2012/05/30

Catch-22

So I respond to this piece by making an online comment (The Inquirer  doesn't always, but most of the time and in this particular case, deletes all the comments and re-formats their pieces the next day). I over-stated my case, making the claim that there's no documented case of voter fraud (Where an individual pretends to be someone he's not in order to vote illegitimately) ever having occurred. A commenter posted three URLs to stories of documented voter fraud. I replied okay, fine, there are a few isolated cases of voter fraud, but the documented cases of vote suppression, where the government denies voters their Constitutional right to vote vastly, enormously outnumbers cases of voter fraud and included this URL that documented a few of those many, many cases

The commenter replied that Think Progress is a lefty website and therefore a provider of suspect information and then made comments indicating that he read the URL, but clearly didn't follow the link to the story. Then, today, I saw this piece.

So, if Think Progress is a provider of information of suspect quality because it has a clear political viewpoint and therefore, an agenda, but the national media has decided to black out the issue of the Governor of Florida suppressing votes, then we've got a classic Catch-22. We don't learn of vote suppression from the national media because the national media isn't covering it. Why? Because there's no way to make both sides, the Republicans and the Democrats, seem equivalent. The national media simply can't say that the Rs and the Ds are being equally bad. This is very clearly a story of the Republicans being bad, full stop. There's simply no way to take a middle view that blames both sides or that allows the media to take an above-it-all approach. In order to tell the story, they have to place the blame squarely on the Republican Governor of Florida. Think Progress doesn't have a problem doing that, because as we've already established, they're an openly lefty website anyway.

But if regular folks like myself can't use lefty websites to make political arguments, if we can't point out documentation of the problem that websites such as Think Progress have assembled, then how are we supposed to make online political arguments????? I never asked for a list of objective websites I could use because I don't really believe there are any in any event. PolitiFact.com once purported to be an objective, reliable website, but recently disgraced itself by declaring that Democrats made a "pants-on-fire lie" by saying that Republicans had voted to "end Medicare."

At worst, Democrats perhaps overstated their case a bit by saying that altering Medicare beyond recognition (By changing it from a single-payer type program into a voucher program) was the same thing as ending it. So we can toss Politi"Fact" onto the rubbish heap of once-credible sites. So to me, how we determine how credible a story is relies on vastly more than just who produces it. Back in 2002, the George W. Bush Administration declared that President Bill Clinton had permitted Saddam Hussein of Iraq to kick out US weapons inspectors. I had been paying attention at the time and knew that this claim was not true. Fair.org looked at that claim a short time later, showing the stories as they were relayed in December 1998 and the same news organizations reporting in August 2002.

This convinced me quite some time ago that there's simply no such thing as an always-reliable news organization. I stick with the lefty sites myself because I find them to be very highly reliable and willing to follow the facts, even when they make "our side" look bad. I was a History major back in college and in my military work, had to take an objective and cold-bloodedly factual view of what I was reporting on. I learned very early to document what I was saying and to not make statements that I wasn't able to back up with credible evidence. My background gives me a highly reliable BS detector. I can't simply read who produces a story and glance at the title and tell you whether a story is credible or not, I need to read the actual story, as I did in response to a comment here.

As I like to put it "If Sean Hannity of Fox News says the sky is blue, does that mean the sky is actually green or does it mean that even Hannity is right once in a while?"

Update

The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine.
Wikiquote

ThinkProgress is exonerated in a piece by FireDogLake.
I should add that the DoJ letter refers to “news reports” that alerted them to the voter purge scheme. Think Progress in particular should be commended for bringing this issue to light. Practically all of the traditional media ignored it; the New York Times, even today, gives it short shrift at the end of a story on the judge’s ruling on voter registration suppression. It took progressive media to raise awareness of this scheme to take away the voting rights of thousands of Floridians, part of a larger war on voting being attempted in Republican legislatures across the country.
The piece is about how the DOJ is finally catching up to the State Government of Florida and is insisting that Florida live up to the Voting Rights Act.

2012/05/26

A liberal commentator on CNN

You can tell that I'm conditioned by certain sights and phrases. I looked at a blog post and saw a photo of an attractive woman on CNN who questioned Tony Perkins (The post accurately identified Perkins as the "SPLC-certified hate group leader") and immediately thought "Aw yeesh! How his this woman embarrassed the liberal cause? What wingnut phrases has she adopted wholesale? What right-wing misinformation has she been spreading?"

Why do I suspect CNN of hosting right-wing-favoring stenographers? Because of CNN commenters like Erick Ericson and Dana Loesch. Ericson is a right-wing blogger who also write for the Red State blog and has things like this to say about how the political left views women and blacks:


The Democrats seem to believe that all women believe what they believe and are the same. Instead of unique individuals, they are a stereotyped class of women who care only about birth control, abortion, and government benefits. Stay at home moms who fall outside this view are viewed as second class citizens who really can’t be related to and who cannot relate to women in the workforce. Liberal women who prided themselves on feminist advances into society and think of themselves as unique individuals go on twitter and television and radio to proclaim all women same thinking, same liking, same knowing, and . . . well . . . same.
Like black Republicans such as Condelezza Rice, Michael Steel, and Herman Cain who are ridiculed by the left as oreos, Uncle Toms, or worse, women who think differently are treated as second class citizens, inferior, or somehow “other.”

What a catch CNN! Gee, what a perceptive fellow! You can tell Erickson spends lots of time with lefties because he understands us so well [/snark]! What about CNNs' other right-winger Dana Loesch?

In January 2007, the smear that President Obama attended a "madrassa" as a boy was sparked by a vague Internet report, then spread by Fox News, and finally debunked by CNN -- within the span of a week.
...
Instead of correcting the caller by pointing out that Obama is a Christian and not a Muslim, Loesch said: "Well, yeah, I mean, he did study -- he went to one of the madrassas over in Indonesia for a while. So he knows -- I mean, he -- which is kind of like the equivalent in Islam of a Catholic school in Catholicism. So there's that."

CNN has loyally stood by both commentators and has refused to can either of them, so I was pleasantly surprised to read the FireDogLake post further and saw that, actually, the CNN person Brooke Baldwin, gave our "SPLC-certified hate group leader" Tony Perkins a pretty hard time (The CNN clip is presented here on an Americablog post). Baldwin "asked [Perkins] he would explain to a married gay couple that they should not have the protections of marriage. He did not answer." Perkins said lots of words in response to her question, but they all amounted to him trying to change the subject from the human, emotional question of "How can you say my marriage is not legitimate?" to the more prosaic ones of "public policy" and "research" and how the Obama Administration is taking away the "rights" of homophobes to discriminate against gay people.
So good on CNN for a commentator of theirs to seriously challenge a known homophobe and to defend the perspective of LGBT people who want to be treated as equals under the law.

On noon on June 10th, Philadelphia will commence an LGBT Pride March from 13th & Locust Streets or from 243 S. 13th Street. A statemen trom our local organizer R.W. Dennen:

It's colorful different and exciting as people welcome us with open arms. This will stick with you and never forgotten. This will be sponsored by the Peace Veterans and accompanied by other activists. Since President Obama evolved that gays are equal to other human beings, this will be an important Pride Parade for "Law of the Land" marriage equality and dignity. We must fight this nefarious bigotry and live up to freedom for all.
We implore you to spread the word to your friends. This wll be our fourth year
and we are growing every year.

Besides which, Garden State Equality of New Jersey is holding the 2012 Equality Walk at 4:00pm June 23rd at Erie Park in Montclair NJ. From Philadelphia, that's about a 90-mile or a nearly two-hour drive or you can take the NJ Transit train from the 30th Street Station to New York and then change to the Montclair-Boonton line.

2012/05/21

Bush to blame for economy?


On May 20th, the Inky ran a letters column and a commenter asked: “Three and a half years into Obama's presidency and you still continue to blame Bush?” to which I responded:

  • Uh, coniljw, Bush oversaw the housing bubble that was noticed by liberal Keynesian economists in 2002 and popped at the end of 2007. Yes, Obama has spent his entire term trying to dig his way out of the mess that Bush created. The downturn of 2007 that continues to this day hasn't been called the “Great Recession” for nothing. Granted, the fact that Republicans have been fighting tooth and nail to keep Americans poor and hungry and unemployed along with Obama's “pivot” from ending the recession to reducing the deficit from early 2010 to mid-2011 are also part of the problem, but yes, Bush is the primary cause of our economic troubles today.
  • rich2506
Posted 4:25 PM, 05/20/2012
It was Jimmy Carter that signed the CRA in to law, not Bush. [Community Reinvestment Act – how it allegedly led to the housing bubble]

It was Clinton who gave it teeth - http://clinton6.nara.gov/1993/12/1993-12-08-briefing-by-bentsen-and-rubin.text.html

It was Barack H Obama who sued citibank under the CRA in 1998 to force then to lead money to 'minorities' - Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Fed. Sav. Bank

The Bush administration warned about Fannie and Freddie. They got push back from Barney Frank, Chuck Schumer and Chris Dodd and the rest of the democrats. You can youtube it

To which I responded:

  • All that Alan Greenspan or Ben Bernanke had to do to pop the housing bubble was to call attention to it. Had they called attention to the fact that housing prices were out of line with rental prices, the free market would have done the rest to deflate the bubble. They failed to do so. Also, prices for commercial construction were consistent with residential housing, it was way overpriced. Bush could very easily have caused the housing bubble to deflate. Was he oblivious or did he deliberately allow it? It's the old question, stupid or evil? Eh, hard to say.
  • rich2506


Posted 7:43 PM, 05/20/2012
I don't see such a simplistic solution as being effective. Greenspan tried it in 1996 with stock market and his "irrational exuberance" phrase. In the long run, no one listened but he sure did get the tar beat out himself for saying it.
Posted 8:29 PM, 05/20/2012
Rich, even AFTER the collapse, C. Dodd was STILL pushing for "More Minority Home Ownership". (This was in the spring of '09 he voiced his ongoing support for the policy.)

It was that idealistic push, sell by skin color, not financial ability, that CAUSED the collapse, yet he still was pushing for more of the same.

Ya, same old question... Was Dodd Stupid? or Evil?

Good intentions are fine, but when they cause more harm than good, you would THINK it would be a wake up call to stop, unless you WANTED them to be harmed.
  • turkytom

And oh yeah turkeytom, speaking of "idealistic pushes," remember G.W. Bush and the "Ownership Society" where Bush pressed for more homeownership? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kNqQx7sjoS8 Ya didn't? Yep, more of that ol' "memory hole" that folks have for inconvenient fact. And Phillytru, if the Federal Reserve Chairman can't speak plainly, why does he exist? What's the point of having a spokesperson who can't speak?
  • rich2506


Essentially, my take on the housing bubble is that Bush was “on watch,” i.e., the “guy on the bridge” and in command when the housing bubble occurred. Is it reasonable to look at the immediate past at what one's predecessor might have done? To a point, yes. Right-wing figures have tried to blame President Obama for job losses that occurred during Obama's “first few months, before any of his own policies had time to take effect." Is it reasonable to use the same idea to let Bush off the hook for 9-11? Not really, as military and political policies are easier to change quickly than are economic ones. And one might notice that Media Matters wasn't arguing for nine months, the time Bush had to change the policies that made 9-11 possible, but for just a few months to allow Obama time to put new policies into effect. Yes, it's reasonable to give a president some time to establish new policies, but if Bush had a problem with the CRA, he had more than enouh time to do something about it.
As the housing bubble was noticed in 2002, that gave the Bush Administration five years to notice that there was a problem with housing prices not being consistent with rental prices, that is, that there was a bubble. Bush's Administration then had to the end of 2007 to do something about it. Above, a commenter states the right-wing claim that

The Bush administration warned about Fannie and Freddie. They got push back from Barney Frank, Chuck Schumer and Chris Dodd and the rest of the democrats.

My major problem with this claim of Democratic pushback being a decisive factor is that I just can't reconcile this claim with Bush's fight with Democrats over warrantless surveillance. In early 2008, a year after Democrats took control of both the House and the Senate, Democrats seemed enegized to bring Bush's policies to heel:

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) successfully led an effort to block immunity in December, just before Congress' holiday recess, and the Senate returned to the issue last week, considering dual proposals from the Intelligence and Judiciary committees. Last Thursday, Republicans and a dozen Democrats blocked Judiciary's proposal to update FISA without immunity, but the GOP then refused an agreement that would have required a mere 51-vote majority to pass further amendments.

Were Democratic efforts successful? No, because Bush has the veto pen, a Republican Party that voted in lockstep to support his policies and traitorous Blue Dog Democrats who broke with their party to vote with him. Remember, when the FISA/warrantless surveillance battle occurred, Bush's approval rating was down to 28%, a rating that competed with that of Nixon and Truman at their lowest, but his disapproval rating was 71%, the worst that an American president has ever received. Considering that Bush successfully prevailed anyway on an issue that was important to him, I just can't see how Democratic pushback on the housing issue could possibly have swayed him or the Republican Party.

Also, as I pointed out in my final message, Bush stood behind what he called the “Ownership Society,” where people would own their own homes. From a 2004 White House press release:

Expanding Homeownership. The President believes that homeownership is the cornerstone of America's vibrant communities and benefits individual families by building stability and long-term financial security. In June 2002, President Bush issued America's Homeownership Challenge to the real estate and mortgage finance industries to encourage them to join the effort to close the gap that exists between the homeownership rates of minorities and non-minorities. The President also announced the goal of increasing the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families before the end of the decade. Under his leadership, the overall U.S. homeownership rate in the second quarter of 2004 was at an all time high of 69.2 percent. Minority homeownership set a new record of 51 percent in the second quarter, up 0.2 percentage point from the first quarter and up 2.1 percentage points from a year ago. President Bush's initiative to dismantle the barriers to homeownership includes:
  • American Dream Downpayment Initiative, which provides down payment assistance to approximately 40,000 low-income families;
  • Affordable Housing. The President has proposed the Single-Family Affordable Housing Tax Credit, which would increase the supply of affordable homes;
  • Helping Families Help Themselves. The President has proposed increasing support for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities Program; and
  • Simplifying Homebuying and Increasing Education. The President and HUD want to empower homebuyers by simplifying the home buying process so consumers can better understand and benefit from cost savings. The President also wants to expand financial education efforts so that families can understand what they need to do to become homeowners.

Right-wingers, of course, tend to “disappear” this embarrassing bit of history and try to make it sound as though Democrats were pushing for more homeownership against Republican resistance.

Could Alan Greenspan have worded his “Irrational Exuberance” statement better and more skillfully? There's no question that his statement had an immediate impact. But “in typically enigmatic fashion, Greenspan didn't actually say what most people think he did. His famous utterance was actually part of a question, not a statement of fact or opinion.” So no, I don't believe that Federal Reserve Chairmen are doomed to never state their true opinions, just that they should do so in a carefully-planned manner.

2012/05/19

Dark Shadows


Good flick, but I think if I were five years to a decade a few years older (My sister, only four years older, watched it "religiously"), I would have enjoyed it more as I would have been more familiar with the original source material. As it is, I remember watching parts of a few of the shows from the Dark Shadows series, which went from 1966 to 1971. I think at that time, I was more into the Batman and the Star Trek series (Both of which ran from 1966 to 1968).
As a nostalgia remake, the movie reminds me of the Quentin Tarantino trilogy, Planet Terror, Grindhouse and Death Proof. It's a really high-powered, professionally-done remake of stuff I barely remembered or hardly caught the first time around. Of course, in the trilogy, it didn't hurt that Rose McGowan was such a cutie. There's really no one in Dark Shadows, then or now, who's as attractive.

2012/05/05

The Avengers

Fun stuff! Really cool to see super-powered beings really pushed to their limits. Yeah, they're super-powered and have amazing abilities, but here you really see them sweat and strain to keep up with the challenges that are being tossed at them. One of the things I recognized from the comics when I watched the first Fantastic Four, the item that just rang absolutely true, was the bickering and arguing. Same is true in The Avengers, they're not all happy, loyal, obedient warriors, they're individuals who let each other know when they disagree, but when the chips are down and their backs are to the wall, they pull together and they all act in concert.