What Explains The Rise In Public Distrust In Government Institutions?

Far from being an existential crisis, the recent rise in public distrust in government is easily explained.

Jim Geraghty argues that the past 15 years or so have seen a dramatic decline in Americans faith in government institutions:

Think back to about fourteen or fifteen years ago, and everything you thought you knew at that moment.

You knew no president would be so reckless that he would get caught having sex with an intern in the Oval Office.

You may have worried about your kid’s safety at school, but you knew two alienated teenagers couldn’t turn their rage into a massacre.

You “knew” that the winner of the presidential election was the candidate who got the most votes.

You knew absentee ballots get counted, whether or not the race was close or not. You knew a vote was a vote, and “dimpled chad” was the kid in your child’s kindergarten class photo.

When you looked out at the New York City skyline, you knew it would look the same the next day.

(…)

You knew that recessions usually ended within a year; they didn’t drag on, with high unemployment, year after year after year…

You figured you could pick up your copy of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Rocky Mountain News, or the Christian Science Monitor every day until you died and never see those events in the headlines. It was about as likely as a federally-funded community group offering assistance to child prostitution rings.

The past fifteen years have been one rude awakening after another, where one unspoken assumption after another kept getting smacked around by a bipolar furious reality.

Noah-Kristula Green agrees with Geraghty, but notes that it isn’t entirely true that public faith in government has been on a consistent decline:

The American National Election Studies (ANES) measures how much Americans trust the government and has a “Trust in Government Index” which weighs the answers they get from their survey questions such as (paraphrasing) ” How much of the time do you think you can trust the government in Washington to do what is right?” or “Do you think that quite a few of the people running the government are crooked?”

Here’s a chart showing the ANES index from the 1958  to the present:

While it’s true that the general trend in the index has been downward over the past 53 years, there have been several times when it peaked, indicating that trust in government was on the rise. It happened in the early 60s, the mid-80s, and the late-90s to early 2000s. The valley’s have been in the late 60s to early 70s, the early 90s, and now. It shouldn’t take too much thought to figure out what these time periods all tend to have in common. For the most part the periods during which the public faith in government was on the upswing coincided with times of a booming economy and a President who is genuinely popular. The declines coincide with times of economic decline, unpopular wars, and unpopular Presidents.

None of this should be surprising, but it does sort of put the lie to Geraghty’s assumption that we’re in some kind of cycle of decline that began 15 years ago. For one thing, many of the factors he cites as contributing to this decline, such as the Lewinsky scandal, occurred while confidence in government was on the upswing, and there no indication that they had any real impact on trust in government. The things that have include events like Watergate, the Vietnam war, the Iraq War, and a bad economy.

What this suggests is that the current downturn in public confidence in government has more to do with the state of the nation and the world than it does with some existential crisis of democracy. Of course, given the fact that we’re currently in a situation where slow economic growth and high unemployment are likely to be the norm for at least the next three or four years, which means that this is going to be something far more similar to the period after Watergate than the momentary blip in the early 1990s.  Politically, I’d suggest that this means we’re in for many more years of the kind of polarization and anger that people have spent so much time complaining about over the past year or so.

FILED UNDER: Politics 101, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Several things occur to me. First, generational change. The “Greatest Generation” has been replaced by the “Never Trust Anybody Over 30” generation who are now themselves nearly double that.

    Second, publicity. As John Godfrey Saxe said a century and a half ago, like sausages laws aren’t nearly as appealing when you see how they’re made. Nowadays we’ve got 24 hour a day 7 day a week coverage. The process looks even less appealing than it did 150 years ago.

    Third, the Sesame Street factor. We have short attention spans. We expect everything to be resolved while we’re paying attention.

    Fourth, the Internet is forever. It’s a lot easier to keep track of what somebody said last year, the year before, or ten years ago than it used to be.

  2. ponce says:

    Well, we have a well liked president in the White House and he’s winding down our unpopular wars.

    Just need the economy to pick a little at the line start pointing up again.

  3. Dave Schuler says:

    BTW, I include what I suspect any number of commenters will respond, that Republicans are telling people how awful government is, under “publicity”.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    @ponce:

    I don’t know. To my eye there appears to be a long term downward trend, peaks in confidence getting progressively lower. You might be able to explain short term changes in confidence with the business cycle but not the long term one.

  5. Wayne says:

    Saying one entity finding put to a lie another entity finding is risky at best.

    Saying that IMO the ANES index and your statement that the state of the economy has a good deal to do with it, is much more accurate than the first piece to a point. However if you look at decline in the highs and the low, I would say public trust in Government is on the decline. I just don’t agree that it is impacted that greatly by the things the first piece stated. There have always been hardship and crisis throughout history.

    IMO the information age and finding out how often our trusted institute like the Government and MSM have lied to us has had a much greater affect on our trust. Look how many times the government made promises like a balance budget, border security and such and went back on it. The MSM has been caught doctoring photographs and documents. They have been caught in lies again and again.

    Also the fact the Government is much more involved with our lives creates more opportunities for us to see them screw up our lives.

  6. PD Shaw says:

    @Dave Schuler: Yes, but it looks like the last two peaks in confidence occurred under Republicans. Perhaps Republicans can succesfully govern for only 2-6 years at a time before the wheels fall apart.

  7. Wayne says:

    @Dave
    Democrats have state that government is awful. Look at what they say when there is a Republican President.

    How many times have Democrats held protest against government compared to Republicans?

  8. Dave Schuler says:

    @Wayne:

    Nah. They just say that Republicans are awful.

  9. Tano says:

    There seem to be three big downturns, correlating with the Vietnam war, Reagan’ second term (Iran-contra, S&L ???). and Bush starting a war in the wrong place.

  10. Sam says:

    Failure?

  11. Sam says:

    @Dave Schuler:
    “has been replaced by the “Never Trust Anybody Over 30″ generation who are now themselves nearly double that.”

    Our grand parents and their parents said the same thing. Your children will say the same thing.

  12. mannning says:

    For my money, I’d second Dave’s posts, and add a twist. There seems to be far more open antagonism and polarization between Christian Republicans of various stripes and hues and Atheistic and Agnostic Progressives since WWII, with university graduates more biased in the progressive direction today and far less inclined towards enthusiastic patriotism. This antagonism and polarization is strongly aided by a heavily-biased MSM towards the left that the web and radio have not yet counterbalanced. A progressive, even socialistically minded administration today leaves many citizens frustrated and bewildered and waiting for their chance to vote again to regain a measure of fiscal and social confidence in the government and a certain moral stability and common sense as well.

    If the chart had included 2010, my bet would put the result well below the current x-axis.

  13. john personna says:

    I think it’s 1/2 that politicians aren’t doing with institutions what they could, and 1/2 that institutions aren’t built for rapid change.

    Write a new corporate tax code. Go ahead, I dare you.

  14. Wayne says:

    @Dave
    LoL
    Next you will be telling me all conspiracies theorist are Republicans:)

  15. An Interested Party says:

    BTW, I include what I suspect any number of commenters will respond, that Republicans are telling people how awful government is, under “publicity”.

    Exactly right…when you have many members of one of our country’s main two political parties who seemingly do nothing but trash government at every opportunity (while members of said party seek to get reelected to government again, again, and again), of course a sizeable portion of the public is going to distrust government…

  16. ponce says:

    I don’t know. To my eye there appears to be a long term downward trend, peaks in confidence getting progressively lower.

    I disagree.

    The chart Doug posted is rather misleading (big surprise, the boy can’t help it).

    If you look at the underlying data, you’ll see that Americans’ responses “Some of the Time” plus “Most of the Time” to the question “Do you trust the Federal Government?” has consistently been in the high 80%-low 90% range for the past 50 years:

    The response “None of the Time” has remained in 0-4% for over 50 years.

    http://electionstudies.org/nesguide/toptable/tab5a_1.htm

  17. samwide says:

    HUD to the Rescue: Evicted 101 Year-Old Woman Saved from Foreclosure

    On Monday, Texana Hollis was evicted from her home in southwest Detroit where she had lived for sixty years because her son failed to pay the mortgage (he apparently took out a reverse mortgage to pay for repairs for the house; the money was not so used). Court officers came to her house, removed her and left her sitting outside on the sidewalk next to her furniture and world

    Fortunately for Ms. Hollis, the government—yes, the evil Freedom-sucking government—took pity on her and decided to help. A Department of House and Urban Development spokesperson announced yesterday that it would pay the property taxes and allow Ms. Hollis to return to her home.

    Of course, it’s this woman’s tough luck to have a douche-bag jerk of a son, but in no way should the taxpayers have to bail out this 101-year-old woman. It’s stories like this that weaken the public’s trust in government. I mean what kind of a standard does this set for other similarly situated plus-100-year-olds who find themselves sitting on the curb surrounded by the possessions of a lifetime and no place to go? Use of taxpayers’ funds for this bailout will only encourage future bailouts of a similar nature. Talk about moral hazard. Get some responsibility, people.

  18. Purring_Oaks2 says:

    Perspective from a old frt. We sent the jobs overseas, we allowed the congress to be bought by the lobby groups, the real estate farce by wall street, wars started with lies and you think we should be happy? We the people are asked to vote, but, the real power is in the money.

  19. anjin-san says:

    Also the fact the Government is much more involved with our lives creates more opportunities for us to see them screw up our lives.

    Well, I am 52, and I don’t feel like the government is “more involved” in my life than it ever was, unless they are spying on me and I am not aware of it. (certainly not impossible) And I don’t see how they have “screwed up” my life, which actually works pretty well.

    I do think that a lot of folks who are dissatisfied with their lot in life are quicker to blame the government these days than they are to take a hard look at the person in the mirror.

  20. MarkedMan says:

    People vote for Republicans. The Republicans get into power and trash the place. The Republicans run against the government, pretending that the trashing happened on its own or is the other guys fault. The MSM goes along. People vote for Republicans. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

  21. samwide says:

    @mannning:

    A progressive, even socialistically minded administration today leaves many citizens frustrated and bewildered and waiting for their chance to vote again to regain a measure of fiscal and social confidence in the government and a certain moral stability and common sense as well.

    Ah fer crissakes. As fine a piece of right-wing cant, wishful thinking, Tinkerbellism as you’ll ever hope to see. I’m sure all you Godsmacked felt the same way before Bush was elected. How’d that work out?

  22. Scott O. says:

    What Explains The Rise In Public Distrust In Government Institutions?

    Propaganda?

  23. Eric Florack says:

    So, it’s not that government has a record of failure which is unmatched?

  24. Scott O. says:

    @Eric Florack: Thanks for the example

  25. ponce says:

    So, it’s not that government has a record of failure which is unmatched?

    The fringe right whiners will never forgive President Obama for getting Osama bin Laden.

    Never.

  26. anjin-san says:

    So, it’s not that government has a record of failure which is unmatched?

    Hey bit, I really liked the picture of the pickup truck on your blog recently. You know, the one with “All I want from the government is to stay the hell out of my wallet.” on the back window…

    So what did you tell this truck driving fanboy?

    A. Without the roads the government builds and maintains, your groovy truck is basically a really big paperweight.

    B. You sir, are a great American.

    My money is on B.

  27. Bob says:

    The real problem of late is that the political elite have ignored the voters and done whatever they wanted, Obamacare being the most obvious example.

    Polls show the voyers feel that Washington has no real interest in what the voters think.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    Polls show the voyers feel that Washington has no real interest in what the voters think.

    How interesting that you should write that, as polls show that people want government programs like Social Security and Medicare modified, but not ended, taxes to be raised on the wealthy, and like many of the individual parts of PPACA…meanwhile, there are many members of a certain political party who are against all of these things…the same party that does so much to trash government…

  29. WR says:

    @mannning: “Moral stability” — does that include lying to the American people to start a war and torturing people? Or does it just mean not being a lefty?

  30. mannning says:

    @samwide:

    Now that you bring it up, Bush presented a serious problem. What he got right he got very right, so right that Obama is following his lead on many things. But what he got wrong, and there was a lot, he got very wrong indeed! No point in enumerating his sins here, nor enumerating the current President’s many, many sins, but one hopes the next Republican President will do one hell of a lot better and salvage the nation from the present idiocy and spendthrift errors.

    He will need massive help to elect a Republican Senate to go along with the House, and the insight to clean out the administration of leftie hangovers. The further benefit to this will be the appointment to the Supreme Court of a right-leaning justice, thereby giving the right a majority. One might believe then that many if not most of the leftwing edifices in the government (think EPA, etc.) will fall one-by-one over perhaps as fast as five or ten years, or at the very least be capped or neutered when found to be unaffordable, Utopian, or both.

  31. mannning says:

    @WR:

    No one should accept a President the lies to the people, especially one that does it with the frequency and baldness of Obama.

  32. jan says:

    @An Interested Party:

    How interesting that you should write that, as polls show that people want government programs like Social Security and Medicare modified, but not ended, taxes to be raised on the wealthy….

    It’s human nature to want what you have secured, while looking over the fence at your neighbor and complaining they have too much, and consequently can give more.

    People have come to depend on the entitlements of SS and medicare. For the most part, though, I think it is dawning on a greater number of these people that such programs are in trouble. So, they seem to accept some merky concept of reform that, in real time, probably does not mean they expect such reform will touch any of their benefits. “Reconfigure someone’s else’s.”

    The same attitude prevails on taxation. For the most part those who want higher taxes aren’t those who will be engaged in giving more. Even Warren Buffet, stepping up to the plate and chastizing his own tax bracket for not paying enough, was a hypocrite in that his company owes back taxes of almost a billion dollars.

    Oh, the plight of being a limousine liberal, in balancing guilt with selfishness.

  33. anjin-san says:

    leftwing edifices in the government (think EPA, etc.) will fall one-by-one over perhaps as fast as five or ten years

    I know I pine for the good old days when rivers caught on fire.

    As a lifelong observer of the San Francisco Bay, I can tell you for sure that things look a hell of a lot better than they did when I was a kid. The eastern shore of the bay used to be choked with garbage and old tires. Now it’s pristine. Lots of pelicans & egrets. The south bay wetlands are being restored, repairing damage that goes back to the gold rush.

    When I was younger you almost never saw hawks. Now we get them in the back yard. My wife sees bald eagles when she is hiking. The creeks were a mess when I was a kid. I sure as hell never saw any salmon. now you see huge salmon, and we have a family of beavers living in a creek in the middle of a nearby town.

    And what does the GOP want to do? Return stewardship of the environment to Chevron and Exxon. Good plan guys!

  34. jan says:

    @mannning:

    No one should accept a President the lies to the people, especially one that does it with the frequency and baldness of Obama.

    But, people like WR don’t see any lies except those they congregate as coming from republicans.

  35. jan says:

    @anjin-san:

    And what does the GOP want to do? Return stewardship of the environment to Chevron and Exxon. Good plan guys!

    Why does the rhetoric here seem to have the motion of a pendulum. It swings either to one extreme side orr the other, rarely settling in the middle somewhere.

    The GOP has hardly been the sole supporter or beneficiary of big oil. For instance, in 2008 BP’s political contributions stuffed Obama’s campaign chests. Corporations, of all colors, go with who they think are the winners, not with any party brand. Big business is fickle and free-spirited. And, environmental concerns are not the relegated only to the dems. Extreme environmental regulatins certainly appeal to the liberal agenda more. But, polution, trashing the environment, being a disposable society has been looked down upon for years by the populace are large.

  36. mannning says:

    There will always be individual cases and circumstances that call for compassionate responses from our government, starting locally and progressing to the top. In a nation of over 300 million citizens and an unknown number of aliens, the odds are stacked that we will see many similar or even worse cases to the 101 year old woman cited above, if only because of a built-in time lag in the responses. I hope we will have such a compassionate government in the future, whatever the party. There will be further Katrinas and other disasters as well which will likewise test the compassion of our leaders.

  37. ponce says:

    No one should accept a President the lies to the people, especially one that does it with the frequency and baldness of Obama.

    So says the party of Richard Nixon

  38. mannning says:

    @jan:

    Jan, there is a huge difference between effective stewardship of the natural resources of our nation, and the basically out-of-control attempts by some in the EPA to save habitats for nearly extinct bugs or animals on extensive tracts of important and valuable lands. I am all for proper disposal of trash and for cleaning up pollution, preserving forrest lands, clean air, and so on, but it is the excesses that I would stop (and that especially includes the AGW thrust). I am informed that there have been millions of species of life on earth since the beginning: we stand to lose many of the currently existing species regardless of any effort we might undertake. Thus, to me, saving one insignificant bug species at great cost out of thousands and thousands that might be selected before they die out is rather senseless.

    Major species are an entirely different matter, but there, too, we may only be able to preserve a small herd of many large animals, such as in animal preserves, zoos and fishing free zones at sea. We do not control many areas where large animals are either destructive to people, or crops, or are essential for food and clothing and other uses. The Bengal Tiger is a case in point . Their number is almost beneath sustainability, and this magnificent animal is being hunted to extinction.

  39. mannning says:

    @ponce:

    So say the people when they are given the truth.

  40. Moderate Mom says:

    @samwide:

    Picking up crap from ABL at Balloon Juice? Step up your game.

  41. ponce says:

    So say the people when they are given the truth.

    Manning,

    You’re full of crap and you know it.

    Obama’s probably the most honest president we’ve had since Truman..

    I’d have more respect for you fringe right shouters if you just admitted you’ll never accept a black president.

  42. anjin-san says:

    The GOP has hardly been the sole supporter or beneficiary of big oil.

    That’s true. You want to know the difference between Democrats and Republicans? To describe it as I see it, I have to get a little crass.

    In terms of relationships with big business, Democrats are pretty much naked on all fours saying “give it to me big boy. Oh, yea, do it again!”

    Republicans, on the other hand, sold their bodies long ago, and have since utterly sold their souls. They are owned, lock, stock and barrel.

  43. anjin-san says:

    Major species are an entirely different matter

    Do you really consider yourself qualified to judge what species is “major” and which is minor? Or expendible?

    There really is no limit to your ego, is there? In God’s eyes, the mackrel may be his supreme creation, and man an experiment who’s outcome is still in doubt. Do you honesty think you have the wisdom and insight into the big picture to be able to judge if a species is worthy of survival?

    I kind of doubt it, because it seems when you look at a pretty hillside your most profound thought is “they could build some bitchin’ condos there.”

  44. anjin-san says:

    Why does the rhetoric here seem to have the motion of a pendulum. It swings either to one extreme side orr the other, rarely settling in the middle somewhere.

    An interesting statement, considering how much cutting and pasting you do from far right websites. If you want to be considered a moderate, act like one. Right now you are just another fake.

    As for extreme, well, please detail the factual errors in my post. Or detail legitimate efforts by the GOP to protect the environment.

    I will admit to being extreme to the extent that I do not want to see the greatest natural harbor in the world, a place of unmatched beauty, return to the sewer-like condition it was in 40 years ago. I don’t want aquatic birds going extinct so that Olin can make more money.

  45. mannning says:

    @anjin-san:

    Truth is a grand weapon. Some day you will understand that, and stop shilling for one of the most dishonest Presidents of all time. A true welsher, he is!

    Do we now have an Atheist deciding which fish God thinks is the greatest? I decided nothing, but merely stated my view of the inane positions of some in the green movement, that run counter to all logic. Seems you aspire to the same illogic, but that was quite expected of you. I suggest you join the anti-whaling crowd and go chase the whalers around in the Antarctic.

  46. anjin-san says:

    Do we now have an Atheist deciding which fish God thinks is the greatest?

    I’m not an atheist, but you apparently are an idiot. The point is, that a human being who thinks he understands the big picture is a fool indeed. Your noise about “major species” shows you to be a member of that club.

    I decided nothing,

    Really? Sounded like you decided that some species just don’t matter much. Sorry, but that is above your pay grade.

    BTW, why don’t you detail all of Obama’s lies for us while you are blowing hot air? Be specific, and provide actual proof of his “lies” You are talking a lot of talk, but not showing any walk…

  47. john personna says:

    Heh. I’d say cynicism is inspired by current conditions, but if you feel paranoia, see a doc.

  48. rodney dill says:

    Information. We have a lot of information on what is really going on.

  49. Moosebreath says:

    A decades-long effort by one party to delegitimize government institutions, aided and abetted by a so-called liberal media which likes nothing more than controversy and gladly will repeat both sides of any story with no attempt to say one is lying through their teeth.

  50. WR says:

    @jan: Um, Jan, it’s YOUR party that wants to eliminate the EPA. It’s YOUR party that is trying to eliminate all environmental regulations and allow companies to dump their waste wherever they want. So this ludicous “oh, but both sides are corrupt” nonsense is simply ludicrous, even compared to your usual cuts and pastes. YOUR party is trying to bring back pollution, and in return they’re hoping for campaign contributions. That is YOUR party. It’s not “both sides do it.” It’s… well, it’s YOU.

  51. WR says:

    @mannning: I am in the anti-whaling crowd. Why would I support the needless slaughter of the last remaining specimens of this amazing animal? So we can use whale oil to power our lamps? What possible reason is there to support this practice?

  52. Scott O. says:

    @rodney dill:
    Information. We have a lot of information, much of it false, on what is really going on.

    FIFY

  53. Jerry says:

    I know for me, I lost confidence in anything government once I started to live in the DC area.

  54. john personna says:

    @mannning:

    FWIW, you are broadly making the argument that loss of biodiversity does not matter to humans.

    It does actually, both in dollars and cents as well as warm fuzzies. Loss of fisheries is both sad and costly. Look what we did to the Orange Roughy. When there are no more Roughy, no one gets to catch them, no one gets to eat them.

    It isn’t only the directly economic species that matter either. Studies show that general loss of biodiversity weakens systems, and leads to other losses, in a cascade. Just as lumber harvesting led to salmon decline.

  55. mannning says:

    @JP

    You don’t read well, do you? One bug doesn’t biodiversity make or break. And there is zip any of us can do about nature’s way of terminating species all by herself, as she has done for literally billions of years and for many thousands of species.

    @A-S

    Guess you don’t read well either. Both of you lefties are practitioners of the art of false generalizations. Too bad, but quite an expected ploy from you both. But the amusement you have offered me is over now. It has become name-calling time.

    Oh, by the way, there are several rather thick recent books documenting Obama’s sins, and the sins of the fully leftist Congress he had with him, that you can pick up at Barnes and Nobles, so I needn’t waste my time repeating their exposes here. Besides, James would not appreciate the large volume of text that would take.

    One book I particularly like is Thomas Sowell’s “Deconstructing America” which makes the case in really simple and straightforward 10th grade language so that (almost) anyone can understand, even lefties. Your reactions to Sowell are easily predictable. You will attack the author not the facts presented: yet another slithery, slimy leftie trick. The logical notion of answering each of the critiques therein will immediately escape you.

    Also try David Limbaugh’s “Crimes Against Liberty” if you dare, and be sure to answer in detail each and every one of his well-documented, factual accusations right here for “us” ( which I take to mean the collective of lefties that post here). But please spare us your opinions of David Limbaugh. Or his brother. Those opinions are soooo predictable!

    TA TA

  56. john personna says:

    @mannning:

    You don’t read well, do you? One bug doesn’t biodiversity make or break. And there is zip any of us can do about nature’s way of terminating species all by herself, as she has done for literally billions of years and for many thousands of species.

    Boy, talk about rapidly moving goalposts in succession. Which position are you taking, “one bug” or terminating “thousands of species?”

    You should know that we have been losing species much more rapidly than “one bug” … I know this is actual, you know, science, but stay with me:

    During the last century, decreases in biodiversity have been increasingly observed. In 2007, German Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel cited estimates that up to 30% of all species will be extinct by 2050.[76] Of these, about one eighth of known plant species are threatened with extinction.[77] Estimates reach as high as 140,000 species per year (based on Species-area theory).[78] This figure indicates unsustainable ecological practices, because few species emerge each year.[citation needed] Almost all scientists acknowledge that the rate of species loss is greater now than at any time in human history, with extinctions occurring at rates hundreds of times higher than background extinction rates.[77]

  57. anjin-san says:

    But the amusement you have offered me is over now

    Gosh, I remember when I used to say things like this. Of course I was a junior in high school at the time, so I don’t remember it all that clearly.

  58. WR says:

    @anjin-san: That’s okay, If it’s something a high school junior would say, Jay Tea will post it up here any minute.

  59. mannning says:

    @john personna:

    Thank you…exactly my point! My complaint was about a single bug in a single habitat in Arizona, that the EPA put off limits to builders. What is that one bug in light of the massive species losses all the time? It is senseless. Now you just might put it together in your mind. I rail against such senseless exercises of power by the EPA, whether it be one bug or more. Some suspect there was an ulterior reason for the off limits that had nothing to do with science or biodiversity.

  60. mannning says:

    Fewer and fewer citizens are sleepwalking to the tune of Obama, and his many nefarious deeds are rapidly catching up with him. It seems, however, that few of the resident leftwingers here have bothered to delve into the many books flooding the market to identify, describe and condemn the Obama administration’s crimes, lies, and sins against the nation, all orchestrated by Obama himself. I cited two of these books previously, and challenged commenters to respond to the accusations, documented with supporting evidence, but so far none have done so. I surmise that none here have actually read these books and therefore cannot comment intelligently yet, or else they cannot refute the accusations to begin with. So they either have their heads in the sand or else they confirm their knowledge of the Obama sins by their silence on the specific charges made.

    If you do read and accept these charges, you will feel the dispair for our nation that many now feel, and the utter disgust that you were hoodwinked by a Chicago conman into electing him President. I will not paraphrase these charges here, as I said before, they are far too extensive for simple summaries, and demand to be read in full in each book.

    David Limbaugh’s “Crimes Against Liberty” is perhaps the most complete indictment of this Presidency, and it most certainly answers the question posed here …”What Explains the Rise in Public Distrust of Government” for this administration with great authority and thoroughness.

    I also cautioned commenters not to do the usual attack job on the authors and not the substance. To that caution I would add not to try the other nitpicking tactics either, but comment on the substance, and for the sake of sanity don’t start the “Bush did it too” syndrome. Bush is no longer President. Obama is and he now owns the problems, especially these documented here!

  61. john personna says:

    @mannning:

    You are obviously railing against “one bug” as a straw man, in order to take the eye off the wider biodiversity loss. You are trying to make the claim that species loss is a silly thing to worry about. That they can be rejected out of hand.

  62. mannning says:

    @john personna:

    Gads! You still don’t get it, JP! I am attacking the EPA for its marginal actions where perhaps one insignificant bug costs 100 to 500 acres of development land for the economy. One bug! One of just about any of the much lesser species, for that matter, expecially when there is no overriding scientific or even aesthetic reason to preserve it if virtually no one ever goes to see it except an odd researcher or two in 50 years.

    On the other hand, I was not so devious as you seem to think I was by obfuscating the fact of loss of biodiversity. Simply not true. I have great sympathy for preservation of mammals, many species of birds, and many fish, as I indicated earlier when I stated that we will have to continue to organize preserves and no-fish zones, as well as zoos. When it comes to a few species of bugs out of the millions that exist, however, I see no compelling reason to expend enormous acreage in their defense.

    On the other subject, that of this post, there are still no leftist counters to the condemnations of Obama I cited. Very interesting indeed. One would think that dedicated devotees would have defenses at the ready for such really astounding sins Obama is accused of, but perhaps not. In my mind they are indefensible and in sum sailing very close to impeachable offenses, but I am not up on the legalities of impeachments. The very fact that Obama IS sailing so close to such offenses should be quite enough to ensure his defeat next year.

  63. anjin-san says:

    I am attacking the EPA for its marginal actions where perhaps one insignificant bug costs 100 to 500 acres of development land

    Hell yea! What is the survival of a unique species that is gone, gone forever once extinct, compared to a real estate developer being able to make a few bucks? Besides, Manning does not think “bugs” are very important, so it’s settled, right?

    many species of birds

    Many of which depend on insects for food. The wrong insect species goes missing, suddenly other species are in trouble. Ripple effects & interdependencies. Ecosystems are actually pretty complex, and it is not hard to degrade them to the point where they start to collapse.

    Take bee colony collapse syndrome. If all the bees die, are the Mannings of the world going to pollinate our crops by hand? You up for that duty big fella? Bees are just bugs – right? Oops, why are all those people starving??

    I am curious Manning. What species of birds have you, in your wisdom, decided are expendable? How about fish? Exactly who amongst God’s creatures can we flush according to the book of Manning?

    Pave paradise, put up a parking lot…

  64. mannning says:

    Oh, then let’s save literally every species we can! That is according to the Book of Mannning as modified by angin-san. It won’t be all that many, anyway, since Mother Nature is so prone to interveaning all by herself with stop orders for lots of species yearly, and, I predict that we will lose interest in committing so much effort and resources to this Worldwide SuperZoo program rather quickly when the cost is totaled, and we will thus slow it to a small crawl.

    (Let me know if and when the projected cost of catching, saving, providing adequate habitat for, and caring for your selection of species for years and years tops the national debt, A-S, as we will have quite a lot of valuable land to buy, policing to do, boats, submersibles, planes and trucks to buy, building and fencing to do, both on land and in water, and lots of people to train and employ, crops to plant, tend and harvest for their food…etc.etc.)

    Oh! Do leave room for our burgeoning population, though, won’t you? Or is that too much to ask?

    New book about Obama is out! “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President” by Ron Suskind. The reviews are very good; if you are a conservative, that is. Obama is well on track to be accorded the highly dubious honor of being the worst one term President in history…so far, that is.

  65. mannning says:

    Ye Gods! When you think about it, saving species is indeed costly, and impacting of man as well.

  66. anjin-san says:

    since Mother Nature is so prone to interveaning all by herself with stop orders for lots of species yearl

    So what you are basically saying is that you are too stupid to know the difference between a species going extinct due to the natural order of things, and a species going extinct because of human activity such as over hunting and fishing, destroying habitat with bulldozers, adding toxins to the environment and so on. Got it.

    Run along skippy, I am sure that there are some websites detailing Obama’s attempt to control your mind via chemtrials that need your attention.

  67. john personna says:

    @mannning:

    Do you really believe the scientists to that degree? Well, I know it is a straw man that all the EPA does all day is identify a “single bug” but let’s go with it for a moment.

    If they find a bug that goes with a housing development, do you really think that’s all that goes? That there are no “unknown unknowns” and that bug doesn’t feed a bird that feeds a snake, or whatever?

    It is a perverse and overly literal in science that you’d think one bug is exactly one bug, and that it isn’t part of a cascade or a broader picture.

    I really find your strawman, as I say, perverse on two levels. First that you’d believe the scientists have that God-like view, and then that you’d believe damage is so isolated.

  68. john personna says:

    (Generally, what the EPA does, when not filtered through mannning glasses, is identify critical biological systems, like say the last remaining natural prairie in an area. They might talk about a bug in it, and press might seize on the bug … but seriously, read their concerns, and it will be about systems.)

  69. mannning says:

    Back to the lousy President problem, which is the cause of great discontent in the land today. Note well that none of the leftists that post here have attempted any answers to Limbaugh’s efforts. I suppose that includes angin-san, ponce, JP and several others who I believe have cast themselves as to the left.

    The indictment of Obama in David Limbaugh’s book “Crimes Against Liberty” is scathing. So scathing that lesser narcissists would have wilted under the fire, but our president is strong, supremely arrogant, aloof, and idealistic, so much so that he was given a probable diagnosis as a malignant narcissist by one psychiatrist that observed him, and largely concurred with by “The Hammer”–also a psychiatrist. A third psychiatrist set forth some nine or ten strong signs of a malignant narcissist and stated that he saw in Obama at least five or more of them. What a great attribute for a “Man of the People”.The objective descriptions given for the attitudes and actions of such an extreme case fit Obama perfectly.

    It is no wonder that a majority of citizens have sensed that something is radically wrong with Obama and his programs, and have begun to drop him from their consideration. The charm has worn off for all but the most dedicated leftist ideologues and those still mesmerized by Obama’s teleprompter speeches.

  70. mannning says:

    I would only ask where it stops? How much of our land must be devoted to preserving ecological systems that as far as I can see is an infinite progression from bug One, to All endangered species.

  71. john personna says:

    @mannning:

    I would only ask where it stops? How much of our land must be devoted to preserving ecological systems that as far as I can see is an infinite progression from bug One, to All endangered species.

    It comes down to what kind of world we think the 2nd or 3rd generations out should inherit. Are we comfortable with “no coral reefs for you!” or do we want to draw the line somewhere closer …

    Our legal system and our political system encourage activists to pick the most “charismatic” fauna they can in a contested region, and then use that as their hook. But it’s kind of open knowledge that it isn’t really about “charismatic megafauna.” It’s about holding together natural systems which won’t crash.

  72. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: Actually I didn’t tell him anything. But perhaps you’ve forgotten roads are written into constitution?

  73. anjin-san says:

    @bit

    Ah the constitution. As I remember it, during the Bush era when they were using the Constitution to line a bird cage in Cheney’s office, one of your mantras was “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.”

  74. mannning says:

    @ JP

    Our legal system and our political system encourage activists to pick the most “charismatic” fauna they can in a contested region, and then use that as their hook. But it’s kind of open knowledge that it isn’t really about “charismatic megafauna.” It’s about holding together natural systems which won’t crash

    I was just reading about the diversion of water by the EPA that starved the San Joaquin Valley of irrigation, for some of the now formally richest farmland in the world, directly into the Pacific Ocean, in order to improve the habitat of certain endangered fish species. This has created a financial disaster for CA farmers with the loss of hundreds of thousands of acres of prime farmland. Which natural systems are more important to man? My vote is for the farmers. Our administration would not respond to the natural disaster this has caused to CA and the farmers affected, and no relief was forthcoming. This is not America working correctly.

    Seems a perfect example of the arrogant ways of liberal scientists and this administration by diddling with the economy of a state for the sake of some species of fish, which damage has cost millions and millions of dollars. and destroyed a beautiful region of farmland that was already sufferling from draught with no compensation. Here is exactly the kind of situation I was railing against but much larger in scope than I had imagined. If this is the kind of environmentalism we are in for, I am utterly convinced it has to be reined in, capped, and controlled ASAP.
    http://www.examiner.com/county-conservative-in-milwaukee/the-san-joaquin-valley-and-the-epa-are-a-harbinger-of-things-to-come