You are a biased, uninformed, partisan idiot with a hidden agenda

Or, at least, that is what most people think of you (emphasis in orginal):
When Reeder and his colleagues asked pro-war and antiwar Americans how they would describe the other side's motives, the researchers found that the groups suffered from an identical bias: People described others who agreed with them as motivated by ethics and principle, but felt that the people who disagreed with them were motivated by narrow self-interest.(...)

When Reeder asked the pro-war and antiwar volunteers whether they thought Bush had a hidden motive, the numbers flipped. Only 11 percent of the supporters of the president and the war said they could see a hidden agenda, whereas 50 percent of the people who opposed the war said it was plain as day that Bush had a hidden (and nefarious) motive.(...)

Another study found that liberals and conservatives not only overestimate their opponents' partisan motives on questions such as abortion and same-sex marriage but also overestimate the partisan motives of people on their own side.

"Partisans within ideological groups tended to view themselves as atypical vis-a-vis their group: atypical in their moderation, in their freedom from bias, and in their capacity to 'see things as they are in reality' even when that reality proves to be ideologically inconvenient or 'politically incorrect,' " Harvard Business School researcher Robert J. Robinson and his colleagues concluded.
All of the polite, "serious" people in the established punditry are regularly shocked--shocked, I say!--at just how unbelievably angry we blog denizens are. What I think few of them realize is that when people online react to politics with open anger, bitterness, regular questions of the motives of those who disagree with you, endless claims of bias, they are acting like normal Americans. Despite all of the calls for bi-partisanship, civil discourse from both pundits and people who respond to polls alike, the truth is that most Americans don't act in a bi-partisan and civil way when it comes to politics. No one gets the benefit of the doubt anymore. No one has an honest disagreement--you opponents have a hidden agenda, are stupid, uninformed, blind to reality, etc. That is just how most people think. When it comes out online, then that is the real America, not some idyllic land of civil discourse and bi-partisanship.

People often blame our polarized political world on politicians in Washington. The truth is, the rising division in our society goes far deeper than simply a class of political professionals. It has deeply impacted the way most people think on a day-to-day basis. I don't know if one is a symptom of the other, as that is a real chicken and egg discussion. However, this polling shows once again that calls for greater civility and bipartisanship are akin to Ted Haggard denouncing homosexuality and drug use. Most Americans like to think that is how they personally act, and they want to believe that the rancor in Washington is somehow unreflective of them personally, but the truth is that we live in a country of closeted, projecting "partisan polarizers," as Lieberman likes to say. Establishment pundits would be a lot better off if, like us bloggers, they had to deal with those popular sentiments everyday. The entire country might be better off if we all came out of the closet, and stopped pretending that we are something we are not. Most people are angry when it comes to politics these days, and with damn good reason. Admitting that might be the first step toward productive discussion.

The Post Wherein I Reveal Lingering High School Angst

Over at BooMan Tribune, BooMan discusses a subscription-only piece by David Brooks, who just declared neoliberalism dead:
In the early days, the neoliberals coalesced around two small magazines, The New Republic and The Washington Monthly. They represented, first of all, a change in intellectual tone...

On policy matters, the neoliberals were liberal but not too liberal. They rejected interest-group politics and were suspicious of brain-dead unions. They tended to be hawkish on foreign policy, positive about capitalism, reformist when it came to the welfare state, and urbane but not militant on feminism and other social issues.

The neoliberal movement begat politicians like Paul Tsongas, Al Gore (the 1980s and '90s version) and Bill Clinton. It also set the tone for mainstream American journalism. Today, you can't swing an ax in a major American newsroom without hitting six people who used to work at The New Republic or The Washington Monthly. Influenced by their sensibility, many major news organizations became neoliberal institutions, whether they knew it or not.
And BooMan himself adds:
Exactly. Exacta-fucking-mundo.

The question that needs asking is: how in the hell did people like Michael Kinsley, Andrew Sullivan, Marty Peretz, Michael Kelly, and Peter Beinart come to define the left, and how the hell can we get them to go away and never presume to speak for us again?
Funding issues, I am certain, played a major role in how such writers came to speak for the left on shows like "Crossfire" over the past twenty-five years. As is the case with the vast wignut welfare system that supports conservative punditry of all sorts, "liberals" and Democrats who would tow the neoliberal line would receive media and promotional backing that so-called more "traditional" liberals would not. The past generation of neoliberal pundits smacks of a fraternity that was oriented toward business school. This is probably because virtually all of these pundits are male, because they all wrote for either The New Republic or the Washington Monthly at one time, and because they have been so loved by business interests. From my perspective, it is also because they pretty much all exude the exactly the same cultural signifiers: comfortable wearing suits and playing golf, smarter than thou but wouldn't touch non-professional graduate school with a ten foot pole, not from an upper-class background but desperate to get "in" with the establishment, etc. Very much the attitude of the kids at the local, upper-middle class public high school who were both smart and cool. Or maybe I am just projecting my personal cultural biases onto a class of people I don't really know, and I need to get past high school / college myself.

Brooks goes on to imply that it was the internet and the blogosphere that killed neoliberalism.
If you surf the Web these days, for example, you find that a horde of thousands have declared war on the Time magazine columnist Joe Klein.
I don't think Brooks is entirely wrong about this. In a very real way, it was the rise of the blogosphere that finally gave a means for people on the left who vehemently opposed the rise of the various neoliberals frats to disseminate and distribute their message. The reason neoliberal supremacy within the Democratic Party is being challenged, however, is not merely a change in attitude, but actually a loosening of the establishment strictures around the dissemination and distribution of political writing. It is my thesis that a neoliberals have dominated established news organizations for so long, and that the blogosphere is so flush with writers vehemently opposed to the previous generation of neoliberal pundits who ostensibly represent "the left," because of different attitudes within the two groups about the types of institutions each feels comfortable working within. That is to say, the cultural predilections of the neoliberals would result in them gravitating to established print periodicals, while the cultural predilections of those who oppose them cause them to gravitate toward the blogosphere. To return to the high school and college analogy for the moment, I can best describe it a difference between those kids who would excitedly join fraternities, and those who would excitedly start alternative literary magazines. When one reaches adulthood, I think that difference easily translates into wanting to write a column in Time magazine, versus wanting to become a big-time national blogger for an independent website.

Wow. I still have a lot of angst about college and high school. Here I am blaming the rise of neoliberalism in the Democratic Party upon a certain type of guy I didn't like back when I was a teenager. But there is a certain absurdity to the way establishment politics works that makes you feel as though you never left high school or college after all. Perhaps the social norms we learn in our formative years stick with us all until the bitter end.

Out Of Iraq Caucus Pushes For A Vote On Withdrawal

Something strange is happening: progressives in Congress are actually receiving media attention. For example, The Out of Iraq caucus, largely due to its dissatisfaction with the Democratic leadership's plan on Iraq, has actually received more Google News results (78) than the Blue Dogs (55) over the past month. Now, seventy-eight articles in one month still isn't much, but it is a start. In the coming weeks, the focus of the Out of Iraq caucus will be on an amendment to the supplemental war funding bill that will be offered by representative Barbara Lee. The bill will give members a chance to vote in favor of withdrawal
House Democratic leaders, still lacking the consensus they need to move ahead with a bill to spend almost $100 billion on the war in Iraq, are considering a plan to give the war's fiercest critics a floor vote on their proposal for a quick withdrawal from Iraq.

The idea is that in return for the vote -- which is sure to lose -- some of the anti-war Democrats would support the leadership's approach to ensure its passage. Without such an agreement, it would remain difficult for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to move ahead with the spending bill that has been tied up for almost a month by disagreements within the Democratic caucus.

The leaders of the 71-member Out of Iraq Caucus in the House, including Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, are generally among Pelosi's most-loyal supporters. But on the issue of Iraq, they have insisted that any new money appropriated for the war go to pay for the safe withdrawal of all American forces, a process they say could be completed within a year or perhaps even more rapidly.

At issue is the special spending bill, known as the supplemental, that would pay the costs of the war through Sept. 30, which is the end of the federal fiscal year. Democratic leaders want to put conditions on troop deployments that would slow the pace if not stop President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more American troops to Iraq.

Woolsey said she and other Out of Iraq leaders met Tuesday afternoon with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. He asked them how many of their caucus would support the leadership bill if a vote on their proposal was allowed.

"He can ask, but there's a huge group of us who won't support the supplemental. I'm among them,'' said Woolsey, who has opposed previous special spending bills for the war.

But she conceded that some members of the Out of Iraq group would end up voting for the war spending bill. "There will be some. They want out of the war. They can say they voted their heart on the amendment. But then they voted for the supplemental,'' said Woolsey, who took to the House floor Tuesday to make her 190th five-minute speech against the war.
Whether or not there are members of the Out of Iraq caucus who will end up voting for the supplemental after the vote on withdrawal is not something I am particularly concerned about. The leadership probably won't allow a vote on the supplemental until they have a majority in favor of their non-binding conditions on troops standards. Besides, once the binding conditions on troop standards were dropped from the supplemental, I ceased having any desire to help pass, or even care about, the leadership's plans.

The new key on the supplemental vote, as Matt has implied previously, will be the list of members generated during the various votes, especially on the Lee amendment. This will be a vote to engage in a fully funded withdrawal from Iraq, probably in one year or less. Fully 60% of the American people support this plan, according to the latest Gallup poll. That vote will provide us with essential knowledge on which Democrats are serious about ending the war in Iraq, and which are unwilling to take the decisive action that is necessary from Congress in order to end the war. It will be the start of accountability moment, as we know which Democrats are taking the will of the American people to heart, and which will require substantially increased pressure. It is the first real vote on withdrawal since the start of the war, and as such it needs to be taken very seriously.

Americans want a fully funded withdrawal from Iraq over the next twelve months. It is high time we knew how many Democrats in Congress are willing to give it to them. The Out of Iraq provide us with that information.

New National Polls

Two new national polls out today. Oh, my kingdom for some Iowa and New Hampshire polls. First, ABC News / Washington Post:

ABC News/Washington Post Poll. Feb. 22-25, 2007. N=1,082 adults nationwide. Fieldwork by TNS. Results below are among leaned Democrats.
Clinton: 43%
Obama: 27%
Edwards: 14%
Richardson: 3%
All others: 4%
Unsure / none: 9%

There are also numbers with Gore included, which I don't care to post because I have long made it clear that I don't think unannounced candidates should be included in these polls. I think they pushed undecided a little too hard in this poll, but whatever. An argument could be made that you should either push undecideds very hard or not push them at all. I think the most interesting part of the poll by far was the following:
Clinton's and Obama's support among white voters changed little since December, but the changes among black Democrats were dramatic. In December and January Post-ABC News polls, Clinton led Obama among African Americans by 60 percent to 20 percent. In the new poll, Obama held a narrow advantage among blacks, 44 percent to 33 percent. The shift came despite four in five blacks having a favorable impression of the New York senator.
Wow--the subsample of African-Americans probably was not very large, maybe around 120 people, but even a group with that large of a margin of error can't account for such an enormous shift. For quite some time, basically as long as I have followed Democratic primaries, I have wondered if an alliance between African-Americans and white progressives could result in a progressive African-American winning the Democratic nomination (back in early October of 2003 at a Dean Meetup, I actually wrote a letter to Jesse Jackson asking him to endorse Howard Dean in an attempt to forge just such an alliance). Obama was able to use that alliance to win the Democratic primary for Senate back in 2004, but it remains to be seen if he can put together such an alliance--or even if such an alliance would work--in a national campaign. If he continues to rise among African-Americans while maintaining his young, progressive, netroots base, it may only be a matter of three or four months before he catches Clinton in national polls. It will certainly be interesting to see if this crosstab is replicated in any other national trial heats.

This is a little bit more perplexing:
The Post-ABC News poll found that 52 percent of Democrats said her vote was the right thing to do at the time, while 47 percent said it was a mistake. Of those who called it a mistake, however, just 31 percent said she should apologize. Among Democrats who called the war the most important issue in deciding their 2008 candidate preference, Clinton led Obama 40 to 26 percent.
Man, the Democratic base has the idea of compromise so thoroughly beaten into it, it is really kind of sad. Even though nine in ten Democrats oppose the war, fully half say that supporting it was a good idea back in 2002? We really don't expect much from our leaders, and have developed a perverse belief that compromise will lead to a victory for our principles. That is quite the loser attitude for a large portion of our base to hold. If there is one attitude adjustment I would like to see the netroots have make among the Democratic base, expecting more would be it.

On the Republican side, Giuliani crushes McCain, 44-21. Without Gingrich, he leads by a whopping 53-23. There isn't a single national poll where Giuliani doesn't hold a strong lead right now, and all of the trend lines favor him. And just in case anyone had any lingering doubts as to whether or not conservative, white evangelicals are actually issue voters:
The principal reason was a shift among white evangelical Protestants, who now clearly favor Giuliani over McCain. Giuliani gained among this group of Americans despite his support of abortion rights and gay rights, two issues of great importance to religious conservatives. McCain opposes abortion rights.
They love the guy who disagrees with them. I have to second what Matt wrote on this one:
Like a lot of us, he thinks that Republicans base their political judgment on issues, ie. gay rights, abortion, national defense, taxes, etc. He makes the same mistake that a lot of Democrats make, assuming that conservatives think the way that we do. They don't. They are authoritarians. Gay marriage, abortion, taxes, national security, none of it really matters to them. What they are looking for is an authoritarian to look like he's taking charge, and the way an authoritarian takes charge is to attack liberals and stomp on people who aren't like them. Giuliani did this in New York, so he's a rock star in Alabama.
That sounds about right to me. Of course, considering Clinton's lead among war opponents, many Democrats might not be all that different.

There is also a new Diageo / Hotline poll out today (PDF), that has a lot of interesting (and odd) information, but I have run out of room to summarize it here. Check it out, and supply your own commentary.

Jim Wallis Continues to Reinforce Anti-Progressive Narratives

Jim Wallis wants to clear the air:
However, we both know that there are powerful voices on the Left that have no tolerance for faith. As I said, I won't name names, but here are just a very few specifics: I've been attacked publicly by leaders of major progressive organizations who've said that the Left has no need for religion. They've said that religion, "whether conservative or progressive" should have no place in politics. "It's still religion," they say. I remember one particularly lovely comment from after I'd done a talk at a progressive political gathering (with me still in the room), saying that the kind of religion I subscribe to "puts signs out in front of churches that say 'Jews and gays need not apply - just white Aryan men!'" That kind of diatribe says much more about that person's own experience and view of religion than it does about my track record over three decades.

Friends on the boards of major progressive publications tell me they have fought this kind of intolerance of religion for years. A few brave writers in those magazines, who aren't even religious themselves, have labeled this "shooting ourselves in the foot," which is where I got the title for my response to your piece. Friends who've tried to help the Democratic candidates understand religion have been marginalized and disregarded - until after embarrassing losses. I've had Democratic members of Congress who are people of faith tell me for years that they felt marginalized within their party as people of faith; that they were not really allowed to speak as who they were as people of faith. And for those who don't think the Democrats have appeared hostile to religion, read the polls. That can't just all be blamed on Fox News.
Wow. Just wow. After spending two paragraphs repeating virtually every single strereotype of how Democrats and progressives are supposedly hostile to religion, without naming a single Democrat or progressive who is hostile to religion, he then cites a poll as proof that Democrats and progressives are hostile to religion. These are the same nameless stereotypes and strawmen that Republicans and conservatives have spent decades using as part of a long-term campaign to characterize Democrats and progressives as hostile to religion. Wallis repeats those stereotypes and strawmen, and then blames the people who are labeled with those stereotypes for the existence of those stereotypes.

I did some quick Google searches on the various statements Wallis made.
  • "the Left has no need for religion", which Wallis claims many progressives leaders have told him in public, appears exactly twice in Google. Both times, it cites Jim Wallis as the sources of the quote.
  • "religion should have no place in politics", which Wallis also claims many progressives have said, appears a grand total of 30 times in Google. I have never heard of any of the people who used the term, many of whom, like Wallis, were simply claiming that was what the left said.
Looks like those statements weren't very public, after all. There are probably secular progressives and who dislike religion to the point Wallis claims they do. However, they are a small minority of the already small minority who are secular progressives. Further, they have no real power in Democratic or progressive circles, and they certainly have made no public statements that support any of Wallis's claims. If he wishes to demonstrate otherwise, he should feel free to start naming some names. After all, if he is going to claim that there are progressive leaders who are hostile to religion, then he should call those people out, or else he is simply harboring and protecting the very religious intolerance he claims to be fighting. Further, as someone who claims to be supporting the progressive cause, by arguing that there are some leading Democrats and progressives who are hostile to religion without naming any names, he is actually hurting the progressive cause. He wouldn't want to give progressives and Democrats a bad image, would he? Doing so would hurt the progressive agenda.

If Wallis wants to fight religious intolerance, he should not try and cover up for those people who are intolerant when it comes to religion. If Wallis wants to help the progressive agenda, he should not perpetuate the stereotype that leading Democrats and progressives are hostile to religion. If Wallis thinks that the secular left should, as a group, be held responsible for the religious intolerance of an extremely small minority of intolerant secular leftists who have no real power or voice within the secular left, then he is simply being unfair. No matter the case, by refusing to name names he is not clearing the air, taking the high road, fighting religious intolerance, or helping progressives. He is, instead, perpetuating a negative stereotype against Democrats and progressives. He is also unfair to the secular left--which is already a small minority in this country--by making them responsible for the actions of every single person who identifies with the secular left. Perhaps, ala Tim Russert, he considers Barack Obama responsible for the actions of every African-American as well.

It would be nice if Wallis could make his name by doing something besides reinforcing negative stereotypes about Democrats. Of late, however, as far as I can tell, reinforcing those stereotypes is about all he has managed to do. While he continues to do that, I can't imagine how progressives would see him as an ally at all.


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