Archive for the ‘Election 2012’ Category

And Here’s That False Equivalency Now

October 5th, 2012 1 comment

Liberal blogs are talking quite a bit about Romney’s Blue Streak of Bullshit™ in the debate, but the MSM seems to be largely ignoring it, instead focusing on how well Romney did. And, as I expected, the fact-checkers are going out of their way to create a false equivalency instead of pointing out that Romney was lying his ass off while Obama was staying much closer to the truth. They accomplish this by straining to making Obama’s statements seem less truthful, while ignoring steaming heaps of BS from Romney’s side. Think I exaggerate? Read on.

Here’s an example from PolitiFact, which contorts itself into pretzels to try to make an Obama claim seem like it’s misleading:

Early in the first presidential debate, President Barack Obama attacked Mitt Romney’s tax plan as unbalanced and devastating for the middle class. He charged that Romney’s plan “calls for a $5 trillion tax cut,” and challenged him to defend it. …

The claim is based on a study done by the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan group that has analyzed the tax plans of the candidates. The center examined Romney’s proposals for a 20 percent reduction in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, eliminating the estate tax and other tax reductions.

The center estimated that altogether, the lost revenues would total $480 billion by 2015. The Obama campaign adds up the cost over a decade and winds up with $4.8 trillion, which it then rounds up to $5 trillion.

The conclusion is accurate but misleading. Yes, the cuts would total that amount, but as Obama himself noted as he continued speaking, Romney hopes to offset the lost revenues by closing loopholes and deductions. The reductions in tax breaks are as much a part of Romney’s plan as the tax cuts.

In short, PolitiFact is claiming that Obama’s statement that Romney has a $5 trillion tax cut is misleading because it will be somehow paid for? What, that makes it not be a $5 trillion tax cut? I don’t see any misleading info here; it IS a tax cut. Paying for it, or claiming to pay for it, does not make it not a tax cut. Obama stated clearly that Romney claims to pay for it, and PolitiFact even noted that—but called him “misleading” because of the information Obama noted! Apparently, PolitiFact is calling Obama a liar for dividing the information into different sentences instead of telling the whole story in one sentence!

Here’s their summary:

The president made a misleading statement about an incomplete plan, but he did describe what the plan was missing and Romney would not fill in the gaps. We rate the statement Half True.

Gah! They claim Obama was misleading because he made one statement that was incomplete, and then he completed it and told the whole truth!!! How is that not fully true???

PolitiFact also throws in supposedly compounding factors: Obama is counting 10 years of the tax cut—a normal and legitimate measurement—and that Obama is rounding up from $4.8 trillion, adding to the illusion that he’s not being completely factual. Neither really make Obama into a non-truth-teller; both are standard ways of expressing facts within their context.

Contrast that with their Green-Light “True” judgement on Romey’s claim:

Romney reminded Obama during the debate, “you have said before you’d cut the deficit in half.”

The statement is accurate. Obama made the pledge shortly after taking office in 2009. Today, the deficit is smaller, but it’s not half the size it was. We rate Romney’s statement True.

Here, there is no throwing in compunding factors; they do not ding Romney for failing to take into account Republican obstructionism, or the fact that continuing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy—which Obama tried to stop but the Republicans forced him to concede—is what accounted for most of that failure. Nope, where Obama was called “misleading” just because he claimed one half of the equation—before finishing it and completing the whole truth—Romney is called a truth-teller when he avoids mentioning far more damning mitigating evidence, and never refers to it at all later.

Worse: When you look at their whole report for the debate, PolitiFact completely ignored Romney’s bald-faced lie about Obama doubling the deficit. They give him a true rating for a distortion like you see above, but let Romney get away clean with one of the biggest lies of the night. They also failed to mention that Romney lied about the number of unemployed. I can find neither lie in the PolitiFact page on the debate nor their main page.

The fact is, Romney was clearly lying far more than Obama. However, if the fact checkers start noting this—which is supposedly their job—they seem to fear the same thing the MSM does: being smeared as “in the tank for liberals.” The truth has a liberal bias, indeed.

Who checks the fact-checkers?

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

The First Debate: Live Comments

October 4th, 2012 8 comments

Not gonna crowd the post with constant comments, but would like to make a few points.

Romney is coming across much better than he has in the past; he is not coming across as very awkward, and does sound passionate, while Obama sounds more level, wonky, and even a little whiny. Side by side, Romney does have a richer voice, and all the stuff he says sounds more appealing than what he’s said before. Obama pauses, Romney doesn’t. Romney is steamrolling through Lehrer and making up his own debate direction, which many may reward. From just watching these guys and not thinking or referencing facts—which most viewers are doing, alas—Romney sounds like he’s scoring as many points as Obama. And this is where the debate may have its impact.

On the other hand, we have a factual assessment… in which case, Romney is coming across the way he has in the past: as a huge liar. He said Obama doubled the deficit: not true, and misleading as the deficit was handed him almost as-is at the same time the economy was cratering. He said he was not going to cut taxes on wealthy people or rack up trillions in new debt, which goes contrary to what he has explicitly stated over time. He dishonestly exaggerated the unemployment numbers. He lied about Obama doing health care before jobs. He lied about public oil production. He lied about government boards and health care. He even dragged out the old “cut Medicare by $716 billion” lie. And that’s just so far.

In short, he’s hoping that all he has to do is lie confidently and convincingly and hope most people won’t look at the fact-checking the next day, will look at partisan “fact-checking” friendly to Romney, or if they do look at the checking, will see false equivalencies and keep some of the initial impressions they got when watching.

And that may very well work. Initial impression: Romney will “win” this debate. Not on facts, but on bull.

Ooohh… Romney just pushed the Religion button.

Romney is probably going to get points for not looking like an idiot or an ass. But a lot of the “not being an ass” element is Romney contradicting much of what he has been pushing for the past year. All of a sudden, he wants no benefits for the upper class and is the champion of the middle class, he loves PBS, he loves all the popular causes he’s been attacking and proposing cuts for. Looks great, sounds great, but is not what he’s been saying all along. He’s definitely trying to reboot himself yet again. All based on lies and BS, but it’s about appearances.

Oooh! A zinger! “Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own airplane, your own house, but not to your own facts.” Make Obama look like an elitists with a private jet while at the same time getting entitlements!

I know Obama can’t spend his time blaming Congress… but Romney’s BS about working with the other side is exactly what Obama said and actually did. It’s something Romney should do, because Democrats would actually cooperate; it’s something that Obama shouldn’t have done, because Republicans were solidly bent on sabotaging the process and had no intention of honest cooperation.

Obama just slipped bin Laden in.

Ha! YouTube cut off their broadcast at exactly 10:30… cutting Romney off just as he started.

Post-debate assessment: Romney won by looking more confident and passionate, but mostly by lying his ass off with conviction. Obama looked beleaguered, stuttering, almost bored. Romney looked far better than when he’s off-the-cuff, his nervous energy serving him here instead of hurting him.

Obama missed at least a couple of huge targets, didn’t even fire at them at all. The 47% as a lead-in to defining Romney, rather than his tax cut program. He could have done a mini-litany of Romneyisms, including “corporations are people,” “I’m not concerned about the poor” and “It’s not my job to care about them.” Second, Republicans in Congress. A tangential target, perhaps, but pointing out that he has pushed jobs plans that Republicans have shot dow, that Republicans have not concentrated on the economy, have put politics above all else—and Romney has done nothing to challenge that, hardly a bipartisan cooperative approach. Finally, Obama should have attacked Romney with as much passion as Romney attacked Obama.

Obama can only come out of this looking good on the facts. Cue the fact-checkers to gloss over some of Romney’s lies and straining to point out every small inaccuracy by Obama in order to achieve yet another false equivalency.

Last word: the jobs numbers for September will be out in a few days. It has the potential to either extend and strengthen Romney’s boost from the debate, or give Obama the ability to stamp it out. I don’t know about jobs numbers, but I have predicted that the unemployment rate will continue to fall, perhaps to 7.9%, which would be a big psychological boost for the economy for crossing the 8% threshold.

Categories: Election 2012 Tags:

We Were Panicking?

September 27th, 2012 1 comment

I don’t think so, but Jamelle Bouie and Bob Moser seem to think that in 2004, we liberals were doing the same thing about polls that conservatives are now:

Around this time in 2004, liberals were panicking. The Democratic nominee for president, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, was lagging behind George W. Bush, who appeared to be on his way to a second term. This was baffling, and not in a Pauline Kael kind of way. It wasn’t so much that liberals couldn’t imagine the person who would vote Bush—at the time, it wasn’t hard to find a Bush voter—but that conditions were terrible, and it was a stretch to believe that America would re-elect a president who brought the country into two messy wars and the most sluggish economy since WWII.

Obviously, these liberals decided, the problem was the polls. A cottage industry of liberal bloggers and pundits arose to explain how “biased” sampling had skewed the polls. If you weighted Republicans and Democrats correctly, they argued, then John Kerry would be ahead. But that was missing the point. Pollsters don’t weight the partisanship of the electorate in one way or another. They simply survey a large, randomly selected group of people, and report their party identification. If there are more Republicans than Democrats in a collection of samples, it’s because there are more Republicans than Democrats.

Bush won, as you might recall. One lesson that emerged: The party that complains about the polls is one that’s about to have an unhappy election night.

Bouie and Moser, conspicuously, don’t offer any evidence to support their point, nor do they go much into the details. I wondered at the idea that possibly, I could have been guilty of dissing the polls just like conservatives are now. Fortunately, it turns out that I have a blog and can go back and check this stuff out.

So, what was the “liberal cottage industry” in poll-bashing? Were we all panicking because the polls were not favoring us?

Turns out, no. We were suspicious of the polls because the polls showed impossibly varying results:

One really has to wonder if the polls mean anything this year. Ever since the Republican convention, they’ve been going nuts. Just a few days ago Harris had Kerry out in front by one point. But now Gallup comes up and says that Bush leads by fourteen points. No way both are true, or even close to agreeing upon anything. Other polls show similar discrepancies. Kerry is at 41% or at 48%, Bush at 46% or 54%.

This was around the same time that the “cottage industry” supposedly erupted. Ironically, this “liberal” conspiracy theory was suggested by Rasmussen itself!

Concern has been growing over the quick-and-dirty post-convention polls from TIME and Newsweek which show Bush enjoyed a double-digit bounce. Not so fast, though; Rasmussen polls, tracking the numbers day by day, see only a 4 to 5 point lead over Kerry, which is backed up by reports of internal poll numbers from both campaigns. Rasmussen attributes the discrepancy between TIME & Newsweek and the new numbers to the news magazines’ giving more weight to Republicans’ responses in the polling data; the L.A. Times, apparently, made the same mistake by counting too many Democrats when the paper reported a huge Kerry lead earlier in the year.

Rasmussen’s article is behind a paywall, but there’s a reprint of it here.

So, were liberals acting the same as conservatives today? Hell, no. Back in 2004, we saw polls varying wildly, and a professional polling firm, the one conservatives today love best, pointing to inaccurate sampling. We also noted polls leaning too far toward a Democratic bias as well.

Now, in 2012, there is no professional pollster making any such claim, and the polls do not vary nearly as much; conservatives are simply unhappy with the numbers, and are making up complete BS about how it’s all part of a liberal conspiracy, despite the numbers being more or less backed up by similar polls from Fox News and Rasmussen.

In short, Bouie and Moser didn’t look closely enough and got the facts wrong. I suspect that they simply wrote their article based on vague rememberings or secondhand reporting instead of actually checking out the exact genesis of the “panicking.”

Interestingly, they claim that the accuracy of the polls liberals complained about was confirmed by the fact that Bush won. However, the polls liberals complained about had Bush ahead by double digits, and the ones we believed in more had Bush ahead by 4 or 5 points—and Bush wound up winning the popular vote by 2.4%. In other words, the final results were leaning even more toward Kerry than our “conspiracy theories” suggested!

What we seem to have here is yet another case of false equivalency. Liberal questioning of the polls was based upon professional analysis and included balanced views later confirmed by election results. Conservative questioning of the polls is based on nothing but desperation on top of the usual layer of self-serving whacko drivel.

Voter Suppression Continues

September 25th, 2012 3 comments

Republicans, now motivated more than ever to suppress the vote for Obama, are continuing their fight to implement laws which purport to stop a form of voter fraud which has been clearly shown not to exist, asking courts to ignore the obvious intent of the laws to depress voter turnout for partisan political reasons.

How plainly evident this all is only emphasizes how galling it is. This is not “thinly disguised” voter suppression; it is clear-cut and outright. Many of the people directly behind these movements have made public statements clearly noting the intent and purpose. This follows many efforts by the same party (e.g., voter caging, or movements to shut down voter registration, all by conservatives and all against liberal voting blocks) which were clearly illicit, and clearly political attacks against voter’s rights. They have simply taken the dirty-tricks vote suppression tactics to the legislative level.

And yet, somehow, it continues, and is taken seriously by the courts. How obvious does it need to be before courts and the media simply say, “Jesus, you assholes, you can’t just stop the other side from voting!” I’m serious. All Republicans have to do, apparently, is to make a separate appearance in court or in public, baldly claim that they are not being partisan about it, and their claims are accepted as honest.

Imagine that I have a history of fighting with my neighbor. For whatever reason, I hate his guts, so I do all kinds of nasty stuff. I order pizzas and other COD items in his name all the time in order to harass him. I step that up to cancel his water, power, telephone, and gas subscriptions. When that doesn’t get rid of him, I even try to get his name on pedophile and terrorist watch lists. All of this traceable back to me, it is clear what I have been doing to anyone who looks. Then I get myself elected to the city council, and submit a law that would build a street through his house. I even state publicly that “This law should help me get rid of that goddamned neighbor.” When he challenges me in court, can I get my law backed simply by claiming that I have no intent to harm him and the law is really for the public good? Of course not; hearing the history and my public statements, the judge would probably have me thrown in jail on top of throwing out the law. In this situation, reason would prevail—or at least we hope. If the judge were to accept my obvious dissembling and rubber-stamp the law, anyone in sight would be disgusted at the decision. Unless they also hated the neighbor.

How has it come to this, where there can be such a brazen, open attempt to suppress the vote on such plainly partisan grounds, built upon a foundation which is 100% proven to be fictional—and yet it is not being called for what it plainly is? How can any judge see this and not be compelled to call bullshit for bullshit? How can the media report this and not say the blindingly obvious?

The answer: because half the nation is in favor of it, whether actively or passively. Perhaps because they believe that politics is a contact sport, and if you can’t defend yourself, you don’t deserve the power to control. Or perhaps because it’s one of those many things which you accept peripherally because it serves you and so you can easily just ignore it or divorce yourself from it. Either way, half the country is giving it credence—a half of the country which is willing to call “partisan politics” if it is publicly noted. This half of the populace has weight; they buy, they vote, they protest, they boycott. You do not take them lightly. You cannot dismiss them, and you cannot ignore them.

As a result, so long as even the most transparent of pretenses can be invoked, we have to pretend that the other side is not committing a grave crime, else we are somehow “biased.” In other words, the Republicans have worked the system so thoroughly—by, over time, raising the bar bit by bit, legitimizing corruption one small step at a time, using the media to push their point of view further and further—that they can now violate virtually any ethical boundary and hide behind the simple claim that they didn’t mean it in a bad way. It’s the same principle as a member of congress voting for a law that benefits a corporation while receiving huge campaign contributions from that company, and yet remaining pristine simply by claiming that there is no connection between the two.

The fact is, however, that it is simply wrong.

Any politician who forwards and/or fights for such legislation should be ashamed, because they have violated their oath of office and have failed to represent the people.

Any judge who does not dismiss such laws on their clearly groundless merits, or does not at least rule that they are forced to respect it but personally and professionally are repulsed by it and that such laws should all be repealed, should be ashamed, because they have failed to uphold their oath to the Constitution and to uphold the rights of the people.

Any reporter who considers themselves an actual journalist, who reports on this story and does not clearly state this these laws are an obvious attempt to subvert the legislative process so as to subvert the electoral process, should be ashamed, because they have failed to serve the highest, and frankly, the only important principle of journalism, which is to inform the public in a truthful manner, especially concerning issues which are of public import.

Any citizen who allows this kind of law to be passed because they don’t know any better should be ashamed, because they have failed in their highest civic duty, to be an informed voter.

Any citizen who is aware of these laws, sees what they are, and accepts them—especially in cases where it serves their personal interests—should be ashamed, because they have violated and abandoned the core principles of democracy, and thus no longer deserve its benefits or protection, even though democracy is bound to benefit and protect them regardless of whether they deserve it. They should be ashamed because they have selfishly corrupted the system they purport to live by.

All of these people should be deeply ashamed simply because they have done something that is wrong.

Categories: Corruption, Election 2012 Tags:

This Is What Romney Shouldn’t Have Said

September 18th, 2012 6 comments

When Romney thinks you’re not listening—from a video taken in the spring:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them, And they will vote for this president no matter what.

And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49… he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years.

And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in come cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.
[emphasis Romney’s]

Hmmm. So, I’m dependent upon government checks, am I? Apparently, I don’t take personal responsibility, and I don’t care for my life. Et cetera.

What is significant about this… well, there are several ways that this is significant. The most obvious is that Romney is bashing nearly half the electorate. Way to win over people on the other side, calling 47% of the people irresponsible moochers.

Next, there’s the “47%” number. These are the non-taxpayers, he claims. He makes the remarkable claim that every single one of them is an Obama voter, while every single person in the country who pays taxes is a Republican or undecided. Every single one of them have no sense of personal responsibility; instead, they lay back, take it easy, and live the high life off of welfare checks, food stamps, and free government health care.

So, no Republican is too poor to pay income taxes? Or too rich? No Republican receives welfare, Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits? And people who do are irresponsible, incapable of caring for themselves?

His statement pretty damning evidence that Romney, like many right-wingers, truly has a skewed view of reality.

The 47% he speaks of includes 17 million senior citizens on social security. These are people who paid into the system all their lives, and now use tax breaks to bring their effective tax rate to zero. Does Romney think they don’t deserve those tax breaks? Does he want to get rid of those breaks for seniors? Way to win Florida.

Another huge chunk of people he mentions are not poor, but middle class families taking standard deductions and getting breaks for the care and education of their children. Does Romney want to get rid of those tax breaks? Way to win middle class families.

Besides which, of course, is the fact that the entire supposition about the 47% is flawed: nobody pays no taxes, most pay their share in social security and medicare taxes, most have property taxes, most face state & local taxes, and everyone pays sales taxes. Add those up and you may have close to the 13% that Romney himself paid.

As for “people who believe that they are victims,” that’s a label much more appropriate for right-wingers. The whole canard about the 47% who pay no taxes is in itself a badge of right-wing victimhood—those poor people are victimizing the decent, hard-working, real Americans who vote Republican! The white males who believe that they never benefit due to their race or gender and that when they fail it’s due to affirmative action, these are people who believe that they are victims. The right-wing Christians who think they are persecuted because they can’t have prayer in every last nook and cranny of public life and because a few department stores print ads saying “Happy Holidays,” these are the people who believe that they are victims.

And entitled? How many conservatives get Social Security and Medicare, and would be enraged if they lost these benefits? How many depend on unemployment checks when they lose their jobs? Remember the right-wing crowds bused in to break up Democratic town halls, screaming “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”? These are people who want all the benefits, but only for themselves, and the people who are not as well off—most of whom paid in to these systems and are just as deserving of the benefits—should be cut off. “I’ve got mine, you go screw yourself” is their motto. That’s not a sense of “entitlement”?

There’s so much more to say about that statement, I can’t put it all down here. But above are the key points. Romney and so many conservatives really think this way, that they are the only ones who work hard and pay taxes, and are being victimized by every single Obama voter, who are lazy, irresponsible moochers who demand to suck at the government teat as if it were their god-given right.

Not just Obama, but all Democratic contenders should use this from now to election day in their campaign ads. Romney thinks that if you get Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment benefits, then you’re a bum who can’t take care of himself, you think you’re entitled. Tell Romney that he’s not entitled to the White House,, that’s he’s not entitled to give himself yet another whopping tax cut, that he’s not entitled to raise taxes on the poor and middle class.

Yep. This Is What Obama Needs to Say.

September 16th, 2012 4 comments

An Obama Ad which hits the mark:

It has all the elements on the key issue, the economy. It answers the 4-years-ago question just well enough for people to remember without getting too bogged down in details. It mentions the hemorrhage of jobs in 2008 and the growth (though tepid) since; it fails to mention the effect of the stimulus directly, but it is implied. It then paints the differing plans, again hitting the key points. This is a well-planned and -crafted ad. Yes, it glosses over the down points, but that’s what campaign ads do—but even on this point, it does the rare campaign trick: admit you haven’t done as well you you intended while still not sounding like it was a failure. Obama can thank Clinton for planting that seed.

What it does, most importantly, is to win the argument on the economy. That was Romney’s only real hope: blame Obama for the recession. It was, in fact, the Republican Party’s chief goal, as you recall. But here we have Obama beating Romney on that, and it reflects in the polls, which show no advantage for Romney on the issue. Republicans have, amazingly, lost their advantage on security, the military, and foreign affairs as well. The GOP led us in to the recession, into huge debt, and into two massive, costly, and lengthy land wars in Asia while governing over a time of fear and crisis. For all the lingering pain, it’s felt better under Obama, and bringing Clinton out reminds us of the 90’s, now almost a golden age. Obama can say he’s brought back job growth, rescued Detroit, ended the Iraq war, killed bin Laden and brought down Gaddafi. What’s left for Republicans to attack against? Obama can even go on the offensive in these areas, most bitingly against Romney’s tax plans.

Romney would certainly deny that he is planning the tax hike for the middle class, so you could conceivably call Obama’s claim in the ad a “misrepresentation”—but certainly not a “lie,” and I would even argue the term “misrepresentation.” Romney promised deficit-neutral tax breaks for the rich which, mathematically, can only be achieved with the tax hike on the middle class. Romney denies this, claiming that economic growth will magically rocket upwards to a point where all the money falling from the sky will make the break deficit-friendly, but that’s BS. And Romney has failed to take back his pledge about the tax break. Ergo, he may not be directly proposing a tax hike and may utterly deny it, but it is the certain result if he keeps his promises. If I say I will drive my car off a cliff by deny it will crash in the ravine below due to magical flying abilities, it is safe for others to claim that I propose to crash my car in the ravine.

Categories: Economics, Election 2012 Tags:

Resentment of Authentic Bipartisan Hugs

September 12th, 2012 1 comment


Some blowback regarding the Pizza House owner and registered Republican who gave Obama a bear hug:

But once word got out that Van Duzer is a registered Republican who voted for Obama in 2008 and is planning to do so again in November, angry conservatives flooded his restaurant’s Yelp page with negative reviews and began staging a boycott. (Sample gem: “I cringe at the thought even of eating at this Big Crapple Pizza. Knowing O’Hussain was there totally creeps it out for me.”)

This from the same crowd who absolutely adored “Joe the Plumber”? That was a guy who approached Obama with an obviously fabricated premise about wanting to buy his boss’ business, clearly making up a projected income at exactly the level where Obama suggested we start taxing people higher. Joe was making nowhere near that amount, and so constructed a fantasy in order to put him in that range. And still he flubbed the intended “gotcha” moment, conceived to put Obama on the spot for raising taxes on an “ordinary” American like him: even under his artificially inflated income, Obama’s plan still would not have raised taxes on imaginary-Joe, or at least it would have done so very minimally. Even more ironic, under the two candidates’ tax plans, real-life Joe would have gotten a way bigger tax cut under Obama—and as things have turned out, Obama over the past four years has not even raised imaginary-Joe’s income tax level, either.

And yet this posing faker was immediately embraced, adored, and vaulted to celebrity-hero status among the same crowd that now heaps hatred and invective upon a small business owner who simply got a bit giddy at having the president drop by—attacking his business and trying to shut him down just for liking the Democrat in office.

That’s a great way to represent the “Real America” conservatives believe in.

Instead, conservatives should look towards this guy as a role model, not for who to vote for, but rather for attitude and reasoning skills. He makes an excellent point about what “building it yourself” really means:

So you’re not one of the people who feel like he’s let the country down in his first term?

The bottom line is this: I own a small business. I take accountability for my business. I’m not looking to blame the government. And if people had the same mentality of taking care of their own businesses instead of looking to blame somebody when things are a little bad—just tightening things up and doing the best they can—I think we’d be better off that way, too.

Read the interview with him; he comes across as not just reasonable, but smart and compassionate. The guy got his own—and then immediately started working to help others, raising money for families in need and organizing blood donation drives.

I’m not sure what makes him a Republican; I’m sure I would disagree with him on some issues. And even if he had voted for McCain and planned to vote for Romney, I feel like I would still really like this guy. He’s what you wish all, or even most Republicans could be like—and, for that matter, what more Democrats should be like as well.

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags:

Four Years Ago

September 3rd, 2012 3 comments

Astonishingly, Republicans are asking the question, “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

Have they forgotten what the economy was like four years ago? Maybe they meant “five years ago” or something.

Sadly, I think they are depending on people having forgotten about the near-collapse Republicans brought us to; they need Americans to forget that Obama’s stimulus, however underpowered, still halted the horrific plunge that had us losing 800,000 jobs a month and brought us quickly back to positive territory. They instead rely on people simply remembering a vague time in the past when things were better, and that things aren’t so great now—and undoubtedly hope that people won’t think too hard about the specifics. This right-wing blogger, providing an apt example, asks the “four year” question and then shamelessly compares the economy now to the economy three years ago.

The fact that they can ask that question now and not be torn to pieces is hard, cold proof that Americans don’t know as much as they should, don’t remember as sharply as they could, and that the media, far from being “liberal” or “in the tank for Obama,” is in fact criminally derelict in its duty as envisioned by the founders—to ensure an informed electorate.

Otherwise, how could Republicans refer back to a time of economic near-collapse and ask Americans if they want to return to that, and not have the people, much less the press, fall on them in a wave of incredulous contempt?

Categories: Economics, Election 2012 Tags:

Supporting the Troops

September 3rd, 2012 1 comment

Republicans don’t. Democrats do.

I am struck by how Republicans have begun to criticize Obama over Afghanistan. Clint Eastwood seems to think that Obama started the war. As with bin Laden’s capture, Romney and Republicans try to find any way they can to criticize Obama for a war Republicans fumbled and Obama has finally brought to a close. And though Romney has not, like many in his party, promised war in Iran, it is implied if we are to take his statements on the issue seriously—and a war with Iran could turn out to be even longer and bloodier than the last two we have only just now begin to close the door or.

And yet, somehow, still, Republicans have the reputation for being on the side of the soldier, when nothing could be further from the truth.

The public image is reversed, but the public image is wrong. As General Wesley Clark so aptly put it in 2004, “Republicans like weapons systems; Democrats like the soldiers.”

Republicans use soldiers as tools regardless of their safety. Republicans started two massive land wars in Asia, the longest wars in U.S. history, bound to be meat grinders for the soldiery. One was made necessary by a security blunder by a Republican administration and was not only mismanaged by that administration, but was all but forgotten about by them. Bin Laden at Tora Bora. Allowing the Taliban to resurge while Bush started a wholly unnecessary war in Iraq. Soldiers were sent in without body armor or armor for their vehicles. Oil fields were protected while armories full of weapons later used against the troops were left open to looters. Conservatives’ plans for Iran show similar disregard for how many of the military will be struck down as a result. A third land war in Asia within just 15 years? I would agree that a draft would be a bad but perhaps necessary way to bring the real cost into focus for these people, except that these people have always found ways to shelter their own, draft or no; Bush was an excellent example of this.

Republicans love to use the military as backdrops to make them look strong. It seemed that every other public speech given by Bush had a wall of soldiers in the background. Bush made huge PR runs on aircraft carriers (Mission Accomplished!) and on military bases (where soldiers who were not loyal Republicans were pre-screened and locked out of the Thanksgiving dinner Bush used as a PR event; non-Bush-supporters were kept in the barracks and given MREs instead). Meanwhile, military coffins and funerals were banned from sight, out of fear that Americans would care too much for the fallen, and Bush did not even deign to sign letters to families whose loved ones had given the ultimate sacrifice.

But worst, Republicans’ greatest abuse of the soldiery is to use them as a human shield. Reagan used the valor and sacrifice of the troops he sent needlessly and uselessly into Lebanon as a shield when a reporter questioned his reasons for sending them, castigating the reporter for daring to question the honor of the troops, when the reporter was only questioning Reagan’s judgment in putting them in harm’s way. Bush used this coward’s retreat often; any attack on him was morphed into an attack on the troops; a new rule was established that you cannot criticize the president while troops are in the field, a rule conservatives abandoned the moment Obama came into office.

Meanwhile, Republicans cut benefits for the troops, mercilessly extended their tours of duty, and left their families with less and less support, spending money primarily for enticements to get more people to sign up, but then ignoring their needs once recruitment is no longer an issue. While lavish fortunes were spent on mercenaries and fortunes are sunk into often unneeded Defense contracts, relatively trifling amounts that could make big differences for soldiers are struck down by Republicans. The IAVA gives methodologically sound ratings to Congress based upon votes that affect veterans, rating in which Republicans consistently score dead last.

Democrats, on the other hand, have acted with care and caution where it has concerned the troops. Clinton’s war in the Balkans and Obama’s actions in Libya were examples of modern war by Democrats: good causes (stability and human life, not oil) in actions defined by the surgical use of force with minimal or even no loss of life among the soldiery. What funerals there were were not hidden; due homage was paid. Obama has been less than satisfactory in Afghanistan, true; but had he been in charge from the start, do you really think the war would have lasted 11 years? The only bloody military actions Democrats have presided over since Vietnam have been ones left them by presidents named “Bush.”

In the meantime, after the last Bush left, al Qaeda has all but been decimated, with bin Laden at the bottom of the ocean with a bullet in his head. For which, conservatives have only complaint, studiously avoiding any praise for Obama where they would have ordered apotheosis had a Republican been in office.

Democrats do not shy from giving speeches in front of troops, but it is not the common standard that it was for Bush and Republicans that came before. They spend more time actually doing stuff for the troops as opposed to only using them as a convenient backdrop.

Democrats do not use the troops as a human shield. You did not hear Clinton and will not hear Obama saying that an attack on the president is actually an attack on the troops.

But mostly, Democrats care about the soldiers in a contrast with conservatives which could not be deeper or more sharp. Where Republicans cut benefits for the troops, Democrats restore and even shower the troops with help.

Republicans not only disapprove, they despise this.

That’s right. I do not exaggerate. Allow me to give a definitive example.

Less than a year ago, conservatives ripped Obama for praising the troops. They created the false impression that Obama had never said anything good about the soldiers, but then suddenly started praising them for political gain; a false claim, of course.

But the worst part was that they accused Obama of actually abusing the troops, making them into “victims dependent on social-welfare and medical services.” Yep, that’s right. By giving the troops education and job assistance, by giving them good medical care upon their arrival home and paying attention to the emotional scars which have increased the suicide rate, Obama is actually, in the conservative’s view, disrespecting the troops.

Better to do it the conservative way: give them a handshake, salute them, mouth a few cheap platitudes—and then leave them to fend for themselves in a shattered economy in which your are dismantling health care.

That, apparently, is how you “support the troops.” Use them, grind them down, pose with them for a photo shoot, and then abandon them so they can learn self-reliance.

What astonishes me is that the men and women in uniform still trend conservative. Well, maybe not so much, considering the conservative cultural and religious influences built into the military infrastructure; how Fox News and radio shows like Rush Limbaugh and Laura Ingraham are featured in military media.

No doubt the message below will be ruthlessly ripped by the conservatives. The troops are for swiftboating, not for supporting godless liberals.

Lies by the Bushel

August 30th, 2012 4 comments

It has been difficult to watch TV in America recently; I landed here just in time for the buildup and beginning of the Republican Convention. And every time they start showing RNC speeches, I have to change the channel in frustration as I note lie after lie after lie within just a few sentences of each other.

The AP did a fact-check article, pointing out a multitude of lies and misrepresentations in major speeches, but I am not impressed; it’s raining lies in Tampa right now, all you have to do is hold out your hat for a few seconds to get enough material for a book.

Similar checks of PolitiFact show Republicans leading the way in lies, especially Pants-on-Fire ratings. Even more galling when you read the specifics and see that the “Mostly True” or “Half True” ratings usually catch Obama on technical points while most Republicans getting those ratings are actually lying on key points and getting a break on technicalities.

For example, Chris Christie gets a “Mostly true” for saying that Obama added $5 trillion to the deficit over the pas four years, but overlooks the fact that most of that debt was incurred by George W. Bush and not Obama, which was Christie’s intended meaning. Obama bears some of the responsibility, but without crashing the economy, and with Republican obstructionism added in, it would have been literally impossible for Obama to cut much of that budget at all, certainly not without committing political suicide.

Obama, meanwhile, gets a “Half True” for saying that most Americans probably pay more taxes than Romeny—a statement which is only untrue if you make assumptions unfriendly to Obama’s statement.

Overall, however, Republicans are full of it. About a month ago, I did an analysis, but didn’t have time to publish it. IU think the numbers are significant though, as it measures the truth and lies before Republicans got the spotlight. As one could argue that they have more negative showings on PolitiFact just because of greater exposure in the convention (which I think PolitiFact tries to “balance” by paying more attention to Obama), here is a count of truth and lies when the attention was even:

Politifact, which rates politicians’ statements as True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False, or “Pants on Fire!” has a page dedicated to “Pants on Fire” rulings. These pages have 20 rulings each.

The first page has one “Pants on Fire” ruling about an Obama statement.

The other 19 are all conservative statements, either candidates, pundits, think tanks, other organizations, or right-wing memes in email or elsewhere on the Internet.

Four are by Romney.

Page two again has 19 conservative pants-on-fire rulings, and one chain email from the left. Romney has three pants-on-fire rulings to himself.

You have to go to page three before more than one left-wing whopper appears; there are three (one each by Reid, Obama, and Pelosi). The same page holds five by Romney.

Those three pages take us back a little more than a year. So, let’s see: 60 rulings, 2 against Obama, 3 others against liberals, and 55 outrageous lies by right-wingers, including 12 Romney whoppers.

Obama does less well in the next-worse category, “False” statements. He has four of the latest 20; Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden each have one.

The other 13 are right-wingers. Romney alone has six.

On the following two pages, Obama shows up 3 times out of 40; Democrats Axelrod and Lew join two left-wing organizations to have “False” judgements, bringing the liberal total to 7 of 40.

The remaining 33 are right-wing people or groups. Romney had six of them.

To sum up: conservatives account for 55 of 60 of the most outrageous lies in the past year; Romney made 12, Obama 2. Conservatives also made 46 of 60 of the outright lies of the past 6 months, with Romney again responsible for 12, and this time Obama having 7.

Not hard to tell who is lying the hardest, even without resources like this.

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

Try Something Different This Time

August 25th, 2012 3 comments

Upon the eve of the 2012 elections, the economy is not doing well. Why is this the case?

After Obama’s election in 2008, Republicans announce a policy of obstructing progress and reform, saying that it “works for” them. They fight against the Stimulus, eventually watering it down to the point where it is far too ineffective. They fight against health care reform, watering down that as well, costing billions and offering alternatives that would balloon the budget and cost massive numbers of jobs. Instead of focusing on how to fix the economy they broke, they instead focus on sloughing off blame on Obama for doubling unemployment and losing millions of jobs, while fighting to maintain the policies which decimated the economy in the first place. Republicans fight equal pay, fight minimum wage increases, fight unemployment benefits, fight stimulative spending. Republicans announce that their primary goal is not jobs or fixing the economy, but making Obama fail so they can retake the White House. Republicans force the extension of Bush tax cuts, proven to significantly deepen the deficit while being poison to job creation. Upon gaining control of the House, Republicans fail to act on jobs, instead focusing on things like restricting abortions. Republicans instead push for cuts, admitting that it would kill jobs. Republicans repeatedly put “nuclear options” into play, sometimes over severely ideological issues like Planned Parenthood. Republicans pass budgets that promise job losses. Republicans threaten defaulting on the debt, causing the US credit rating to be downgraded for the first time in history. Republicans kill Obama’s jobs bill, even though it offers $250 billion in tax relief. Republicans finally offer their own “jobs” bill which essentially includes deeper tax cuts for corporations and elimination of regulations governing pollution and corruption, none of which would create jobs.

So now, four years later, the economy has not yet recovered from the devastating effects of the Republican policies that led to the effective depression we suffer from today.

Republicans point at Obama and shout, “Look what he did!!

Yes, the president owns the economy, for better or for worse. All the media plays into this, acting as if Republican policy to essentially sabotage the economy somehow does not exist, and only Obama is to answer for it.

That may be a political reality. But it is not reality.

Had Obama been free to do what he wanted, the economy would look far different than it does today. Obama may own the economy, but he was far from alone in creating it.

The key point: Republicans have been far more destructive to the economy, even openly stating goals which work against economic recovery, again openly admitting their goals in this are to gain political power.

The answer to this is not to reward them with more power.

The answer is to give that power, definitively this time, to Democrats, even just for two years, so we can see what Democratic policies would reap without Republicans poisoning everything.

If, after two years, things don’t improve, we can try something else. But the idea that Democrats have tried and failed, or that Obama has tried and failed, are fiction.

But that’s just reality. My apologies.

Isaac and Gustav

August 25th, 2012 Comments off

2008 and 2012. Two Republican National Conventions, four years apart. And both have found themselves threatened by hurricanes. One of them in Minneapolis, the last place you would expect to be threatened by a hurricane.

But now the Republicans are in Tampa Bay, and Isaac is now heading more or less straight for them, again threatening heavy rain.

Just coincidences. But let me ask you: had these hit two Democratic National Conventions, both featuring Barack Obama, would we not be hearing, pretty loudly in fact, about the involvement of the hand of God?

Just saying.

Categories: Election 2012 Tags:

Romney’s Evasions Are Nothing New

August 18th, 2012 6 comments

During some Q&A with reporters, Romney claimed:

I did go back and look at my taxes and over the past 10 years I never paid less than 13 percent. I think the most recent year is 13.6 or something like that. So I paid taxes every single year.

At first, the thought was, hmm, okay, he’s on the record, so he’s probably telling the truth.

But then everyone started to realize that Romney’s statement was not off-the-cuff, but had been very carefully phrased—so much so that it means almost nothing.

Remember, words—especially when talking about money and economics—can be very cleverly phrased to make something sound like the exact opposite of what it is. A case in point is a Limbaugh favorite, to support trickle-down economics: “In the 1980’s, Reagan lowered taxes, and revenues doubled.” The statement is simple, to the point, and each part of it is true—but the whole statement is as bald-faced as lies get. The revenue doubling does not discount inflation, which makes up most of the increase, leaving only a 19% increase during Reagan’s terms, as much as 7% of which was due to simple population increase; and although Reagan lowered some taxes, he raised others more, making the premise of lowered taxes causing increased revenue unsupportable.

So, how about Romney’s statement?

Note that he did not say the magic words “federal income” taxes. He just said “taxes.” Also, note that he did not say what income he paid the 13% on. It is very likely, almost to the point of assuredness, that Romney paid no taxes on his capital gains income in 2009, and since that constitutes much of what he makes, it is likely that he was not including that in his statement.

In short, what Romney said was essentially meaningless; by playing with words, he could be saying that, if you take his non-capital-gains income, and include property taxes, sales taxes, state income taxes, and every other tax he can account for, the taxes he paid could well add up to more than 13% of his non-investment income.

And yet, in terms of federal income tax, which is what the question was actually asking about, he could have paid zero or close to zero for one or more of those years.

It is similar to what his wife is saying, that they have done what is “legally required,” when in fact, no tax returns are “legally” required and no one suggested they were; and that no one is suggesting that they illegally evaded taxes, instead the whole issue being about what is legally possible to evade.

You have to remember, though, that this is nothing new. In 2000, the question came up about Bush and drugs. At first he tried to evade the question, then he made statements about how he could have passed White House background checks when his father was president—which only ruled out a few decades, but left open the possibility that he was a heavy cocaine abuser in his 20’s. The fact that he didn’t just come out and say, “No, I never used hard drugs” essentially meant that he had, and knew that if he made a statement that he had not, it was possible that some witness or evidence could emerge to contradict him.

The same is true here: Romney is playing games, hoping to twist and turn through the slippery use of language until the media tires of the cat-and-mouse game and turns to other issues.

However, his reticence on his taxes has been so damaging that it is obviously clear that there are details in his returns from 2009 at least, and probably in earlier years as well, which are pretty damning in some way. Romney has judged that it is better for people to suspect that he possesses embarrassing wealth and uses his privilege to avoid his civic duty, than to open his records and remove all doubt.

Categories: Economics, Election 2012 Tags:

Yes, Ryan’s Medicare Plan Would Hurt Seniors Already on Medicare

August 16th, 2012 1 comment

A reader at Sullivan’s blog put it very succinctly:

The Ryan Medicare plan absolutely will effect people currently on Medicare. If you establish that in 10 years the Medicare risk pool will stop growing and start shrinking, you do damage to how the program works. First, you increase the risk in the pool and drive up cost by stopping younger healthier seniors from entering the plan. Second, as the pool shrinks Medicare looses [sic] power to dictate reimbursement rates. Doctors will begin not to accept Medicare patients because not only will the volume of patients no longer justify the low reimbursement rates, but those left in the pool will be older, sicker and more expensive to treat. The program that they say will be in place will not only become much more expensive to maintain then projected, but it will collapse on itself.

Let there be no doubt: that is their ultimate goal. Republicans have made it agonizingly clear over the years: they want to get rid of Social Security and Medicare. Not reform, not preserve, not save. They want to fully eliminate these programs, preferably phasing them out by transitioning to private “programs” which will essentially be equal to people buying private-market pension and health care plans by themselves, with private industry skimming a 10 ~ 30% profit (which currently goes to benefits for the payer) right off the top, whilst being mostly unregulated and therefore much more easily able to raid the remaining investments.

The result will be that in the short run, seniors slowly notice their benefits collapsing, costing more and giving less. In the end, we’ll be back where we were 80 years ago: if you’re not wealthy, you’re going to get inferior health care–and even if you were able somehow to save money your entire life after well-paying jobs got shipped overseas and the conservatives lowered your salary to below-poverty levels by abolishing or neglecting the minimum wage, you are liable to lose whatever retirement savings you do have to financial skullduggery of one form or another by rich bankers.

Welcome to the 19th century, folks. Didn’t you know that conservatism is all about driving us backwards? It is right there on the label, after all.

Republican Judge Affirms Vote Suppression Act

August 16th, 2012 1 comment

Welcome back, Mr. James Crow! You now have a wider audience to block, including the poor, the elderly, and students!

Thanks to a Republican judge, the Republican law in Pennsylvania requiring specific types of photo ID to be presented for voting is now sustained, and due to his careful wording, it may be hard to overturn, despite the clear bias inherent in the ruling itself.

Fact: there is no evidence of any kind whatsoever indicating that vote fraud even exists beyond a few scattered cases, while it is a statistical certainty that at the very least, thousands–possibly tens of thousands–of legal, eligible Democratic voters, some of whom have voted regularly for decades, will be unable to vote because of this law.

Fact: as many as 11% of all voters lack the correct ID, and some will be forced to go to unusual efforts to acquire them, while other will have been misinformed, even by the Republican governor himself, as to whether their current ID is valid or not. As many as 1 million voters in Pennsylvania lack the right ID, and 379,000 do not have the documents required to get that ID. Many in the state would have to travel to state offices in other counties which are only open once a week, and there are only funds for 1/10th of the number of people who need IDs–meaning that hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians would be subject to a poll tax. The only solution is absentee voting, which would require a visit to a doctor and a doctor’s note and then an application process, clearly an unusual hurdle just to vote.

Fact: the laws disproportionately affect Democratic voters to a great degree, and were pushed through on a wholly partisan basis by the party that stands to win the vote–a party which has already performed heavy redistricting in that state to tilt the vote further in their favor.

Fact: Republican Mike Turzai, Speaker of the House in Pennsylvania, stated outright, in a checklist of partisan goals, that Pennsylvania’s voter ID law would “allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.” This bolsters the proof that state Republicans had a partisan goal in pushing through the law.

And yet, the Republican judge ruling on the case decided that none of this “clearly showed” that the voter suppression act “denied voters’ rights.”

Right, judge, it doesn’t deny voters’ rights, except for those tens or even hundreds of thousands of young, elderly, poor, and minority voters which your Republican-tinted goggles make invisible to you. And of course, those same goggles make the clear-as-day partisan vote-rigging going on also invisible to your eyes. Because we all know that Republicans are actually concerned about voter fraud and are completely unaware that the problem is in fact non-existent, and just happened to introduce a law which completely coincidentally disenfranchises hordes of voters from the other party, and statements made about how this will help Republicans win elections were completely honest mistakes and misunderstandings.

Really, how fracking blind do you have to be to take even a cursory, much less a detailed, look at this issue and not see the painfully obvious fact that this is election fraud writ large?

Those are quite some goggles, judge. Quite some goggles, indeed.

Hard-Hitting Ad

August 14th, 2012 3 comments

But factual:

With Romney, it was only possible to infer tax hikes for the poor and middle class; he said what he would give the rich, and then said that he’d pay for it but not how. However, there’s only one real way to do that.

Imagine a guy standing next to a vault, with a box of dynamite nearby, and no one has the combination. “I promise I will open the vault,” he says.

“Do you have the combination?” you ask him.

“Nope,” he says.

“Do you have any special tools, a cutting torch or diamond drills?”


“So, the only way to open it is to blast it with that dynamite right there. Will you use the dynamite?”

“I’m not saying.”

With Ryan, however, the picture is a bit more clear. Ryan has made positive statements about some of the stuff he plans. His math is fake and he still holds back on many details, but he is on the record about a lot of draconian crap he plans to pull.

Romney has tried to distance himself on this, but it’s what Ryan is known for. It’s why Ryan was even in the field in the first place. Choosing Ryan not for his budget and Medicare plans would be like the Yankees saying they got Ichiro not for his batting skills.

Romney is trying to do what he has been doing: veering hard right and then calling foul when people say he veers hard right.

Categories: Economics, Election 2012, Health Issues Tags:

Preserving Beer

August 14th, 2012 2 comments

You go into a bar and order a beer. They serve you a drink, but it has no head of foam, and in fact is clear as water. You taste it. It is water. “Hey!” you object, “I ordered a beer!”

“That is beer,” the bartender asserts. “We overhauled it. That’ll be seven bucks.”

“But beer costs five dollars here!”

“I told you,” the barkeep replies. “We overhauled it.”

“What’s with this ‘overhaul’? It sounds like a stupid idea.”

“Beer sales weren’t making enough money before. We would have had to stop serving beer. In order to preserve your ability to get beer, we made necessary changes. But it’s still beer.”

“No it’s not! It’s water!”

“It’s still a beverage. We just swapped out some of the ingredients. Stop whining.”

This is essentially what Ryan’s “Medicare” plan is: to end Medicare and replace it with something completely different, but still call it “Medicare.”

Ryan was only slightly more opaque; his plan was to give seniors “vouchers,” a set amount of money, so they could buy private insurance. It amounts to the same, however: private insurance costs more and gives lesser service, meaning that Ryan’s new program–one must refuse to call it “Medicare” because it is not “Medicare”–would instantly deliver less service to participants. It would effectively be a government subsidy of private insurance, exactly the opposite direction our system needs to go.

Worse, the vouchers would increase by the overall inflation rate, and not by the inflation rate of health insurance, which is notably higher. Thus, benefits would slowly decrease over time, making the coverage less and less each year. To top it off, Ryan would roll back the age of eligibility to 67.

So, waiting until you’re 67, getting a voucher which would buy you inferior care, which would decrease every year.

But it’s still an insurance plan, so let’s call it “Medicare.” See? We just “preserved” Medicare!

Unemployment and November

August 6th, 2012 2 comments

In March, I debunked the Fox News claim that, after a one-month stall at 8.3%, “unemployment is not likely to fall much further and may rise again.” The message was that there is no hope for improvement, and that the numbers will stall or get worse for the indefinite future.

In the five months since then, Fox might, without looking too closely, seem to have been correct, in that the unemployment numbers have stayed steady since then:

  • February: 8.3%
  • March: 8.2%
  • April: 8.1%
  • May: 8.2%
  • June: 8.2%
  • July: 8.3%*

*July is really 8.254%; “8.3” is a rounding-up from that. It is only slightly up from 8.217% in June.

However, as I pointed out in March, conservatives often seem blind to the fact that unemployment numbers are a lagging indicator, especially when it means they can make Obama look bad, or their own guys look better.

Knowing that the unemployment rate lags about 9 months behind the jobs numbers gives us a bit of a crystal ball to see what will happen in upcoming months as far as unemployment goes. Yes, I know that it’s not that simple, but there is, in fact, a correlation. For example, the recent stall at 8.3% to 8.1% beginning last February matches very nicely with the stall in job creation that happened last year in May.

In March of this year, I predicted:

The bad news for Obama is that, for the next 4-6 months, unemployment will not be so hot–it may drop a point or two over the next 4-6 months (numbers might show a drop in June or July more than other months)…

I was not spot on where the slight drop would occur, but I was correct in that it could vary by a point or two. The real test, however, will be in next three months, about which I made this prediction:

[The unemployment rate] may not really start to change again until just before the election–which is the good news for Obama. The rate should start dropping regularly come September, when we see the numbers for August.

Based on nothing but a guess, I would say that the unemployment rate will probably be between 7.6% and 7.8% come November. The last three months, all good gainers, will show up in the unemployment rate in the three months leading up to election day.

That still remains a distinct possibility. My prediction was based on this chart:

Screen Shot 2012-03-10 At 1.21.56 Pm

A slump in job creation hit in May 2011 and continued for roughly six months up until October. Nine months forward, this would apply to February to July–which is precisely where the unemployment rate stalled. Then, from November 2011 (August 2012) there was a surge again, with overall job growth going above 200,000 per month. If the correlation holds true, then we should be seeing the unemployment rate going down again starting next month, at latest in October, but with an appreciable drop when the numbers come out just before election day.

Note that I am not hailing a recovery or anything, but rather simply the short-term number which could have a real effect on the election this fall.

In the meantime, I am otherwise sanguine about Obama’s chances. Yes, the wingnuts have been going to town with the dishonest “You Didn’t Build That” campaign. However, Romney has been obliging in shifting the focus to his tax returns (making it seem for all the world that he’s hiding some pretty bad stuff in there), his tax plans (raising taxes on the 95% to pay for yet another whopping big tax cut for the rich), and his gaffe-tastic trip abroad (demonstrating that not only can he not handle foreign policy, he can’t even keep from pissing off our strongest allies for a day or two).

In the meantime, while the popular vote has not shown much shift (Obama 50.7%, Romney 48.3%), Obama has made significant electoral gains. Not just in total numbers (he currently leads Romney 300 to 238), but in how much he may have key states locked up. Pennsylvania was supposed to be a battleground state; the numbers have shifted so far in Obama’s favor, however, that Romney gave up and stopped advertising there. Ohio and Florida have shifted to Obama’s column fairly significantly, with Obama enjoying 6-point leads, which may expand as economic forecasts for those states predict improvement. At FiveThirtyEight, Obama is projected to have a 55% chance of winning Florida, and a whopping 71% chance of winning Ohio. In fact, Obama now leads in all swing states.

Not that things can’t change. However, there is presently no evidence that they will. If a change comes, it will come from somewhere we do not expect–a terrible last-minute scandal that Obama cannot deflect like Bush did with his drunk-driving charge, a sudden, unexpected economic downturn, a series of bad gaffes on Obama’s part–that kind of thing. The odds, however, seem to be against that.

In fact, I now see enough breathing room to tempt fate and possibly even foresee excellent election results for not just Obama, but the Democrats in general. Right now, both the House and the Senate look like toss-ups. However, look forward to November: what if Romney is in the doghouse, and enthusiasm for Obama is up? That could have a negative effect, as Obama voters will not feel as threatened and may feel less inclined to vote (an effect magnified by vote-suppression campaigns by Republicans, not to mention massive redistricting).

What about the other side, however? If Mitt Romney stands little chance to win, what effect will that have on Republican voters? A key point here is religion: traditionally, the strongest get-out-the-vote campaigns have come from the churches and fundamentalist elements, the deep-red areas which rally to send out the troops. What if the election is about sending these warriors of God out… to vote for a Mormon who stands little chance of winning anyway?

I am not talking about the possibility of a landslide for Obama–I refer instead to the possibility that a depressed fundamentalist vote in red states could lead to unexpected gains for Democrats in down-ballot races, possibly giving Democrats a majority in both the House and the Senate.

If they can win that, and if the rumors are true that Democrats in the Senate will finally wake up and realize that Republicans have succeeded in utterly destroying the usefulness of the filibuster in overall terms, then when the Senate resumes business next year and Democrats have a chance to rewrite the rules, they could do away with it–and, as a result, they could actually start to get things done without Republicans blocking everything.

This is my big hope–not that Romney loses big, but that the built-in religious prejudice, which until now has hindered Obama and the Democrats, will finally come home to roost for the right wing, possibly handing Congress to the Democrats.

If that happens, maybe Democrats can start some real infrastructure spending, raise taxes on the wealthy to a reasonable level, cut them a bit more for the middle class to help get the flow running better, and help at least some form of recovery finally come along.

In short, after four years of Republicans “leading from behind,” we can actually have a Democratic presidency which is more sabotage-proof than it has been.

Of course, Obama will probably make concessions to Republicans even then, even when he doesn’t have to.

Categories: Economics, Election 2012, Religion Tags:

Jobs Up

August 4th, 2012 2 comments

The economy added 163,000 jobs last month, 172,000 in the private sector (25,000 alone in manufacturing) while the public sector lost 9000 jobs.

It would have been 171,000 added, except ConEd did some union busting and fired 8500 workers for not promising to not go on strike. Damn those people trying to get better wages and decent benefits! Don’t they know that wealthy people have gone weeks without another tax cut?!

Now that the jobs report is better than expected, will conservatives continue to focus on that?

Of course not! Not with a 0.1% uptick in the unemployment rate! Who cares if it’s a lagging indicator and reflects what was happening 6-9 months ago, we can use it to make things look worse than we have ma–er, than Obama has made them by obstructing all of Obama’s jobs prop–er, by, um, by being Socialist! Yeah, that’s what it was!

Tell me again, what were all the “jobs” bills forwarded by Republicans? I remember the “jobs” bill in which they said they could “create” a lot of “jobs” by doing away with regulations that would allow companies to pollute heavily without any controls (I guess in the medical care sector, or perhaps funeral homes), but what else did they do? Are we counting all those proposals to slash more taxes for rich people as “jobs” bills?

Anyway, the Republican whiplash reversal on jobs/unemployment in, wait for it, three….

Categories: Election 2012 Tags:

Romney: I’ll See Your Lie and Raise You One

August 3rd, 2012 1 comment

Romney said on Hannity’s show, “It’s time for Harry to put up or shut up.” Essentially, stop making things up about the records I’m hiding.

But then Romney hits back with an equally egregious fabrication:

“It’s untrue, dishonest, and inaccurate. It’s wrong. So I’m looking forward to have Harry reveal his sources and we’ll probably find out it’s the White House.”

“You want to make up stuff about my tax records? Okay, I’ll make stuff up about your source.”

In one respect, Romney just did something we should have seen coming: he both whined about something the opposition did and then did the exact same thing himself. Usually, conservatives wait a while between the whining and the doing-the-same-or-worse, but Romney managed to accomplish both in just seconds. It’s a conscious strategy: make yourself out to be the victim, and the other guy can’t complain that you’re doing the same thing because he’ll look like a hypocrite. It’s kind of a political aikido move where you get to be a hypocrite but the other guy gets the blame.

It is, ironically, one of the more politically astute moves Romney has made in a while. Dishonest and hypocritical, but astute. In an honest accounting, however, Romney just ceded the high ground. Now they’re both on equal standing, and Romney has no right to complain.

Categories: Election 2012, Right-Wing Hypocrisy Tags: