Pew Research Center Looks At Political Views Beyond Conventional Labels

I’ve often noted the problems with labels such as liberals versus conservatives, often lumping together people who do not agree on a number of issues while sometimes dividing those who do agree. My views have never fit in entirely with any group, but in recent years when it came down to liberals versus conservatives it has been a simple matter of siding with those who are not bat-shit crazy. Besides, liberalism contains a wide variety of views; in recent years including most who oppose the agenda of the theocratic, authoritarian right.  A Pew Research Center survey went beyond simple divisions of liberal versus conservative and party identification to break people down into a number of groups. Based upon this, it looks like I might have to rename the blog Post Modern Values. Of course a major characteristic of us post modern people is that we are very liberal on social issues. A few different answers on questions where I was forced to choose from two views which didn’t really capture my opinion could have also made me a Solid Liberal.  Regardless, we are on the same side on many of the major political issues. Post moderns are  the independents who overwhelmingly support Barack Obama. Unfortunately many post moderns (but not me) sat out in 2010.

The 2012 election might come down to whether Democratic-leaning independents turn out for the Democrats in 2012 as we did in 2008. On the one hand, many independents are increasingly turned off by the conservative views of Republicans on social issues. Just today, after seeing Barack Obama wage a war on terrorism, we are seeing House Republicans wage a war on women. On the other hand, another independent group, libertarians, is far more supportive of Republicans today than in 2008. As is far too often the case, libertarians tend to fall for Republican rhetoric on the economy (regardless of the realities) and are willing to compromise on matters such as social issues and actual freedom.

While the look at independents was most interesting, the survey also broke down supporters of each party by type. The views of Republicans were fairly predictable, regardless of type. For example, 90 percent of  Staunch Conservatives say that religion is an important part of their life. The Main Street Republicans  do not differ on this, with 91 percent answering the same way. Staunch Conservatives also include most of the Tea Party supporters. Knowing how conservative positions are frequently based upon beliefs which are counter to fact, it was no surprise to read that, “More Staunch Conservatives regularly watch Fox News than regularly watch CNN, MSNBC and the nightly network news broadcasts combined.”

Osama bin Laden Captured by Painstaking Intelligence Work, Not By Torture

It is a common behavior of the right wing to take any real world events and try to twist them to support their warped beliefs. The classic example of this was the right wing using the 9/11 terrorist attack as justification for the Iraq war. Now they are trying to turn the news over the killing of Osama bin Laden into justification for torture. Torture is a technique developed to force false confessions–not to obtain accurate information. The information actually provided by water boarding was trivial, and not the reason that bin Laden was found.  After all, if water boarding was the solution, why didn’t Bush find bin Laden a long time ago?

Defenders of the interrogation technique raised the issue, earning write-ups in several high-profile publications, including The New York Times and Time magazine. It was also put forward in most bin Laden-related news interviews with Obama officials. The problem, those officials stress, is that questioning the effectiveness of waterboarding in the bin Laden case oversimplifies a complex issue to which there may not be any concrete answers.

“There is no possible way to know for sure,” said one senior Obama administration official. “Even if waterboarding did produce something — and that is debatable, the timeline seems very unclear — it is impossible to say whether interrogation absent it would have produced the same thing. It might have. Lots of detainees provided [intelligence].”

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor was more directly dismissive. “I think this is a distraction from the broader picture, which is that this achievement was the result of years of painstaking work by our intelligence community that drew from multiple sources,” he said. “It’s impossible to know whether information obtained by EITs [enhanced interrogation techniques] could have been obtained by other forms of interrogation.”

By most accounts, harsh interrogation measures including waterboarding did not play a role in helping to track bin Laden’s whereabouts or his associates. According to the Times, in 2002 and 2003 “interrogators first heard about a Qaeda courier who used the nom de guerre Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti” — the same courier who would ultimately lead the CIA to bin Laden’s location. But, the Times reported, “his name was just one tidbit in heaps of uncorroborated claims.”

The full post discusses the issue further. This has also been reviewed in detail at multiple other blogs, such as here , here, and here. The information was obtained by painstaking intelligence work. In the real world, unlike an episode of 24, there are no simple solutions.


A Message From Barack Obama: Mission Accomplished

Mission Accomplished.

Obama showed the right way to go about it. No screw ups like all those we have seen from Bush on the “war on terror.”

Quote of the Day

“President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden has been killed in Pakistan. That’s right, bin Laden is dead — just like the Republicans’ chances in 2012.” –Jimmy Fallon