As many of my friends who left the Republican party in the past decade can attest, George Bush Lost an Entire Generation for the Republican Party:
[F]or the past 40 years voting patterns haven’t differed much by age. In fact, there’s virtually no difference between generations at all until you get to the George Bush era. At that point, young voters suddenly leave the Republican Party en masse. Millennials may be far less likely than older generations to say there’s a big difference between Republicans and Democrats, but their actual voting record belies that.
Whatever it was that Karl Rove and George Bush did—and there are plenty of possibilities, ranging from Iraq to gays to religion—they massively alienated an entire generation of voters. Sure, they managed to squeak out a couple of presidential victories, but they did it at the cost of losing millions of voters who will probably never fully return. This chart is their legacy in a nutshell.
Apropos of the conversation about conspiracy theories that, sadly, I’ve been having with a bunch of Facebook Republicans for more than 24 hours now:
In a national survey, [political scientist Dan] Cassino examined belief in political conspiracy theories on both the left and also the right. He did so by asking Americans about two “liberal” conspiracy beliefs—the 9/11 “Truther” conspiracy, and the idea that George W. Bush stole the 2004 election—and two conservative ones: the “Birther” theory that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, and the claim that he stole the 2012 vote.
The results were hardly symmetrical. First, 75 percent of Republicans, but only 56 percent of Democrats, believed in at least one political conspiracy theory. But even more intriguing was the relationship between one’s level of political knowledge and one’s conspiratorial political beliefs. Among Democrats and independents, having a higher level of political knowledge was correlated with decreased belief in conspiracies. But precisely the opposite was the case for Republicans, where knowledge actually made the problem worse. For each political knowledge question that they answered correctly, Republicans’ belief in at least one conspiracy theory tended to increase by 2 percentage points.
What are the odds that a whole bunch of people will be quick to shrug off this research as evidence of a high-level left-wing conspiracy?
If you haven’t already watched this short video clip to prepare for tonight’s debate, then you should probably spend the 90 seconds right now and then thank me for reminding you not to get too excited about tonight’s debate. And yes, to answer your question before you ask it, I remember watching this sketch live and then reenacting it with my friends the following Monday.
Anyhow, since both of the campaigns have spent the past week or so driving down expectations as much as possible, this is pretty much what I’m expecting to see tonight.
I haven’t seen a whole lot of discussion about this story over the past week — in part, I suppose, because we’ve been trying to figure out why in the world people in the Middle East might have attacked our embassies and consulates. It seems to me to be precisely the sort of story we ought to spend our time discussing:
A prisoner who died in his cell at the Guantanamo Bay naval base during the weekend was a suicidal and mentally ill Yemeni who had won a U.S. court order for his release, only to have it overturned on appeal, according to his lawyer and court records.
[Adnan] Latif was captured near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan in late 2001.
Administrative review boards at Guantanamo recommended he be transferred to his homeland in 2006 and again in 2008, recommendations that were never carried out.
Latif challenged his detention in the U.S. District Court in Washington, which ruled in July 2010 that he should go free. His lawyers argued that Latif had gone to Pakistan and then Afghanistan to seek medical treatment from an aid group for a severe head injury suffered in a car crash.
The U.S. government, which says Latif was an al Qaeda fighter recruited and trained in Afghanistan by the Taliban, successfully appealed against the District Court ruling and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Latif’s appeal without comment in June.
Latif was among the Yemenis cleared for transfer by President Barack Obama’s Guantanamo Review Task Force in 2009, Remes said.
"He was never a threat to the United States and should never have been brought to Guantanamo," Remes said. "He should have been released long ago not just because he was innocent of any wrongdoing but because humanitarian considerations cried out for his release."
Obama imposed a moratorium on returning Guantanamo captives to Yemen after a Yemeni-trained Nigerian, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, tried to blow up a Detroit-bound plane with a bomb in his underpants on Christmas Day 2009.
Apparently, the GOP didn’t think that George W. Bush would fire up the delegates, drive television ratings, or inspire anyone to vote for another Republican presidential candidate.
Most interestingly, Bill Clinton has had more nice things to say about George W. Bush in the first ten minutes of his speech than anyone at last week’s the Republican convention.
And, of course, all of those mentions of cooperating with George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush speak to the broader point: Democrats cooperate and Republicans obstruct. If you want to get anything done in this country from this point forward, you vote for the Democrat.
Anthony De Rosa has some charts and graphs for the Romney/Ryan campaign and its supporters to consider:
This chart contradicts everything Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan argue about Obama’s responsibility to adding to our national debt.
Notice the section in gray on the right. Notice how the blue line, which represents government spending, sharply rises and the red line, which represents government revenue, slips downward. That gray section represents the recession, under which George W. Bush presided, and his budget, which bleeds into the first 8 months of the first year of Obama’s presidency.
Certainly Obama didn’t do much to pull back after that massive spending spike, but you notice that the spending begins to flatten and even fall, and revenues begin to once again rise.
Let’s also look at what spending is included in that increase to the debt: (chart courtesy of The New York Times)
You can argue that Obama did not bother to end some of the spending that Bush started, extending Bush tax cuts, continuing to fight a war in Afghanistan, etc, but the bulk of the debt and the spending we’re still adding to the deficit was started under Bush.
So, if you want to have an honest conversation about Obama’s spending, it would be more accurate to say, why hasn’t he done more to end the policies that his predecesor started and how realistic is it to end those policies without the approval of a Congress that has a leader, Mitch McConnell who has explicitly stated his purpose is to see that the President fails?
Thank God George Bush wasn’t afraid to water board so Obama could get the intel with which he used to find Osama.— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) April 30, 2012
Red State's Erick Erickson is a true believer when it comes to torture.
Why does he like it so much?
Because it’s incredibly effective. Because the ends justify the means. Because it’s not a human rights violation when it’s done to the bad guys. Because without it Osama Bin Laden would still be terrorizing us.
(via Peter Wade).
EXCLUSIVE: A nearly three-year-long investigation by Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats is expected to find there is little evidence the harsh “enhanced interrogation techniques” the CIA used on high-value prisoners produced counter-terrorism breakthroughs.
People familiar with the inquiry said committee investigators, who have been poring over records from the administration of President George W. Bush, believe they do not substantiate claims by some Bush supporters that the harsh interrogations led to counter-terrorism coups.
The backers of such techniques, which include “water-boarding,” sleep deprivation and other practices critics call torture, maintain they have led to the disruption of major terror plots and the capture of al Qaeda leaders.
One official said investigators found “no evidence” such enhanced interrogations played “any significant role” in the years-long intelligence operations which led to the discovery and killing of Osama bin Laden last May by U.S. Navy SEALs.
What follows is a guest blog post, written by Carly M. Jacobs, a Ph.D. student in Political Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research interests include group identity, political psychology, biology and politics, and political behavior.
Accusations of hypocrisy are standard ammunition for liberals and conservatives alike. After all, what could be more damning than pointing out that support for any particular policy hinges solely on the partisan affiliation of the sitting president? From a purely political standpoint, this sort of changeability can be maddening and more than a bit disheartening, as expressed by Greenwald and Kohen. But, if we take a step back and look at the situation in the context of basic human predispositions, I would argue that this irksome hypocrisy is simply a byproduct of ordinary psychology.
In an ideal world, progressives, for example, would be able to look at the policies of the Obama administration, evaluate their content, recognize that those policies are incongruent with their preferences (just like they were when implemented by George W. Bush), and oppose them accordingly. More generally, humans would be what social scientists call “Bayesian updaters,” adjusting our attitudes and beliefs in accordance with the credibility of each piece of incoming information. As usual, however, the reality falls far short of normative perfection. Our brains simply don’t work that way.
A considerable body of research in both psychology and political science supports the notion that we are not neutral receivers of information. Our standing attitudes and predispositions exert a considerable amount of influence on how we grapple with and process input from the political environment. For example, political scientists are now finding compelling evidence that factors as fundamental as our genetics and physiology (e.g. non-conscious bodily reactions to environmental stimuli) produce marked variation in the way we encounter, and interact with, the world. At a base level, we find that conservatives tend to be more attentive and responsive to things that have aversive or negative content while liberals tend to focus on more appetitive or positive stimuli. These tendencies underlie the consistent ideological differences in political attitudes and preferences we see and may explain why those differences often seem irreconcilable.
Looking at the discussion between Kohen and Greenwald, it appears to be an example of cognitive information-processing issues examined thoroughly by Taber and Lodge, among other political psychologists: confirmation and disconfirmation biases. When confronted with information that matches up with our pre-existing attitudes and beliefs, we accept it without much extra thought or criticism. When we encounter information that is incongruent, however, we spend a good deal more time and effort arguing against it or may reject it out-of-hand. We also know that source matters a great deal—who or where the information is coming from serves as a cue for whether we should to accept, reject, or spend time thinking about what it is that they’re saying, regardless of the actual content.,
Roll these biases together and you come up with something that may look a lot like hypocrisy. Progressives receive a lot of ideologically congruent information from the Obama administration and are therefore inclined to give it an easy pass right out of the gate. They are also likely to view the administration as a reliable source of accurate information and are far more likely to give Obama the benefit of the doubt than his predecessor, even if the information coming in is the same.
Importantly, vulnerability to this uneven treatment of information is widespread—it is not exclusive to liberals or conservatives. As such, it is absolutely unsurprising to see finger-pointing, on both sides of the ideological spectrum, at inconsistencies akin to the ones Greenwald discusses.
Ultimately, whether we’re dealing with hypocrisy or heuristic, the larger concern we have to contend with is the effect of this widespread information-processing bias on our democratic processes. It undoubtedly has some fairly profound implications. We already have evidence that people reliably seek out news and information from sources that align with their personal political beliefs, rejecting information from sources they perceive to be ideologically opposed to their point of view. Taber and Lodge find a connection between these biases and political polarization. A promising new research endeavor by Wagner, Theiss-Morse, and Mitchell focuses on the fact that our political discourse has far exceeded disagreement and escalated to the full-fledged vilification of the “other side.”
Kohen is right on the money when he notes that we’re dealing with “ordinary Americans who are faced with unfolding events and who are balancing some things they believe against other things they believe, sometimes more and sometimes less successfully.” Perhaps this is wishful thinking but, if we can be aware that what looks like “repulsive hypocrisy” is actually built into human nature, we can approach political disagreements with a bit more perspective and recognize when our own positions are more a product of basic brain behavior than critical thinking.
 Smith, K.B., Oxley, D.R., Hibbing, M.V., Alford, J.R. & Hibbing, J.R. (2011) Linking genetics and Political Attitudes: Reconceptualizing Political Ideology.Political Psychology 32(3): 369-97.
 Dodd, M.D., Balzer, A., Jacobs, C.M., Gruszczynski, M.W., Smith K.B., & Hibbing, J.R. (2012) The political left rolls with the good and the political right confronts the bad: connecting physiology and cognition to preferences. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society-B 367(1589): 640-49.
 Taber, C.S. & Lodge, M. (2006) Motivated Skepticism in the Evaluation of Political Beliefs. American Journal of Political Science 50(3) 755-69.
 Turner, J. (2007) The Messenger Overwhelming the Message: Ideological Cues and Perceptions of Bias in Television News. Political Behavior 29(4): 441-64.
 Nicholson, S.P. (2012) Polarizing Cues. American Journal of Political Science 56(1): 52-66.
 Taber and Lodge 2006
 Department of Political Science, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.