Friday Mashup (12/7/12)

December 8, 2012
  • In a column that otherwise has some sensible moments in it, Michael Sivy of Time concocts the following from here

    While it is true that a large deficit in any particular year is not a problem, longer term trends do matter. If national debt is relatively low – less than 50% of annual GDP, say – there’s plenty of room to spend in the short run and then balance the budget later. This is basically what happened over the course of the combined Reagan and Clinton administrations. The result was an economic boom that lasted more than 20 years.

    The article likes to a chart of GDP stretching back to The Sainted Ronnie R, claiming that prosperity was built on low debt from then until now, which is hilarious when you consider this (so much so that Reagan raised the debt ceiling 17 times, as noted here, with #43, Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History, doing so 7 times…by the way, Number 40 commendably raised the taxes on capital gains relative to wages, as noted here).

    Between the administrations of Reagan and Number 42, Poppy Bush presided over an economic downturn that, albeit relatively brief, was just long enough to pave the way for Bill Clinton’s election (interesting that Sivy managed to forget that – of course, if he had, what passes for his argument would have fallen apart).

    Not to be outdone, Teahadist Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin also tried to claim that Reagan was responsible for Clinton’s success here before he was slapped down by Bob Shrum (and how funny is it for Johnson to claim that all he needed was lower tax rates to start his business when you consider this?).

  • gwb_13-george-w-bush

  • Continuing, I know I just mentioned the ever-odious predecessor to President Obama above, but it bears repeating that yesterday (12/6) was the sixth anniversary of the findings of the Iraq Study Group, which announced in 2006 what just about any sentient being already knew by that point. And that is that Dubya’s Not-So-Excellent Adventure in Mesopotamia was an abysmal failure.

    And how did the overmatched man-child in An Oval Office respond? With this. And ultimately, as all of his horrendously awful decisions did, leading to this.

  • Next, we have U.S. Senate Repug Jeff Sessions from Alabama making a lot of noise here at Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for supposedly encouraging food stamp use by Mexican immigrants, or something.

    I wonder if Sessions knows that the number of his constituents who have signed up for food stamps has increased by 20 percent, as noted here? Or that food stamps are actually an economic stimulus, as noted here?

    Of course, why deal with reality when there are political talking points to propagate instead, right?

  • Turning to the pages of the Murdoch Street Journal, Turd Blossom himself (no escaping from Dubya’s awful legacy is there?) propagandizes as follows here

    …there are considerable downsides for Mr. Obama if the nation goes over the fiscal cliff. His approval rating (51% in the most recent Gallup Poll weekly average) will probably drop, as it did during the July 2011 debt-ceiling battle. While Congress’s standing dipped a little then, the president’s Gallup rating sank to 38% in August 2011 (from 47% at the start of the year). It didn’t get back to 50% until April 2012.

    As noted here, even though Obama’s approval numbers were admittedly not great during that farce, he and the Senate Dems polled better than Orange Man and his Repug pals in the U.S. House.

    Continuing…

    By contrast, when Mr. Obama and Republicans amicably agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts for two more years following the 2010 midterm elections, his job-approval rating rose to 49% from 43% over the course of 10 days. Deadlock, controversy and stalemate cause Mr. Obama’s numbers to drop. Bipartisan agreement causes them to rise.

    Rove is actually partly right on this; shocking, I know – of course, the part he doesn’t mention is that the GOP congressional numbers slipped by comparison also, as noted here (and of course, the vote was so “amicable” that Boehner called it “chicken (crap),” as noted here).

    At least Fix Noise actually had the good sense to tell Rove to take a seat for a while (here), though he’ll no doubt be back. Wonder if the Journal is keen to do the same thing?

  • Finally (and sticking with President Obama), I give you the latest bit of right-wing umbrage here

    “2016: Obama’s America,” a conservative documentary, raked in more money than all the 15 films being considered for the Best Documentary Academy Award combined. But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Monday announced “2016″ won’t even get a shot to win a nomination for the award.

    Gerald Molen, the Oscar-winning producer of “Schindler’s List” and “2016,” blames Hollywood’s “bias against anything from a conservative point of view” for the Academy Award snub, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

    The film, directed by conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, earned $33.4 million nationwide, making it the highest-grossing documentary of the year.

    “Dinesh warned me this might happen,” Molen told THR. “The action confirms my opinion that the bias against anything from a conservative point of view is dead on arrival in Hollywood circles. The film’s outstanding success means that America went to see the documentary in spite of how Hollywood feels about it.”

    For his part, D’Souza jokingly thanked the Academy for “not nominating our film.”

    You want to know why this piece of propaganda didn’t receive an Oscar nomination? Read the following from here

    Why is the film called “2016”? D’Souza’s one-sided argument ultimately stoops to fear-mongering of the worst kind, stating in no uncertain terms that, if the president is reelected, the world four years from now will be darkened by the clouds of economic collapse, World War III (thanks to the wholesale renunciation of our nuclear superiority) and a terrifyingly ascendant new “United States of Islam” in the Middle East. These assertions are accompanied by footage of actual dark clouds and horror-movie music.

    The real bogeyman isn’t Obama, who D’Souza acknowledges can come across as an appealing and charismatic leader. That honor is shared by several men D’Souza refers to as Obama’s “founding fathers,” in an unsubtle dig at the president’s patriotism. It’s a group that includes communist Frank Marshall Davis; former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers; academic Edward Said, whose views are described as anti-Zionist; liberal Harvard professor Roberto Unger; and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a proponent of so-called black liberation theology.

    None of the names of these putative villains is new, which gives “2016” the air of a “Nightmare on Elm Street” sequel, pandering to the franchise’s hard-core fans, while boring everyone else.

    More on D’Souza and his history of hateful fictions can be found here.

    Here is another reason why I’m not particularly sympathetic to any conservative argument about supposedly being slighted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (which sounds all high-falutin’ I know, though it is hardly that, despite the way they get dressed up at the Oscars) – anybody out there besides me remember a 1994 documentary called “Hoop Dreams”?

    As Wikipedia tells us…

    The film follows William Gates and Arthur Agee, two African-American teenagers who are recruited by a scout from St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Illinois, a predominantly white high school with an outstanding basketball program, whose alumni include NBA great Isiah Thomas. Taking 90-minute commutes to school, enduring long and difficult workouts and practices, and acclimatising to a foreign social environment, Gates and Agee struggle to improve their athletic skills in a job market with heavy competition. Along the way, their families celebrate their successes and support each other during times of economic hardship caused from the school change.

    The film raises a number of issues concerning race, class, economic division, education and values in contemporary America. It also offers one of the most intimate views of inner-city life to be captured on film. Yet it is also the human story of two young men, their two families and their community, and the joys and struggles they live from their recruitment in 1987 through their college freshman year (1991-92).

    Wikipedia also tells us that the film ended up earning about $11 million, which I know is a third of what this anti-Obama nonsense pulled in (I would argue that it will continue to earn money in video rentals, though obviously not as much as it earned years ago).

    Here is the kicker, though – as Roger Ebert and others have pointed out, “Hoop Dreams” was easily the best documentary the year it was made, and it wasn’t nominated for anything either (and good luck trying to find a conservative agenda in the compelling stories of William Gates and Arthur Agee).

    Of course, Molen and D’Souza could try to make a film following up on Gates and Agee if they felt compelled to right the wrong of that film’s denial of a nomination years ago, as opposed to their own.

    And I would expect that to take place at about the time hell freezes over (and speaking of Ebert, best wishes to him, on the mend as noted here).

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    Friday Mashup (8/10/12)

    August 10, 2012
  • I give you the following from Missouri Repug Sen. Roy Blunt yesterday (here)…

    In the midst of one of the worst droughts to hit our state in recent history, the Democrat leadership in the Senate made the incredibly poor decision to leave Washington for the August work period before taking up a critical disaster relief package that would have helped farmers, ranchers and families across Missouri — leaving our nation’s producers with greater uncertainty while trying to recover from extreme weather conditions.

    

Actually, in response, the following should be noted from here

    The bill (passed by the House) would restore four disaster aid programs, mostly for livestock producers and tree farmers, that expired last year. The estimated cost, $383 million, would be paid for by shaving some $630 million from two conservation programs. The disaster programs would be restored for the 2012 budget year.

    While there was little dispute over the difficult straits of the livestock industry, there was opposition to the bill from environmental groups disturbed by the cuts to the conservation programs, anti-tax groups who saw the bill as another government bailout and agriculture groups who have been pushing the House to vote on a five-year farm bill that, in addition to making fundamental changes in agriculture safety nets, would restore the disaster relief programs. The current long-term farm bill expires at the end of September.

    The top Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, said that while he would vote for the disaster relief measure, “this bill is a sad substitute for what is really needed, a long-term farm policy.” He said that while the legislation would help cattle and sheep farmers, “dairy and specialty crop producers will be left hurting and there is no assistance for pork and poultry producers.”

    Another Agriculture Committee Democrat, Jim Costa of California, said he opposed the bill. “The drought relief package that we are voting on I believe is sadly more about giving the Republican leadership relief when they go back to their districts in August than helping our nation’s farmers, ranchers and dairymen.”

    The Senate in June passed, on a bipartisan vote, a five-year farm bill that revises crop subsidy programs, eliminating direct payments to farmers even when they don’t plant crops, and authorizes nearly $100 billion a year for subsidy, conservation and food stamp programs. The House Agriculture Committee last month approved similar legislation.

    But the House GOP leadership has resisted bringing the bill to the floor, leery of a potential rebellion from conservative lawmakers against spending levels in the bill — particularly the nearly $80 billion a year for the food stamp program, which provides food aid to some 46 million people. Some Democrats, in turn, oppose the House bill because it cuts 2 percent, or $1.6 billion a year, from the food stamp program.

    And cutting the food stamp program, which officially goes by the acronym SNAP, is particularly dumb for the following reason (here)…

    Food stamps are good policy because they have a multiplicative effect. In fact, it almost has double the impact. A USDA study finds that for “Every $5 in new SNAP benefits generates a total of $9.20 in community spending.”

    It’s not as if the program is being overused. From 1995 to 2000, enrollment in the program dropped precipitously without a corresponding drop in the rate of poverty. Even during the current recession, in which enrollment doubled, only around 2/3 of eligible recipients took advantage of the program. The Brookings Institution speculates that this is because former welfare recipient are seldom informed that they remain eligible for food stamps. Brookings estimates “in a typical month in 2001, 17.3 million people in 7.5 million households received food stamps at an annual cost of $20 billion.” While that is nothing to scoff at, the annual price tag is cheap for an effective social safety net. Particularly because it has a compelling societal purpose (preventing people from starving due to circumstances beyond their control) and is narrowly tailored to working people, usually with children.

    So to recap, those numbskulls in the House could have passed the Senate’s farm relief bill, which contained the disaster relief program and would have taken care of the problem – BUT NOOOOO!!! (heckuva job, teabaggers). Maybe Blunt ought to focus his ire at the “Republic” Party “leadership” in the House, then (fat chance, I know).

    And the mention of Roy Blunt is all the excuse I need to link to this video once more (WordPress won’t allow me to embed videos any longer unless I upgrade, which I don’t intent to do yet – and by the way, here is another less-than-shining Blunt moment, which was supported by our own Sen. Bob Casey…an explanation, Senator?).

  • Next, I hate to frighten anyone, but it looks like “Obamacare” will leave 30 million uninsured, according to this.

    By 2022, that is.

    Oh, and this person from clownhall.com criticizes Number 44 for originally saying that health care reform would cost a trillion dollars, though (according to Kate Pavlich) it will now supposedly cost 2.6 trillion over the next 10 years or so.

    Well, in response, this from Ezra Klein says that repeal would cost $1 trillion, and the law will deliver another trillion in savings over the next two decades (here).

    Pavlich also reports on the following…

    CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] now estimate that the ACA, in comparison with prior law before the enactment of the ACA, will reduce the number of nonelderly people without health insurance coverage by 14 million in 2014 and by 29 million or 30 million in the latter part of the coming decade, leaving 30 million nonelderly residents uninsured by the end of the period,” the report said.

    “Before the Supreme Court’s decision, the latter number had been 27 million,” states the report.

    That’s actually a good point (shocking, I know); as noted here

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has updated its analysis of the Affordable Care Act in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the individual mandate, but ruling that the federal government cannot withhold federal funds from states that refuse to expand their Medicaid programs.

    Since some states are refusing to open their Medicaid programs to their residents, the CBO concluded that costs to the federal government would drop by $84 billion over 11 years and 6 million fewer people will be covered by Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Half of that population will find insurance in the state-based health insurance exchanges, while the remaining 3 million will likely remain uninsured:

    So, because Hangin’ Judge JR and The Supremes decided not to let the feds manage their health care dollars properly, a net of (in all likelihood) 3 million people will remain uninsured (adding to the 27 million already cited).

    Also, from here

    Why (health care is) more expensive in the U.S.

    Prices, efficiency and insurance administration are the most important reasons U.S. spending is higher than spending in other countries. One study estimated that relative to other major industrialized nations, the U.S. pays 70 percent higher prices for drugs, has substantial excess capacity and low productivity in outpatient facilities, and spends six times more on insurance administration.

    …also…

    Medical malpractice is not a major driver of spending trends. Premiums for liability coverage and defensive medicine do contribute to health spending at any moment in time, but they are not a large factor nor are they a significant factor in the overall growth of health care spending.

    This link to Kaiser.edu provides more information on the cost controls in the Affordable Care Act (yes, this information is repetitive, but it’s necessary to try and offset the constant misinformation coming from the wingnutosphere on this, among other issues).

  • Finally, Pastor Gerson at the WaPo has some veep advice for Willard Mitt Romney (doesn’t everybody, or so it seems?) here

    A few thoughts on Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick: This kind of story is a perfect example of the limits of political reporting. Speculation is unavoidable, but the number of people with actual knowledge of the selection process is tiny — the candidate, his wife, a few close advisers. And their political interests lie in the maintenance of secrecy and the cultivation of suspense. Until the announcement, commentary on this subject is essentially content-free.

    But the trend of the last few weeks favors Chris Christie.

    Uh, Gerson? I hate to break the news to you, but the Philadelphia Inquirer already has the market cornered on all of the “let’s fluff the Garden State guv in the hope that he hits it big nationally and gives us some sort of bragging rights of a weird fashion” stories, as noted here.

    Also, Christie has been shockingly sane when it comes to the Global Now And Forever You Godless Democrat Party Kenyan Muslim Lovin’ Socialist War On Terra! Terra! Terra!, as noted here in his highly articulate and reasoned defense of judicial appointee Sohail Mohammed (again, sorry I can’t embed the video).

    In addition to all of this, a recent poll on the terms most commonly associated with Christie indicate that “bully” and “arrogant” are the most common associations with him (Maybe that’s something the Mittster wants? Can’t say). It should also be noted that Christie’s approval, for now, seems to be plateauing at about 54 percent (not that bad, but not enough to launch a Christie “juggernaut”).

    You know what? Romney seems to be having such a pickle when it comes to naming a veep that I think I should put forward a suggestion:

    How about this guy? After all (as noted here), he now has a 43 percent approval rating, he’s already done the job (albeit horribly), and he’s guaranteed to deliver all of those “values voters” who will sit on their hands on Election Day if Romney nominates, say, Tim Pawlenty or Rob Portman for the ticket instead (and you know he’s rested and might be looking for something to do).

    And there’s nothing to prevent a president from serving in the executive branch again, as long as he doesn’t come from the same state as the person at the top of the ticket.

    So whaddaya say, Willard Mitt? RomneyBush in 2012? Plutocracy today, plutocracy tomorrow, plutocracy forever!

    (No I’m not serious. But it would make the campaign more fun, wouldn’t it? :-))


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