Open thread with optional homework assignment

As Barack Obama assembles his cabinet and key White House advisers, he's choosing a lot more people from the "centrist" or corporate-friendly wing of the Democratic Party than movement progressives. He is leaving George Bush's Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, in place. He has also made some symbolic moves that angered a lot of progressives, in particular selecting Rick Warren to give the invocation at his inauguration.

I understand the political arguments in favor of Obama's strategy, and opinion polls support some of them. When asked whether they approve of Obama or how he is handling the transition (different pollsters ask the question differently), anywhere from 65 percent to 75 percent of Americans are saying they approve.

I've been wondering how much Obama's conciliatory gestures have been helping him with Republicans and conservatives of the wingnut variety. I'm not talking about Jim Leach Republicans, I'm talking about the kind of person who really believed Obama was a "socialist."

For example, one of my friends told me last month that her mother's best friend believes changing the American flag will be "the first order of business" when Obama takes office. I am not kidding.

In the next ten days, many of us will attend holiday parties and family reunions. I don't recommend that you bring up politics at these events if that would make people uncomfortable. However, if you come from a family where politics are often discussed when folks get together, I would like to hear from you.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find out whether your conservative friends and relatives have abandoned some of their more paranoid beliefs about Obama since he was elected. In other words, how well have Obama's conciliatory gestures allayed conservative fears about his intentions? Is he likely to get more of a honeymoon than Bill Clinton did in 1993?

After the holidays, report back in an open thread or with your own diary.

If you are driving to another city for the holidays, read this piece on safe driving tips by The Baculum King, based on his experience as a truck driver and one particularly horrifying accident he witnessed.

Daily Kos user Translator followed up with this diary containing more advice about driving safely in cold weather.

Remember, "research has found driving while talking on a cellphone to be as dangerous as driving drunk."

Tags: Barack Obama, cabinet, Conservatives, paranoia, Republicans, Rick Warren, robert gates, wingnuts (all tags)



Re: Open thread with optional homework assignment

I spoke to two friends of mine (reg'd Republicans) who voted for McCain and they're both very impressed with Obama's transition. One of them was losing faith with McCain as the election approached so if he had had a couple more weeks, he apparently would have voted for Obama. I get the sense that my friend is not alone in this sentiment. But at the same time, these guys are not movement conservatives, they're moderates, albeit horribly misguided ones. But it does seem as though they had inordinately low expectations of Obama and he's more than exceeding them. But the real test is with folks like my Dad. Haven't broached the subject yet...

by Todd Beeton 2008-12-21 06:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Open thread with optional homework assignment
I'm going to Fla to visit the parental units, and we're having 6 people for dinner, two of whom are retired engineers for GM, but have always been republicans for some reason. My parents and the other couple are also republicans, but rarely talk politics.
It will be an interesting dinner to say the least!
I'll report back on their thoughts after Christmas!
by skohayes 2008-12-22 01:23AM | 0 recs
Wingnuts are wingnuts

Basically, Dems can not work with them.  However, there are Republicans that came up through local government where "good government" and fixing the potholes matters.  Obama and Dems can work with good government people.  

by bakho 2008-12-22 02:51AM | 0 recs

but I am curious to see how the wingnuts' cognitive dissonance is resolved when Obama does not change the American flag as his first order of business, or confiscate everyone's guns, or whatever else they've been worried about.

by desmoinesdem 2008-12-22 04:17AM | 0 recs
Are you kidding me ???

"Resolving wingnuts' cognitive dissonance"????  

Where in the world did you ever get the crazy notion that is even possible?  It won't matter that none of this stuff ever happens.  It just won't matter.  A wingnut, by definition, is never swayed by reality.  They live in a place where the simple notion of a conspiracy is enough to sate them.  Where the fact that no one has proven a negative is sufficient to make something wingnut gospel.  Their world is not at all reliant on substantive things like evidence.  They live a world of "feelings in their gut".  Those feelings are their "facts". If these last 8 years is not incontrovertible enough for you then one will never be convinced.

Come back down to earth, my friend.  You are asking for the impossible.

As far as my family goes I can confidently say right now, prior to most all of our gatherings, that nothing that happens in the real world will change their views on Obama.  If anything, they will harden even further on the far right of the wingnut scale.  A true wingnut is unrecoverable.  If that wasn't the case, they wouldn't be wingnuts.  

by MikeInOhio 2008-12-22 04:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Are you kidding me ???

I think the most interesting part will be the changing narrative.  Once Obama decides to keep the flag as is and is sworn in on a Bible, there will need to be some re-calibration to keep the wingnuts' faces free of egg.  It'll just be interesting to see what it is.  I'm not thinking there will be a "justification" of some sort.  But probably the next in a progression of "urgent" issues.

by the mollusk 2008-12-22 05:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Are you kidding me ???

No one is more skilled than a wingnut at pushing ridiculous notions they have held down the memory hole.  Try and find a wingnut who will admit to your face that they were, and still are, enthusiastic and loving supporters of everything that Bush has done to this country.  They couldn't cheer him on hard enough while he invaded countries, shredded the Constitution, tortured innocent people, illegally spied on us, stood by while a city drowned under floodwaters and demonized anyone who didn't wholeheartedly support him or his policies.

The complicity of the media and the wingnuts has allowed this coincidental amnesia to occur.  And the media will likely, once again, play a key role in the continuance of this behavior.  They will simply refuse to talk about it and, as you point out, move on to more "urgent" and probably ridiculously irrelevant things.

by MikeInOhio 2008-12-22 06:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Are you kidding me ???

This is not meant to pick at any scabs here, but just to illustrate a point about wingnuttery.

I loved (sardonically) how Hillary Clinton became a favorite among wingnuts late last spring once it was clear she was not going to be the nominee.  These were people who were incapable of uttering anything less than loathing for Hillary Clinton for the previous 15 years.  Suddenly Hillary was the downtrodden minority being stampeded by politically correct college professors and African American marxists.

by the mollusk 2008-12-22 06:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Are you kidding me ???

Yep, for sure.  If you loved irony like I do, you had to appreciate the manic dimension of the new found wingnuterriness(???) love of Clinton in the spring.

Wingnut principles is an oxymoron.

by MikeInOhio 2008-12-22 08:50AM | 0 recs
Cell phone use demonization

Talking on the phone is no different from talking to the person next to you. All the research can do is tell us what the average selfish brat driver does. If you are a conscientious driver, you do not have to feel guilty talking on the cell phone and driving. Just make sure to keep your eyes on the road and pay primary attention to the cars near you.

My keys to safe driving

  2. Use your TURN SIGNALS. I detest getting lectured on speeding  by people who do not speed that much but have no problem changing lanes without using their indicators properly. It is all about reaction time.
  3. As much as I think speeding alone is not a problem, leave people in the right lanes alone. Do not terrorize them with speeding and darting in and out of lanes.
  4. Look at the freaking road when talking on the phone and place your freaking phone on the side when making turns. While I have no problem with cell phone use, I am in favor of towns that have enacted laws where if you have an accident while using a cellphone, you pay big time. Use it only if you can handle it. Otherwise be prepared to lose your license when things go wrong.  

by Pravin 2008-12-22 05:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Cell phone use demonization

Or just hang up the phone.

I bike most places and I can spot a cell-phone driver from a hundred feet away.  The worst part about them is they are totally unpredictable.

by the mollusk 2008-12-22 05:22AM | 0 recs
Re: Cell phone use demonization

Which is why I have no problem with zero tolerance for any road violations(shifting lanes without signalling, failure to stay in the arc by reckless cellphone users making turns at signals)committed by cellphone users.

Do not expect us who know how to handle cellphones while driving to give up our convenience because your average driver is an idiot. Punish them instead.

Will I be just a tad better if I did not talk on the phone. Sure. The same would be if I did not switch stations or advance my CD track while driving. Or even listen to music. Anything you do other than driving has a distraction effect of a certain degree. The idea is to minimize them to a safe enough degree. And i am comfortable with the way I drive.

by Pravin 2008-12-22 06:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Cell phone use demonization

The idea is to minimize them to a safe enough degree. And i am comfortable with the way I drive.

That sounds so eerily like what my father used to say as he prepared to drive while intoxicated. Like you, he managed to get lucky and prove himself correct -- at least to the extent that the last accident he had didn't cause any extensive injuries to anyone.

You can rationalize any behavior you like, but the studies don't lie: cell phone use is qualitatively different than switching the CD track, or even conversing with someone who is present with you in the car. I hope you're as lucky in your rationalizations as my father proved to be during his drinking days.

by fsm 2008-12-22 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Cell phone use demonization

Let's see. I NEVER drift lanes like a drunk driver. I rarely have to brake in the last second like a sleep deprived driver or someone not paying attention to the road and when I have had to do so , it wasn't because I was on the phone. Safe driving is all about reaction time. There are many factors, including cellphone use, that affect it to varying degrees. I can only go by how I drive. I have avoided people shifting into my lane without turn signals despite my talking on the phone on more than one occasion. That shows my reaction time is still good. If you want 100% safety, you are pretty much asking us to live in a nanny state.  

There is nothing stopping a cop from pulling over cellphone users who show the slightest tendency to ignore lane discipline or maintaining other safe driving habits. But they rarely do it. They are content to manage speedtraps instead of using active policing of all kinds of bad drivers.

I know if I see some idiot driver on the phone driving badly, I have no problem honking my horm loudly at them.

by Pravin 2008-12-22 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Cell phone use demonization

The problem is that zero tolerance isn't much comfort if you are dead because the idiot ran you off the road into a telephone poll.

All distractions are not equal nor as long lived.

by Do Something 2008-12-22 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Cell phone use demonization

Talking on a cell phone is different than talking to someone next to you.  I am not sure exactly why, but it does affect your concentration differently.  My guess is that it has something to do with the brain trying to visualize the person on the other end or something like that. In any case my experience is that it is different and studies have shown that hands-free usage only helps slightly.  

When you are driving you should concentrate on the road and nothing else as best you can.  If you must talk on the phone, make the calls brief or pull over.

The biggest danger on the road is the other guy and to be frank I would just as soon he not be talking on the phone, even if that means I can't either.

Regarding #4, "things going wrong" might well mean someone is dead or badly injured, better not to take that chance.

by Do Something 2008-12-22 05:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Cell phone use demonization

Something can always go wrong. Someone can be lost in thought inadverdantly and hit someone or not leave enough space between cars. There are so many bad driving habits in our population that take precedence over the more common targets of safe driving advocates.

by Pravin 2008-12-22 06:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Cell phone use demonization

There are people who can drive acceptably well while drunk too.  I suppose we shouldn't infringe upon their inconvenience of driving to and from a bar without having a designated driver.

by the mollusk 2008-12-22 06:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Cell phone use demonization

Sorry Pravin.  Don't mean to pick on you.  Just having a semi-bad day here.

by the mollusk 2008-12-22 07:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Cell phone use demonization

No worries. I can handle the disagreement. Hope your day gets better.

by Pravin 2008-12-22 07:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Cell phone use demonization

So sick of being lectured about this...

by JDF 2008-12-22 08:21AM | 0 recs
not quite

I can't remember where I read this, but apparently talking with another person in the car is less dangerous because you are both likely to be watching the road as you talk.

by desmoinesdem 2008-12-22 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: not quite

I watch the road intently as I talk on the phone. But it's good that you brought it up because that is my pet peeve of a lot of cellphone users. My most infuriating sight is seeing some soccer mom chatting away looking at her freaking phone for some odd reason when making a turn with her gigantic SUV nearly running over any poor car that is at the intersection. Even worse are the idiots who text while driving. Like I said, there are existing laws that cops can use to pull over a cellphone user who is not looking at the road while driving.

by Pravin 2008-12-22 07:37AM | 0 recs
Re: The Problems with Republicans in Washington

We know how awful this administration and their allies have been. To celebrate this incompetence, we created this 2 minute funny political video titled: "A day without Republicans in Washington D.C.".  Youtube does not do it justice. You can see it a little bit clearer on Myspace at this link: tion=vids.individual&VideoID=4857930 7

by newflorida 2008-12-22 05:11AM | 0 recs
the guy who was convinced Bob dole would win

just bought Jim Webb's new book.

there is hope, for everyone!
oh, and happy holidays!

by RisingTide 2008-12-22 06:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Open thread with optional homework assignment

There will always be the fringe that believes Ronald Reagan was a pussy so they will not be swayed by anything Obama does.

However I can report that my Rt Wing friends have been giving me shit about Obama's appointments.  They love them and keep saying "in your face" with every NOT LIBERAL appointment.

Maybe us lefties need to take a breath, show some patience by waiting for Obama's appointments to carry out his vision.

by Organic George 2008-12-22 06:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Open thread with optional homework assignment

That's funny, because I keep shoving his appointments in the wingnuts' faces.

My FIL is an incurable wingnut.  He will always be anti-obama.

He was one who was convinced Obama was a muslim, and would bring a whole bunch of muslims into the administration.

by lojasmo 2008-12-22 07:11AM | 0 recs
Rick Warren pick

My sister is an evangelical who voted for Obama. She likes and respects Rick Warren, although she is in favor of gay marriage unlike Warren or Obama.

But she was very pleased with the Warren pick for the invocation and she said a lot of her friends who are more conservative than she also were.

I think what people are forgetting about Warren, is not that Obama is reaching out to the right wing with this pick, but that he is reaching out to many people who voted for him. The Democratic Party is a big tent.

by Lolis 2008-12-22 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Open thread

by lojasmo 2008-12-22 07:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Open thread with optional homework assignment

So far, I am seeing some good response to Obama from the non Democrats. At least relative to what we heard from them in the past.

by Pravin 2008-12-22 07:41AM | 0 recs


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