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Tag Archives: George W. Bush

Rachel Maddow Nails the President on Indefinite Detentions–Something Even Bush Didn’t Try

Recently the President signed into law new legislation that allows suspected terrorists or terrorist collaborators to be detained in the US.  MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow addressed the subject:

Methinks the President just lost the high moral road.

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A Few Things to Make You Say “Hmmmmmmm…”

Each of these could be a blog piece by itself (and probably will be eventually).  But for now, here are some things to make you say “hmmmmmm,” or scratch your head, or go buy a stiff drink…

THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOOD AT PICKING WINNERS (part 1):  The government has ordered the phasing out of the trusty incandescent light bulb, which means we all have to go out and get the curly-looking compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.  Sure they are more energy efficient.  But they also have a small amount of mercury in them.  Broken one lately?  Have you seen the steps involved to clean up after one breaks? But that’s not the worst part. Because of the government mandated change, GE has closed all of their incandescent light bulb plants in the US. At a time when unemployment is already high, that’s more jobs lost.

THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOOD AT PICKING WINNERS (part 2): The search for alternative fuels is very worthwhile. Except when the government is subsidizing it. Let’s talk ethanol. First, the government subsidizes ethanol production with taxpayer dollars. Second, there is a tariff placed on the importation of Brazilian sugar cane ethanol, as a way of protecting US production (it would be cheaper otherwise). The result? Not only are food prices (especially corn) higher because farmers are spending more time growing corn for ethanol, but the end product has been found to damage small engines over time. Oh, and then the government tells us ethanol is cheaper per gallon. Right.

HE’S TALKING ABOUT THE TEA PARTY, RIGHT?: Here is a recent quote from Senator John Kerry:

“And I have to tell you, I say this to you politely. The media in America has a bigger responsibility than it’s exercising today. The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something which everybody knows is not factual.”

“It doesn’t deserve the same credit as a legitimate idea about what you do. And the problem is everything is put into this tit-for-tat equal battle and America is losing any sense of what’s real, of who’s accountable, of who is not accountable, of who’s real, who isn’t, who’s serious, who isn’t?”

Let me guess. The press should ignore the Tea Party, their supporters, and maybe even the GOP because they lie, right? Got it. By the way, Senator, would you apply that standard to your own party? Because I’m sure we’d see a lot less of some of your pals.

SPEAKING OF LYING…: This one came to my attention earlier today. Senator Harry Reid said earlier this month that there were 8 million jobs lost during the Bush years. Unfortunately, it is an easily provable lie:

As always, we looked at jobs numbers compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government’s official source of employment data.

During Bush’s eight years in office — January 2001 to January 2009 — the nation actually gained a net 1.09 million jobs. (Because there were gains in government jobs, the private sector actually lost 653,000 jobs during that period.)

This isn’t remotely close to what Reid claimed. Reid’s office didn’t respond to our request for information, but we think we know what he was referring to.

From the economy’s peak to its low point, the nation lost 8.75 million jobs. Here’s the problem: The peak for jobs came in January 2008, while the low point for jobs came in February 2010.

This means the starting point for Reid’s measure came seven years into Bush’s eight-year tenure, and the low point occurred about a year into Barack Obama’s tenure.

‘Nuff said.

ON TAXING THE RICH:  According to the IRS, there are over 8,200 income earners that earn more than $10 million per year.  Their combined income is $240 billion/year.  If you taxed them at 100%, it would be enough money to pay for government spending for a whopping 22 days.

Finally, I leave you with this thought, which most definitely will take on a life of its on another day in another post…

PARTISAN VOTERS HAVE NO CLUE WHAT AN INDEPENDENT VOTER IS: We get accused of straddling the fence, or of taking no stance. Even worse, we get attacked by both sides if we actually accept a view held by one party over another. But it’s simple. We look at the views and candidates available and choose what we like, regardless of what side it represents, and it could vary from week to week, from party to party, or from election to election. I’ve learned that instead of constantly fighting accusations that I’m not independent, I will simply stop feeding the trolls and continue business as usual.

Party on, dudes!

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is Stupid. Oh, and He’s Racist. ALL Republicans are Stupid and Racist!

As expected, Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the crowded GOP presidential field over the weekend.  Him tossing his hat in the ring was a non-event, as people had been expecting him to enter for a while now.  No offense to Michelle Bachmann, but most bets right now are figuring this to be a two-horse race between Perry and former governor Mitt Romney.  (Sidenote:  is becoming president worth running multiple times and spending millions of your own money??)

Almost immediately, the attacks on Perry started coming.

It’s no secret that the Left loves attacking their political opponents via cracks at their intelligence.  Folks on the left will wax poetically on about how intelligent Obama is and how stupid George W. Bush is, or how stupid Michelle Bachmann is.  I can’t recall anyone on the Left referring to Al Gore being stupid even though his grades were actually worse than Bush’s.  And even when such an observation was made, it was done in a way to still make Gore–the Lefty–not look so bad:

His generally middling college grades at Harvard in fact bear a close resemblance to the corresponding Yale marks of his presidential opponent, George W. Bush, whose studiousness and brainpower have been more open to question during this campaign.

Gore arrived at Harvard with an impressive 1355 SAT score, 625 verbal and 730 math, compared with Bush’s 1206 total from 566 verbal and 640 math. In his sophomore year at Harvard, Gore’s grades were lower than any semester recorded on Bush’s transcript from Yale. That was the year Gore’s classmates remember him spending a notable amount of time in the Dunster House basement lounge shooting pool, watching television, eating hamburgers and occasionally smoking marijuana. His grades temporarily reflected his mildly experimental mood, and alarmed his parents. He received one D, one C-minus, two C’s, two C-pluses and one B-minus, an effort that placed him in the lower fifth of the class for the second year in a row.

But I digress.

Recently, The Huffington Post jumped into the fray by announcing they had obtained a copy of Rick Perry’s college transcript.  As is usually the case, the intended implication is that maybe Perry ain’t so bright:

One reason that might explain his hostility toward the system: He didn’t do very well in it. A source in Texas passed The Huffington Post Perry’s transcripts from his years at Texas A&M University. The future politician did not distinguish himself much in the classroom. While he later became a student leader, he had to get out of academic probation to do so. He rarely earned anything above a C in his courses — earning a C in U.S. History, a D in Shakespeare, and a D in the principles of economics. Perry got a C in gym.

Nevermind that the debate should center on what he has done since then, or maybe even focus on his term as governor, or even that release of a transcript without permission of the student may be illegal. No. Let’s go back to college so we can legitimately say (say it along with me now) “Rick Perry is stupid!!”

Now, the other preferred method of attack is to find a way of labeling the GOP as “racist.”  Nevermind that the word has been misused so much that most people don’t even know the real definition, or don’t realize that “bigot” or “prejudiced” would probably be better if the argument actually applied.

MSNBC talking head Ed Schultz decided to prove Perry is a racist.   Now, mind you, the Left is always on the case when it comes to calling out statements they don’t like, especially when they are made by Limbaugh, Hannity, and other Conservative talking heads.  Somehow, they never mind when people like Schultz pull absurd statements out of their sphincter void and toss them out like gospel.

Rick Perry gave a speech where he referred to America’s debt as a “black cloud hanging over us.”  So what did Schultz do?  He had his people do some selective editing:

Yep.  Let’s leave out a key phrase–“that debt”–and make a case out of it, going so far as to invite guests on who you know will agree with you.  Schultz did apologize.  “On this particular statement, we should not have included it in our coverage of his overheated rhetoric,” he said in a statement.   “That’s our mistake. The full context of all of these other statements show who he is and what he stands for.”

In other words, “sorry we faked THAT one, but he’s still a racist!”

Next, we’ll start hearing about how GOP candidates are ugly and dress funny.

The President and the False Blame Game

This article was brought to my attention by a friend of mine (shoutout to Kovarik Glasco, fellow Georgia Tech grad and fellow fan of the “Song of Ice and Fire” series).

There is a narrative that President Obama and many on the left engage in when discussing the economy.  Even two-plus years into the new presidency, the “blame Bush” technique is still used.  In this narrative, the picture painted shows runaway spending and runaway deficits during the Bush years.  And the main point he uses is that the year he entered office he inherited a deficit of nearly $1 trillion.

But in an article found on the Huffington Post, Dean Baker, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, shows how this narrative just isn’t true:

This is simply not true. In its budget projections from January 2008, the last set before the impact of the collapse of the housing bubble was clear, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected a deficit of just $198 billion for 2009. This is less than one-fifth of the “on track to top $1 trillion” figure that President Obama gave in his speech. This is a serious error. One trillion is a much bigger number than $198 billion.

This difference is central to the budget debate. People can argue that the $198 billion deficit projected for 2008 was too large. But it would be absurd to claim it was out of control or represented any remotely serious threat to the nation’s solvency. In fact, over the five years 2003-2007 the country’s debt to GDP ratio was virtually unchanged, meaning that the country could run deficits of the same size (relative to the economy) literally forever.

This changed with the recession caused by the collapse of the housing bubble. It was the recession, and the response to it, that pushed the deficit in 2009 from the $198 billion projected by CBO to the over $1 trillion noted by President Obama in his speech.

Further, Dick Morris explains where the President is getting his numbers from:

In 2008, George W. Bush ran a deficit of $485 billion. By the time the fiscal year started, on Oct. 1, 2008, it had gone up by another $100 billion due to increased recession-related spending and depressed revenues. So it was about $600 billion at the start of the fiscal crisis. That was the real Bush deficit.

But when the fiscal crisis hit, Bush had to pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in the final months of his presidency, which cost $700 billion. Under the federal budget rules, a loan and a grant are treated the same. So the $700 billion pushed the deficit — officially — up to $1.3 trillion. But not really. The $700 billion was a short-term loan. $500 billion of it has already been repaid.

So what was the real deficit Obama inherited? The $600 billion deficit Bush was running plus the $200 billion of TARP money that probably won’t be repaid (mainly AIG and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). That totals $800 billion. That was the real deficit Obama inherited.

Then … he added $300 billion in his stimulus package, bringing the deficit to $1.1 trillion. This $300 billion was, of course, totally qualitatively different from the TARP money in that it was spending, not lending. It would never be paid back. Once it was out the door, it was gone. Other spending and falling revenues due to the recession pushed the final numbers for Obama’s 2009 deficit up to $1.4 trillion.

One important note that both writers mentioned: the important thing being missed is JOBS. Job creation will create income earners, which will boost the economy and help revenues. This is what the debate in Washington should be all about.

Where Does Tax Rhetoric Meet Reality?

There has been a lot of talk lately about taxes.  George W. Bush lowered tax rates twice while in office.  Democrats portray those cuts as “tax cuts for the rich” as though no one else benefitted–not even the large number of folks who were removed completely from the tax rolls due to the minimum taxable amount being increased.  Democrats also complain about the cost of the cut for the richest folks, constantly ignoring that the cost of the cut for the other brackets was 3 times as much.  Obama then extended those cuts, much to the chagrin of the Dems.

Now, as talk of deficit reduction and debt reduction heats up, there is much hand wringing going on regarding what to cut and where to get more revenue.  Democrats, of course, say raise taxes.  Republicans say no.

Republicans are playing hardball in terms of tax policy, saying no tax increases will be on the table.  In a way, I can agree, as the more important thing is to lower spending.  Not only that, but the government has a pattern in place:  every time more money comes in, they find a way to spend it.  Without going into detail, the fact that by law, surplus Social Security money is put into the general fund for spending purposes is a prime example.  Anyway, Republicans have their own tax mantra that they will say over and over and over again:

Tax cuts spur economic growth.  But tax increases destroy the economy and destroy jobs!

Having heard this so many times, I finally wondered how much truth there is to this.  Nevermind that I personally believe that taxes can be increased with with no devastating effect to the economy.  I wanted to know what history has shown.  Was there any conclusive proof that showed where tax increases had really hurt the economy?

From what I knew already, I knew that there were examples where tax rate cuts had at least helped spur the economy.  Higher taxes helped fund World War II.  JFK also decreased taxes, which led to economic growth.  Even under G.W. Bush, the economy grew after his tax rate cuts, though in a very tepid fashion.  But what about tax increases?

I was skeptical that I would find evidence and was convinced that the notion was simply a Republican talking point, but there is indeed proof.

  • President Herbert Hoover signed a major tax increase in 1932.  The top marginal rate was increased from 25% to 63%, among other rate increases.  Tax revenues in 1933 were 42% of what they were just two years prior.  Unemployment rose to nearly 25%.  Slowly, though, the economy recovered until…
  • In 1937, Roosevelt signed into law new tax increases.  The result was that the economy went back into recession and didn’t come back until during WWII.  Truman actually cut taxes during that time and by the end of the decade there were budget surpluses.
  • Reagan signed a major tax rate cut in 1981.  Many Republicans like to point this out about Reagan and say that those cuts are why the economy grew during the Reagan years.  But that leaves out part of the story.  Reagan signed a number of tax increases starting in 1982.  Tax loopholes were closed and Social Security was overhauled.  Businesses ended up paying more taxes as a result.  Despite this, there was still economic growth.
  • During the 90s, Clinton raised taxes.  The country was coming out of a recession, and even with the tax increases, the economy grew.  Clinton did, however, also lower taxes on capital gains in the mid-90s.  Many say it was actually the tax cut and not the increase that provided the huge boost in revenue to the government.

So, what is the outcome of my info hunt?  Well, as usual, both sides will make declarations without telling the entire story.  But right now, Republicans are most guilty of cherry picking.  While it’s true that some tax increases did real damage, both Reagan and Clinton showed tax increases can be done and they NOT throw the economy into chaos.  I will also point out that they are especially guilty of ignoring Reagan’s tax increases (yes plural) when talking about how his cuts grew the economy.

Bottom line, rolling tax rates back to pre-Bush levels will not damage the economy.  Just like before, businesses will still find a way to survive and eventually thrive, the economy will grow, and there will be jobs.

Obama Under Impeachment Threat–From His Own Party?!

Just a quick hit, from Politico, where it seems President Obama’s actions in Libya have have ticked off his own party members:

A hard-core group of liberal House Democrats is questioning the constitutionality of U.S. missile strikes against Libya, with one lawmaker raising the prospect of impeachment during a Democratic Caucus conference call on Saturday.

Further, Rep. Dennis Kucinich brought up the “i” word:

Kucinich, who wanted to bring impeachment articles against both former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over Iraq — only to be blocked by his own leadership — asked why the U.S. missile strikes aren’t impeachable offenses.

Now, Kucinich has come up with some off-the-wall things in the past, and this is no different. But to me, this just goes to show that as Obama not only tacks to the center in terms of policy, and also becomes more agressive militarily, he risks having his own party mates turning against him. Time will tell.

Links:

Liberal Democrats in uproar over Libya action

More on the shooting in AZ of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

From the UK Daily Mail, “America’s elite hijack a massacre to take revenge of Sarah Palin:”

History shows how dangerous it is to try to second-guess the motives of political assassins.

John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan because he was obsessed with the actress Jodie Foster, not because he hated Right-wingers.

Likewise, Lynette Fromme tried to shoot Gerald Ford because she revered the cult killer Charles Manson.

But those lessons from ­history won’t stop some Democrats exploiting the shooting of a nine-year-old girl and five others at the weekend with precisely the sort of foam-flecked over-reaction for which they love to condemn their opponents on the Right.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1345952/Arizona-shooting-Americas-elite-hijacked-massacre-revenge-Sarah-Palin.html#ixzz1Aq64ytkB

From Reason.com, “The Extreme Rhetoric about Extreme Rhetoric:”

But this debate about the “tone” of American politics is ideologically unidirectional, designed not to elevate debate but to vilify a political enemy. The call for calm—with its frequent invocations of Tea Party “fascism”—is stupid partisan politics dressed up as incoherent moral politics.

From the Huffington Post, Rev Jesse Jackson weighs in on “Hate Speech in Arizona:”

In Arizona, the kindling was there. The economy has been hit hard by the financial collapse, with employment opportunities for young people particularly limited. With families losing jobs or homes, fear and depression are inevitable. Add to this a venomous, racially charged debate on immigration and health care reform, as well as some of the worst gun-control laws in the country.

And a good one from David Harsanyi at RealClearPolitics, “A Phony Climate of Hate:”

The always-civil Jacob Weisberg of Slate was more forceful in this regard, claiming that “at the core of the far right’s culpability is its ongoing attack on the legitimacy of U.S. government.”

Which, as you know, should not be confused with those heady times liberals claimed that George W. Bush was “not my president” or that we needed a “regime change at home.” That kind of talk strengthened the legitimacy of government. Just as the “far right” — and I will assume this consists of anyone not named David Frum — could probably make the case that demanding government honor its constitutional limits is a demand for legitimacy.

We can argue about those things, I know. We can cobble together stupid remarks by radio talk show hosts or union activists or members of Congress and smear half the country. We can play tit for tat with tea party banners and anti-war bumper stickers and dig up some figurative rhetoric that sounds over-the-top retroactively and blow it out of proportion.

Quack! Quack! The Lame Ducks are here! What to watch for.

No, I’m not talking about all those Canadian Geese that are blocking traffic and crapping all over your lawn.  I’m referring to the “Lame Duck” session of congress.  For the uninitiated, the term refers to the congressional session between the elections and the beginning of the new congressional term, when many of the members of congress are simply biding their time before they are shown the door and replaced.  It’s a time where lots of shenanigans can occur; if you’ve been voted out and you only have a few weeks to “live,” you can vote on some things with no concern as to how it will affect you.

In this case, congressional democrats originally had lots of plans for the session.  Unfortunately, November 2 hit like a category 5 hurricane and messed up their plans.  But no worries, there will be fireworks.  Here is a sample of what to watch for:

  • The biggest issue to be resolved will be the extension (or not) of the Bush Tax Cuts.  Republicans want all of them made permanent.  Democrats want to draw the line at people making $200k/$250k individual/family.  There is talk of a 2 year extension of all cuts, but Obama and Pelosi are holding firm that they want no compromise.  Another compromise by Senator Chuck Shumer (D-NY) popped up over the weekend.  We will see if anyone pays attention.
  • The estate tax, aka the “death tax,” if not addressed, will go from 0% back to its original level of 55%.
  • Funding of the government is currently done via a temporary spending bill.  Congress will have to put in place a new spending bill for the year.  Should be a simple thing, right?  No.  Dems are refusing to accept a Repub proposal to hold spending at 2008 levels to reduce spending.

Other things that may come up include “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (which needs to go), the DREAM Act (a little too soon and too controversial right now), and the Alternative Minimum Tax, which could hit a lot more people if nothing is done.

“Bush Screwed the Working and Middle Class.” How?

I was in a discussion where someone stated “Bush screwed the middle and working class.”  My reply was to ask exactly how he screwed them.  We then got into a discussion about corporations, tax breaks, and outsourcing.  But it really made me wonder:  do people know the difference between when something the government does puts them in a bad situation, vs when they themselves do it?  When they hear that a policy or program is bad, or doesn’t benefit them, do they actually do the research to find out why?  Or do they simply believe what they hear and don’t research for themselves?

Its apparent that many people don’t bother to find things out for themselves.  We are a nation of people who tend to enjoy being led around by the nose, trusting others to tell us what we need to know instead of finding out for ourselves.

In the end, I didn’t get an answer as to how Bush screwed the working and middle class.  I’m sure someone has an example.