Archive for October 2nd, 2007

It’s A Trap!

Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but I always have mixed feelings when I read stories like this:

New evidence suggests a potentially historic shift in the Republican Party’s identity — what strategists call its “brand.” The votes of many disgruntled fiscal conservatives and other lapsed Republicans are now up for grabs, which could alter U.S. politics in the 2008 elections and beyond.

Some business leaders are drifting away from the party because of the war in Iraq, the growing federal debt and a conservative social agenda they don’t share. In manufacturing sectors such as the auto industry, some Republicans want direct government help with soaring health-care costs, which Republicans in Washington have been reluctant to provide. And some business people want more government action on global warming, arguing that a bolder plan is not only inevitable, but could spur new industries.

Already, economic conservatives who favor balanced federal budgets have become a much smaller part of the party’s base. That’s partly because other groups, especially social conservatives, have grown more dominant. But it’s also the result of defections by other fiscal conservatives angered by the growth of government spending during the six years that Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress.

(…)

[P]olling data confirm business support for Republicans is eroding. In the Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in September, 37% of professionals and managers identify themselves as Republican or leaning Republican, down from 44% three years ago.

Richard Clinch, a 69-year-old New York native, illustrates the party’s plight. The retired Westinghouse manager and mechanical engineer says he has been “a lifelong Republican.” As a young fiscal conservative, he was attracted by the party’s reputation for frugal and competent governance, he says. The Democratic Party left him cold, he says, because of its social spending and ties to the unions that exasperated him at work. As a retiree in Annapolis, Md., he became a local Republican officer.

Yet next year, for the first time since he began voting in 1960, Mr. Clinch won’t support the Republican presidential nominee, he says. He only “very reluctantly” voted for Mr. Bush’s re-election in 2004. “Like many Republicans, I am frustrated,” he says. “We’ve lost control of spending,” and the administration’s execution of the Iraq war has been “incompetent.” Mr. Clinch says he is liberal about rights for women and gays, and vexed that “we [Republicans] get sidetracked on these issues like gay marriage.”

On the one hand, I always like to hear about Republicans seeing the light and realizing that the GOP has no plan for actual governance. On the other hand, I think stories like this prop up the DLC, allowing them to entice Democrats with visions of low-hanging fiscal conservative fruit just ripe for the plucking… for a sufficiently pro-corporate candidate. In truth, I’m not convinced that there are that many such votes up for grabs; I’m guessing a lot of them will return the GOP at election time (“It’s okay; it’s not Dubya!”) or simply not vote at all.

Any candidate weighing a pro-corporate (or pro-war, or pro-“moral values”) centrist approach should always ask themselves whether they’ll pick up enough moderate/independent/ex-Republican votes to offset the progressive base votes they’ll lose. They should also ask themselves which kinds of voter typically turn out more.

I’m not asking Democrats to be rabidly, implacably anti-business, but they need to at least strike a balance between business and labor, business and consumer, business and stockholders. Right now it’s all business.

(h/t Bonddad)

6 comments October 2nd, 2007 at 11:26pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Economy,Elections,Politics,Polls,Republicans

Happiness Tolerance

Interesting story in yesterday’s WaPo:

[A] study published this week [describes] a paradox involving happiness. Americans report being generally happier than people from, say, Japan or Korea, but it turns out that, partly as a result, they are less likely to feel good when positive things happen and more likely to feel bad when negative things befall them.

Put another way, a hidden price of being happier on average is that you put your short-term contentment at risk, because being happy raises your expectations about being happy. When good things happen, they don’t count for much because they are what you expect. When bad things happen, you temporarily feel terrible, because you’ve gotten used to being happy.

“I have some friends who are very well off and have great lives,” said Sonja Lyubomirsky, a psychologist at the University of California at Riverside. “If you ask them, they will say, ‘I am very happy,’ but the most minor negative events will make them unhappy. If they are traveling first class, they get upset if they have to wait in line. They live in a mansion, but a little noise from their neighbors infuriates them, because their expectations are so high. Their overall happiness is high, but they have a lot of daily annoyances.”

[Harry] Lewenstein is the kind of person who can teach people a thing or two about contentment. All his life, he said in an interview, he has been satisfied with what he had. When he had a small car, he liked it. When he upgraded to a convertible, he felt swell. He never spent time thinking about the nicer convertible his neighbor was driving.

(…)

[A]ccording to the new study, led by University of Virginia psychologist Shigehiro Oishi, people who report a large ratio of positive to negative events also seem to derive diminishing returns from additional happy events — and ever larger adverse effects when they encounter negative events.

By contrast, Oishi found that even though Japanese people were less happy overall than Americans, they needed only one positive event to regain their equilibrium after experiencing a negative event. European Americans needed two positive events on average to regain their emotional footing.

Oishi’s research also provides an intriguing window into why very few people are very happy most of the time. Getting to “very happy” is like climbing an ever steeper mountain. Additional effort — positive events — doesn’t gain you much by way of altitude. Slipping backward, on the other hand, is very easy.

So… basically, you build up a tolerance for happiness, like it’s an addiction. I also liked how Harry Lewenstein was happy with his car because he just didn’t care what kind of car anyone else was driving. I think that attitude is a big help, because there’s always going to be someone who has something better.

October 2nd, 2007 at 10:33pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Science

Metric Of The Day

Blackwater CEO Erik Prince, defending his mercenaries’ contractors’ penchant for blowing away Iraqi civilians (including Iraqi VP’s bodyguards) and then covering it up:

He said that though 30 Blackwater employees had lost their lives in Iraq, no one they were guarding had been killed or seriously injured, and added, “There is no better evidence of the skill and dedication of these men.”

If that’s the best measure Prince can come up with, then he’s just not trying very hard. Or, alternatively, he simply does not see minimizing civilian casualties as part of the mission or, indeed, as even relevant.

Yet another right-wing sociopath with power over life and death.

October 2nd, 2007 at 06:12pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Iraq,Republicans,Wankers,War

Watery Getty Villa Photoblogging

Some aquatic-y photos from Getty Villa:

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It’s a satyr sitting on top of a wineskin. Nothing gross.

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Lilies!

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Lily pad closeup. I liked the shadows. Yes, I know the other one’s in B&W. I just like this one better in color, okay?

October 2nd, 2007 at 11:30am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: La Jolla/San Diego,Photoblogging

Selective Nazism

Glenn Greenwald had yet another one of his excellent and exasperating posts yesterday, about how Jewish anti-defamation organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wisenthal Center go ballistic every time someone compares Republicans to Nazis or Hitler in any way because it trivializes the magnitude of the Holocaust and Hitler’s evil… but never seem to utter a word when Republicans compare Democrats or progressives to Nazis or Hitler or brownshirts or Gestapo, even though it seems to happen all the time.

Other than the possibility that these organizations might be in the tank for the GOP (No! Unthinkable!), the only possibility that I can think of is that comparing anyone on the left to Nazis is just too ridiculous to worry about, whereas comparing the right to Nazis hits just a little too close to home and needs to be taken seriously. No, they’re not Nazis, not by a long shot – but on the political continuum, they’re a hell of a lot closer to them than we liberals are, and they keep inching closer.

Of course, you’d think that comparing anyone on the left to Nazis would trivialize the Nazi legacy even more, but what do I know – it’s not like I’m Jewish. Oh, wait. Yes, I am, actually. And since I’m a liberal too, I think that makes me a self-hating Jewish Nazi. Or something.

2 comments October 2nd, 2007 at 07:05am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Politics,Republicans,Wankers


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