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Conservative Projection Syndrome

June 25th, 2014 4 comments

This out of Wisconsin:

Robert Monroe, a 50-year-old Shorewood health insurance executive, was charged Friday with 13 felonies related to his voting a dozen times in five elections between 2011 and 2012 using his own name as well as that of his son and his girlfriend’s son.

… Monroe was considered by investigators to be the most prolific multiple voter in memory. He was a supporter of Gov. Scott Walker and state Sen. Alberta Darling, both Republicans, and allegedly cast five ballots in the June 2012 election in which Walker survived a recall challenge.

According to the John Doe records, Monroe claimed to have a form of temporary amnesia and did not recall the election day events when confronted by investigators.

Amnesia. Right. Because forgetting that you cast your vote in one state five times causes you to vote in two other states. Under different names.

I’m pretty sure something else caused this, and I’m pretty sure I know what it is. There’s a phenomenon amongst conservatives to accuse liberals of a wrongdoing, claim it’s destroying the country—and then proceed to do that very thing yourself, to an extreme. Conservatives feel justified in doing this along a specific train of thought: Democrats did it, they got away with it, so why can’t I do it in spades?

We’ve seen this a lot of times before. Democrats used the filibuster—in what was truthfully a limited fashion—to stop Bush’s most extremist judicial nominations, which he repeatedly nominated for court seats. The Republican response? Claim that Democrats are abusing the filibuster, call that the worst crime in history, and then, once they lost power, use the filibuster to block every last thing in sight.

Republicans accused Democrats in 2006 of being so adamantly hostile to Bush that, if elected to power in Congress, they would hold endless investigations of Bush and would try to impeach him, all of this being a dire threat to America. Democrats won and did not investigate or impeach—but in 2010, when Republicans won the House, they began exactly that process, to extremes.

They claim that Democrats are on a campaign to “annihilate” the Republican Party, despite no evidence to support that—and then launch campaigns to destroy traditional Democratic power bases, such as unions and teachers, vilify liberal causes, deny any compromise for the purpose of destroying any chance of opposition success, and even attempt to destroy the very names for the other side—“liberal” becomes “The ‘L’ Word,” and “Democratic” becomes “democRAT.”

They claim that Democrats are reckless spenders responsible for the debt, and then go on a spending spree that takes a budget surplus and transforms it into a (second!) Republican-generated record-breaking national debt. They claim that Democrats are “takers,” a then acquire more government handouts for red states than the more-productive blue states are given. They claim that Democrats voted for Obama just because he is black, and then vault men like Michael Steele, Herman Cain, and Alan Keyes to high-profile roles in the shadow on Obama. They cry “class warfare!” and say it’s tearing the nation apart, and then seek to destroy the minimum wage and actually raise taxes for poor people even in light of a supposedly inviolable “no tax hike” pledge.

And then, on the issue of election fraud itself, Republicans claim Democrats steal elections, their claim based on nothing more than rumor and conspiracy theories… and then launch the grandest, most thinly-veiled nationwide campaign for election fraud imaginable.

The list goes on and on and on. This is what conservatives do.

So why did this Robert Monroe guy think it was perfectly fine for him to commit exactly the kind of voter fraud that conservatives claim, without any evidence whatsoever, is rampant amongst liberals? My guess is, this exact phenomenon: conservatives make up ludicrous false claims about liberals, believe their own fairy tales, and then feel perfectly justified to do exactly what they have railed against, only to more egregious extremes than they imagined liberals were doing.

We already have ODS (Obama Derangement Syndrome); what we see here is another conservative malady—call it “CPS”: Conservative Projection Syndrome.

The Stimulus, The Budget, Employment, and the Election: Conservatives Are Lying Their Asses Off, Obama Is Doing Great, And Here Are the Numbers to Prove It

October 26th, 2010 9 comments

To hear Republicans talk about it, Obama has done nothing about the economy, has not created any jobs, has busted the budget with unprecedented spending, and is responsible for the unemployment rate being what it is. The stimulus, they maintain, is a failure, and the people are suffering because of Obama’s inaction.

The problem with these accusations is that they are all one-hundred-percent, Grade-A horse shit. Bush wrecked the economy, and Obama and the Democrats, despite massive Republican obstructionism, have managed to pull off a minor miracle. And here are the numbers to prove it.

Before on this blog, I have refuted the claim about the stimulus’ failure; the numbers speak volumes–here’s a chart I published six months back:

With no other notable effect acting on jobs other than the stimulus, it would take huge leaps of legerdemain to explain the turnaround seen here in any other way than to recognize the stimulus as successful. As a result, Republicans simply ignore it, acting as if pulling the country out of a deep hole–their deep hole–is meaningless because the Democrats haven’t made the economy rocket into the sky yet. And sadly, Democrats–who should be plastering this chart up everywhere in sight–are letting their best advertising slip away as the conservative narrative takes hold.

Yes, the surge in jobs and/or the halt in layoffs sputtered soon after I made this chart, and since then the numbers have hovered below zero. However, this is pretty much what was predicted back in early 2009 by those who said the stimulus, as finally passed, wasn’t enough–they were 100% spot-on correct–and let’s not ignore the fact that we are substantially better off now than we were when Bush left office.

Now, how about the budget? That’s another GOP talking point–that things were going OK under Bush, at least tolerably well–but then Obama came in an exploded spending and the deficit. Let’s explode that lie, shall we? Here’s a chart [source data] showing expenditures and receipts over the past six years:


Ouch. Sure enough, deficits have exploded, and spending is up. Yes, spending is more of a straight line, but it’s not supported by revenue. Looks like under Bush, the deficit was under control, and then recently, under Obama, things have gotten out of hand.

Until, of course, you draw a precise line showing when Bush left and Obama took over:


What do you know. The deficit exploded under Bush, not Obama; Obama has been holding relatively steady. His spending is increasing at about the same rate it was under Bush. Also notice that the deficit is not that much greater now than it was when Obama took over–the arrows show the deficit when the transition occurred, laid over the latest numbers and a year before Bush left office. Obama, it turns out, has not really added much at all relative to what he was given. In contrast, Bush more than doubled the deficit in his last year in office.

So much for the “Obama and the Democrats have wrecked the budget” lie. Not to mention that soon after Obama came in to office and deployed the stimulus, the recession ended and government receipts started trending upward again. How about that.

Another tack taken by the Republicans is the unemployment rate; their claim is that since the stimulus did not take the rate down to the optimistic projections of the Obama administration, Obama therefore owns the unemployment rate–he is, they say, responsible for it.

But let’s take a look at that chart over time as well–red represents Bush months, blue for Obama:


Despite the fact that the trend and momentum started and gained steam fully under Bush, it doesn’t look too great for Obama here–when he came in, the rate was just under 8%, then it went up to 10%, and now is hovering between 9% and 10%. Republicans have picked up on this, adding fuel to their criticisms.

One problem: the unemployment rate lags behind improvements in the economy, usually by about three quarters. Apply that to the chart, and you get this:


Seen this way, one finds that not only was Obama not responsible for the 10%, he has actually lowered unemployment since he got into office. This would not be a surprise to anyone aware of the job trends since the stimulus began. Of course, this doesn’t make things all rosy–we’re still in a bad place, and slightly better than catastrophic is still terrible.

However, that’s why the unemployment rate seemed to go the opposite direction of the job surge: not only were we delayed by nine months or so, but in addition to that, we spent a year in negative territory–despite the fact that things were getting way, way better, we were still losing jobs up until late ’09. Thus the reversal in unemployment trends has been tepid so far.

So, let’s pause for a quick review: Conservatives say the stimulus is a failure. The facts say it was a resounding success, reversing the horrific nosedive that Bush had put us in. Conservatives say that Obama exploded spending and destroyed the budget. The facts show that Bush did all of that, and under Obama, spending has increased at the same general rate it did under Bush, but deficit increases have slowed greatly. Conservatives say that Obama made unemployment rise to 10% and hasn’t done a thing to change that. The facts say that Bush drove unemployment up, and that Obama stopped the trend and has slowly been wrestling the number down.

The difference is like night and day–Bush wrecked the economy, Obama has been bringing it back under control. And now Republicans are trying to blame the guy who has been helping for all the damage that Republicans wrought on the economy.

OK, back to the unemployment numbers, and where they will go. Now, the stimulus surge came to an end after May, the month in which we gained about 430,000 jobs. There was a 4-month period from February to May when the surge continued upwards, and then things went dead from June, since which time we’ve lost roughly 100,000 jobs a month.

If unemployment lags as predicted, this will be bad timing for the Democrats, and very good for Republicans: if they win the House in November, it will probably be to news that unemployment is dipping, a trend that should continue until early 2011. They would, of course, attempt to take full credit for the change, acting as if it were the euphoria over their election wins and the expectation that they would pass tax cuts for the wealthy that spurred the gains–despite the fact that it would be the tail end of the stimulus and the special employment due to the census. Even more ironically, the trend would have continued far upwards and might even have taken us out of our dire economic straits had not the Republicans cut the stimulus down to well below what it should have been.

Nor would I be surprised if (a) the downturn in unemployment ends somewhere around February or March 2011, and (b) Republicans attempt to blame it on the Democrats for not going along with all the crap they will try to ram through the House the moment they have the gavel.

I don’t have a sterling reputation for political and economic prognostication, though, so let’s see how this plays out. In the meantime, it looks like Americans are blaming the bad economy on those who have done a good job repairing it so far, and are set to hand over power to the party that caused the worst of it and has hampered the recovery. You get what you deserve. Too bad about all the people who you’re dragging down with you.


April 13th, 2010 Comments off

Democrats voted for the person, and we got Obama. Republicans (at least the politicians) voted for the color and got Steele. And the irony is that conservatives accused Democrats of voting for Obama because he is black, ignoring the charisma and the message, instead imagining massive “white guilt,” while Republicans without any doubt elected Steele because they felt they needed a black guy too, and he was best-positioned to take advantage of that. In effect, Democrats hired a man on his merits, while Republicans hired a man as part of an self-imposed quota system. Well, our president turned the job market around with the stimulus, got health care reform passed, and is making America respected in the world again by crafting responsible leadership, as seen with the recent nuclear treaty.

How’s your “any guy we could find so long as he’s black” working out?

Categories: Quick Notes, Republican Stupidity Tags:

Oh Really.

January 24th, 2013 3 comments

I’ve mentioned before about conservative projection, whereupon right-wingers will have a certain quality or perform a certain act to an extreme, and then accuse their opponents of exactly that.

John Boehner:

And given what we heard yesterday about the president’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans. So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal – to just shove us into the dustbin of history. I’ve been in these spots before. I remember November of ’06, January of ’07 — we’ve been through these periods before. And you know, our members get down, our supporters get down.

Republicans have savaged liberals over the years.

They have viciously attacked the Democratic support bases. If you are a social or political group which provides any substantial backing for the Democratic Party, the GOP will demonize your reputation and work night and day to destroy you as a group. Unions have been brutally decimated by conservatives. Teachers have been made into pariahs. Groups like ACORN, which tried to raise voter registration in poorer communities, was literally obliterated. The list goes on. If you are a significant supporter of Democrats, you go on the hit list, and it is not a metaphorical one: the Republicans will destroy you.

Conservatives have vilified Democratic causes. Reproductive rights was transformed into near-demonic support for murdering babies in the form of the “partial-birth abortion.” Equal rights for non-white male groups were depicted as “special privileges.” Secularism and fairness in religious belief was drawn as a “war on Christianity.” Racism was said to not even exist in our “color-blind” society, where the real evil was Affirmative Action, which somehow made life hell for poor white males. Minorities were told that not only should they not complain about racism, but that they should feel devalued and ashamed if there was even the slightest chance that they received favor through some form of Affirmative Action at any point in their lives.

Republicans have pulled every trick in the book to destroy Democratic voting rights and efforts. While they make completely baseless accusations of Democratic fraud after their own thorough investigations revealed nothing, they attempt to bring back Jim Crow laws even more destructive than ever to block Democratic voting. They resort to all manner of fraud, from voter caging to bogus felons lists. They attack Democratic voter registration organizations and shut them down. They gerrymander the crap out of states, even outside of census cycles, and are now set upon ramming through electoral vote distribution based on gerrymandered districts so that a Democratic candidate for president could win a state like Pennsylvania by 10% of the vote but get only 5 of 16 electoral votes for that state, and would still lose the national election even if they won the popular vote by 10 million ballots.

Politically, they leave only scorched earth. They now besmirch any form of compromise. Complete and utter obstruction is their policy when out of power, and ramming everything through wile leaving the other party in the dark is their policy when in power. If even their own policies become adopted by the other side, they suddenly turn and call them vile.

For Christ’s sake, conservatives have even done their best to make Democratic names into slurs. The campaign to smear the word “liberal” worked so well that many liberals now avoid the word and use “progressive” instead. To this day, conservatives refuse to utter the modifier “Democratic” and instead childishly say things like “the Democrat Party,” in an attempt to disassociate the party from its core values, while pushing the “DemocRAT” slur they so smugly adore.

All of this while their extremist PR arm, Fox News, works 24/7 to ludicrously defame and condemn anything Democratic or liberal, aided by bastions of “news” outfits, think tanks, bloggers, and action groups.

After all of that, Boehner says that Obama is out to annihilate the Republican Party… why? Because Obama outlined a strong agenda in his second inaugural speech?

That doesn’t just break irony. It vaporizes it. It reaches back into time and makes sure that irony died as an infant. It is so far beyond irony that it would take the light from irony two billion years to reach it.

And yet: conservatives will take this statement seriously.

The Republican Party is dying not because the president wants to get rid of them—something which, sadly, he has more or less done the opposite of—the GOP is dying because it is becoming so extreme that it is making extremists shake their heads in dismay. It is dying because their supporters are dying while the groups they vilify are growing.

Aftermath Analysis

November 10th, 2012 3 comments

Jeesh, have I been busy. Have been putting in 10- to 13-hour days this week, only to get home needing to do another 2-3 hours before getting to bed. The weekend is for catch-up. However, I want to comment on some of the post-game analysis going on regarding the election.

Many on the left are saying now that all that Super PAC spending “didn’t matter,” and that attempts to suppress the Democratic vote failed. I am not so sure. I have serious trouble believing that, had the spending been equal on both sides, and had there been no attempts to suppress the vote, that the results would have been exactly the same, or almost so. It’s hard for me to accept the idea that Obama did not lose a fair amount of the popular vote, maybe as much as a few percent, as a result of the GOP’s more extreme efforts.

It’s possible that the electoral outcome would have been the same, because Romney had no close-call states. The closest margin Romney won by was 2.2%, in North Carolina; in all other states he won, he won by an 8% margin or higher. Obama might possibly have won North Carolina, but he could not have gone so far as to get Georgia.

On the other hand, Obama could have easily lost Florida, and perhaps Ohio and Virginia, had Republicans gone even further. If, say, the courts had not backed Democratic efforts to open polling places, or had they allowed voter ID laws to stay in effect.

What’s interesting—and what one could easily point to to suggest a mandate for Obama—is that in almost all other states, Obama also won by significant margins. While Florida might have been a squeaker, and Ohio & Virginia were around 2%, every other state he won by nearly 5% or better. Almost no amount of additional Republican election fraud (possibly not even including extreme hacking of computerized vote counts) would have pulled those states into Romney’s column.

Even if Obama had lost Florida, Ohio, and Virginia to Romney, he still would have had 272 electoral votes—still more than enough to win. In a fascinating turn of events, Ohio was, it turns out, not the key state—Colorado was. And Obama won it by 4.7%, meaning Romney would have had to push the dial that far back in the other direction in order to win the White House.

So, Obama did not just win by 2.6% of the popular vote, nor did he win by getting Ohio by a margin of 1.9%. Effectively, Obama won by a 4.7% margin. Nationwide, that represents 5.7 million votes, close to double the 3.2 million popular votes Obama received.

This election was not a squeaker, not by a long shot. Nor was Obama’s lead one that he could have easily lost. While not a landslide, it was a solid, insurmountable win for the president.

As a result, we can conclude that the GOP’s efforts failed not because they were ineffective, but because Obama simply had so much support that he won by a wide margin. Which is why Nate Silver’s forecast never had Obama drop below 280 electoral votes; no matter how “close” things seemed in the polls, Obama had a very strong electoral position from day one.

Now, Republicans are already trying to wring the numbers to make it look like Obama’s support is weak, or that their own policies were somehow affirmed. Mitch McConnell even suggested that voters did not “endorse” the president, but instead the mandate was to not raise taxes on the rich.

Let’s take a quick look back to 2004, shall we? Bush won 286 electoral votes, compared to 332 for Obama this year. Bush won by a 2.4% margin, compared to Obama’s 2.6% win. At that time, conservatives across the board proclaimed a Bush mandate, followed by Bush himself. Well, if Bush had a mandate with 2.4% and 286 electoral votes, how does Obama not have one with 2.6% and 332 electoral votes?

Republicans hang on to the thread that is their House majority, claiming it shows that Americans want them there, or at least that Americans don’t want change. However, along with picking up two seats in the Senate, Democrats won the House as well—or, they would have won the House, had Republicans not gerrymandered the hell out of more than half the states. Democrats, in fact, beat Republicans in House races in the popular vote by half a percent; that this led to a 35-or-so-seat margin of victory for Republicans, despite Republicans have deep support in limited places and not broad support overall, can only be explained by gerrymandering.

Think about it: Obama won by 2.6% to 4.7% in terms of actual people voting. Democrats picked up 2 extra seats in the Senate.

Why would people vote for Democrats at the presidential and Senate levels, but switch to Republican in local districts?

The answer: they didn’t. They voted Democratic. That was their choice. The only reason it is not reflected in the election results is because the Republicans engineered districts to allow them—in a more traditional, time-honored way—to steal votes.

Of course, that fact does not stop the Republicans from coming up with various excuses as to how Obama’s win was illicit, and the people really voted for them all the way. Fox’s favorite is now almost a cliché: to suggest that The Liberal Media bought Obama the election. The Liberal Media blamed Bush too much for the current state of things. The Liberal Media failed to report enough of “the numbers” that showed Obama to be a failure.The Liberal Media glossed over Obama’s scandals. The Liberal Media gave unfairly lopsided fact-checking against Romney. And The Liberal Media focused too much on little stuff like Chris Christie’s positive comments. As one conservative summed it up:

The media lauded Obama no matter how horrendous his record, and they savaged Obama’s Republican contenders as ridiculous pretenders.

Yeah, they never said anything bad about Obama, and never stopped bashing Romney unfairly. That was it.

What that really means is, the non-Fox media outlets didn’t go completely Fox on Obama. Which is equivalent to being in the tank for Obama and throwing the election his way.

Another Fox analysis was more in-depth, which is fun to pick apart:

The Media’s Biased Gaffe Patrol Hammered Romney: The media unfairly jumped on inconsequential mistakes — or even invented controversies — from Romney and hyped them in to multi-day media “earthquakes.”

Laughably, they equate Romney’s “47%” remarks with Obama’s “The private sector is doing fine,” as if these were equal gaffes that should have gotten equal criticism. In response, Andy Borowitz said it best: “BREAKING: Man Who Told Half the Nation to Fuck Themselves Somehow Loses Election.”

Number 2:

Pounding Romney With Partisan Fact Checking: There’s nothing wrong with holding politicians accountable for the honesty of their TV ads and stump speeches, but this year the self-appointed media fact-checkers attacked Republicans as liars for statements that were accurate.

Yeah, not really. I posted on that here, the upshot being that the fact-checkers drowned themselves in false equivalencies; Romney demonstrably lied 3 or 4 times more than Obama, but the “fact-checkers” worked hard to make the truth levels seem the same. As bad as that was, it wasn’t nearly enough for Fox & Family.

Number 3:

Those Biased Debate Moderators: Upset liberals scorned PBS’s Jim Lehrer for taking a hands-off approach in the first debate on October 3, with MSNBC analyst Howard Fineman slamming him as “practically useless” for not jumping into the debate on behalf of President Obama.

Yeah, how dare those other two moderators actually note Romney’s lies, right there in front of everyone. Moderators are not guardians of truth or fact, they’re supposed to sit still and shut up when a candidate spouts outrageous lies. How dare they.

Number 4:

The Benghazi Blackout: Right after the September 11 attack in Libya, the networks proclaimed that the events would bolster President Obama — “reminding voters of his power as commander-in-chief,” as NBC’s Peter Alexander stated on the September 14 edition of “Today.” But as a cascade of leaked information erased the portrait of Obama as a heroic commander, the broadcast networks shunted the Benghazi story to the sidelines.

Here we see classic conservative projection: as happened with 9/11 and other tragedies, right-wing media rush to politicize events as they claim their competition did for Obama. This is kind of similar to the anguished cry of the late 90’s right wing, Where’s the outrage that the president got a hummer and lied about it? Can’t you see that children are being traumatized by our endless splashing of lurid details in the media? Sometimes, manufactured outrage is so hard to generate and so often unappreciated.

Benghazi was, at most, a wash. That Obama did not transform the diplomatic bureaucracy into a fast-acting juggernaut of security-wielding effectiveness is not a valid criticism, nor is it really credible to suggest that withholding judgment for a few weeks till the facts were straight, and only indirectly noting the incident as terror-related was more than a PR bumble at worst. On the other hand, Romney’s instant and fact-poor attack before the facts were in were hardly a bright spot, and easily matched whatever mistakes Obama made. Citing poor security also paled in light of Ryan’s vote to defund diplomatic security. In the end, all Fox has is an opportunistic smear exploiting a tragedy neither candidate would have been able to avoid. The rest of the media not jumping on the partisan attack wagon is hardly proof that they engineered a whitewashing of the affair in Obama’s favor.

Number 5:

Burying the Bad Economy: Pundits agreed that Obama’s weakness was the failure of the US economy to revive after his expensive stimulus and four years of $1 trillion deficits. But the major networks failed to offer the sustained, aggressive coverage of the economy that incumbent Republican President George H.W. Bush faced in 1992, or even that George W. Bush faced in 2004 — both years when the national economy was in better shape than it is now.

“Pundits agreed”? Which ones? And why should we listen to “pundits”? Granted, you could classify it as a possible “weakness,” but only if you looked at facts from certain angles.

This analysis, for example, assumes that the stimulus failed, and it was Obama’s fault. However, one of the more cogent arguments Obama made, most pointedly put forth by Bill Clinton, was that Obama stepped in as the economy was collapsing, headed for a new Great Depression—and Obama quickly turned that around and brought us into job-creating territory, with 32 straight months of private sector job growth.

The stimulus didn’t fail, but it was too weak. Why? Because there were too many tax cuts, and not enough infrastructure spending—Obama tried to pass a better plan, but Republicans blocked him. We know that the stimulus brought an abrupt change for the better, and the amount it failed was minor—if critical—compared to the overall improvement. We also know that tax cuts are ineffective at stimulating job growth—meaning that it had to be the spending that improved the economy. Meaning that had Obama’s original plan passed, we’d have stronger growth. Meaning that the failure was more a Republican one—and although the media, especially Fox, did repeatedly bring up the economy and point out it was owned by Obama, nobody mentioned the dragging effect that Republicans had had, and during the six months leading up to the election, few even pointed out the game-playing the GOP did with the debt default, and very little was mentioned about the Republican obstructionism that prevented further reparative efforts on the part of the president.

As for the relatively “aggressive” economic criticism in the MSM in 2004, I somehow doubt that this Fox analyst actually relied on facts to support his claim. Nor, I think, would the claim hold water if a review of media attention of the 2000 election were to be included.

What Fox’s entire criticism boils down to is that the rest of the media did not follow Fox News’ partisan attacks.

Some are going a bit further, predictably:

Karl Rove told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Thursday that President Obama won re-election “by suppressing the vote” with negative campaign ads that “turned off” potential voters, citing a victory that carried a smaller percentage of the popular vote compared to that of the 2008 presidential race.

…Which is record-breaking irony, as Rove’s own Super PAC was responsible for the lion’s share of negative campaign ads.

As for Rove’s and other conservatives’ use of the specific expression “suppressing the vote,” it is a blatant attempt to smear the other side with the crime rather egregiously committed by themselves. Seriously, when you unilaterally target battleground states with initiatives to obstruct voting by requiring extra effort to obtain IDs, and shut down polling places at specific times, all orchestrated to hinder voting in ways that specifically target voters belonging to the other party… to go around saying the other side is “suppressing the vote” because they ran one negative ad to your four… that’s pretty damned egregious. You could even call it “breathtaking.” It is like a corporate raider who legally stole billions from seniors’ retirement funds whining that he was overcharged when he paid a buck and a half for a 12-ounce Diet Coke.

At least one guy on the right gets credit for not staying on the Kool-Aid IV drip, and that’s Dean Chambers, the guy who started the “Unskewed Polls” web site when Romney was closer to his actual popularity levels before Obama screwed up royally in Denver. Chambers, in face of facts, actually owns up honestly and makes no excuses:

I was wrong on that assumption and those who predicted a turnout model of five or six percent in favor of Democrats were right. Likewise, the polling numbers they produced going on that assumption turned out to be right and my “unskewed” numbers were off the mark.

He even went on to congratulate Nate Silver for getting the numbers right better than anyone else.

Now, in one sense, this is not a big thing, recognizing the facts. But in light of the fact that nearly every other right-winger in the “Liberal Media” is still in denial, it’s rather significant. As unreasonable as Chambers’ assumptions were during the campaign, he can at least face facts when they are incontrovertibly placed in front of him.

If more conservatives were able to do this, we’d be much better off.


August 6th, 2009 Comments off

There’s been a bit of noise concerning Charles Krauthammer’s assertion that Clinton must have paid a hefty ransom for the release of the two imprisoned reporters, despite the fact that North Korea’s desire for attention explains their move more than suitably enough, and that there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that anything aside from attention was paid.

Many are scratching their heads over Krauthammer’s accusation–where could this come from, how could he seriously suggest this?

What needs to be remembered is that a common neurosis among conservatives is projection: one frequently sees right-wingers assuming that liberals will act exactly the way conservatives act, especially when it’s a questionable or objectionable action. Conservatives would let their bias bleed all over their reporting, and so assume liberals do the same; many conservatives would decide their vote regarding a black man because of the color of his skin, and so they assume liberals would have the same motivations; conservatives easily use the ends to justify the means, as in election fraud, so they just assume liberals do so too; conservatives would object to a woman or Hispanic nominee on the basis of gender and race, and so believe that’s the only reason that liberals would object; conservatives rewrite history with abandon, and so have trouble believing that liberals don’t as well. Conservative projection is easily observed in all areas of political discourse.

Krauthammer believes that Clinton paid a high price simply because that’s how a conservative would approach the situation if a direct use of force were not available. Look at how Reagan handled hostages in Iran.

True, it’s possible that Krauthammer is just making this up so he can attack Clinton and claim that an accomplishment by a liberal was in fact a scandalous failure, but the same principle of projection applies with the story made up about how Clinton is supposed to have failed; a conservative’s mindset makes a straight line to that solution.

Projection amongst conservatives can be seen very clearly among conservative Christians, in many ways. Take moral behavior as one example. They act in a way they believe if ‘moral’ for the primary reason that they believe god will punish them horrifically if they do not; as a result, they assume that atheists must be utterly immoral, because they don’t fear divine punishment for misbehavior. They project their own mechanism for morality on those different from them and can’t understand why it doesn’t apply. The same goes for religious belief itself; such people will puzzle over atheists not believing in god, asking the question, “what do you believe in?”–not comprehending that it is possible to go through life without believing in some kind of supreme being in the universe.

When trying to understand the views of conservatives regarding liberals, if you keep this fact in mind, a lot becomes much clearer and easier to understand.

Categories: Political Ranting Tags:

Enforcement and Bias

May 27th, 2014 1 comment

Despite their constant cries of being persecuted, the fact remains that when conservatives protest, even disruptively and sometimes threateningly, they get more or less a free pass. When liberals protest, however, then the hammer comes down. Paul Waldman at The American Prospect details one rather notable example:

The latest, from the New York Times, describes how law enforcement officials around the country went on high alert when the Occupy protests began in 2011, passing information between agencies with an urgency suggesting that at least some people thought that people gathering to oppose Wall Street were about to try to overthrow the U.S. government. And we remember how many of those protests ended, with police moving in with force. …

If you can’t recall any Tea Party protests in 2009 and 2010 being broken up by baton-wielding, pepper-spraying cops in riot gear, that’s because it didn’t happen. Just like the anti-war protesters of the Bush years, the Tea Partiers were unhappy with the government, and saying so loudly. But for some reason, law enforcement didn’t view them as a threat.

He cites the more recent example of Cliven Bundy’s ranch, when protesters actually pointed guns at law enforcement officials—and got away with it. Liberal protesters sit quietly, and they get doused with pepper spray. Maybe they should have all brought AR-15s.

Nor is this the only example. When liberal protesters did literally the least offensive form of protest possible—wearing T-shirts—they were singled out by the secret service, detained, or even arrested. When Obama became president, conservative protesters went armed with handguns and semiautomatic rifles at presidential events. Nothing happened to them, aside from being “closely watched.”

Nor is it just when arms are present. When liberal churches had guest speakers, not affiliated with the church, whose speeches at the pulpit had a political tone, the IRS went after them rather assiduously. When leaders of conservative churches outright endorsed Republican candidates to their congregations, even when the Catholic church itself publicly inserted itself into the presidential campaign by condemning John Kerry, not a thing happened. When the IRS went after all political groups but, for a while, only the Tea Party tags were known, it became a full-blown scandal still pursued today, even after being disproven. But when the IRS clearly discriminated against liberal groups in favor of conservative ones… not a peep.

It is one aspect of the IOKIYAR mentality. Which perhaps is one reason that conservatives play up being persecuted all the time. Aside from rather common right-wing projection, it helps to deflect attention from your faults if you can claim that the real victims are doing it to you.

Categories: IOKIYAR, Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags:

Hatred of Education

February 27th, 2012 2 comments

That’s what the far right wing seems to have. Every aspect of education, it seems, has been under attack from the right. Most conservatives want to abolish the Department of Education and consistently assert that funding of education is unimportant. Teachers are reviled for being overpaid and underworked—the precise opposite of reality—and teacher’s unions are a particular target of hateful invective. Despite inattention from parents, overcrowded classes and high workloads, funding shortfalls so bad that some teachers have to buy supplies out of their own pocket, and mandated testing which has little or no pedagogical value but does succeed in distorting curriculums and making teaching harder, it’s the teachers who get all the blame when students perform poorly.

Colleges, however, are under increasing fire from conservatives. Long seen as hotbeds of liberalism (funny how learning things makes you liberal), that impression is only getting worse—to the point where right-wingers are now openly hostile to the idea of a college education. We’ve seen the New Hampshire Republican who wanted to increase the voting age purely because students vote “foolishly”—solely because they vote disproportionately Democratic. Republican vote-suppression tactics are heavily aimed at the college demographic. But some go beyond that, actually believing that colleges nationwide are part of some overarching conspiracy to convert young people into godless liberals.

And now, we have a Republican presidential candidate who is buying into that particular conspiracy theory:

“President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college,” Santorum said. “What a snob!”

Yeah! That egotistical snob wants every kid to have a kaw-ledge eh-joo-KAY-shun! What an ass! Hey, and you know what else? Those people who want their kids to graduate from high school are pretty stuck-up too, aren’t they? And how about those politicians who want the people to have better-paying jobs? What kind of smug, conceited pinheads are they? The American people should stop being tricked by this arrogant elitism, and be satisfied picking crops, washing dishes, and flipping burgers! Anyone who isn’t is an big-headed, self-important, snotty know-it-all!!

Santorum started by saying some people don’t need to go to college: “Not all folks are gifted the same way. Some people have incredible gifts with their hands.” He then suggested there was an sinister motive behind Obama’s push to get more Americans in college classrooms.

“There are good, decent men and women who work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor… That’s why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image,” Santorum said. “I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his.”

First of all, you don’t have to be “gifted” to go to college. The idea is to let everyone have a shot at learning more than just the bare minimum; many colleges (my own included) actually aim to enable kids who might otherwise have a hard time getting into college.

Second, Obama is not really suggesting that we make college mandatory—rather, anyone who wants to can go, anyone who doesn’t, doesn’t have to. For most of American history, it was something people aspired to; entire families had great pride in the first of their clan to get a college education. It has always been considered a landmark, a stepping-up. Not elitism—just a better chance at making something of yourself and giving your family a better shot at having a decent life.

Third, nobody should be trying to remake children in their own image. That’s not what educators do, nor is it what any education should be about. This kind of thinking is just the kind of arrogant, controlling egotism that makes many children miserable. Santorum does some common right-wing projection here; public and higher education, on the other hand, strive to enable the child, teaching them basic skills, and allowing them to make of themselves what they will. That’s what you’re supposed to do.

However, what’s most disturbing is the animosity towards knowledge—“facts have a well-known liberal bias!” More to the point, his rhetoric is all too reminiscent of minority or handicapped kids being told that they should learn to “work with their hands.” Even if not, then Santorum is still wrong—Obama called for young Americans to commit to “higher education or career training.

Santorum’s crowd, however, loved his rant:

“I thought that was brilliant,” said Angie Clement of Commerce, Mich. “Not everybody has to go to college. We need garbagemen, we need welders, carpenters.”

“Everybody can’t be equal,” agreed Paul Murrow of Milford, MI seated nearby. “Somebody needs to do the manual labor.”

Umm, I don’t think that we have any particular shortages in the fields of garbagemen or welders. Nor am I comfortable with the idea that manual laborers are somehow “unequal” to those who have a college education, a sentiment which seems to be what Santorum was attacking—but which it would seem these people feel is true more than liberals themselves.

Not to mention that a college education does not disqualify you for any of these jobs. Obama’s proposal for universal college education is not intended to turn everyone into a professor, lawyer, scientist, or researcher. The idea is that there is value in every person having the sort of training in critical thinking, exposure to history and culture, skills in reading and writing, and development in specific fields of their choice. Is it a bad thing for everyone to know more math, history, sociology, and so forth?

Apparently so—especially when that knowledge and training runs counter to the interests of conservative goals. Critical thinking is a particular focus of college curriculums which is also often absent from pre-college education. Imagine everyone having the training and ability to spot logical fallacies—the Republican Party could collapse! Or at least they’d have to work that much harder at peddling their bullshit. Conservatives, and their corporate patrons, much prefer a gullible, pliable majority they can herd as they desire.

Which transitions into Santorum’s personal focus: higher education as liberal indoctrination:

On the president’s efforts to boost college attendance, Santorum said, “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college, because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely … The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.”

Yep, can’t deny the man when he’s right. As an American college professor, I myself received training at the secret Communist Re-education Assessment Program (CRAP) which gave me the tools to brainwash students into liberal-minded simpletons. It’s all a conspiracy, I admit it.

Short of that kind of conspiracy theory, what remains is that the more knowledge you are given, the more liberal you are apt to become. He’s not saying that intentionally, of course, but it is effectively the same thing. Teach a kid to spot bullshit, and sometimes the young whippersnapper will actually start doing it.

However, Santorum’s greater worry is that college doesn’t have enough religion built into it:

He claimed that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it,” but declined to cite a source for the figure. And he floated the idea of requiring that universities that receive public funds have “intellectual diversity” on campus.

So, according to him, kids go into these colleges but many come out less religious than before—so his presumption is that they’re being brainwashed.

It’s all about perspective, of course; Santorum comes from a fundamentalist strain which, in the light of day, makes some pretty ridiculous assumptions about reality based on ancient interpretations of texts not written to be employed in that manner.

So, perhaps, if you teach your kid that the entire universe is 6,000 years old, and then your kid goes to college and learns math, astronomy, and history—and then the kid comes home with the crazy idea that maybe the universe is older than he was originally taught… I suppose you might think your kid has been brainwashed, indoctrinated into some alien belief system.

Of course, from another perspective, one could possibly come away with the conclusion that kids taught about Jesus riding dinosaurs and that a child dying of diabetes is better served by prayers than insulin—that they might be kind of brainwashed to start with, and a college education might be a cure, not an indoctrination.

But that would be disrespectful of religious belief, and we cannot do that—no matter how bizarre, harmful, or clearly ridiculous that belief may be. We cannot allow children to be exposed to any ideas contrary to religious doctrine, because that would encourage intellectual diversity, which would—um, wait a minute. Did I just read above that Santorum wants “intellectual diversity”? Doesn’t that mean that you would welcome your kids being exposed to different ideas?

Of course, “intellectual diversity” is not meant to be taken literally; it’s a new code word, meaning “religious instruction,” just as Intelligent Design proponents started using the term “academic freedom” as a means of injecting Creationism into science classes.

So, Santorum is saying there is a deliberate “liberal indoctrination”—which is mostly just imagined or fabricated—and so he wants to create religious indoctrination to tip the scales. Just like conservatives fabricated the view that voter fraud is rampant and so, to protect us from this imagined threat, they instituted legislation which, quite coincidentally just happened to suppress the liberal vote.

Long story short: they don’t want your kids to be educated, they want them to be uninformed, gullible, churchgoing manual laborers. Non-union, of course.

Liberals Are Out to Get Me, So Let’s Tax the Poor

July 12th, 2011 1 comment

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch recently made a public statement chock-full of erroneous junk and studded with error. Let’s take a look. First, the merely political:

“It touched a nerve because last week after I raised this issue on the Senate floor, MSNBC and the liberal blogosphere — presumably armed with the talking points from the Senate Democrat war room — went ballistic suggesting that I wanted to balance the budget by raising taxes on the poor,” Hatch said.

This is more a political standby than an error, but citing MSNBC as a liberal bastion is not entirely accurate. It’s just the best that they have now. It used to be CBS–remember when that was what people used to counter Fox News? Not because it was actually a liberal bastion, but because it could be painted as one–for no other reason than that once, the CBS News anchor went after a story about Bush that turned out to be false. MSNBC may be an easier target because it has a strong lineup of liberal opinion shows, but the channel itself is no liberal bastion. They used to have a strongly conservative lineup, and still have people like Joe Scarborough, hardly a leftie. MSNBC, unlike Fox, is only home to many left-leaning shows because it has found them to be profitable; were that support to dry up overnight and right-wing shows become money-makers, they would switch. Fox, on the other hand, is a conservative bastion, in that they would never change their orientation, no matter what. It is their identity. With MSNBC, it’s the flavor of the day–not Democratic Party Headquarters.

This exaggeration of political bias is only reinforced by his next, almost conspiracy-theory statement that there exists a “Senate Democrat war room” which churns out “talking points” loyally taken up by liberal armies to vilify poor Hatch whenever he says something that could be taken the wrong way. This shows up the common conservative trait of projection–of accusing the opposition of doing what they themselves do all the time. Either it’s a way of trying to cast guilt away from themselves, or else it displays an inability for them to imagine people acting in a way different from what they consider so natural. Just watch Jon Stewart for a short time and you’ll inevitably see his version of shooting fish in a barrel: showing a long string of conservatives repeating, almost verbatim, the exact same word or phrase, again and again and again, showing up the power of the right-wing organization distributing and faithfully executing the day’s talking points.

And Democrats? If only they could be so solidly organized. On their best days, maybe, but usually they have far less effectiveness in getting any solidified point of view out. It comes both from being disorganized and from having a big tent.

Next, Hatch gets to the meat of the issue, to what those nasty liberals have so wrongly smeared him for: his desire to raise taxes on the poor and the lower-middle class, because they’re all a bunch of liberal freeloaders living large off of hard-working Republicans.

“I’m not surprised, but this completely misses my point and the point, and the point is this: no matter what these Democrats tell you, the wealthy and middle class are already shouldering around 100 percent of the nation’s tax burden, and 51 percent pay absolutely nothing in income taxes,” Hatch said.

Well, obviously this is not true. “100 percent of the nation’s tax burden”? Not even close. Even disregarding things like import duties, Hatch apparently feels that things like property taxes, state and local taxes, payroll taxes, and a variety of other taxes never hit the poor. And even if a person somehow avoids any of those by not owning a house, by living in a non-tax state or having an income so low they never touch you, or by not having a job, nobody escapes sales taxes entirely. Most “non payers” paid around 10% of their income in payroll taxes alone. Note that Hatch plays with the truth–he refers more accurately to “income tax,” but intentionally mixes it with the just-as-clear statement that they pay no taxes at all.

So, what about that 51 percent? Are they truly freeloaders sitting comfortably in, if not luxury, then in a decent standard of living, not paying what they could?

Well, first of all, 51% is a statistical blip–in the past, it was usually under 40%. Why is it high now? Because of the recession Bush drove us into. About 10% of taxpayers have lost jobs or else taken major hits to their incomes, driving them under the lower limits for federal income tax. Bush drove unemployment from under 5% to over 10%, and Hatch is surprised that this affects revenue?

Second, many of those are people you would not expect to pay taxes in any case–like retirees living off of Social Security not great enough to qualify for income taxes. A huge chunk–fully 75%–are people who make less than $20,000, well into poverty. We’re talking about a lot of part-time, minimum-wage workers. Really, Orrin, you want to tax them more? 97% make less than $40,000 a year, many if not most of those with families to support. Orrin, you try living on $40,000 a year today with three kids and see how comfy you are. In that state, I don’t think you’d be whining about how low your taxes are.

What about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)? Well, a large part of that contingent is people who usually pay income taxes, but whose income has fallen to a low level for the current year–that’s one reason the “no federal income tax” crowd has peaked recently–because of, as stated above, the Bush recession and unemployment numbers. Most people getting the EITC are getting it short-term, and pay much more in taxes over time than the credits they receive.

So, right off the bat, we can see that it’s not such a huge contingent of freeloaders here. Just over one percent make any kind of decent living with disposable income and pay no federal income taxes, though they probably pay a whole bunch of other taxes.

But what about those people? They get tax breaks and tax credits and so forth! How about that guy making $75,000 a year and using tax breaks to pay nothing! Oh, wait, he’s a small businessman claiming business losses, carry-overs, and other tax breaks. You know–the kind that Republicans, like Orrin Hatch, claim they want to help, but are really using as a feint to get more tax breaks for the wealthy.

And that’s where the real hypocrisy comes in. Republicans can’t stand a person making $50,000 a year using tax breaks to avoid paying a few thousand dollars when that person is hardly living in luxury–but they have absolutely no problem at all giving far greater tax cuts, even to the tune of millions of dollars, or even billions for corporations, to people and organizations already flush with cash. They would have happily overlooked the billions of tax refunds to oil companies making obscene profits already and paying no taxes, but a family of five making $60,000 a year and getting away with paying no taxes because of the recession? Those freeloading, mooching bastards!

When it comes down to it, there are a few taxes at this level which can be raised–but not without being hypocritical when you fail to raise taxes far more significantly amongst wealthier Americans. If you think that a family scraping by with barely enough to keep their nostrils above water can afford to “pay their fair share,” then you can damn fracking well deal with raising the marginal tax rate on millionaires from 35% to 39%. Don’t worry, the rich won’t go on strike.

The basic fact: there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. As Heinlein said, TANSTAAFL. We need to raise taxes. But not, as Republicans now insist, on people making small incomes. Mostly, we need to up taxes on those already paying them, like it or not.

Here’s the real hoot:

“Keep in mind, I don’t believe we should tax the truly poor, but now that’s up to 51 percent in just over two years of this administration — people who don’t pay income taxes,” Hatch said. “Are they all truly poor? I don’t know. All I know is that it doesn’t sound right that the majority of people — the majority of tax units — in this country do not pay income taxes, and the minority has to carry the burden.”

“Keep in mind, I don’t believe we should tax the truly poor”–really, Orrin? Then why is it that you’re saying exactly that?

There’s the money quote: “Are they all truly poor? I don’t know.” That’s right, Orrin. You don’t know. You don’t have a clue. Or, more likely, you do, but you want to make something false sound true. Am I exaggerating? Hell, no–Orrin says that next: “All I know is that it doesn’t sound right.” Wow. An argument boasting ignorance, showing that he is not even trying to get the facts, easily accessible to him. Or else he is purposefully ignoring them.

Yes, we should listen to people like this. We should elect them to lead. The Republican Party: Let’s Tax Poor People Because That’s What a Clueless Person Would Do.

Bits & Pieces: April 7, 2011

April 7th, 2011 3 comments

Shutdown or no shutdown, it’s pretty damned clear which side wants one, which side has been pushing for one and still is. A Tea Party rally in D.C. was populated with signs urging a shutdown, while the crowd chanted, “Shut ‘er down! Shut ‘er down!” All this while trying to blame it on the Democrats. CNN called this “mixed signals,” as if there were no unified game plan here.

The Wisconsin election for the state’s supreme court chief justice brought out the crowds, tripling participation from the last such election. David Prosser, claiming to be a non-partisan independent who just happens to be a Tea Party favorite, is endorsed by Sarah Palin, and goes around the state addressing right-wing organizations, was in fact rather easily identified as a conservative who would rule in favor of governor Walker. Before this whole union issue, Prosser was expected to win hands-down. Having won 55% in the general primary, with his challenger, assistant attorney general JoAnne Kloppenburg getting only 25%, Prosser was still expected to win easily. However, Kloppenburg, labeled as an inexperienced extremist in the millions of dollars of of out-of-state, Tea-party-funded advertising, surged way beyond her primary numbers as Prosser faded–so that now it is a virtual tie, with Kloppenburg ahead by only about two hundred votes. Even if Prosser winds up winning in a recount, this will be a hard slap in the face for state Republicans, who lost most of the other races outright.

So, naturally, the moment this is announced, the right-wingers start shoutingvote fraud.” Gee whiz, who could have predicted that would happen?

Glenn Beck is leaving Fox News. Who will we buy gold from now?

The new GOP plan to private Medicare and gut Medicaid will save $5.8 trillion in the next ten years, we are told. Except that the numbers they predict for economic growth and unemployment due to their miraculous plan are so ludicrous that they are almost literally laughable. We’re talking Magic Pony numbers here. Rep. Paul Ryan claims that his budget will create gazillions of jobs, bringing unemployment down to 2.8%, a number so far-fetched that even conservatives are shaking their heads. The “$5.8 trillion” he claims he will save is just as fictional, with $1.4 trillion coming from scrapping Obama’s Health Care Reform, which is strange, as the CBO said Obama’s plan would save almost exactly that much over the next 20 years. And his plan to “save” Medicare would only end up costing seniors more. Just like the GOP’s alternative to the Democrats’ health care reform, Republicans are claiming Democrats will send us to the poorhouse while GOP alternatives will bring cause money to fall from rainbows. Too bad the Congressional Budget Office disagrees. All the time.

Hmm. Some of the major blogs seem to be agreeing with what I wrote two days ago.

Categories: Political Ranting Tags:

The Brewing Race Conflict

August 22nd, 2010 14 comments

An interesting take I’ve heard spoken here and there recently is that at least part of the focus on immigration, “anchor babies,” and the repeal of citizenship clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is on “demographics.” In this case, “demographics” is a very polite way of saying “race.”

A famous factoid most people know about is the projection that by 2050 less than 50% of the country will be non-Hispanic whites. That projection seems to be pretty significant to some people. I remember back in the 90’s, reading the posts of a right-winger on GEnie who was unabashed in his expressions, stating baldly that such trends scared the crap out of him. And while few in this day and age will say it outright, I think that this is a more and more common sensibility among conservatives in the nation.

The sense of persecution among whites, especially white male Christians, has been marked for some time now. Despite currently holding disproportionate power and influence, we hear complaints of the opposite–that this demographic is being persecuted mercilessly.

It does not really seem like too much of a coincidence that soon after a black man became president for the first time, that we started hearing right-wingers angrily exclaim, “we want our country back.” This was a kind of scary thing to hear, because in pretty much every decent sense, we had never “lost” the country so that it had to be taken back. Even when liberals had won the presidency and controlled Congress, I don’t think I heard anyone but political strategists put things that way, and they meant in a purely political sense.

Here, there was the strong, undeniable implication that a national identity had been lost. Not just a political identity, but one of color. Our jobs were white, our leaders were white, our country was white–but now we’re seeing the non-whites start to take over in very real ways. These people had felt it starting to slip away, and then Obama gets elected.

Suddenly, key issues that right-wingers used to focus in on begin to fade, issues like abortion, gays in the military, prayers in the schools, and the pledge of allegiance.

Instead, we saw the emergence of a completely new, radical political surge, one which was almost purely populated by whites. A party who believed the president was an alien, his birth certificate was not legitimate no matter what, that he was born in Kenya. And we started hearing more and more and more about three issues: immigration, blacks, and Islam.

Really, why immigration? Of all topics to gain prominence, why that one, and why now? It’s not because of the recession–it’s not as if there are many whites who want to pick strawberries, become nannies, do yard work, or sew garments in sweat shops but are turned away because the damned immigrants have pushed them out. It’s not as if our economies are actually taxed by illegal immigration–on the contrary, all the evidence says the opposite. Maybe it could be the result of exhausting other culture-war issues and this one was imply next in line, but I doubt it.

And the New York mosque? Muslims in general? Even after 9/11, anti-Muslim sentiment didn’t seem as high as it is right now. Where did that come from all of a sudden?

And how about all the stuff about black people? Why did ACORN take on such sudden significance when it had been around for about four decades? Why so much intense focus on the NAACP recently? Shirley Sherrod, Van Jones, Henry Louis Gates, the “New” Black Panthers… strangely, black and white race conflicts were front page news, and were focused on intently. And most of them involved a negative public up-swelling, accusing them of wrongs, calling for their ouster.

Strangely, most of the top issues were in some way related to race, to aliens in our midst, and how they are making things wrong.

There was the abrupt, almost jarring about-face on problems that have existed for years and the right-wing considered tame, but suddenly they are crises and, somehow, all Obama’s fault. No matter that deficits truly started getting out of control under Reagan and Bush 43; Obama’s to blame. Unemployment was clearly a Bush artifact–but since it did not magically dissolve under Obama, he’s to blame. The debt, suddenly, will wreck us, as if it weren’t going to before, and since the right wing suddenly realized this under Obama, he of course is to blame. This recession could not have more clearly started under Bush and the stimulus could not more clearly have started to reverse it–but of course, Obama’s to blame for it all. And our rights–despite the fact that they were decimated under Bush, and Obama at worst has perpetuated some of Bush’s policies that threaten them–somehow Obama is the one who has deprived us of all our rights. And our money! He’s stealing our money! Doesn’t matter that taxes are at a historic low, that he has actually cut taxes for most of us, nor that the worst he would do would be to allow taxes for the rich to return to where they were in the 90’s like the Republicans planned; no, he’s taxing us to death!

This is also why news like Afghanistan, at any other time a big opening for the opposition, is not an issue–the president pushing a war, against Muslims, no less? That doesn’t fit, so they act like it doesn’t exist.

No, there seems to be a special reason why immigration, Islam, and color, of all hot-button issues, have suddenly catapulted to new heights, and why all things economic are suddenly of notice. The country is changing color, and it’s suddenly ruining us. It’s their fault. It’s because of that threatening, polysyllabic prognostication of doom: demographics. just look at the president, for chrissakes. Everything was going fine before he took over.

A lot of white Americans are seeing the future, and I think it scares the crap out of them. And if there is anything that conservative politicians are good at, it is seeing the fear in people’s hearts, playing on it, setting it afire, and then capitalizing on it.

Categories: Race Tags:

Calling It Like It Is

April 15th, 2010 Comments off

Geoffrey Stone writes an op-ed for the NYT which tells us what we already know, but which half the population or more blinds itself to:

Rulings by conservative justices in the past decade make it perfectly clear that they do not “apply the law” in a neutral and detached manner. Consider, for example, their decisions holding that corporations have the same right of free speech as individuals, that commercial advertising receives robust protection under the First Amendment, that the Second Amendment prohibits the regulation of guns, that affirmative action is unconstitutional, that the equal protection clause mandated the election of George W. Bush and that the Boy Scouts have a First Amendment right to exclude gay scoutmasters.

Whatever one thinks of these decisions, it should be apparent that conservative judges do not disinterestedly call balls and strikes. Rather, fueled by their own political and ideological convictions, they make value judgments, often in an aggressively activist manner that goes well beyond anything the framers themselves envisioned. There is nothing simple, neutral, objective or restrained about such decisions. For too long, conservatives have set the terms of the debate about judges, and they have done so in a highly misleading way. Americans should see conservative constitutional jurisprudence for what it really is. And liberals must stand up for their vision of the judiciary.

Fact is, conservatives “legislate from the bench” (in its real meaning, not the conservative sense of “making a decision I disagree with”) far more than liberal judges do. Scalia and Thomas especially apply their political bias with extreme prejudice. They hold up their various flavors of “constructionism” as excuses, with knowing ignorance that such a philosophy is by its nature unconstitutional. Like most modern conservatives, they don’t give a damn; they “know what’s right” and happily rewrite the Constitution under the flimsiest of pretenses, while, in classic right-wing projection, accuse the liberals of doing exactly that.

This article on the role of the judiciary is recommended, a good read.

Categories: Law Tags:

A Disturbing Thought

November 16th, 2009 8 comments

Something just struck me. Conservatives, especially the wingnuts, have a long-established trend of projection: they vociferously accuse the Democrats of doing stuff that Republicans do, despite the fact that the Democrats are not doing it. I have documented a slew of examples of this on this blog. I have noted before that if the wingnuts accuse the Dems of something, it’s usually more of a confession of their own crimes and intentions than anything else.

This is nothing new. But then it hit me: the wingnuts are now accusing Democrats of trying to destroy America, turning the country into a fascist state based on their political and philosophical leanings, making enemies lists, and building concentration camps to fill with their political opponents, while they bankrupt the nation and use health care legislation to kill off old people.


Categories: Quick Notes Tags:

Too Much, Too Far: Leave Them Behind

August 13th, 2009 2 comments

A “special comment,” if you will.

I have just become one of the crowd that is now firmly planted in the territory of forced partisanship. This has simply gone too far. If the Republicans have gone so thoroughly into the territory of anything-goes, balls-to-the-wall lying, fear-mongering and terrorizing, even resorting to thuggish mob shock-troop fear and intimidation, then they no longer deserve to be listened to.

From the very beginning, Obama tried–sincerely–to be bipartisan. Beginning with his first big initiative, the stimulus (which, by the way, now seems to be working), he bent way over backwards trying to include and appease the conservatives. He called them in for special White House meetings that even their Democratic colleagues did not enjoy. He integrated a large number of their demands into the bill, altering a great deal of the shape and form of the package until his own supporters started getting angry at how much was being given away. And then the Republicans voted, en masse, against the proposal and stabbed Obama in the back, accusing him of not being bipartisan.

The right wing and its propaganda arm Fox “News” began a steady drumbeat of vile, filthy smears that only heightened and heightened until you thought it could go no higher than its current crescendo, until it broke through into a whole new plane of insanely hateful rhetoric, until today accusations of Obama being a new Hitler, of forming death squads and death camps and death panels, of being a socialist, communist, terrorist, and worse have become so commonplace that they almost fade into the background of demented shrieking from the right wing of American discourse.

When it comes to the level that not only Sarah Palin, but a large number of prominent Republicans and incumbent politicians on the right begin a steady drone of bald-faced lies, like euthanizing grandma or forming death panels, lies proven to be lies beyond any shadow of a doubt and yet senators are stoking up fear and anger in crowds with these very lies–things have gone too far.

When the right wing creates such vehement anger and fear to the point where they start organizing angry mobs to overcome public meetings for the opposition, shouting down other Americans and their representatives, even to the point of coming to these meetings armed, things have gone much too far.

And when it becomes a celebrated act among the right for a man to wear a loaded weapon to a presidential event, holding a sign that declares that “tyrants” must be killed, and he clearly sees the president as a tyrant–when armed protesters bearing signs advocating the assassination of the president start populating presidential events, things have gone so far beyond the pale that it staggers the mind.

There is no chance for bipartisanship when one side goes to such hideous extremes. There can be no reasonable compromise. There in fact can be no respect for the contentions of such a sociopathic, toxic, lying, amoral movement so bought and owned by corporate interests that they would shred the very fabric of Democracy itself and promote violent extremism so as to prevent reasonable health care to pass to the great benefit of the people.

They. Have. Gone. Too. Far.

So, to hell with them. If no compromise is what they want, then give them exactly that. Do what we know is right and let them fester in their own cesspool of dark, twisted fantasy. They deserve no credence or respect.

A few months ago, Rush Limbaugh gave a speech to a fawning, cheering crowd of right-wingers in which he defined “bipartisanship” to mean Democrats “being forced to agree with us after we politically have cleaned their clocks and beaten them”; in a demonstration of Freudian projection, he then stated that this is what Democrats want to do to Republicans, and used that image to spur conservatives to fight like hell against any attempt at bipartisanship.

This warped, perverted view of how Democracy worked repulsed me. At the time, I could only imagine that I would never endorse such a horribly one-sided philosophy of governing. And I still don’t want to, which is why I have resisted for so long. A few months back, I hinted at this kind of idea, but it was more of a “wouldn’t it be nice if we could do this” fantasy, like wishing that Obama could be as dictatorial and aggressive as Bush, and not an actual, stubborn determination. But now there seems to be no choice–either we must forge ahead alone, or succumb to the madness which has engulfed the right wing. I feel sad, like part of the America I love has died–no, has been smothered by those seeking power and money.

But that’s the way it is. We pass the health care reform as it should be, no compromises, no concessions, and then just wait for the anger to (hopefully) peter out. Use what influence has been accrued to pass all the other things we know will work to repair the country and bring it back to a place where it might regain its former pedestal of esteem in the world as a leader of liberty, progress, and wealth.

Eventually, as the economy (hopefully) continues to improve, as health care gets better, as the state of the nation in general begins to recover, and as the nation becomes more used to these laws being not just acceptable but in fact productive and true to the American ideal, maybe we can head out of this darkness and come back to a place where actual bipartisanship is again an achievable goal instead of a hope dashed by an extremist right wing unwilling to even consider any form of cooperation. Maybe, someday, this demented nightmare of right-wing extremism will fade away as an embarrassing chapter of American politics.

I want my America back, indeed.


July 19th, 2009 3 comments

Walter Cronkite died today. He was one of the greats, and perhaps one of the last greats. The “most trusted man in America,” known for his signature sign-out, “And that’s the way it is.” But he also was an excellent example of what was right about avoiding bias in reporting, and a contrast to what has become so wrong with reporting today.

It was no secret that Cronkite was a liberal, proud and unreserved. He famously chided Kerry for shying away from his liberalism, and castigated Bush for Iraq. The staunchly conservative “Media Research Center” has a page documenting Cronkite’s liberal bias, but that page attacking Cronkite and holding him up as a prime example of the “Liberal Media” is notable in that (a) Cronkite (unsurprisingly) comes across as rationally and thoughtfully biased—this is the worst they can find?—and (b) it’s all stuff from after he retired—not one shred of evidence for any liberal bias in his actual reporting. In fact, they quote him in explaining why liberal journalists don’t allow it to taint their reporting:

I believe that most of us reporters are liberal, but not because we consciously have chosen that particular color in the political spectrum. More likely it is because most of us served our journalistic apprenticeships as reporters covering the seamier side of our cities – the crimes, the tenement fires, the homeless and the hungry, the underclothed and undereducated.

We reached our intellectual adulthood with daily close-ups of the inequality in a nation that was founded on the commitment to equality for all. So we are inclined to side with the powerless rather than the powerful. If that is what makes us liberals, so be it, just as long as in reporting the news we adhere to the first ideals of good journalism – that news reports must be fair, accurate and unbiased.

At least, that’s the way it was—I doubt that most “journalists” today do the same kind of early-career reporting by and large.

What Cronkite notes can be said of many similar professions, and is quite significant: educators, scientists, artists, serious journalists—in other words, people who make their livings looking hard at the world in an intelligent way—tend to be liberal. That’s no coincidence, as it is no coincidence that most people in the field of making money—looking at the world through a lens of competition and greed—tend to be conservative.

But what is most important in his statement is that the personal politics of journalists do not bleed through into the reporting. This is key—the key—to the whole “liberal media” canard: it matters not one bit what the personal politics of journalists is, it matters only what bias comes through in reporting. That’s where the whole myth falls apart. If 90% of journalists are liberal but none let it color their reporting, and 10% are conservatives but they do let it color their reporting, then you have a conservative bias overall.

Conservatives see it a different way. Their general response toward almost everything is projection. They assume that everyone else will act the same way that they want to, only without the restraint they feel themselves best capable of—but then use that imagined lack of restraint on the part of others as permission for themselves to let go. Conservatives do not rein in their personal politics in journalism, they let it bleed all over what they report—and so they simply assume that this is what the liberals do, and use that as justification for what they themselves do. I could spend all day detailing hundreds of cases of conservative “journalists”—anchors or reporters, not commentators—doing just that. In contrast, ask yourself when you’ve seen the same coming from a liberal journalist, and only one example will come up—Dan Rather and the National Guard story, and mostly because it’s just about the only example out there. And for it to be from a reporter who jumped on Clinton like all the others in the Lewinsky scandal, and who jumped onto the Bush Patriotic War bandwagon like all the others, is a poor example of excessive liberal bias.

Cronkite was the most trusted man in America not because he was a liberal, but because he gave it to the people straight. It used to be that’s what reporters did. But then Fox came along and made tons of money spewing political propaganda, and now it’s the norm.

It’s a damn shame that a principled, honest journalist like Cronkite, the man who along with Murrow defined excellence in broadcasting, had to watch while petty, small-minded political whores claimed the mantle of journalism and vilely desecrated the sacred temple of objective reporting. There should be no O’Reilly, no Olbermann, no Hannity, no Maddow. There should be people like Aaron Brown, a fantastic journalist whose broadcast came closest among the contemporaries in doing the kind of reporting that Cronkite did, the kind of reporter who should have inherited the anchor’s chair—and so naturally, CNN fired him. (Worse, they forced him completely out of the business for two years.)

There should be hourlong news shows that report the news, like Jim Lehrer became well-known for. There should be focus on issues—not celebrities and little blonde white girls who are kidnapped. There should be deep background, in-depth reporting, continuing coverage, measured delivery, tough questions, relevant points. Instead we get soft porn set to rock music, the new standard pioneered by Fox “News.”

To think that it was a big deal when Cronkite led the charge to expanding the evening news to half an hour from the previous fifteen minutes they were allotted, to think of Cronkite’s humanity during the Kennedy assassination and the moon launch, to think of the legacy the man left—and then to realize that today, Glenn Beck gets a whole hour to himself, makes you cry for the death of journalism.

Categories: "Liberal" Media, Journalism Tags:

“You’re Gonna Hear a Lot About Class Warfare… Because We’re Getting’ Us Some!”

April 3rd, 2009 4 comments

You know that when Republicans start talking about class warfare, it’s because they plan on waging it even more than before.

You know that Republicans in D.C. have lost their moral compass, that happened quite a while back. You know they they will lie and obfuscate to ridiculous extremes, depending on the the media to back them up, enough to sound credible and get it presented raw to the American people and be believed by many.

But this is pretty amazing. I mean, there is lying, and there is lying. I know I keep on acting surprised at the lengths they go to, but they keep on getting more and more outrageous. Representative Paul Ryan, the ranking Republican Budget Committee member, said this when presenting the Republican budget that actually had some numbers, however ridiculous, in it:

“You’re gonna hear a lot of echoes of class warfare. You’re gonna hear allegations of draconian spending cuts. You’re gonna be told that there is no viable choice for America other than to embrace the president’s radical fiscal agenda. Let me respond to that right now.

”Using class-warfare to take advantage of peoples’ legitimate anger and anxiety, it may make good policy but it’s not leadership. Preying on people’s emotions of fear and envy, it doesn’t create jobs. It demoralizes the small businesspeople who are trying to become successful, and it demonizes the small businesses that are successful that create most of our jobs.“

Update: Upon re-reading this, I noticed something I should have caught before. In the quote above, Ryan begins by saying he wants to respond to potential allegations of class warfare. But in the response, he does not give any evidence that his budget is not class warfare; instead he says class warfare is bad and hints that Obama is guilty of it. That he gives no defense of his own bill is rather telling of the fact that he can’t.

Some things he got right: using class warfare is wrong and it’s not leadership. The error: he ignores the fact that class warfare is a two-sided battle, and conservatives have been waging that warfare more vociferously and have been winning it outright for quite some time now. Think not? Then when rich and poor both needed bailouts, who got no-strings-attached billions and who got short-changed? Who got handsome bonuses and who got told to take a wage cut?

Republicans have been playing at class warfare for a long time now, and what Ryan said is, in a way, nothing new–when Republicans want to open up a whole new front in the class warfare battle, they always start by accusing the other side of it first. But who’s waging war here? Obama, who wants to take the best tax environment for the wealthy in a long time and scale it back just a smidge in the direction it had been for decades?

Or is it the GOP, which launches massive tax cut after massive tax cut for the wealthy, then turns around for some more union busting, followed by slashing of services and benefits for the middle and lower class? Almost their whole agenda is class warfare. When the poor needed cheaper drugs and the taxpayer needed a break with Medicare spending, who instead gave all the power, leverage, and profit to big pharma? When the people in dire straits were pitted against the loan industry, who pushed through legislation to put all the advantages in the hands of the big banks? And in this latest crisis, when regular people overstepped their means but banks lured them to do so for predatory reasons, who got the bailout and who got their homes taken away?

The Republicans want to dish out more of the same all over again–even more tax cuts for the rich. Because the economy will collapse if Paris Hilton doesn’t get all the billions her daddy’s gonna leave her. Because the wealthy need their inheritances more than the people need their homes. Because if we don’t give millionaires and billionaires those Bush tax cuts permanently, who’ll have enough money to save us all?

Note, of course, that Ryan dragged out the perpetual poster boy for the right wing and their rich patrons: the small businessperson. Obama’s budget, Ryan claims, both demoralizes and demonizes the small businessman. Um… how? When? What small businessman–the CEOs of the big banks? Those small businessmen?

Oh no, Ryan must be talking about people like Joe the Plumber. Small businessmen like him who own… um, who want to own, uh… well… who brazenly lied about being a small businessman so he could score a political ”gotcha.“ That’s pretty much all they have–because the small businesspeople they are talking about don’t exist, at least not in any form that will get wiped out by Obama’s plans. Despite Obama’s goal of raising the tax bracket on income over $250,000 a year, that’s not gonna take down a single small businessperson. You’d have to make well over that before you started paying significantly more in taxes, and let’s face it, that ain’t being poor, nor is it going to ruin any business. It might sting a little, but then taxes sting people making less than that a lot more.

I mean, really, is someone gonna say, ”I’m only making $300,000 a year in profit off my small business, but the new few thousand bucks in taxes I gotta pay makes it all totally not worth it–I’m shutting my shop down and going back to being a shop clerk at some other sucker’s store!“ Yeah, that happens all the time, I betcha.

The Republicans, on the other hand, want to make permanent tax cuts for the wealthy and even add some more, and they they want to slash Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. They want to stop the stimulus cold, choking civilian job growth, and then heavily expand military spending, benefitting defense firms but also forcing poorer Americans to instead sign up for military service because there would be no other jobs out there. That’s not class warfare, right?

But the real whopper comes with their projections. Though tax cuts and more tax cuts for the rich have drowned us in deficits and a stagnant economy, despite the fact that Democrats have historically achieved better job growth and lower deficits, this is what the Republicans are claiming will happen if we follow Democratic or Republican budgets:


This is so out of proportion, so ridiculously, ludicrously fictional, it’s actually hilarious. And this economy is a tough room. Republicans might as well say that Democrats will lead us all to the gates of hell while Republicans will have rainbows and magic ponies for all! Just give up the rest of your social programs and translate it into a few more billions in tax cuts for billionaires, and we’ll be there!

And we can trust the Republicans when they tell us this, right? Because they have been so trustworthy and effective in regards to economics up until now, right?

Categories: Economics, Political Ranting Tags:

Battlestar Galactica

March 30th, 2009 1 comment

Okay, BG is now over. Some thoughts about it–below the fold so those who haven’t seen the finale yet won’t accidentally see something. Read more…

Categories: Entertainment Tags:

Traitors By Their Own Reckoning

March 2nd, 2009 Comments off

Think Progress asked Mark Levin and Rick Santorum, a popular conservative radio talk show host and a former Republican Senator, respectively, about Limbaugh’s “I hope Obama fails” theme:

TP: What do you think about what Rush said about, I mean, do you hope, should we hope that President Obama fails?


TP: Yes?

SANTORUM: If … absolutely we hope that his policies fail…. I believe his policies will fail, I don’t know, but I hope they fail.

They join a growing list of Republican stars who are coming out and openly hoping for the President of the United States of America to fail in his attempts to bring economic recovery and peacefully end the war in Iraq, among other policies.

Although Limbaugh initially gave the caveat that he thought Obama’s policies would bring bad things and he opposed those bad things and hoped they’d fail, he has since dropped the pretense and simply hopes for Obama to fail, period. These two prominent conservatives quoted above also leave any pretense behind.

Remember back when Republicans furiously castigated Democrats for even criticizing the president while soldiers were on the ground in a wartime situation? How that was akin to treason? And here they are, not only criticizing Obama (that’s a daily occurrence), they are actively calling for the president and therefore the country to fail. Had Democrats actually suggested this when Bush was president, they Republicans would have gone nuclear. Hoping the nation fails? With soldiers in the field? Are you kidding me?

But hey, it’s okay, because these guys are all about “country first.”

In case you had forgotten, a host of high-ranking Republicans including Dick Cheney, Dennis Hastert, and Donald Rumsfeld claimed that simply opposing the president in a time of war gave “confort and aid” to our enemies, demoralized our troops on the ground, and generally proved to be unpatriotic and anti-American; this sentiment was echoed by all-but-in-name Republican Joe Lieberman, as well as just about every right-wing pundit and TV/radio host in the country.

And now a growing list of Republican high-rollers not only oppose the president–fully their right, but remember, they said that was wrong–but they wish failure to befall the country as it stands on the brink of collapse, just so they can capitalize on it and win the next election.

Democrats never did this. They criticized Bush and his policies and said that they believed Bush would fail, but never that they hoped Bush would fail. Republicans constantly accused Democrats of wanting America to fail and to lose the war–McCain repeatedly accused Obama of exactly that, many times, openly, during the campaign. Once again, we have right-wing projection: accuse the Democrats of something they never did, and then turn around and do it in spades themselves.

Categories: Political Ranting Tags:

What’s the Opposite of “Color Blind”?

February 26th, 2009 1 comment

Throughout the campaign, Republicans, led by their de facto cultural leader Rush Limbaugh, repeatedly claimed that Obama’s popularity stemmed primarily from the fact that he’s black–that this assuaged white guilt, that white liberals wanted Obama only because he’s a minority. This idea, of course, is completely false; Obama is popular with liberals because of his ideas, his abilities, his intelligence, his charisma, his eloquence, his inclusive approach–had Obama been white, he would have been just as popular, perhaps more so.

Instead we see a classic case of projection–conservatives thought liberals only liked Obama because he was black because that’s how they would have reacted. And it is how they have reacted, going all the way back to Obama’s Senate run in 2004. When Obama became the candidate and the Republican incumbent dropped out, the GOP brought in a ringer from outside: Alan Keyes, who just happens to be black. After Obama won the nomination for the Democratic Party, Republicans suddenly started looking much more seriously at the few Republicans of color as potential vice-presidential and future presidential candidates. After Obama was elected, Republicans just happened to elect a black man, Michael Steele, to be their party chief. And when Obama made his big pitch to Congress the other day, the GOP picked Bobby Jindal to give the Republican response.

I mean, how transparent can you be? The GOP seems to think that just because Obama is black, they have to put a person of color up against him almost everywhere. Does anyone really believe that they would have found Keyes, Steele, or Jindal for those jobs if Obama were not black?

Keyes, by the way, continues to show how insane he is. Steele is not far behind, talking about a “hip-hop” approach to GOP branding. Steele has always been somewhat of a charlatan; remember how he ran using those “Steele Democrat” signs, and more recently claimed that when the government creates jobs, they’re not actually jobs? Fact is, if you’re black and Republican, you can get away with a whole lot; being talented and skilled is, as always, a plus, but conservatives only require that you be black and right-wing. Conservatives will love you precisely because you assuage their white guilt. That, plus the ham-handed political strategy of using race against race.

It’s funny, in a way, how conservatives now insist that America is beyond race, is color-blind, is post-racial, etc. because Obama was elected. Aside from the rather notable reaction to Obama in the Appalachians, aside from the right wing’s constant references to race and their consistent use of race, simply the fact that they are claiming that America is post-racial is evidence that it is not. You know when you are post-racial when no one even thinks to talk about race at all.

Categories: Social Issues Tags:


October 12th, 2008 1 comment

With McCain and Palin whipping their crowds into frenzies, getting them so worked up that they are now regularly shouting stuff like, “traitor!” “terrorist!” and “kill him!!” one conservative commentator suggests that Obama represents a potential “thugocracy.”

A few days previous, Hans Von Spakovsky–the Bush administration’s vote-suppression pit bull whose nomination held the Federal Election Commission hostage for many months–bemoaned “how partisan and politically-biased the Justice Department and other federal agencies would be under an Obama administration.” This after years of the Bush administration blatantly saturating the bureaucracy with die-hard loyalists, going further than any administration in history to politicize what had been considered completely off-hands to partisanship–with Spakovsky himself being a poster-boy for that very movement.

Hypocrisy? Projection? Working the refs? Blindness? Uber-partisanship? All of the above, and then some?