A Referendum on Obama?

That’s what some boneheads like the interminably dim Justin Hoffer would like people to think about the results of last night’s U.S. elections, but unfortunately, the facts simply don’t bear him out (not that it ever stops nitwits like that from making their ridiculous assertions).

No, fact of the matter is that Obama’s ratings are actually higher now than they were this time last year and, as pointed out by DNC Chairman Kaine, exit polls indicated the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia were based on local issues and candidates (both of whom for the Democrats were absolutely terrible, by the way — an inconvenient little fact never mentioned in the Fox “News” article the Ragin’ Tory cited as his reference point).

As for the Democrats’ historic victory in New York’s 23rd Congressional District (the seat had been Republican since the Civil War), Doug Hoffman did not lose “because of the GOP pushing their RINO candidate so strongly” as Hoffer imaginatively asserts. He lost because: a) he doesn’t even live in the district; b) he had no grasp (or interest) whatsoever in local issues; c) he was a kook who pledged his “sacred honor” to a Fox News talk show host. That, and the fact that Scozzafava (the “RINO”) who dropped out of the race at the last minute threw her support behind the Democrat Owens, even going so far as to make robo-calls on his behalf. As for the GOP having pushed Scozzafava “so strongly” that’s just ludicrous. Aside from obligatory, lukewarm endorsements from Chairman Michael Steele and Minority House Leader Boehner (oh, and the support of Newt Gingrich — for what little that’s worth these days), all of the “star power” in the party was foursquare behind the upstart Conservative candidate Hoffman.

But, as I said, Bloggin’ Tories like young Justin never, ever let pesky ol’ facts get in the way of their pathetic arguments.

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54 Comments

Filed under Blogging Tories, Obama

54 responses to “A Referendum on Obama?

  1. Ti-Guy

    I thought all of this was beautifully skewered on The Daily Show yesterday. Nothing partisan at all; just a brilliant condemnation of modern political journalism.

  2. Navvy

    The wackjob US blogs are hilarious this morning. Teabaggers claiming this was their hill yesterday are now suggesting that they won by losing. These people really are fucking nuts. I wish to God the Wildrose Alliance would hurry up and spread to federal politics so we can watch the CPC implode.

  3. We need a New Reform Party to sideswipe the “Conservatives” up here.

  4. Ti-Guy

    We need a New Reform Party to sideswipe the “Conservatives” up here.

    Do you think anything will help fix what’s ailing people like Justin Hoffer? Although, truth to be told, he is exceptional, since he has admitted that he’s been on medication for ADD. I’m not exactly sure if that isn’t the problem to start with.

    On a related note, this story has grabbed my attention. Disney seems to be finally admitting that its early-childhood learning-enrichment products don’t live up to their claims. What they won’t admit yet is that research has shown that these types of activities are detrimental to brain development in children…which I suspect explains a whole generation of younger people.

  5. I heard that on the local Seattle news the other day. Kind of a win for Disney in any case… they get to be a good corporate citizen by coming across with their “enhanced customer satisfaction” program (i.e., a refund if you return the video — an offer most parents probably won’t bother to action anyway) and people will generally not feel duped so much as now have the impression that, while they may not be “educational” per se, if nothing else, they’re not really bad for kids.

    Good however that they got busted on making false, unsubstantiated claims for their products.

  6. Ti-Guy

    But they are bad for children. A whole generation of yuppie parents needs to know that before they shuffle off this mortal coil.

    I’ve seen it over and over again. Highly motivated and competitive parents torturing their children (and everyone else around them) with enrichment activities only to discover later on that they’ve acquired learning disabilities (particularly ADHD) that require even more expensive remediation later on. And of course, it’s all the school’s fault.

    One of my sisters is still living with the fall-out.

  7. I suppose. Speaking from anecdotal experience, all of my kids watched videos or TV from the earliest age (not as a babysitting tool, more just because it was on pretty much all of the time) and none of them have ADHD.

    Mind you, we never engaged in any of that dreadful “enrichment” or “early learning” torture either.

    We wanted them to play as much as possible and just have fun being kids. As it turned out, all three girls were honours students who excelled in school and my son could have done the same if he’d been bothered to.

    Did I mention that daughter #1 got her Masters in Library Science this summer?

  8. Ti-Guy

    Speaking from anecdotal experience, all of my kids watched videos or TV from the earliest age (not as a babysitting tool, more just because it was on pretty much all of the time) and none of them have ADHD.

    It depends on the mix of experiences. You also had four children who likely interacted with each other to make these experiences less passive. I’m just guessing…

    I’m also guessing your children are not writing ridiculously stupid Blogging Tory blogs, authored by people who also have university degrees.

    I’m really seized with this issue, because we have all of these North Americans fretting over the fact that children from abroad are performing much better academically and wondering what can be done about it all the time. And of course, pushing yet another technological solution on the rest of us, or suggesting the schools have to do more. They never seem to notice that these children have very traditional upbringings surrounded by real people, not things.

    It really is the case that doing less is the better option,.

  9. You guess correctly. There was always a pretty lively dynamic between the kids even when watching TV or videos. And when we watched stuff on television with them it was more like MST3K with everyone chipping in their snide comments, withering sarcasm and faux comical dialog.

    Also correct that none of my kids are writing blogs of the type you described (daughter #1 used to be very active in that regard back in her high school days, but it was all about her angst-ridden “inner soul” as viewed through the prism of Manga sensibilities..).

    These days, they’re all quite generally “liberal” and/or “progressive” politically speaking, even though we never actively pushed them that way. I would consider them more as “free thinkers” or “independents” than having any strong attachment to a particular or definite ideology. I don’t know that any of that has a lot of meaning or real significance for them.

    You’re right to be seized with the issue because it’s fascinating and immensely complex — something that extends far and wide beyond educational objectives and relatively short-term goals of “getting ahead” to what kind of society we want to create and adaptations needed to cope with the sort of world we find ourselves in…

  10. Ti-Guy

    What really does concern me most is that these problems, which are social and political, are spurring research and development among very smart, very serious people that lead to solutions that are purely technological, which, in turn, create a whole new series of problems.

    All of this doesn’t bode well for the type of people we are supposed to be nurturing for the new “Knowledge Economy,” in which, I suspect, only a few will really prosper, while the majority stagnate.

  11. It’s human nature… People want instantaneous “quick fix” solutions to complex problems. It’s assumed now these can be provided through whiz-bang technological innovations which neatly cut out the pesky, laborious “middle-men” of the whole intellectual process, such as: studious learning; hard work; due diligence; rigorous critical thinking; and so on.

    Good grief, who needs all that nonsense!?

    In part also, it’s the trickle-down effect from a generation of fundamentally lazy people who cruised into power with ease on a wave of self-righteous entitlement and thrived for decades off the fruits of instant gratification and narcissistic self-fulfillment.

  12. Ti-Guy

    I’m more concerned about the degree of ethical laxness and fraud this complexity is enabling. As a system becomes more complex, it becomes easier…almost irresistibly so…to game. As we’ve found out recently with how the investment banks have been operating.

  13. Quite so.

    I wonder how the free-market fundamentalists deal with the urge that you describe as being difficult (“almost irresistibly so”) to refrain from wanting to cheat. Or is such cynical exploitation and insider trading, especially from those who actually control the “game” that now passes for so-called capitalism, an essential feature of its modus operandi?

  14. Ti-Guy, RT,

    For the record Baby Einstein is stupid, but at least I could drink a cup of coffee and read a paper while it was on for 20 minutes. I’m sure the death rays emanating from the TV won’t fry the baby’s brains in that short time.

    BUT, I have ADD, so do my kids, and it’s genetic. They did watch TV, because it was on, but we didn’t have a TV when I was little, because we had no money. Still have it anyway.

    My mother has ADD, and she grew up before TV existed. Same for my grandfather. I can track it back several generations. It’s neurobiological, and can be seen on PET scans and fMRIs and there are established scientific treatments that exist and work. The kids who are screwed up are the ones who are forced to live with denial and shame and forbidden to get treatment by parents who have it themselves.

    My last couple of posts are actually about this. Feel free to read and learn.

    Or you could just keep spreading silliness and force most of us to stay in the closet. Sigh…

  15. Ti-Guy

    I wonder how the free-market fundamentalists deal with the urge that you describe as being difficult (“almost irresistibly so”) to refrain from wanting to cheat.

    Those who call themselves “free market fundamentalists” imagine a market economy that is vastly simpler than the one we have now. Or have an ideal one in mind, one in which everyone behaves rationally, in which information is more or less perfect and in which “the shadow of the future” ensures largely ethical transactions; ie. you don’t cheat someone because you don’t want them to cheat you later on. They imagine a system in which everything goes according to plan.

    They also tend to be people who don’t make their living off the free market and are not subject to market competition, such as tenured economists in publicly-funded universities and think tanks.

  16. Navvy

    In my experience free market fundamentalists are above debate, they don’t have to deal with anything. The dabblers, I find, simply adapt their libertarianism as their argument is torn to bits.

    “Ah yes, but I agree, the government should regulate that. Just not this… okay, maybe this too.”

  17. Ti-Guy

    Aurelia, my mother has ADHD and so does my sister (both had it long before anyone knew what it was). I wasn’t dismissing the existence of the condition.

    My mother’s mother was a teacher. She pulled my mother out of school until grade four and taught her at home (because the teachers couldn’t cope). My mother did something similar with my sister by supplementing her school work with various types of enrichment activities involving flash cards and supplemental reading and variety of learning games…which she did with her. In both cases, they learned a variety of coping mechanisms that by the time they hit puberty, they pretty much managed on their own.

    Another sister has a daughter who was diagnosed with ADHD in the 80’s and did most the same things my mother did, supplemented with ritalin, which my niece no longer took after the onset of puberty. She’s doing well also.

    I was referring to something quite different about these types of early childhood learning enrichment activities, some of which (such as the introduction of reading before the child is ready) are actually detrimental to cognitive development by activating areas of the brain before they are fully myelinated.

    I wasn’t commenting on your parenting.

  18. Thank you for telling me that, now i unerstand where you are coming from….but I also can’t help but point out what you wrote.

    “I’ve seen it over and over again. Highly motivated and competitive parents torturing their children (and everyone else around them) with enrichment activities only to discover later on that they’ve acquired learning disabilities (particularly ADHD) that require even more expensive remediation later on. And of course, it’s all the school’s fault.

    One of my sisters is still living with the fall-out.”

    My point is that you can’t acquire an LD or ADHD through bad or even just lackadaisical parenting. Those conditions can absolutely be improved with better face to face help and less screen time, and made much much worse with neglect. (Perhaps what you meant?)

    But they would still exist.

    Parents are barraged with so much advice and guilt over every damn thing we do these days….it can be very hard, so we get defensive.

    As for technology and kids? I still say that it can be used for good or for evil. I like being able to discreetly text my son and remind him about appts or homework so he isn’t embarassed by his mom saying it in front of his friends.

  19. counter-coulter

    He lost because: a) he doesn’t even live in the district; b) he had no grasp (or interest) whatsoever in local issues; c) he was a kook who pledged his “sacred honor” to a Fox News talk show host.

    I think you’re missing a big piece of the puzzel here RT:

    d) voters don’t like outsiders telling them whom to vote for.

    The fact that you had Scozzafava, who was selected by the local Republican party, run out of the race by a bunch of outsiders would be a huge factor. In fact, she (Scozzafava) got so pissed that she droppped and turned around and supported her opponent should’ve been a big clue.

  20. Ti-Guy

    My point is that you can’t acquire an LD or ADHD

    Well, I should have said learning difficulties that mimic ADHD, but I’m not convinced that many ADHD cases aren’t misdiagnoses. And it’s not bad or lackadaisical parenting…it’s over-parenting in fact.

    I like being able to discreetly text my son and remind him about appts or homework so he isn’t embarassed by his mom saying it in front of his friends.

    How old is he?

  21. counter-coulter

    Umm….”puzzle”…that is.

  22. C-C: I can only imagine how annoying that must have been. But yes, you’re right. I would resent the hell out of some big-wig politico poncing into my district and telling me what was important and what issues should be of concern to me. Which is kind of ironic really when you consider all of the “grassroots” rhetoric these asshats incessantly spew.

    Yet there was Hoffman, a blockhead fundamentalist nutbar candidate who didn’t live in the district, cared nothing for local issues, was absolutely clueless about concerns of his would-be constituents… supported by a bunch of trumped-up populist windbags, opportunistic grifters, quitters, losers, greasy lobbyists and amoral hate-media blowhards telling people what they should really be concerned about.

    It is to laugh.

  23. jkg

    Ti-Guy and RT,

    I am sure both of you have heard of Malcolm Gladwell. His books are nice to read; he comes across as a popular social scientist for which I do not take extremely seriously his writings. However, his point in Outliers about cultural legacies is an interesting one. The reason why is because some cultures instill a very stringent work ethic that cause its children to acquire and develop cognitive abilities in their formative years that become the foundation of their intellect.

    In short, those cultural legacies practically protect and respect the value of hard work and sacrifice, an environmental factor that undoubtedly has a salutary effect on early cognitive development to a degree, of course (since genetics still plays an interactive role). Oddly, some cultures tend to enforce this ethic almost at the expense of allowing a child to develop naturally in their youth.

    In the West, it is the worst of both worlds. Parents look towards a technological answer to child development, which is unilateral, prescriptive, and damaging, since most of all it seeks to be expedient as a form of self-gratification. In contrast, seeking a cultural answer, that is, instilling human values like work ethic that can be internalized, modified, and negotiated throughout the child’s development, allows the flexibility and malleability that can spur intrinsic cognitive abilities.

  24. Ti-Guy,

    My oldest is 13, then the 9 year old, and the baby, year and a half. The oldest has a cellphone and the 9 yo is bugging me for one. I’m saying no!

    About the races? Never underestimate the volume of soft money pumped in and it’s influence.

  25. counter-coulter

    RT: We here in Minnesota experienced a similar thing in the ’98 (man, that was 11 years ago!) gubernatorial race with Ventura. There was a big backlash against “establishment” politicians and all the national pundits that basically called us stupid for even considering Ventura; not to mention the fact that Ventura ran a very savvy campaign.

    I can tell you that, at least here in the States, I find it highly unlikely that someone would vote for a rep that doesn’t even live in their district. Let alone if you had a bunch of national pundits attempting to dictate what’s important to you and your district.

  26. JKG — Well said. As in all things, I think we need to strike a balance between the ethics of work and play so the best aspects of both can be cultivated.

  27. I would add a couple more reasons he lost:

    d) Upstate New York, like the rest of the northeast, has been slowly trending Democratic for quite some time. Outside of the South and Utah, the Republican Party is dying. Upstate New York has never been knuckledragger territory so most of the Republicans that are left have to act like Democrats, and; e) that district is a huge beneficiary of government money, from administration of Adirondack State Park, to the Fort Drum military base (The area’s largest employer.), to the management of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, to the maintenance of the Erie Canal, to border services with Canada, to several public universities. This area is post-industrial, and losing population and government employment is one of the few forms of work left. And they know it. It’s hard to demonize government in an area that so greatly benefits from it.

  28. Aurelia — I’m more than a little skeptical about the whole ADD /ADHD thing, but I know how that’s a really sensitive issue with some people so perhaps it’s best I keep my opinions to myself on the subject.

    In the past we occasionally had teachers recommend we get Ritalin® and other such medications for our kids to “calm them down” — a suggestion we always rejected out of hand. Other parents acceded however to these requests, as evidenced by the voluminous drawer full of prescription medications doled out each day from the school office to essentially tranquilize their young students and put them into a torpid state of mind, one presumably more conducive to learning…

  29. Dan — It should also be noted that NY-23 is going to be re-districted out of existence in the next election cycle and will be carved up between two Dem controlled areas…

  30. So how’s that keeping it to yourself thing going hon? 😉

    Damn, it’s good I’ve known you a long time…

    So, I would never tell anyone on earth to just take a teacher’s word for it and accept that. And it’s actually completely forbidden now to do that by both the education system and the medical/psychological system. They can recommend getting a full assessment done, or taking a kid to a doctor, or even calling social services if the parents refuse to see there is a problem. It’s actually underdiagnosed and undertreated. Likely, if you had gone to a doc way back when, and tried meds, they’d be off the wall, high as kites, like they were taking speed. Only people who have ADD get calmer.

    For us, medication stops my older one from wandering into traffic and he is able to make friends now! And the 9yo doesn’t run into brick walls anymore! (4 sets of stitches, broke his nose twice, and almost drowned several times by age 8) He’s no zombie, but now he can finish all his work at school and he stopped randomly punching other kids in the face.

    So I’m a fan myself…..

    Anyway, off to bed, *yawn* and I still say that as long as soft money is allowed in the US electoral system, Republicans and the religious right will continue to buy elections. The people thought what they were told to think, courtesy of massive ad buys and polling. Get rid of the out of state money and you might get some sense. (Think the Mormon church and how it stopped Prop 9 in Calif.)

  31. Counter-Coulter: two words as to a Canadian equivalent. Or rather, a name: Elizabeth May.

  32. Ti-Guy

    May isn’t an equivalent at all. That’s just how the democratic process works in Canada, especially when it comes to party leaders.

  33. True – that’s how the system works here. You’re right on that. However, I think in a kind of…I dunno…moral, I guess, or superficial way, a comparison can be made.

  34. Ti-Guy

    I’m on a crusade against political comparisons between Canada and the US. When it comes to governance and constitutional orders, we exist in separate universes.

  35. Ah – yes. I know what you mean.

    So, if I were to make a comparison between the Democrats and the Tories…

  36. Ti-Guy

    If the issue is specific, comparisons can be valid. But generally, the history of looking South for parallels forces square Canadian issues into round American holes and causes Canadians to become indifferent or ignorant of matters closer to home and more immediate.

    At Maclean’s yesterday, I saw a post entitled “Will Canada ever have a black Prime Minister” and I got really angry. When has the media ever wondered whether we’ll ever get an aboriginal PM?

  37. Yeah – I saw that post, too. And I agree: it seems like a pointless exercise, for the most part.

    I feel the same way on the healthcare debate – we get so caught up with what the Americans are doing, and vice versa, that we forget to look at the larger over-all picture.

  38. Making direct comparisons between Canada and the USA will always run afoul of facts on the ground, but there are certain parallels that can be teased out for the sake of comparison, if nothing else — sometimes convergent, at other times wildly different. Take the highly controversial issue of SSM, for example, that with the latest repudiation in Maine has now been rejected by voters in state referenda at the ballot box 31-0. By contrast, the law was ushered in here by the federal government with the authorization of the SCOC and the sky hasn’t fallen in… Moreover, several years after its legal validation there’s not the slightest bit of interest to even put the matter to voters for contention or repeal because it’s now a dead “non-issue”… Although they may not care to admit it, even our “Conservatives” tend to be a great deal more progressive and adaptable to reality than their ideological counterparts south of the border.

  39. Ti-Guy

    The SSM debate is also a case in point, though, Red. One of the reasons it’s no longer a debate in Canada is because of a different allocation of powers. In Canada, the definition of marriage is under federal jurisdiction, in the US, it’s a state right. Looking for parallels with respect to outcome causes people to overlook important facts about our own legal order. And the US’s for that matter.

  40. Agreed. One has to be cautiously discriminating when attempting to draw parallels with the governments of other countries.

    It always makes me laugh when our home-grown wingnuts attempt to hitch their wagon to “conservatives” in other countries even though their ideologies may be quite dissimilar.

    Remember when all the Bloggin’ Tories were wildly enthused about the victory of Sarkozy in France… Now that he’s bailing out French automakers, pumping money into the economy in a Keynesian fashion and advocating a new global order of banking and financial regulation their muted silence is quite astounding.

    Which only goes to show how witless and superficial such partisan cheerleaders are… but still, it illustrates the pitfalls of assuming common cause with ostensibly similar political parties in other countries.

  41. Surely, though, you’re not ruling out the idea of a common cause? Or the idea of looking toward outcomes, as Ti-guy put it.

  42. Ti-Guy

    That Sarkozy enthusiasm was really bizarre. It was one the earliest events I can think of that made me start suspecting that the BT’s were irrational. Which is now confirmed, beyond a shadow of a doubt, present company (Walker) excepted, of course.

    There was just so much wrong with that. It was over-exuberant, premature and…well, it’s France for God’s sakes. They’re not supposed to be doing anything the Anglo-American Right approves of, ever. That’s how the World works. 😉

    Mostly, though it helped portray their movement conservatism as a form of internationalism, which is supposed to be anathema to real conservatives.

  43. Ti-Guy

    Or the idea of looking toward outcomes, as Ti-guy put it.

    I’m always leery about that. People who live in different countries, with different histories, different cultures and different legal orders rarely have common interests.

    I don’t believe in pushing SSM all around the World, for example. I think it has the potential of making the lives of gays and lesbians even worse in some places.

  44. I’m always leery about that. People who live in different countries, with different histories, different cultures and different legal orders rarely have common interests.

    I agree, absolutely. We should be careful when it comes to pushing common outcomes in different cultures. At the same time, though, I can’t help but think that in some cases the common outcome is worth the potential damage ( although that sounds heartless to say ). the promotion of freedom of the press, and other basic liberties, for instance.

    But maybe there’s a difference between common outcomes and common results, if that makes sense. We can’t expect, say, the American, Canadian, and Iranian cultures to all arrive at the same basic outcomes when confronted with the same problems – again, freedom of the press comes to mind. But I think we should expect similar results: namely, freedom of the press. What we call the outcome is a superficial homogeneity between cultures, which isn’t necessarily desirable, and is fraught with all sorts of pit-falls. But the result can manifest itself differently in different cultures, although for a similar purpose, which can be very desirable.

    Sorry, that got kind of long-winded…

  45. Ti-Guy

    I don’t know. I prefer to deal with things specifically. Take freedom of the press, for example. In the US, it’s a negative freedom, which too often leads to a high degree of journalistic malpractice and journalistic corruption (such as payola, embedding and manipulation on the part of state agents), to the point where the US is now ranked fairly low among Western democracies in terms of press freedom. So on that measure alone, I wouldn’t know Canadians and Americans are even talking about the same things, let alone Iranians, who don’t equate showing half-dressed teenagers in the media with press freedom.

  46. Ah, so you’re saying that, basically, we have to figure out what we’re talking about before we start talking about it, issue by issue?

  47. Ti-Guy

    Preferably. The fashion these days is to bypass the process of informing/educating oneself and go straight to opining about something or taking a stand.

  48. Well, to be fair: it’s more fun to go that route.

  49. Ti-Guy

    Really? I’ve always loved reading and learning about things a lot more than debating them or telling people how I personally feel about them. As for taking a stand, well…I’m glad I avoided that as much as possible when I was younger. I don’t have anything much to be embarrassed about now.

  50. Well, if you want to go the route of respectable responsibility 🙂

    I think there are two types of people in the world, really. There are the people, ( probably like myself ) who like to share their opinions, and then there are the people, such as yourself, who enjoy hearing other people’s positions on things more than giving them out personally.

    I dunno – I guess for the most part the combination works…

  51. Ti-Guy

    Hearing about what other people know about something, I enjoy. Opinions? Hardly ever.

  52. Funny what a highly relativistic turn this conversation has taken, considering how absolutely resolute about such matters “conservatives” tend to be. Not malleable or flexible in principle at all, those folks… Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

  53. @ Ti-guy – good point!

    @ Red Tory – Heh. Just a matter of knowing what hills to die on 🙂

  54. Guzzeuntite

    “No, fact of the matter is that Obama’s ratings are actually higher now than they were this time last year and, as pointed out by DNC Chairman Kaine …”

    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
    ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

    [Repeat 1,000 times.]
    [Lather, rinse, and repeat once more for effect.]

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