Category: politics

Everyone doesn’t cherry pick the news

‘Everyone cherry picking’ is not the problem. Those interested in accurate news can get from most newspapers, ABC/NBC/CBS/NPR/BBC/CNN etc. We’re in the third phase of the Republican rejection of reality.

First there was creationism, climate denial, smoking is safe, pollution is harmless reality denial by interested parties, plus entirely fictional stories on the margins–John Birch society news and Ron Paul’s gold buggery newsletter.

Second came the Republican news phenomenon–Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and then a host of web sites hyping or making up stories to keep the Republican base angry and afraid–the Sandy Hook massacre is a hoax by the govt to take your guns, Hillary is a lesbian and her advisors are terrorists, Obama can’t speak without a teleprompter, discrimination against white people is a huge problem, a new manufactured story every week, sometimes every day.

And now Trump is building on this. Just like he attacked every Republican critic during the primaries, now he attacks the press every time they write a critical article in his childish way–saying the stories are deliberate lies, ‘fake news’, written just to personally attack him. And Republican voters, conditioned by years of attacks on every news organizations that doesn’t tailor their reporting to the Republican party’s interests, bob their heads in agreement.

And the wide network of Republican opinion writers and commentators write diligently to support Trump. If Trump lies, they look around for a way to make it sound true. The White House is disorganized, so they write ‘bold change agents’. The White House is ignorant and unprepared becomes ‘breaking the establishment way of doing things’. During the campaign, Trump lied and said he had a ‘secret plan to defeat ISIS’, and Republican commentators wrote in support, yes, he must keep it a secret, and it will surely be better than Obama’s plan.

This is a phenomenon of both Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives. This is mainly a Republican slide into irrationality and delusion.

This single ‘partisan’ axis doesn’t cover it. Stories in Mother Jones are factually true and written from a left perspective, e.g., higher wages for workers is a good thing. MSNBC writes news stories based on sources and documentation, but their commentators include both liberals and conservatives. Fox News often runs stories that are factually incorrect and support the correctness of conservative aims. The WSJ news operation is conventionally fact-based and conservative, “The market is up today on news of stagnant wages.” while their opinion page makes far right arguments often based on fake statistics and premises. NPR’s stories often include comments by experts–a expert on water pollution, an economist, a expert on trade, someone who studies immigration, but usually also includes a comments by, say, the polluting company or the big bank featured in a story. This gets NPR branded as ‘liberal’. NPR’s economic and business reporting is conventional and conservative.

Republican government

I’ve seen comments that Betsy DeVos (married into the Amway pyramid scheme) is unqualified to be Sec. of Education. This is Republican government–Republicans want to destroy much of the Federal government. They were circumspect about in the past, but the Republican party has become more extreme, gotten more power, and feels less need to mask their objective. When a Republican is elected, the Sec. of Education is tasked with destroying public schools and funneling government support to private Christian schools. This has the dual goals of destroying teacher unions (to cut teacher pay) and funneling public money to for profit school corporations. And recall, the Religious Right, modern white political Christianity, was created in the fight over government subsidies for private whites-only Christians schools started to circumvent desegregation.

A Republican Sec. of the Interior is tasked with giving public lands to mining and lumber companies. A Republican Dept. of Justice shuts down enforcement of Civil Rights laws, anti-trust enforcement, and lets companies cheat their customers. A Republican Labor department is tasked with reducing worker safety and enforcement of honest pay laws. A Republican EPA Administrator is tasked with not enforcing (and eliminating where possible) clean water and clean air laws. The head of the Energy Dept. doles out subsidies to the oil and coal industry, and he works with Interior to give these companies protected Federal lands and works with the EPA to to legalize the industry’s pollution.

Cashing in on the Presidency

A note on Donald Trump. When he takes office tomorrow, he will be in violation of a Constitutional ban on receiving money from foreign interests, “no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.” Trump still owns his company, and it takes in payments from foreigners in many ways. Since being elected, he has used his status as President-elect multiple times to meet with foreign officials and press them for help with his company’s business deals. Trump will also be in violation of the Constitution in another way. Trump properties in the US receive favorable tax treatment (tax abatements and rebates), these are a common part of real estate deals. The President is banned from receiving payments from the States under the Constitution. Trump has refused to sell his business, and plans to use the Presidency to increase his wealth. This is plain corruption, using the office of the Presidency for illegitimate private gain.

A don’t expect that conservatives will complain about Trump’s violation of the Constitution. Many conservatives have taken to calling themselves ‘Constitutional Conservatives’, but they will not utter a peep about Trump’s violation of these Constitutional anti-corruption measures. ‘Constitutional Conservative’ was always a proud name for shabby blanket opposition to President Obama. It was always about partisanship for them, not law or the Constitution. Trump’s self dealing will not attract the attention of the Republican majority Congress, they will do little or no investigation, nor demand Trump follow the rules laid out in the Constitution. Republicans will retreat to the President Nixon’s “If the President does it, it’s not illegal” excuse.

Trump meme #1

Meme: Trump learned discipline, respect, and hard work because his father sent him to a military academy.

Trump was such an insufferable a**hole, he failed out of his comfy private school and his dad sent him to a private military school. Because of this, Trump says “I always felt that I was in the military” and that he had “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”. Trump actually avoided service in Vietnam using 4 education deferments and then a Y-1 medical deferment for “heel spurs”. In college, Trump played football, tennis and squash. Trump has never held a job or done an honest day’s work in his life.

Notes on the present

State of the federal budget:
US fed deficit over the last few years

Annotated with more detail:
US fed budget changes

This is the steepest set of budget cuts since the US came out of WWII.

Is this typical for the US economy coming out of a deep, deep recession. No, unprecedented:

US fed spending post recession

A sharp reduction in spending like this is slowing the recovery. If the US followed the usual course (+15% federal spending, i.e. more stimulus), an extra 2-3 million people would have jobs, and that positive feedback would be pushing the US into a full recovery.

The budget currently on the table in Washington, rejected by the GOP:
2014 US Fed budget, Senate CR

Deficit reduction since 2011:
cuts since 2011

More charts covering the federal budget, deficit, health care spending, and related matters.

Documenting the voting restriction effort

Boulder County DA Stan Garnett clears all 17 suspected illegal voters

Last month, Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler gave Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett a list of 17 names, all suspected of voting in the November election despite being non-citizens.

Those names were among 155 people identified statewide as possible illegal voters.

But an investigation by Garnett’s office found that all 17 people were citizens and were able to easily verify their status, the district attorney said Wednesday.

Related: Common Cause page on Voter Supression and Secretary Scott Gessler

How is the US economy doing?

GDP: the US is doing better than Europe or Japan:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2012/11/long-slump

GDP, US vs the rest of the West

Unemployment: the US doing much better than Europe:

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/17/transatlantic-divergence/

Unemployment, US vs Europe

Different economic policies, different outcomes. Europe and Britain have run austerity programs, cutting spending while the US increased spending and cut taxes.

Not unexpected, given what happened during the Great Depression, with the US economy quickly improving as New Deal spending programs kicked in, then falling back into recession after federal spending was cut in 1937 when the economy was still weak:

http://www.ourfuture.org/blog-entry/2009020603/fdr-failed-myth

Obama has done better than any other world leader during the financial crisis and the recession it caused. Not that he’s done super–unemployment is still at 8%. An extra $500 billion of Fed spending until the unemployment rate drops below 6% would be a much better policy than the current US policy to cut spending.

How many liberal newspapers are left?

Saw in the news that the Seattle Times endorsed for Congress a Repub with ties to the militia/patriot movement–violent right wing nuts. I liberal Seattle has a hard right newspaper, how many cities have a Dem leaning paper left? I realize that Seattle has a big Defense industry economy, but that was my question.

newspaper political measure
from Gentzkow and Shapiro, 2010

I found this graph listing newspapers and giving them a score. I don’t follow enough papers to have a feel for how good a measure this is. I would place the Washington Post on the conservative side of the line, the NYT in the middle (painfully in the middle). Which doesn’t leave many liberal (or even Democratic) big city newspapers–the LA Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Denver Post, San Francisco Chronicle. I don’t know enough about the Atlanta Constitution, Boston Globe, or Philedelphia Inquirer to have a feel for their content.

The creepy imagery of Beck’s book

Shakepeare’s Sister posted on the very cover of The Overton Window, a thriller by Glenn Beck. I haven’t read it, but the plot is described as weak Randianism dumped in a Mixmaster with a thrillerish suppression of conservatives by the establishment and counterrevolution story.

Cover of The Overton Window

He points out the the Statue of Liberty has been turned into a man. But it gets odder than that!

Statue of Liberty

The other really strange thing is the viewpoint. It’s the back of the statue. And it’s been turned to face Manhattan. Why? I did a search of pictures of the Statue of Liberty and none of the first hundred were a back view. All showed the face, either full on or from the side to include Manhattan. I don’t know what to make of it, but it creeps me out!

The missing city of Marjeh

This is odd and sort of funny. And a little old. In Afghanistan, the US military has been conducting an offensive in Helmand Province. Apparently the propaganda push got a head of the facts. The official accounts had the US battling to clear the Taliban out of the Marjeh, a moderate size city of 80,000 to 125,000 people.

I ran across articles saying that the city didn’t exist. BAGnewsNotes had a picture of an isolated farm in Marjah, ostensibly showing that the place wasn’t a city.
farm in Marjah, Afghanistan

BAGnewsNotes linked to a story on the truthout.com site. But this article didn’t have any pictures at all. Now this a story that really needs a picture, and there are easy sources, Google Maps for one. Here’s the farming village of Marjeh (or Marjah, or Marja, the name can be written different ways in english):

Marjeh, Arghanistan

Just a collection of farms, no city at all.

Marjeh, Arghanistan

Marjeh, Arghanistan

Zooming out further shows that it is the biggest town in the area, so it makes sense that news of a big military operation in the area would talk about it happening in Marjeh, but it’s certainly no city.