Remember during the 2008 primary campaign how Obama supporters argued that one reason not to elect Hillary Clinton was that she would unite Republicans against her? And that since they hated her so much, they'd wage a scorched-earth campaign against everything she tried to do, miring the country in years of bitter and angry conflict, full of insane and venomous charges that would force the administration to defend itself against the conspiracy theories of an increasingly unhinged opposition? And that they'd work their supporters up into such a lather of hatred that we might see a repeat of the early 1990s, with the rise of right-wing anti-government populism that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing?
The blogosphere has been abuzz with the strange case of David Frum, who just got canned from his cozy sinecure at the American Enterprise Institute, probably the second-most-important think tank on the right (after the Heritage Foundation).
The census Web site has long been dreadful, a circa-1995 dump of a place. Which is a pity, because they have some of the richest data in the world, yet to get at it you have to go through layers and layers of menus until you reach ... a downloadable excel file. If they had the will (and the time, and the money), they could make their site a cornucopia of informative, accessible, and interactive infographics. But they don't.
I teach a class at a local university, and in preparing for this week's session on health communication campaigns, I came across this bizarre public service announcement from Canada from the 1980s, which appears not to be a parody. The refrain of the song goes, "Drugs, drugs, drugs. Which are good, which are bad? Drugs, drugs drugs. Ask your mom or ask your dad!" The somewhat mixed message is that there are some drugs we get from the doctor, which are good and help us feel better when we're sick. Then there are other drugs which are bad, because they might get you in trouble with the law -- as evidenced by the world's friendliest cops, who apparently will punish you if they catch you with any by dancing around with you.
In today's New York Times, Brendan Nyhancautions Democrats not to convince themselves that now that health-care reform has passed, people will stop believing in death panels and socialist takeovers. "While some of the more outlandish rumors may dissipate, it is likely that misperceptions will linger for years, hindering substantive debate over the merits of the country's new health care system. The reasons are rooted in human psychology."