Friday, August 31, 2012

GOP Campaign 2012: Old White Man Arguing with Imaginary Obama

Jamelle Bouie freaking nails it:
"This is a perfect representation of the campaign: an old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama."
 That's some analytical perfection right there.

Jamelle Bouie wins the internet.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Romney's Speech: C-


Well, the opportunities for the Romney campaign to hit a game-changing homer keep slipping away with base hits at best.

Absolutely nothing remarkable about the speech. Probably about as bad as we could have hoped for--not a disaster, but that's really just not going to happen. Such a speech is either going to be mediocre or good, and we got mediocre.

Even Castellanos couldn't come up with anything more positive than "solid" to describe it.

And even Rubio and Christie can't really put any real energy behind their pro forma praise of the speech.

Marco Rubio, Idiot

"Faith in God is the most important American value."

The mind, it reels...

The Federal Bailout That Saved Mitt Romney

At Rolling Stone:

...the FDIC documents on the Bain deal – which were heavily redacted by the firm prior to release – show that as a wealthy businessman, Romney was willing to go to extremes to secure a federal bailout to serve his own interests. He had a lot at stake, both financially and politically. Had Bain & Company collapsed, insiders say, it would have dealt a grave setback to Bain Capital, where Romney went on to build a personal fortune valued at as much as $250 million. It would also have short-circuited his political career before it began, tagging Romney as a failed businessman unable to rescue his own firm.
My favorite part is where Romney and Bain pay their executives huge bonuses instead of paying off their loans, thus leaving the FDIC with the tab.

Mittens is basically a criminal who got rich by taking out loans and then abandoning them for other people to pay off.

An Open Letter to Clint Eastwood, Democratic Hero

Dear Mr. Eastwood,

I really cannot thank you enough for the talk you gave at the Republican National Convention tonight. I don't know whether you're a very clever Democratic mole, or a pathetic, senile Republican...but, either way...thank you, thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.


Winston Smith

Voter Suppression Effort in CO Finds No Illegals On Rolls

They did mis-identify 12,000 citizens as non-citizens, however, and that number is probably just a fraction of the actual errors.

Has CNN Seen The Light? Anderson Cooper & co. Call Out Ryan, Savage Alex Castellanos

Holy crap.

The GOP may really have gone too far this time.

I just watched Anderson Cooper, Gloria Borger and John King call out Romney and Ryan on their "factual inaccuracies," and savage Alex Castellanos when he tried to bullshit his way out of it. And David Gergen--the world's last reasonable conservative (not counting Daniel Larison), God bless him--stepped in called Castellanos on it when he tried to emit a verbal smokescreen to cover up their crimes.

I am literally sitting here with my jaw hanging open.

I'm astonished.

CNN actually just stood up on its hind legs and committed journalism.

Good on you, CNN. Good on you.


A wee quiz.

My results

Turns out that the candidate for me is...Barack Obama! 82%....go figure...

The most surprising result was that I agreed with the Green Party candidate (who is apparently named "Jill Stein"...huh.) almost as strongly, at 79% I'm usually downright derisive of the Greens, so this really does surprise me. It's a big 19% agreement with the pseudo-libertarian Ron Paul, 91% agreement with the Dems, and a big 10% with the red team.

Cohn: Ryan's Most Dishonest Convention Speech Ever?


And...I think Mr. Cohn meant "thus far"...

We haven't heard Mittens's convention speechifying yet...and it might very well set a new record.

The Attempt to Steal Election 2012: TX Court Strikes Down Voter ID Law


Wow. Can it be that the GOPs voter suppression efforts are going to fail? I have to say, this is the one thing that's been worrying me about November.

Romney's Big Lie Strategy

Wow, I'm amazed that Romney's big lie strategy is working. It's not really the the lies are so outlandish that they succeed out of sheer audacity--which is the traditional conception of the big lie strategy. Rather, the Romney campaign simply flat-out lies, repeatedly, and ignores it when they are finally called out.

And their gamble has paid off thus far...though even our comatose press corps seems to be getting fed up. Here's James Downie calling our Ryan on his bullshit-packed speech last night.

Sargent: Call Out Romney's Lies the press showing signs of life?

Greg Sargent urges newspapers to call out Romney's repeated, shameless lies "right in your headlines." He also writes:
I didn’t expect this, but the epic dishonesty of Romney’s campaign is finally prompting something of a debate among media types about whether what we’re seeing here is unprecedented — and how to appropriately respond to it. This debate is focused partly on whether there’s a racial dimension to this attack. But it’s also about (as I noted here yesterday) what the media should do when one campaign has decided that there is literally no set of boundaries or standards it needs to follow when it comes to the veracity of the core assertions at the heart of its entire argument.
I've thought that the Obama camp needs to be much more forceful and diligent in calling out the lies. In fact, it's something that so clearly needs to be done that I'm wondering whether they're executing a rope-a-dope, waiting for the case against Romney to be irrefutable before bringing the hammer down. A few well-done ads along these lines would not only defuse almost all of Romney's main lines of attack, it would also score something very close to a knock-out blow against him at the same time. People already dislike him--it shouldn't be that hard to show them that they also can't trust him.

But, however that turns out, at least the press might be on the verge of doing its duty...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Thanks Big, Rand Paul


This guys is terrible. I think he's actually helping out the Dems.

This "we built it" shit is simply not working for the reds. They're just looking more and more pathetic and desperate.


Them's fightin' zzzzz....

Obama Crashes Reddit

I reckon conservatives will add this to his list of alleged failures...

Drum: Lies, Damn Lied and Mitt Romney

Drum thinks that the GOP has turned some kind of corner, lie-wise.

As he notes, the current batch of lies are not worse than the swift-boating of Kerry, nor than the endless twisting of Gore's words...but he thinks something different is going on now...that something has changed.

Well, contemporary American conservatism has little regard for the truth...and with the advent of the web, anybody who's interested can discover pretty quickly that they are lying, and doing so all the time...and yet they keep on keeping on, apparently not caring that they are flat-out lying and every even minimally-informed person knows it...  This seems to require them to elevate their game in a certain way, I suppose... Many even well-informed people didn't know the real story of Gore and his alleged claim to have "invented the internet"...  Would the GOP of 2000 retracted their lies? No, probably not. Would they at least have moved on to some different and less patent lie? Mmmm.... Just not sure. I'm not sure that Drum is right...but I'm not at all sure that he's wrong...

Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital

Matt Taibi:

"...what most voters don't know is the way Mitt Romney actually made his fortune: by borrowing vast sums of money that other people were forced to pay back. This is the plain, stark reality that has somehow eluded America's top political journalists for two consecutive presidential campaigns: Mitt Romney is one of the greatest and most irresponsible debt creators of all time. In the past few decades, in fact, Romney has piled more debt onto more unsuspecting companies, written more gigantic checks that other people have to cover, than perhaps all but a handful of people on planet Earth."

Trying to Steal the 2012 Election: Ohio

GOP efforts to steal the 2012 election are in full swing.

I suppose we could try to call it something rather more detached and clinical--but let's just call it what it is, since there's no subtlety to it...

Ohio's GOP Secretary of State Jon Husted has removed two Democrats from the Montgomery County Board of Elections for voting to expand voting hours in their county. 

People need to be marching in the streets over this stuff. 

As I've said before: if we wait until they've already stolen the election, it'll be too late.

Poor Mitt and Ann Had To Live on Pasta and Stock Options

Ann Romney's tales of youthful "poverty"...egad a basement apartment? And pasta????...non-impoverished though they actually sounded, didn't ring true...

Turns out they weren't.

Dude, I've lived in so many basement apartments I am sure I can't even remember them all, and eaten enough ramen to float a battleship...and the same basically goes for most of my friends. If you think such things are noteworthy, then you've led a privileged life...

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Coal Miners Say They were Forced By Management to Attend Romney Event, Donate Money

Make sure to check out the non-denial denial by the owner...

“There were no workers that were forced to attend the event,” Moore said. “We had managers that communicated to our work force that the attendance at the Romney event was mandatory, but no one was forced to attend the event.


Rush Limbaugh, Liberal Dupe; or: Obama Didn't Manipulate the Forecast, He Changed the Path of the Hurricane

So it looks like Rush "Big Pharma" Limbaugh is now a member of the lamestream media.

Here's a synopsis of his leftistcommieliberalsocialist take on Issacgate.

Can you believe the credulity and naivete and socialism of this guy? He probably sold out for the free Viagra under Obamacare...


I'm, not saying that Obama altered the hurricane forecast...I'm saying that he may have altered the path of the hurricane itself.

I mean...would it be irresponsible to speculate about this?

It would, as I think you realize, be irresponsible not to...

Now, some say that he used his Antichrist powers to do it...though I'm not saying that. Of course reasonable people can disagree about that...but I'm pretty sure that he used secret government weather control technology. My sources tell me that this can be done by fluoridating the ocean ahead of the hurricane and using a fleet of black helicopters to blow the hurricane in the desired direction.

Though I'm not ruling out that Antichrist thing.

Now, some say that it's time to get our muskets, get behind the split-rail fences, and shoot this Democrat storm when it makes land fall. Others say that Obama is going to use this as a pretext for letting the UN come in and take all our guns, knives, pointy sticks and baseball bats, after which we'll be forced to play cricket or some other faggy French-sounding game like croquette or something..except they'll probably take all the croquette hammers or whatever they are, too, and make us play...I don't know...charades or some other other French-sounding game instead. And so we should wait and shoot the UN instead of the hurricane. Others say other things that are even harder to understand...

Me, I am not saying any of these things...though I'm not not saying them, either, if you know what I mean and I think you do...

Romney and GOP Seek to Crack Down on Pr0n


Clearly, the biggest problem the country currently faces is the availability of sexually explicit material.

Godspeed, you puritan crusaders. The fate of Western Civilization is in your pants hands...

Coulter Wants Women to Lose the Vote

At least that's what she says here:
If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen.
Of course, Coulter doesn't have two neurons to rub together. It's not as if she got famous because of her vast knowledge of policy, her astute insights, nor her agile pen. She got famous because conservative men will watch/read/follow any loud-mouthed conservative woman who can plausibly be called attractive, even in dim light...and I'm led to believe that they think Coulter qualifies there.
   This is, of course, part of the explanation for the success of Fox "News" as well. Having just spent two weeks with JQ's family--her dad is a big Faux News fan--it again struck me how many of the females on Fox look like they've been shot in the face with a make-up cannon...and some seem to have been made-up to look rather like Dominatrices? Is there a plural of that word?
  Anyway, the world of conservative propaganda babes is a weird one indeed...
  And in closing...imagine that a prominent liberal talker had come out and advocated taking away the male vote so that Democrats could win elections. Imagine how that'd go over...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Nanocrystalline Cellulose

This sounds big.

Alexander Keyssar on the New Voter Suppression

Crowdsourcing Election Predictions

Chris Matthews TKOs Reince Priebus


Thing is, I thing there's a good chance that the birthery comment really was just one of Romney's famed failed attempts at humor. But Matthews is right about the bigger point: the GOP is running a dirty campaign that gives the nudge-nudge-wink-wink to birthers, racists, xenophobes, christianists and other wackos. Their repeated lies about welfare reform are revolting and indefensible, and at least consistent with dog whistles to racists. And Priebus himself pushes the Obama-as-foreigner line--he's "european" in case you're wondering...

Good on you Chris Matthews.

AZ: Pregnancy Begins Two Weeks Before Conception


As I may have mentioned, American conservatism has become deranged...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Two Members of Pussy Riot Flee Russia

You go, grrrlz...

F*ck you, Putin, you authoritarian shit.

Republicans Lie About Having Built Tampa Bay Times Forum!!!: A Wee Lesson About Indexicals

So, the three pillars of the Republican campaign have turned out to be:

The stimulus didn't work
Obama will gut Medicare
Obama said nobody built their own business

Now, it doesn't seem to bother the GOP a bit that all of these things are lies...but it's surely a sign of great desperation that they are leaning so hard on the laughable misrepresenation of one sentence--in fact, of one word--Obama uttered in one speech. That is, on the third of the three pillars above.

In fact, it turns out that the "theme" of their convention is "We Built This."

Now that's truly pathetic.

But let's suppose that we adopt the GOP's standards about how to interpret indexicals like 'this' and 'that.'

Their standard seems to be that, when the referent of an indexical is less than perfectly clear, we are free to pick whichever available interpretation we like, including those that make no sense, even when sensible interpretations are easily available. The referent of Obama's indexical 'that' was clearly "the unbelievable American system that allowed you to thrive," and "roads and bridges." Instead, of course, the GOP pretends that the referent was "your business."

Now, there is no obvious referent of 'this' in the GOP's "we built this" they're already in worse shape that Obama on this score. But, heck, the building they're in (or going to be in) is actually a decent candidate it's actually not all that perverse to interpret them as saying that they built the Tampa Bay Times Form...which, it turns out, they didn't. Liars! Cue some campaign commercials!

And, what's worse...the arena was built with public funds...exactly the kind of thing that Obama was talking about in the speech containing the infamous indexical. Public effort provided the infrastructure that makes private enterprises possible. Get it, Republicans?

Childish as this whole dust-up is, it's the Republican's doing, and it'd be beautiful if this whole mendacious pillar of their mendacious campaign could be effectively turned against them.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Killer Obama Ad: Republican Women for Obama

Wow, this:

Republican Women for Obama

is a roundhouse to the head of the Romney Campaign, IMHO.

I've been a little worried about R-Money's ads featuring former Obama supporters...but this ad--IMHO and acknowledging my lack of objectivity in the matter--blows those ads out of the water, and lands the hardest blow of the ad war so far. I usually think that the GOP is better at this stuff, having a more well-developed propaganda wing. But the Obama camp really knows how to land solid shots, it seems to me.

Egad, I hate becoming invested in the horse race in this way...

Next step, according to me, would be to write a similar ad in which husbands join their wives. You want to capture men who are going to mindlessly vote Romney because they've always voted Republican before, and because most of their acquaintances are and, as they say (though I hate this use of the phrase), "give them permission" to vote for Obama. Lay it out clearly that this is not merely a matter of self-interest (for women), but it's a moral matter for men as well.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More GOP Secessionist Rhetoric

Because, you see, if Obama is elected again he will use U.N. troops to take over the U.S...

The Republican Party has gone insane.

Note how goofy this dude is, and now eagerly he hopes for the opportunity to "stand in front of a personnel carrier" to defend the U.S. against the U.N. He has, as he notes, already asked the Sheriff if he'll "back him up"...

It's like these guys are rather dim 13-year-olds reveling in fantasies of right-wing heroism... Though in these fantasies, they have justification to kill their domestic political enemies...and that obviously gives them happy pants...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Comments Still a Little Wonky

Dunno what's up.

Huge, Mindless Wind Storm Heads for Florida; Also, A Hurricane

Looks like a hurricane could hit FL during the Republican convention.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Ryan and Romney Budgets: Bait and Switch, Smoke and Mirrors

So, Romney picks Ryan, famous only for his budget...a budget about which Romney has waxed rhapsodical in the past...then Romney claims he isn't advocating Ryan's budget....though his own "budget" is, basically non-existent.

Thus we have a bait-and-switch, where we are switched to something so vaporous as to be virtually non-existent.

The strategy here is a common one: hold up an idea that is sexy and alluring to some, and give them clear signs that you really, in your heart of hearts, accept that idea, at the very least in principle. Give 'em the old nudge-nudge wink-wink...then retreat from the idea and claim you don't support it when challenged to defend it. It's common at that point to switch to a different, more modest, more easily-defensible idea...though in this case, we are switched to something that almost isn't even there.

Will the American people fall for this? Yes, of course--some will. Let's hope it's not too many.

Romney/Ryan should at least be forced to defend an actual budget plan that they actually endorse. We can't demand an unreasonable level of specificity, of course, but it's got to be an ordinarily reasonable and specific plan. They can't be allowed to gesture at Randroid fantasies when it suits and then wave their hands incoherently at an unspecified alternative when it suits.

Right-Wing Revolution Rhetoric: Greene County, VA Edition

Greene County, VA, known in this part of the OD for its perpetual speed traps along highway 29 north of Charlottesville, is in the news. The reason: an article in the Greene County Republican Newsletter calls for "armed revolution" if Obama is re-elected in November.

Now, this is, in some sense, a lone kook, and no party should be held responsible for the words nor the actions of lone kooks.

However, in a very important sense, this is not merely about a lone kook.

First, this unhinged, semi-literate and seditious piece of crap should never have been published, and the Greene County GOP needs to take responsibility for having done so. Squealing about the First Amendment is utterly irrelevant in such a case. Here we have calls for the violent overthrow of the U.S. government if an election does not turn out to the GOP's advantage. These people want it both ways--they want to advocate violence against the government and the people, but then dismiss their own advocacy. The Greene County GOP has issued a lukewarm rejection of the piece, which semi-rejection they use primarily as an excuse to bring up Jeremiah Wright and Van Jones. It's about as close to a non-rejection of McPhee's position as a rejection can be.

Second, this loose talk of armed revolution seems to be more common than one would like. I've seen several bumper stickers that say something like "it's time to get our muskets, get behind the split-rail fences, and take our country back," and, of course, one encounters such nonsense with some frequency when one slums around in the fever swamps. This nonsense needs to stop.

Third, and most importantly--and as I've said before--such insanity is a foreseeable consequence of the conservative/Republican strategy of demonizing Obama (and, for that matter, our last two Democratic Presidents). When you undertake a concerted campaign to convince the populace that the President is an evil dangerous socialist Islamist hellbent on intentionally destroying the country (and, quite possibly, the Antichrist)...well, you can't claim that your hands are clean when some people believe you. Calling for armed revolution is a fairly rational response for anyone so foolish as to believe that the GOP is telling them. I can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater and then act as if I'm blameless on the grounds that no one should have been stupid enough to believe me. (Note: appeals to the fire-in-a-crowded-theater analogy must be used judiciously...)

Finally, now we've got:
A. A GOP campaign based almost entirely on lies about a fictional President and fictional policies attributed to him.
B. A concerted attempt to steal the election by disenfranchising Democratic voters in order to stop non-existent voter fraud
C. Calls for violent revolution if A and B should fail.

Again, I'm not advocating holding the GOP responsible merely because some Republicans are crazy. Some Democrats are crazy, too. Rather, I'm saying that the GOP must be held responsible for their role in fanning the flames of craziness. McPhee's lunatic screed is not unrelated to the GOP's overall anti-Obama strategy. And Republicans must take responsibility for the foreseeable consequences of that strategy.

It's their use of lies and lunacy as political tools, more than their advocacy of any specific policy, that drove me completely to the other side of the aisle. And it's their embrace of such strategies that  makes it so important to defeat them in November.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Republicans Attempt to Steal 2012 Election: Florida

Next chapter in the GOP's efforts to preemptively steal the 2012 election. (At the WaPo.)

Liberals cannot keep quiet on this issue, and cannot wait until after the election to fight against this. If the election is stolen, we will never be able to set it right nor take it back. The GOP showed a willingness to steal the election in FL in 2000. Though most ways of recounting the ballots indicate that they eventually won legitimately, they tried to steal it, and were aided by their allies on the Supreme Court. The terrible reasoning in Bush v. Gore for the proposition that different counties cannot recount votes in different (reasonable) ways should--now that it is the law of the land--prevent different counties from holding different hours at the polls. Of course, now that forcing all counties to have the same rules is against the interests of the GOP, they're opposed to such uniformity.

The crucial points here, of course, are these:

1. There is no voter fraud in the U.S., especially no in-person voter fraud, and not in Presidential elections.

2. The GOP's intention is to disenfranchise Democratic voters.

Every person, Democrat and Republican (and otherwise) who genuinely cares about democracy in the U.S. needs to fight these efforts.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Romney: Taxes and Whiteboards

1. Romney, as you probably know by now, has claimed that he has never paid less than 13% in taxes. That's astonishingly low...but...and I hope I'm not just being paranoid here...I can't help but notice that he did not say "income tax" or "federal income tax." Given his attitude toward the truth, I'm suspicious even of that amazing number.

2. Looks like Mittens has deployed the whiteboard...  I've long thought that the Dems should make better use of graphics and visual representations of data. Just showing someone what the Bush tax cuts did to the economy with a graph would have amazing impact. And Obama's got the policy chops to pull it off without just memorizing the pretty pictures...

Drum: Obama and Romney Medicare Plans Similar

Very interesting post from Drum, level-headed, fair and informative, as usual.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Comments / Comment Moderation

Something is freaking out with our comments. I keep getting messages that I have comments, but they won't show up on my moderation page. I'm on vacation, so pretty lazy about figuring this out...but I'll get on it pretty soon...

Longs Peak...Success!

It took us 13 hours trailhead-to-trailhead, but we summitted and made it back. Aside from total exhaustion and several vows never to do Longs...or perhaps any 14er...or, for that matter, perhaps any hike whatsoever...again, we ended up with only one broken wrist, one bad cut, and one case of altitude sickness...  The broken wrist was due to stupidity on the part of a peripheral member of the group doing something stupid.

This was the most physically grueling thing I've ever done, largely because I simply wasn't acclimated to the altitude (though I wasn't the altitude sickness victim). I got hit with some kind of crazy allergy thing when I hit Denver, and had to skip my training hikes. Turns out that running in Denver is no substitute for getting up some 14ers...I knew that but just couldn't pass up the chance to hike with this group.  The Longs trailhead is at 9k, the summit at around 14,250. I live at around 1300' and hike and run no higher than about that's a big difference...

The thing is mentally taxing, too, if you're not used to the constant threat of injury and the occasional threat of death. There's lots of exposure, and several places that are pretty scary. I have occasional fantasies about learning to actually climb, but doing Longs may have put those to rest...

Glad I climbed with a group with lots of experience, including a couple of people who had summitted Longs before.

It's a fantastic hike/climb, but you need to be in really good shape, need to acclimate to the altitude, and it would be really good to have more than haphazard, 15-years-dormant rock-climbing experience. Without knowing the little bit I do know about climbing, It'd have been much harder and scarier.

I bonked, largely, I conclude, from the altitude, on the descent at the ledges, and got to a point such that I knew I simply couldn't trust my own judgment. I've never been so happy to see anything in my life as I was to see the Keyhole again.

Anyway. Longs is NBD for some people who are skilled and really fit and acclimated. If you don't fall into that category, it's truly awesome...but not to be taken lightly...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Longs Peak

Off to hike/climb Longs Peak.*

Wish me luck...

* Strangely, I've read that, officially, there's no apostrophe in there...

Romney Unleashed...and "Unhinged"...

You've probably already seen the Washington Post story about the even uglier turn R-money's campaign has taken. Of course we're told that it's the campaign in general...both sides do it, etc. etc...

Now, the Priorities USA ad that the Post cites as angering Romney is open to criticism at the least, and I certainly wish that the blue team would be more scrupulous about sticking to the facts.

The red team, however, as has become their M.O., is off the charts, crazy and mendacious. After four years of non-stop, uncut Obama hatred pouring from the right, we get Mr. Romney decrying Obama's "angry" campaign. After something like 20 years of the GOP desperately fanning the flames of divisiveness, Romney accuses Obama of being desperate and divisive. Frantically trying to shred the country and then cobble together 51% of the vote, Romney, projecting, accuses Obama of that very thing--Obama, who has bent over backwards to reach across the aisle, and who is still paying the price for his efforts.

One particularly amusing Romney line: "...take your campaign of division...back to Chicago..."


Very nice. You people from Michigan...always trying to divide the states against each other...

As many are now noting (see Maddow's and Benene's recent bits, though I'm in too big a hurry to link), Romney has turned out to be no ordinary political liar. He is, rather, a particularly enthusiastic and devoted liar.Obama functionary Ben LaBolt has, accurately, described Romney's comments as "unhinged"--a word which (along with "deranged") I've found increasingly applicable to the American right.

I spent several hours of a recent hike with the mighty Armenius trying to convince him that Romney wouldn't be so bad as a President. The same thing I tried to convince many people of about McCain (pre-Palin).

I now think I was entirely wrong about that, and now plan to give more time and money--neither of which I can afford--to the blue team. I think it is absolutely crucial to continue beating the GOP, and to do so until they abandon their recent strategy of trying to win by cranking the crazy up to eleven, and move back toward the (roughly) reasonable center.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Wolf Blitzer Skewers Wasserman-Schultz's Medicare BS


Ugh, ugh, ugh.

I'm not a big DWS fan as it is...she's certainly no Stephanie Cutter!

She's just totally FoS here, and Blitzer is right to hold her feet to the fire. It was so painful that I couldn't even watch the whole thing. Sadly, I've just come to expect this kind of mendacity from the red tu, blue team? Really? It's so much more gut-wrenching when the blues lower themselves to this level.

And there is a perfectly good answer available to WB's question. Roughly and off the top of my head:
Yeah, Wolf, no one over 55 is directly affected by this. Why not? Because it's a bad plan, and R&R know that it's a bad plan. They exempt 55+ folks from this plan because Republicans know that seniors know and care more about Medicare than any other group--it's not juts an abstract policy proposal to them. It matters. And they would massacre this plan at the polls if it applied to them. Romney and Ryan are betting that people 55 and over will be selfish and short-sighted. They're betting that they'll say "Well, I'd never vote for that if it affected me...but so long as it doesn' long as this terrible plan only affects other people, people who come after me, I'll vote for it." But when we vote, we're not supposed to take only our own narrow interests into account. We're supposed to be asking whether the policies are good in general, not just good for us. It's as if R&R had gone to Florida or Ohio and said "Hey, vote for us and we won't apply the Ryan budget to you guys. We want your votes, and we'll buy them by exempting you from the terrible laws we plan to put into effect. They'll affect everybody else, but not you. How 'bout it?" However, we, the Democrats, hope that most people 55 and over are not selfish and short-sighted. No, this policy won't affect you folks, because R&R know that you'd crush them at the polls if it did. But don't just ask "will this affect me?" Ask "how would I vote on this if it did affect me?" Here, as always, you should vote in accordance with the Golden Rule, and legislate unto others as you would legislate unto yourself. Don't vote for a Medicare policy which could be summarized as ...and devil take the hindmost...

I realize that DWS has a hard job. She is, so far as I can tell, on the right side of history. She's fighting against a party that has made lunacy, dogmatism and mendacity the cornerstones of their entire approach to campaigning and governing. That can make it seem as if anything goes in service of beating them. But not anything goes, and, in particular, this doesn't go. A real moral and tactical low point for the Dems.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Political Ads in Colorado

Another drive-by posting...

I don't normally watch much t.v., but JQ and I are staying with her fam in CO, and the t.v. is on quite a bit and...holy crap are there ever a lot of Obama and Romney ads on! One after another, the same ads over and over.

R-Money and co. are doubling down on the welfare cuts lie. The blue team has a response ad that takes on those ads directly and pretty effectively...though it doesn't use the 'L'word, which I'd do if it were up to me... It's not merely untrue, not merely's a lie, and it ought to be described as such.

The Stimulus Worked: Obama's New Deal

"Think Again: Obama's New Deal," Michael Grunwald, at Foreign Policy.

Romney Campaign Lies: More Dishonest Than Typical Political BS

That Mittens, he sure does lie a lot, don't he?

The Romney campaign clearly knows that their charge that Obama has ended the welfare work requirement is false. It's been pointed out to them that it's false. Then they made an ad about it. Then people again mentioned how it was, y'know, false. And it got 4 Pinocchios.

So what do R-Money and co. do then?

They make a second ad, repeating the same lie.

Bouie calls this ad 'false'...but the technical philosophical term for something known to be false but asserted anyway is 'lie.'

Romney really has moved away from the ordinary types of dishonesty we've all come to expect from political campaigns, and toward a more devout commitment to flat-out lying about anything if he thinks there's some advantage to be gained.

* Sadly, the Obama camp blew it in their response to Romney's lies, saying that Romney himself had asked for the waivers that other GOP governors had asked for, thus garnering 3 completely unnecessary Pinocchios of their own. No need for that, Obama campaign...the truth is on your side...

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Unemployment Would Be at 7.1% Without Government Job Cuts

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Ryan Pick; First Take

Silver tweets a hunch that the Ryan pick shows that the Romney camp knows it's in a tight spot.

Ryan on the issues (h/t JQ)...certainly no libertarian/no advocate of limited government.

Everything was on an optimism-engendering I'm anxious.

On the whole, though, I'm glad Romney picked Ryan rather than Portman, FWIW...

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Romney Taps Gingrich to Lie About Ad Lying About Obama and Welfare Reform

link (via Sully)

Anderson Cooper does a pretty good job of holding Newt's feet to the fire on this one, and has the guts to point out, repeatedly and also in closing, that what Gingrich and the Romney camp are saying is false.

My favorite part goes a little something like this:

AC: So, you're admitting that the ad is false, and that Obama has not eliminated the work requirement
NG: Well, remember that this came in the same week as Obama's "you didn't build it" claim

Shorter Newtens: well, a different lie we're telling buttresses this lie and builds a coherent, though false, picture of Obama as someone who hates industry and loves laziness.

Man, that Newt...guess his pants are on fire in more ways than one...

I believe the great Violent Femmes have a little something to say about this...

Off to CO

Off to Colorado for a week, posting will be light.

Scheduled to do Longs Peak on the 16th...wish me luck...

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Missouri Self-Embarrassment Watch: Meet Todd Aiken


Oh, Missouri...

You so damn stupid.

You see why I no come back?

The Ultra-Orthodox Threat to Israel

WaPo link

Wow. Their religious crazies make our religious crazies look almost sane.

Spitting on people? Pardon what I guess must be my residual sexism...but...spitting on women? It's not that I think that spitting on guys is such an awesome thing, but...fer chrissake...  And spitting on people because, although they belong to your religion, they do not belong to the super-mega-loony-extremist-nutcake branch that you belong to?

What insanity...

Romney's Welfare Reform Lie

Romney is a liar, as we well know. It's SOP on the right these days, as we know too well...

Now he's deployed the bombast bomb to promote the lie more robustly.

What should Obama do? 

I say Judo 'em. Use their own evil rhetorical momentum against them. (Note: not really how Judo actually works...but no need to be fussy about that...)

The Romney camp is spending a lot of energy committing itself to the lie. The Obama camp, I suggest, should spend more energy emphasizing the fact that it is a lie than in rebutting the charge. After all, "Romney's charge is not true" aims, really, at just defusing the charge, fighting it to a standstill. "Romney is lying" entails that the charge is false, but aims higher--if it succeeds, it scores points against Romney, and, rather than just defusing his charge, strikes a blow against him--and a blow against his credibility at that.

Were I in charge of such things, I'd spend lots of resources on a campaign built around something like this:

Romney is a liar. He knows he can't win if he tells the truth about the President. You simply can't believe what he says. He's lying about his tax plan, he's lying about welfare reform, he's lying about military voting.

Not: his claims are false, but: they are lies. That's the proper term here, after all: lies. The claims aren't merely false, not merely inaccurate, not merely misleading--they are intentional falsehoods. They are lies, and need to be called that. Romney's a liar--in fact, it's the GOP apparatus that's really the liar--but "liar" is probably too harsh a term; its accurate, but you probably can't get away with using it. But from "he's lying about X," and "he's lying about Y" and, in fact, "he's lying about lots of things"...eventually "he's a liar" follows, and you don't have to say it.

Lay out the facts quickly, say, in the welfare reform case: Republican governors, including Romney, have asked for certain changes, Obama obliged, the changes give greater flexibility but don't undermine welfare reform...Romney is lying.

Now, some Obama claims and ads have also been false, and played fast-and-loose with the facts. The Obama team shouldn't bloody well being doing that, not only because it's wrong and sins against democracy, but also because part of their winning strategy here involves honesty. But, because of the double standard, one Obama lie is equivalent, in the mind of the media, to ten or so Romney lies. Ergo if team Obama lets itself cheat even occasionally, they forfeit their advantage...even if they remain rather more virtuous than their opponents.

Academic Anti-Conservative Bias


Just over 37 % of social psychologists surveyed said that they'd choose a liberal job candidate over an equally qualified conservative one. I have no sense of how representative social psych is, but I don't know it to be wildly unrepresentative.

Personally, I know that I'd keep any conservative-seeming views to myself in an academic job interview. I'd certainly not let it be known that I own firearms, or take a hardish line on illegal immigration, or no longer consider myself a feminist...

More research needs to be done here. We don't want academia filled with fever-swamp righties, of course...but we also certainly don't want liberal bias...

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Working The Refs Pays Off: Politifact Blows The Ried/Romney Tax Dust-Up

Working the refs pays off.  Just ask Mike Krzyzewski...or the GOP...

One of conservatism's most effective ploys of the last fifty years has been the charge of liberal media bias--a charge that even some conservatives have admitted is really just a matter of working the refs.

It has seemed to me for some time that Politifact, facing the generally greater mendacity of the right, has bent over backwards trying to avoid the charge of liberal bias. This, of course, produces the opposite bias--in order to appear even-handed to the less-honest of two competing groups, the allegedly neutral judge holds the more honest group to higher standards.

That's what's happened with the Reid-Romney dust-up about taxes. Politifact has asserted that Reid is lying about the claim that Romney did not pay taxes for ten years--it gives his claim a "pants on fire" rating. And  WaPo FactChecker gives Reid four Pinocchios. Both are supposed to indicate that the claim in question is a lie. However, it is in no way clear that either rating is warranted, given that we do not know whether Reid's claim is true or false. A lie, on the strictest and most common definition, is something like a falsehood knowingly misrepresented as being a truth. Since neither Politifact nor FactChecker know whether Ried's claim is true, neither is in a position to call his claim a lie, so neither is in a position to give the rating they have given.

Now, they might claim that Reid's claim is unjustified and/or irresponsible, and that's not crazy. However, Reid is actually in a better epistemic position than they are--he at least knows who the source of the rumor is, and Politifact and FactChecker do not. As Nyhan basically notes, the rating scale of both organizations is set up to represent something more like lies vs. non-lies rather than justified vs. unjustified / responsible vs. irresponsible assertions. (A wildly irresponsible claim can be the moral equivalent of a lie--just as bad as a lie, that is. Most of the lies the Bush administration told in the spin-up to the Iraq war, for example, were the moral equivalent of lies, but (in a textbook display of consciousness of guilt) they normally were very careful not to lie technically and on the narrowest definition.) At any rate, and more importantly, neither Politifact nor FactChecker know exactly how good Reid's evidence is. Thus, even if their rating scales were well-suited to rating the justification/responsibility of assertions, they're not in a position to make a clear judgment in this case.

Details matter in such cases, incidentally, and it does matter--in some way that's hard for me to articulate off the top of my head--that Romney could easily disprove Reid's assertion, but chooses not to. If, for example, the claim could only be disproved with difficulty, we might have a different case on our hands.

All this does put Politifact and FactChecker in a rather tight spot epistemically. If they claim that Reid's assertion is a lie because he doesn't know whether the proposition in question (Romney did not pay taxes for ten years) is true, then they seem to have to rate their own assertions as lies, since they don't know whether or not their own claims are true. After all, if no one knows whether the proposition in question is true, then no one knows whether or not Reid is telling the truth when he says that it's true. And if Reid is lying for saying that the proposition is true without knowing it, then Politifact and FactChecker are lying for saying that this other proposition (Reid is lying) is true without knowing that it is. But clearly they are not lying, they're just making unjustified Reid may (or may not) be doing...

OTOH, one could assert that Reid has the burden of proof, and so the positions are asymmetrical. However this seems to be not quite right. Politifact and FactChecker can plausibly (though not unimpeachably) claim that Reid's claim is irresponsible. But that's not what they have, in effect, said. What they've said is that he is lying. And that they are not in a position to do.

Reid has told us, in general terms, what his evidence is for the first proposition. By committing himself to that proposition, he is committing himself to the reliability of his source. At least he is being up front about the general character of his evidence. (He's also, again, making a claim that Romney could easily refute, and refute by doing something he ought to do anyway...)

None of this is terribly complicated, and it all reinforces the worked-ref hypothesis: Politifact and FactChecker have both reached fairly far beyond the known facts to tag Reid with a liar rating. Their rating is, I think, irresponsible, and my guess is that it hints at an unfair standard.

There's a rather easy way to test this hypothesis, however--they hypothesis that one or both organizations are holding one side to a higher standard than the other. We could ask, for example, whether either Politifact or FactChecker gave a pants-on-fire/4 Pinocchio rating to birther claims about Obama's birth before Obama had produced evidence about his birth certificate. The cases seem similar at a glance. If they did give such ratings to birthers before evidence was produced, then I'll happily apologize to both organizations. I haven't check this out, so I don't know the answer to my question.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Give 'im Hell, Harry

Reid sticks to his guns with respect to Romney's taxes.

As others have asked:


I mean, it's got to be pretty bad for R-Money to keep the records secret in the face of charges like this.

Rachel Maddow, incidentally, notes that Romney has lied about his taxes before, and used the tough-talk strategy ("put up or shut up," etc.) while doing so.

One hypothesis I've seen floated: Romney committed voter fraud in 2002, living in CA but claiming to live in his son's unfinished basement in MA. (Warning! Daily Kos link...not an actual source of information!) This would be basically the same kind of lie he told (recounted by Maddow) about his taxes while running for governor of MA. Except, y'know, for the felony...

But whatever's in there seems likely to be bad for Romney. Otherwise it just doesn't make sense that he'd refuse to release them in the face of such accusations.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Commie Terrorist USDA Wonders Whether We Might Eat Less Meat

...largely in response to the drought...

...some Republican lawmakers respond with outrage, e.g. pledging to eat twice as much meat...


The stones on these people.

The USDA I mean, of course...

What kind of pinko liberal commie homo libruls float the idea, in an internal memo no less, that people might, perhaps, on an entirely volunteer basis, if they, y'know, want to, possibly consider...eating slightly less meat?

Not only am I going to follow Chuck Grassley's lead and eat two ribeyes every Monday, I'm also going to make sure that I always take in twice the allowed level of mercury and paint chips and crap like that. I'm going to call it "double e. coli Thursdays." I'll show those commie terrorist bureaucrats...

That's freedom fat we're talking about, my friends, and it is as American as deep-fried apple pie with ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, fake peanut chips, and bacon on top. Go large.

In fact, I'm proposing a new motto for the GOP:

                                                        The environment: fuck it.

Look, start making small concessions to the environment now, and the next thing you know, we're all going to be living in holes in the ground eating tofu and dirt juice with our organic, government-issued sporks.

Don't you remember that man vs. nature stuff that that one teacher used to talk about in seventh grade or whatever? What was that all about if not crushing man's natural enemy, nature? Huh? The planet has been trying to kill us for 6,000 years. I say we give it a taste of its own medicine.


I can't believe I have to explain this stuff to you people.