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Why the Turnout?

November 26th, 2012 Comments off
One reader at TPM pointed this out:
I think there is one point to remember when Republicans keep saying that they are so surprised that core groups in the Obama electoral coalition, like African Americans, young voters, etc., were able to match or even exceed their 2008 turnout: Republicans did some pretty unbelievable, disrespectful and frankly unconscionable things to this President that JT’s cites: shouting “You Lie!” to him during the middle of his State of the Union address (something that was frankly never contemplated to be done to Clinton or Bush, despite rapid opposition), challenging his birthplace and religion, or Governor Brewer pointing her finger in his face on the tarmac, much of which was repeated nightly on places like Fox News. Regardless of whether these things were done because of the President’s race (and I think that a pretty convincing argument could be made that a lot of what happened was at least partially due to his race), the fact of the matter is that Republicans who engaged in this type of behavior honestly shouldn’t be surprised now that there was some consequence to their actions, and by this I mean that the President’s supporters, who felt and understood this disrespect, would be extra-motivated to support him in response to these antics.
I would agree with that, but would say it's not the whole story. I think a good deal of it was also the awareness that, despite any and all of the left's disappointments about Obama not being lefty enough, we were strongly aware that there was a huge difference between Obama and Romney. This was our bane in the 2000 election—too many people, especially the 2.74% who voted for Nader, felt that there was little or no difference between Gore and Bush, only to be horrified at how wrong indeed that was. Our budget surplus wrecked and exploding deficits like none we had seen before, rampant partisanism and legislative bulldozing from the right, two massive land wars in Asia—I could go on, but you probably remember the highlights. These voters realized that Gore would not have instituted full-on class warfare and while the surplus may have evaporated, it would not have changed to trillion-dollar deficits. That even if Gore had let 9/11 happen, he would have been reserved in Afghanistan and never would have gone into Iraq. That Gore would never have been the simple-minded sock puppet Bush wound up being. This realization of differences only became more sharply defined in 2008, when McCain started kowtowing to extremists, and then chose Sarah Palin, who was Bush on steroids, in all the worst ways. We had seen moderate Supreme Court Justice O'Connor replaced with an ideological soulmate of scumbag Antonin Scalia, and the Chief Justice replaced with a young staunch conservative, and realized that had things gone differently, the court could have transformed into a body that would never have sunk to the rank political depths of Bush v. Gore. Romney only continued to sharpen the distinction. Like McCain, he was a flip-flopper bowing to the extremists, a rich, privileged white man—but this time one who represented the worst of the Wall Street excesses that we recoiled from so violently in 2007 onward. And he chose as a running mate a poster boy for the dismantling of Social Security and Medicare. That, with four septuagenarians on the bench. Yeah, I would say there was motivation from that direction as well.

Categories: Election 2012 Tags:

Owning Your Leader

November 26th, 2012 Comments off
A whole lot of Republicans are now falling all over Romney with recriminations about how he threw the election. Here's a news flash, kiddos: you chose him. And not only did you choose him, you knew who he was when you chose him. You knew that he was an out-of-touch plutocrat. You knew he was a major-league flip-flopper. You knew he was an awkward, goofy gaffe machine. You knew that his ideas and policies were vague, inconsistent, and unworkable. What I'd like to hear is a Republican who is saying, “Man, we really screwed up. We should have gone with Huntsman.” Maybe someone out there is saying it, but I haven't heard it spoken very loudly. The thing is, Republicans tend to do this—run away from their choices after they fail. Remember the George W. Bush administration? Most Republicans don't seem to have. A pet peeve of mine is all the Republicans who are now claiming that they not only disagreed with Bush when it came to his deficit-busting spending and other bad choices, but they claim that they spoke out against him while he was in office. I have heard so many Republicans make that claim, you would think that 2001-2008 was a time thick with right-wing complaints against Bush. Funny, I don't remember any of their voices saying that back then. Maybe they were whispering. Whenever a Republican makes that claim, they should be required to provide sources. They never do. And I bet it's because, if you looked up those sources, you'd find them as small caveats or minor quibbles within a greater text of praise and support for Bush. As in, “Well, I love the president's budget and I heartily approve all his policies, but we will, at some point, have to deal with the budgetary impact.” Which, of course, is not “opposing” or “speaking out against.” Of course, we'll never see those sources referenced. These are people who screwed up big time; the whole point of the exercise is to lie. A related point is when Republicans appear on talk shows and try to sound reasonable. “You don't know it,” they say, “but not all Republicans are like that. Many of us are [insert reasonable stand on a specific policy here].” Many of these are people who are staunchly conservative on most issues but have one where they are moderate, and so try to paint themselves—and the party as a whole—as reasonable and mainstream. A good example is Bill O'Reilly, who makes a point about how he is for gun control, as if that makes him a moderate or something. A few of these people actually are moderates—but they are such a minority that they never have an impact within their party. And that's the real test: if you can not or will not advance your moderate views within the Republican Party so they have any chance of moving the dial even a tiny bit, then your moderate leanings are meaningless. What matters are the policies which get presented, advocated, and passed—not the policies that a few wish for but never do anything about. You can't take credit for things that never materialize. Now, this may not be the fault of the true moderates, as they are marginalized by the extremists in their own party. Which brings us back to how Romney won the nomination. Virtually everything the Republican Party puts forth these days must pass extremist muster—which is why only a bunch of clowns were potentially successful candidates this year. I remember seeing a Hispanic Republican on a talk show recently, who claimed that she was offended by a lot of stuff that Romney said, and didn't like him—but supported him wholeheartedly because he was the GOP candidate. However, you can't do that: the only way he'll stop being offensive is if you criticize him for it when it matters, not afterwards. Criticizing him now helps neither you nor him at all. It's pointless, self-serving criticism, like saying, “I didn't say it at the time, but I knew you should have taken the left turn at Main Street, we would have gotten here much faster. I was right and you were wrong.” Nor did I feel that this person could claim much credit for being so reasonable. It comes down to this: if you march in the Clown Parade, then you belong to it. If you come over to the sidelines and tell me, “Man, I wish they'd stop wearing so much makeup and piling into Volkswagens all the time,” I am not going to be impressed if you then step right back into the Clown Parade and fully support their actions. If you back someone without making your reservations known when it matters, then you own their whole deal, whether you like it or not. Sure, Republicans can be disappointed with Romney. But they can't act like they didn't make him what he was—which means they have to be disappointed with themselves as well.

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags:

Benghazi, Part II

November 18th, 2012 1 comment
This seems to be the core outcome of Petraeus' testimony, at least as far as Republicans are concerned:
Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), exiting yesterday from a closed door meeting with Petraeus, said the retired general told the House Homeland Security Committee that the original CIA-drafted talking points named two militant groups — Ansar al-Shariah and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb — but that those references were removed from the version ultimately used by Rice. King, recounting Petraeus’ testimony, said, “It was a long process, an interagency process and when they came back it had been taken out.” There was instead only a passing reference to “extremists” in the final draft. Petraeus reportedly told the lawmakers he wasn’t sure which agency replaced the groups’ names with the word “extremist” in the final draft. “The fact is, the reference to al-Qaeda was taken out somewhere along the line by someone outside the intelligence community,” King said. “We need to find out who did it and why.”
Ah. So, in an intelligence report which informed the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., the names of groups seen as responsible were scrubbed somewhere along the line. Let me see, where did we see this before? Oh, wasn't that is the Bush administration, when Colin Powell went before the U.N. with all that fake info? Gee, what was Congressman King's reaction when he discovered that Powell's information was entirely wrong? Apparently, he was not very concerned and did not call for an investigation. In fact, King was later a vocal supporter of Colin Powell when there was speculation that Powell would Run for Hillary. Instead, King among others is calling Rice incompetent, apparently for reporting what she had been told. Whatever the case, incorrect information about security affairs was publicly given by the Obama administration. So, should I be condemning them the way I would equally condemn the Bush administration? Let's see. Powell's testimony was slanted, but we now know it was intentionally slanted by those inside the Bush administration. That testimony helped start a war which cost the lives of thousands of U.S. troops, tens or hundreds of thousands of Iraqi citizens, and helped bankrupt the nation. There is no outcome in the current case which is even remotely similar. No decade-long ground war in Libya or anywhere else that will begin as a result. With Powell's testimony, there was a clear motive for releasing false information. With Rice's testimony, there was no motive—Obama stood to gain nothing from misrepresenting the cause of the attack. In fact, he may be lauded for not crying terrorism—we recall that Bush, in 2004, did exactly that, inflating claims of imminent terrorism to make people more aware a policy area that favored Bush, just as that exact same policy area now favors Obama. Obama, however, was cautiously quiet, where he would have benefitted to make a big deal out of it. The opposite of a scandal. In the case of Powell's testimony, it was clear that the data was intentionally altered in order to promote an agenda of war. In the case of Rice's testimony, there was no motive for anything; it appears to be nothing more than a bureaucratic or clerical screw-up at least, or some minor intrigue within the intelligence community at most. We still do not even know how the names were taken from the reports, or even if there was any intent to do so. But even assuming the worst, there is nothing more than a need to fix that cog in the machine. So King, who overlooked an intentional intelligence scandal when his party was in charge, will likely be trying to invent an equivalent scandal where none exists. As will McCain and the rest of the GOP. Because, you know, they're all so bipartisan and stuff. America First. Reaching across the aisle to strangle the opposition.

An Ungracious Exit

November 16th, 2012 5 comments
Usually, when a candidate loses an election, he makes a gracious concession speech and then, in a dignified manner, retires from public attention for a while. We may hear from him later on, but we do not hear him grousing about how the other guy illicitly won the election. Even Al Gore, who lost because the other guy actually did steal the election, in the most galling ways, even Gore did not complain about how the election was lost. He commented on other stuff, like how Bush ignored the warnings before 9/11, but that was years later. After November 2000, he gracefully conceded and faded away for a few years. Not so Mitt Romney. Barely a week after he loses the election, he's still grousing to other rich people about how Obama stole the election from him by promising poor people, minorities, and women “free stuff.” He bitterly suggested that Democrats try to give away free dental care in 2016, suggesting that trillion-dollar unpaid-for giveaways are nothing to liberals. You see, we Democrats are immoral here. You should never win elections by providing things to the electorate. You should win them by providing things to your patrons, in particular wealthy people and corporations. That's the only moral way to win an election. So, what was the “free stuff” Obama bribed voters with? According to Romney, it was Obama's healthcare law and support for comprehensive immigration reform. The problem is, neither of these things really have a significant impact on the budget, but they do help remedy serious problems we face today. In truth, we need better. Single-payer would be more cost-effective still, as would controls on health care prices—but both are fanatically opposed by conservatives like Romney. Immigration needs to be fixed, but “self-deportation” is as ludicrous and insulting as Romney's pipe dream that he would solve the trade war he'd start with China by looking at them sternly. So, reasonable and economically feasible plans that address social needs, that's “free stuff” which costs trillions of dollars a pop. Unlike Bush's Medicare plans, which cost vast sums of money and were actually unpaid for, which acted as “free stuff” for seniors, a powerful voting bloc, and was a payoff to Big Pharma to boot. That, apparently, was OK. Same with Romney's tax gifts. Apparently, a 20% tax cut across the board, which Romney vigorously tried to frame as being for the middle class, would have cost nearly $5 trillion over ten years, and was unpaid for. That was not “free stuff”? It would provide a huge slice of what government does for free, so I think that qualifies. And, like Bush's Pharma payoff, Romney's tax plan would have been a ginormous gift to the rich. Corporate taxes slashed by 30%. Marginal tax rates for the wealthy slashed by 20%, and if, like many wealthy people—including Romney!—you could engineer your income to be capital gains, that would be slashed to zero! And no taxes in death, either. Yeah, that's definitely not “free stuff.” What this shows, more than anything else, is that Romney's 47% speech that was released on video was not some aberration. It was not something that just “came out wrong.” It appears that this is, in fact, exactly what Romney believes to be true. Remember how Romney kept saying stuff during the election which was based on far-right-field stuff from extreme web sites? Like the idea that Obama did not use the word “terror” to describe the Benghazi attacks? More and more, it is apparent that this is who Romney is—a guy who reads Newsbusters and Red State, believes them literally, and uses them as sources for his claims. We thought he was a cipher, a blank slate, a flip-flopper who would say or do anything but in fact represented nothing. We were wrong. He's a wingnut. A Freeper. And he's a sore loser.

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

All or Nothing

November 14th, 2012 4 comments
It's been said of late that conservatives are so patriotic that they want to secede from the union. They love the Constitution so much, they want to rewrite it. They love Democracy, but hate when people they disagree with vote. They love America, but clearly hate most Americans. They want to do away with government handouts, but will cry havoc if anyone threatens to touch their Social Security or Medicare checks. They denounce government pork, but take the lion's share. They seem to think that the central theme of a nation which calls itself a “union” is “every man for himself.” And now that their extremism has truly begun to marginalize them despite every game and trick they can imagine to inflate their influence, more and more of them are having tantrums. A Republican woman in Arizona was so distraught after Obama won, she ran her husband down with her car because he failed to vote. She claimed that “she believed her family would suffer under a second term of President Barack Obama.” The Republican county treasurer in Hardin, Texas, made public his opinion that Texas should secede, saying that “in due time, the maggots will have eaten every morsel of flesh off of the rotting corpse of the Republic.” He claimed to just want to “avoid this gut-wrenching spectacle every four years.” One presumes he did not feel this way in 2004, nor would he have if Romney had won. However, it is no longer just scattered nutballs at the fringe. It is, instead, a growing conservative movement. Petitions have begin to grow for secession. At the White House web site, there are petitions for 35 states to secede from the union. Seven have grown to over 20,000 signatures; Texas is at 85,000. Each petition reads the same: “Peacefully grant the State of [state name] to Withdraw from the United States of America and Create its own NEW Government.” West Virginia, apparently, wants to form its own “NEW Govern.” On the one hand, it's relatively easy to dismiss: I see no filter which would prevent people from other states or even other countries signing the petitions. I am not sure, but doubt there is a limit to home many petitions one person may sign. Nevertheless, the disparity in numbers for each suggests at least that it's not an automated con job. The greatest caveat is sincerity; perhaps most people doing this individually are doing so as a form of protest. However, you know that with many—who knows, maybe more than half the numbers—they are sincere. Maybe not very knowledgable, maybe not aware what secession actually means, but sincere nevertheless. And you can bet that the sincere ones essentially want to leave the table and stick the remaining parties with the check. Take Texas, for example. You think they want to take their share of the national debt with them? By population, it's nearly $1.3 trillion. I almost signed their petition. All of this is not about what is claimed. When the debt was skyrocketing under Bush, no one was clamoring for secession. Had Romney been elected and had he been able to institute his policies, the debt would have shot up (instead of having gone down under Obama); in that case, again, you can be assured there would have been no such outcry for secession. Despite their claims, the secessionists are not about the debt; they are fine with it when their party is in power. Nor do I think it is mostly about race. For some, yes; there is undeniably a racist tinge to much of the discontent. But I believe that were it Hillary or Biden instead of Obama, we'd be seeing the same thing. No, I think this has more to do with simply being in control. Fully in control. Getting everything that you want. What summed it up best, in my opinion, was a small story from 2005, just a few months after Bush was re-elected. Republicans owned the White House and controlled both houses of Congress. The Supreme Court was deciding cases more conservatively than not. Fox News was the loudest voice out there, MSNBC not having yet found its voice. Most pundits were conservatives, as were the loudest and the most often heard. Sunday talk shows predominantly featured Republicans. Conservative views and policies ran over liberal ones. At that time, Starbucks had a little campaign called “The Way I See It,” in which quotes, often political, were printed on the cups. Most were from liberal personalities. A Republican woman in Florida lamented, “I'm not surprised. I'm used to being under-represented.” Now, think about that. “I'm used to being under-represented.” For the previous two years, her party had full control over the entire government, and for almost all of it for more than four years, and had just won re-election and control for another two. In her state, her party controlled the governorship and the legislature, and had for some time. How exactly was this woman “under-represented”? We see this many times in conservative culture. White males dominate in virtually every manner of success and benefit from widespread racial preference, and yet whine about “reverse discrimination.” Christians see their religion and beliefs dominate the nation in almost every single respect, but literally throw themselves on the ground in lamentation over a “war on Christianity.” It seems that the more conservatives get, the more they feel victimized when the last scraps are still held by someone else. This is how many conservatives see politics: as an all-or-nothing game. Either we get everything we want, or it's never enough. We win, we get to do anything we want. We lose, and we wreck the game and scatter the pieces. This is precisely what Republicans in Congress have been doing: overrunning when in power, obstructing when not. I hate to use the old cliché, but there is no better analogy for what we are seeing than a spoiled-rotten three-year-old throwing a shrieking, foot-stamping tantrum because he can't have everyone's cake. It is simply far too apt. Tell you what. Take a few southern states, give them to the hard-core right-wingers, make sure they take their portion of the debt (they did, after all, incur most of it, but let's divide it evenly anyway), and let them build their 20-foot wall around their new country. We'll be far better off without these people. Just make sure they don't take any nukes with them.

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

GOP Cooperating? Isn’t That Like Sharks Hugging?

November 12th, 2012 3 comments
Bill Kristol himself is noting that Republicans will have to actually act in a bipartisan way and compromise, instead of being totally obstructionist and just pretending to be the bipartisan ones:
“I think Republicans will have to give in much more than they think,” Kristol said. He believes Obama will be able to pass major, consequential legislation in his second term. “Four presidents in the last century have won more than 51 percent of the vote twice: Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan and Obama,” Kristol said. “I think there will be a big budget deal next year. It will be an Obama-type budget deal much more than a Paul Ryan-type budget deal.”
This seems to hold with Boehner's apparent “maybe we could possibly see our way towards some kind of compromise perhaps” attitude as of late. So, is this a Charlie-Brown-and-Lucy football-kicking fakeout? Are Republicans just acting in a compromising and bipartisan fashion only so they can later bug out, but claim it was Obama who bullied them into it? Or have conservatives actually figured out that their demographics are sinking, their histrionics are getting old and worn, and that maybe obstructionism isn't working for them as well as they thought? I think that, in private, they did not miss the fact that they not only lost the presidency and the Senate rather significantly, but they also lost the House—a trend that will only intensify. And that in order to keep even the House, they are going to have to start rethinking this whole batshit-crazy let-nothing-pass crap that's been sinking the economy—now that the electorate has given them a not-so-gentle nudge to say, “Stop fracking around and start getting some work done.” Of course, I am ever the optimist.

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Why Romney Lost

November 11th, 2012 3 comments
Conservatives are suggesting lots of reasons. The media was in the tank for Obama. Hurricane Sandy robbed Romney of his “momentum.” Romney did not vilify Obamacare enough. Obama and/or pollsters “suppressed the vote.” And so forth. Of course, that's all crap. The media, as always, tried as hard as possible to make the election a horse race, which gets them ratings. Romney's “momentum” had died well before Hurricane Sandy, and was not his momentum but instead Obama's self-injury in Denver, from which he recovered. Romney could not vilify Obamacare more than it had been vilified, and people were beginning to tire of the claim, not to mention Romney's case was weak because of Romneycare. And as for suppressing the vote, that's a contemptible fabrication from a party that put forth the most powerful drive to suppress the vote in living memory. So, why did Romney lose? To me, the reason was simple: Republicans didn't have anyone competent who could pass through their sickeningly twisted nomination process, and once Romney was through it, it turned out that he was a rich, elitist, out-of-touch, lying, flip-flopping Mormon Gordon Gekko who spat on poor people (the “47%”), proposed raising taxes on everyone but the rich (for whom he would cut taxes deeply, again), gave no details on any of his ludicrous and fraudulent plans, and chose an extremist VP candidate famous for idolizing an radical atheist and wanting to kill Medicare and Social Security. I mean, seriously, what does it take to lose a presidential campaign nowadays? It's not surprising at all that Romney lost. What was amazing is that he came as close as he did to winning. Not too close, but enough to make your hair stand on end when you think about what people could see he was and yet voted for him anyway. Is it just my imagination, or do politicians in the GOP have to regularly say and do things today which would have destroyed the career of any politician just thirty years ago? Update: This helps make the case. I am pretty certain you could not make a video like this of Obama, not without using selective editing to fake half the stuff, and even then the video would only be about 20 seconds long and still not half as damning as this.

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

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.

Obama Wins Second Term

November 7th, 2012 10 comments
Well, Thank God. Really. If Romney had won, … well, you get the idea. It would have been bad. As it stands, the Dems have won control of the Senate, and the GOP will almost certainly control the House… putting us back where we have been for the past two years. My guess: the GOP will continue with obstructionism. The question: will Dems be smart enough to limit the filibuster to, say, 5 or 10 per year, or else make it a talk-and-then-vote deal, with the cloture vote going the way of the dinosaur. Not the nuclear option, but enough for Democrats to actually start passing stuff finally--they have been blocked for two years, and hamstrung for four. Side note: already Fox is coming up with excuses. Current headline: “How Media Tipped Scales in Obama's Favor.”

Categories: Election 2012 Tags:

Divided Realities

November 7th, 2012 6 comments
Pop quiz: can you see anything in this screenshot from their web page which looks like it might be biased? Foxhl-1 The real question is, do you see anything that's not biased? Seriously, I think the red banner citing closing times for polls is maybe the only content on that page that's not laughably prejudicial. In particular, note the photo: Fox seems to have found the only image of a line of voters which doesn't have a single black person in it. Not only that, but note the lawn chairs—meaning that this photo was taken before the polls opened, meaning that it was not a problem where people had to wait for 6 to 9 hours, but instead just a lot of people getting ready early in the morning. Two solid bets: one, that the line shown here abruptly ends just out of frame on the right, and two, that once the polling place opened, the line quickly disappeared. Looking back at their web site, they show similar photos in place of that one—but all are of whites only, and all photos are only of small segments of lines, obviously from short waits made to look long. The headlines are almost comical. Three stories on how a voting place in Washington D.C. has a mural of Obama on the wall, as if it's some vast conspiracy to sway voters… when it's an elementary school in a predominantly African-American district, the mural (along with another of Oprah Winfrey) having been voted for by students three years ago. The image of Obama was covered, but Fox, which minimized the fact that it was a school to make it sound more like someone had just painted a mural on a stark municipal building wall or something, made a huge deal about how, at least at one point, the Obama logo was still visible. As if this, and not tens of thousands of legitimate voters illicitly knocked off voter rolls, was the big story of the day. Then there's the massive invasion of marching armies of Black Panthers intimidating voters… no, wait, in fact it's one guy, and he's a duly appointed poll watcher. Definitely worthy of national headline news. Then there's a story on union shenanigans, alongside a story about how Super PACs really aren't so bad. Like I said, comical… and yet, not so comical once you realize that millions of people look at this site and somehow come away feeling that they are being given unbiased news coverage. I've known people like this, people who look me straight in the eye and insist that Fox's coverage is, in fact, fair and balanced, not a hint of bias. Nbchl1Here's the thing: when I visit sites like Talking Points Memo or Washington Monthly, I know they're biased to my point of view. I can also tell that sites like Five-Thirty-Eight are not biased. If I see the headline lineup, shown at right, from NBCNews.com, I can tell there's a left-leaning slant due to the specific positive quotes for Obama and Biden, the neutral story about Ryan, and the story on corporate money in the race. It's easy to tell that NBC is not nearly as slanted as Fox, but I can see and freely admit that there is a slant, and take that into account when trying to register what's what. Too many right-wingers, however, seem to take the slant as truth. They have real problems admitting there's a bias at work. You see the right-wing talking heads on TV confronted with this, asked to admit that there's even a little bias, and they immediately shift focus and start talking about something on a tangent, or else they get this sudden inability to talk, as if they know they should say something to sound like they are at least open-minded, but can't find any words to express such a thing. It's like a very specific kind of aphasia. But the fact remains that there is a very significant Reality Distortion Field at play here. Fox News is weighing down the scales on the right so much, it really has created a separate, artificial reality, a lens through which tens of millions of Americans now see the country and the world. There is a liberal false reality as well, but let's face it—it is nowhere near as pronounced. There is no equivalency here; the difference is as stark as PBS pledge drive and a Ted Nugent concert—where the people getting the tote bags understanding fully well how dorky and stodgy they're being, while the Nugent fans think it's perfectly defensible to publicly suggest the president suck on a machine gun.

Categories: "Liberal" Media, Election 2012 Tags:

Ponta Calls the Election

November 6th, 2012 3 comments
I asked. He answered.
Categories: Election 2012 Tags:

Suppressing the Vote

November 5th, 2012 6 comments
In Florida and Ohio, both crucial swing states and both states with Republican governors and legislatures, the lines for early voting are horrendously long, some people waiting as much as half the day to vote (reports range up to six or even nine hours). Some are getting their cars towed while they wait. Many are just being turned away. A lot of people see the lines around the block and turn away, not being able to spare the time away from second and third jobs to vote. But not everywhere. Primarily in poor, heavily minority areas, it seems. Apparently, the Republican state governments somehow seemed to forget to give them enough voting machines and other resources to let everyone vote, even though it was obvious more were needed since lines were already too long before Republican slashed the number of early voting days and hours. Gee, how about that? I'm sure it was an innocent oversight. Because otherwise there would have been intent to deprive tens of thousands of people of their right to vote based upon their political orientation, and that would constitute felony election fraud. And that's not possible, right?

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Slime Tags:

The Weak Point

November 5th, 2012 2 comments
Obama holds a lead among women. He leads among blacks and Hispanics. He leads among young people. In fact, he carries a lead amongst most demographic groups. His weak point is, pretty much exclusively, married older white men from the South without graduate degrees and who go to church regularly. They pretty much hate Obama. Hmmm….

Categories: Election 2012 Tags:

Governance by Extortion

November 4th, 2012 1 comment
“The debt ceiling will come up again, and shutdown and default will be threatened, chilling the economy.”Mitt Romney, Nov. 2, 2012
This expresses, in crystalline form, how the Republicans have practiced politics over the past many years. It boils down to, “If we are in control, we run over you and give you nothing; if you are in control, we set fire to the house.” In 2006, Democrats took control of Congress. According to Republicans, they are bipartisan and would reach across the aisle. They didn't. They began to use the filibuster in record numbers, blocking everything that came down the pike. Trent Lott, then Minority Whip, made the strategy very clear:
“The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail… and so far, it’s working for us. Democrats are the ones taking the blame for not getting anything done.” Trent Lott, July 2007
Immediately upon Obama's election, Republicans, in what they claim was a bipartisan attempt to reach out, made persistent announcements that they hoped Obama would fail to stimulate the economy, create jobs, and bring the nation back from the brink of depression:
“I shamelessly say, no, I want him to fail….” --Rush Limbaugh, January 21, 2009 Question: “Do you agree with Rush Limbaugh that we shouldn’t hope for President Obama to succeed?” Tom DeLay: “Well, exactly right. I don’t want this for our nation. That’s for sure.” --Tom Delay, former House Majority Leader, February 2009 “Absolutely we hope that his policies fail.” … “I believe his policies will fail, I don’t know, but I hope they fail.” --Rick Santorum, February 2009
In fact, it was Obama who was bipartisan—literally to a fault. He set the tone at his inauguration, inviting conservative evangelical Rick Warren to give the invocation, and then expanded from there. As I wrote in February 2009, “Obama went way out of his way to include Republicans; he even left pride behind and showed up at the Republicans’ doorstep, gave them large amounts of face time and more than a little respect; he quickly eliminated programs from his stimulus that Republicans complained about, like family planning provisions, and gave Republicans several key elements they demanded, like increased tax cuts, despite their limited effectiveness in situations such as this.” Republicans responded to his overtures by harshly criticizing him, and despite multiple concessions on Obama's part for a plan already conservative in nature, they rewarded him with zero votes for his proposals in the House, and nearly unanimous votes against in the Senate—the only crossovers being Specter (who soon after became a Democrat), and Snow & Collins (the two Maine centrists); virtually a solid wall of Republicans slapping Obama in the face. This pattern continued for most of Obama's term: He begins by issuing proposals which are already compromises (for example, his health care plan was one created by conservatives in the 1990's, and instituted by none other than the Republican nominee when he was governor), and then makes steady compromises, taking away things liberals want and adding things conservatives want. Throughout the process, conservatives call him vile names, and in the end, they vote in lockstep against Obama. Again and again--even on policies which just years or even months before were policies championed by conservatives themselves. Their goals were not only clear, they were clearly stated:
“The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” --Mitch McConnell, October 23, 2010
Note that this was their first priority, more important than creating jobs or helping the economy. As evidenced by the fact that, while Democrats in 2008 hastened to pass a stimulus and many other bills to help the economy, Republicans, taking control of the House in 2010, did nothing on jobs or the economy at all. Unless reciting the Constitution—badly—is a “job creator.” Republicans have made repeated claims of bipartisanship, and similar claims that Obama is harshly partisan. Bipartisanship requires compromise. It requires the agreement or cooperation of both parties on issues they disagree on; that is, in effect, the definition of the word. Obama has begun, continued, and ended with compromise and cooperation, much to his detriment amongst his own party. Republicans?
“This is not a time for compromise, and I can tell you that we will not compromise on our principles.” --John Boehner, October 27, 2010.
Rush Limbaugh laid out the new conservative meaning of bipartisanship without the window dressing:
“To us, bipartisanship is [Democrats] being forced to agree with us after we politically have cleaned their clocks and beaten them.” Rush Limbaugh, at CPAC, February 28, 2009
This is not just a fad with them; when they sense a winning strategy, it becomes their core strategy, more or less permanently. In the 1990's, they discovered that engineering language helped them; they have stuck with it ever since. In 2006, they discovered that filibusters and obstructionism worked for them; it is now their primary method of governance. Compromise? That too has gone the way of the dinosaur; no matter how hard Democrats try—and they have been trying, even after it was proven more or less hopeless to do so—Republicans refuse to compromise. And now, they have taken on a new strategy: holding America hostage. They did it last year by threatening to default on the debt, and as a result, severely damaged America's credit and good standing. Despite that, they are threatening it again. Nor is it to bring down the deficit or erase the debt; their own policies would add trillions to the deficit. The threat of default, just like the excuse of things having to be “paid for,” only apply to things Democrats try to pass. If it is a Republican measure, it does not need to be paid for—on the claim that all of their policies are so beneficial, that somehow, down the road, they will magically pay for themselves. Which goes contrary to established fact. They do not even stand by their own promises. They sign pledges against any tax increase—and then propose a spate of tax plans that would indirectly and directly increase taxes on the poor and the middle class. They complain about the “47 percent” as if they paid no taxes, put forth proposals to make the poor pay even more, and then lay out plans to cut taxes for rich people to zero. And for these “principles,” there is no compromise; “bipartisanship” means that Democrats do whatever Republicans want. The primary task is not helping America or Americans, but achieving political mastery, even if it means bringing the economy crashing down. This is the modern Republican Party. That anybody votes for it is a monument to the audacity of propaganda and hate, to the victory of repeating lies and blaming the other guy over the attempt to govern by the traditional system, however faulty the system may be. The policy is simple: if we win, give the other side nothing. If they win, set fire to the house and let them wallow in the blame. If you vote Republican—at the local, state, or federal level—this is what you are voting for. Scorched Earth. Lies. Hate. Because, as Trent Lott pointed out, it's working for them.

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Extremism Tags:

Unemployment

November 4th, 2012 Comments off
Well, my streak ended. Unemployment ticked back up a point this month. So, while I was right much of the time, I was wrong on this one. Still, not bad for someone who knows next to nothing about economics. All this means, however, is that the three-quarters lag is not the only variable; people re-entered the workforce in enough numbers to bring the rate back up. As a result, it's not necessarily bad news for Obama—in addition, the jobs number were much higher than expected, and previous month's numbers keep getting bumped up. This, plus Obama's performance governing during Hurricane Sandy will likely help him this Tuesday. In the meantime, Obama seems to have solidified his place in the battleground states; it is looking less and less likely that Romney will pull a victory out of this.

Categories: Economics, Election 2012 Tags:

Did I Just Commit Voter Fraud?

November 3rd, 2012 6 comments
Let's see. I'm a Democrat, and I just voted for Obama. By Republican standards, I just broke the law. Compounded by the fact that I just did so by fax, with no photo ID. Everyone should vote, no matter what. It's something that Americans should do just as a matter of principle, if nothing else. Ironically, aside from that, there was very little motivation for me to vote, as I vote in California, and in a district which is staunchly Democratic (Democratic candidates typically get about 70% of the vote), so there was pretty much zero concern that my vote would sway anything one way or the other. However, there was one factor which did motivate me more: the popular vote. Even if my vote does not mean the difference in electing who I want for the House, the Senate, or for president, there is the factor that the popular vote is seen as a contributing factor in terms of the support of the nation as a whole—something which Republicans, who sneered at the idea in 2000, will use as a cudgel against Obama should he with the electoral but lose the popular vote.

Categories: Election 2012 Tags:

More False Equivalencies Over Debate Fact-Checking

October 24th, 2012 7 comments
FactCheck.org has more to be ashamed of in its “fact-checking” of the final debate. Once again, they go out of their way to create a false equivalency by making it seem like Obama and Romney were equally untruthful. They list ten “incorrect or twisted factual claims” during the debate, five from each candidate. From Obama (who, strangely, is featured in 4 of the top five items, making him appear more untruthful), they cite distortions of Romney's statements on Pakistan, Iraq, Russia, and the Detroit bailout, and dinged him for a claim about veteran employment. From Romney, they cite the Naval weakness, “apology tour,” federal debt claim, taking credit for Massachusetts' education accomplishments, and a claim about terrorism not being mentioned in the 2000 debates. Here are Romney errors and lies they missed:
  • Syria is Iran’s route to the sea
  • Obama failed to deal with Syria and begged for help from the U.N. and Russia instead
  • Obama was “silent” on Iran's Green Revolution
  • Obama said he'd distance ourselves from Israel
  • Obama wasted four years doing nothing about Iran
  • Obama has allowed “jihadists” to strengthen and spread
  • Government investments never make businesses grow and hire people
  • Claims about the nature of Medicaid and how states can run it better
  • Romney was strikingly bipartisan in Massachusetts, when in fact, he exercised the veto 844 times and failed to get his big-ticket items through the legislature
  • Romney will create 12 million new jobs
  • Romney will eliminate Obamacare unilaterally
  • Romney would stop Iranian oil imports that don't exist
  • Romney will balance the budget (with a $5 trillion tax cut on top of Bush's plus increased military spending)
  • The debt is Obama's fault, is like Greece's, and Romney's plans will shrink the deficit in comparison
Ironically, FactCheck.org dings Obama for misrepresenting Romney on his Detroit statements, while Romney also misrepresented himself—but that was not mentioned in their analysis. In fact, Obama's “inaccurate” depiction of Romney's statements is kind of a weasel: Obama is dinged for saying that Romney did not approve of “government assistance,” when he was referring to direct aid; Romney said he'd approve federal guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing, which involves indirect government support for a private sector bailout—a bailout which would not have occurred. Calling Obama out for splitting hairs while not citing Romney's lies about what he proposed is completely inappropriate for a fact-check like this. Romney lied more significantly, but Obama is called untruthful for not being specific enough. How about Obama “lies” left out of the analysis? FactCheck.org has dinged Obama in the past for claiming that Romney's tax plan would create 800,000 jobs overseas, but it's an interpretation based on Romney's vagueness about what the plan would be exactly; so not including it in the fact-check was a good decision. Other than that? Well, there's one I heard on CNN, when they were “fact checking” the claim about the Navy. To my disgust, they called Obama the one who was wrong. Why? Because bayonets are standard issue, and so there are probably more in the military now than there were in the past. As if Romney's vast overstatements about naval weakness are somehow even close to being equivalent to that. It was a throwaway line, a “zinger,” if you will, and part of a larger point which was 100% true: that the number of ships, especially over the span of a century, is not the way you determine naval power. In short: Every single misstatement by Obama is listed save one or two inconsequential ones, while at least a dozen whoppers made by Romney are edited out of the fact-check. Romney lied his ass off, making bigger and more significant misstatements, and somehow, Obama gets top listing for inaccuracies in a determination that counts the same overall number of untruths? This is the great shame of the media in this election: ever since the first debate, where Romney made his sudden Etch-a-Sketch move, the media has been willing to eviscerate Obama, while backing off on Romney. Probably as much to create a horserace which will get them bigger ratings than because of their conservative bias, but the motive makes little difference. The fact is, Romney is getting away with a massive amount of lying, and the media is his immediate accomplice.

Romney’s Tax Lie

October 18th, 2012 3 comments
People are now coming away with the impression that Romney is vowing not to cut taxes for the wealthy, and instead focus only on middle-class tax cuts. In fact, many people now are convinced that Romney wants to not only leave the base tax levels for rich people unchanged, but to get rid of all or almost all of their deductions and loopholes. The impression is that he'll actually make wealthy people pay more in taxes! In reality, this is a very similar con game to the one Bush played in 2000; make it sound like the tax cuts are aimed at the common man, then shovel the lion's share to the rich. The difference is that Romney is being even more dishonest than Bush was. The fact is that Romney has not changed his tax plan one bit. He still plans to cut taxes 20%, or one-fifth, across the board, which is a far bigger and better deal for rich people whose income may still fall under the highest marginal tax rate. In addition, he would eliminate capital gains taxes (a major source of income for rich people cut to zero), eliminate the millionaires- and billionaires-only estate tax, and slash corporate tax rates by almost 30%. And, oh yeah, he would scale back tax increases on wealthy people contained in the ACA, and would extend both of the Bush tax cuts which mostly favor the wealthy. More good news for rich people. In other words, he will not only cut taxes for rich people, he will cut taxes mostly for rich people. The vast majority of savings go to millionaires and billionaires. For more details on how Romney's tax plan will be massively slanted to favor rich people, see the analysis below the rule. But for right now, I want to address how it is that Romney is making people think he'll somehow raise taxes on wealthy people, when the exact opposite is true. In short, he's playing with language. Pay close attention to the exact wording, and keep in mind that each statement is made within a context which is almost certainly different than what you think it is. Here he is at the first debate:
My view is that we ought to provide tax relief to people in the middle class. But I'm not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high- income people. High-income people are doing just fine in this economy. They'll do fine whether you're president or I am. … I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals.
And at the second debate:
Now, how about deductions? ‘Cause I’m going to bring rates down across the board for everybody, but I’m going to limit deductions and exemptions and credits, particularly for people at the high end, because I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now. The top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects. So that’ll stay the same. Middle-income people are going to get a tax break. … And I will not — I will not under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not, under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle-class.
Emphasis on the word “share” is mine. And for a reason. He's not saying that he will not lower taxes for the rich; he's saying that he won't reduce the share of taxes they pay. And in that, he is only referring to the “shares” in the context of the 20% across-the-board cut. That statement does not include the capital gains and estate tax eliminations, nor does it count the tax cuts for wealthy people gained by eliminating the ACA, nor does it count the money they will gain through the corporate tax cuts. Get it? Everyone gets their share cut by 20%, so no one's share is cut less than anyone else's. The 60% thing? A fake measurement which can be jiggered to mean whatever you want it to mean, and even at that, is still probably an outright lie based on assumptions which will absolutely not be true under his tax plan. But wait—Romney clearly said, “I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now.” Listen carefully—he said that in the context of deductions. And true enough, he has said he'll cut deductions, but that won't matter because the deductions rich people lose will be dwarfed by the other tax cuts Romney is giving them. So they will be paying a lot less than now… but not because of deductions! What Romney is saying is very carefully phrased, so he can make many statements which sound like he's only cutting taxes for the middle class and is not cutting anything for the rich—when in fact, the exact opposite is true. This is what you can call “masterful deception.” People are buying it. And the media, for the most part, is not calling him on it.
Now, how about the details of Romney's tax plan? How will this be a “fair” cut where no one pays any less a “share” than anyone else? Income over $388,350 is taxed at 35%; Romney would cut that by one-fifth to 28%, a 7% cut. However, if you make less than $35,350, your one-fifth reduction brings your 15% margin down to 12%, or a 3% cut. Worse, the 7% cut applies to all income over $388,350, which, if you make tens of millions of dollars a year, is almost all of that. But if you make less than $35,350, then your first $8700 only gets a 2% cut, and the remaining $26,650 gets a 3% cut. So, which is bigger: a 7% cut on millions of dollars, or a 3% cut on tens of thousands of dollars? Let me get out my calculator…. Loosely speaking, someone making $10 million in regular income stands to gain close to $700,000, while someone making $40,000 will get less than $1000. But that's not all. Romney would cut corporate tax levels from 35% to 25%, a reduction of 29%; most of that money would go to rich people. He would eliminate—cut to zero—the capital gains tax, which is a primary source of income for many rich people. Many who are wealthy are actually capable of designing their income (e.g., choosing stock options instead of salary) so it is more capital gains than not. In addition, he would eliminate the estate tax, which currently only taxes inheritance income beyond $5 million. All three of these are tax breaks for the wealthy, and all are even bigger than the additional 20% cut on normal income that Romney would also give to rich people. And they keep the Bush tax cuts. And they get the ACA taxes cut. All of which means that the tax rate for someone making tens of millions of dollars could fall to zero. Making the elimination of deductions meaningless. Remember that Romney paid 14%; he did that in large part due to the 15% capital gains tax, which would drop to zero under his plan. Romney would pay almost nothing in taxes. In the meantime, if you earn $40,000 a year, Romney's break could save you $935. But if your name is Mitt Romney, you could save millions. And if your name is Hilton, or Walton, or Koch, you could save billions. Now, Romney says he'll cut deductions and loopholes to pay for it. The problem is, he won't say which ones. The only thing he has said is that he won't cut middle class deductions, or at least not anything significant. The problem is, the math doesn't work out. That now-famous Tax Policy Center study crunched the numbers, and even assuming the most favorable outcome—that Romney really does intend to get rid of every tax loophole for the rich—he would still have to cut into middle-class deductions to the tune of $2400. Romney can't have it both ways. Either his first-year tax plan will increase the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars a year for the next decade, or he will have to hike taxes on middle class families up to more than double what they save from his tax cuts. And the poor, by the way, get nothing. Romney is true to his word, he is not paying any attention to the 47% at the bottom. Oh, they'd stop getting food stamps. Because we can afford to cut taxes for billionaires to virtually zero, but we can't afford to buy milk or bread for starving people. After all, Romney was quite clear: they are victims. He wasn't kidding.

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Lies, Taxes Tags:

Debate Notes

October 17th, 2012 8 comments
Neither candidate answered the student's question about finding a job; they took it as an opportunity to lay down their base arguments. This is much more like the Obama we should have seen last time. Minimal hemming and hawing, more organized, understandable answers. He sounds a bit too much like someone who is laying down the campaign talking points—but he's got energy, and, more importantly, he's answering Romney's BS. Obama finally came around to answering both questions: “That's gonna get Jeremy a job, that'll lower the price of gas.” I think that's important; both were going too high about policy and attack points, Obama came down and remembered that the audience had actually asked a couple of questions and wanted more relevant answers. Romney just lied about oil production—again! Good, Obama at least mentioned it.
Obama, look at the guy sometimes. Wow, Romney handed over the mic! Hah—Obama is owning the stage, rolling over Mitt.
Ooohh. Mitt just used the gas price lie—the price fell because of the recession. Liar. Good! Obama gives the right answer.
Romney steamrolling the moderator, stealing stage time. I hope they dock him for that—they probably won't.
His 20% tax cut, and specifics on deductions—the question has come directly. What will Romney answer? Romney: I want a middle class tax cut—ignore the fact that most of the money goes to the rich. He's now sailing into the middle class crap. Deductions: I will limit deductions particularly for wealthy people (emphasis mine, a key weasel). Then he uses a bogus “rich will continue to pay 60% figure.” THAT's his dodge: he seems to be saying that he won't lower taxes for the rich, what he's ACTUALLY saying his he won't reduce their SHARE. NOT the same thing—and probably a lie. Then he lies by making it sound like he won't hurt the middle class, and somehow the deficit won't explode. Obama should start with: the math won't work.
OK. Obama is not answering Romney's tax lie up front, but he is making the point that he DID cut taxes, and contrasting how their approach to the rich will work. However, he should point out Romney's BS which made him sound like he's not going to lower taxes on the wealthy by 20%.
“I'm not looking to cut taxes for rich people.” Bull! He wants to cut their taxes by 20% AND keep all their previous cuts under the Bush tax cuts! Obama HAS to point this out.
Crowley just threw Obama a softball—and he missed the main point! Romney WANTS TO GIVE THE RICH A 20% TAX CUT. He is not saying that directly. Gah, Obama, LEAD with that!
Crowley cut off Romney's obvious BS line about how “six studies” support him. So, Romney is now evading answering the key questions: how will you pay for it, and how will you pay for it if it doesn't add up. Romney simply says “it adds up,” and then launches into an attack—no specifics. Then he gets to deductions—and more BS. He gets cut off, thank god.
Obama gets the equal pay for women question. He starts with personal stories. I presume he'll mention Ledbetter. Am interested in how he'll go beyond that… OK, there's Ledbetter. … but it seems that he doesn't have anyplace to go after Ledbetter, except for generalities—Pell Grants, for example. Well, that won't equalize pay. His only saving grace here is that Romney has even less than that. Disappointing, I'd expect more. Romney, as predicted, has less. He put more women on a board. Wow, that's solved it. After that, platitudes, then using extremes of certain stats to attack Obama and make it sound like he'll be doing something on the topic. Obama was not strong here, but Ledbetter trumps everything Romney has just said. Obama brought health care into it, contraceptive coverage. Good move. OK, health care was a point, and child care credits. Small stuff, but at least that's in there.
New question: Undecided unimpressed with lack of movement, knows however that Bush caused most problems and wants to know how Romney is different. Romney complains, whines, looks like he doesn't understand the rules. Weak. Then he gets in a few words, a quick lie about the health care issue. His differences with Bush: really, energy and cracking down on China? Seriously? Balanced Budget? Bush said he'd do that too. Romney's plan will bust the budget from day one. Then small businesses—how is that different from Bush? Now he has segued not into differences with Bush but differences with Obama. “Small businesses” were just as much a sham used by Bush; this is a place where Romney is identical. Using the mythical small businessman as a false front.
Obama did not address the small business sham. But he did point out that Romney is even more extreme.
Tough question from an African-American voter: things are tough, I'm disappointed. Obama's answer is excellent: he's giving a list of the very real accomplishments he's done. But he also recognizes that people are hurting and has a plan for helping the rest. Examples: using funds from ending wars to build infrastructure and jobs, gearing up clean power for better efficiency and growing good jobs. Now he's contrasting with Romney: he's going to tear these things down, or just do the same, and help the rich. Romney: “I think you know better.” Very cutting remark. Brings out the 5.4%. Good attack (even if it lacks specifics about how Republicans blocked that). “Double the deficit” lie!! Obama better jump on that. Granted that Romney's list is very painful and effective—it's also 80% BS.
Crowley is fairly good on cutting off the candidates; I think both Obama and Romney have been cut down in response time. Romney on Immigration: have a good system, give green cards… to people with higher ed and top-level skills. I won't give amnesty, will punish illegals, won't grant driver licenses. Kids should have a pathway (but also points out that it might require something like military service—if that's the best path, that's a fail). Obama: we need to fix immigration; I've done my best, asked Congress for the rest. Border patrol: really? You're touting stopping illegals more? Next, tagging illegals who are criminals? I don't think that'll play well. He's talking to whites, not Hispanics now. I guess he figures that's the crowd he has to appease….
Wow: Romney said “no” to the moderator and went off on his own. He can't bully Obama, so he goes back to bullying the moderator. Romney is bearing down on the whole “filing papers” line. Don't know about that. Was that a real thing, something that made a real difference?
I was wrong—Romney just pwned Obama. Spouted a lot of crap about Obama investing in the Caymans. Obama looked like he was squirming. Not good. And now he's riffing on high-hope rhetoric? No. He has to answer what was said. He should have come out immediately on how Republicans obstructed.
The Libyan security question. Obama is taking the tough question—but is answering a different one, the aftermath, not the security request answer. Romney will probably eat this up and spend two minutes bashing Obama on a very weak and sensitive spot. Sometimes the answer is, this stuff happens. Nobody is prescient, and sometimes the wrong decision is made at lower levels which the president cannot monitor. But Obama can't say that. Romney is almost visibly drooling at the prospect of taking Obama to task on this as if this were the biggest crisis in the world, so he can take even more political advantage of the tragedy. Acting like Obama was blasé in the face of it. His attack is not as savage as I thought it could be, but Romney is scoring points.
“Apology tour,” and “Leading from behind.” Ass.
Crowley throws Obama a softball, noting Hillary's “Janet Reno” statement. Obama picks it up and hits it hard. Faces Romney directly— Wow. He's hitting this hard taking Romney to task. Romney lied: Crowley supported Obama's true statement. Romney now looks like a loser. He saves it a bit, but still does not come across well there. We'll see what the post-game show says about who was more right on that.
The gun question. Nice. Obama: “I love guns” (paraphrase). But: guns bad. Personal story about gun crime victim. Conclusion: enforce laws we have; “share your belief” that military-grade weapons should not be available. Wants an assault weapons ban (really?), and other vague “interventions” behind the scenes. Nice, but way too soft. This is a weakness of Obama, not moving on real gun control legislation. Trying to straddle the fence. Romney: I don't support any new laws OR JACK BOOTED THUGS TAKING AWAY YOUR GUNS! Er, otherwise, I agree with Obama. Both candidates go soft and run away from the topic. A wash. Romney turns it into an attack using the “Fast and Furious” thing. Obama killed people! He's hiding something! He's arming drug lords! More sparring on mud, more vague, high-minded rhetoric.
Oh, Romney is going to fix things with China, just by “labeling” them as a currency manipulator. As if nobody knows that now. Empty, vapid. Stupid. Might sound good, but people who know what's what are laughing derisively now. Segues into mythical over-regulation, how Obama has destroyed jobs by regulating people trying to hurt people.
Wow. Obama is not going after Romney on the childish naivety on his “I'll label China” idiocy. He really should point out how weak that would make a president look. Wait, here comes China: but Obama focuses more on outsourcing. Currency: has improved because I have pushed. Did not call out Romney's stpudity.
Apple gets a nod—for being an outsourcer. How do you get Apple to bring jobs back? Romney: China's a cheater! I'll say so and fix everything! Obama: Some jobs won't come back. Instead, I want to chase better jobs coming back. Good answer.
Misperceptions about you? Romney attacks Obama for trying to say he doesn't care, then tells everyone he's a God-loving, caring man. Obama: I believe in free enterprise. I believe in self-reliance, risk-takers, in fair shots. I believe in puppy dogs, and—oh, wait, sorry. Both candidates are painting soft portraits of themselves, attacking the other. Obama is closing on the 47%. Excellent. Great move. Good closing shot against Romney. I want to fight for true Americans, Romney thinks you're a victim.
Here's my final assessment. Who won this debate? In one sense, I think Obama wins on points; not a clear knockout, or a TKO, but has made his points more clearly and has better answers the crowd wants. Romney fumbled at least twice. But Obama will win more than just that because it is relative to his bad performance and subsequent free-fall. I suspect that his numbers will now jump.

Categories: Election 2012 Tags:

False Compassion

October 16th, 2012 5 comments
Ryan recently showed up in a photo washing pots at a homeless charity. What a guy, right? Selflessly serving the poor. But wait—something smells fishy. Ryan is a Rand devotee; serving others like that is an evil to someone like him. Oh, right. He wasn't actually helping the homeless, or serving a charity. He was faking it:
The head of a northeast Ohio charity says that the Romney campaign last week “ramrodded their way” into the group's Youngstown soup kitchen so that GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan could get his picture taken washing dishes in the dining hall. Brian J. Antal, president of the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, said that he was not contacted by the Romney campaign ahead of the Saturday morning visit by Ryan, who stopped by the soup kitchen after a town hall at Youngstown State University. “We're a faith-based organization; we are apolitical because the majority of our funding is from private donations,” Antal said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It's strictly in our bylaws not to do it. They showed up there, and they did not have permission. They got one of the volunteers to open up the doors.” He added: “The photo-op they did wasn't even accurate. He did nothing. He just came in here to get his picture taken at the dining hall.”
Well, at least he washed a few dishes, right? Um, no. The dishes he “washed” were already clean. But at least his boss is actually compassionate, right? After all, he instituted that Romneycare program which provided insurance for a lot of poor people. And he's proud of it. I think. Maybe. Or was that last week? Hard to tell, it's like the wind direction changing. We need a RomneyVane. But Obamacare, that's an abomination. How dare Obama do for the nation what Romney did for Massachusetts! Nope. Obamacare has got to go, and Romney has vowed to deprive tens of millions of Americans of health care the moment he steps in to the Oval Office. Sorry, poor people. That money is needed to pay for a fraction of the ginormous tax cut for wealthy people. You need jobs, after all, right? And we all know that a five-trillion-dollars-over-ten-years tax cut will create zillions of jobs, right? An accurate statement, as “zillions” is not a real number, just as jobs created by tax cuts are not real, either. So, what will poor people do for health care? Not to worry, Mitt has a safety net to catch them:
Sunday on CBS'a 60 Minutes, Romney gave a hint about what he would replace Obamacae with. Scott Pelley asked him: “Does the government have a responsibility to provide health care to the 50 million Americans who don't have it today?” Romney replied “Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance, people-- we-- if someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital, and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care.” Pelley was taken aback. He told Romney “That is an expensive way to do it…. in the Emergency Room.” Romney responded: “Different, again, different states have different ways of doing that. Some provide that care through clinics. Some provide the care through emergency rooms. In my state, we found a solution that worked for my state. But I wouldn't take what we did in Massachusetts and say to Texas, ”You've got to take the Massachusetts model.“
This idea is not new; one could call it ”The Republican Option,“ as Republicans have been suggesting the ER as a health care option for some time now. Essentially, it says, ”we're not going to provide health care, and the states may or may not leave you to die.“ Paul Krugman has a little bit of data for Romney. Not to suggest that Romney is interested in data or anything. But you might be interested:
Even the idea that everyone gets urgent care when needed from emergency rooms is false. Yes, hospitals are required by law to treat people in dire need, whether or not they can pay. But that care isn’t free — on the contrary, if you go to an emergency room you will be billed, and the size of that bill can be shockingly high. Some people can’t or won’t pay, but fear of huge bills can deter the uninsured from visiting the emergency room even when they should. And sometimes they die as a result. More important, going to the emergency room when you’re very sick is no substitute for regular care, especially if you have chronic health problems. When such problems are left untreated — as they often are among uninsured Americans — a trip to the emergency room can all too easily come too late to save a life.
A doctor followed up on that:
It’s true that EMTALA [the 1986 law requiring that emergency rooms treat you regardless of insurance status] requires a medical screening exam and stabilization of any emergency medical conditions. It does not, however, mandate admission to the hospital for treatment of conditions that are not currently emergent (e.g. cancer, kidney disease, and other more chronic conditions except related to certain complications). For example, if someone were to present to one of our emergency departments with some mild bloating and be found to have an abdominal mass, they may very well be discharged home for outpatient follow-up and treatment. If that person doesn’t have insurance, they will likely have difficulty obtaining that care.
So, got it, poor people? You no-good, parasitic 47-percenters? You're covered for a heart attack, so long as you're willing to dodge the debt collectors, but if you have anything that is not currently bleeding or gushing, you're on your own. Cancer? Too bad. Tumor? Live with it. Or not. Liver problems? What, do you think this country is made of money or something? Go to your corner and wither, you pathetic loser. If you didn't make it in the free market system, you don't deserve help from it—because America is nothing more than the free-market system. You should be thankful that Paul Ryan took the time to pretend to wash a few pots for you, you ungrateful wretch.