Language is Important

by lestro

You’d think the guy who as a candidate ran such a successful media campaign based around the words ‘change’ and ‘hope’ would recognize the importance of language and phrasing, but sometimes I wonder about this guy.

For example, I am reading over the text of the president’s labor day speech from yesterday and this jumped out at me:

And everywhere I went while I was running for this office, I met folks who felt their economic security slipping away, men and women who were fighting harder and harder just to stay afloat.  And that was even before the economic crisis hit, and that just made things even harder.

The problem is not that it isn’t true, the problem is that it makes it sound as though the ‘economic crisis’ hit on his watch, when the FACT is that it did not.

By telling people that when he was a candidate times were hard, but that’s nothing compared to what happened since, he is essentially telling people “no, you are not better off than you were when I was elected.”

and that is NO way to keep the White House.

I mean, I agree with much of what he said – and a lot of it is good, important stuff – but if I were him, I would still be constantly reminding people that he is still trying to clean up someone else’s mess, instead of essentially telling them – reminding them “yeah, it’s only gotten worse since you gave me the keys…”

The public generally still blames the Republicans – especially President Bush – for the current mess, yet the Republicans are still pushing the exact same plans that got us into this mess as the solutions to get us out.

That’s Dumb.

But what’s even Dumber is that the president doesn’t seem to be trying to counter them by saying things like “and that was before we recognized the depth of economic troubles were were in” or “when I started running for office I met people who felt security slipping away, and by the time I took office, things were even harder thanks to the economic policies of the right wing…”

I mean give me something here, Mr. President.  Don’t just roll over and take it.

It’s like the president has Stockholm Syndrome or something.

maybe someday we’ll elect a democrat

by lestro

We did?  Who?

Certainly you can’t mean President Obama:

President Obama abruptly pulled back proposed new national smog standards Friday morning, overruling the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to compel states and communities nationwide to reduce local air pollution in the coming years or face federal penalties.

The move represented a win for the business community, which had lobbied to postpone new restrictions on ground-level ozone — known as smog — until 2013 in light of the economic downturn. It also raised questions about the fate of several other air quality regulations the EPA is preparing to finalize this year.

Well there has to be a good reason, right?  Surely it can’t be that same old bullshit about how investing in the environment has to wait for financial reasons, especially at a time when corporate profits are literally at record highs, right? Let’s go right to the source, the White House press release:

At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time.

goddammit.

Ozone, for the record, is a greenhouse gas (which means that even if you don’t believe in such things it traps heat in atmosphere, warming the planet) that is the principal component in smog formation. It harms lungs, causes respiratory distress and is linked to asthma, bronchitis, heart attacks and premature death.

And how can you be sure this is a terrible, terrible move?

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) identified several of these regulations as targets for a regulatory rollback the House will vote on this month, and House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) spokesman Michael Steel hailed Obama’s decision Friday as “a good first step.”

“If you’re serious about a jobs agenda, the last thing you want to be doing is adding tens of billions of dollars in costs every year,” said Upton, who added that under stricter smog standards communities in his district and across the nation “will lose these jobs, and they will never come back.”

But maybe I am overreacting.  I admit, it happens.  I am a hot head sometimes.  Maybe I am seeing this wrong.

“Obama utterly caved,” said Bill Snape of the Center for Biological Diversity, an advocacy group.

Daniel J. Weiss of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, said, “It’s unfortunate that the administration is siding with big oil over the health of children, seniors, and the infirm.”

Nope, I’m dead on.  So let’s be very clear, this is the Democratic president once again choosing business interests over people.

According to the EPA, depending on what standard it adopted, the compliance costs for industry could range from $19 billion to $90 billion a year by 2020. The tougher standard would yield health benefits worth $13 billion to $100 billion, the agency said.

Did you catch that?  The health benefits would save us more money than this would cost industry (which, again, is seeing record profits again this year).

Now let’s take a look at the 2008 Democratic Platform, the one that got Obama elected with a huge majority and gave him supermajorities in both houses of Congress:

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an inauspicious start

by lestro

The three-day Labor Day weekend is here again (thank you, Liberals), with its annual reminder of the last gasp at summer with its barbecues and parades and even a free day off for those of us who have spent the best months of the year trapped in windowless rooms.

But along with signifying the end of summer, Labor Day weekend traditionally signifies the beginning of the Political Season. It is the final, downhill push for candidates running in November’s general election and now that (the theory goes) people are back from the annual physical and mental break summer provides us, they are ready to pay attention again.

This year, as in 2007 and 2003, the Political Season also includes the final primary pushes as we head into January’s Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.

Also this year, the Political Season means a return to the ridiculous arguments and stalling tactics that have dominated the politics in this country since President Obama was elected and the opposition literally made their top priority not fixing the problems they caused, but instead doing everything they can to make Obama a one-term president, even if it means further tanking the economy and/or keeping the country in the ditch they so recklessly drove us into (to borrow one of the president’s metaphors that really is very apt).

The top issue? Once again, it’s the economy, stupid.

More specifically, it’s jobs. There don’t seem to be any. In fact, today’s jobs report shows the US job market absolutely stagnating. They say it is the worst showing in nearly a year.

And “seem” is, in fact, the right word.

When you look past the headline, once again the private sector added jobs, just not enough to counteract the public sector jobs that had to be cut, due to the cuts-only method of budgeting demanded by one party (which happens to be a party that ran up this ridiculous debt situation with two unfunded wars, giant tax cuts for the wealthy that did exactly the opposite of what they promised they would do, and the largest unfunded government program expansion in history). The results were also a bit skewed by 45,000 workers on strike when the count was done; workers that are technically employed, but not on that day, which took an additional 45,000 jobs off the books, inflating the jobless numbers for August…

But let’s be very clear about this: The Republican party is directly responsible for those 20,000 or so government employees being out work. They are literally increasing the unemployment rate and slashing services even as they do everything they can to force more people onto the state’s dole. This is their plan: keep slashing government at a faster rate than the economy can add jobs, which makes it look as though the President is failing.

It’s genius because, of course, the President gets the blame because no one pays attention to anything except the headline.

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Why The President Is Probably Going To Lose

by lestro

Once again, President Obama is pulling a 180 on Candidate Obama’s promises. In this case, he promised that he would punish  those responsible for intentionally tanking the economy in 2008. Now, it seems, the president is doing everything he can to make sure everything works out in Wall Street’s favor while the good folks on Main Street who got totally and completely fucked will be left to pick up scraps and continue to slave away for our corporate overlords.

On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

On the other side is the Obama administration, all the banks, and, now, apparently, all the other state attorneys general.  [...]

This deal will also submarine efforts by both defrauded investors in MBS and unfairly foreclosed-upon homeowners and borrowers to obtain any kind of relief in the civil court system. The AGs initially talked about $20 billion as a settlement number, money that would “toward loan modifications and possibly counseling for homeowners,” as Gretchen Morgenson reported the other day.

The banks, however, apparently “balked” at paying that sum, and no doubt it will end up being a lesser amount when the deal is finally done.

To give you an indication of how absurdly small a number even $20 billion is relative to the sums of money the banks made unloading worthless crap subprime assets on foreigners, pension funds and other unsuspecting suckers around the world, consider this: in 2008 alone, the state pension fund of Florida, all by itself, lost more than three times that amount ($62 billion) thanks in significant part to investments in these deadly MBS.

So this deal being cooked up is the ultimate Papal indulgence. By the time that $20 billion (if it even ends up being that high) gets divvied up between all the major players, the broadest and most destructive fraud scheme in American history, one that makes the S&L crisis look like a cheap liquor store holdup , will be safely reduced to a single painful but eminently survivable one-time line item for all the major perpetrators.

I love the line “the ultimate papal indulgence.”  That’s genius.

This is the essential problem facing Obama next year: the failure to even TRY to deliver on the promises he made as a candidate.

I’ve been wracking my brain; what part of his platform has he succeeded in passing?

Healthcare? nope.  He buckled and we got Hillary’s plan instead of the public option we voted for.

Closing Gitmo? nope.

Out of Iraq? not quite.

Afghanistan? still there, though we did get Bin Laden and Obama should be commended for that.

Certainly we haven’t seen the ‘change’ we were promised and frankly, I am yet to see him even try.  I expect the youth vote to stay home, once again convinced that their vote don’t mean shit, and when you remove those votes, shift the independents around and factor in a fired-up right wing, you get a mix that spells doom for the president in a race where turnout is going to be the key component…

Mark my words, this is turning into the theme song of the 2012 election:

Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold

by lestro

I was just reading the NYT article about how Hoosiers (one of the oddest demonyms ever) are responding to the announcement that Evan Bayh is not seeking re-election, and the collective “what the fuck?” reaction mirrors my own. The guy pulled a half-Palin.  He copped out.  He bailed.  The Republicans weren’t playing nice so he took his senate seat and went home.

Now, he’ll serve his full term, which is why it’s a half-Palin as opposed to full, but still, when the going got tough, Evan Bayh turned tail and ran. And his constituents are confused.

“This is a Republican state and he’s a Democrat, so that tells you what people think of him,” said Mr. Kruse, 69. “He’s been a very good man for this state, and I do wish he had stuck it out.” …

“This shocked me. Honest to God, it did,” Mr. Kruse said. “I did not see it coming. And every time we lose a good Democrat, it hurts the system as far as getting anything done.” …

“It’s very disappointing that someone so dedicated has reached the point that he’s disenchanted with politics,” said Vivian Sallie, 59, a television executive in South Bend, who described herself as a longtime supporter of Mr. Bayh. “I feel let down by the situation our country is in. I feel that it’s our state’s loss and a loss for the country.”

JoAnna Clay, a homemaker in South Bend, added: “It’s a really sad situation. He was the voice for a lot of us, and you got the feeling that he really cared. I think there are not many people in Washington who really care, and that’s the problem. They’d rather fight. But he got tired of fighting.”

“There’s definitely some discouragement here,” she said. […]

For her part, Ms. Clay, 22, said she used to see Mr. Bayh as part of the solution, but not anymore.

“True enough, if he felt like nothing was getting done,” she said, “then he should have stayed to get things done.”

I don’t have a problem with someone saying they are not running again because they want to be with family, or even because they can’t win, but Bayh’s “it’s too hard” response is just icky.  It makes me feel dirty.

Not to mention it gives his kids the perfect reason to drop piano lessons or calculus if they decide it’s too hard for them.

but through it all, my favorite Yeats refrain keeps echoing in my head:

The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

it’s from “The Second Coming,” one of Yeats’ most powerful and popular poems, which he wrote in the shadow of WWI.

Bayh is generally respected as one of the “best” and yet, he lacks all conviction.  Meanwhile, the tea party is full of passionate intensity, despite being morons who don’t even have their facts straight, let alone their ideas.

Bayh’s replacement? we’ll have to wait and see. but me and Yeats are not particularly optimistic.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

“we’re not talking about some strange nut screaming on a street corner

by twit

… this is all coming from an elected member of Congress.”

via Wonkette, Rep. Michelle Bachmann goes to crazytown on the radio:

Bachmann “explained” to the host and Minnesota audience:

* ACORN is “under federal indictment for voter fraud,” but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN “$5 billion.” (In reality, ACORN is not under federal indictment and isn’t mentioned in the stimulus bill at all.)

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Dammit, I’ve got Congress duty

by lestro

There’s a series Rasmussen Polls out that really takes Congress – and especially the Democrats, who are trusted less every day to handle the affairs of the country – to task.

Generally speaking, Congress has a lower approval rating than the president, but since Barack Obama assumed office, this has been even more staggering.  President Obama hovers at an approval rating of about 65 percent while Congress languishes in the 20s and 30s.

Now, the language used in the questions is a bit loose and would seem to create a more wild response just by its nature, but there is no denying a few key facts:

Although an $800-billion-plus economic rescue plan has now passed both the House and Senate, the overwhelming majority of voters are not confident that Congress knows what it’s doing with regards to the economy. Fifty-eight percent (58%) agree, too, that “no matter how bad things are, Congress can always find a way to make them worse.”

and:

Two-thirds of the nation’s voters (69%) lack confidence that Congress knows what it is doing when it comes to addressing the country’s current economic problems. Just 29% are even somewhat confident in the legislators.

and:

When it comes to the nation’s economic issues, 67% of U.S. voters have more confidence in their own judgment than they do in the average member of Congress

but my absolute favorite bit of polling data is this:

Forty-four percent (44%) voters also think a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation’s problems than the current Congress, but 37% disagree. Twenty percent (20%) are undecided.

Forty-four percent think that a random selection of Americans could do a better job than our elected officials. Considering that every member of the House and a third of the Senate was elected in November, I wonder why voters didn’t do a goddamn thing about it then. But no matter. Why throw the bums out when it’s easier to just complain?

Then again, everyone hates Congress but loves their own rep, I guess…

But the poll does raise the interesting specter of picking representatives like jury duty.

Imagine, checking your mail one day and getting notification from the federal government that you have been selected to serve in Congress. People would be forced to meet at the courthouse for pool selection and try to get out of having to move to DC.

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