or insulting to you.

The human nature remark was based on a poll I saw in Poland awhile back that wanted to sock the rich even if it didn't benefit anyone.

The "off the top of your head" had better start quantifying the tens of thousands of government programs that weren't cut.

As for more restrictions on abortion, the proper figure is 63% who depart from the leftist-absolutist position. Sorry for the inaccuracy of the top of my head, but the correct figure is well close enough to support my argument.

Media Matters wrote:

57 percent of Americans feel "most recent immigrants to the U.S. contribute to this country" rather than "cause problems." Sixty-seven percent of Americans feel that "on the whole," immigration is a "good thing for this country today."

But according to a recent poll, 54% think illegal immigrants hurt the country.

I'm not talking out of my ass, you rude person, you.

As for the S-Chip thing, I used it as an illustration of how the wording of polls is crucial.

I don't mind you disagreeing, but that's no excuse for being disagreeable, especially when your thesis [and rebuttals] have been counterargued with valid points, especially the other dozen ones you left unaddressed. Since I took the time to address every point that Media Matters attempted to make, you could have at least acknowledged the ones that you could concede.

That would have been a courtesy. Instead, I get insults.

1:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, the source you cited used wording to skew for the results they and you wished for. So the point is to ask the questions either open-endedly, or in the least leading manner possible.

What if, on the military expenditure question, they instead asked: "As you know, the United States spends one in two discretionary federal dollars on the military and spends more than the next thirty nations in the world combined. In light of that, do you believe we spend too much on the military, too little, or about right?" Would that have been a fair framing?

And this was another winner of yours:

"Do you favor letting states proven to be supporters of terrorism develop and proliferate nuclear weapons, or do you favor doing nothing and hoping for the best?"

Behold the strawman in all its grandeur. Recognizing that many of the questions can't be that specific doesn't mean one has to introduce false dichotomies into them. One can still get a feel for people's general attitudes. And the poll asked about the efficacy of myriad methods of enhancing our security, and also included open-ended questions like the one about how we're perceived in the world, something you would know if you actually took the effort to look at the questions before criticizing them.

Or this:

"75 percent of Americans would be wiling to pay more for electricity if it were generated by renewable sources to help reduce global warming;

Maybe. How much more is key here. Double? Uh-uh, pal."

Any evidence that it would be double? If not, then STFU. Again, the point is to get a sense of the general mindset and priorities of people. Maybe they'd pay double too, if the overall effects, including externalities, were made salient to them. It's a poll, not a meeting of the Council of Economic Advisors.

And what about this:

"But according to a recent poll, 54% think illegal immigrants hurt the country."

So what? Is the political issue a like or dislike of illegal immigrants, or what we should do about the problem? The poll in MM and attitudes about the most recent bill are much more important because they attempt to discern what people think should be done about the problem, not just generate visceral material for Father Bill O'Caughlin.

Yes, I'm a rude person me, but I'm in kind of a tu quoque mood. You've been cited for passive aggressiveness more than once on this blog, which is also rude. So don't play the victim. It's very unbecoming.

12:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P.S. You do have a good point about the abortion issue. Even though the pro-choice position wins a plurality of all the positions, Americans are of many minds about how available they think it should be.

12:03 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, thank you for the last. Let's start over, shall we? I think you're a good debater, and enjoy our exchanges when they're civil.

"Uh-uh, pal" was directed at Media Matters, not you. It did sound harsh.

"Do you favor letting states proven to be supporters of terrorism develop and proliferate nuclear weapons, or do you favor doing nothing and hoping for the best?"

Behold the strawman in all its grandeur.

Exactly. I designed it to be one, as an illustration. However, back in the real world, the latest Zogby

shows 52% in favor of a military strike against Iran, a figure that surprises even me. If half the equation is foreign policy, and I believe it is, that's game, set and match against Media Matters' thesis, as I think I put enough dents into their list of domestic issues, particularly in their disingenuous omission of "illegal" in the immigration question.

As for "passive-aggressive," it comes closer to civility than STFU, we might agree. I look forward to us being on a better footing next time around.


3:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. The point about Media Matters is that you felt inclined to beat up on them, when all they were doing were presenting multiple poll results which support the premise that the US is much more liberal than the media portray it as. Feel free to adduce sufficient evidence to counter this. Sidney Hook: "When debating your opponent, first attack his argument before you attack him".

2. Your strawman served no such purpose, since as was pointed out, there was a broad array of security measures mentioned in the FA poll, the supposed efficacy of which were queried.

3. I find no similar link in the Zogby cite you linked to showing how THAT question was asked, and independents polled much closer (44%) to Democrats (41%) than Republicans (71%) on the suitability of a nuclear-deterrent strike on Iran, so I'll take Zogbys polling as an attempt to move the 50 yard line until shown otherwise. (This is not to address the issues of whether they are in fact building a bomb, how far away they are, how far away they need to be before an attack made sense, are there other ways to deter them etc.)

3. To satisfy the Tom Van Dyke paradigm of political polling, in order to get a fair sense of nationwide belief on this issue, the question would have to be prefaced in this way: "As you know, before the Bush administration took office, the Clinton administration negotiated a deal to keep North Korea from developing nuclear weapons; we reneged first on our end of that deal, after which NK proceeded to build several nuclear weapons and test at least one; we then re-engaged in negotiations with them with the result so far that they have agreed to suspend nuclear weapons development and destroy existing stocks in exchange for food and fuel aid; at no time did we strike them militarily or even threaten to do so. In light of that, what do you feel is the best way to approach the suspected development of nuclear weapons by Iran?" Followed by several options, or even open-ended.


11:32 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Republicans are people, too. Sort of.

I find your #1 pretty ironic, since that's SOP against me around here. Neither did I attack Media Matters at first---I wanted to see if you could detect any sophistries in what I found to be a remarkably didhonest essay.

When you could (or would) not, and only after some urging, did I take the time to give you chapter and verse, as a courtesy. Had I operated like most folks around here do towards me, I'd have simply called bullshit and sophistry, and protest that I'm far too busy to explain why.

Now Media Mattes was bullshit and sophistry, but I took the time to explain why.

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, um no, what you did was obviously fail to read the fine print about the polls when the results contradicted your cherished faith-based beliefs about the US electorate.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Except for the military spending [a mere plurality] and the taxes on the rich [which I conceded] not a single claim stood up conclusively and very many took it in the shorts.

Still, you're back with the snark ("cherished faith-based beliefs"). Unreal. The only belief I stated was that the country is kinda 50-50, an unremarkable assertion.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nonsense. In every case except abortion, I showed how you failed to look at the data, the questions asked, answers given (as well as whether it was open-ended), and then attempted to steer the discussion toward some kind of heavaenly ideal of a poll that captures every possible nuance of every single issue.

And remarkably enough, the one poll from Foreign Affairs actually offered a huge menu of policy prescriptions to enhance security, something which is close to your impossible to achieve comprehensiveness. And you conveniently glossed over it.

Here's a hint. Before criticizing the methodology and question content of a poll, first look to see what that methodology and questioning is, instead of inventing some kind of push-poll that should be taken instead.

You also offered up the pantload of a poll about people believing immigrants *hurt* the country, a completely irrelevant factoid when compared to what they think should be policy in that area.

After a while, I just got tired of undressing your weak arguments. Media Matters only chose the most recent and largest polls to cite on these issues. There is abundant other evidence out there of Americans' left-of-center views on most issues. There is also evidence that they are often unfamiliar with the actual policy positions of those running for office, particularly those of the Republican persuasion. For the life of me I just can't figure out why Republicans would go out of their way to obfuscate on the issues, can you?

4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And here's another of the Tom Van Dyke strawmen in action:

Polls showing strong public support for "making laws covering the sale of firearms more strict", "enforcing existing laws more strictly", "the government doing more about restricting the kinds of guns people can buy", "continuing the assault weapons ban", and "the government making it more difficult to buy a gun than it is now" are translated, in Tom Van Dyke-ese, to "not Sara Brady-like gun control".

Well, should I really care wtf Sarah Brady wants, or should I care if the nation thinks it should generally be harder or easier to buy a gun?

Bring shit like that into the paint, and expect it to be swatted away.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Oh, please. You swatted nothing.

Before criticizing the methodology and question content of a poll

Actually, I just questioned Media Matters' honesty. They omitted "illegal" and propped up a poll that said immigration is good for the country. I showed one that properly added "illegal" and presto, the majority says it hurts the country.

And amazingly, you keep making your immigration argument. What's more, 77% in a recent poll opposes what I'd call the left's position on issuing illegals driver's licenses.

Still, you not only continue to snark away, but treat yourself to a victory dance. I'd say cheers, but your champagne bottle is empty.

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, that's mighty intellectually honest of you to attribute to the left ONE position by ONE governor as representative of its position on immigration. And as I mentioned, I really don't give a shit what people think of illegal immigrants. I'm sure they think all kinds of things. The important point is what people think policy should be. There is no real left-right divide on illegal immigration because opposition or support for various measures cut across ideological lines.

Overall, I'll defer to the host of the site or others here to decide who has the better case, but it's clear what's going on here.

You are certain that we are an *evenly divided country*, because that is the broadly accepted meme. However, a close look shows that what most accounts for this meme is the belief that representation in Washington is a good metric for the center of gravity on the issues in the electorate.

But there are a number of problems with this belief. Among them:

1. The undemocratic effects of the electoral college and equal representation for each state in the Senate. That Democrats routinely receive millions more total votes in Congress would probably come as a surprise to you.

2. The effort by Republicans to push less concrete issues like *character* to the forefront, often accompanied by the attack of same in their opponent, in order to draw attention away from their unpopular positions on the issues. Also often accompanied by push polls and various other hijinx around election day.

3. The use by Republicans of 'wedge' issues which hardly ever show up in nationwide polls as the most pressing problems facing us, but regularly show up as both ballot initiatives and demagogic clubs with which Republicans can beat Democrats in campaigns.

So the media gladly swallows the relatively equal success that both parties have in winning elections as reflective of an equally divided nation on the issues. Only problem is, poll after poll shows that voters identify with Democrats rather than Republicans on the issue.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

But I wasn't talking about the parties, which makes all your yelling at me all the more confusing. I didn't mention the parties at all, except in my illustrations, none of which were designed to argue any actual point, only to point out Media Matters' disingenuousness. Look it up.

I explicitly wrote:

Leftists love collectivist solutions, conservatism hates leftism (not necessarily liberalism, and I've tried consciously to draw a distinction in my writings over the past year or two).

And in rebuttal, you explicitly wrote:

Leftism may or may not be *wrong*, but most of this country is leftist, and just doesn't know it:

And I explained why they're not. The topic was leftism. So gimme a break, mate. Leftism holds the more extreme positions, like illegals getting licenses, that are supported by only 20-30% of the country. [Neither would I claim the country's conservative, or even half conservative, for the same reason.]

I really don't enjoy rubbing anyone's nose in anything unless they push me. You're wrong here, in terms of the debate that you yourself framed. So, please don't push me, and we can be civil, as fellow Americans should be.

1:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Except that Leftism DOESN'T hold the more extreme positions, as the thirty or so polls in the MM piece illustrated. Only in the fevered mind of right-wingers, where the fifty yard line is moved twenty to thirty yards to the right, does the left (at least any important swath of it in American politics) hold the more extreme positions.

And if, as you posit, the seminal difference between left and right is that "leftists love collectivist solutions, conservatism hates leftism", why did you conveniently elide the polls in the MM piece that found that Americans believe the government should do more, not less to solve problems, that we need bigger government to do bigger things, that by 2-to-1 Americans believe we need a strong government to handle complex economic problems rather than the free market doing so, that also by 2-to-1 they believe government should provide more services even if it means an increase in spending, etc?

You want to have it both ways. When the findings are not to your liking, you insist that more detailed information and framing should be included in the question, but when the findings support what you like (as in the S-Chip polls that included only some, but not all, relevant framing information), they are perfectly accurate measures of opinion.

What's more, over the past thirty years, after Nixon's Southern Strategy and Reaganism, the parties have indeed become accurate barometers of the left-right divide.

What's happening now is that Americans are seeing through the elaborate smokescreen that the right wing wing has billowed into the air for the past thirty years. It's why George W. Bush had to completely mis-represent himself in 2000 as a uniter not a divider, a believer in a 'humble' foreign policy, a fiscal conservative etc. in order to get elected. If he had campaigned on what he was really going to do, he would have gotten fewer votes than Walter Mondale. And the more Americans get to see the real face of conservatism, the less they like. Which is why the Republicans will probably get another thrashing in 2008, despite having an inherent advantage because of the Electoral College and equal state representation in the Senate.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Again, I'm not talking about the parties. There's leftism, there's conservatism, and then there's the mushy middle, which might even be called liberalism, and which Bush tried to capture with "compassionate conservatism."

Leftism is the least viable of the three. As my blogbrother Ben Zycher writes today:

"The voters in Oregon rejected a ballot measure to increase tobacco taxes by 84.5 cents per pack to fund health care coverage for uninsured kids. The vote, in incomplete returns, was about 3:2 against. That's landslide country, folks. I wonder if the Beltway is watching in the context of SCHIP."

That's what I'm talkin' 'bout. Liberalism might have gone for 10 or 20 cents, and might have won.

And to return to the original topic, just what Hillary Clinton believes is a mystery to many, altho they have their suspicions. If she were running on what she really believes, there wouldn't be any mystery. It works both ways.

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I've suggested it before, apparently to no avail, but if you really want to debate in an ideologically diverse forum, go to Obsidian Wings and see how you do.

It just so happens that there's a thread relevant to this dispute now:

3:49 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Trying to get rid of me? Hah. Then where would you be? You'd have nobody to hound.

Obsidian Wings seems to be doing fine without me, and I'm not attracted to fora with dozens of commenters. Intelligent conversation is difficult enough here in this din, where I write a few paragraphs to open a topic and seldom get to finish after answering all the attacks on my personhood.

Plus, OW has no equivalent of the estimable WS, whose one of the few who can keep me on my toes. I look forward to you joining him in that rarified air, where a disagreement on a minor point can be accomplished in a sentence or two, and where putting my everythingness on trial on every single occasion is seen as unnecessary and counterproductive.

4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I basically agree with most of what you just said, but as much as I love Winston, I do think OW also has someone of his stature in Hilzoy, who is defintely left of center, but extremely bright, and fair.

And I'm certainly not saying you're a bad guy, despite having some annoying debating tics here at Philosoraptor, but I'll agree to disagree with you here.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

Ah, Hilzoy. She visited here once when I was bagging on her for her philosophy of only bagging on the Bush administration because that's all she had the power to change. I think that's a drag, and sometimes you might even have to support the morally imperfect in the greater scheme of things.

Currently, I see she thinks that a fully democratic Pakistan would be a-OK. I hope she's right, but I dunno if we should roll the dice.

To her credit, she gives Charles Bird a voice, and further to her credit, she does a better job than he does for his side.

But mostly, I favor the dialogue form, and this forum suits me best. A busier venue results in an exchange of monologues and orthodoxies, from which we learn little or nothing. Hell, I don't even post on my own groupblog often often, as I really don't enjoy giving speeches, much as it appears I do.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, from what I recall her saying at OW, Hilzoy feels a greater responsibility for what the US does because it's ostensibly being done in our name, besides the point about us having some leverage over policy here.

Re Pakistan, on one level I'm nervous too about it becoming fully democratic, but I don't feel I (or we) have any right to determine how they govern themselves. And from a pragmatic point of view, the suppression of democracy in Algeria based on fears of Islamic parties in power didn't work out too well - years of civil war and an army of young, angry jihadist Algerians.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

They're still suppressing them, aren't they? To the relief of the civilized world?

The problem with Pakistan might not be a [next] democratic government, but that government's inability to fight off the crazies.

Think Weimar.

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I don't know how respectful the current government is of civil and political rights, but they did hold open elections recently which though marred by a large protest vote, were deemed to be fair. That is far more democratic than calling off the elections like they did in the 90s:

As for Pakistan, I don't claim to be an expert, but something I read today made me think that the suppression of democracy by Musharraf might actually strengthen the Islamists' hand. Now, I don't know enough to know whether these guys are just being totally self-serving or are giving true insights into the situation:

"By then, it was clear, he said, that the general was keeping the opposition political parties headed by two former prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Mr. Sharif, out of the political arena.

“That vacuum was filled by the religious forces,” Mr. Minallah said. “Now Musharraf is targeting the liberal forces of this country. Yet they are the ones who want to fight extremism.”...

"While the lawyers say their immediate cause is the preservation of Pakistan’s legal system, and their own profession, they said they have also been spurred on by more wide-ranging frustrations.

Mr. Sattar, the Islamabad lawyer, said he was disappointed that Washington was not trying to forge “a liberal alliance” in Pakistan. Ms. Bhutto, who has returned to Pakistan with encouragement from the Bush administration, was calling for elections, but had ignored the vital issue of a viable and independent judiciary, he said.

“Three years down the line when the Bhutto-Musharraf government is discredited, there will be an extreme right-wing government with the kind of political agenda that is openly hostile to the United States,” Mr. Sattar warned."...

"From inside the Musharraf government, Mr. Minallah said, he had watched a steady erosion of the general’s reform agenda.

General Musharraf abetted the religious parties, weakened legislation on the rights of women, and withdrew a proposal on blasphemy that had offended Islamic fundamentalists.

At the same time, he allowed extremism to spread in the tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, even though he was telling the United States that quelling extremism was his top priority, Mr. Minallah said."

11:12 PM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

The [ruling] National Liberation Front (FLN) won 136 seats, the pro-business Rally for National Democracy (RND) won 61 seats, and the moderate Islamist Movement for Society (MSP) and Peace won 52 in Thursday's poll.

See, Algeria simply outlawed the Islamist parties.

I admit I'm a bit behind on Pakistan as to who's the good guys. But if the Pakistani left is anything like Hilzoy, it would figure that they'd agitate against Musharraf while the sky is falling all around them. After all, there's nothing they can do about al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Hehe. ;-)

12:43 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

I can't vouch for this, since it comes from National Review, but it sounds about right, and consistent with what would be the "other side" of your posted NYT article:

If you think that U.S. support for Musharraf "is unlikely to waver now, as some of the alternatives to his rule are too dangerous to comprehend" then you can understand that the potential ruling of the Supreme Court invalidating his October reelection (or whatever that was) would have left the country without a constitutional president, which would have only deepened the current constitutional crisis. He would not have stepped down as president of course — at this point the "constitution" of Pakistan is so FUBARed that nobody even knows quite what it is anymore, and purely formal questions would have made it necessary to invoke a "state of emergency" — which here really meant little more than "I'm going to shut the Supreme Court up before the Supreme Court rules that Pakistan has no legitimate government." I would remind you as well that [chief supreme court justice Iftikhar] Chaudhry is a post-Musharraf-coup judge who came to be chief justice when he sworn an oath to Musharraf's provisional constitutional order of 1999 — precisely the same oath he now decries.

In Spanish we have a saying, if you shoot an elephant, make sure you kill him with the first shot. Musharraf's real mistake was to dismiss Chaudhry in March without "killing him" politically — now Chaudhry is on a rampage, a personal vendetta, and has the standing — and grass-roots prowess — to consider a kind of coup against Musharraf, provided he can gain army backing.

In short, I'll grant that Musharraf is a liability, but I don't know about the "height of folly" business because I believe that any political leader in Pakistan is going to be a liability at this point. Musharraf has made mistakes along the way that made the current move necessary — but the current move was necessary. This state of emergency paradoxically averts the much graver deterioration in Pakistan's constitutional crisis that would have resulted from Chaudry's expected ruling on the election result.

Look, Musharraf is probably going to roll back the state of emergency — allow elections, step down as army chief (once he's got the new Supreme Court's decision validating the October election result), release prisoners, etc. — but he will not reinstate the Supreme Court or Chaudhry. That's out. And notice that Bhutto is not calling for the Supreme Court to be reinstated — that's the most interesting part of this — because the Court was also about to invalidate the National Reconciliation Ordinance that gave her amnesty, in default of which she could be immediately arrested by the regular police. She is going to be trying to organize a "consensus" of political party leaders on the way forward — the consensus will not include a demand that Chaudhry be reinstated, and that consensus will therefore be acceptable to Musharraf. He will then "back down" and save his position that way, appearing to be conciliatory when in fact the net effect of the entire maneuver was to preempt the Chaudhry ruling.

This will then have been nicely done, and turn out quite nicely for Musharraf. And for us right now, the best of all currently possible worlds, as miserable as it might be.

1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, though Bouteflika nominally dissipated the FIS, he allowed its members to filter into other parties, and released from custody the two main ringleaders of the violent resistance.

All of this was after negotiations, mostly beginning in 2002.

On Pakistan, it's anybody's guess. It's hard to tell if the constitution means anything after about 1977 when dictators started adding *amendments* to it without the approval of the national council. But people do still seem to take elections seriously there.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Tom Van Dyke said...

It's also like Turkey [putatively the Muslim world's best-functioning democracy], it seems, where the military is the best-functioning part of the society, and seems to have a regular role in the disposition and maintenance of governments.

Presidents come and go, but the military is the rock.

We in the West, with our one size fits all worldview, don't appreciate such things.

1:36 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home