“Ohio really did go to president Obama last night, and he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately president of the United States. Again. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to oversample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad–Nate Silver was doing math. And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a thing. And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us. And nobody’s taking away anyone’s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually. And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And UN election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.”
- Rachel Maddow
If you think the Iraq war was a good idea, I don’t really care what you have to say about Syria or Iran or Lybia or anything, really. It’s not even about whether you’re right or wrong about whatever it is you’re saying, I just don’t trust you. You’ve clearly demonstrated that your judgement is profoundly and irretrievably flawed in the area of foreign policy. So you get nothing. Good day, sir.
the question we should ask given this unpleasant reality is what policies would offer the best prospects for healing the damage. Mr. Obama’s camp argues for an active government role; his last major economic proposal, the American Jobs Act, would have tried to accelerate recovery by sustaining public spending and putting money in the hands of people likely to use it. Republicans, on the other hand, insist that the path to prosperity involves sharp cuts in government spending.
And Republicans are dead wrong.
Yes, I watched the first presidential debate. Yes, the president turned in a pretty tired performance. Yes, Romney was sharper, more animated and more on message. Yes, in that sense Romney clearly won.
Of course I’m hoping the president gets his act together before the rematch. I’m not sure such events influence elections a lot, but at the very least I like to see my guy get up on TV and represent.
But here’s what’s bothering me even more. Does anyone care that Romney lied his ass off about some pretty important things? He claimed he isn’t asking for a $5 trillion tax cut–but he is. He claimed his healthcare plan eliminated preexisting conditions–but it doesn’t. At these and other points during the debate I was moved to shout obscenities at my television. I mean, can you do that? Just flat-out lie about the position you’ve been publicly taking for months and get away with it?
Apparently you can.
The dishonesty was breathtaking. It was the same feeling I had when I watched Ryan’s convention speech.
I don’t think Mitt is an ideologue. He’s an over-priviledged, out-of-touch plutocrat. But more than that, he’s stunningly opportunistic. So much so that he is willing to say whatever he needs to say, take whatever position he needs to take–and then reverse them if necessary–in order to get elected.
1. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Or, even better, a Constitutional amendment delivering the same result.
2. Instant runoff voting. You get to rank the candidates you like. If your top choice doesn’t win, your vote is automatically cast for your second favorite.
3. Mandatory public financing of campaigns.
4. Campaigns that last two months, not two years.
5. No privately funded “issue ads” during the campaign.
6. Free television air time for all candidates on the ballot, as a condition of FCC licensure.
7. Presidential debates put back in the hands of non-partisan organizers.
Except those dealing specifically with presidential elections, these ideas can probably work for US senate and house elections, too.
“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.” – Mitt Romney
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you an overprivileged millionaire plutocrat calling half of America a bunch of lazy parasites. How’s that sittin’ with ya?
Dear conservative friend:
There’s a few things I’d like to ask you about. Seriously. Just between us.
For example, fiscal matters. You say you’re worried about our federal budget deficit and our national debt. I’ll take you at your word. But where was that concern just a few years ago when your guys in Washington were voting for huge tax cuts that weren’t offset by corresponding spending cuts? Ditto with two wars, Medicare part D and the TARP bank bailout? It’s weird to me that it was only when Obama took office that charges of “socialism” began to leave your lips. In any case I’m not sure why you thought the auto bailout was a bad idea, as it seems to have worked. I’m not sure why you think the American Reinvestment Act was a bad idea–it seems to have saved us from a second Great Depression (even if it hasn’t spurred the kind of hiring and economic growth we need to fully recover). Besides, they were one-time, temporary expenditures. In the grand scheme of things they don’t really change our future debt outlook much. Not so with the Bush tax cuts or the unfunded Medicare expansion. Those were structural changes that exploded the deficit and, in the case of the tax cut, continues to do so far out into the future.
In my more cynical moments I suspect that you don’t really care about these fiscal issues at all, that you simply use them as a way to attack Democratic initiatives that you don’t like. Perhaps this isn’t true. But you’ll have to admit the record looks suspicious.
Maybe you can help me with some of my health care questions, too. Costs have risen so dramatically over the past few decades that we’re now paying more per capita on health care than any other nation on the planet–double what most other prosperous democracies pay. On top of that, tens of millions have no health insurance. Even those who do have insurance often find themselves financially ruined by one serious family illness. The president put forth a plan to cover everyone which was not only fully paid for, but was actually a plan invented by Republicans. Your response? Death panels! Socialism! Government takeover of healthcare! And not a single one of your congresscritters voted for it. Even the ones who previously supported the idea. Even the Republican who famously implemented the exact same plan in his home state of Massachusetts–the very Republican you’ve nominated to run against Obama–vows to repeal it. Why? Help me understand.
Speaking of Mitt Romney, could you explain why you nominated him? You claim to be interested in job creation, but his record as a job creator in Massachusetts is pretty poor. You claim to be interested in things like abortion, but prior to his current political aspirations he was staunchly pro-choice. You claim to be against gay rights, but he once said he was to the left of Ted Kennedy on such issues. You claim to be against Obamacare, but as I’ve mentioned, Romney’s only real claim to fame in politics is that he put an entire state under the same exact reforms. Some of you harbor fears that Obama isn’t a Christian (horror!), but Romney is a Mormon. You claim to hate elitism, but you nominate a Harvard-educated lawyer to run against…a Harvard-educated lawyer. You claim to be all about self-made men, but you nominated a guy who was born into wealth and power to run against a man who was raised decidedly middle class. And, while perhaps not an ideologue, Romney seems remarkably opportunistic and chameleon-like, even for a politician. You see something different?
I’m confused about your position on taxes, too. Top tax rates have gone steadily down over the course of my lifetime. They are now half what they were when I was born. (The tax burden on the rest of us has been lowered, too, although not by nearly as much.) During periods when taxes were higher (post-WWII, the 90s), the economy grew like crazy. I admit that it might not have done so because of higher taxes, but I think it certainly proves that raising the marginal tax rates of millionaires by a couple of percentage points isn’t going to turn America into the Mad Max-style economic hellscape like you sometimes claim it would do. It would really help that deficit you claim to be so worried about. And I think asking middle class earners, students, the disabled and the elderly to cut back might sting a little bit less if they also knew millionaires were giving a little, too. Why do you resist the raising of any additional revenue as part of a deficit reduction package? You not only resist any tax hikes, you want to cut them more. I’m not a mathematician, but your plan worries me. I hope you can understand why.
Fun fact: Romney paid income tax at a rate of 13% on an income of around $10 million. That’s lower than the rate I paid on an income of…somewhat less than his. Additional fun fact: Paul Ryan’s tax reforms would have Romney paying less than 1% on that same income. This seems good to you?
About the campaign. The lying is starting to get to me. Surely we can agree that the whole “Obama took the work requirements out of welfare” thing is grade-A bullshit, right? Between us? Because it obviously is. I’ll go further and say that it’s awfully dog-whistley and maybe racist besides. And the $716 billion dollar Medicare savings thing? The one your boys criticize Obama for even though they had the same thing in their own plans? The savings that are mischaracterized as benefit cuts that undermine the financial health of the program when actually the president is expanding benefits and has put the program on a more sound financial footing? That shit is too much. It’s so dishonest that fact-checkers are going to have to invent a new way to categorize it. Maybe they’ll have to resort to coming up behind the candidate and actually light his actual pants on actual fire just to express the depth of the mendacity on display here. I realize that campaigns of all political stripes have long histories of distorting reality. But they usually at least still maintain some tenuous relationship with it. Is this bugging you the way it’s bugging me?
Speaking of lying liars who lie, why Paul Ryan? I mean, I get that he gave the base a boner. But do you seriously think you’re going to win Florida with the “kill Medicare” guy on the ticket? Seriously? The way I understood it, Romney was polling poorly with minorities, young people and women. Really poorly. When older people are the only ones supporting you, it probably isn’t a good idea to fuck with Medicare. See what I’m getting at?
Look, I know that you’re not voting for Obama. There’s plenty of room for criticism there. Unemployment’s still too high. The economy isn’t growing fast enough. Maybe you just don’t like the man’s style, I don’t know. But your candidate is weak, his proposals are frightening and his campaign is deceitful. Surely you can do better.
Or maybe you’ll just have to resolve to do better in 2016. Zing!
We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact or any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College.
The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact is basically a way to circumvent the non-democratic aspects of the electoral college system without needing to amend the constitution. The candidate who wins the popular vote nationwide is the candidate who moves into the white house. Period. You get the most votes, you win.
What would the implications of this be? Well, for starters Republicans in California would have a reason to go to the polls. For the first time in over twenty years their vote for president would actually count, would actually bring their candidate incrementally closer to victory. Likewise Democratic voters in, say, Utah would have a reason to vote. It would also mean that candidates would actually have to campaign in places other than Ohio, Florida and a handful of other swing states. They’d actually have to run a nationwide campaign, attempt to appeal to each and every voter no matter where they lived–not just retirees in The Villages or union workers in Akron. Their policy positions might begin to better reflect the nation at large.
All of this seems great, right? And, because of the way the NPVIC works, you don’t have to amend the Constitution! All you do is get each state legislature to pass a law saying that their electoral college votes go to the candidate which wins the popular vote. The end.
But wait! What if other states don’t play along? No problem. Part of the law you pass in the state says, essentially, these changes don’t go into effect until other states constituting a majority of electoral college votes have passed similar laws. Done.
If you ask me, it’s genius. It forces candidates to make themselves attractive to more voters. It forces them to campaign in places other than the most hotly contested states. It enfranchises minority party voters who live in very blue or very red states. And it does it all without monkeying with the constitution.
Voters seem to like the idea, too. Democrats support it to the tune of 78%. 73% of independents like it. Republicans favor it at a rate of 60%.
The Republican party leaders, of course, are against it.
It’s not hard to see why. The electoral college system elevates the votes of people living in less populous states to a level of importance and influence that their raw numbers wouldn’t otherwise dictate. That is, Wyoming gets more influence on national politics than the number of people who live there actually warrant. These rural, less populous states tend to vote Republican.
So basically that’s it. The electoral college system–as strange and undemocratic as it is–benefits the Republican party, so they’re against this more democratic way of implementing it.
Has it occurred to you that the 2008 recession and its aftermath is being seized upon by conservatives as an excuse to enact the kind of ideological social spending cuts they’ve always wanted to do? I mean, regardless of whether their proposals help the economy or not? Me, too. In fact, I think I’ve seen this movie before.
I remember when 9/11 was used as an opportunity to sell the American people an ideological foreign policy agenda that they would otherwise never have gone for. Again, completely regardless of whether those policies would address the threat of terrorism or not.
With presidential election season upon us, I thought I’d start a series of blog entries about it. Today it’s installment one of what I think will be a frequently revisited topic, “bullshit.” That is, things the election should not be about, but that seem to be getting a lot of attention.
President Obama apologizes for America when overseas.
Mitt Romney likes “being able to fire people.”
Obama thinks owners of successful businesses “didn’t build” them.
Mrs. Romney refers to Americans as “you people.”
All of these are bullshit. Various kinds of gotcha-isms. Not worth your time. Forget them. They may seem reasonable, even insightful, to some partisans, but not us, dear reader. We’re better than that. There are plenty of good reasons to vote for Mitt Romney or for Barack Obama–but these are not among them.
Undoubtedly new bullshit talking points will come up between now and November. Here’s a challenge: see how quickly you can spot them.
Upcoming posts may include more bullshit, but there will be other topics, too. After all, once we’ve identified what not to base our decisions on, we’re free to explore more substantive issues. Look for all of them under the tag “election 2012.”