Cutting Through The Crap

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Rock/Hard Place


Not to be too maudlin about it, the comments to my previous post have been much appreciated, and, even, touching. Talk about your rock and your hard place: there's been a lot to write about lately, some of it even less repetitive than most. So it's been hard to hold my tongue/fingers. On the other hand, I still find tension and frustration welling up whenever I read my former usual sources; and, so far, I've managed to click away before it boils all the way to the surface.

Were I still blogging, surely I'd have posted this. Probably I'd have expressed amazement at Roberts' vote, and amusement, with links, to the right wing reaction. Noted that it's sure to galvanize the generally misinformed Obamacare-haters, and wondered the effect on the election.

I guess I'd have mentioned the perfect symbolism of tweeters saying they're moving to Canada to avoid socialism. Teabagger transcendence. Perhaps, for those old enough to get it, I'd have connected to this, too.

And, if I'm worth a shit at all as a blogger, I'd damn well have asked readers to read this.

Given the blatant and revelatory politicking of the vote to hold Holder in contempt over "Fast and Furious," it'd have been hard not to have written about this. Pointed out, I assume, that the program was Bush-birthed. Bad idea then, bad idea now. But conspiracists will have their day, won't they?

So who knows? Fact is, I've been feeling a little less stressed since the high-ate-us, and have found time to read for the pure pleasure of reading, non-political things. Which is very nice. But, given that I've considered this blog mostly an outlet for personal decompression, it's been quite something to read those aforementioned comments....


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Done


Nope, I can't take it any more. I could post twenty items a day, as the outrages keep adding up; but several things are clear, and it's not as if they never were: It'll never stop, and there's nothing I can do about it. Americans have become stupid and selfish and more than willing to accept lies to justify it all. Reading about it drives me nuts, I run to this blog to say something, but writing about it only helps for a moment or two. And it makes not a dime's difference, especially since we've happily turned our politics over to a handful of billionaires, who've made people look away from what they're doing by creating, very successfully, a phony image of President Obama. (Who's far from perfect, anyway. But, unlike teabaggRs, at least he's trying.)

It's like what a friend said about the lottery: it's the only game where the odds of winning are the same whether you play it or not. Only in this instance, it's losing. Except for those who rigged the game and need it the least.

Judy says I shouldn't delete this blog, so I won't. For now. I like writing, for its own sake, and I need to find an avenue for it. It'll be hard to keep my fingers shut, because the urge to vent is strong. Maybe I'll post an essay once in a while, about stuff unrelated to politics. I might have a couple of letters to the editor left in me. As November approaches, I'd like to implore readers of local papers to look into their hearts before voting to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples; ask them to ask themselves how it hurts their own marriages, to place the humanity of their fellow men and women above their own prejudices. Or something. I'll try to make it inoffensive. Do-unto-othersy.

Perhaps at some point I'll risk having my point missed and write a sarcastic letter, saying "I got mine. I'm old, my kid got his public, then Ivy-League education, I got my Medicare and Social Security, my wife's about to. Since my elders in Portland have died off, I don't drive there as much as I used to, so I don't mind a few potholes. I have fire insurance, and my house is paid for. So's my car. There'll be enough oil to last my lifetime and I'm too old to care if the air becomes unbreathable or the water causes cancer. I've always thought I'd rather die of cancer, anyway: give me a little prep time. I fought my war, did my part, I figure I deserve everything I have and if there's nothing left for you, so the fuck what. So, yeah, who cares if the Romney/Ryan budget eliminates our ability to pay for what we need? Let me keep my money and let the country rot. But not before we fling a few nukes into the Middle East. I got mine, so go to hell, USA, USA, USA."

[Meanwhile, since I took down an earlier uplifting post, I've heard some people liked it. It was just a link to this. Wish it were that simple.]


Friday, June 15, 2012

Mental Health









Why We're Screwed




Keepers of the keys to the kingdom. Behold them in their righteous glory.

And try not to puke. Choke it down and tell us why these guys' party should be in charge.


A Tale Of Two Speeches




I liked President Obama's speech in Cleveland (my old stomping ground: I was in med school there when the Cuyahoga River caught fire). Probably it was too long for the typical political attention span, but it hit every note I've been writing about forever. He pointed out -- truthfully! -- the very significant differences between his and Rominee's economic plans. Namely, assuming anyone will pay attention, he laid out the undeniable: not only does the Ryan/Rominee budget not add up the way they claim, it will, in order to increase tax cuts for guys like Mitt, rob us of our ability to pay for what we need to survive.

He stated clearly -- also true -- the fact that Rs in Congress have been blocking legislation to help the economy. He pointed out the fact that R plans are exactly the same as those that got us in this mess in the first place.

But the most remarkable, the most telling thing is that just before Obama's speech, The Rominee was in Ohio as well, spewing his usual untruths, and unsubstantiated claims that the president has made things worse. I confess I couldn't stand to watch the whole thing; but he continues one of his central -- and most obviously false -- claims, that Obama hasn't signed a single trade agreement in his entire presidency. He specified Latin America, as he always does. This is despite the fact that Obama has done that very thing and there's simply no way Rominee doesn't know it. But he repeats it, over and over. What kind of man does that? What kind of voter looks the other way?

Let me be blunt, and personal: Seaspray, tell us what you think of your candidate telling blatant lies. Tell us what you think it says about how he views you as a voter; tell us what you think it says about him. I ask you, Seaspray, because you're the only reader willing occasionally to pipe up here from the other side, and I'd like to know your justifications because I assume they'd reflect those of many voters. I know the readers who used to try to defend their side with comments still come by; and I'd be happy to hear their responses, too. But it seems they've found it unpleasant to have to deal with factual responses to their parroting of Foxorovian dissembling.

Seriously: how can anyone justify voting for someone who won't stop lying; who supports a phony budget, one that not only doesn't add up, but that, if enacted, will -- they don't deny it: they're proud of it -- prevent us from spending on everything we need going forward. Unlike everything Romney says, this is factual. You can call yourself a conservative, and believe in conservative things. I get that; I share some of them. But how in gods' names can you (and by "you" I mean any true conservative, anyone with a conscience) vote for a guy who lies like Romney does? For president of the United States of America! For anyone, it ought to be a bridge too far.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

To Enjoy


Because He Can



Depressing, deplorable, death knell.

Last month David Corn noted that Mitt Romney was claiming that "government" would control half the economy once Obamacare was up and running. He's still saying it, and today Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post gives it a score of four Pinocchios and says Romney should drop it. "No amount of tweaking will get it right," he says.

...

It also doesn't matter. Politicians have increasingly discovered over the past couple of decades that even on a national stage you can lie pretty blatantly and pay no price ...

Lots of politicians are probably still reluctant to lie too brazenly because they're still working under the old rules, where the national media might call you on it and it might actually make a difference. The smart ones have figured out that this isn't how it works anymore. Romney's one of the smart ones.


And he demonstrates it, daily, hourly, minute by minute, with each breath he exhales. (In the time it took to write this, another lie emerges... It'll never stop. Plus he keeps repeating old ones, ones already definitively disproved. Just this morning, before Obama's speech on the economy, The Rominee said, once again, that Obama has not signed a single trade agreement. The guy is pathological. How can anyone support him? Don't they even care, not even a little, about truth?)

Another One Sees The Light


Dribs and drabs: surely not enough to make a difference. But, as we watch the country devolve into willful stupidity and denialism, buying into the lies and distortion of Fox "news," the RWS™, and their "he's all we got left so let's go with him" prevaricator in chief, it's nice to know that among those remaining conservatives with functioning brains, truth can still find a way:

I’m a life-long Republican. My political affiliation has been woven intrinsically into the very fabric of my being.

...

... As an adult, I continued to be a rock-solid Republican- I helped run my law school’s chapter of the Federalist Society and its Republican club. And after the election of President Obama in 2008, I served as an officer in my state Republican Party. ...

Today, however, I am a registered Republican no longer.

I came to the decision to leave the GOP not with a heavy heart, but with a broken one.

...

As a local GOP official after President Obama’s election, I had a front-row seat as it became infected by a dangerous and virulent form of political rabies.

In the grip of this contagion, the Republican Party has come unhinged. Its fevered hallucinations involve threats from imaginary communists and socialists who, seemingly, lurk around every corner. Climate change- a reality recognized by every single significant scientific body and academy in the world- is a liberal conspiracy conjured up by Al Gore and other leftists who want to destroy America. Large numbers of Republicans- the notorious birthers- believe that the President was not born in the United States. Even worse, few figures in the GOP have the courage to confront them.

Republican economic policies are also indefensible. ... one only has to look at Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget to see that.

In the end, it offers a dystopian vision of our future- a harsher, crueler and more merciless America starkly divided between the riders, and the ridden....
... Among all the difficult truths I’ve had to face, perhaps none has been harder than the realization that I, and those dissidents like me, are unrepresentative outliers far removed from, and largely unable to influence, the main currents of opinion within the GOP.

Ultimately, leaving the GOP was necessary in order to maintain my own integrity. Leaving is also a public act of personal protest. ...

Perhaps, one day, a reformed and responsible Republican Party will reemerge....


Well, one can hope. As I've written many times, the country needs a functioning conservative party, one that offers real ideas, is committed to finding solutions, and is willing to seek middle ground for the good of the country. What inhabits the corpse now, though, is entirely the opposite; and it's beyond my understanding that seemingly intelligent people try to defend it, refuse to see it, or just ignore it. Because, I assume, securing a future is less important to them than getting rid of the black guy, or because they can't stand the idea of marriage equality, even when none has shown any way it affects them personally. Or maybe it's because they long so much for the days of yore, when white folks reigned supreme, that they figure if they just wish everything else away, it'll go back to when everyone else knew their place. You tell me. I just can't figure it out.

The economic positions of the current R party are dishonest and based on falsehoods; their ballistic foreign policy -- at least that of the advisers surrounding The Rominee -- are dangerous. Their rejection of science and of all forms of expertise is a national embarrassment. And yet, when Republican readers of this blog -- who, by definition, are intelligent consumers of information -- brave the waters and leave comments, they show zero willingness to see the light, unlike the writer in question.
It's one thing -- a once noble thing -- to be a conservative; it's something altogether different to claim allegiance to today's Republican party, a party clearly gone mad, in a world where there's more than enough madness already.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why We Need Newspapers


But my favorite, which I can't find to reproduce for these purposes, was an article in The Oregonian many years ago, about the newly-created Court of Appeals, of which my dad was the Chief Judge. Court Of Appeals Something Something, the headline said. And below it, approximately in the same relationship as the above photo and article, was a picture of a group of monkeys on bicycles.

My dad kept a copy framed in his office.


Weak Tea


Blaring headlines announce it: Lindsey Graham breaks with Grover Norquist!!! You'd think he'd finally recognized the need to raise some taxes to address deficits. You know, to avoid cutting into the bones of democracy. But in this day and age, even willingness meekly to address a couple of loopholes here and there counts as parading around bare-chested, sword raised, bravery busting out like Dolly Parton at bedtime.

What he said was more along these lines:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) broke with anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist on Tuesday, telling ABC's Jonathan Karl that he supported eliminating tax deductions in order to help get the country back on solid fiscal footing.

"We are so far in debt that if you don't give up some ideological ground, the country sinks," Graham said.

...

He praised Norquist for "doing a great service" but said that due to the country's poor fiscal climate, the Republican party's position must evolve.

"When you talk about eliminating deductions and tax credits for the few, at the expense of the many, I think over time the Republican party's position is going to shift. It needs to, quite frankly, because we are $16 trillion in debt," he said.

...

"I'm willing to move my party, or try to, on the tax issue. I need someone on the Democratic side being willing to move their party on structural changes to entitlements."

...

Asked whether Romney agreed with him, Graham said he wasn't sure. "Someone needs to ask him," he quipped.



Coupla things: first, he's boldly talking about closing a few loopholes. BFD.

Admittedly, though, making such a statement has come to constitute something resembling sanity among Rs nowadays, even if it's as brave as a kid dipping his toe into the ocean and running away from a one-inch wave. Had to get in his strokes for Norquist, though. But props to him for suggesting that Rs need to give some ground. That it's neither considered obvious nor goes without saying as it always had until Newt Gingrich arrived on the scene, followed in close order by Mr Norquist, is more revealing about the current Rs than anything else he said.

Second, he suggests Ds have been unwilling to address structural reform of entitlements. That's a Rominee-size whopper, appropriately biblical in proportions. I guess he forgot the "grand bargain," away from which John Boehner retreated like Rominee from everything he ever said or did in Massachusetts. That statement takes what balls Graham might have slightly grown and shrinks them into wizened little peas.

Lastly: someone ought to ask Romney. Yeah, right. Good luck with that.

Mitt Romney: spineless liar; not to mention not knowing WTF he's talking about. (Read the linked article: the guy was a governor, ferchrissakes! and he doesn't know about federal money to states???) How, on planet earth, in the Milky Way, in the known universe, can this man be the Rominee of a major and formerly credible political party? Even a party in which Lindsey Graham's statement constitutes awesome statesmanship.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bruce Bartlett's Latest



For those still inclined to believe R bullshit (Bartlett, as we know, is a conservative economist, former Reagan adviser):

Republicans assert that Barack Obama assumed sole responsibility for the budget on Jan. 20, 2009. From that date, all increases in the debt or deficit are his responsibility and no one else’s, they say. ... This is, of course, nonsense...

.... Mr. Bush is more responsible, as a new report from the Congressional Budget Office documents.

In January 2001, the office projected that the federal government would run a total budget surplus of $3.5 trillion through 2008 if policy was unchanged and the economy continued according to forecast. In fact, there was a deficit of $5.5 trillion.

...

During the 2000 campaign, Mr. Bush warned that budget surpluses were dangerous because Congress might spend them, even though Paygo rules prevented this from happening. ...

This was the primary justification for a big tax cut. Subsequently, as it became clear that the economy was slowing – a recession began in March 2001 – that became a further justification.

The 2001 tax cut did nothing to stimulate the economy, yet Republicans pushed for additional tax cuts in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008.


There's more, of course.

As I listen to The Rominee claim The President made things worse, I look across the pond to Europe, where disaster abounds. Given the trash heap left to him, and observing how much worse Europe is doing compared to the US, and understanding that Europe's struggles affect our own recovery, to me it's remarkable that our economy is doing as well (a relative term) as it is. Added to the demonstrable obstructionism of congressional Rs, it seems nothing short of miraculous.

Another case Obama could be making, but isn't.

On And On



I'm getting so tired of this: some people so easily get what's so obvious, and yet so many don't. I know it's repetitive of me to keep saying it, and yet it's the most important truth there is, politically, at the moment. The current iteration of the Republican party -- and where is any reason to think it'll ever end? -- is destructive, deceptive, dishonest, demagogic, ideologically hidebound, and willing to say and do anything it thinks it takes to gain power. Now led by a liar whose only goal is to become president, while, like the dog who catches the car, seeming to have no idea how to be president, they have abandoned any pretense of commitment to democracy, to any of the political comity that had, until recently, gotten us through crises, made us who we are.

So here's another article pointing out the obvious:

In recent days, Democrats have started coming out and saying publicly what many have been mumbling privately for years – Republicans are so intent on defeating President Obama for re-election that they are purposely sabotaging the country's economic recovery.

...

Then again, it's a hard accusation to prove: after all, one person's economic sabotage is another person's principled anti-government conservatism.

... [T]here is circumstantial evidence to make the case. Republicans have opposed a lion's share of stimulus measures that once they supported, such as a payroll tax break, which they grudgingly embraced earlier this year. Even unemployment insurance, a relatively uncontroversial tool for helping those in an economic downturn, has been consistently held up by Republicans or used as a bargaining chip for more tax cuts. Ten years ago, prominent conservatives were loudly making the case for fiscal stimulus to get the economy going; today, they treat such ideas like they're the plague.

...

And then, there is the fact that since the original stimulus bill passed in February of 2009, Republicans have made practically no effort to draft comprehensive job creation legislation. ... In fact, since taking control of the House of Representatives in 2011, Republicans have proposed hardly a single major jobs bill that didn't revolve, in some way, around their one-stop solution for all the nation's economic problems: more tax cuts.

...

Whether you believe the Republicans are engaging in purposely destructive fiscal behavior or are simply fiscally incompetent, it almost doesn't matter. It most certainly is bad economic policy and that should be part of any national debate not only on who is to blame for the current economic mess, but also what steps should be taken to get out from underneath it.

...

In the end, that might be the worst part of all – one of two major political parties in America is engaging in scorched-earth economic policies that are undercutting the economic recovery, possibly on purpose, and is forcing job-killing austerity measures on the states. And they have paid absolutely no political price for doing so. ...

Sabotage or not, it's hard to argue with "success" – and it's hard to imagine we've seen the last of it, whoever wins in November.



I just read something else, too; something that says what I've been saying: in order to win, President Obama has to make clear what's at stake. Even against the reality-sucking vacuum that is Fox "news" and right-wing radio and every word that passes The Rominee's lips, it shouldn't be that hard. It does have the advantage of being true, after all. And the writer of this article has a suggestion:

“Framed choice” is Team Obama’s only hope of holding enough white voters to avoid dismissal. The “framed choice” strategy is basically this: Everyone knows that pensions (Social Security) and health care (Medicare, Medicaid, child health programs) are going to bankrupt the nation unless they are “right-sized” to revenue and existing debt. Whoever is elected president in 2012 will have to “right-size” these programs over the course of the next four years.

The framed choice for the white voters who will decide this election is this: Who do you think will better protect the interests of working-class and middle-class families when the inevitable cuts are packaged? Who do you want negotiating for you when it comes down to who gets hurt and who doesn’t? Do you really want Mitt Romney and a bunch of right-wing congressmen making these decisions? Only a Democrat can be trusted to properly right-size the great Democratic social welfare programs.

This is, at least, potentially, a winning argument for the president. More to the point, it’s the only argument, politically speaking, that he has left.


It's another take on the choice voters will be making. To the extent that on Obama's left there are many who think any mention of entitlement reform ought to be off the table, it's risky. But it takes the truth and elevates it beyond what anyone has so far been willing to say.


Monday, June 11, 2012

The Godfather


Richard M. Nixon: godfather of the current Republican party. They say they revere Ronald Reagan, but in reality they ignore everything he did -- which was a lot -- that's counter to their current dogma and they lie about the rest. No, it's really Nixon whom they -- without saying it -- deify. As tribute they've adopted all of his tactics: Demonize anyone who disagrees with you; ruthlessly sabotage all perceived enemies; regard the very idea of a free and inquisitive press -- fundamental to a working democracy and recognized as such by the Founding Fathers -- as anathema. Deliberately deceive the public; use any means necessary -- lying, subverting the law, dirty tricks, secret slush funds, rewriting history -- to bring down opponents and achieve their ends.

Which brings me to the point: this new article by Woodward and Bernstein is an interesting, if nauseating, read. Other than the break-ins (far as we know) the rest of his methods, rather than disappearing, have become institutionalized. And one can only imagine how he'd applaud the current Rs focus on purging legitimate voters.

In the course of his five-and-a-half-year presidency, beginning in 1969, Nixon launched and managed five successive and overlapping wars — against the anti-Vietnam War movement, the news media, the Democrats, the justice system and, finally, against history itself. All reflected a mind-set and a pattern of behavior that were uniquely and pervasively Nixon’s: a willingness to disregard the law for political advantage, and a quest for dirt and secrets about his opponents as an organizing principle of his presidency.

Long before the Watergate break-in, gumshoeing, burglary, wiretapping and political sabotage had become a way of life in the Nixon White House.

What was Watergate? It was Nixon’s five wars.




I'm Not The Only One



Here's commentary from P.M. Carpenter, who holds a PhD in American history:

A moral abomination

There no longer exists any doubt that Mitt Romney intends to win the White House by conducting the most dishonest, unscrupulous and reprehensible campaign ever devised, in mere whimsy. The unethical stench of this man is not only breathtaking, it's meteoric. I have never seen anything like it, never heard anything like it, never imagined anything like it.

All you American political history books, move over; there's a new king of demagoguery in town, and future history will never see his malevolent depths of dishonor again.

What triggered this outburst? Today in St. Louis, just today, in just this one day, mind you, this despicable wretch of a man called President Obama's economic policies a "moral failure of tragic proportions"...

[...]

It's only June, and Mitt Romney has already exhausted all the hideous possibilities of a Dorian Gray mentality that would make even Oscar Wilde blush. Moral. That's this pathetic, vile little pol's new favorite word. Moral. Here's a man who leads a party that endorses torture as well as unprovoked war, and coddles the rich while showing indifference to the poor. Moral.

Combine Gray with Elmer Gantry and you'd still come up short of the "moral" abomination that calls itself Mitt Romney.

There's more, also echoing my thoughts on the extremism of the current R party. Here's an article with the following title:

My break with the extreme right

I worked for Reagan and wrote for National Review. But the new hysterical right cares nothing for truth or dignity

It includes such commentary as:

I ... founded a conservative college newspaper, held positions in the Reagan administration and at several conservative think tanks, and published five books that conservatives applauded. I’ve written for umpteen major conservative publications – National Review, the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, among them. But no longer. That was the old right. The last thing hysteria promoters want is calm, reasoned argument backed by facts. And I’m horrified that these people have co-opted the name “conservative” to scream their messages of hate and anger.


To repeat: our country is increasingly in the grip of a political party gone nuts, one wholly uninterested in facts, in democracy, in working for the common good. And its latest leader is a liar of proportions hitherto unseen in American politics. It's not just me saying it: it's the vestigial remains of a tradition of thought and compromise that once characterized Republicans, and still, evidently, characterizes true conservatives, of which virtually none remain in the R hierarchy. This rank dishonesty and placing of party power above public good, this abandonment of facts and deliberate rejection of expertise, is as obvious as a barberous attack on a gay kid.

And yet...

And yet, the average Republican voter seems quite okay with this sorry state of affairs, only too willing to believe the lies of Romney and his screamers, all too easily deceived, gratefully uninformed. Happy to recline into their particular perversion of faith as a substitute for the hard work of thinking, and into prejudices as justification for it all.

God help us.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Brew Ha Ha


So there's a big snit happening over the "leak," published in the NYT, that President Obama personally presides over the "kill list" for drone strikes, and that he approved last year's cyberattack on Iran. John McCain and his BFF Lindsey ("Butters") Graham and the rest of the RWS™ see it as a shocking and deliberate attempt, coming from the White House itself, to bolster Obama's anti-terror credentials. And I see the winger response as a deliberate attempt to distract people from recognizing that their current president's "war on terror" has been immeasurably more effective and astronomically less costly than that of his predecessor. (Unlike many on the left, these red-faced guys are perfectly happy with the idea of the attacks themselves, just not the idea of Obama getting credit, which is really at the heart of their faux outrage.)

In fact, I'd disagree with the idea of a deliberate "leak" only insofar as I think Mr Obama should have stood at his potusium and said it all outright. Why not? It neither changed anything about what has been and is going on, nor released any national security information (McCain's AOM* outrage and claims notwithstanding) to enemies that's not already obvious. He should take credit where it's due; as well as the negative reaction from his left.

So I just find it amusing, and can only hope there's more to come: as Rs continue to paint Obama as someone he's obviously not, once in a while he reminds everyone about that thing Rs so desperately hope to keep hidden: reality.

And the more that bitter sad remnant of his former self John McCain shakes his thin-skinned and wizened fist at it, the more people sit up and take notice.
_________________________

*(AOM)

He Just Can't Help It



Another lie from Rominee:

Under Obama, the GOP candidate says, government will "control half the economy." Economic experts rate this scare tactic somewhere between "ridiculous" and "stupid."



The article quotes several economists, among them my new go-to guy:

Bruce Bartlett, who served as a senior economist in the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, was more blunt in his appraisal of Romney's assertion that Obamacare will lead to government control of half of the economy: "This analysis is so stupid it is hard to know where to begin." He notes:

Health spending has been rising for years for reasons unconnected to Obamacare. Why assume that all of any projected increase between now and 2020 results solely from that? Tossing in all private health spending as essentially part of government spending is fundamentally dishonest. Its only purpose appears to be to find some desperate way of lifting total spending above the 50 percent threshold. If you are going to do that, why not include every other sector of the economy subject to government control?

And, in case you think he'd take such factual criticism to heart, you'd be wrong. He's taken it to the next level.

Big lies, small lies. Red lies, green lies. Lies by distortion, lies by omission, lies, it seems, just for the sake of lying. Lies because he can, lies because he does. Lies because the truth won't get him elected.

People have referred to Romney's "pot calling the kettle black" strategy. It's apt. But I think a better term is the "Romney breaks into your home, kills your kids, and then says watch out Obama wants to break into your home and kill your kids" strategy. Or, for simplicity, just call it the cookie strategy.

And, having written the above a while back, the lies just keep a'coming. And this may be the most illustrative of them all:

Mitt Romney, on the campaign trail, bashes Obama for not having a jobs plan:

“[W]ith America in crisis, with 23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work, he hasn’t put forth a plan to get us working again,” Romney said Tuesday. “Now I know we’re getting close to an election so he’ll come out with one soon, but three and a half years later, we’re waiting.”

Of course, as Jed Lewison notes, Obama proposed the American Jobs Act, much of which Republicans blocked, and continues to demand that Congress pass various components of it, such as investing in the nation’s infrastruture and sending federal aid to the states to staunch government job loss.

Jed is right to point out the absurdity of this, but it gets worse. In the very same appearance, Romney went on to slam Obama for blaming Congress for our economic woes:

“[h]e blames Congress, he goes after Congress, but we remember the president’s own party had a super majority in both houses for his first two years, so you can hardly blame Congress for the faults that he’s put in place himself, and so he’s casting about looking for someone to blame and just hasn’t been able to find anybody — whether it’s the ATM machines or the tsunami or Europe.”

And what is Obama blaming Congress for, exactly? Why, for not passing ... his jobs plan, which Romney says Obama lacks. So Obama is at fault for not having a jobs plan, and is simultaneously at fault for urging Congress to pass his jobs plan, which proves he’s passing the buck.


He's just got another one going, too. And another. I could go on.

Lies like that -- easily disproved, made up out of whole cloth (whatever that means) -- assume the stupidity of the intended audience, and so far that audience has done nothing to discourage it. There's no sign they ever will.

How has it come to this: a deliberate, continual, and transparent liar very possibly about to become our next president, at the hands of a carefully created electorate so befuddled, so simplistic, so pitifully naive (or is it hate-filled?) that they accept -- no, they demand -- those lies like manna from Moroni. Seriously: it's really, really discouraging.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Problem Solved


[Oops. In case there's an error message with the video, here's the link to it on Hulu.]

A few years back, when I was chairman of the local Surgical Quality Assurance Committee, we got dinged on a visit by JCAHO (the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organizations, pronounced "jaycoe" for reasons unknown.) Our monitoring process was flawed, they told us, because we weren't uncovering unnecessary surgery. When I suggested maybe it was because, in our community, we weren't doing unnecessary operations, the response was "C'mon!!" (Pronounced cuh-maa-hnnn, with the maa scaling downward, and with facial expression to match.)

So I did what any responsible surgeon would do: I sent around a memo (from the fictitious Surgical Utilization Committee, or SUC) to the entire medical staff, detailing the trouble we were in, asking for suggestions how we could increase our amount of unnecessary surgery, and including a few ideas of my own: declaring certain operations always unnecessary, such as left inguinal hernia; designating one surgeon a month to do unnecessary operations; arranging a specific location, such as the newly-opened surgery center as the place to do them.

Sitting in the doctors' lounge as people picked up their staff mail the next morning after I'd gotten there early and deployed the paper, I noticed a certain stratification of responses: internists, seeing the word Surgical, shitcanned the paper without reading it; surgeons read it over and got an excellent laugh out of it; family docs read it with incredulity, saying, "This is terrible! They can't do that!!! They can't DO that!!!"

Anyhow, as I read of the above-Reported typically teabagger response by North Carolina legislators (fresh off marshaling discrimination into their constitution) to worrisome scientific data, I thought of my memo for some reason. Both are incredibly stupid responses; one a seriously deluded and dangerous (if quite emblematic of the current R party) response to an actual problem, and the other a fanciful (let's call it brilliant and hilarious, okay?) response to a non-problem. But in North Carolina, no one's laughing, and, evidently, not enough are saying "They can't do this!!" Revealing much about the teabagger mentality, they actually think they were making a global problem go away, like babies playing peek-a-boo.

Me, I didn't really think I was; but when JCAHO followed up six months later, we passed without having made any changes.



Reflection


I just read this at TPM. I print it in its entirety:

Your reader “JM” offers a counsel of despair, one that very honestly I rather expect from Democrats (especially the most liberal Democrats) during times of political adversity.
I expect Democrats to be unreflective about their own failures, utterly convinced that history is something that just happens to them, terrified of Republicans, and resentful that Republican misdeeds are not repudiated by the public without the need for any coaxing from Democrats. I expect liberal Democrats to partake fully in the great American national vices, self-admiration and self-congratulation, without sharing in the compensating American virtue of faith in the country and its institutions. I expect liberal Democrats to react to adversity in ways Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman would not recognize.

You know enough political history to recall that Roosevelt generation of Democrats hung the name of Herbert Hoover around the necks of their political opponents for a generation after 1932. Reagan-era Republicans did the same, for a shorter period of time and less dramatically, with the name of Jimmy Carter after 1980. It’s not the Republicans’ fault — or the product of any Republican “strategy” — that the President who was more unpopular for longer than any President since the invention of modern opinion polling was allowed to vanish without a trace by January 22, 2009.

George W. Bush’s invisibility, and the profoundly Bush-like Mitt Romney’s lack of any public identity as a “Bush Republican,” were the product of Democratic choices. So was the inadequate stimulus package at the beginning of 2009 that ensured a crushing recession that began under a Republican administration would not draw an effective government response under a Democratic administration. So was the disappearance from memory of the politicized, demoralized Justice Department of Alberto Gonzales, and the inept, crony-laden FEMA leadership that had let New Orleans drown.

So was the expanded, hope-centered military commitment in Afghanistan, doubling down on a bet that the Bush administration had already lost. So was the Obama administration’s surrender to the financial services industry on regulation in wake of a monumental market disaster for which that industry was largely responsible. So was the administration’s negotiating with itself on health care reform. So was the Democrats’ embrace of the rot pervading Congress as an institution: the abandonment of oversight, the casual acceptance of corruption, the inability to pass even one appropriations bill on time when Democrats had majorities in both the House and the Senate. So was President Obama’s immersion in permanent campaign culture, fully as great as Bush’s had been and aptly symbolized by the regular use of electioneering hands like David Axelrod and David Plouffe as administration spokesmen on serious, substantive issues of national policy.

Choices made by Obama and his Democratic allies were what they were. It is perhaps evident that I regard most of them as mistakes with respect to policy substance, but for our purposes here what matters is that they were political mistakes. In the simplest English I know: the United States does not make a black man President of the United States unless Americans have decided a huge change from what they had before is necessary.

The ill repute George W. Bush had earned for the Republicans was what made Barack Obama President: not his “story,” not the “hope and change” schtick, not that community organizer business, and not his army of self-consciously self-admiring campaign consultants. That’s the political asset Obama and the Democrats cast away, by choice, right from the beginning.

As you know, Josh, I’m not a Democrat. What sympathy I have for Barack Obama and the staggering burden under which he labors is due to his being President, not to any partisan feeling or particular ideological affinity. Beyond that, though, I just see a lot of Johnny Fontaine in your party: facing political adversity during a very difficult time for the country, talking about being terrified for the future, head in hands and complaining about cleverer, more powerful men who won’t give them what they want. ”I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to do.”

You can be a man.


Yeah, sounds a lot like me, lately. Other than the flip last lines, there's a lot to contemplate. I'm inclined to agree with the guy about much of what he said. On the other hand -- taking it personally -- I've never claimed that Obama and Ds bear no responsibility for the fact that they're in trouble; I've been pretty critical, in fact, I'd say. Whatever the reasons, though, it's not just wailing and moaning to note that Rs are being dishonest about their plans, are presenting budgets that, in addition to not coming close to their claims of balance, are certain to devastate the most basic needs of a twenty-first century country.

Feeling despair for the future based on an open-eyed view of the sort of campaigns that are being run on both sides doesn't necessarily imply failure to see the causes; nor does drawing the conclusion that a huge portion of the electorate has been made incapable of thinking beyond slogans suggest hiding one's head in the sand. To note that Rs are succeeding in creating a version of Barack Obama to run against that bears no resemblance to the real one is not a retreat into"unreflective" behavior. Quite, in fact, the opposite: it's reality-testing.

I'd also point out that, unlike today's R party, the Ds are a very disparate group, with many in Congress labeled as D being much further to the right than some of the good old days' moderate Rs. So whereas Rs speak the same handed-out talking points without batting an embarrassed eye, and vote consistently en bloc while explicitly deriding the very idea of compromise, Ds are all over the fricking place; and without their cooperation with the previous administration, nothing Bush proposed, including his tax cuts, would have passed.

By the way, I guess the writer means Johnny Fontane, not Johnny Fontaine (I had to look it up). If I knew what "being a man" meant in this context, and if, as the writer suggests, that's all it would take to make a difference, I'd guess the lines would be long to sign up, testicles in hand; or sold to those waiting, because Ds' are so small, in packets of four. Meanwhile, I give money, and I write.

And, yes, I despair.

If I thought the election were going to be about the real issues and what's really at stake, I might feel better. If voters really do want to increase defense spending and lower taxes even further on the wealthy; if they really do agree that the way to pay for that is drastically to reduce spending on education, health care, the environment, research, infrastructure and more; if they've put on their green eyeshades and looked carefully at the Ryan budget and concluded his non-existent numbers (click it, PT; it's your guy) really do add up and can specify how (or, more realistically, have explicitly concluded they don't care if they don't); if they recognize the multiple disasters Bush left to Obama, but still think the economy is Obama's fault because they either think he should have spent more on the stimulus or less, lowered taxes on the middle class even more than he did, or not at all; if they recognize the bank bailouts were Bush's baby; if they think we should still have troops dying in Iraq; if they think belligerence is the best foreign policy; heck, even if they made a conscious choice to vote for Rs because they consider marriage equality a more important issue than all of the preceding -- if all of that were the true reflection of the voters, based on careful thought and considered deliberation, well, I guess I could no longer blame the steady stream of lies and propaganda that issues nonstop from their pocketed media.

But I wouldn't find a lot of pleasure living in a country like that, even knowing it couldn't exist for much longer in the aftermath of those choices.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Not That It Will Convince Birthers...



Because haters gotta hate, and Trump gotta get his pub.


Doing A Job On Us


The above chart (which embiggins by imclickens) demonstrates the lie in The Rominee's argument about job creation, one that ought to be obvious to anyone who gives it a moment's thought. One that I've pointed out here many times, to which my libertarian readers have never provided disproof: businesses won't hire people, no matter the so-called incentives, unless there's a demand for their product. You don't create jobs by lowering taxes and getting rid of regulations: you create jobs by creating jobs! And for a government, that means investing money in needed projects. Building roads and bridges, repairing dams, giving states help hiring teachers and cops, and, yes, investing in new technologies. And then, also obvious as a dog on a roof, there'll be more people with money to buy other stuff, and businesses who make that stuff will start hiring. It's not high-order economic theory. It's accessible by anyone capable of marking a ballot.

And then, by golly, at some point you gotta pay for that government spending; which means increasing revenue. Because cutting spending alone not only won't do it without dissolving government, it has the perverse effect of increasing unemployment.

Sadly, the taking of a moment's thought is exactly what Rs want the public to avoid, which is why they constantly bombard their huddling sheep with distractions and lies (check it out!), and by creating an image of President Obama that bears no resemblance to reality, any more than their economic proposals do.

Public thought -- even a moment's worth, if it's based on reality -- is anathema to R strategists. So they keep pumping the handle of tax cuts and deregulation, loudly, hoping against hope that the noise will, once again, drown out the simple truth. And, given the power of concentrated lying against disorganized honesty, it probably will.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mission Accomplished


Justice Stevens thinks the Supremes will revisit Citizens United:

In a speech at the University of Arkansas, retired Justice John Paul Stevens argued that events since the decision “provide a basis to expect that the Court already has had second thoughts about the breadth of the reasoning” and will likely return to its 5-4 decision in Citizens United v. FEC.


Hey, who cares, right? I mean, they will have accomplished the goal of getting that black guy out of that white house, right? Anything beyond that was always just gravy.

Or not. I'm not sure at all that as long as the four-and-a-half activist right-wingers are on the bench they'll be interested in revisiting anything they've done. What about Wisconsin would they see as unintended or unfortunate?

[Addendum: since the turnout for the Wisconsin recall election was even greater than it was for the original Walker election, I'll concede that it must really represent what the people want, which only goes to reinforce my pessimism. Whether the huge money advantage was dispositive I suppose we'll never know. But the vote would seem to demonstrate the triumph of mythology over reality, as it seems to have been largely about unions, in a time when blaming them for economic calamity is simplistic and false. But it's an effective way to convince people to vote for the failed policies of tax cuts and deregulation. Nor, maybe most importantly, should it escape us that destroying unions eliminates the main counterbalance to the anonymous billionaires spending big for teabaggers.]

[Addendum #2: a friend points out that it's likely many who voted against recall did so because they don't think recall is to be used for policy disagreements -- especially when Walker did exactly what he said he'd do when he was running. It's a good point, an important point. I had misgivings about going that route, as opposed to waiting for the next election; and, to be consistent, it's the same argument I've made to those who are upset, right or left, with Obama: he's done exactly what he said he'd do. Pretty much, anyway. To the extent Rs didn't block it or force him to water it down.]



Shower Us With Love


I can't figure out why Jesus and Mary speak only in oil slicks, pancakes, ill-kept showers, potato chips, and the occasional slice of toast, any more than I understand why the dead communicate solely through paid psychics, as if they're getting kickbacks, and only by dropping obscure hints using numbers and letters and colors, like aphasic kindergartners. What happened to burning bushes and parting seas? And the internet would seem to be a perfect medium, as it were, for the unrisen dead, it being cyberspace and all. Why not just send an email? Or set up a blog?

Wanna really convince me? Jesus himself shows up (in the shower, if that's how he likes it; or rises up out of a toaster, why not?) with my dead mom, and she speaks in complete sentences.




Boo Hoo



[click to enlarge]

As they have for, like, ever, Republicans are pushing the idea that the media are being unfair to The Rominee, and overly favorable to Obama. It's gotten more heated lately, after a self-serving and multi-erroneous article in Politico.

The above charts, based on -- what's it called, again? -- actual data, suggest otherwise. It's worth going to the source (The Project For Excellence in Journalism), where the lower graph is entertainingly interactive.

Having taken over The Washington Post, The New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, and having their 24/7/365 propaganda arms know as Fox "news" and RWS™ radio, Rs are engaging in their usual strategy of falsely accusing others of doing what they really do, all the time. It's really quite amazing; especially to the extent that their willing fodder buy into it all.


Monday, June 4, 2012

Random Assortment Of Good Ones




Biblical Proportions


This is why things will only get worse:

PRINCETON, NJ -- Forty-six percent of Americans believe in the creationist view that God created humans in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years. The prevalence of this creationist view of the origin of humans is essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, when Gallup first asked the question.


Why care? Well, the problem is these are the same people voting for teabaggRs. And what's the problem with that? Well, only that to hold such beliefs one has to reject obvious fact, believe science is either corrupt or inherently fallacious (while selectively welcoming its manifold benefits into their lives), and have no curiosity or willingness to seek knowledge. Which makes for a pretty piss-poor electorate: the sort that accepts the propaganda of Fox "news" and the RWS™, and the lies of Mitt Romney with neither the desire nor the ability to question them. It's no coincidence that religious fundamentalism and today's Republican party are joined in the midline, just posterior to the hips.

Nearly half. Far more than any other developed country (it's fewer than Turkey, though). So much for the daydream of the founding fathers, the one involving a well-informed electorate.

I've said it a million times: I really wouldn't care what people believe if it hadn't come so negatively to affect our politics; and I accept the value of religious belief for most people. It's evident that some people can have religious faith and still be open minded to the world around them. But since by definition that kind of thinking describes people of varying points of view, it's being overwhelmed by the solidarity of astronomically narrow minds, people who wear their ignorance like a talisman. As the world gets increasingly complicated, the 46% seek increasingly to gather together to hide in not-knowing, while striking out at otherness with increasing fury. And, given the frailties of the human mind in the face of such difficulty, their numbers will only increase. (The 46%, according to the study, is statistically unchanged from last measure, two years ago. But it's up from 44%.)

It's a form of thought, if that's what it's called, that's so foreign to me that I can barely process the fact that nearly half of our country "thinks" that way. It makes me feel like I'm living in another universe. I'd sure as hell rather live in one where the numbers are the other way around. But, since we're in this one, and assuming there's a desire to hang around awhile, I'm working on not caring. If the election goes the way I think it will, it'll be a matter of self-preservation.