Monday, July 25, 2011


Paul Krugman of the New York Times, an economist for whom the U.S. cannot embrace socialism soon enough to suit, is growing disenchanted with Mr. Obama. Unfortunately, his disenchantment arises from reasons opposite those which consternate conservatives about Mr. Obama.

Krugman writes:
I am among those in a state of suppressed rage and panic over the president’s negotiating strategy.

I’d like to believe that it’s all 11-dimensional political chess; but at this point — after the midterm debacle, after the big concession on taxes without even getting a raise in the debt limit — what evidence do we have that Obama knows what he’s doing?

It’s very hard to avoid the impression that three things are going on:

1. Obama really just isn’t that into Democratic priorities. He really doesn’t much care about preserving Medicare for all seniors, keeping Social Security intact, and so on.

2. What he is into is his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend the partisan divide. He imagines that he can be the one who brings about a big transformation that settles disputes for decades to come — and has been unwilling to drop that vision no matter how many times the GOP shows itself utterly uninterested in anything except gaining the upper hand.

3. As a result, he can’t or won’t see what’s obvious to everyone else: that any Grand Bargain will last precisely as long as Democrats control the Senate and the White House, and will be torn up in favor of privatization and big tax cuts for the wealthy as soon as the GOP has the chance.

I hope I’m wrong about all this. But when has Obama given progressives any reason to believe they can trust him?
The President finds himself caught between the rock of conservative opposition and the hard place of outraged progressives who want a Marxist utopia yesterday. I know he enjoys the vacations and the golf and flying around on Air Force One, but one wonders, if he keeps getting the heat that he's beginning to get from a heretofore adoring media, why he would ever want a second term.

America's View of the Bible

A recently released Gallup poll on Americans attitudes toward the Bible offered some interesting, if unsurprising, numbers. Respondents were asked if they thought the Bible was 1) the actual word of God, 2) the inspired word of God, or 3) a collection of myths and fables:
Three in 10 Americans interpret the Bible literally, saying it is the actual word of God. That is similar to what Gallup has measured over the last two decades, but down from the 1970s and 1980s. A 49% plurality of Americans say the Bible is the inspired word of God but that it should not be taken literally, consistently the most common view in Gallup's nearly 40-year history of this question. Another 17% consider the Bible an ancient book of stories recorded by man.
None of these views has changed much since 1977 according to the charts accompanying the article at the link. The high point in the percentage of Americans favoring a literal interpretation of the Bible was 40%, recorded in 1980 and 1984. The low point was 27% in 2001.

The data are charted according to church attendance, educational attainment, income level, whether the respondent was protestant, Catholic, or none, and whether the respondent was Republican or Democrat, politically conservative or liberal.

As one might expect, those with low church attendance, high education, high income, no religious preference, and liberal Democrat tended to view the Bible as a collection of legends and myths. Those with high church attendance, less education, lower income, and who are protestant, conservative Republicans tended to see the Bible as either the actual word of God or as inspired by God. The latter group, however, those who see the Bible as in some sense the word of God, comprises 79% of those polled.

The report concludes with this summary:
In general, the dominant view of Americans is that the Bible is the word of God, be it inspired or actual, as opposed to a collection of stories recorded by man. That is consistent with the findings that the United States is a predominantly Christian nation and that Americans overwhelmingly believe in God.
Be that as it may, perhaps the really important question is how relevant that belief is to how people live their lives.