Archive for the ‘The Obama Administration’ Category

Litmus Tests

April 22nd, 2010 Comments off

Come on, Obama… “Women’s rights” is a litmus test. Every president has litmus tests. It was even more stupid when Bush tried to claim he didn’t have litmus tests but required his justices to be strict constructionists (the ultimate mega-bundle mother of all litmus tests), but it’s not much less stupid when you try to claim you don’t have any yourself. Politically expedient, maybe–but you’re not fooling anyone.

Digging Out of the Bush Chasm: How to Win the Midterms

April 4th, 2010 15 comments

In a development one can be assured Republicans will try to find a way to attribute to the Bush administration, the U.S. economy added 162,000 jobs in March, the biggest job gain in three years, since the Bush recession began. Analysts expected 190,000 jobs gained, but that figure is likely to be realized with adjustments over the next two months. Unemployment remains at 9.7%, but is below double-digits; while the job market remains tough, we are still in an upward trend and are now in positive territory. Compare this to January 2009, when Bush left office and 741,000 other Americans lost their jobs at the same time.

March Jobs

Obama’s stimulus was put into play, and immediately Bush’s plummet was reversed. Aside from Obama’s election in general, no other major factors aside from the stimulus seem to be able to explain the upswing in job creation. This month’s job report puts us comfortably on the plus side, and hopefully that trend will continue along the lines it has over the past year.

Compare this to when Bush was handed a shaky yet overall positive job market in 2001; he passed his massive tax-cuts-for-the-rich and immediately send jobs down the toilet–and did not see this kind of recovery until October in his third year in office. Bush, on the other hand, handed Obama the worst recession in recent history, the worst since the great depression, and we were hemorrhaging jobs–and Obama is back in positive jobs territory after just 14 months.

Any way the conservatives want to spin this, even despite the still-distressed economy, it cannot be denied that the Obama recovery is remarkable, perhaps even startling. If the current trend continues, we could be seeing aggressive job gains by summer (in the 400,000 ~ 500,000 range), in time to impress voters before the midterms. That would allow Obama and the Democrats to tout their two major victories–the Stimulus and Health Care Reform–in a light that makes clear the long-term benefits of both. And they can point to undeniable massive Republican obstructionism, and state truthfully that the Republicans tried to stop the recovery. Remember, they said it aloud: they wanted Obama to fail. Just run on the record: Republicans were driving us into a recession, and then tried hard as hell to stop the legislation that we can now see is bolstering the economy.

Republicans will no doubt bring up the deficit in criticism of this, but Obama and the Dems can correctly point out–aside from the fact that most of the debt is Republican-generated–that in order to drive down the debt, you must first have a strong economy. We had to spend before we could do anything else; failing to do so would have been courting economic collapse. Had Republicans gained power and there had been no stimulus–or worse, more massive tax cuts for the rich like Bush used in 2001 to drive job losses further–we would have been in a hell of a mess by now, maybe even in a depression.

The Dems just have to show the Bush trend and where it was leading, and contrast it with the Obama trend. This is the magic chart that could win the midterms:

Bush V Obama Wt

Look at that red trend line and imagine where we would have gone had McCain won, or worse, the Republicans had also controlled Congress. One shudders at the thought.

The difference could not be more stark. Republicans were driving us straight into the toilet; a depression was imminent. Obama and the Dems intercepted that long-bomb pass Bush threw straight to the depths of hell, and are now rocketing out of the chasm Bush was dragging us into, a recovery clearly foreseeable. (It won’t be so easy to recover from the staggering debt Bush drove us into, but aside from that….) Back this up with strong job gains into the summer, with people feeling the recovery in their guts, and the point will be driven home.

This is not one of those bogus charts where a regular trend line to the present is “predicted” to take ridiculous turns in the future, with “our” party’s line going straight up and “their” party’s line going way down. These are actual figures showing definite trend lines based on hard fact.

That chart should be made into a theme for the next seven months, it should be iconic for these elections. Show it every chance you get. Put it up on walls, show it on broadcasts, make it into backdrops for rallies and speeches. Convert it into a simpler graphic:


Slap that on every car bumper and home and store window in sight. Drive the point home.


March 8th, 2010 4 comments

Being a liberal has been somewhat disheartening lately. We expected that we would have a revolutionary progressive in the White House making our hopes comes true, but instead got a compromising technocrat even more willing to appease Republicans than Clinton ever was. We expected a supermajority, but got a Congress that couldn’t pass much of anything. We expected solid opposition, but thought they could be splintered just enough to make a difference. So, many of us came to the conclusion that the Democrats were not what we thought they were, that they failed. Seeing little hope, the progressives started losing interest in the elections coming this Fall.

Big mistake. If anything, we should be galvanized, ready to fight even harder than the last election–and with good cause, because this coming midterm election could mean a whole lot more.

First of all, our expectations were way too high. We should have known that Obama was no flaming liberal. Yes, the right-wingers painted him that way, but they would have claimed that Ronald Reagan himself was the most liberal commie socialist ever had he risen from the grave, switched parties, and ran as the Democratic candidate. The Democrat on the ticket could be espousing every right-wing goal imaginable, it wouldn’t make a difference. They claim any Democratic candidate, in every election, is “the most liberal ever.” Not only that, but one of Obama’s big selling points, if you recall, was that he liked finding middle ground, he wanted to compromise as a way of reaching consensus and getting things done. So expecting him to push the nation far to the left was unrealistic.

Then there was Congress. Once Specter had switched and Al Franken’s seat was finally confirmed, we thought we had a super-majority and could sweep in any law we wanted to. Well, that was a stupid assumption. One of those 60 votes was Lieberman, who campaigned for John McCain; to expect him to vote with the Democrats on anything the Republicans pushed hard against was folly indeed. And even not counting him, many of the new Democrats won precisely because they were conservative Democrats, winning conservative states where they would have to pander to conservative sensibilities. We never had 60% in the crucial bottleneck of the Senate; at best we had just over a simple majority, at least when it comes to the controversial stuff.

And then there was Republican opposition. We knew that they would push, but I don’t think that anyone foresaw just how fantastically monolithic and almost hysterically powerful that opposition would be. They pulled no punches and did not give a moment’s hesitation in fear that their total obstructionist frenzy could work against them. With the fanatical single-mindedness usually seen only in the most feverish of zealots, they not only obstructed but poured out a tidal wave of unprecedented, unadulterated hatred and invective, issuing against the president–at all levels low and high–every pejorative one could imagine being used publicly.

With a centrist president, much less than the needed supermajority in Congress, and fanatical obstructionist opposition from the right wing, there was never a chance for much to get done. We should have seen this from examples of the past. At, we get this chart showing the majorities that FDR and LBJ had during formative years that trended to the liberal. Note that they usually had well over 60% majorities in the Senate, while the House was always above the 50% needed there.


In short, to get even part of a meaningful agenda done, we’re gong to need more than we got before. Becoming disheartened and turning away from the polls is nothing short of self-destructive, especially as the right-wingers, tasting Democratic defeat and still possessed of whipped-up, galvanized, angry mobs of tea-bagging fanaticism, are looking at strong showings at the polls this coming November.

We have little hope of gaining the seats we need to get the things we want done. But to give up and lose seats–maybe hand Republicans a simple majority in either house, all they would need to make their scorched-earth goals total and irrevocable–would be just plain dumb.

The Democrats, for all of their weak-kneed, wavering ineptitude, never really had a chance. There were too many Blue Dogs, too much solidarity and hysteria from the right, and not enough single-minded Bush-like drive or disregard for the risks from the White House for this to work.

Had FDR faced this, the New Deal would never have passed. Had LBJ been given these numbers, neither Medicare nor the Civil Rights legislation he got through would have stood a chance.

We fooled ourselves into thinking that we had the numbers to get things done. We were wrong. We weren’t even close. Not just one more vote, but probably five more votes in the Senate may have done the job. As weak-kneed as the Dems have been, that wasn’t what broke the deal. They could have been bolder and stronger and still failed. All that was needed was for Lieberman to vote “no,” and that would be that.

That’s what we have to keep in mind in upcoming elections: More. We need more. We need to galvanize, to get out the vote. Giving up is not an option. Even at my time of greatest disgust, when I couldn’t even bear to watch any more, I knew that I would still be voting strongly, as I always will. But many have simply turned away and don’t intend to vote. If you know someone like that, make sure you turn them around. Make sure you get them their voter registration materials and egg them on to the polls in November.

Even if we don’t succeed, not losing is far better than giving up and letting these frothing, fanatical fascists take back the country and send us right back down the shaft to national self-destruction they had us falling to for the first eight years of the century.

Obama and the Republicans

January 30th, 2010 6 comments

Obama went to the Republicans’ home turf and fielded unscreened questions from House Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore. Below is the full White House video (video and transcripts part one & part two) of his opening remarks and of his one hour and seven minutes of answering questions lobbed at him by his political opponents.

Now, one thing I would like to observe: when did Bush do this? Right-wingers make claims that Obama and Democrats are “afraid” of “journalists,” meaning they won’t allow Fox News to stage a right-wing political ambush under the pretense of a debate hosted by a “news outlet.”

The thing is, Obama has put himself not just up in front of the media, he has put himself directly in front of very aggressively challenging right-wing forums. Obama went on O’Reilly’s show on Fox; did Bush ever go on Olbermann? Hell, no. Now, maybe I missed something, but I sure as hell don’t recall Bush ever opening himself up to answering more than an hour’s worth of unscreened questions from Democratic lawmakers on live TV. No, I think I would have remembered that.

So, right off the bat, you have to give Obama huge props for going where no Republican leader would ever have the guts to go, namely into the lion’s den of opposition. On this, Obama is the courageous, bipartisan leader, and Republicans are the weak-kneed sissies afraid to be held accountable by the opposition. There can be no argument on that.

Next, watching the opening remarks and much of the questioning, you have to give Obama big marks for bipartisan outreach. He made several excellent points about how he has compromised and worked across the aisle, gave Republicans their due on many things, and publicly committed to working with the other side. Compare that to most of the questions, and you’ll see that while the Republicans in the room had some conciliatory remarks, they most definitely were way more partisan in their remarks than Obama was. Clearly, they felt that Obama had stumbled into their crosshairs and they were going to make a shooting gallery of it. But under the most challenging of questions, Obama more than held his own. He did not allow his record to be misrepresented, and did a good job of beating down the untrue accusations lobbed at him.

And there were quite a few incredibly biased and unfair “questions” (often couched in partisan speechmaking–just listen to the first “question”). I nearly gagged when one guy actually had the balls to say “We have not been obstructionist.” I had to remember that a few moments before, he had said that he represented freshmen in the House. I don’t know what their record is, but maybe among that small group, there has not been the same level of obstructionism as has been iron-clad amongst Republicans as a whole, and especially Senate Republicans. What this guy said may have been true in its very limited sense, but coming from a Republican lawmaker, and clearly intended to represent Republicans in general (note how he did not say “House freshmen have not been obstructionist,” but instead removed the classification to a preceding sentence therefore giving a false impression in the claim), it is one of the more outrageous claims ever spoken. And sure, freshmen House Republicans may not be as obstructionist as their party as a whole, but that’s because they can afford to be: there’s no filibuster in the House, and the Democrats have a clear majority, so 100% opposition is not necessary, and they can afford to cross lines more often. But if Democrats held a razor-thin majority, you can bet your ass that these guys would be exactly as obstructionist as their Senate brethren are.

Obama scored huge points in pointing out how Republicans have demonized Obama:

Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker, and, certainly you don’t agree with Tom Daschle on much, but that’s not a radical bunch. But if you were to listen to the debate and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you’d think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot. No, I mean, that’s how you guys — (applause) — that’s how you guys presented it.

And so I’m thinking to myself, well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist — no, look, I mean, I’m just saying, I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans — is similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.

So all I’m saying is, we’ve got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality. I’m not suggesting that we’re going to agree on everything, whether it’s on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don’t have a lot of room to negotiate with me.

I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You’ve given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you’ve been telling your constituents is, this guy is doing all kinds of crazy stuff that’s going to destroy America.

And I would just say that we have to think about tone. It’s not just on your side, by the way — it’s on our side, as well. This is part of what’s happened in our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do.

Truer words have not been spoken. Watch the whole video, and I think you’ll be impressed with how Obama does. I have to say, he is very motivational; listening to him speak, especially seeing him stand up to and hold his own and then some against a crowd so pitted against him almost gives me hope again. But then I remember that it’s not House Republicans who are the problem, it’s Senate Republicans, and for all the tiny morsels of outreach the crowd claimed they were offering, none of that means squat if Senate Republicans don’t end their record-breaking filibuster marathon and stop their monolithic obstructionist campaign.

UPDATE: Amusing point: Obama was doing so good a job at defeating Republican attempts to make him look bad, and doing it so adroitly and effectively, that Fox News, which was airing the event no doubt in hopes that Obama would get his ass handed to him, cut away from the event 20 minutes early. To those who would claim that they planned to or had to go to another event, I ask this: if Obama were getting embarrassed instead of the other way around, do you think they would have cut away? Not to mention that they cut away to “analysis” of the event, and spent a lot of time bitching about how Obama was “lecturing” Republicans. Um, yeah.

Isn’t It Rather Obvious By Now?

January 3rd, 2010 2 comments

In the fallout from the failed crotch-bomb plot over Detroit, many have pointed out the fact that right-wingers have been particularly dishonest and hypocritical. Conservatives have been putting outright blame on Obama for the failure to catch this beforehand, whereas they blamed Clinton for the 9/11 attacks, not Bush; where Obama is to blame for an intelligence agency ignoring the father’s warning, Bush was somehow not to blame for ignoring a plethora of warning signs, several of which were delivered directly to him. Where Bush was hailed as “keeping us safe” even while the Shoe Bomber, in almost identical a fashion to the Crotch Bomber, attempted to blow up a plane to the U.S., Obama is criticized for not keeping us safe. And while Republicans excoriate the Obama administration for the lack of security, they brazenly ignore the fact that they themselves voted down more funding for airport security. Not to mention the fact that criticizing Bush on terror or security was seen as near-treasonous, while criticizing the president today is apparently not at all a problem.

I look at these criticisms and reflect on why I don’t blog on politics quite as much now: it’s all trite. Of course they’re acting like that. Of course the facts don’t matter one bit. Of course Republicans are being hypocritical, lying bags of scum; hasn’t that been all too well established? Just like it’s been established that Democratic politicians are generally weak-kneed sissies afraid of their own shadows.

The pattern is pretty simple: anything a conservative does: good; anything a liberal does: bad–even if the two acts are identical. Just claim they’re different somehow, ignore logic and consistency, blame any evidence to the contrary as an artifact of the “Liberal Media,” and there you have it. The neoconservative narrative. Throw in some social religion for further control, a few more tax cuts for the rich, disregard a few more civil liberties (while always steering clear of the control-irrelevant gun ownership), deepen the dependence on corporations, and you’re getting close to seeing the overall sheep-herding architecture of the New Conservative Society. Within that twisted framework, even Sarah Palin makes perfect sense.

How About This

December 12th, 2009 2 comments

How about we judge Obama on the wars he starts instead of the wars he inherited and are next to impossible to get out of?

Just saying. I don’t recall anyone judging Bush on Bosnia. Of course, Clinton won that war, and didn’t leave a quagmire. Bit of a difference.

Pulling Out of the Bush Dive

December 8th, 2009 4 comments


Right-wingers have been bashing Obama for “losing” millions of jobs–and have even found ways to bash him further still for the fact that only 11,000 jobs were lost in November. As if there was no such thing as “last year,” or even sometimes “last month.”

A quick study of the chart above (Bush months in red, Obama’s in blue) tells the story in undeniable detail: Bush drove us into one of the worst recessions in memory, with unimaginable levels of job losses totaling more than 700,000 per month by the time he left office. Obama came in, quickly instituted a stimulus package and–purely by coincidence, of course–the trend immediately reversed itself. November job loss numbers were only barely negative, promising possible job growth for December or early 2010. I would not be at all surprised if the new growth turns out to be steady.

There is no way to look at that chart and blame Obama for anything except reversing a horrific hemorrhage of jobs that Bush saddled the nation with. At best, if you want to insist that the turnaround, timed exactly upon Obama’s entrance and his promised deployment of a stimulus package, was nothing more than an incredible coincidence, then you still can’t blame him for anything–unless you want to contend that Obama has damaged job growth but that has only been overcome by a delayed economic miracle that Bush somehow quietly enacted when no one was paying attention. But realistically, this kind of result just doesn’t happen by chance. Obama clearly had a strikingly positive effect on employment. He hasn’t fully repaired the damage done by Bush, but he has clearly turned it back onto the right course, and was correct to claim ownership of that early this year (when it was far from certain that the numbers would improve as much as they have).

In contrast, look at the chart of job gains and losses starting at the same point near the end of Clinton’s second term (in blue), and then where Bush took it afterwards (in red):


Not quite as clear-cut as the previous chart, but one can see a pattern: Clinton handed over a bad economy, but it was only middling-bad. Keep in mind that Bush signed his huge tax boondoggle for the wealthy in early June 2001 (after it passed through Congress in May)–exactly at the time when job losses became steady and notably increasing. It took until late 2003 before sustained job growth returned. Now it looks like Obama will achieve the same thing in just over one year–not two and a half–despite being handed a death spiral which made the economy Clinton handed Bush seem positively robust.

Contrast the Clinton-Bush chart with the stark shape of the job losses under Bush and then Obama, and it’s inescapable: had Obama not come in and turned things around, we could have been looking at ten million more jobs lost. He turned that trend around, but fast.

And for this, right-wingers attack Obama for “losing” all of those jobs. It’s as if Bush put the national aircraft into a deep, steep dive, then Obama took control and immediately started to pull us up, and we’re now leveling out, much safer now–and right-wingers are thrashing Obama for being at a low altitude.

I shudder to think what would have happened had McCain won and vetoed anything except yet another tax cut for the rich. Yeah, that would have worked.

Categories: Economics, The Obama Administration Tags:

Not Good News

November 29th, 2009 3 comments

One of the other reasons why I’m less enthusiastic about reporting on politics:

In the 2010 Congressional elections will you definitely vote, probably vote, not likely vote, or definitely will not vote?
Party Affiliation definitely/probably not likely/not
Republican Voters 81 14
Independent Voters 65 23
Democratic Voters 56 40

This is what a looming national train wreck looks like, and seems to confirm that the Republican strategy of “screw the American people, we want to take control of this train so we can drive it off a cliff” is working beautifully. Obama and the Democrats are not helping by (a) beginning all negotiations with a compromise, (b) making it an imperative to look “bipartisan” when the Republicans both define what that means and make no effort to be bipartisan themselves, (c) not taking the Republican-style hardball stance of doing whatever it takes to get legislation through, and (d) generally wringing their hands and caving at the first sign of something going wrong. They are quite literally snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, and even with a 60-vote supermajority (more or less), are having more trouble than any majority party I’ve ever heard of in getting anything passed. Democrats did not threaten the nuclear option when Republicans used the filibuster to obstruct, even though the Republicans did so–effectively–when the Democrats used it relatively sparingly; Democrats did not use reconciliation to get their major legislation past a potential filibuster, though Republicans did so–again, effectively–when they were in power.

On the media front, the conservative news media (let’s not play the game of “is the media librul?” when it is so blindingly obvious that it leans so notably right-wing) strategy is also working. Fox has dominated the national discourse and effectively created the neoconservative imperative: the self-serving narrative that everyone buys into.

I often wondered, “What could possibly happen which could blind the people to the egregiously vicious and idiotic insanity of the right wing and allow them to elect conservatives next year, when it is so clear that doing so will wreck any hope of recovery or future worth for the United States?”

And here we have the answer: a galvanized right wing whipped into a frenzy by the insane Becks, Bachmanns, Limbaughs, and Palins; a disheartened left wing driven to apathy by weak-kneed, ineffective Democrats; and independents robbed of a rational national discourse, pulled to the vitriol of the right or the lethargy of the left, or else left hanging in the middle with nowhere to go.

I keep hoping that Obama’s got a rabbit or two left in his hat, that the liberals and independents will rail against the vile madness of the conservatives, that the right will shrink into a tiny ball of fury unable to move elections, or that something will happen to restore sanity and allow the nation’s business to get back on track again.

Instead, we seem to be driven by the right wing’s incessant, obstructionist drive to destroy the nation in the name of regaining power, driven to charge off that cliff, waving flags and screaming “America’s Number ONE!!” at the top of our lungs as we go.

The most frightening thing is, when the right wing finds a strategy that works, it employs it even more strongly the next time. I thought we’d seen the worst the right wing could do under Reagan, when the neocons started taking over and saddled the economy with massive debt; then I thought I’d seen the worst with the relentless, eight-year smear campaign against the Clintons and the campaign to create a fictional narrative with the likes of Limbaugh and the birth of Fox News; then I thought I’d seen the worst with Bush & Cheney after 9/11, when the real national self-destruction got under full steam; but now we have a right-wing which is doing crap which frankly leaves me speechless. This is not a once-only thing, this is a trend. And it scares the living shit out of me to consider what’s next.

The First Amendment

October 31st, 2009 Comments off

Conservatives are insisting that Obama is crushing the First Amendment by treating Fox News for what it is, namely, a partisan, right-wing propaganda machine. They’re hypocritical idiots, of course.

Back in the real world, things are a bit different. In fact, with a new journalistic shield law, Obama is moving to protect First Amendment rights far more assiduously than Bush ever did–more, in fact, than conservatives would like. But this was never about actual First Amendment rights; it was about abusing journalism and twisting it into a political tool, they trying to hide behind the First Amendment.

Just to get it straight: the First Amendment protects the individual’s right to speak freely, and protects the press from government interference or intimidation. It does not, as Carrie Prejean seems to think, shield you from being criticized when you say something stupid. And it does not mean, as most conservatives seem to think, that you can pretend a propaganda machine is an objective news outfit and be “protected” from others telling the truth. Nor does it mean that you can bully the White House into giving that propaganda machine the same access as actual journalists.

Stewart, As Always, Is Delicious

October 31st, 2009 Comments off

Jon Stewart tweaks both Fox and a less-than-articulate Obama official. As always, he uses archive footage to show how the conservative side is lying their asses off, and uses nothing but his scathing wit to admonish the Dems for being so lame. Enjoy.

The Meaning of Bipartisanship

October 27th, 2009 Comments off

I’m not the only one feeling confused by Obama and the Democrats’ eagerness to get the single Senate vote of Olympia Snowe. Sure, she might have pulled one or two other moderate Republicans (although, how many are left now?) along with her, but frankly, I doubt it–Republicans are far too partisan on this issue. Even Snowe’s vote was not assured, for crying out loud.

Now that Reid had come to his senses and has put his money on the Opt-out Plan, Snowe is deeply disappointed:

Snowe issued a statement Monday, saying she was “deeply disappointed” with Reid’s decision on the public option. She argued that a decision in favor of a trigger “could have been the road toward achieving a broader bipartisan consensus in the Senate.”

Oh, please. Your single vote is not “bipartisan.” Nor would even a few more. More than a dozen Republicans voting for it, maybe.

But you know what? The bill is already bipartisan. Remember that in the days of GOP control, there would be none of this “bipartisan” talk at all. Nothing. The GOP would write the bill as they liked and shove it through Congress, screaming bloody murder if the Dems even hinted at a filibuster.

What we have today is far different: despite the Dems holding a 60-seat supermajority, a Republican filibuster is assumed, and instead of rants and tirades and threats of the “nuclear option,” the Dems have been bending over backwards to try to get Republicans on board. Instead of pushing it through quickly like the GOP would have done, they allowed for delay while knowing full well it was for no other reason than to allow Republicans to take their best shot at savagely attacking the bill.

Already a host of compromises have changed the legislation, and that’s why it’s a bipartisan bill even if every Republican votes against it. Partly because the Democratic Party already includes a number of conservatives, but mostly because Republicans have had their say and have helped shape the bill. Were is truly a “partisan” bill, it would be single-payer Medicare-for-Everyone. Just because the Dems started from a position that was already bipartisan does not mean that that bipartisanship doesn’t count.

The GOP can wail and rant and kick and cry, they can hold their collective breath till their collective face turns blue (or, more appropriately, red), they can vote as a solid block against the bill with not a single “yea” vote–but the bill is bipartisan already.

Bipartisanship means giving voice to the other party; Republicans never gave this to Democrats, but Democrats have given full voice to Republicans. Bipartisanship means allowing compromise and coming to a point well away from what you want in order to appease the other side and address their concerns; Republicans never gave Democrats an inch, but Democrats have given Republicans a mile.

Just about everything the Democrats have done so far smacks of bipartisanship; just about everything the GOP has done so far smacks of strident partisanship.

Suck on it, GOP: you played dirty as hell while the Dems tried to placate you, but you lost. Now go cry in your milk before you start your attempts to smear and sabotage the health care reform that will pass.

Obama Derangement Syndrome

October 18th, 2009 8 comments

A conservative cartoon, Day By Day, encapsulates it fairly well. Hard to tell if the cartoonist actually believes this or not, but it’s clear that many people do–he’s putting in his panels what so many are ranting and tearing their hair out about all the time now. One can imagine the cartoonist either believes it all, or that he believes some but wanted to push it and so included some ideas that he may not agree with.

But that’s not the point. The point is that the list he comes up with is a real one, made up of actual claims, complaints, grievances, and conspiracy theories from the right wing. The thing of it is, this list is not even the craziest one out there–it is actually fairly reined in, relatively mild. The examples listed in the cartoon below don’t go as far as Bachmann’s FEMA-built concentration camps; it stays just barely on the “reasonable” side of the paranoid rantings on the right. Looking at the list, it’s so familiar in its content, but at the same time, makes you ask the question, “which planet do these people live on?”

Screen Shot 2009-10-18 At 10.10.12 Am

The first utterance very nicely frames something that conservatives have been all over lately, but which is ultimately very puzzling: the implication that nothing really happened under Bush, but now, under Obama, stuff is actually happening. Like most of the stuff in the panels above, it’s not just the cartoon making stuff up, this is what’s really out there. Conservatives express strong fears of the Constitution being torn to shreds now–as if Bush’s term in office didn’t do massive damage to our rights but somehow Obama has taken a flamethrower to the document. As if Bush did not do everything he could to fully negate the Fourth Amendment, making the case that the government had the right to spy on Americans without a warrant (and actually doing it). As if he did not violate the Fifth through Eighth Amendments by jailing people without access to an attorney, without informing them of charges, without allowing a trial, and by legitimizing torture. These were as real as you can get, and set government policy that generates precedents that could actually weaken the Constitution. The irony is, what they see Obama is doing to violate the Constitution is imaginary–paranoid hyperbole loosely based upon harmless facts, like the Medicare provision for end-of-life counseling combined with decade-old writings by one advisor being seen as adding up to insidious “Death Panels.”

What else on the list? The “racist” supreme court justice: Sotomayor is supposedly a racist because she said that a “wise Latina woman” would have better judgment than a white man. As spelled out here, the quote was taken fully out of context: Sotomayor said that in sexual discrimination cases, a wise Latina woman would have a better understanding of the nature of the offense and therefore could be a better judge on the issue–not racist at all.

Economy-busting stimulus bills: This is another fascinating example of Bush-Blindness-Obama-Hyperbole; Bush dug us into debt to an unimaginable degree, but these people had no problem with it–when asked, they usually reverted to the idea that “debt is good,” that it allows us to control the economy. Bush gave away more than the stimulus cost to pay off the banks, and though conservatives didn’t like it, they barely seem to remember it now. Obama spends a relative pittance to Bush’s total giveaway over the years, Obama working to actually revive the economy, to create jobs–and it’s actually working–and suddenly he’s spending too much. See here for a good rundown of the difference between Obama’s and Bush’s debt creation–you can see that Obama’s well-spent, effective stimulus cost less than any one of several Bush boondoggles.

Nationalization of Banking, Insurance, Auto, and Health Care: Uh huh. Obama controls the banks now. And he runs the auto industry. Riiiighhht. This is fascinating as well, in that it takes the idea of bailouts–which Bush initiated half the time–which have a few, minor, very weak strings attached–and transforms them into complete takeovers of the entire institutions. It’s like saying that I run Apple now because I made a minor stock purchase. But this is an excellent example of what the far right has been doing: take a kernel of truth, inflate it a thousand times and more, then start getting paranoid about it.

Unaccountable Czars: Bush had more, but no one complained then–not even liberals. A “czar” is nothing more than a task manager on a specific issue; they have no dictatorial power beyond what the respective agencies or the president himself wields. The term was crafted long ago as a political way of saying “we’re on the problem.” As for the “Diktats” on what we can “eat, buy, earn, or say”? How do you respond to stuff like that? I repeat, I know this is a cartoon, but as I noted above, this is virtually straight from the mouths of so many conservatives today–they really do believe this.

A “White House that openly posts anti-semitic rants”: I have to give up on this one, I could not determine its source. Seems like others on the web are scratching their heads here as well. Closest I could come were mentions of Van Jones, but I could not track down the explanations.

Embracing Islamic Terrorists: one can only imagine. His Cairo speech? His initial steps in the Middle East peace process? His willingness to speak to foreign leaders? Obama reading Fareed Zakaria’s book? Who knows, it seems that anything Obama does which in any way can be connected to the Middle East is invariably seen as “embracing Islamic terrorists.”

“A Cipher for President”: the old “Obama as Mystery Man” cliché. This is part of a long-standing smear on Obama from back during the election, saying that we “don’t know” anything about who he “really” is–nothing more than a completely unsupported attack intended to frighten people away from voting for him. The man’s life is just as open, if not more open than anyone other president’s in recent history (unless anyone can tell me in detail about Bush’s years of alcoholism and drug use in detail). The man wrote an autobiography and a tome outlining his political philosophy, for crying out loud.

Obama’s “mentors”: a “Child Rapist”: again, I had to look this one up. Turns out he’s talking about Frank Marshall Davis, a journalist, poet and political and labor movement activist who was targeted during the McCarthy era. Like so many conservative conspiracy theories, this one is based upon a string of suppositions transposed over an exaggerated relationship. Davis probably wrote a book under a pseudonym in which the author wrote that the experiences described were supposedly based upon actual fact–something never determined to be true (Michael Crichton includes the same claim in many of his purely fictional novels)–and in the book spoke of a three-way romantic relationship between the author, his wife, and a 13-year-old girl. Conservative conspiracy nuts then connect this to Obama because in the book Dreams From My Father, Obama mentioned “Uncle Frank” as being a friend of his grandfather’s. Not a word about him being a mentor or even an influence of any sort, just kind reminiscences of a figure from his childhood. From this we get a “child rapist mentor.” At least Muir did not go so far as to chime in on the wingnut claim that Davis was actually Obama’s father.

The “Domestic Terrorist” is of course, Bill Ayers. Of course, it has long been established that Obama’s connection to Ayers (whose ‘terrorist’ status is just as challenged but let’s just let that lie for now) is tenuous at best–Ayers contributed $200 to Obama state senate re-election bid, they lived in the same neighborhood, served on a board together, and that’s just about it. Having fleeting contacts and possible scattered meetings means nothing, let alone “mentor” status. A good, thorough debunking of the web of fiction surrounding this is here as well as at

A Racist Minister: this is as close to the truth as the rant gets. Obama did admire Jeremiah Wright, and Wright was his minister for several years, and he did say objectionable things. “Mentor” is a different issue, as is the insinuation that Obama agreed with everything the man said.

Assorted Communists: again, one can only imagine. So general it could refer to any number of imagined paranoid rantings.

Uses government to attack private citizens: go fish, I have no idea on this one. Again, too general to track down.

Union thugs to stifle free speech: this comes from a scuffle at a town hall meeting that tea-baggers were trying to overrun. The event, for Democratic Representative Kathy Castor, was at least in part sponsored by local unions, ergo the “union thugs” charge. The venue had a maximum capacity of 250 seats, but more than 1000–mostly protesters bused in from outside the district–tried to get in. When the door minders had to stop admitting people and intended to close the doors in keeping with fire regulations, the tea-baggers, assuming they were being unfairly kept out, started screaming, shoving, and a few got into minor scuffles with the door minders. After the doors were closed, they continued to shout and bang on the doors. As you can see in this Youtube video of the event (different angle here), the tea-baggers were the loud, rowdy, and pushy ones. One guy, named Randy Arthur (you can see him near the doors in the video), later claimed that he was slammed against a wall, and had scratches on his chest. (The video seems to show that after the room’s capacity was filled, he tried to shove his way in, but had to be restrained by a door minder.) There was zero verification that union people were minding the doors, that Arthur was not himself an aggressor trying to get in after the hall had been filled to capacity, or that any of this was to “stifle free speech.” Closing an event due to fire laws is not stifling free speech, and plenty of tea-baggers got in. But, as you can imagine, the right wing blew this event way out of proportion, claimed Obama was using union thugs to beat up protesters, and here we are.

ACORN felons manufacturing votes: It started with McCain/Palin accusations about stealing votes, but as points out, there were only scattered cases of a few hired workers trying to get paid for no work by falsifying registration forms. None of these led to actual false votes, none were perpetrated by ACORN itself. This kind of false-registration scam by workers is endemic to voter registration organizations of all stripes. Since then, ACORN has become the favorite punching bag of the right wing, which has both stirred up a wide variety of false rumors and smears, and has tried to infiltrate/expose with questionable results. Mostly, opposition to ACORN is fueled by the fact that it is legally registering large numbers of low-income voters who will more often than not vote Democratic, and by the longstanding campaign by the right wing to claim massive voter fraud is being perpetrated, so that the Republicans can institute new voter laws which would disenfranchise large numbers of Democratic voters.

FCC throttling free speech: This apparently comes from the fact that Mark Lloyd, the “chief diversity officer” at the FCC, wrote an opinion a few years before being assigned to his post saying that since talk radio is strongly tilted toward conservatism, that some policies could be adopted to address the imbalance. Whatever Lloyd’s claims actually were (to get the full story I would have to find, read, and analyze the original work, something I don’t have time for), there is nonetheless no evidence that such policies are actually being enacted by the FCC. This is a common right-wing tactic: find everything ever written by everyone even tangentially connected to the Obama administration, find something written years ago as a theoretical suggestion that could then be distorted and presented as a crazed, wild-eyed conspiracy, and then claim that since this person is now in some official position, that means that the years-old musing is now an official policy forwarded by Obama himself. This was half of the genesis for the “Death Panel” claim.

Illegal monies from overseas to establish itself: I think this refers to the claims that some Obama campaign contributions came from overseas, in particular Arab countries. Add it to the pile.

A news media so biased: Well, this is too easy. The news media is biased–very strongly biased–but demonstrably, very demonstrably, to the right, not to the left. But the right wing’s pipe dream fantasy has it being a left-wing cabal infiltrating all but Fox News, which, of course, is fair and balanced.

The culture steeped in anti-Americanism: essentially, anything and everything that does not fit the right-wing standard of approving of or defending most of what Bush and Cheney did, or a completely pro-Christian agenda, or a pro-ultra-right-wing agenda, so forth and so on. Under their standards, trying to get the Olympics for Chicago in 2016 was “anti-American.” Really, almost anything Obama or the Democrats do is ultimately represented as “anti-American.”

Illegal aliens bribed with amnesty to vote Democratic: does he mean the mass amnesty that Reagan gave in the 80’s to bribe them to vote Republican? Or the amnesty Bush 43 was trying to get for many years?

And finally: 47% of Americans pay no taxes and live off of those who do produce. The figure comes from the Tax Policy Center, which claims that in 2009, 47% of households will owe no federal income tax–not exactly the same as 47% of Americans paying no taxes at all, but let’s ignore that for the moment. The insinuation is that we’re talking about half of America (presumably the liberal half) somehow evading taxes and instead leeching off of the (presumably Republican) half who actually produce stuff–another common right-wing fantasy.

What the figures actually mean are that the incomes earned by enough hard-working Americans have dropped so low in the past eight years under Bush that the number who fall below the minimum tax brackets and exemptions has increased dramatically–this number is reportedly almost 60% higher than it was in 2000. Too many Americans work multiple jobs for too little pay, with too few benefits. The minimum wage is a sick joke. To say that they are leeching off the productive ones while rich bankers use taxpayer billions granted by Bush to give themselves huge bonuses for failing under conservative fiscal policies… well, you get the idea.

This is not a conspiracy by lazy liberals to mooch off of productive responsible conservatives, it’s the dying gasp of America’s middle class, falling into poverty because of the economy that conservatives champion. It’s no secret that Democrats are the ones who preside over economies where all groups do well and more people pay taxes, whereas in Republican administrations, the gap between rich and poor widens and so many fall into poverty.

Okay. Once again, the cartoon is not real. But the claims that the cartoon lists are all too real in terms of these being the relatively more level-headed claims of the conservative half of America. These beliefs by so many on the right have nothing to do with reason, facts, or evidence, but instead are virtually all conspiracy theories based on rumors and lies.

Such ideas have always existed. But they have never been expressed so vehemently, in such volume, with such distortion and separation from reality, and believed by so many people in so short a time as they are now.

The whole ‘controversy’ about how the comic ends with the ‘liberal’ character joking about the knife somehow being a veiled assassination threat is bogus; that’s a far stretch, at best. What is important here is the concise and succinct showcase of Obama Derangement Syndrome in one of its more mild forms.

Nobel Follow-up

October 11th, 2009 Comments off

First of all, you may recall that yesterday, I predicted that conservatives would quickly begin to call Obama’s Nobel Peace Price the result of Affirmative Action, and they did not disappoint. Almost immediately after (or perhaps just before, depending on time zones) I hit the “post” button, they started doing exactly that. Thanks to reader “Kitty” for bringing to my attention the first right-winger to make that claim–and surprisingly it wasn’t Rush Limbaugh. It was Erick Erickson of Congratulations, Eric, you win the Limbaugh Prize for Gasbag Racism! Just an hour or so behind him was the “we’re not white supremacists” VDare Blog and an Aussie columnist, followed later by a columnist for the Naples (Florida) News, and, more predictably, Michelle Malkin on Fox.

But there have been questions from all sides about the legitimacy of the prize. I would like to make a clearer statement as to why I think the prize is deserved, in unconventional.

Obama has taken the world’s strongest superpower and has changed it’s considerable momentum in substantial ways. Has he changed it’s arrogant stance to one of humility; he has changed its belligerent mindset to a conciliatory one. In contrast to the prior administration, which broke international nuclear treaties from the start and waged a dangerous game of nuclear supremacy, Obama reversed course, reconnecting with the international community, ending the Star Wars farce, and coming forth as an advocate of nuclear disarmament. Granted, he hasn’t done everything we’d like to see him do. But he has changed the most powerful nation on Earth from a frighteningly aggressive bully back to the Nation of Hope that much of the world very much appreciated and missed. I think too many people simply take that for granted.

As much as this may be contrastive with the previous president, as much as it may have been achieved by winning an election and beginning to implement a political agenda, it is nonetheless a powerfully significant action that means a great deal to the hopes for peace in the world. In real terms, Obama has already made a bigger difference in the course of history than many past winners of the award.

And when it comes down to it, aren’t most of the great figures in history exactly this: people who took unreasonably violent and aggressive environments and turned them toward peace and sanity? Does it matter that Obama didn’t suffer as much to achieve it?

I guess if he had spent years in jail as a political prisoner before being allowed to bring this change, it would have seemed like a more worthy accomplishment. But the net effect is the same.

Categories: The Obama Administration Tags:

Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize

October 9th, 2009 18 comments

Interesting: the last two Democrats elected president have been awarded Nobel Peace Prizes. Three of the last four, in fact, Clinton being the exception.

I haven’t even looked yet, but I bet the right-wing blogosphere and media operations must be going utterly berserk right about now. What a letdown for America to have its leader win such an esteemed award, especially after the sweet, gleeful news that American had lost its bid to host the 2016 Olympics. Damn the Nobel Committee!

Of course, the predictable complaint will be that Obama hasn’t done anything yet. That’s true in one way, but not in another. (Many have already guessed that the prize is for beating McCain and replacing Bush–which might be true in a small, contrastive way.) No, he hasn’t brokered peace treaties or any of the usual things that people do to get the prize. However, he has stood as a rather potent symbol to the world, bringing hope to more than are usually noted in the right-wing U.S. media (they’re too busy covering tea-baggers, death panels, and the Michael Jackson saga to pay much attention to what fer’ners think and feel). Like it or not, he has had a terrific impact on international diplomacy and cooperation. And the committee made it clear that part of this prize is to lend him whatever legitimacy and stature they can add to the pile to help him achieve goals such as nuclear disarmament:

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

The only real question is, how long will it take for which right-wing pundit to insinuate that Obama’s Nobel Prize is nothing but Affirmative Action, that he got it for being black. My bet is on Rush Limbaugh, and it should happen six seconds after he goes on the air next.

Three… two….

Categories: The Obama Administration Tags:

Obama Calls Out the Lies

September 10th, 2009 Comments off

Great to see Obama calling out the Death Panels, Illegal Alien insurance, and government-funded abortions as lies. Not just “misrepresentations” or “distortions,” but flat-out lies.

Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

It badly needed to be said at exactly so prominent a venue.

And I love the “prominent politicians” reference. Bite it, Palin. If only the media would have half the guts to hold her and anyone else who spreads this lie to the facts, not giving them any slack until they admitted that it was false.

Obama’s Address on Health Care

September 5th, 2009 3 comments

ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and MSNBC will all carry Obama’s address to Congress on health care. Guess which network will not carry it? Not hard to figure that one out, is it? While the Republican Party’s propaganda machine will refuse to carry the speech, Republican leaders nevertheless are demanding that they be given network time as well.

At this point in time, it is looking more and more like Obama will wuss out and pass on the public option. One wants to hold out hope that Obama will discover his spine and use the address to pull an American President: tell the nation that the opposition is no longer credible, that there have been too many bald-faced lies, too much opposition for partisan political purposes, that he tried everything he could within reason and got nothing in return–no return of good faith, not even a gesture–just more attacks, smears, and lies. So he’s putting back in everything he thinks is right, what the nation needs–and if the Republicans want to block the bill, they do so at their peril, with the responsibility for failed health care reform on their heads.

He won’t, of course. He’ll take the whipping the right wing has been giving him with forced praise for their in-fact-non-existent “bipartisan efforts,” remove even more major stuff the right wing has been objecting to, and call for a weakened, watered-down bill that will be reform in name only. And the Republicans will not thank him for it–they will take it for the sign of weakness it is, and only ramp up their lies and attacks. They will use Obama’s concessions as a rallying point, taking everything and giving nothing, and then start attacking even more of what little remains of the bill, only heightening their cries against anything Obama puts forward.

Let’s face it: Obama doesn’t have the guts to abandon the whole bipartisan angle even after the right wing has made it painfully clear that they will object to anything for the sake of winning midterms next year.

And let’s face another fact: Obama blew it. He let the health care bill wander into Congress slowly, and let it linger for so long that Republicans were able to beat it to a bloody pulp. He should have worked out most of it behind the scenes, quietly working out major details with Democratic leaders, and then presented it up-front as a vital, lives-are-at-stake issue which has to pass within just 2-3 weeks. And every time the Republicans objected, all he’d have to do is pull two or three names from the large pool of people who died because they didn’t have insurance, have their families stand behind him, and remind the nation that every day the Republicans delay, they are killing more and more Americans.

He should have known full well that he’d never get Republicans to go along, and could have used their back-stabbing on the stimulus bill to (a) point out that bipartisanship would not work because the GOP had precluded it, and (b) he was right on the Stimulus, it worked without Republicans, and if he has to pass health care reform without them too, that was their choice–he would do what he knew was right. Even if there was a huge outcry, Obama still could have gotten away with it, with midterms being so far away.

Instead, Obama fumbled, bumbled, tried to appear bipartisan long after that dog died, and continued to let the right wing flog him while he smiled and took it. And nobody, no one on the left, right, or center will respect him or give him any credit for it. What the hell is he thinking?

I still hold out that faint hope for him to grow a pair and take a leadership role this coming Wednesday. But I fully expect for those hopes to be dashed.

Just Saying

June 14th, 2009 3 comments

With Bush in office, Iran became polarized to the extreme, terror-related Hamas won Palestinian elections, Hezbollah had a controlling coalition in Lebanon.

Obama takes office, and very soon after making a brilliant, hopeful, and conciliatory speech in Cairo, Hezbollah loses a key election in Lebanon and Iran’s Ahmadinejad has to steal an election in order to keep the more pro-Western Mousavi from winning and transforming the country.

Some of this might be coincidence in timing, or representative of changes in progress, but I think it’s very hard, if not impossible, to discount Obama’s impact on this. Bush galvanized people who hate us, and Obama’s talent for words and statesmanship is bringing the Middle East to a more reasonable position.

Not that the wingnut echo chamber would ever recognize this; in a few years, if we’re seeing a recovering economy, a shrinking deficit, and real progress in the Middle East, they’ll give full credit to Bush, and to themselves for “pushing” Obama in the right direction–but to think of Obama as doing any of that, well, their heads would explode.

Despite Obama’s faults in other areas, he’s doing damned well on the diplomacy front, achieving more in five months than Bush did in eight years. Not wholly undoing the damage Bush left behind, but clearly on the right path.

Jobs, Through a Red-tinted Prism

June 6th, 2009 2 comments

A lot happening, a lot to talk about… but various things to take care of have made it a bit difficult to post over the past several days. Sorry about that.
One interesting point: in an encouraging sign, 345,000 people lost their jobs in May.

It is, of course, encouraging only in the context of 345,000 being way below estimates (the prediction was for 520,000 jobs lost), and May’s numbers showing the lowest job loss numbers in more than six months. As you can see from the chart on the right, there seems to be a trend from January that suggests we are quickly heading out of this recession. If you follow the trend line, we could actually be seeing job growth in three or four months–if the trend line holds or improves.

Is Obama responsible? Well, Obama passes a stimulus bill, and within a month or so job losses slow dramatically and the stock market gains 2000-plus points. Not proof positive, but it’s pretty hard to dismiss.

However, ever since Obama got elected, Republicans have been trying to blame him for anything and everything that smacks of bad news. Seriously, even after he was nominated as the Democratic candidate, Republicans have tried to pin stock market drops on him, as if the traders were going into wild panics at even the thought of Obama maybe becoming president.

And when Obama took office, Republicans took no time at all to go into full-blast blame-Obama mode, despite forgiving Bush for years of bad economic news because it was Clinton’s fault. A few weeks after Obama took office, the market dropped, and that was immediately jumped on. For example, in February, Malkin reached back to a November high to contrast the February low, blaming Obama for the stock market tumble. Even counting from January, when Obama took office, there was an apparent plummet that right-wingers wasted no time in laying at Obama’s doorstep.


Naturally, when the stock market then immediately regained and actually rose above the level it was when Obama took office (just a few weeks after the “ineffective” stimulus bill passed), the same bloggers’ thundering silence was hard to miss.


By the right-wingers’ own standards, Obama should be responsible for the first encouraging upswing since mid-2007. We’re still waiting for their congratulatory praise, their admission that the stimulus bill indeed stimulated the economy. After all, if Bush had gotten such immediate, positive results, the same people would be shouting this from the rooftops–but when Obama pulls off a relative economic miracle, they claim he is an abject failure.

Instead, Bush was supposedly not responsible for the downturn in the market at all–a lie easily proven false when one tracks back to stock market activity before the election. It’s kind of hard to miss the fact that the biggest losses came well into the remains of the Bush administration:


Malkin’s blaming of Obama for a 4-month, 2000-point drop kind of loses significance when one sees Bush suffering a 2,400-point drop in just ten days in October. In fact, the very temporary one-month drop looks insignificant when compared to the market’s activity in the last six or nine months of Bush. And I don’t think that Malkin has yet congratulated Obama for the 800-point rise relative to when he took office.

And let’s not forget that the change in payroll job loss numbers is kind of hard to miss–that the moment Obama took office, the numbers immediately switched from accelerating downward to slowing considerably, pointing to a possible end of the recession with such rapidity that Bush’s faux “recovery” will look ridiculously slow in comparison.

At which point, I have no doubt that the right-wing bloggers would yet again do a 180-degree double-flip-flop and again assert that the previous president’s influence is what should be credited with the economic performance a year or two after the next president takes office–completely ignoring their previous claims that anything after November 2008 was completely Obama’s fault.

As for now, the right-wing blogs are mostly ignoring the encouraging job news altogether. The few wingnut blogs that are talking about May’s job numbers are pretending like the payroll numbers don’t exist or don’t matter, and instead focus on the unemployment numbers, which rose more than expected. From Hot Air:

The unemployment numbers for May hit earlier this morning, and it looks like Barack Obama didn’t save many jobs at all. Despite claims from both Obama and VP Joe Biden that the Porkulus package had saved 150,000 jobs, unemployment went up another half-percent to 9.4%, setting a new record for the past quarter century. … Why is this important? It demonstrates that the President and his economic advisers have gotten pretty much everything about this economic collapse wrong.

Outside the Beltway does mention the job numbers, but only at the end of their post about the unemployment numbers, and only to make the claim that they don’t matter:

Going by the Household Survey the number of unemployed increased by 787,000. This makes this recession as bad as 1957 and not quite as bad as 1948 in terms of unemployment. So despite the very mild good news yesterday about new jobless claims this data more than offsets it.

Even this grasp at painting the worst possible picture is hollow and false. As the NYT Economix blog patiently explains, the reasons for the unemployment numbers rising are not so dire–and may even be encouraging. While some of the number hike is due to the fact that 345,000 lost their jobs–still a loss, despite the great improvement in numbers–another part of the rise in unemployment is due to the fact that a much larger number of people than usual are trying to re-enter the job market. These are people who lost their jobs under Bush and had stayed unemployed for so long, they had dropped off the charts altogether–but now have reappeared because they apparently have new hope that jobs can be found. As for jobs Obama has saved, if you use Bush’s last numbers–700,000-plus jobs lost in January–as a baseline, Obama has saved about three-quarters of a million jobs already. Not that I take that claim seriously, but it conservatively follows the logical pretexts that right-wingers laid down.

So, the May payroll job numbers are about 175,000 jobs better than forecast and show a greatly encouraging trend toward rapid exit from recession, and even the higher unemployment numbers signal widespread confidence that jobs can be found, and people are out there looking for them–but all the right-wingers claim to see is bleak prospects–or nothing at all.

Not surprising.

As I recall, back when Bush was in charge and anyone tried to claim things weren’t going so well, they were accused by the right-wingers of trying to talk down the economy, of trying to make things worse so they could criticize Bush.

And now?

Sotomayor, Ctd.

May 27th, 2009 Comments off

Republican Senator Jim Inhofe released this statement today:

“Of primary concern to me is whether or not Judge Sotomayor follows the proper role of judges and refrains from legislating from the bench. Some of her recent comments on this matter have given me cause for great concern. In the months ahead, it will be important for those of us in the U.S. Senate to weigh her qualifications and character as well as her ability to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender, or political preferences.”

Let’s look at a few key parts of this statement.

Of primary concern to me is whether or not Judge Sotomayor follows the proper role of judges and refrains from legislating from the bench.

Keep in mind that “legislating from the bench” is a Republican code phrase meaning “making decisions that I don’t like.” Originally, the phrase was restricted to Roe v. Wade, which right-wingers often cite as the worst case of such judicial legislating. As I pointed out in the last post, however, conservative justices are the ones going wild legislating from the bench. In addition to Scalia on the Establishment Clause, you have the whole right wing of the court rewriting the meaning of the Second Amendment, at the very least relative to how all past Supreme Court decisions observed the amendment. In the re-writing, they did their fair share of Roe-style “legislating,” specifying what was or was not legal in terms of gun control. In short, Republicans are fine with “legislating from the bench,” it’s any decision that they disagree with that is unacceptable to them.

In the months ahead, it will be important for those of us in the U.S. Senate to weigh her qualifications and character…

What happened to the inviolable prerogative of the president to choose whomever he pleases for the court? Oh yeah, that was just for Bush. Well, at least until he tried to put Miers on the court.

…as well as her ability to rule fairly without undue influence from her own personal race, gender, or political preferences.

Two major points here. First, “without due influence from her own … political preferences.” Really? Shall we talk about Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Scalia, then? None of them hold up to that standard, but I am quite certain that Inhofe would be delighted to vote for one of their political clones, especially if their political preferences played an undue influence on their rulings. Again, the only real right-wing concern here is politics.

But the very interesting statement is “without undue influence from her own personal race [and] gender.” If Sotomayor were a white male, do you think Inhofe would have mentioned either? Not a chance–which means that what Inhofe really means is that she cannot be capable of making any ruling that does not observe and respect preference to whites and men.

More to the point, keep in mind that conservatives who apply their religious beliefs to their lawmaking defend the practice by claiming that their religion shapes who they are, or that in a sense, it is who they are, and they cannot escape it–nor should they, they say. But if your (non-white) race or (non-male) gender should shape your official actions, that’s unacceptable. If Sotomayor were not Christian, you can bet whatever amount you’d like that Inhofe would have included “religion” to that list of things that Sotomayor should not allow to influence her decisions.

It is not that I completely disagree with everything he says, but rather the plainly hypocritical contrast between what Republicans deem acceptable from conservative nominees and liberal ones, in addition to the tones of racism and sexism involved.


May 27th, 2009 1 comment

Surprise! The right wing is now declaring that Sotomayor is “a liberal judicial activist of the first order”! Various sources have different ways of expressing it, but that’s the general tone. She’s liberal! And activist! Who’da guessed they’d come up with those arguments?

After the last several SCOTUS appointments from the right, representing about as right-wing you can possibly imagine without nominating Attila the Hun, conservatives don’t get to claim this without people snickering. Especially when it is the conservative Supreme Court justices who “legislate from the bench”–that is, they either strike down laws passed by Congress far more than liberal justices, or they simply ignore the law and instead proscribe whatever the hell they feel like, as in Scalia’s dissent to McCreary in which he uses legal violations as precedent to rewrite the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Surely, the right wing has depleted the whole “most liberal” attack after having claimed that every Democratic presidential candidate is “the most liberal Democrat” around, and that every nominee is “the most liberal nominee” out of all candidates.

In short, all the arguments against Sotomayor amount to this: “She’s not conservative.” That’s virtually the only meaningful description of why the right wing will rail against her and claim that she is the Nth coming of the Liberal Satan.

And, of course, after the last eight years of Republicans claiming that the president gets to choose anyone and the Congress is required to rubber-stamp it, they don’t get to do much more than impotently rant. By their own standards.

Which, of course, they never follow themselves.