Category Archives: Elections

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…

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A: ‘Hispanics, Women, And Young People’

According to Robert Reich, that’s the answer. So what is the question? Well, actually, there are two:

Q: “What are the three demographic groups whose electoral impact is growing fastest?”

and

Q: “Who are Republicans pissing off the most?”

Reich details his answers in a bit of election-year analysis that leaves me not quite so despairing about the likely outcome of this year’s elections.

Now all we have to do is somehow dodge the voter suppression bullet…

 

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…

Robert Reich Gives Obama Free Advice… Worth A Great Deal More Than The Price

Robert Reich says Obama is pursuing the “We’re on the right track” strategy… and that it isn’t working nearly fast enough, and that there’s too great a chance of an economic stall between now and elections. Reich offers Obama four points on which to build a successful campaign; please go read them.

Reich correctly assesses that a Romney presidency would be an economic disaster of proportions greater than the Great Depression, and that the next president will probably get to appoint two Supreme Court justices.

Question for the reader: if you are an American, and if Romney becomes president, will you leave the US? If so, and if you’re willing to say, where will you go?

AFTERTHOUGHT: if Obama becomes president, life will be no bed of roses, though I suspect there will be some chance of recovery at some point, whereas with Romney, we’ll be doomed, probably permanently. In fairness, I’ll ask the same question about Obama: if he becomes president, will you absquatulate, and where will you go?

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.

The Old Days, When Women’s Rights Were Not Under Full‑Scale Assault

Susan Heath, for NYT, tells of her own experience in 1978, in an op-ed titled No One Called Me a Slut. Yes, those were the days: women had constitutionally protected rights to manage their own bodies, rights that were legally safeguarded by a Supreme Court decision. Please read Ms. Heath’s op-ed; it is worth your time more than the usual personal story.

Today we have a GOP War on Women… too fucking bad if they don’t like my calling it what it is. Planned Parenthood, still the primary health care provider for many women, is being systematically defunded at the behest of the radical Right. Women are being rudely demeaned by Republican politicians… Virginia’s Speaker of the House William Howell, recently arguing with a woman, said in so many words that he would try to use simple words so she would understand him. Arizona’s new abortion law is the most extreme ever in America, but it is far from the only extreme one, and the battle continues in other states. The GOP War on Women is being fought primarily on the state level.

There is only one way to fight back: pitch the bastards out of office in 2012. Do it. If you always vote with an eye toward women’s rights, please enlist your friends of similar outlook in the effort to flush the crap that has accumulated in our legislatures. Now is the time.

(H/T Mustang Bobby.)

The GOP Campaign To ***k The Vote

“Rock” the Vote… what did you think I meant? Well, OK, “Fuck” the Vote wouldn’t be so far from the reality. The campaign, waged largely through GOP-dominated state legislatures, is a baldfaced attempt to prevent people of color, poor people, young people and old people from voting. The progressive organization Center for American Progress has just issued a report, Voter Suppression 101: How Conservatives Are Conspiring to Disenfranchise Millions of Americans. Here’s a sample:

The right to vote is under attack all across our country. Conservative legislators are introducing and passing legislation that creates new barriers for those registering to vote, shortens the early voting period, imposes new requirements for already-registered voters, and rigs the Electoral College in select states. Conservatives fabricate reasons to enact these laws—voter fraud is exceedingly rare—in their efforts to disenfranchise as many potential voters among certain groups, such as college students, low-income voters, and minorities, as possible. Rather than modernizing our democracy to ensure that all citizens have access to the ballot box, these laws hinder voting rights in a manner not seen since the era of Jim Crow laws enacted in the South to disenfranchise blacks after Reconstruction in the late 1800s.

Talk about turning back the clock! At its best, America has utilized the federal legislative process to augment voting rights. Constitutional amendments such as the 12th, 14th, 15th, 17th, 19th, 23rd, and 26th have steadily improved the system by which our elections take place while expanding the pool of Americans eligible to participate. Yet in 2011, more than 30 state legislatures considered legislation to make it harder for citizens to vote, with over a dozen of those states succeeding in passing these bills. Anti-voting legislation appears to be continuing unabated so far in 2012.

Unfortunately, the rapid spread of these proposals in states as different as Florida and Wisconsin is not occurring by accident. Instead, many of these laws are being drafted and spread through corporate-backed entities such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, as uncovered in a previous Center for American Progress investigative report. Detailed in that report, ALEC charges corporations such as Koch Industries Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and The Coca-Cola Co. a fee and gives them access to members of state legislatures. Under ALEC’s auspices, legislators, corporate representatives, and ALEC officials work together to draft model legislation. As ALEC spokesperson Michael Bowman told NPR, this system is especially effective because “you have legislators who will ask questions much more freely at our meetings because they are not under the eyes of the press, the eyes of the voters.”

The Lone Star State also placed unnecessary new requirements on groups and individuals interested in helping register others. Texas lawmakers in May passed legislation requiring that people who help register voters, known as volunteer deputy registrars, must also be eligible Texas voters themselves. The new law has a number of unintended consequences. For instance, legal permanent residents who are in the process of obtaining their citizenship would be barred from learning the political process by helping register others. Many such immigrants are currently employed as deputy registrars; this new law would likely result in their firing.

From the outset, when America was founded, there was no shortage of people who thought democracy, even representative democracy, was a bad idea. By the time of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, over a decade after the nation won its independence, the battle was already underway, and it has not ceased since. From an electorate comprising white men of property voting in federal elections only for their Representatives (not for the President, and not for their Senators), the franchise has expanded to today’s more-or-less all-encompassing franchise of all adult American citizens, voting for all those offices. But the push-back has been continuous, especially in the South, and the reality for the aforementioned portions of the electorate (people of color, seniors, youth, poor) has been one of constant battles against illegal attempts to suppress their votes.

Today’s suppressors are the GOP, and they’re often unapologetic about it. E.g., Paul Weyrich, cofounder of Heritage Foundation, said straight out, “I don’t want everybody to vote.” You have to admire his candor, if not his elitist sense of privilege. In Texas, after a GOP-owned Legislature drew a districting map that only a mother could love, it was overturned by a federal court, but of course the Supreme Court, a thoroughly GOP-partisan institution by now, overturned that ruling in turn, directing a greater accommodation of the Legislature’s map. So the four new House seats awarded to Texas by the 2010 Census, rather than reflecting the ethnic composition of the 4 million new adults in Texas, will very likely be taken by Republicans.

A few years ago, a local African American leader (by no means in the local African American mainstream) led a troop of armed men to demonstrate outside various polling places, announcing his intention to see to it that African Americans were not denied the vote in that election. We all know what would happen if he were to mount such a demonstration today: police in full riot gear, with tear gas, tasers, pepper spray and rubber bullets would be sent to break up the assembly and jail its participants, and that would be that.

And if Republicans have their way, the evil deed will already have been accomplished long before Election Day, as legitimate voters in cohorts unlikely to vote for the GOP are premeditatedly denied their ability to register to vote.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not the concept of America I have in mind. I want everybody to vote… even Paul Weyrich, if he were still alive.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Reuters has a decent piece on the issue.

AFTERTHOUGHT: Coke, Pepsi, McDonalds and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, among other corp’s… not including AT&T… have agreed to drop their financial support of ALEC. It’s a start. It’s too little, too late for this election, but we have to start from where we are, not where we wish we were.

Thank Dog And Greyhound He’s Gone

Santorum, that is.

Best quote so far is from thereisnospoon (David Atkins) on Hullabaloo:

Yes, this man was and still is taken seriously by tens of millions of Republican voters. That’s still hard to process.

I suppose I do share a country with these people, but only on the flimsiest and most superficial of levels.

Yep. B’bye, Ricky. Don’t let the screen* door hit ya in the butt…

AFTERTHOUGHT: Santorum has informed Rmoney [sic] but has not yet endorsed him. If Santorum wanted to do his country one last favor, he could endorse… Newt Gingrich. You heard it here first!

* It occurred to me after posting that the screen doors of my childhood always opened outward.

Krugman And Noah: ‘Crankocracy’

Paul Krugman follows Timothy Noah in noting that Citizens United has made America not so much a corporatocracy as a “crankocracy” … a government by oddball billionaires who form super PACs of their own. Krugman points out that the crankocracy has been going on “for decades,” not with formerly illegal campaign contributions but with think tanks, comfy positions between jobs for politicians and their families, etc. Krugman summarizes it this way:

For what the money of rich cranks does is ensure that bad ideas never go away — indeed, they can gain strength even as they fail in practice again and again. The notion that wonderful things happen if you cut taxes on the rich and terrible things happen if you raise them has a stronger hold than ever on the GOP, despite the experience of the Clinton tax hike and the Bush tax cut. Climate denialism gains force even as the planet warms. And so on.

And now a hand-picked Supreme Court (to which Obama’s contributions have made no difference in the balance of power) has handed the keys to the Ferrari to the senescent “teenagers” of the American family. Buckle up; here comes the crash…