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).

  • Advertisements

    As Always, They Decide What To Report (Again)

    March 17, 2010


    As far as the first “story” is concerned (here), the latest Gallup poll shows that 47 percent approve of Obama’s job performance and 46 percent disapprove; how that constitutes a “negative” is something I cannot comprehend.

    Update 3/20/10: Ha, ha, and ha…

    And when you read the legitimate news story about the Palestinians rioting, you learn the following…

    Hamas ignited the rioting by calling for a “day of rage.”

    The terrorist group said Monday’s reopening of a long-closed synagogue in Jerusalem’s Old City was a plot to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, which is about 400 yards away.

    If you read or hear anything from Fox and take them seriously, you’re an idiot (and nice “Photoshop” job on the John Edwards/Rielle Hunter/Elizabeth Edwards/Jerry Springer pic, by the way).


    A “Remedy” For An Obama AP Health Care Harangue?

    July 24, 2009

    medical_symbol_mdI read a good portion of this “analysis” of the efforts of the Obama Administration to address the pivotal crises it inherited from Bushco, and I found myself wondering how long it took writer Tom Raum to recycle what he’d discovered in other reports, link to some other sympathetic quotes or sources, press ENTER, and then subsequently retire to a watering hole of his choosing.

    (And to think, these jokers are creating a registry to track unauthorized use of their laughable content, as noted here.)

    Yes, I will grant you that there is anxiety out there concerning how our president (who has been in office for all of six months and three days, let’s not forget) is managing the economy and the Dems’ attempts at health care reform (to say nothing of two other wars and coordinating with Congress on cap-and-trade legislation, among other matters), but I will attempt to provide the detail in this post concerning those issues that Raum, for whatever reason, did not.

    To begin, this recent Gallup Poll tells us that about three quarters of those Dems polled approve of Obama’s handling of health care policy, though he is down 50-44 with independent voters (and do you really need to ask what Repug voters think?). Basically, the Dem and Repug numbers are a wash, and the independent numbers are representative of everyone as a whole.

    And Bob Cesca tells us the following from here…

    In a July 14 Gallup Poll, 86 percent of Americans think it’s “extremely important” for healthcare reform to include allowing them to get insurance regardless of employment or medical status. 58 percent support taxing the rich to pay for healthcare. And we all know about the super-majority support for the public option.

    In a June Gallup poll, only 34 percent of Americans are confident in the Republicans to make the right decisions on healthcare policy. In fact, Americans are one percent less confident in Republicans than they are in the health insurance companies. That’s pretty crappy.

    So one thing’s for sure, we don’t want what the Republicans are offering. And we broadly support significant changes in the healthcare system. The fact that the president is upside-down only indicates that, while on the right track, he isn’t pushing this with the ferocity it demands.

    Well, I would say that that changed this week with his press conference (no other reason to give an idiot like Jim DeMint the time of day), setting the stage for what is described here in August as a “month even more heated and critical in the reform process” (and another media appearance followed, as noted here in the New York Times, from Reuters).

    I believe, though, that the issue that is really preventing Obama and the congressional Dems from taking charge on this is the cost (yes, a “master of the obvious” realization, I know). And in an effort to get as much of an understanding of the numbers as I could (truly a daunting task), I navigated here to the OMB site listing the projected fiscal year numbers, and discovered the following:

    The United States spends over $2.2 trillion on health care each year—almost $8,000 per person. That number represents approximately 16 percent of the total economy and is growing rapidly. If we do not act soon, by 2017, almost 20 percent of the economy—more than $4 trillion—will be spent on health care.

    To help physicians get the information they need to provide the highest quality care for patients, the Recovery Act of 2009 devotes $1.1 billion to comparative effectiveness research—the reviews of evidence on competing medical interventions and new head-to-head trials. The information from this research will improve the performance of the U.S. health care system.

    The President has devoted in the Recovery Act an unprecedented $1 billion for prevention and wellness interventions. This will dramatically expand community-based interventions proven to reduce chronic diseases.

    … the Budget sets aside a reserve fund of more than $630 billion over 10 years that will be dedicated towards financing reforms to our health care system.

    The reserve fund is financed by a combination of rebalancing the tax code so that the wealthiest pay more as well as specific health care savings in three areas: promoting efficiency and accountability, aligning incentives towards quality and better care, and encouraging shared responsibility. Taken together, the health care savings would total $316 billion over 10 years while improving the quality and efficiency of health care, without negatively affecting the care Americans receive.

    This is good stuff (and let’s not take for granted the fact that this administration has really made the effort to crunch out the numbers on its proposals perhaps more thoroughly than any other in my memory with the exception of the Clintonites…I don’t have an exact number on how many are now working for Obama, but I’m sure it’s more than a few).

    However, I have two observations:

    1) I sincerely hope the President has a backup plan for financing the reserve fund if the one he proposes here goes up in smoke. As far as I’m concerned, there should be a sliding scale of individual payment rates based on earned income for all workers in this country, not just “the rich” (they should pay more, but to me, that doesn’t mean that anyone under, say, $250G a year, should get off with nothing).

    And please understand that the last thing I want to do here is pay more in taxes, but I think we need to be realistic. I’d propose a three-year tax which would be the equivalent of a nice, healthy round of “V.C.” funding for a startup enterprise, and then the reserve fund should be forced to manage itself based on what would likely be employer payments when companies realize it costs less to pay into the public plan – a public plan is most definitely assumed here, people – than to negotiate health insurance with private carriers on its own.

    (Also, the one person here who has been virtually silent in all of this is Max Baucus, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. I’m quite sure that he is leading the effort to crunch out some of the numbers I’m noting here, and with any luck, he’ll present them first to his own party before the Repugs, as noted here.)

    2) I navigated to the administration’s healthreform.gov site, and I should point out that there is a pretty cool interactive map of this country by state telling you about current and projected health care costs for those working and unemployed, and it’s sourced pretty thoroughly also. However (and I know this is tough), what I think this site should contain are links with some “ballpark” estimates of, again, how much all of this will cost (for employed and unemployed workers, for families, small and large business owners, etc., as well as the cost of doing nothing). And those numbers should be presented graphically in chart form (preferably pie charts or bar graphs – that seems to be the easiest format to digest).

    I think the Obama Administration is relying too much here on the president’s oratorical skills and his commendable efforts to communicate the misery suffered by those who lost their health insurance through their employers. That is certainly a big part of the story, but the “numbers” piece that I believe is largely missing (despite the command of this information by President Obama, as Paul Krugman noted here today) is what’s causing some of the approval numbers to skew downward.

    And as a result, this gives the Party of No more reason to scream in protest, thus obscuring once more the impact the health care crisis is having on our economy (here and here).

    And speaking of the economy, the AP’s Raum tells us the following in his column…

    Job losses have now wiped out all the job gains since the last recession in 2001, the first time that has happened since the 1930s.

    Pretty funny that Raum points that out actually, given the fact that, if you search on “Bush” in his article, you find out that the word doesn’t exist (as all good Repugs know, the economy is all Obama’s fault).

    (Oh yes, I’ll be sooo hurt if the AP tells me that I’m not authorized to use their content; not linking to them will do wonders for the cause of informed dialogue.)

    Update 1: Hat tip to profmarcus at TakeItPersonally for this (it makes me gag that some of these people profess to believe the same things I do).

    Update 2: Potty mouth Jane H. articulates how I feel about the “Bush Dogs” perfectly on all issues (particularly, though, on health care) at the end here (h/t Atrios).


  • Top Posts & Pages

  • Advertisements