Fact Checking Cat Blasts Holes in GOP Chart

Great Depression Food Line

Great Depression Food Line (Photo credit: Kevin Burkett)

Warning:  If you are sick and tired of politics, don’t read this post.  Disclaimer:  I am sick and tired of politics and don’t plan to blog anymore about the elections until after November 6.  I just felt the need to respond to a right wing anti-Obama cheap shot.

I’ve seen this graph put out by an outfit called Being Conservative:

This is from the group’s facebook page which has over 2 million likes.  The graph above has been shared some 77,000 times.  And it’s misleading.  Here’s why:

First, let’s look at unemployment.  For a little historical context (because that’s what is lacking in the chart) in late 2008, the U.S. economy crashed under George W. Bush’s leadership.  When President Obama took over in 2009, he inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression.  I repeat, inherited an economy on the brink of utter collapse.  Thanks to the TARP bailout and ARRA stimulus spending, the economy has recovered, albeit slowly.  At the end of 2009, the unemployment rate was 9.3%, 9.6% in 2010, 8.9% in 2011 and now down to 7.9%; it is not 8.3% as the graph indicates.  For comparison sake, in the Depression Era from 1930-1939, the unemployment rate averaged 18.34%.  But get this, in years that would not be considered depression-like, the unemployment rates under Republican leadership were also high.  President Gerald Ford finished 1975 with an unemployment rate of 8.5%.  Under President Ronald Reagan, the unemployment rate at the end of 1982 was 9.7%; 9.6% in 1983.  At the end of 1992, under President George HW Bush (the elder), unemployment was 7.5%.

Now let’s look at gasoline prices. The graph shows that when the President took office, the price at the pump was $1.84; actually, the average price was $1.787.  It shows that the current price is $3.82 but that’s wrong too – it is, for the record as of this writing, $3.712 and for the year $3.684 on average, about 16 cents higher than it was in 2011.  For the sake of comparison, in June and July of 2008, under President George W. Bush, gas prices surged to over $4 nationwide.  I’m not making this stuff up.  To be fair, what is forgotten in all this is that the President has little direct influence on daily gasoline prices, which are largely a product of global events and global demand, that is higher now than ever before with India and China’s growing consumer class increasingly dependent on fossil fuels.  Now it is true that a comprehensive energy policy could impact the demand equation, but drilling isn’t the solution to lower gas prices.  Becoming less dependent on fossil fuels is the long term answer to a more sustainable planet.  As demand for oil decreases, so too will the price at the pump.  Investing in clean alternative energy sources not only could help us break our dependence on oil, it would reduce the amount of CO2 we spew into the air and slow down global warming and climate change, something I pray is not too late to do – I mean the ice is already melting and I believe it was Governor Cuomo who said, and I am paraphrasing, that we are seeing 100 year storms every two years.

Next, let’s look at the National Debt.  From Reagan through Bush I and II, the national debt increased by 12 trillion. This is not a misprint.  My cat Ella fact checked it.  How did they manage to rack up 12 trillion in debt? Well, it was a combination of reduced revenue from tax cuts, increased defense spending, unpaid for wars and ever expanding entitlement obligations, oh, and there is the not so little thing of the interest on the debt.  President Obama inherited this mess; he did not create it.  And he’s trying to work on the revenue side by raising taxes on the wealthy and ending corporate welfare, but with no cooperation from the Republicans who have all taken the Grover Norquist no taxes pledge. On the spending side, the President has ended the two Republican initiated wars (which of course had the full approval of Congress) and recommended reductions in military spending.  Now with the sequester set to trigger automatic cuts, there is hope that a balanced deal on revenue and spending can be negotiated.

And finally, declining wages.  Consider this:  The Republicans have blocked attempts to raise the minimum wage and voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.  And corporations have been making record profits, as they have outsourced jobs and begged for more subsidies, arguing that the uncertainty is “killing” them and accounts for their reluctance to hire.  Notwithstanding this “uncertainty”, the rich have gotten richer and the middle class and poor even poorer.  Extending the Bush tax cuts didn’t help much.  An inherited wrecked economy that has recovered slowly, hasn’t helped things either.  Partisan gridlock has made matters even worse, that and the heightened rhetoric from the right questioning the need for a social safety net and blaming the poor, homeless, elderly and infirm for not taking responsibility for themselves.  The point being that the President is not solely responsible for declining incomes among the middle class.

I just wanted to give this graph a little context to show how misleading it is.  And now I am done.  The end.

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I Don’t Think Cats Blink

Woke up early this morning.  Pitch black in the house.  Tripped over my cat.  Turned on the light looking right at her.  I squinted but she did not.  Her eyes wide open.  No blink, no squint.  As if she didn’t notice any difference in the light.  I was a little freaked out by it.

Do cats have eyelids?  Do they blink?  I don’t think they do.  They can steadily open and close their eyes, but they don’t blink or squint.  They can see in the dark and see and hear things we humans can’t.  They might live in a parallel universe – or in the 5th dimension.   I’d like to go there on my next vacation.

Skipping Kitty

I was toying with the idea of playing the guitar over the skip on this record, but when my cat jumped up and began to investigate the sound, I decided to make a video.  Can anyone guess the music?  It’s from a Nonesuch label recorded back in the late 60’s or early 70’s I would guess; I couldn’t find a date stamp anywhere.

Ella is Sick

Poor Ella.  She’s been throwing up her food for the last few days.  Being a long haired cat, she occasionally coughs up a fur ball or two and that’s normal.  But she hasn’t been able to keep her food down at all.  We took her to the vet yesterday.  Initially, we were worried that she had poisoned herself by eating practically half of one our potted plants.  Cats do eat plants as I am sure all you cat owners out there are aware.  I have heard that cats eat grass and plants when they have an upset stomach.  My mother thinks she has impacted fur balls lodged in her stomach and ate the plant to induce vomiting – perhaps a feline instinct.  Anyway, we put the plant out of reach and took her to the vet.

The vet ran some tests, took an x-ray of her belly, gave her some fluids, medication and 4 cans of a special cat food.  Total cost – about $250 US.  The blood test came back negative, as did the x-ray.  We are waiting for the results of a stool sample to check for parasites; unlikely, since she is an indoor kitty.

The medication comes in liquid form and I’ve had a hard time getting her to swallow the drops.  After several failed attempts to medicate her myself, my wife and I had to bundle her up in a towel to keep her from squirming and scratching.  My wife held Ella securely in the bundle and with her head tilted back, I pried opened her mouth and squirted the medication down her throat as she chewed and gagged a little on the syringe.

Ella seems to be feeling better now.  She was so relieved to get back home.

Ella Disturbed

The House Sparrows have been at it again, agitating Ella into a state of frenzy. When they flew off, Ella disappeared, no doubt seeking refuge from her nemesis. I found her hours later napping in a bedroom closet. Of course, as I peeked in, she awakened and was none too pleased. Where can a Calico go for a little R & R?

A Day in the Life of a Calico Cat

Ella has had a tough day. She woke up, ate a little dry food and sat in the living room window for about an hour intently watching some scrappy jay birds. After a while, I found her pawing a startled black ant. Exhausted, she fell asleep on top of my bedroom desk only to be abruptly awakened by a family of flighty sparrows nesting outside our air conditioner.

Introducing Ella the Calico Cat

Ella is a great cat! Here she is as a kitten, obviously.

And at 5, 33 in cat years.

Ella has a youtube video. Here she shows her friskiness.

Unlike most cats, Ella rarely meows – she’s practically mute. The only time she makes a sound is when she is alone, or thinks she is, and then, only a faint, feeble, mew. She’s an indoor kitty, but has escaped a few times – once in a snow storm; she must have darted out when I returned from an errand – why, I’ll never know. My wife and I had no idea she was missing until we heard her crying outside hours later, trying to find a way to get in. Since then, she has not ventured to the out of doors, but does like to stand by the front door and peek out, when it’s opened. Once she jumped onto the screen door and just stuck there, splayed. I wish I had taken a photo.

For more news on Ella, stayed tuned. I’ll try to post frequently.