Monday, February 1, 2016

Ted Cruz Doubles Down On His Stupid Obamacare Jobs Claim

At the most recent Republican debate, Ted Cruz made a whopper of a claim, even for him:

“It’s been a disaster,” the Texas senator said during the final GOP debate before the Iowa caucuses. “It is the biggest job-killer in this country, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, have been forced into part-time work.”
Of course, the problem here is that it is not in any way true whatsoever. But a little thing like reality wasn't going to stop Cruz from repeating this insipid talking point. He went on Fox News Sunday to double down on the stupid:

WALLACE:  But, Senator, the fact checkers say you're wrong.  Since that law went into effect, the unemployment rate fell from 9.9 percent to 5 percent, as 13 million new jobs were created and 16.3 million people who were previously uninsured now have coverage.
Now, don't get me wrong, there are plenty of problems with Obamacare.  But more people have jobs and health insurance than they did before Obamacare.

CRUZ:  Chris, the media fact checkers are not fair and impartial.  They are liberal, editorial journalists.  And they have made it their mission to defend Obamacare.

So right off the bat, Cruz brings out the old Republican standby: "BUBUBU THE LIBERAL MEDIA!". But this is not some vague, subjective issue like abortion or gun rights. Defending Obama's record on job creation requires nothing further than the ability to know how to count. You don't need left-wing media outlets like Media Matters (and Fox News, apparently) to find out if jobs were actually lost during Obama's tenure after he signed Obamacare into law (click to enlarge):

The table above is the monthly private sector job growth/loss for all of Obama's presidency up until last December, documented by the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Obamacare was passed in March of 2010, and if you look at the numbers since then, you'll find that not only have we not had a SINGLE month where there were any private sector jobs lost whatsoever, but that we've added, as Chris Wallace said, 13 million jobs since.

To put that in perspective, the last Republican president we had, presided over a total positive job growth of 7.4 million.  President Bush achieved this number with pro- tax cuts for the rich, pro-deregulation, and pro-freedom policies. The same policies Cruz is supporting, and the same policies that are the anti-thesis of Obama's policies, which he insists are killing jobs at an incredible rate.

(Note: That 7.4 million number represents only positive job growth under Bush, and doesn't include the millions that were lost under his watch, which would bring the total down significantly)

And yet, as of this point, since Obamacare's passage, job creation under the job-killing legislation, is almost 6 million higher than it was for the entirety of Bush's presidency. Obama also has one year left, and so that job growth number could wind up being even higher.

How does Cruz explain this? He doesn't, as you'll see:

WALLACE:  There's certainly no question that more people have jobs and more people have health insurance coverage.

CRUZ:  Yes, there is question.  Number one, we have the lowest percentage of Americans working today of any year since 1977.  That's fact.  They focused on --

WALLACE:  But there are 13 million jobs created, sir.  That’s a fact.

CRUZ:  The fact is that from 2008 to today, we've seen economic growth of 1.2 percent on average.

CRUZ:  Chris, don't interrupt me.  I'll give an answer --

WALLACE:  That's changing the subject.

CRUZ:  No.

WALLACE:  Thirteen million new jobs have been created.

CRUZ:  And that is a historically slow rate of job creation if you look at what has occurred in any previous year.  You know, Obama is the first president ever to have a year of 3 percent economic growth.  Millions of people in this country are hurting.

One of the problems is you've got the elite, the Washington elite, the rich have gotten richer under Barack Obama.  The top one percent are in a higher share of our income than any year since 1928.  But working men and women are hurting.  
So you see what he did here? He shifted away from job creation to talking about GDP growth and income inequality. We can definitely argue about those particular details, but they are separate from job growth numbers, which Cruz is anxious to run away from. GDP growth is important, but it's not necessarily always related to job growth:

As you can see, GDP growth under Obama is nothing brag about. But although his predecessor did slightly better on that front, Obama has created millions of more jobs ( about 6 million since Obamacare was passed and roughly 7 million since the recession bottomed out). Sadly for Cruz, trying to divert to a different metric dose not hep argue the central thesis that Obamacare has been killing jobs.

But this is probably my favorite part of the interview:

And I'll tell you, you know, representing Texas, one of the things I do when I go home is I host small business roundtables.  And I bring together 20, 30 small business owners around the table and just ask them, share what’s on your heart.  Share what you're thinking about.  Share what you’re praying about.

I have never done a small business table where at least half the small business owners didn't list Obamacare as the single biggest obstacle they're facing.  Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and the people have been forced into part time work.  Or lost their health care or lost their doctors or seen their premiums skyrocket. 
In other words, Cruz has no use for liberal "fact checkers", the CBO, or the BLS,  but hearing the supposed complaints of a few dozen random small business owners is all the proof he needs that Obamacare is a nationwide job killing machine. Who needs actual empirical evidence when you have anecdotes?

There is nothing that encapsulates the modern day Republican party more than this.

The Snobcast: Oregon Standoff Aftermath PT1

Proud to announce the very first episode of the Snobcast! Hope y'all like it.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Chris Christie Defends Low Poll Numbers In His Home State

On Sunday Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey governor, Chris Christie appeared on CNN, and host, Jake Tapper asked him why he feels he should be president of the United States when the people in his own state don't like him. Christie offered a very interesting answer:

“That — that approval rating has gone down once I started to run for president,” Christie replied. “And it should be no shock. You know, the fact is when you start looking for another job, you’re current employer gets a little miffed and that’s what’s gone on here in New Jersey.”

Not sure about you guys, but I'm not really impressed with this particular defense. I think many people would agree that the mere action of running for President of the United States, isn't generally enough to make your constituents dislike you. After all, if they feel that you're doing a good job serving your state, presumably they would want you to expand that leadership to the entire country. As Tapper pointed out, fellow Republican governor, John Kasich is also running for President, but his approval rating is at 62% (compared to 31% for Christie). What's the disconnect there, Chris?

In cases like this, I feel that we can just simply invoke our good friend Occam, and assert that the fine people of New Jersey don't like Christie cause he's simply a lousy governor. The rest of the country also seems to concur as well.

Still, I suppose this is a slightly better argument than Christie made last year when he hilariously claimed that his terrible poll numbers were a result of his constituents missing him too much if he ever became president.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

No, Senator Cruz. You Are Not The Spiritual Successor To John F. Kennedy

While campaigning the other day, Republican presidential candidate, and most unlikable man in America, Ted Cruz delivered this bit of stupid:

Just days after attacking the values of New Yorkers, GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) traveled to New England on Sunday and attempted to claim that he was heir to the mantle of one of the nation’s most beloved presidents, Democrat John F. Kennedy.
“JFK campaigned on tax cuts, limiting government and standing up and defeating Soviet communists,” he told a New Hampshire audience. “JFK would be a Republican today. He stood for religious liberty, and he would be tarred and feathered by the modern Democratic Party.”
This gets brought up from time to time, but it never gets less annoying. Republicans have long been using the talking point that JFK would be a Republican primarily because he lowered taxes. Ted Cruz goes a bit further by claiming the late Democratic president also supported limited government and religious liberty. Unsurprisingly, Cruz, once again,, happens to be wrong on everything.

First off, it's true that JFK proposed sweeping tax cuts, lowering the top rate from 91% to 65%. However, there are several key distinctions when comparing it to the kind of tax policies Cruz and his ilk support. As Brother Benen explains:

In the years following World War II, both Truman and Eisenhower kept high tax rates in place in order to help pay off war-era debts and help in post-war reconstruction. By the time Kennedy took office, the nation could afford to reduce rates, so he lowered the top marginal tax from 91% to 65%. (For comparison, note that a 65% top bracket is still far higher than today’s 39.6%.)
In an amusing twist, many congressional Republicans opposed JFK’s plan – Republicans had not yet made the transition in earnest from an anti-deficit party to an anti-tax party, and many GOP lawmakers from the era questioned whether the nation could afford Kennedy’s tax breaks.
Furthermore, the type of tax cuts that JFK supported were not the kind that would be proposed by a proto-Reaganite:

Does that suggest JFK was some knee-jerk supply-sider, who’d be comfortable with contemporary Republican policies? Um, no. Not only was Kennedy’s plan rooted in Keynesian economics, it was also designed to spread the wealth around – the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation determined that the bottom 85% of the population received 59% of the benefits of JFK’s tax cut. The top 2.4% received 17.4% of the tax cut, and the top 0.4% received just 6% of it.
As opposed to the tax cuts signed into law by Reagan and Bush II, where nearly all the wealth went to the richest among us (aka the "job creators").

It should also be pointed out that by the time JFK came into office, a top tax rate of over 90%, which was in place for a good while, probably was hurting job growth and tax receipts.  This may have been one of the few times where a tax cut was legitimately helpful to the economy. This is a situation that most Democrats probably wouldn't have too much of an issue with. We don't reflexively hate tax cuts on the wealthy, we just think that most tax cuts (especially nowadays with current rates) wouldn't have any significant positive effects and in the case of revenue, would almost always have a negative effect. We're not ideologues, we're pragmatists, and infinitely more so than Republicans.

Moving along, Cruz's claim about JFK supporting "limited government" is even more laughable. The  37th president supported a  significant expansion of welfare and anti-poverty programs, endorsed tremendously strengthening civil liberties, created a massive socialized health care program that President Obama could only dream of passing. Not to mention he greatly increased spending for education, particularly in the areas of science, something that would be anathema to a flat-Earther like Cruz.

No matter how you slice it, JFK was in no way someone who advocated limited government.

Finally, there's Cruz's assertion about JFK's support for religious liberty. Now this one Cruz actually happens to be correct on. JFK did indeed support religious freedom. The problem though, is that this is a completely different kind of "religious freedom" that Cruz and the Republican Party support. JFK was a strong proponent of the separation of Church and State. Cruz wants to allow Christians to ban gay people from shopping at their stores. Not exactly  the same thing.

I think we'd all appreciate it if Republicans would stop co-opting one of the most popular Democratic presidents. It's already annoying enough when they glorify Republican presidents that they would probably hate if they were alive today.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Michael Bay's Conservative Catnip Flops In Theaters

Michael Bay's long awaited film, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi was finally released this past weekend. Unfortunately, for those hoping the movie would finally demonstrate to the American people what eight federal investigations, dozens of congressional hearings, and thousands of hours of righteous indignation from conservative media over the past three years couldn't, they were in for a massive disappointment:

Michael Bay’s action movie about the Benghazi, Libya, terror attacks stumbled at the box office this weekend, opening at No. 4 in American theaters.

“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi” opened with an estimated $19.6 million domestically, according to The Hollywood Reporter.  “American Sniper,” which opened the same weekend a year prior, pulled in a stunning $107.2 million, while “Lone Survivor” opened to $37 million in early January 2014. Bay's last opening as a director — for "Transformers: Age of Extinction" — brought in more than $100 million.

Ouch. Not only did the movie fail to meet expectations, but it was the worst performing film by Michael Bay in a decade. And it might even end up actually losing money as well.

I have to say, I'm somewhat surprised that the movie flopped. Considering how polarized the country is, and with a massive marketing campaign by Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media, I figured there would be enough die hard Hillary haters to make the movie perform much better. Maybe not achieving American Sniper numbers, but still something more respectable than how it actually did.

Of course, I suppose it's important to note that, while a film like American Sniper is loved by conservatives, it wasn't a film that was only seen by conservatives. It was far less politically charged than BAYGHAZI! and thus seemed to have gained a wider audience, one that was made up of a good portion of people who believe Obama was born in the U.S., but also just simply wanted to see a fun action flick.

Despite the claims of Michael Bay and many of the people involved with the movie that it was "apolitical", it was pretty damn clear it was in fact, quite political. I haven't seen the movie myself, but I've read a good chunk of reviews. While it's true that the movie isn't "political" in the sense that it never once mentions either President Obama or Hillary Clinton, there's a lot dog whistling throughout. It makes several references to things like protests, the anti-muslim Youtube video that was initially believed to have led to the attack, the constant failure of the U.S. government to send help, and probably the most prominent right-wing meme, the alleged "stand down" order that was featured prominently in every single trailer since the movie was unveiled. Every single one of these things were nods to hardcore Republicans, and despite Obama or Hillary not being uttered by name, it was made blatantly clear to the conservative faithful who the true perpetrators of Benghazi were.

Alternatively, it's also quite possible that the movie failed to live up to expectations because it wasn't political enough. As mentioned, the movie makes plenty of allusions to the incompetence/malevolence of the Obama administration and the State department, but unless you've actually been religiously following the scandal via Fox News or Rush Limbaugh, you probably wouldn't make the connection as to who was really responsible for what transpired. The typical indifferent American voter might walk away thinking the reason those four brave Americans died was because of the movie's antagonist, the CIA station chief, or probably some random government bureaucrat at either the State department or the Pentagon. The idea that the President or the Secretary of State (or both) murdered their own ambassador is not something any low information voter would immediately conclude from the movie unless it was specifically spelled out for them.

Thus, it stands to reason that the typical Fox News fanatic probably might have felt disappointed at what they may have perceived as a lost opportunity to properly educate the American public, and so didn't bother recommending the film to any of their friends that didn't already share their opinions to begin with.

In any case, while I don't know for sure why BAYGHAZI! bombed (no pun[s] intended),  I'm glad it did. If for no other reason than to relish in the tears brought forth by dashed conservative hopes and dreams that this would be the one thing that would finally bring Hillary Clinton to justice.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Party of Personal Responsbility...

The Palin clan is definitely filled with some upstanding citizens:

Track Palin, the son of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, was arrested Monday and charged with with domestic violence and other counts, according to the Wasilla, Alaska police department.

Police said in a statement released Tuesday that officers were called to a residence in Wasilla for a disturbance report at about 10 p.m. Monday, where they encountered Track Palin.

"An investigation revealed Track Palin had committed a domestic violence assault on a female, interfered with her ability to report a crime of domestic violence, and possessed a firearm while intoxicated," police said in the statement.

Now does anyone want to guess how the Palin matriarch responded?

"It starts from the top. The question though it comes from our own president, when they have to look at him and wonder, do you know what we go through, do you know what we're trying to do to secure America and to secure the freedoms that have been bequeathed us?" [Governor Palin] added. "So when my own son is going through what he goes through, coming back, I can certainly relate with other families who feel these ramifications of some PTSD and some of the woundedness that our soldiers do return with."

Yes, you read that right.  Sarah Palin actually blamed her son's PTSD and subsequent domestic abuse on Obama. Definitely didn't see that one coming, no sir.

Now, while this is the least surprising thing in the world, it does bring up a question I've had for a while. Has anyone from the so-called "Party of personal responsibility" ever taken responsibility for anything bad in the past twenty years? Legit question. Cause I honestly cannot think of any instance where that has been the case. It seems like there's been a pattern where, if you're a Republican, and something unfortunate happens under your watch, it's always someone else's fault. Whether it's 9/11, Iraq, the handling of Katrina, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, etc. there always seems to be plenty of blame to go around...for the other party.

You would think in this particular case that there would be even an infinitesimal amount of introspection on Sarah Palin's part on whether it's possible that she might have failed as a parent, and deserves some blame. But of course, accepting blame is only something that non-patriots do, no doubt. Seriously, it must be great to be a Republican. You get to take credit for good things that happen that you might not have had anything to do with whatsoever, while simultaneously escaping all culpability whenever things go South. That's what it means to be the party of personal responsibility.

To paraphrase the words of s a wise man: "It's easy to blame yourself, but it's even easier to blame the Kenyan socialist".

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Bill O'Reilly Threatens To Flee Socialist U.S. To Even More Socialist Country

Bill O'Reilly understandably doesn't like Bernie Sanders. But he doesn't just dislike him. He dislikes him enough that he would actually flee the U.S. if he ever got elected president:

“And you know, look, I’m fleeing,” he warned. “If Bernie Sanders gets elected president, I’m fleeing. I’m going to Ireland. And they already know it.”

O’Reilly added: “I shouldn’t say it publicly because that will get Sanders more votes. But I’m not going to pay 90 percent of my income to that guy. I’m sorry. I’m not doing it.”
Now, while I would be the first to offer Bill help in packing his bags, I feel that it is my duty as a good liberal to caution him about the wisdom of such a decision.

See, Bill wants to leave the U.S. because Bernie Sanders, a self described socialist, would turn the U.S. socialist (moreso than what current socialist president, Barack Hussein Obama has done, apparently). One way he would do that, would be to raise taxes on rich people like O'Reilly and use that money to fund universal health care. Slight problem though, as Henry Farrell from the Washington Post helpfully explains. On taxes:

He does have a second possibility though — paying to become a citizen. Ireland, like many other countries, provides citizenship to individuals who are willing to invest or donate a large sum of money to the benefit of the Irish economy.

What would O’Reilly get in return for his money? First off, a tax system which is not all that different from the U.S. tax system for top earners, and arguably a little less favorable. The effective top Irish income tax rate is a little over half of income.
 On health care:

O’Reilly denounces Obamacare as ‘socialism’ because it uses taxpayers’ money to subsidize the poor. The Irish health-care system does the same thing, on a much larger scale, with a hospital system that is directly run by the government. In Ireland, hospital doctors are government employees (although many senior doctors earn substantial incomes on the side from private practice). Everyone in Ireland is entitled to free basic health care in hospitals, and low income people get medical cards entitling them to free doctors’ visits and many other services.
So turns out that O'Reilly ingenious plan for fleeing a newly made socialist hellhole is to move to a more established socialist hellhole. Brilliant.

I'm surprised that even someone as dumb as O'Reilly would actually make a rookie mistake like this. I mean, this isn't 3rd grade oceanography we're talking about here. This is something Bill O' should actually be deeply familiar with, as a conservative talking head. Ireland is a country that's in Europe, which is a continent/entity that's representative of everything conservatives hate. Strong labor laws, a generous welfare state, France, etc. It'd be like a liberal complaining that New Jersey was becoming too conservative cause of Chris Christie, and so they plan on moving to Kentucky.

To be fair to Bill O', he's not he first conservative to make an inane threat in response to a progressive policy that would result in fleeing to a much more progressive country.

Of course, none of this really matters anyway because Bill O's just huffing and puffing, but just like a few years ago when he threatened to stop working if Obama raised his taxes, he'll somehow find the motivation to still stick around for whatever reason.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Sometimes The Internet Is Totally Awesome

Offered without comment:

Well Somebody In The Oregon Legal System Plans On Punishing #Yallqaeda

This is a good start:

An Oregon judge says he will bill Ammon Bundy up to $70,000 a day to reimburse Harney County for security costs related to the ongoing occupation of a wildlife refuge.

Of course, while I fully support this course of action, the problem lies in the other part of the equation: how to get these meatheads to actually pay up. After all, Ammon and Ryan's deadbeat dad, Cliven, owed the government over a million dollars, which was the entire reason his inbred hide became a nationwide story in the first place. As of this date, he still owes the government that million dollars, and presumably with interest.

At the moment however, Cliven hasn't made any announcement on any plans to make good on said payment, and the Feds don't seem to be too bothered by it either. I don't see how this situation will play out any differently. This nice judge may be mailing bills to the Bundy household after this idiotic insurrection is done, but mostly said bills will be used for kindling.

Of course, I'm also totally fine with jail time too. Just throwing that out there.