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September 20, 2006

Your essential political blog reading for today
Posted by Patrick at 01:45 PM *

Jim Henley makes a smart libertarian argument, and his commenters argue back with equal vigor. (Personally, my money’s on Charles Dodgson.)

Comments on Your essential political blog reading for today:
#1 ::: Mitch Wagner ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 05:18 PM:

I was discouraged by the comment pointing out that nearly half of Americans support Bush, and that means they probably support Bush's most visible policies -- including his advocacy of torture.

Call me a pollyanna, but I did, until then, subscribe to the theory that if we can just hold out until 2009, things will be a lot better.

#2 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 05:26 PM:

One third, actually.

#3 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 05:31 PM:

There's some evidence that *that* third - estimates are running from there down to about 25 percent - will believe Bush, even if he's found on the South Lawn on a Sunday with a sheep and a dead boy.

#4 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 06:29 PM:

The floor on Bush's approval rating is something that I just don't understand. I know that there are people who support Bush's actioons because they believe that he is a good Christian. They think that he is a Godly man. To the extent that I understand religious belief, I can understand that. They place their faith in his actions because they think that he is doing what they themselves would do if they were in the same situation he is in. They believe he acts in accordance with their values.

What I don't understand is how they maintain this faith in the face of Bush doing manifestly unChristian and unGodly things. However, it does seem that despite his best efforts, Bush is unable to push his approval rating below approximately mid-30%. *sigh*

#5 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 06:57 PM:

JC #4: The reality is that there is a substantial number of people who think that what W does is protecting them, who still believe that Saddam and Osama met for friendly games of bridge and infidel torture on Saturday nights, who think that fighting terrorists in Iraq means that said terrorists aren't attacking the US, who think that 'we' have been kept safe for the past five years by George's policies ('we', apparently, doesn't include anyone who lives in Britain or Spain -- such as my two brothers, their wives and children, and my mother), and who think that 'extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice'. Then their's the 'my country right or wrong' contingent who believe that 'rally round the flag' means that cricicising the president is treason.

#6 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 07:22 PM:

Fragano: I've just been fighting that battle as a sidelight to another conversation. Somehow I doubt my stats, or arguments, will persuade him; but I can hope for others.

#7 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 08:22 PM:

Terry Karney #6: In such cases I think of my father saying 'them that don't hear must feel', but I don't wish the consequences of W's folly on anyone.

The problem is that, when the crash comes they'll blame it on (a) the liberals, (b) Bill Clinton, (c)traitors, or (d)the International Communist Conspiracy and not on the actual criminals who will have caused it.

#8 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 09:39 PM:

#4 The floor on Bush's approval rating is something that I just don't understand.

In May of 1940 the British public opinion pollsters were finding a significant number of people (3%? 5%?) who -despite the events of the previous two years - who still had no idea who was Prime Minister.

In the polling biz, they're known as the "Hard Core No-Nothings".

In modern America - when Nixon was as much as admitting his various felonies, resigning in disgrace, and getting on the plane for outcast exile - he was still supported by about 26% of the American populace.

George Bush's popularity is currently down in that range. (And unlike RMN, Bush is down in that range with the mass media still on his side.)

The point is, about a quarter of the populace is unreachable by evidence.

The best discussion of the role of the Hard Core Know-Nothing in our present era remains last year's discussion in Kung Fu Monkey's Lunch Discussions #145: The Crazification Factor

John Rogers Explains It All.

#9 ::: Jen R ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 10:04 PM:

I wonder how many of that 25/30/whatever percent are still managing to convince themselves that "It's not REALLY torture -- the damn terrorist-coddling liberals are blowing a few slaps and a bit of cold water all out of proportion."

On the other hand, it's hard to see how willful ignorance is any better than viciousness, in practical terms.

#10 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 11:07 PM:

Concerning that 25-30 percent who are die-hard followers - there was a series of posts at firedoglake on Dean's Conservatives without Conscience (August 27 and September 3 and 4), in which this was discussed. The consensus is that these are authoritarian followers, for whom there is Only One Right Way, and there is no way to change their minds. They see everything as you're either with them or you're an Enemy (the caps were included!). A fair percentage of them are also biblical literalists.

#11 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: September 20, 2006, 11:14 PM:

Bob O at #8: Thanks for the link to KungFu Monkey; yeah, I think 800 million Hindus would get in the way of the Caliphate bigtime.

So if there's a Craziness Factor of about 27% (27% of the population of the United States is batshit crazy) and Bush's approval rating is at 41% -- how do we get to that 14%?

By the way, according to a diary on DailyKos: The House Judiciary Committee just reversed itself, calling a re-vote and passing a controversial detainee treatment bill that has White House backing, according to House sources.

Earlier today, the panel had voted down the measure, 18-17, with three members not voting. The re-vote swung the tally to 20-18 in favor of the bill.

According to the diary, two Democratic members were out of the room.

#12 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2006, 03:02 AM:

Bob O. #8: Thank you for posting that link. I know it wasn't supposed to be funny, but I read

I am not spotting him 800 million Hindus! I call shenanigans!

and it took me nearly 5 minutes to stop giggling. Every time I thought I had a lid on it, I'd look at the sentence again and it was still just as funny as the first time.

#13 ::: Max ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2006, 12:56 PM:

Jim Henley's argument might give a bit of a clue as to how Bush retains support. Consider the essential part of his argument:

"And what I want to know is, how do you like your blue-eyed boy, government power, Mr. Managerial Liberalism?"

See, a big part of the problem is all those liberals who thought that government power might be used for good purposes. (The use of phraseology reminiscent of high school may also be revealing).

One thing that every libertarian shares with the Conservative Movement is a hatred of liberals. That is why so many self-described libertarians voted for Bush over Gore, Bush over Kerry, and continue to support Bush, even now. They share a common enemy. And it can't possibly be a flaw in libertarian philosophy because, like conservatism, libertarianism can never be wrong; it can only be betrayed.

#14 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2006, 01:24 PM:

Bush's minimum possible popularity is also known as the BTKWB limit.

BTKWB (the Presidentís approval ratings the morning after he pre-empted Monday Night Football in order to Bind, Torture, and Kill Wilford Brimley for his own sexual gratification) has generally been taken to be somewhere in the 32-36% range, depending on the theoretical models used, and depending on if he uses up the MNF timespot completely, or just pops in during halftime.
#15 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2006, 02:04 PM:

Max, I've been reading Jim's blog for years, and I'm pretty sure you're misreading him.

#16 ::: Max ::: (view all by) ::: September 21, 2006, 02:51 PM:

Avram, I've been reading said blog for quite a while also. I was (too coyly perhaps) suggesting that sometimes underlying emotional needs slip through otherwise reasonable discourse in times of stress.

The "blue-eyed boy" line strikes me as one such slip. He was definitely picking a fight with liberalism. As was pointed out in the comments, he could have made the same argument about military power per se, and he did not. If he had, it would have been still harder to lay the mess at liberalism's doorstep.

Why pick the fight? That seems like a fair question to me.

#17 ::: Liam ::: (view all by) ::: September 28, 2006, 06:08 AM:

"Hard core no-nothings" is silly phrase. I know a few people who have no interest at all in politics, but have quite a lot of views on government and its effects on their lives. I also come from a background where scraping a living, feeding the kids and simply surviving take precedence over the affairs of those classes lording it over them.

Or perhaps "hard core no-nothings" can be applied to even the politically aware, for example, were you one when your and my governments stood by and allowed the genocide in Rwanda? just to remind you it was 1 million people who were slaughtered.

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