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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MITT, Welcome to the Grand Old Party of No

Romney appears to be on his way to wrapping up the Republican nomination but not without a spirited fight.  Mitt Romney is a terrifyingly flawed candidate who has steamrolled his competitors with negative SuperPac ads, but has yet to excite the GOP base.  I have some advice for the Romney campaign on how to connect to Tea Party zealots and the Christian right. First, though, he has to understand that the current party is not his father’s Grand Old Party. Rather, what Romney finds himself the spokesman for is the Grand Old Party of NO.

As to advice, I offer 5 ideas and one tip:

First, Romney needs to generate a buzz with talk of running mates.  I have a list of promising candidates sure to have the right dancing in the streets with unbridled enthusiasm. It is such a talented list that I can barely contain my own enthusiasm: Sharon Angle, Kid Rock, Wylie Coyote, Rick Perry, who is a much better hunter than Romney and a much straighter shooter than Cheney, Christine O’Donnell who once dabbled in witchcraft but is not a witch, Ted Nugent, Bozo the Clown, Sheppard “Pie” Smith, Judge Arpaio, Jan Brewer, Curt Schilling, “Feeling Groovy” Grover “the muppet” Norquist, the affable, laughable Foster “Grant” Freiss, Dan Quayle, who may have done some small game varmant hunting himself, the VA Governor, what’s his name?, Glenn Beck, Tucker Carlson and one of my favorites, Muttley, Dick Dasterly’s snickering dog from Hanna-Barbera’s Wacky Races. And indeed the GOP race has turned out to be just that.

Second, Mr. Romney (as he’s called in the NY Times) needs to talk about jobs, beyond just saying that he knows how to create them.  Romney needs to get more specific and argue that all Americans should have the right to live in a right to work state with no union protection and the promise of limited benefits with no minimum wage. Watch the crowd go nuts when he announces a plan to eliminate the minimum wage and privatize social security in his first 100 days.

Third, Mr. Mitt should clearly articulate his energy policy, one that all conservatives could rally behind.  The plan is simple really:  dig, drill and frack every drop of oil on U.S. soil. I can just hear the crowd roar with a chant of their own – USA, USA, USA.  Next, Romney should unveil a plan for the XL pipeline that involves a pipeline in every suburban backyard.  And if that weren’t enough to satisfy the base, here’s the deal sealer: a tax break for those willing to convert their backyard pools into a nuclear waste site.  Pure genius. Country First!

Fourth, he needs to assure the conservative base that he will do all in his power and more to deforest and patriotically denude the nation of its precious natural resources with a deregulating passion never before seen in a candidate. Out with the EPA – who needs clean air and water anyway? Personally, I prefer the flammable variety myself, builds character. The Romney team should focus group these new bold slogans: “Pollute with Impunity”, “Who Gives a Hoot, Pollute”, “Love That Fiery Water”, “Smoky the Bear is a Marxist”, “Pollutants are For Lovers”, and finally, “Acid Rain is Good for the Brain”. And when Romney gets on a role and has the crowd in a rabid frenzy, he might as well announce the end of the FDA, OHSHA, NHTSA, NIH and NPR too.

Finally, he needs to remind the party what it has become:  the Grand Old Party of NO.  And remind them not what they are for, but what they are against:

Women, birth control, sex, reproductive freedom, gays, immigrants, the poor, the middle class, unions, regulations, clean air, clean water, fuel efficient cars, conservation, gun control, consumer protection, taxes, fair elections, minimum wage, higher wages, income equality, the 99%, public education, college, the safety net, heath care reform, compromise, diplomacy, clean energy, science, and the separation of church and state.  Now if this platform of NO doesn’t excite the conservative base, nothing will.

Tip:  Lose the ironed jeans.

Newt Took Page from Perry Playbook

Well, Newt stole a play out of Rick Perry’s old playbook.  He’s decided to publicly announce that he has a heart.  This play actually backfired on Rick P. Guv. Perry and along with those abysmal debate performances sent him from front runner status to bottom feeder.  Republican voters apparently really don’t like candidates who say anything remotely sympathetic toward immigrants.  Some leading Republicans have little respect or patience for people who need a helping hand out of poverty, disease, hunger or unemployment.  They idolize author, philosopher, capitalist and atheist, Ayn Rand, who argued through her characters that the playing field is level or neutral and that success is achieved not with support, but by talent and hard work alone.  Of course in politics, each side needs an enemy.  For Republicans, the enemies appear to be immigrants and the Occupy Movement; for Democrats, the Tea Party and the 1%.

Now Newt either does not really want to be the Republican nominee or he was strategically pandering to Latinos when he said he didn’t want to break “illegal” immigrant families apart and thought that there should be a way to give them legal status so that they can continue to live and work here.   Ok, so this sounds pretty progressive when coming from a neoconservative, but I’m reminded of a point that Ezra Klein made on Up With Chris Hayes this morning.  He said, and I’m paraphrasing here, that Newt made it clear that there would be no amnesty.  That instead of offering a green card, his position is tantamount to red carding. And as such, in my view, this is a way to legislate a permanent underclass who could never become an organized voting block and thus never pose a danger to the white right power structure.

Newt is a savvy politician.  He knows what he is doing.  He’s aligned himself squarely against the Occupy Movement, figuring there would be no votes for him there.  And he has come out in “support” of the undocumented, in hopes that Latino voters will fall for his tactics and vote for him over Obama who has actually done very little to advance a new immigration policy as promised.  There is just one flaw in this strategy.  He’s looking too far ahead.  It won’t get him the nomination.  The Republican base controlled by the Tea Party doesn’t want to hear any candidate say anything about the rights of people, particularly the rights of the undocumented.

No, Newt ought to be out there campaigning for the rights of corporations and the 1% who have been so unfairly stigmatized and abused that they’ve been forced to create jobs abroad to make untaxed profits.  As we know, the 1% aren’t really people, they are the chosen few, the elite job creators who we all owe are very existence to.  Newt’s star will fall, because he’s strayed too far from the Republican playbook.  And Mitt’ll be back on top before you know it. One thing Mitt has not flipped flopped on has been his anti-immigrant stance.  It’s going to be an Obama vs. Romney duel in the general election.  But it won’t be about immigration, wealth inequality, or taxes.  It’ll be about “what have you done for me” lately.  The politics of me, unfortunately.  And it’ll come down to voter turnout between the haves and the have nots.

McCain-Palin: A Ticket Divided

Where would McCain take the country if elected? With the conservative base of the Republican party energized by his VP pick, the answer is not clear. What is clear is that McCain is no social conservative.

  • He has sponsored and voted for immigration reform measures that would provide a guest worker program and a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented workers in the US.
  • He voted Yes on a bill to provide human embryonic stem cell research.
  • He believes in evolution but says let local schools districts decide whether to teach creationism.
  • He voted No on a proposed constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
  • He voted yes to a bill to increase funding for AIDS drug assistance programs.
  • He would allow, but not require school prayer.
  • He does not own a gun.

McCain’s Votes

McCain on the Issues

If I were a member of the conservative base of the Republican party (and I am not, nor am I a Republican) I would not be enthusiastic at all about John McCain. The nomination of Sarah Palin would not secure my vote either. How much influence on social policy will Palin have as the VP nominee, particularly when her views are at odds with McCain’s? How much pressure will there be on McCain to give in to the base or to flip flop on issues? His “Maverick” status will definitely be tested.

So, where would McCain take the country if elected? To the extreme right or to the center – this is the big unknown. McCain’s USA USA USA is simply not clear. The Republicans are a party divided by an energized conservative base with expectations on a “Maverick” moderate.

If I were a social moderate sitting on the fence, I would vote for Obama. Obama and Biden agree on the issues; no divisive tug-of- war going on in the party. The Democratics are United.

McCain Makes Another Error In Judgement

With the tapping of Sara Palin, John McCain has made yet another error in judgement.  No longer can McCain and the Republicans criticize Obama for lack of experience after choosing a running mate with 2 years of experience as Governor of Alaska, a state with less than 700,000, and whose only other experience came as the Mayor of a small Alaskan town of approximately 8,000 people.

Clearly McCain is pandering to disaffected Clinton voters with this selection.  And he may be trying to neutralize any advantage Obama might have as being America’s first African American President by trying to make history for the Republicans with the first woman VP.  The Republicans are so afraid to pit McCain against Obama that they plan to use Sara Palin as a shield to divert attention away from McCain’s uninspiring candidacy and abysmal legislative record.  The Republicans will try to recreate the divisive Democratic primary by pitting Palin against Obama and Biden to invite attack and then argue that the Democrats are being dismissive of her accomplishments, and by extension, dismissive of women.  If the Democrats take the bait, it could spell disaster for their chances in the general election.   Instead, the Democrats need to stay focused on McCain.

But consider this, a point made by Paul Begala and James Carville, CNN analysts (and yes, former Bill Clinton strategists, in the interst of full disclosure) – John McCain is 72 year old cancer survivor.  If he were to be elected President, and If, heaven forbid, something were to happen to him and he could not carry out his term, Sara Palin, former small town mayor and one term Governor of one of the least populated states in the country, would be the next President of the United States.  Enough said.