Look at this video from Paul Sagar. And courtesy of Paul, again, Republicans are so annoyed at their country getting nearer to universal healthcare that they resort to death threats.

And here, from Economist’s View, how they are so against whatever Democrats come out with that they are willing to close their minds to sensible policies.  Discussing David Frum leaving the American Enterprise Institute, a right leaning think tank, Bruce Bartlett writes:

Since he is no longer affiliated with AEI, I feel free to say publicly something he told me in private a few months ago. He asked if I had noticed any comments by AEI “scholars” on the subject of health care reform. I said no and he said that was because they had been ordered not to speak to the media because they agreed with too much of what Obama was trying to do.

They also howl about inflation.  Now, look at this graph and ask yourself: what is the biggest problem afflicting the US today?  Hmmmm  tough one …

Finally, check out this video (the third one) from Chart Porn about retreating Arctic Ice, and ask yourself which party is most vigorously behind a denial of how this is happening.

This blog is often critical of the Conservatives for their economic prescriptions, and the incoherence of some policy positions.   But I believe that their hearts are in the right place – that they ultimately want what is best for most of us.  With some Republicans I am not even sure of that.

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10 thoughts on “Thank goodness we don’t have a Republican party.

  1. With regard to both the video and the death threats, what those people did was reprehensible. Dreadful. But isn’t using it to tar the entire Tea Party protests, never mind the Republican party, some sort of formal fallacy?

    1. I have to dash for 4 hours of meetings etc so have to duck that question. someone else, please!

      What really bugs me is their unanimous opposition to the health care reforms, as you know. But I cannot think of people who behave like that in this country. And following today’s Guardian podcast, there are other comparisons where the Conservatives come out better: the number of openly gay candidates for example.

  2. Death threats over expenses claims

    Phil Willis – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/north_yorkshire/8060005.stm

    Andrew George – http://www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/cornishman/scilly/Family-death-threats-shock-West-MP/article-1195338-detail/article.html

    Death threats from alleged hunt supporters

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article421146.ece

    -http://icbirmingham.icnetwork.co.uk/0100news/0100localnews/content_objectid=13148516_method=full_siteid=50002_headline=-Hunt-ban-MP-tells-of-death-threats-name_page.html

    Not to forget the animal-rights extremists, the BNP etc. etc., and of course death threats made against people over politics who aren’t elected politicans.

    How many of these threats are from people who, while possibly aggrieved over an issue, are really just getting a thrill from the threat itself? Who if not for health care would be making death threats over more lunatic ideas: tinfoil hat wearers who want to to know the truth about Roswell, or return to the gold standard? I’m reminded that in the Jack the Ripper killings there were *hundreds* of letters sent to the police and papers from people claiming to be from the killer.

    Hate to be cynical, but given how common death threats to politicians must be any public discussion seems like spining for sympathy. And you just know it will lead to a one-upmanship war of righteousness in which any vaguely violent rhetoric is conflated with actual threats, like this – http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2010/mar/25/james-cameron-glenn-beck-apology – with any reasonable condemnation not heeded because it’s just not interesting enough.

    1. CS Clark, I think you make a fair point. One cannot correlate the nasty phone calls with genuine nastiness – it happens a lot. I found Paul’s video more convincing though, because I have heard a lot of about how the US has a profoundly different attitude to the fate of the unlucky or even stupid. ‘Get a job’ shouted at a homeless person, sort of thing.

  3. One major difference is that I can’t think of an occasion where Conservatives have failed to condemn the activities of fringe activists (wing-nuts) or the BNP, or have used extremist rhetoric to advance their own political agenda.

    The Republican Party, on the other hand, have eschewed all form of policy debate in favour of ideological and partisan purity (see the expulsion of David Frum from the AEI, and Gregg’s decision to vote against a bill he had helped to write). They have actively encouraged the lies and misrepresentations that have emerged over the healthcare bill – prompting Harry Reid to pen a letter to Mitch McConnell upbraiding him for his party’s behaviour. The Republicans are not leading or guiding the Tea Parties towards engaged political action, but instead seeking to fan their flames in order to gain some indirect electoral gains. They have become much more than simply a ‘Party of No’, they have become a party that attempts to dehumanise their opponents and their actions.

    In British politics, although there is much political and ideological debate between the major parties, there is never any denial of the opponents’ desire to change the world for the better. US politics remains a contest over absolute values: freedom, equality, the meaning of Constitution. People tend to defend such values more intensely than they’ll defend a particular means of achieving shared goals. This difference is compounded by the media and political narratives that feed upon it, creating a vicious cycle of polarisation and extremism.

    Finally, American culture – for myriad reasons, gun possession, relative youth, ‘frontier’ attitudes – seems far more amenable to political violence, and in particular assassinations. The presidential assassinations are the most famous, but anti-abortion activists have increasingly supported the targeting of doctors, and Tea Party activists recently attempted to cut gas lines to a Congressman’s relative’s home (http://www.kwch.com/Global/story.asp?S=12197879).

    In summary, American politics is visceral and passionate, and the Republican Party is doing nothing to try and limit the dangers that presents.

  4. Oh deary me, not the Arctic ice melt…

    Lets get a few things into perspective shall we?

    1.The Arctic ice coverage is seasonal. In summer, it decreases and winter, it increases. It is a dynamic process.

    2. Coverage levels are not just affected by temperature. Wind and currents play an important part in how much coverage is lost during the summer season. The dramatic 2007 decline was primarily due to wind conditions sweeping ice out of the Arctic circle.

    3. If you take the measurement of 2007 summer minimum ice coverage as your baseline, there is an increase of 26% in area coverage by 2009 summer minimum.

    4. If you take 1979 summer minimum ice coverage as your baseline (this is the start of satellite information) then there is a decline in coverage if you were to plot a graph.

    5. We have only a small satellite record to call upon. 30 years isn’t long in terms of ocean behaviour. We know that the Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation operate over a longer time-frame (60+ years).

    Personally, I recommend not getting your knickers in a twist about the Arctic ice coverage either way. 2007 was over-hyped by alarmists and the 26% increase is over-hyped by sceptics. Its actually pretty meaningless as its just a natural process. It melts in the summer and freezes in the winter. If we had a hundred years of satellite data then we could start drawing some real trends about what’s occurring but right now? Its just a vehicle for cheap stunts using convenient start and end points depending on your POV.

    In other words, your linking to Chart Porn is just as cheap a stunt as those you are criticising.

  5. I think you may be making the common mistake among among non-US observers to judge American politics on the basis of a few fringe elements, who are generally far more visible than representative. Frankly Acorn and many of the trade unions, both of which are major vote-getters for Democrats, score equally poorly (actually often worse) when it comes to public displays of stupidity. Idiocy seems to be evenly distributed across the political spectrum.

    My family has raised considerable amounts of money for Republican causes over the year, including from the large (a quarter million) and extremely influential expat community in London, and I can confidently tell you that none of these donors would ever identify with the fringe elements of the Tea Party movement, even if their life depended on it.

    This is not to say that there are not significant problems with the Republican Party: Karl Rove’s scorched earth strategy has created a leadership vacuum (Michael Steel, pf!) which the most radical segments of the party are (hopefully temporarily) filling, something that Fox and Murdoch have found easy to exploit for profit by giving them more airtime than they deserve. I hope that this explains some of the positions on climate change.

    The more moderate heavy-weights and presidential hopefuls (Romney, Pawlenty) are understandably hesitant to show their hand too early in the 2012 cycle, but In due course they will enter the fray and somehow revert the debate towards the center.

    Coming back to healthcare, there is one fact that you should not overlook: A majority of Americans agree that the healthcare system needs reform, and it is absurd to write that Republicans are ideologically opposed to the idea: Remember for a start that it is a Republican governor who first pushed and passed legislation for state-wide universal healthcare. At the Federal level, with total control of the legislative agenda, supported by crushing majorities in Congress, the Democrats were uniquely positioned to “sell” this piece of legislation to the American people.

    Instead, the process descended into a farce of debates behind closed doors and backroom deals, something that Obama with his “Change Washington” election message had promised would happen under his watch. In both chambers, the final drafts were not publicly released until hours before the voting began. This is what a majority of Americans, not only Republicans but also the vast body of independents, most fundamentally disagree with, with some “hot-headed” elements taking their opposition a step (or two) two far.

    In many ways, the current situation is at least as much the result of the Democrats’ abject failure to communicate with Americans as that of the Republicans’s political tactics. You could have just as well written “Thank Goodness we don’t have a Democratic Party”.

    1. Many thanks for the excellent reply. Sorry I don;t have the time or expertise to reply at similar length. One quick question: why does Romney oppose what Obama is trying to do? That is the thing that most confounds people like Brad DeLong

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