Tea Party Nation Loses All Credibility With Todd Akin Reversal

I really do hate to say “I told you so”.

In a previous article Todd Akin, Tea Party Republicans, And The Chance to Reclaim the GOP, I made a rather small observation that if Akin is elected, ” I doubt the GOP will not want his vote in the Senate”.

I also noted that the death of a somewhat more centrist GOP, alive as recently as four years ago, was being sped up by the takeover of the radical right wing of the Tea Party.

However, as I noted then, the GOP could step up and stop this shift from happening.

So imagine my disappointment yesterday when I discovered that Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips was advising his group to hold their noses and support Todd Akin.

In a blog post rather unfortunately titled “Taking One For The Team“, Phillips sets a new standard for hypocrisy and contorts himself like a circus performer to make his point that for the good of the country, Akin should be elected.

Let’s ignore the fact that Mr. Akin thinks a woman’s body will protect her from legitimate forcible rape. Let’s ignore the fact that GOP leaders disavowed themselves of Mr. Akin, and then went right ahead and passed his abortion language in their 2012 Platform.

Yes, that’s the same platform that, as expected, does not support abortions – even in the cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.  Even John McCain wanted those exceptions included when he was at the top of the ticket four short years ago.

Apparently, Phillips and his Tea Party Nation are quite willing to put winning above ethics and put their ideological priorities above principals.  While this is incredibly disappointing it is hardly surprising.

Here is his rationale:

We conservatives, as much as we may not like it, we must support Akin. He may mean the difference between Republican control of the Senate and failure.

We are at a precarious tipping point for our nation. If we do not take the Senate back in November, we will never be able to undo the damage from the Obama, Pelosi, Reid axis of fiscal evil.

If we cannot undo that damage now, we will see the end of America.

This time, we have to take one for the team and go out and support Todd Akin.

Very strong words to support a VERY weak premise.  And this sort of fear mongering rhetoric sounds more like a mainstream political party than a grass roots movement.  (Oh, and be sure to ask your daughters if they’d want to “take one” for this guy’s team)

If you are a Tea Party member let me ask you this – why did you join the movement?

If it was because you wanted to change things for your country, to change things in Washington, Phillips has just shown you that he and his group are not up to the task.

Because to lead, to really lead, you must stay true to your core convictions and beliefs.

Yes, there is a time for flexibility, but not when it comes to those core principles. And no matter what I think Mr. Phillips really believes in all of this, he has stayed true to nothing – except perhaps winning at any price. And that price may cost the GOP dearly.

Mr. Phillips is talking out both sides of his mouth, like every other selfish, ego driven, unprincipled politician he and his followers claim to dislike.

The saying may be: “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t”, but either way, it is still the devil.

And thanks to Akin, Phillips and Tea Party Nation, the GOP is heading down to pay him a visit.

 

Mitt, Lies And Videotape – Team GOP Kicks The Ball Down The Field

It has been difficult to get to know Mitt Romney.

His positions on important issues have changed to suit his purposes with incredible frequency. He talks a little about his family, but not with the same depth usually offered by Presidential candidates. And he is not gifted with the ability of the “easy gab”, leaving him to appear aloof and unconvincing.

As a result, voters are left with an uneasy feeling of trust issues and must fill in the blanks themselves.

Until now.

In a series of videos leaked to YouTube and scooped by Mother Jones, Mr. Romney has been captured speaking off the cuff, to an intimate group of supporters at a 50,000.00 per plate private fundraiser. (The event was held at the Boca Raton home of private equity manager Marc Leder. Yes, that Marc Leder)

Mr. Romney talks at length about himself, America, the world, the election, the President and about you.

First some preamble. I am not cherry picking these quotes.  You can see and hear them all for yourself, in their entirety, at Mother Jones or on YouTube. (You will also find many more clips where he talks about his days at Bain, a trip to buy a factory in China, his decision to divide his estate between his five boys, while leaving nothing to any of his future grandchildren and much, much more)

I chose these ones however, because they follow a pattern I have already highlighted on these pages and a few of them are, at the time of writing, getting little attention from the main stream media.

 

Romney on Israel and Palestine: 

“I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel, and these thorny issues, and I say there’s just no way.” 

“what you do is, you say, you move things along the best way you can. You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem…and we kick the ball down the field and hope that ultimately, somehow, something will happen and resolve it.”

“…the pathway to peace is almost unthinkable”

Mr. Romney’s feelings toward the Palestinians are well known. (On his recent fundraising trip to Israel he said that Israel was more successful due to cultural differences and the hand of providence)

Mr. Romney’s connection to Mr. Netanyahu is also well established.

Even so, it is still troubling that he has given up on achieving stability in the region through US engagement. During an election cycle where he has tried to score political points on the backs of American diplomats, I find this quite chilling and enormously hypocritical.

 

Romney on his fellow Americans:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what… 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…These are people who pay no income tax…. My job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

First of all, his facts and figures are not correct.  Fact check here. So please, do not email me asserting that what he said was true.  It is not true. (If you voted for President Obama in 2008, are you dependent on government?  If no, then your personal fact checking is now complete)

Now think about this line again:

“My job is is not to worry about those people”

“Those people” are Americans. And it is your job Mr. Romney, to worry about each and every American.  All day, every day. It is your job to help them if they need it, to have their backs if they need you. That is called leadership.  And as you have shown time and time and time again, you are failing that test.

As a candidate, if you believe in your plan, your vision for America, if you are confident that you are right, then you should worry about “those people” and work hard to convince them that you can help them.

That you have decided not to try, is also very revealing. The translation of this quote is simple: “I am not going to help these people, my policies are going to have the opposite impact, so I will ignore them”

 

Romney on minorities:

“we are having a much harder time with Hispanic voters, and if the Hispanic voting bloc becomes as committed to the Democrats as the African American voting block has in the past, why, we’re in trouble as a party and, I think, as a nation.”

Perhaps if the GOP were to embrace minorities in a real way, instead of treating them like the enemy, this may not be an issue for the party. (Arizona, I am looking at you)  That Mr. Romney fears for the country if minorities have a larger voice as a voting block is not surprising given his worldview.  That Mr. Romney refers to groups of people as a single block (Hispanics, African Americans, Palestinians), while not surprising, is revealing.

 

Romney on Puffery vs Policy:

“…in a setting like this [the campaign trail], a highly intellectual subject discussion on a whole series of important topics typically doesn’t win elections.”

So does this mean that supporters at a Romney rally don’t want specifics?  Don’t want solutions?  Don’t want to hear that their guy has a plan? Or does he think they won’t understand?  Is he inferring that his half of America, the ones he does worry about, are just going to vote for him no matter what?

I can’t help but connect the dots to Rick Santorum, who said this at the Values Voter Summit:

“We will never have the elite, smart people on our side, because they believe they should have the power to tell you what to do… So our colleges and universities, they’re not going to be on our side”

To be fair, Mr. Santorum was being sarcastic, but he was still insulting those who “think” and telling values voters that they were not smart. And Mr. Romney was saying his crowds also don’t want to think. That elections are not won on policy, but on puffy platitudes.

The real irony is that both of these men are members of that elite group who want to tell you what to do and I don’t think Mr. Romney was being truthful when he said it.

It is more likely that Mr. Romney knows full well that he can’t win a debate about facts and policy, because his view of America does not align with the view held by the majority of Americans. His plan favors the 1% and burdens the middle class with a tax increase. Fact check here.

My real concern is that perhaps Mr. Romney does not have the capacity to be comfortable speaking about a wide range of complicated issues.  If this is the case, he has also shown that he does not have the advisors in place to compensate. Both issues, if at all accurate, are a cause for deep concern.

 

Romney on his election strategy:

“What I have to do is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or another depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not…”

Even though it is hard to reconcile how a thoughtful voter votes with emotion over assessment, it is obvious at this point in the election campaign that this is now a long since lost hope.

As has been reported here and elsewhere, the GOP have all but conceded that this is now an election of the bases and have adjusted their approach accordingly.

As a result, Mr. Romney has drifted so far to the right, told so many mistruths and been so woefully inconsistent, that only values voters, single issue Republicans, low information voters (apparently like those he refers to)  and voters who view democracy as a sporting event can be counted on to support Team GOP.

Thoughtful voters will have a difficult time reconciling these problems enough to support him and those voting emotionally, who are not already part of Team GOP, will have to assess what kind of American they wish to leave to their children. Affordable health care will make it tough for this last group to abandon Democrats.

As also stated in these videos, Mr. Romney has put his trust in campaign consultants shared with Bibi Netanyahu,  the ads run by SuperPAC’s and his own debate performance to win this election.

Therefore, with the exception of the debates, he is leaving it to others to define him, his policies and his vision for America.

This is not indicative of the “hands on leadership” being referenced from his time at Bain, but rather of a candidate wanting to win so badly, he will do or say whatever he is told is necessary in order to accomplish that objective. It is no wonder that the result is a mishmash of inconsistency and an unwillingness to commit to specifics.

In these videos, not one word about the middle class.  Not one word about an economic plan to fix the economy, other than a guess that the markets will like it if he wins. A guess immediately hedged by him quickly saying he has no idea what the markets will really do… Head spinning?  Mine is.

Once again, in cases of policy, including his economic plan, it appears he has also chosen to “kick the ball down the field”.

I guess he will let the grandchildren deal with that one too.

Terrorists Have Romney, Republicans, Rush Limbaugh And The Right Wing Media Reeling

UPDATED

In times of crisis, one can learn a lot about those who are leading, or wish to lead.

The horrific attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, killing US Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three others, as well as the breaches of the US Embassies in Cairo and Yemen, have given us a tragic opportunity for just such a sobre assessment.

To show all due respect to the victims and their families, it is critical to remember that this is not a political event.  In other election cycles, such events have been treated accordingly, with both sides taking the high road.

But not this time.

Republicans have seized this troubling event and politicized it for personal gain.

And I fear it shows a dangerous level of desperation and disregard on behalf of Mitt Romney, his campaign, the RNC and the right wing media machine.

A few examples:

  • Rush Limbaugh stated on his radio show that such an attack would never have happened under George W Bush, and therefore blamed it on President Obama and his inability to handle foreign policy.
  • Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, Tweeted: “Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic.”
  • Breitbart headline: NO RECORD OF INTEL BRIEFINGS FOR OBAMA WEEK BEFORE EMBASSY ATTACKS
  • Mitt Romney stated that the attacks were a result of President Obama’s failed Middle East policy.

It is that last example that has a meaning worth exploring, for it is the reason why the right wing media is in a frenzy, deflecting and defending.

But first, it is necessary to point out that Mr. Limbaugh has obviously forgotten on who’s watch 9/11 happened and the briefings that were circulating at that time about the plot to fly planes into buildings.

Priebus was reacting to a statement issued by the US Embassy in Cairo, which was apparently acting to diffuse a growing securty threat. (*see below) This sort of information from the embassy was not information intended for consumption by those of us happily at home watching Seinfeld reruns. Mr. Priebus needs to be advised that diplomacy is a very delicate and complicated thing and best left to those holding the actual intel, and to those in place on the ground.

Breitbart seems to think that just because the President is not in his office at a meeting, that he is not getting the intelligence briefings wherever he happens to be.  This is stunningly ridiculous and shamefully misleading.

To accuse any President of being negligent in these duties is serious enough.  But even the most cynical voter should have a tough time swallowing that a President would knowingly ignore preventable-type actionable intel in an election year.  It is simply not plausible.

But facts don’t matter to this group.

What also worries me about that Breitbart story is how it is eerily similar to one filed only one day prior to this attack, based on a report just released by the Government Accountability Institute. (For full disclosure, this “institute” is a new, one-man conservative “organization” set up by Peter Schweizer, who worked for VP Candidate Sarah Palin)

Dick Cheney took the opportunity of the anniversary of 9/11 to use the information contained in that “report” to attack President Obama in a prepared “statement” he released. (It would appear he received an advance copy of the report…)

It all seems a bit too coincidental.

No, I am not inferring they knew this specific attack was coming, but rather, that they all have an organized, concerted game-plan in place.

As written on these pages previously, it is well established that Republicans are worried about the many foreign policy successes attributable to President Obama and his sizable lead in polling on this issue. As a result, they have been trying to find a way to negate it. I wish to point out that readers have commented I had no proof to back up this claim.

I do now.

Witness Mitt Romney mere hours after this attack took place, saying the actions of the President and his administration were “disgusting”. Witness the comments by Mr. Priebus and the setup by Mr. Cheney and Mr. Schweizer. Witness the Netanyahu non-story.

Or how about Mr. Romney’s senior foreign policy advisor Rich Williamson telling The Cable“the loss of American leadership and prestige throughout the Middle East [is] because of the Obama administration’s failed policies in that region”   What failed policies?

Mr. Romney in particular, is displaying a critical flaw in leadership, and a selfishness of purpose that harms him as a statesman. His actions show a complete lack of understanding of the necessary nuances of foreign policy. While one can’t expect a presidential candidate to know everything prior to taking office, we can reasonably expect him to have people around him who can fill in the gaps.

He most obviously does not.

In fact, this is consistent with a concern GOP insiders have regarding his ability to clinch the deal in November and that others have, about him actually handling the job if he does.

The right wing media knows full well this was a huge mistake by Mr. Romney and his campaign. And now, those same right wing media outlets are recoiling swiftly against President Obama with some of the most vitriolic hyperbole heard on the airwaves and seen in print, in years.

The dog has been backed into a corner and is trying to fight its way out.

This group has spent four years misleading their followers about who this President is, what he stands for and what he has accomplished. They have gained traction by doing so. And when facts undermine them, they scream louder and get angrier – just like they are now.

Mr. Limbaugh went as far as to say that the media elite was trying to make this story similar to their “manufactured” gaffe reports from Mr. Romney’s European and Israeli tour.  It is very revealing when someone like Limbaugh brings up an event like that again – trying to put it in a new context.  Interesting, because it allows us to see what they really do fear, what has hit a little too close to home.  And we know that conservatives are constantly trying to rewrite history, with little regard for facts.

And while this plays well to their base, it doesn’t sit very well with independents. This indicates to me that this Republican campaign is giving up on independents and expects this to be a “battle of the bases”.

Diplomats know that the Republican remarks were wrong. Republicans know that Romney’s remarks were wrong.

And they desperately fear you might know it too.

 

* This is the September 11, 2012 Statement By the US Embassy in Cairo that Republicans find objectionable:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

Do you find this objectionable?  I for one, do not. And for the record, there is no “apology” contained in those words either.

 

UPDATE:

Some further proof thanks to Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin on Fox “News”, where they both insinuated that the video linked to unrest in the Middle East perhaps did not exist. I am not making this up.

Hannity:“Yet again today, before taking the time to condemn the ongoing violence or the death of the U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, chose instead to rant about a phantom movie that may or may not exist.”

Palin referred to it as “some phantom video in youtube”.

Then Mr. Hannity offered some heavily edited clips of an post election speech in Cairo by President Obama to perpetuate the myth that he was an apologist.

After hearing several intelligent sounding and important foreign policy ideas Fox CUTS OFF the video leaving Mr. Hannity to continue by saying “and then he went on to give the apology for America”.

Really Sean? Why didn’t you play it then?? This is the clip we’ve all been waiting for!!

Wait, I know – because he never did apologize for anything and this is myth and an outright lie.

Moody’s, Israel, And Desperate Republicans

Presidential campaigns always worry about an “October Surprise” – an event beyond their control that has a major impact on the election.

While the following two items are not necessarily of that significance, they have injected themselves into the September election campaign dialogue.

And while both may seem to be a problem for President Obama, I am not sure this is the case.

 

Moody’s And Wall Street 

Moody’s said Tuesday it would likely strip the United States of its AAA credit rating if lawmakers fail to produce a long-term debt reduction plan next year. They also went on to say that if negotiations go well, it would affirm the country’s AAA rating and change its outlook to “stable” from “negative.”

If you recall, Standard and Poor’s downgraded their US credit rating just over a year ago, so this is really no surprise.

Other than the timing

The chatter following this announcement has been sadly predictable.  Those on the right are blaming the President.  Democrats are pointing to Congress and their obstructionary behaviour last summer during budget negotiations.

Let’s look at some key facts.

Conventional wisdom likes to assume that Republicans, in this case Romney/Ryan are better stewards of the economy and so on the surface, a credit downgrade threat would seem to hurt President Obama.  But Republicans best beware this strategy, especially in this case. Why?

First of all, Moody’s was quite specific in its criticism of Congress. And it was Congress who played “chicken” with the debt ceiling last summer. In fact, this is what  Paul Ryan said, while Chair of the House Budget Committee:

May 2011“If a bondholder misses a payment for a day or two or three or four — what is more important is you are putting the government in a materially better position to better pay its bills going forward”

Yes, he was saying that default would be ok for a short time, if necessary.  Not conciliatory words and not a very smart plan.  The result could have been financial panic.  And for those who would say it was just a negotiating tactic?  If true, I would say it shows a side of Mr. Ryan that best be kept hidden away.

In the same interview, Ryan talks about the “Biden Commission” – the same commission he mentioned in his infamous fact-free speech in Tampa.

None of this would be good for Republicans to highlight, so I would caution them against trying to pin this latest economic press release on the President.

For example, the Democrats could easily run an ad featuring Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell saying this“the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

After watching an ad like that, who do you think voters might blame for the current budgetary mess? And it’s not like the GOP can refer back to G.W. Bush (the man Tampa ignored).  His impact on the economy was, well, horrific.

Also, there is Mr. Ryan’s budget.  It doesn’t add up. Even Mr. Romney is running away from it.  Again, not good to highlight.

Finally, it is worth noting that Wall Street has contributed more to Republicans and their PAC’s this cycle by a ratio of nearly four to one.  If Democrats were to point this little fact out, then this whole news story might backfire quite badly on the GOP.

 

Israel and Iran

It has long been a mystery to me why Israel holds such sway in US Presidential elections.  Obviously, Jewish voters are important to both sides, but the US Government is never going to abandon Israel, nor let anything develop that threatens its existence.  To say otherwise, especially in light of recent democratic initiatives in the region, is disingenuous at best.

So, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu injects himself into the campaign, it gets my interest.

Mr. Netanyahu reacted swiftly to comments by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who suggested there was still time for a negotiated end to the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Israel disagrees. No surprise here.

However, it was also seeded to the press that President Obama had refused to make time to meet with Mr. Netanyahu during his upcoming trip to the US.  The White House has since denied this, but the damage was already done: President Obama has abandoned Israel and is not fit to lead the US in its interests abroad!

Can this really be the case?

The first thing to note is that Mr.Romney has been stumping about his very long and close friendship with Mr. Netanyahu. As has been pointed out for us by Fox News, Mr. Netanyahu is thinking a Romney win would help him in his plans for a preemptive attack against Iran.

Second, Sheldon Adelson, who has donated 20 million dollars to the GOP this election cycle, was behind Mr. Romney’s recent visit to Israel.

Here’s the important part: Adelson is also very close with Mr. Netanyahu – so close that he started his own newspaper in Israel, after being unhappy that the 3 major Israel dailies were being too critical of Mr. Netanyahu. (It is interesting to note that the paper has been called a “danger to democracy“. Fox News, I’m looking in your direction now…)

Politically, this fabricated episode also neatly fits in with Romney’s recent stump speeches claiming that President Obama wants to weaken the US military (he does not).

But, this could backfire on Republicans, who know that their only hope of winning is to stick to the economy.

 

Final thoughts

I think there is far more risk in these news items for Republicans. Why?

They have no record to run on economically.  G.W. Bush’s two terms were a financial disaster for the US economy and last summer’s budget fiasco was at the very least, equally their fault.  Wall Street actions nearly caused a depression, took billions in taxpayer’s bailout funds and then sat on it, all while continuing to pay out huge compensation packages to executives.  Moody’s, viewed as a surrogate for Wall Street, will therefore win them no favors with voters, given these current and historical attitudes “main street” has for Wall Street.

Republicans can’t attack President Obama on his foreign policy, or as being soft militarily either. The Arab Spring and Osama Bin Laden are just two examples of the administration’s successful handling of both files.  This reality was reflected in the Republican speeches from Tampa, where there was very little talk of the military.  Mr. Romney for example, did not say the word troops once in his speech.  Not one time.

And Republicans know both topics are troubling.  The result is a constantly changing rhetoric of puffery with no policy specifics and a dependance on SuperPAC attack ads that rely on falsity and offer no real solutions.

Unfortunately for GOP voters, it smells of desperation from a group low on ideas.  A group who expected that their hatred and disdain for this President was shared widely among the electorate, and assumed victory would require very little in the way of a detailed plan. A group who are constantly on the defensive when confronted with fact checkers and legitimate policy questions. A group who fears they have been exposed as such.

And fear breeds hostility, negativity and desperation.

And that desperation will likely lead us to more stories like these, all with dubious timing and an intricate web of connection to the election.  Stories the challengers will hope they can stick to the incumbents.

All the while, sticking it to the voters…

 

UPDATE:

More proof of Mr. Netanyahu ‘s deep connection to Mr. Romney from the now infamous Mother Jones videos.   In his speech he said:

“I have a very good team of extraordinarily experienced, highly successful consultants, a couple of people in particular who have done races around the world. I didn’t realize it. These guys in the US—the Karl Rove equivalents—they do races all over the world: in Armenia, in Africa, in Israel. I mean, they work for Bibi Netanyahu in his race. So they do these races and they see which ads work, and which processes work best, and we have ideas about what we do over the course of the campaign.”

Democrats And Facts Together On The Floor, But Not Always Dancing

Following the Democratic National Convention, it has struck me how far both US political parties have evolved in opposite directions.  Other than a few small prerequisite platitudes, they agree on very, very little.

One thing I wonder if they might agree on though, is if facts are not something to be admired, but something to be feared.  Are facts are an inconvenience to be dealt with in a way that furthers your own cause, while damaging that of your opponent? And if so, how do they with this potential political problem.

My thoughts on the Republican’s relationship with facts is well documented, so let’s assess how the Democratic Party fared by comparison.

 

Early Speakers:

  • There were a variety of early week speakers who claimed Mitt Romney would raise taxes on the middle class.

Mitt Romney has unequivocally stated that he “will not…”

The problem for Romney is that the Tax Policy Center has concluded that “a revenue-neutral individual income tax change that  incorporates the features Governor Romney has proposed – including  reducing marginal tax rates substantially, eliminating the individual  alternative minimum tax (AMT) and maintaining all tax breaks for saving  and investment – would provide large tax cuts to high-income households,  and increase the tax burdens on middle- and/or lower-income taxpayers.”

So, Democrats are not factually accurate when they say Romney will raise taxes on the middle class, but Romney’s plan is not possible to implement. Democrats are therefore assuming what part of his plan will be sacrificed. Assuming is not fact, it is guessing.

  • Also interesting is to note that Fox News decided to “fact-check” Michelle Obama.  I say interesting because Mrs. Obama did not talk specific policy, but offered her opinion on all things Barack.  Here is one example of what Michelle Obama said:  “I love that for Barack, there is no such thing as “us” and “them” – he doesn’t care whether you’re a Democrat, a Republican, or none of the above … he knows that we all love our country … and he’s always ready to listen to good ideas.”

And this is how Fox News “fact-checked” her opinion of her husband:

“That’s something we’ve repeatedly heard the president say over last couple of years as well. Republican leaders, as you would imagine, take issue with that. They point out when it comes to the really big issues , like the jobs bill, like the deficit deal, which affected our credit rating, like the health care law, which changed our entire health care system as we know it in this country—that they were rebuffed. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell both talk about a number of times that they’ve reached out to the White House, their phone calls were not returned, they couldn’t get a meeting. And that in those pieces of legislation that were passed, ultimately they claim none of their ideas were included.”

Good lord – conjecture is not fact-checking.  Interpretation is not fact-checking.  Mind reading is not fact-checking.  Facts are not open to interpretation, only an opinion is.  And Mrs. Obama is offering her opinion of her husband, her assessment of him after years together. But no matter, read Mrs. Obama’s passage again and please tell me what “fact” is there to be “checked”. It is absurd, and I find it troubling.

By “fact-checking” an opinion (which is impossible to do by the way), they belittle the entire process of seeking truth by assessing fact.  They offer an opinion about an opinion, pass it off as fact-checking and as a result, cloud and confuse the whole fact checking process.

And perhaps that would be better for Fox Nation.

 

Former President Clinton:

Bill Clinton spent about 50 minutes on stage with a speech that was full of statistics and claims of fact.  So how did he do?  For the most part, Clinton’s facts were indeed fact and his statistics were accurate.  In a few cases however, one can nitpick.

  • Mr. Clinton said that “for the last two years, health care costs (increases) have been under 4 percent in both years for the first time in 50 years.” And then he asked: “Are we better off because President Obama fought for health care reform? You bet we are.”

According the the journal Health Affairs, cost increases have indeed been under 4 percent for the first time in 50 years.  However, it is difficult to conclusively state that President Obama can take the credit for this, because the major provisions of his health care reform have yet to take effect.

One can note however, that the impending law has already had an impact of the health care industry, who have begun to comply with many of the reforms in advance, thus having an impact on costs.

  • Mr. Clinton said that “last year the Republicans blocked the president’s job plan, costing the economy more than a million new jobs.”

Two independent economists, Mark Zandi of Moody’s Analytics and Joel Prakken of Macroeconomics Advisers agree.  Zandi claimed it would add 1.9 million jobs and Prakken said 1.3 million.

Senate Republicans blocked the $447 billion measure, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell denounced it as “a charade that’s meant to give Democrats a political edge” in 2012.

 

President Obama:

  • President Obama claimed that independent experts say his deficit-reduction plan would reduce the federal deficit by $4 trillion over 10 years.

The plan does claim to offer a 4 trillion dollar reduction, but includes savings from reducing the armed forces commitment in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as 1 trillion in savings from the Budget Control Act.  It is fair to wonder about the inclusion of both figures, as the money for both has already been agreed upon and thus is not part of a  new plan. And in the case of the war savings, those costs are already funded by deficit spending. Reducing deficit spending is more like not needing to take out a new loan, rather than paying old loans back.

  • President Obama  said he would return the tax rate for upper income individuals to “the same rate we had when Bill Clinton was president; the same rate we had when our economy created nearly 23 million new jobs.”

This refers to his wish to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for families with over $250,000 annual income, or for individuals who earn more than $200,000. The top marginal income tax rate would return to 39.6 percent, where it was set by Clinton’s 1993 tax increase, up from 35 percent, where it has been since 2003.

The quibble from others here is that he has already added tax increases to these same people to pay for the Affordable Care Act and with changes to taxation on investment income. This means that the actual tax rate on income above 200,000 and 250,000 will be higher than under Clinton.

But, they will still be paying lower taxes on their income below 200,000 and 250,000 because President Obama is not raising the marginal tax rate on that tax bracket to its previous level.

So, it may end up to be factually accurate – or – that in a number of these cases, less tax will be paid.

 

Lessons learned:

While there were distortions and stretches and assumptions on display nightly in Charlotte, there was very little outright “lying”.  Unlike the fact-free week the GOP gave us in Tampa, it was very hard to find the same outright lies and puffy pandering that Republicans shared with us this year.

And that in itself creates a problem for a person like me.

This post was supposed to be up late last week, right after the closing of the Democratic convention – just as my assessment of the GOP in Tampa was. But it was not.   I delayed it, because I was trying to be sure I didn’t miss something.  I was, in effect, looking for things I could point to and say “Ah Ha!”. I was trying to be fair to the GOP and assumed perhaps that Democrats would be equally robust in their misrepresentations.

But they were not.

It is similar to the climate change debate, where, despite there being no doubt as to what the majority of scientists think, a news outlet always has one believer scientist and one denier scientist debating the issue, in an effort to show balance.  But in that case, it gives the very inaccurate impression that the scientific community is equally divided.

In this case, I was trying to find a way to show that the Democrats were equal to the GOP in their falsity.  And I could not.

So, I am now asking myself this question – why did the GOP need to resort to falsehoods and fluffy rhetoric, instead of allowing truth and fact to speak for themselves?

This is one question worth answering.

But some are not likely going to like the answer…

 

The God The Democrats Forgot

If you get your news from certain sources, you have probably been shocked to find out that Democrats in Charlotte apparently boo God. (For clarification, yes, this is the Christian God to which I am referring)

Over at The Drudge Report, the large font headline was:

“THEY BOOED PUTTING GOD BACK!” – in all caps red print. (he saves the red for special occasions)

In addition to that, Matt also included above-the-headline links that said:

DNC Rams ‘God’ and Jerusalem Back into Platform…”
“Delegates at convention boo, hiss, jeer…”
“HALL DIVIDED…”

Fox, while not as misleading as Drudge, was a close second, with Bill O’Reilly absolutely basking in the glow of the “loony left wingers” on display in Charlotte. Bill can marry disdain and sarcasm like no other…

The Washington Times summed it up this way:

“The White House scrambled Wednesday to alter the Democrats’ party platform after they adopted a version that left out references to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

So what in the world happened?

At the opening gavel of the Wednesday evening edition of the Democratic National Convention, the party had to resort to a voice vote to amend the party platform. Why?

Because this year’s version had left out a reference to “God” and did not affirm Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Both such references were there in 2008 and so far, there has been no explanation as to why it was missing this time.

I won’t pass judgement on the benefit of either statement being part of a party platform during a domestic election campaign, but it does offer an opportunity to highlight a few other items of interest and concern.

First of all, while the hall was in disagreement, it is important to point out that it was also nearly empty. Check out the footage for yourself. Yes, there were plenty of boos and yes, plenty of people voted against it. But we don’t have a clue to which item each of those people reacted negatively.

And again, the place was nearly empty at the time, and I am pointing it out simply to let you know that there were not 20,000 Democrats divided on the floor. (if there were 2000 taking part, I would be surprised)

The real elephant in the room is the omission in the first place. Who thought this was a good idea?

One can hardly suppose that this party wishes to abandon Israel after year and years and years of consistent US policy on Jerusalem. And, nobody with any sense whatsoever would think that on a night featuring Sister Simone Campbell at the podium, the DNC finally found God.

It has been well sourced that when President Obama learned of the omission of the Israel/Jerusalem confirmation, he personally intervened and had it added. His reaction to the God omission was complete and utter surprise, asking “why was it removed in the first place?”. (From this, one can glean that he was not micromanaging the platform specifics)

Therefore, it would be unfair for those on the right to pin this on Mr.Obama after they were quite adamant that Mr.Romney had his hands off the GOP platform. Remember, this year’s Republican platform wishes to ban abortions for rapes of any kind and even if the mother’s health is in jeopardy. (Yes, this legitimizes Mr. Akin…)

So, if they allow Mr.Romney to distance himself from his own platform, it would not be acceptable to expect President Obama to be pinned to his. And I would caution them against it, because at least Mr. Obama got involved and fixed it.

It also offered a very fascinating insight to what political convention could be. Actual policy being debated on the floor! Raw democracy in action! Disagreement and intrigue! Booing!

You have to admit, after the loose factual points and scripted puffery that disappointed in Tampa, being reminded that democracy is a hands on thing, full of disagreement and opposing viewpoints was quite refreshing.

And those folks that booed? They are completely entitled to their views, just like the Todd Akin gang at the RNC. Take a stand, popular or unpopular, wrong or right, but at least you are in the game.

Sadly, for those of us interested in that spirited debate and honest assessment, that mood was short lived thanks to Matt Drudge, Bill O’Reilly and the whole right wing news machine.

To them, division trumps debate and partisanship tops policy.

Perhaps it is time we “omitted” them, and joined the floor ourselves.