Friday, July 27, 2012

More tid-bits for your right-wing brother-in-law

  • This is another example of Romney feeling the urgent need to reach extremes in order to appease the far-right contingent of the GOP base, in this case the neocon segment. By continually courting the fringe at this point in the campaign is a prolonged act of desperation, one that is soaked with flop-sweat. He should already have the base locked-up and put to bed, more than confident in their intent to vote for him. However, his actions continue to hint otherwise and make one seriously question whether internal polling is flashing panic signals. I mean what he's doing and continues to do, pandering to the kooks, is party primary stuff. By now Romney should be looking to tack to the middle, given the general electorate is much more moderate than the core of the GOP. Needless to say, the longer his campaign remains in this base-seeking mode, the better it is for Obama.

  • "A survey of forty economists from across the ideological and partisan spectrum has concluded that on some of its most cherished issues, the Republican Party has simply taken leave of economic reality. For instance, economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers noted that one of the results from the survey — run by the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, which is hardly known for a left-wing slant — is an overwhelming agreement that the 2009 Recovery Act (i.e. the stimulus) brought down unemployment. But GOP leaders have spent years roundly denouncing the stimulus as a failure."

  • Rasmussen polls can't be trusted: "After the 2010 elections, the New York Times statistics wizard, Nate Silver, analyzed the polls produced by various polling organizations, including Rasmussen Reports, which is the house pollster for Fox News. Silver's analysis covered only polls taken during the final three weeks of the campaign and compared them to the actual election results....Silver analyzed 105 polls released by Rasmussen Reports and its subsidiary, Pulse Opinion Research, for Senate and gubernatorial races in numerous states across the country. The bottom line is that on average, Rasmussen's polls were off by 5.8% with a bias of 3.9% in favor of the Republican candidates."

  • "During the 1950s and ’60s, financial institutions were tightly regulated. Bankers did not make money by trading for their own account but instead earned fees for providing advice to their customers and serving as a go-between for companies raising capital. Their goal was to get to know their clients well, understand their problems, and act in their best interests—somewhat like family doctors. They were not compensated absurd amounts. Wall Street was viewed as a place not for high flyers but for sober, cautious people who were perhaps a little boring. Meanwhile, the economy boomed and we had very few financial crises."

  • Financial Scandal Scorecard.
  • Sunday, July 22, 2012

    Who's being duped?

    National Review's Rich Lowry recently wrote that young Americans were being "duped" by Obama. What Lowry apparently doesn't understand is these "youthful idealists" of which he labels "saps, patsies and suckers" are actually anything but naive idiots. Quite the contrary.

    The fact is most young folks today are smart enough to realize that Obama inherited a cluster-f*cked economy, namely the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Given the extent to which the situation was grave, with economic activity lacking a pulse, most intelligent voters appreciated that to fully recover from this mess in a mere three years was highly unlikely. After all, it took the New Deal and arguably WWII to successfully get the nation back on course over fifty years ago, and we have yet to see anything close to that degree of stimulus in relative terms. As it is, even after three bouts of quantitative easing (QE), you can still hear Bernanke strongly infer in his most recent comments that he and the Fed cannot do it alone, that help is needed in the form of additional fiscal stimulus. Yet such pleas for assistance are of course in vain.

    To state that Obama is fully to blame for this continued economic malaise is simply disingenuous and frankly makes Lowry appear to be willfully duped by Republicans. Let's first remind him that this economy was inherited, with GW/Cheney overseeing eight years of reckless spending to the tune of about $2 trillion in unfunded wars and tax breaks for the top 1%. And it wasn't Obama who sat in the White House for years while the financial and housing sectors ballooned and popped, in large part due to inadequate regulation and oversight. But never mind all of that, past history, right? (Yet imagine what Lowry et al would say if things were reversed, if it was a Democrat as president during those eight years and a Republican running things since 2009 -- to this day, it would be 24/7 blame for the 2001-2008 years, make no mistake).

    Then when Obama finally enters the scene in early 2009, eventually offering more than few proposals and solutions to help reverse our down-slide, who is there every time to obstruct and insure the economy remains woefully moribund? Yes, the Republicans, who are suddenly obsessed with the deficit and spending cuts. This is the party claiming to be about "Country First" and yet really is all about making sure a supposed Kenyan imposter is booted out of office after one term. When Reagan looked to address his recession, the Democrats at that time most often worked with him to get things done for the betterment of the country. We see nothing of the sort today from these Republicans, choosing instead to be craven, partisan hacks for their corporate and wealthy masters.

    So again, these "young dupes" as Lowry calls them are well-aware of the reality of what has occurred -- or better yet, what hasn't occurred. Fortunately, most of them don't watch Fox News, with that channel possessing one of the most elderly audiences on TV (average viewer age is 65 years old), meaning young Americans are likely more fact-based and fabrication-free.

    But while Lowry's on the subject of being duped, maybe he can comment on the long-standing puzzle regarding red-state voters and Republicans. You talk about individuals getting duped! It's a fact many if not most red states receive more money from the big-bad federal government than they contribute in tax dollars, i.e. they're "welfare queens" dependent on the federal government for needed funds. And yet voters in these states regularly vote for the political party that rails against federal assistance and welfare programs. Call it denial, call it ignorance (likely a mix of both), the odd truth remains that voters in red states too often side with representatives who are against those things that most benefit people in those states. It's flimflam at its best, using propaganda, lies and fear-mongering to convince people to vote against their own interests -- something I believe is best described as dupery.

    But I'm sure Mr. Lowry would disagree. Only Obama possesses the skill and power to hypnotize an entire generation, fooling them into supporting him one more time. This kind of mass deception and manipulation has never and would never occur on the other side, it would be unheard of and frankly impossible to do.


    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Some interesting tid-bits

  • Republicans still complain about tax rates being too high -- despite the fact the top tax rate has not been this low since the 1920s. In fact, in 2009, Americans on average paid the lowest tax rate in 30 years due "in part because of tax cuts President Obama sought to combat the Great Recession....The average tax rate paid by all households fell to 17.4 percent, down from 19.9 percent in 2007, according to the CBO. The 2009 rate was significantly lower than the previous low of 19.4 percent in 2003 and well below the 30-year average of 21 percent."

  • Still think the climate isn't changing, or it's cyclical, or it's just Mother Nature (whatever that means)? "[L]ook at the ratio of record high and low temperatures in the U.S. over the last 50 years. In the 1950s, we had about the same number of record high temperatures as record lows. That is, the probability of an extraordinarily cold January day was about as likely as an excessively hot July day. By the 2000s, however, we were twice as likely to see a record high in our weather reports as we were a record low. So far in 2012, that ratio is about 10 to one." How can this be a surprise when the fact remains we now have 35% more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than a century ago?? The first six-months of this year were the hottest ever recorded, by a huge margin. Heck, it was so hot recently that the tarmac at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC actually melted, trapping a plane.

  • And not that I endorse it, but the next time you hear a Republican say Obama is stifling oil production and drilling in this country, give them the following facts. U.S. oil production has increased from 5 million barrels per day in 2008 to 6.3 million barrels per day in 2012. Also, the number of oil rigs has more than quadrupled since 2009.
  • Monday, July 16, 2012

    The Head Stooge

    About the SCOTUS ACA ruling, I recently wrote:
    The SCOTUS dissent wanted to strike down the entire ACA law, a very radical decision in light of past precedent. As it is three prominent legal conservatives (Silberman, Sutton and Fried) found nothing unconstitutional about the ACA. Going further, striking down the entire ACA law would've resulted in chaos in this country as many elements and components of the law are already fully functioning within our current health care system.

    Roberts knew all of this and along with his concern for how the Court would appear on the heels of GW vs. Gore and Citizens United, I believe he stepped in and uncharacteristically became a liberal, countering the dissent.
    [I]t was encouraging to learn that Roberts will only go so far with the other right-wing Justices when it comes to radical rulings.
    I was glad to read that Linda Greenhouse agreed:
    I doubt there was a single reason for the chief justice’s evolution (I know, conservatives hate that word in the context of Supreme Court justices’ ideological trajectories), but let me suggest one: the breathtaking radicalism of the other four conservative justices. The opinion pointedly signed individually by Justices Kennedy, Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Samuel A. Alito Jr. would have invalidated the entire Affordable Care Act, finding no one part of it severable from the rest. This astonishing act of judicial activism has received insufficient attention, because it ultimately didn’t happen, but it surely got the chief justice’s attention as a warning that his ostensible allies were about to drive the Supreme Court over the cliff and into the abyss.
    It's heartening to know that when push comes to shove, even right-winger Chief Justice Roberts will stop the madness, clunking the heads of the other four stooges and ultimately rule in favor of judicial sanity as opposed to ideological purity.

    Wednesday, July 11, 2012

    Deceptive Health Care Polls

    We often hear it cited that polls show most Americans are against the health care reform bill (ACA). Rarely if ever do I see a poll actually showing this majority against, however I have seen polls (like the one below, click to enlarge) where the verdict is very tight.


    But take a closer look and you'll notice a bit of chicanery occurring with these polls. It's first asked whether one favors or opposes the ACA. In this case, as often is the case, it's a very close call, with 45% favoring and 44% opposing.

    But the poll then specifies of those opposing, what percent feel the bill doesn't go far enough in reforming health care and what percent believe the bill goes too far. In this case, of those who answered the first part of this question with an "oppose" reply, 22% opposed the bill because it didn't go far enough, with 68% believing it goes too far.

    In no way can people making up this 22% be included with those who oppose the bill overall because they feel it goes too far, and yet that's what repeatedly occurs with these types of polls. In effect, the more adamant and upset liberal individuals are included with the more conservative, right-wing respondents to comprise the overall "44% oppose" category.  And yet, as I just stated, these liberals are not at all in opposition of the bill for the same reason the right-wingers oppose it.

    So let's do a little correcting to clear the air. If 22% of the 44% who oppose the bill actually believe it doesn't go far enough, then in reality those individuals are actually very much for health care reform in general. 22% of 44% = about 10%. If we add this 10% to the 45% who favor the health care reform bill, the poll would then look like the following:

                          55% FAVOR health care reform in general
                          34% OPPOSE health care reform in general

    Wow, a whopping 21% gap, quite a difference.

    Clearly most Americans either favor the ACA or wish that even more health care reforms were present in the bill -- a far cry from what the poll would have one believe at first glance.

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012

    More trickle-down nonsense

    With regards to Romney's offshore tax shelter accounts, or for that matter offshore tax shelters for all wealthy individuals, how does "trickle down" economics then work? How can the benefits that are supposed to trickle down to the 99% be expected to occur if the capital is tied up in offshore accounts? How does all of this money sitting offshore, escaping taxation, stimulate economic growth in the U.S.?

    It should be asked of Romney to explain how the wealthy create jobs via trickle down economics when trillions of dollars are tucked away offshore. Would love to hear his stammering, nonsensical dodge on this topic. Oh, and I'd remind him the tax rate on the top income bracket is at historic lows.


    Wednesday, July 04, 2012

    Thoughts on the SCOTUS ACA ruling

    Before it became too late to do so, I wanted to post some brief comments about the SCOTUS decision on the ACA. I wrote much of this down the day of the ruling, but realize by now many of these thoughts have been conveyed on other blogs. Oh well, so be it.

  • You knew Roberts' "penalty = tax" semantics would be a gift to the right-wingers, and it didn't take long for them to respond in kind.

    However, it should be very easy for the Dems to knock down this attack (but then again, nothing ever seems easy for the Dems!). For one, they can turn around and say that if Obamacare increases taxes, then Romneycare did the same in MA. Secondly, when The Heritage Foundation and Republicans designed and supported this same health-care mandate from 1993 to 2009, they actually designed and supported a tax increase. Those two points alone are enough to completely negate this word-play issue.

    But ThinkProgress also reminds that whereas the ACA penalty/tax amounts to near $700 per affected household, the payroll tax extension Republicans were against late last year would've amounted to a cost of $1500 on average, or more than twice the ACA penalty figure. As per usual, Republicans are hypocritical and inconsistent, in this case arguing against a tax that costs half as much as the tax increase they were for late last year. And mind you, the payroll tax affects many more people than the ACA penalty.

  • The SCOTUS dissent wanted to strike down the entire ACA law, a very radical decision in light of past precedent. As it is three prominent legal conservatives (Silberman, Sutton and Fried) found nothing unconstitutional about the ACA. Going further, striking down the entire ACA law would've resulted in chaos in this country as many elements and components of the law are already fully functioning within our current health care system.

    Roberts knew all of this and along with his concern for how the Court would appear on the heels of GW vs. Gore and Citizens United, I believe he stepped in and uncharacteristically became a liberal, countering the dissent.

    But more so, when reading the dissent, it does make clear just how radical and extreme the right-wing contingent of the Court is and can be. They have no problem with handing down rulings sans of any past precedent -- in so doing, behaving in the activist manner that conservatives have repeatedly accused of liberal Justices. In effect, the Scalia wing offer up opinions about how they wish for the country to go, as opposed to what the Constitution would dictate.

    Get ready, for despite this save by Roberts, over the next 10+ years this Court is likely to reshape the country much more so than the gridlocked executive and legislative branches.

  • It may be true that Roberts purposefully threw the right-wing a bone by redefining the penalty as a tax, but the fact is by him doing so actually saved the ACA. Calling it a tax allowed for it to be constitutional as per the Court and thus upheld. In the end, Roberts' semantics saved the ACA from being struck down by Scalia et al. Also, it was encouraging to learn that Roberts will only go so far with the other right-wing Justices when it comes to radical rulings. A small victory, one not likely to be repeated anytime soon, but you take what you can get from this crew.

  • Regarding messaging, when polled, the ACA tends to lose because the GOP is very effective at demonizing words and phrases -- in this case, turning "Obamacare" into something perceived to be very bad. However, when individuals are polled on the actual details and policy of the ACA, people generally tend to love what they hear. The real message? Democrats are nowhere near as good as Republicans when it comes to conveying concise, effective word associations. For "Obamacare" to become more popular, this sad fact needs to change.