Sunday, June 21, 2009

The People NEED the Spanish Inquisition

Not that I love polls but well I do love them. They are such good political enter- tainment. Obama's approval rating on the economy is down to 51%, though it's still higher than my approval rating of Obama on the economy. But then pollsters never call me.

Obama's disapproval ratings on the economy have recently tripled. There's a real split on whether Obama has the "right set of goals and policies to improve the economy" (question 12 of the full poll). 87% are somewhat or very dissatisfied with the state of the economy (question 19). Interestingly, this is double the percentage that are somewhat or very dissatisfied with their own financial situation (question 20), suggesting independent concern with the big picture.

So people get that Obama's plans aren't very impressive. On the other hand, they have even less of a clue. 69% are concerned "a great deal" or "quite a bit" about an increased role for the federal government even in a disaster like US health care (question 14). A majority opposes the GM bailout even when it is correctly described as federal stock ownership and increased management control. And 58% think controlling the deficit is more important than a quick recovery (question 24). Too bad Herbert Hoover isn't around so Americans could vote the Great Depression back in 2010.

Part of the explanation for this massive dumbness in the midst of crisis is that no mass education has taken place. There's been no general investigation of who and what caused the banking crisis, even though there is historical precedent for this (the Pecora Commission that began in 1932) and even though 70% or so want some kind of investigation. Father Frank preaches brimestone is his sermon today on Obama's weak financial reforms, pointing out that " "the old Wall Street order remains intact." Worse, so does its knowledge institutions like Moody's and other rating agencies, who were so busy investing in the bubble they were refusing to analyze correctly that they were unable to warn anyone until it was too late. What's just is bad is that none of the financial professions have come forward with apologies or reform proposals or self-critiques that could make anyone believe that this all won't happen again. No investigation, no knowledge reforms, no recreation of professional independence. Ethics, knowledge, humanity, and progress aside, this will delay for economic recovery.

Other victories for dumbness: an interesting tidbit appears in question 39, about affirmative action. When affirmative action is described correctly, as "countering the effects of discrimination" without "rigid quotas," 2/3rds favor it - in contrast to Supreme Court case law and most media coverage, which at best treats AA as highly controversial.

The only overexposed minority I know is the Republican right, symbolized by Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh has never had more than 13% of the public express "very positive" feelings for him, and that was in 1993. This is about the same number of people that call themselves "strong Republicans" in this June 2009 poll (question F4), which should remind everyone of the anti-democdratic implications of the fact that strong Republicans have been running the U.S. since 1980.

Add "very" and "somewhat" positive for Limbaugh and you get between 20 and 25% of the public, fairly steadily over the past 15 years. This guy has always spoken for a fringe, and his mainstreaming can only be explained as the selective celebrity attention through which the media systematically overstates the impact of a tiny magic circle with powerful political friends. This star system is not that great for the quality of Hollywood movies, and it's incredibly terrible for politics.

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