Category Archives: Candidates

Did The Stimulus Work?

Mark Thoma of Economist’s View (references to whom often appear in Paul Krugman’s blog) answers by quoting an LA Times article: “According to a collaboration between Fitch Ratings and Oxford economics, the answer is yes: …” Here’s the hed and first graf of the LAT article:

Government stimulus moves may have ended recession, by Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times: Without the unprecedented stimulus actions by the federal government triggered by the 2008 financial crisis, the Great Recession might still be going on, according to a study by Fitch Ratings. …

Thoma’s post reproduces a wonderful graph of GDP showing what happened vs. what might have happened without the stimulus, based on Oxford Economics and Fitch Ratings. The difference in GDP increase with and without the stimulus is striking; please go look at it.

So, American voters, in light of this apparent success of Obama’s policy approach to the Great Recession (even if inadequate and even if the banksters and other large corp’s got goodies out of it and even if unemployment is still unacceptably high), you need to ask yourself one question: faced with the same circumstance (which he may well be), how likely is it that Mitt Romney would arrange or  would have arranged any sort of stimulus at all? Right. That was my answer, too. Remember, either Obama or Romney will, with virtual certanty, be president in 2013; there is no viable third choice.

If Americans are supposed to vote their pocketbooks, and if they are smart enough to get their news from something besides Fox, Obama should take this one in a walk, thanks to the effects of the stimulus. That’s a couple of major assumptions, however. You might actually bother to go to the polls in November…

Obama To Press: ‘Play Dead, Rover!’

Glenn Greenwald, in an article with the well-aimed title “Dog-training the press corps,” makes a convincing argument, with plenty of examples, that the reporters who praise Mr. Obama in print… i.e., those who kiss his ass… are rewarded with greater access and sweeter exclusives. This is not new with Obama, of course; the Bush 43 White House worked exactly the same way, and I suspect (without having actually researched the matter) that the practice goes back at least to the Reagan administration. Here’s Greenwald, following about a dozen examples of press asskissery:

I could spend the rest of the day doing this; this doesn’t even include the MSNBC personalities who spend every day of their lives, literally, praising the President and attacking his political opponents and are then amply rewarded with all sorts of “exclusive” interviews with White House officials and Obama campaign aides, which are exactly as hard-hitting and adversarial as you’d expect. This dog-training treatment of media figures was just as prevalent — and just as effective — during the Bush years (although, as someone with many dogs, I can honestly say that actual dogs are much more difficult to train than these journalists, who just need one or two biscuit crumbs in exchange for life-long devotion and obedience).

Indeed. Our White House press corps sucks, especially compared to dogs, and all presidents make use of that ugly fact. It is part of that fast drive down the slope and over the precipice that I spoke of in a recent post. Yes, of course, Obama is to be castigated for his dog-training of the press. And yes, we have to “keep [our] eyes wide open all the time,” as Johnny Cash sang it.

But as I mentioned in that same recent post, you don’t have to like the man; you don’t even have to reluctantly admire him… I don’t, and I don’t. All you have to do is recognize that on Jan. 20, 2013, one of two men will take an oath and begin issuing orders. Does Rmoney [sic] scare you in that role more than Obama? That’s the question that matters most when you decide how to vote. If you feel that you’re being played by O, you may well be right, but remember… you have a nation to save.

Obama Is A Tyrant And A Killer… Please Vote For Him – UPDATED

Yes, you read the hed correctly. Yes, it is a significant change in my position.

Yesterday I posted a comment on the site of a friend which was apparently so strongly worded in opposition to voting for Obama that it prompted the friend to remove the post and the entire comment thread. At least I cannot find it today.

Of course I regret any offense given, especially to people I admire, but these are parlous times, and we discuss things that evoke strong feelings even among people of good will. My hope in posting that comment was that it would provoke a lively discussion about the limits to the obligations of liberals to the candidates of the Democratic Party, especially their candidate for president. We will all have to do without that discussion now, but the whole affair had one salutary effect:

I have changed my mind about voting for Mr. Obama. I shall now hold my nose and do so.

Look: the United States is on a steep road to the bottom. It is probably too late to prevent the ultimate collapse, maybe five years from now, maybe 20 years from now. (A lot depends on the rapidity of global climate change and the tenacity with which America clings to fossil fuels for everything.)

I have no love for Mr. Obama and his policies: his frequent cave-ins to Republican pressures, his propensity to unitary executive actions against individuals who oppose him, and his willingness to bend the Constitution, including legal due process, well past the breaking point. He is not an admirable person.

But I believe that a President Romney, a man with a level of fundamental human sympathy inferior to that of a drunken wealthy frat boy, especially if he were to end up with a Republican Congress, would bring about at least America’s economic collapse almost immediately, while the re-election of President Obama would leave us not much worse off than we are at present… still nothing to dance about, but at least there may be some chance of a recovery in a few years. And perhaps a few radical social-conservative bills in Congress, of which we’re seeing a lot lately, will draw an actual veto from Obama.

I know… “maybe he won’t be unbearably bad” is not the strongest endorsement of the man, but it’s the best I can offer under the circumstances. Let me phrase it slightly differently: with Obama, perhaps the US will not immediately turn into Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale.

If your outlook on Mr. Obama is similar to mine, you have a decision to make of far greater consequence than mine, because you probably live in a state that is not so red that Obama would never win it anyway… that describes Texas, of course. My vote means nothing. My lack of a vote would have meant nothing, too. So it’s up to you… not me… to see to it that Romney is swept into the dumpster of history. Help me out here!

(Click the graphic above to be taken to a place from which you can buy a bumper sticker. For the sticker in context, please click (link deleted… web site is registered to a web designer for the Republican Caucus of the legislature in a state out West). Something seemed fishy about the wording and by-and-large anonymity of the site. Worse, its list of links to major liberal/progressive sites was not labeled… are they participants? endorsers? just a blogroll? a fake-out to make you think it’s a progressive outfit? I don’t know why a Republican web designer would be tweaking liberals/progressives in that way, but it’s not the first such spoof I’ve encountered.)

Mitt Hates You: Rmoney [sic] To Speak At Conference Of Hate Groups

Via Pam’s House Blend of FDL, Rmoney is invited and plans to speak at the Values Voters Summit in mid-September, an annual gathering of org’s many of which are listed by Southern Poverty Law Center as hate groups. Anti-gay and racist fanatic Bryan Fischer, politically involved former Klan grand wizard David Duke, Family Research Council zealot Tony Perkins, gay-hater Matt Barber (who must not be important because he has no wiki), etc., will all be under one roof thanks to the sponsorship of that “good” “Christian” institute of… something, Liberty University. And yes, Rmoney plans to speak to them.

Need I say more? If I knew nothing else against Rmoney, this would tell me all I needed to know. You know he’s not going there to tell them to mend their ways.

Newton Succumbs To Warped Spacetime

… but it’s not clear whether or when Newtie will endorse Eins… er… Rmoney [sic]. Actually, to hear Benjy Sarlin of TPM tell it, Newt Gingrich is more like Schrödinger’s cat:

His candidacy neither dead nor quite alive (but mostly dead), the former speaker at least conceded he’d “reassess” his options after a loss in Delaware. On Wednesday morning, he came about as close as he could to conceding without going all the way, saying it was “very clear” at this point Romney would be the nominee and that he’d campaign this week as a “citizen,” per Fox News. “We’re working out the details of our transition, and we’ll have information for the press in the next couple days,” Gingrich said, according to ABC. Aides went even further, telling CNN that he’d officially drop out next week.

Bye-bye, Newt. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt…

Lies, Damned Lies, And Fox News Misquotes

Fox News added three words to an Obama quote, three words that transformed Obama’s statement from a generic statement about his socioeconomic background into a malicious slur aimed at Mitt Romney. The videotape shows clearly that Obama never said those three words. The transcript, for what it’s worth, does not contain those three words. Here’s the statement, via Sahil Kapur of TPM; Obama’s part is between quote marks in blue:

“Somebody gave me an education,” the President said last Wednesday in a Elyria, Ohio speech, discussing equality of opportunity. “Unlike some people, I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Michelle wasn’t. But somebody gave us a chance — just like these folks up here are looking for a chance.”

The part in red was added by Steve Doocy of Fox News in “quoting” Obama in the course of an interview of Mitt Romney. Video available at the TPM link above.

I’ve been to Elyria, Ohio. It’s a nice little town of about 55,000 people, not too far from Oberlin, where I attended the Baroque Performance Institute for three summers in the early Eighties. Elyria deserves better than to be lied about on Fox News.

It’s going to be a long election season…

He’s Booooork!!!

Baaaaack, I mean. No, Booooork… Robert Bork. People for the American Way have put up a web site explaining to us that Mitt Romney has picked an adviser to help him choose Supreme Court nominees over the next four years, and that person is… Robert Bork. You remember that Bork was a nightmare when he was nominated… and turned down… for the Supreme Court himself, but you don’t remember the particulars? Fortunately, PFAW has made a video:

In the lifetime of our country, there have been quite a few deeply destructive Supreme Court justices. One could argue that some on the Court at this moment are among the destructive ones; I, for example, deplore what Antonin Scalia has done, and Chief Justice Roberts has much to disrecommend him as well. But neither is anything compared to the evil that is Bork. And Romney says of Bork, “I wish he were already on the Supreme Court.”

We must pull out all the stops to prevent Romney from taking… word chosen advisedly… the presidency. The consequences would exceed those of a GeeDubya Bush presidency by as much as a nuclear weapon exceeds the destructiveness of a conventional weapon of comparable size. Stop Romney… if for no other reason than to stop Bork.

Obama: Throwing Down The Gauntlet, Or Throwing Up His Hands?

With Obama, one never knows. Will he stick? Will he cave? Your guess is… actually, probably better than mine.

What Rmoney [sic] Would Really Do As President

Rmoney thought he was talking only to his high-dollar donors in a backyard event at a home, but was, according to MSNBC’s First Read,  “overheard by reporters on a sidewalk below.” Putting aside for the moment that electing Rmoney president would be trusting the nation’s most sensitive secrets to a man who is unaware that a mic is on, or that his backyard event is monitored by reporters, let’s contemplate what Rmoney thinks he will do as president:

In a speech to donors in the backyard of a private home here, the former Massachusetts governor and presumptive GOP presidential nominee outlined his plans to potentially eliminate or consolidate federal agencies, win back Latino voters and reform the nation’s tax code.

Romney went into a level of detail not usually seen by the public in the speech, which was overheard by reporters on a sidewalk below. One possibility floated by Romney included the elimination of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Cabinet-level agency once led by Romney’s father, George. 

“I’m going to take a lot of departments in Washington, and agencies, and combine them. Some eliminate, but I’m probably not going to lay out just exactly which ones are going to go,” Romney said. “Things like Housing and Urban Development, which my dad was head of, that might not be around later. But I’m not going to actually go through these one by one. What I can tell you is, we’ve got far too many bureaucrats. I will send a lot of what happens in Washington back to the states.”

“The Department of Education: I will either consolidate with another agency, or perhaps make it a heck of a lot smaller. I’m not going to get rid of it entirely,” Romney said, explaining that part of his reasoning behind preserving the agency was to maintain a federal role in pushing back against teachers’ unions. Romney added that he learned in his 1994 campaign for Senate that proposing to eliminate the agency was politically volatile. 

At that time, Sen. Ted Kennedy ran ads against Romney — then a political neophyte — accusing him of being uncaring for saying he wished to eliminate the agency.

“Uncaring” … that’s an excessively generous assessment of this man whose wealth has apparently made him cold and hard toward the “peasants” of America. But then again, Ted Kennedy was frequently generous. No danger of that with Rmoney.

Please read the article for details; I have no desire to repeat them here. Note that Rmoney is basing his campaign on a premise, much like Obama’s premise that his base has nowhere else to go but to him: Rmoney’s version is that by November, among Hispanic voters, the economy will be so bad that it will trump the immigration issues that have made Rmoney so unpopular among Latinos. I’m not so sure about that… at least I wouldn’t be, if I had any confidence in the ability of the Democratic campaign to play its hand (a very full hand indeed) to best advantage.

Again, please read the article, if only to see what a right bastard Rmoney is, and how careless he is with presumed secrets. Apparently he believes that if you’re rich, and give him money, you should be privy to information that we “peasants” aren’t provided. What a great beginning to his campaign!

(H/T David Dayen of FDL.)

‘Thou Shalt Not Steal’ John Mellencamp’s Music!

John Mellencamp, inveterate union supporter, unabashed political liberal, and famous musician, seems to be a favorite among Republican politicians: they use his music in their campaigns without licensing it, and they make no effort to correct the false impression of support given when they do so. First it was John McCain, using Mellencamp’s hit “Our Country.” Now it’s (soon-to-be-ex-) Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin, fighting for his political life and not afraid to do any damned thing… a lot of what he does should rightly be damned… to keep the job he stole from the Wisconsin electorate in the usual way, by running a truth-free campaign. Walker enters at campaign stops to the tune of Mellencamp’s “Small Town.”

Mellencamp is not even suing the Walker campaign. But he wants to make sure everyone knows he thinks Walker is lower than pond scum… well, OK, those are my words; Mellencamp just wants to make sure no one mistakes the performance‑rights theft of his music as support for Walker. Be sure to tell your friends, especially those you may have in Wisconsin.