Archive for the ‘president obama’ tag
From The Borowitz Report:
Republicans Move Convention to Seventeenth Century
TAMPA (The Borowitz Report)—With the threat of Hurricane Isaac hitting Florida next week, the Republican National Committee took the extraordinary step today of moving their 2012 National Convention to the seventeenth century.
While the decision to send the convention four centuries back in time raised eyebrows among some political observers, R.N.C. spokesperson Harland Dorrinson downplayed the unusual nature of the move.
“After exploring a number of options, we decided that moving to the seventeenth century would cause the least disruption,” he said. “We’re not going to have to change a thing.”
Mr. Dorrinson added that despite recent controversy involving the U.S. Senate candidate Representative Todd Akin (R., Miss.), there would be no modification of the Party’s official platform: “After we ban abortion in cases of rape and incest, we’re going to focus on America’s spiralling witch problem.”
A 65-year-old politician who can’t manage to at least to pretend to not be “stiff, aloof and distant” and who needs a special made set to make him appear warmer and more approachable than he actually is, has problems.
Read more: G.O.P. Packaging Seeks to Reveal a Warm Romney.
Like many, I was baffled to learn that Paul Ryan listed Rage Against the Machine as one of his favorite bands, since even before becoming the vice presidential nominee, he was part of the machine. Now he’s more a part of the machine than ever. Of course, I would wager that Ryan said Rage Against the Machine was one of his favorites just to sound hip. In any case, Rage is one of the most outspoken and liberal bands in America.
Here is part of Harvard-educated Tom Morello’s response to Ryan:
Paul Ryan’s love of Rage Against the Machine is amusing, because he is the embodiment of the machine that our music has been raging against for two decades. Charles Manson loved the Beatles but didn’t understand them. Governor Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen but doesn’t understand him. And Paul Ryan is clueless about his favorite band, Rage Against the Machine.
Ryan claims that he likes Rage’s sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don’t care for Paul Ryan’s sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage.
I wonder what Ryan’s favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of “Fuck the Police”? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!
Don’t mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta “rage” in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he’s not raging against is the privileged elite he’s groveling in front of for campaign contributions. …
My hope is that maybe Paul Ryan is a mole. Maybe Rage did plant some sensible ideas in this extreme fringe right wing nut job. Maybe if elected, he’ll pardon Leonard Peltier. Maybe he’ll throw U.S. military support behind the Zapatistas. Maybe he’ll fill Guantanamo Bay with the corporate criminals that are funding his campaign – and then torture them with Rage music 24/7. That’s one possibility. But I’m not betting on it.
This video from The Young Turks presents a brief outline of some of the many political issues on which Paul Ryan and Rage Against the Machine have diverged:
And now, since Ryan is so enamored with Rage Against the Machine, surely he loves this gem that speaks truth to power, and well, since Ryan is in a position of power (and potentially immense power in January), it should hit home (Morello is the guy in the black cap owning the Telecaster):
Ah heck, why not one more?
I am kind of behind the curve on this, but today is American Censorship Day, hence the modified banner at the top of the site. I’ll keep it up through tomorrow since I have should have technically posted this at midnight Nov. 16.
In any case, the Protect IP Act sets a dangerous precedent in Internet policing and threatens free speech. I don’t think President Obama would sign it into law, but since it has such wide support from Congress, I suppose it’s possible.
Learn more about it here:
And click here to sign a petition against the bill.
Tell House Speaker John Boehner that the sky is, in fact, blue, and he will invariably say it’s purple if he’s convinced himself that that’s the case. Unless, of course, he’s colorblind. Doubtful. Then again, many of us might be colorblind since some have claimed that Boehner actually isn’t white but a drab shade of orange.
But I digress. Boehner is positively convinced that the GOP’s plan to trim the federal budget and right the economy is the best measure for the nation. A Goldman Sachs report from last month says otherwise.
Here’s a snippet from a recent L.A. Times article:
Spending cuts approved by House Republicans would act as a drag on the U.S. economy, according to a Wall Street analysis that put new pressure on the political debate in Washington.
The report by the investment firm Goldman Sachs said the cuts would reduce the growth in gross domestic product by up to 2 percentage points this year, essentially cutting in half the nation’s projected economic growth for 2011.
The analysis, prepared for the firm’s clients, represents the first independent economic assessment of the congressional budget fight, which could lead to a government shutdown as early as next week.
The Republican plan to slash $61 billion from the budget would cut estimated growth for this year in half.
Ever the stubborn one, Boehner, through a spokesman, said the Goldman Sachs report represented “the same outdated Washington mind-set” as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that pumped about $800 billion in federal funds into the economy during the worst recession since the Great Depression. While many experts at the time said the measure did not go far enough — Paul Krugman at the time said
… it’s widely believed that political considerations led to a plan that was weaker and contains more tax cuts than it should have — that Mr. Obama compromised in advance in the hope of gaining broad bipartisan support.
— the influx of new capital into the economy obviously helped to stabilize markets. If the GOP had gotten its way at the time, presumably by cutting taxes for the wealthiest among us, supporting more deregulation and simply allowing the economy to self-correct, there’s no telling how deep the ship would have sunk.
Below is a graph from the AP on the budget deficit (or surplus) since the Reagan years. The budget under Obama’s watch is estimated to begin moving closer toward the center in a few years. Clinton presided over the only surplus in recent memory, after inheriting a deficit from Mr. Trickle Down’s heir apparent, H.W. Bush.
Symbolic bipartisanship ≠ partisanship or progress.
As a recent New York Times editorial noted:
Mr. Obama’s speech (the State of the Union) offered a welcome contrast to all of the posturing that passes for business in the new Republican-controlled House.
To that posturing, we can add the House’s largely symbolic vote to repeal the historic health care reform bill passed last year and the House’s reckless resolution to roll back domestic spending to 2008 levels.
And also to it, the graphic here, in which members of Congress sit, as if friends everyone, intermingled between Reps and Dems. This, of course, stands in staunch opposition to most if not all previous State of the Union speeches in recent memory. In years past, Congress members would sit on separate ends of the chamber, literally a house divided. Of course, it’s still a house divided, although people like John Boehner would have folks believe the GOP is extending a hand across the aisle:
We had hoped to hear a new commitment to keep his promises to govern from the center, change the tone in Washington, and work with both parties in a bipartisan way to help small businesses create jobs and get our economy moving again. Unfortunately, the President and the Democrats in charge of Congress still aren’t listening to the American people.
Now, if you aren’t a tad offended that politicians, including Obama, make it a regular practice to put words into your mouth, pretending to be omniscient on how you want the government to act, you aren’t paying close enough attention. More importantly, however, members of the GOP have not listened to economic experts, who have said time and again, that we didn’t spend enough in trying to jump start the economy.
But I digress. Here’s the melting pot Congress at its symbolic best:
I don’t think you’ll find New York Times columnists complimenting CNN’s reporting very often, but one exception came yesterday with Thomas Friedman’s piece, titled “Too Good To Check,” in which Friedman lauds Anderson Cooper’s recent efforts in unveiling a patent untruth circulating in conservative circles about the alleged cost of President Obama’s recent trip to India and elsewhere overseas. Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, radio host Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and others (I’m sure there are others. Although I have not listened to Mark Levin lately [Can't tolerate his nasally snarl], he surely hopped on the bandwagon like his like-minded-bash-the-Obama-administration-at-any-cost brethren) all claimed that the administration was spending some $200 million per day on the trip.
Here is Friedman quoting Bachman, who appeared on Cooper’s show:
I think we know that just within a day or so the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day. He’s taking 2,000 people with him. He’ll be renting over 870 rooms in India, and these are five-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending.
Here is the Anderson Cooper video, in which he asks Bachmann what specifically she would like to cut in federal spending now that her party controls the House.
In the absence of any answers, she proceeds to immediately and ludicrously lampoon Obama’s “over the top” spending. The only sparse answer she gives as to how the Republicans would account for some $700 billion in lost revenue if the Bush tax cuts were extended is to suggest that Medicare eligibility levels may be too high. Cooper asked for three; he got one … half answer. Here is one exchange:
COOPER: But extending the Bush tax cuts will mean, in order to offset the costs of extending the Bush tax cuts, you have to come up with $700 billion dollars just in spending cuts alone just to offset that cost. If you acknowledge that that is true, what are three things you would cut immediately to help offset those costs?
BACHMANN: Well, it’s always considered a cost when people are allowed to keep their own money. I don’t think that it’s a cost when people get to keep their own money. Right now, the current tax policy is, in my mind, it’s actually too high. The taxes right now. If we don’t extend these tax cuts, for instance, in my district in Minnesota, we’ll see 1.6 … 1.2 billion dollars taken out of the pockets of my constituents and taken out of my local community, where it will be spent, instead, 1.2 additional dollars will be sent to Washington D.C. sucked into that hole.
Here, of course, Bachmann missed the point and dodged the question altogether. The federal government has to have money to continue to offer such services as Social Security and Medicare. The “cost” to which Cooper was referring was the cost the federal government incurs in continuing to offer services, not the cost to locals, and Bachmann failed miserably, and predictably, from the Palin mode.
But back to Friedman, who picks up Obama’s trip to India in his column:
The next night, Cooper explained that he felt compelled to trace that story back to its source, since someone had used his show to circulate it. His research, he said, found that it had originated from a quote by “an alleged Indian provincial official,” from the Indian state of Maharashtra, “reported by India’s Press Trust, their equivalent of our A.P. or Reuters. I say ‘alleged,’ provincial official,” Cooper added, “because we have no idea who this person is, no name was given.”
It is hard to get any more flimsy than a senior unnamed Indian official from Maharashtra talking about the cost of an Asian trip by the American president.
“It was an anonymous quote,” said Cooper. “Some reporter in India wrote this article with this figure in it. No proof was given; no follow-up reporting was done. Now you’d think if a member of Congress was going to use this figure as a fact, she would want to be pretty darn sure it was accurate, right? But there hasn’t been any follow-up reporting on this Indian story. The Indian article was picked up by The Drudge Report and other sites online, and it quickly made its way into conservative talk radio.”
Later, Friedman notes:
Cooper then added: “Again, no one really seemed to care to check the facts. For security reasons, the White House doesn’t comment on logistics of presidential trips, but they have made an exception this time. He then quoted Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, as saying, “I am not going to go into how much it costs to protect the president, [but this trip] is comparable to when President Clinton and when President Bush traveled abroad. This trip doesn’t cost $200 million a day.” Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said: “I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd, this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy and some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier in support of the president’s trip to Asia. That’s just comical. Nothing close to that is being done.”
The fringe right’s tactic here, as Bachmann, Savage and others use without fail, is to dodge substantive talk on specific reform with dodgy figures from even dodgier sources to blast Obama at all costs, never mind fact-checking any of their claims. Savage has even made analogies between Obama and the Red Army Faction, saying that while the RAF was a violent, left-wing movement, Obama was seeking to induce a nonviolent socialist revolution in America. For however untrue that may be, that kind of talk makes Savage and the gang look like raving lunatics. Some on the right, as Friedman notes, even called Obama’s trip a “vacation.” All the while, they proceed to make sweeping suggestions on how we must cut spending and rein in the government but offer barely anything in the way of substantive solutions. As I have said before, in the absence of intelligent ideas in political discourse, nothing is left but desperate and emotionally-charged ranting.
Friedman concludes by noting that
When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, we have a problem. It becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues — deficit reduction, health care, taxes, energy/climate — let alone act on them. Facts, opinions and fabrications just blend together.
While I agree with him wholeheartedly, we can’t forget how these people became “widely followed” public figures: the public put them there, which is an unfortunate truth that seems to say less about the figures themselves (They just ride the wave to the bank) and more about the people, who, by and large, don’t know what is best for them or how to think critically about important issues. The best we can hope for, as he says, is that more people will learn not to swallow everything they hear on radio and television without doing their own fact-checking. But given that most people only watch or listen to commentators that reinforce, rather than challenge, their own views, I can’t be sure such a noble exercise will gain widespread popularity.
In light of President Obama’s announcement tonight that, at last, combat operations in Iraq are over, it will be interesting going forward to see what, if any, insurgent uprisings or attacks will occur against Iraqi security forces now that the U.S. presence inside the nation have been severely pared back. Some have already occurred after the much ballyhooed drawback from a couple weeks ago.
Here’s a snippet from Obama’s speech tonight:
Ending this war is not only in Iraq’s interest – it is in our own. The United States has paid a huge price to put the future of Iraq in the hands of its people. We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. We have persevered because of a belief we share with the Iraqi people – a belief that out of the ashes of war, a new beginning could be born in this cradle of civilization. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page.
A New York Times editorial tonight framed the moment thusly:
Mr. Obama graciously said it was time to put disagreements over Iraq behind us, but it is important not to forget how much damage Mr. Bush caused by misleading Americans about exotic weapons, about American troops being greeted with open arms, about creating a model democracy in Baghdad.
That is why it was so important that Mr. Obama candidly said the United States is not free of this conflict; American troops will see more bloodshed. We hope he follows through on his vow to work with Iraq’s government after the withdrawal of combat troops.
There was no victory to declare last night, and Mr. Obama was right not to try. If victory was ever possible in this war, it has not been won, and America still faces the daunting challenges of the other war, in Afghanistan.
Any declaration of victory was fleeting because terms for what that might look like were never established. In some respects, I am with Christopher Hitchens in believing that we had the right to invade because of Saddam Hussein’s gross negligence for human life and solidarity. He was a monster; we can’t escape that point. But I think the false pretext (the presence of WMDs) under which we were led to believe that the war was a valuable endeavor is the gravest point on this issue. And however bat-crazy insane a national leader may be, I don’t believe it’s America’s job to police and/or jettison every one of them. For, there are many. Thankfully, less than in prior generations, but still many.
We can still count this as a historic day. Any time we can break free of one less entanglement as a nation is a good day in my view. Now, I would hope focus continues to hone sharply onto where it should have lied all along. That is, on Afghanistan or Pakistan or wherever bin Laden may be hidin’.
[Caption: Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press; Steve Baskis, 24, who lost his sight as a United States Army specialist serving in Iraq, listened to Mr. Obama's address at his home in Glen Ellyn, Ill.]