Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Know-Nothings Skulk Back to Do Nothing

They're b-a-a-ck.  With polls showing only about 12 or 13 percent of the American population that think they're doing even a halfway decent job, members of Congress are returning to Washington. They will raise the money for their campaigns they didn't finish raising while they were on vacation not holding town halls.  They will continue doing what they do best: taking up space and oxygen pretending to represent their constituents and writing legislation crafted by corporate interests.  They will be either passing bad laws or blocking good ones. They will be jockeying for position in front of cable TV cameras.

 What I would like to know is this: just who are these people in the Twelve Percent Congressional Fan Club? The pollsters won't say, except that they're a cross-section of "likely voters".  In other words, anonymous, allegedly breathing humans over the age of 18.  But I am willing to bet they include members of Congress, their families, the lobbying industry and the Forbes 400 List of the Wealthiest Americans, along with pranksters who get their kicks spoofing the pollsters who call during the dinner hour.  Even this 12 percent approval rating is overly generous:

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Likely Voters shows that just six percent (6%) of Likely U.S. Voters rate Congress' performance as good or excellent - for the second straight month. Sixty-six percent (66%) say Congress is doing a poor job, up five points from July and the highest negative rating since March 2010. (To see survey question wording, click here.) Only nine percent (9%) of voters believe this Congress has passed any legislation during the past year that will significantly improve life in America, the lowest finding in nearly five years of surveys. Prior to the latest finding, this number ranged from 11% to 29% since November 2006.

Among the first items on the Congressional agenda is the Senate Banking Committee's confirmation hearing for Consumer Financial Protection Bureau nominee Richard Cordray.  A five time "Jeopardy" champion, Cordray has already proven his ability to rapidly respond to vacuous questions.  In this case, though, the result is a foregone conclusion.  Republicans have already vowed to block any nominee because the big banks which own them hate consumers.  President Obama could have recess-appointed Elizabeth Warren long ago.  But Majority Leader Harry "Give 'Em Hell Whatever They Want" Reid feebly allowed pro-forma sessions throughout Recess Time, thus giving the president whatever it is he really wants.  (Which appears to be holding on until Election Day and playing along with the play-acting which passes for a functional government.)

But back to Rasmussen -- it doesn't look good for either Congress or the generic human being, from the point of view of the telephone pollees.  A majority think the average Tea Party member is smarter than the average member of Congress!  Voters are evenly divided between those who think Rick Perry's desire to make Washington inconsequential in our lives is a fine idea and those who think he's nuts.  Most voters think it's better to be labeled a liberal than a conservative -- but think politicians labeled conservative are the absolute best!

In other words, either the people who don't hang up on pollsters are complete dorks, or the polling methodology itself is fatally flawed. Either way, we are so screwed. Politicians look at this stuff and try to find meaning in it, even though they claim not to. Results like these go a long way in explaining the bipartisanship addiction of Barack Obama, for one thing. He is like the Pushmi Pullyu in "Doctor Dolittle".  Two opposing points of view add up to one weird character pleasing nobody.


4Runner said...

I don't have much trust in either polls or in media audience measurement systems. Back in the 80s I was enlisted by Neilsen Ratings to keep a diary of my radio listening. Every week they sent me a log sheet (along with a $5 bill) which I filled in and mailed back. At the time I listened only to NPR, college radio and an offshore pirate station I occasionally could pick up in the Keys. Didn't tune in to any corporate radio. And because of that, after about 3 months they cut me loose. I presumed they didn't want to know about folks listening to any non-commercial radio.
As for polling, this morning on C-SPAN they had a Q&A half-hour with a guy from Pew Research. Of course, he was promoting the cause but he did have some info on how pollees are chosen and questions are framed.

Fred Drumlevitch said...

@Karen Garcia

The analogy with contemporary politicians is even more apt than you have said. Note that with the rear halves of the two creatures that make up the Pushmi-Pullyu absent, in most depictions there is no excretory apparatus, and the thing is destined to fill up with crap.

Hester Prynne said...

I am completely bewildered by Obama's support of the republicans platform. How does a candidate run on a democratic ticket and end up being a republican? Was he planning to join the corporate money train all along? Is he really just a yuppie? Was the only way he could see himself getting elected was to "act democrat? We've had a lot of liars and a few criminals running thus country. However this is the first time I have ever seen such a complete about face, and a completely ambivalent attitude towards the people who elected him, and what their expectations were.Perhaps he is bipolar? Because I am feeling like this is a dysfunctional relationship and my needs aren't being met. When that happens I am gone. Buhbye Obama!

John in Lafayette said...

Off topic, but.....

You had the best comment of the day, Karen, by far, in your response to Maureen Dowd:

"Shame on Nancy Pelosi for worrying about the hardworking teenagers being an "occasion of sin" in that bastion of graft and corruption."

Denis Neville said...

Headline from guardian.co.uk:

“London ranks among worst European cities for air pollution - Air quality study judges UK capital to be 'below average' for its lack of action on tackling deadly soot particles”


Also, Kenneth Clarke, Britain’s justice secretary, blames England’s riots on the 'feral underclass'


Just a taste of what is to come?

Misgovernment by braying asses…Our own Know-Nothings Skulk Back to Do Nothing

Kat said...

Yes, yes, yes! They read these poll results as dissatisfaction=not compromising enough. That is the way it is presented in the mainstream media and it is so infuriating. It is one reason that I have been hesitant to change my voting status to "independent" because to the media and politicians this seems to mean "centrist" (where centrist is defined as somewhere to the right of Nixon era Republicanism).
@hester-- don't you think it is odd that the president knew he could not win as running by anything else but a Democrat, but decided he could only win reelection by governing as a Republican? What an idiot. I always felt that he was something of a fraud though. My hope was that he would feel answerable to his considerable base of small donors and grassroots organizers. Instead, he felt he only owed his equally considerable Wall Street donors. Silly me.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks everybody. Meanwhile, Jeff Zeleny has a NYT article explaining how the White House is trying to retool Obama's "brand." Just when you think they might be getting the Big Picture, their solution is to start another ad campaign. Worse and worser.

falken751 said...

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN said \"My fervent hope is that on Thursday Mr. Obama will set an example and tell the cold, hard truth\"
How can anyone know when a politician is not lying? They all lie, this country has been built on lies and the population of this country has believed these liars and voted for the liars based on who tells them the biggest lie.
And, why should the normal middle class people have to share in a lower standard of living? The middle class didn't cause these problems, the banks and wall street and the politicians caused this. When are the banks and wall street going to pays for their greed and when will our president do something about what they did instead of bailing them out? And when will the politicians demand that corporations start paying their fair share of taxes? You say we all have to sacrifice and lower our standard of living, well most of the laid off people in this country have been lowering their standard of living for several years already. I do not see any politicians, including our president, lowering their standard of living.

Denis Neville said...

The White House trying to retool Obama's "brand"…

Will their retooling efforts include their unchecked authoritarianism? Restriction of veterans’ right to appeal?

Glenn Greenwald, “The ACLU on Obama and Core Liberties,” on the ACLU’s report, A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties Ten Years After – “this creeping unchecked authoritarianism marches forward unabated…I really don't understand how progressives think they'll be taken seriously the next time there is a GOP President and they try to resurrect their feigned concern for these matters; they'll be every bit as credible as conservatives who pretend to be deficit-warriors and defenders of restrained government only when the other party is in power.”


Joseph Stiglitz, “The Price of 9/11,” writes that while a U.S. court recently ruled that veterans’ rights have been violated by inadequate funding for health care and basic expenditures, the Obama administration’s position is that veterans’ right to appeal to the courts should be restricted.


Just another ad campaign. Worse and worser.

Kat said...

@falken: Friedman is dangerous. I find him more loathsome than the usual suspects (Palin, etc.) because he is something of a Trojan horse himself. And he certainly is a proponent the idea that a human's worth is directly correlated with their productivity. He is a bad man. Plus he strikes me as pretty dumb. He's gotta be if he's satisfied with the quality of the sentences he produces.

Mike B) said...

It's all about the money and the money means the wealth produced by workers and found in owned pieces of nature. Yeah, human resources and natural resources=wealth=money and it's all about the money. Follow the money. You know, 10% of the people own 88% of the wealth which 90% produce. When you get that, you begin to understand that while you're living in a democracy, you're not part of the ruling class.

Neil Gillespie said...

Congress has had low approval ratings for years, but this seems like an all-time low. Like you Karen, when I heard this, I thought the pollsters must be calling the friends and family of congress! The Pushmi Pullyu is fun, but a better image to represent Obama might be a Democrat donkey with two backsides.

If this is true, the overwhelming disapproval of congress, why do incumbent members of congress have such a high reelection rate?

OpenSecrets.org says "Few things in life are more predictable than the chances of an incumbent member of the U.S. House of Representatives winning reelection. With wide name recognition, and usually an insurmountable advantage in campaign cash, House incumbents typically have little trouble holding onto their seats—as this chart shows."


Congress even has a higher incumbent reelection rate than the Senate.

Could it be that the American electorate is not that bright?

Mike B) said...

Every 20 seconds, a child dies from a water-related disease. The wage system is worldwide. It needs to be abolished. Every 20 seconds another billionaire buys and sells stocks and bonds worth millions.