Friday, May 22, 2015

Chris Christie: No, I Really Don't Know Anything About Jimmy Carter At All

A little late to this, but I did feel the need to comment on it. Last week, New Jersey governor, and former Sopranos extra, Chris Christie, was campaigning in New Hampshire, and gave a speech criticizing President Obama's supposed failed economic policies. Factcheck.org has a nice little round up of all the fun ways Christie mangled the economic data to reach his conclusions, but I wanted to focus on one specific line he said in his speech:

This weak growth is no coincidence. It is the direct result of the policies of this president, the worst economic president since Jimmy Carter.
I know Republicans have been nurtured since birth to despise and mock Jimmy Carter, but would  it really be too much trouble to have a modicum of knowledge about what actually happened under his administration?

Say what you will about Carter, but contrary to conservative legend, his economic record wasn't particularly terrible. Here are the total net jobs created under every president since Carter:


Carter: ~10 million
Reagan: ~16 million
Bush I: ~2.6 million
Clinton: ~ 23 million
Bush II: ~1.3 million
Obama: ~ 7.3 million


Well, aren't these some interesting numbers?

From 1977 to 1980, Carter presided over the creation of roughly 10 million jobs. Not too shabby! His successor, the greatest President since the founding of our country, Ronald Reagan, presided over roughly 16 million jobs. Of course, unlike Carter, Reagan's numbers were over the course of eight years as opposed to four. Yes, the rate of job growth was actually higher under the wretched Jimmy Carter than under Ronaldus Magnus!

But notice which president appeared to do the worst job at creating jobs in the past 40 years? Why that would be our most recent Republican president, whose brilliant supply-side powered economy created a pathetic 1.3 million jobs over the course of eight years. President Obama's numbers may not be the most impressive, historically speaking, but they absolutely obliterate ole' Dubya's performance.

If Christie needed to reference a president with a terrible economic track record to compare Obama to, he didn't have to go back too far in time to do so.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Welfare Recipient, Ben Carson, Says He Would Raise Taxes On Poor Because They Have Pride

This past Sunday, Fox News' Chris Wallace interviewed self proclaimed serious Presidential candidate, Dr. Ben Carson. Wallace asked the good doctor about the tax plan he would enact if he ever became leader of the free world:

Well, I like the idea of a proportional tax. That way you pay according to your ability. And I got that idea, quite frankly, from the Bible, tithing. You make $10 billion a year, you pay $1 billion. You make $10 a year, you pay $1. You get the same rights. That's pretty darn fair, if you ask me.

Now, some people say it's not fair because, you know, the poor people can't afford to pay that dollar. That's very condescending. You know, I grew up very poor. I experienced every economic level. And I can tell you poor people have pride, too. And they don't want to be just taken care of.

 Okay, there's two big problems I have with Carson's comments. The first is something I wrote about almost a year ago regarding Carson from a McClatchy report. Many people may not know that the esteemed former neurosurgeon himself grew up receiving much help from the government:

No doubt, Mother Carson deserves tremendous credit, but – in the words of a political sound bite from the last presidential election – she didn’t do it alone. Carson, in his book, tells how his grades improved tremendously when a government program provided him with free eyeglasses because he could barely see. Not only that, in “Gifted Hands” we read this nugget: “By the time I reached ninth grade, mother had made such strides that she received nothing but food stamps. She couldn’t have provided for us and kept up the house without that subsidy.”
 No doubt Carson thinks his own mother was severely lacking in pride for allowing the government to offer her assistance. Or maybe not.

It’s hard not to see Carson’s own upbringing coming into view here. He grew up in meager surroundings in Detroit and Boston, in a family that made use of public assistance programs like food stamps. The culture was different then, Carson insists. “I think there was a time when people were not proud of taking handouts,” he said. “There were more people who did have that drive and determination. You do what you have to do."
As always, it's okay to receive government help if you're a Republican. If not, then you should have enough pride and self-respect to go hungry for a little while until your next paycheck arrives.

The second issue I have is, as Wallace explained later on,  that Carson's plan would provide a massive tax cut for the wealthy.

WALLACE: But, Doctor, here is a problem with flat tax in the real world -- according to the Tax Policy Center, to raise the same amount of revenue we do now, the tax rate would have to be in the low to mid 20 percent range.

...

WALLACE: Low and middle income families would get a big tax hike, while wealthy families would actually get a tax cut.

In Carson's world, we should think that poor people should be insulted for wanting the government to go easy on them, but for some reason, rich people don't seem to have that same level of dignity. Later on, Carson went to argue that his solution to poor people paying higher tax rates would be to increase offshore drilling. How that would said poor people with the tax hike Carson wants to impose on them is a bit of a mystery.

This is gonna be a fun election.

I know, I know..

I'm sure all of you have noticed that the posts on here have been rather infrequent to say the least. I've been preoccupied with a combination of real world distractions as well as sickness for the past few weeks. I know I say this all the time, but I will "try" to be a bit more diligent about blogging. I apologize to my adoring public in advance.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Chris Christie Thinks His Half Million Dollar Income Doesn't Make Him "Wealthy"

Well this should be fun when it starts making the rounds on the internets:

Gov. Chris Christie insists he's not rich, but is nonetheless confounded by the complexity of his tax returns and again hinted that he might back a simplification of the U.S. income tax code should he run for president.

"The fact that my wife and I, who are not wealthy by current standards, that we have to file a tax return that's that thick ... is insane," Christie told the editorial board of the Manchester Union-Leader on Monday, holding his thumb and forefinger several inches apart.

"We don't have nearly that much money," he said.
 So how not nearly that much money does Christie actually have?

The Christie family reported $698,838 in income on their 2013 tax returns, the most current year available.

Only eight-tenths of one percent of all U.S. households had an adjusted gross income over $500,000 in 2015, according to the Tax Policy Center, a non-partisan think-tank based in Washington.

Poor guy. He's only a mere semi-millionaire. Someone should start a GoFundMe page for him.

How does the Governor compare against the people in the state he serves?
In New Jersey, the Christies are also in a rarified strata: According to the US Census Bureau, the median household income for the state of New Jersey between 2009 and 2013 was $71,629. The Christies most recently-reported income in 2013 is more than eight times that amount.

"If the Christies had an adjusted gross income of almost $600,000, they're certainly in the top 1 percent," said Eric Toder, co-director of the Tax Policy Center.

Only  eight times more than the median household income in New Jersey? Come on, like that's even worth mentioning.

Chris Christie may not see himself as "wealthy", but he knows who actually are. This apparantly includes people on social security making more than $80,000/yr. and families earning under $28,665/yr.

The governor seems to have rather unfortunate timing, as Republicans recently have concocted the genius idea to attack Hillary Clinton for supposedly being an out of touch, tone deaf, plutocrat. Oops.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ted Cruz Demonstrates Why The Healthcare Debate Has Been Wrapped In a Mobius Strip of Idiocy

I've been meaning to comment on this exchange between CNBC's John Harwood and Ted Cruz that took place last week:

Harwood: Now, a third Texas president, L.B.J., created Medicare in the mid-'60s. Your hero, Ronald Reagan, campaigned vigorously against that, saying it would lead to socialized medicine, it would end liberty in the United States. Who was right, L.B.J. or Reagan?

Cruz: ​You know, at the end of the day— it's not worth tilting at windmills. And we are at a different point in time than we were in the 1960s. Today, Medicare is a fundamental bulwark of our society.  And there is an entire generation of s—
 
Harwood: ​So, the philosophical objection just goes out the window?

Cruz: ​At the— I'm— I'm a big believer at focusing on battles that matter and that are winnable. And there is a broad, universal consensus that Medicare is a fundamental bulwark of our society that's fundamentally different. Look, it's one thing to have asked 50 years ago should we have created it. It's another thing when you have a generation of seniors who paid into it 30, 40, 50 years who have been made promises. We need to honor those promises—

Harwood: Fair enough. But—

​​Cruz: ​—and— and— and—

​​Harwood: ​—do you think at the time Reagan as right?

​​Cruz: You know, I don't know. I wasn't alive then. What I do know is that today, we have got to preserve and reform Medicare.

Most political commentators  have zeroed in on  that last line from Cruz. But while that comment was no doubt breathtakingly stupid, it is, amazingly enough, not the most idiotic thing he's said during that exchange.

Ted Cruz, like every Republican politician in the country, hates Obamacare, and has vowed to repeal every word, if given the chance. Why? Because he and his ilk, are ideologically opposed to the idea of "government run" healthcare. Sure, Obamacare, as it was crafted, doesn't result in the government actually delivering healthcare, and mainly relies on private insurers to do most of the work, but even that's a bridge too far for Calgary Cruz.

Which makes his comments on medicare all the more interesting/moronic.

Cruz says that there's a "broad, universal consensus" that medicare is "a fundamental bulwark of our society". Why is this a problem? Because medicare just happens to be one of those wretched, awful, anti-freedom government programs that Cruz absolutely loathes. To be clear, it's not just a government-run program like Obamacare. In fact, it's far, far worse.

As mentioned earlier, Obamacare relies mainly on private insurance providers. Private. Medicare, by contrast, is entirely administered by the government. You know, the same government that conservatives are supposed to hate? Yeah, that's the same one that handles this wonderful medicare program that Cruz thinks is a "fundamental bulwark of our society".

I can already predict the rebuttals that will no doubt be flooding the comments section. "Medicare is completely different! People spent their entire lives paying for it, and should be able to reap the benefits as they had no choice in the matter!". This is true. It's also completely irrelevant to the matter at hand.

Right-wingers like Cruz aren't just making the argument that the free market can deliver better quality healthcare at lower cost. They are making the argument that government involvement in healthcare (or really almost anything else for that matter) is not only inefficient, but immoral, and evil. Indeed, prominent conservatives have literally argued that government-run health care will lead to genocide!

If Republicans had any internal consistency, you'd see people like Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, etc. vowing to repeal every word of medicare, considering it's a far more liberal, and therefore, far more of a socialist monstrosity than Obamacare. Instead we have a situation where Ted Cruz is actually falling over himself to defend this wretched creature spawned from the Great Society. Hell, during the last election, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan performed an impressive feat of Rovian political jiu-jitsu by attacking the socialist tyrant, Obama as the true enemy of medicare!

This is the state of our national healthcare debate.

George Will Fudges Reagan's Economic Record

Last week, George Will appeared on Fox News Sunday, and said something that was particularly absurd. It turns out that March's employment numbers weren't exactly impressive, with the economy gaining a mere 126,000 jobs. Commenting on it, Will had this to say:

“Let your mind go back to November last year. There was job creation of 321,000 jobs and the administration said this is a miraculous achievement and a harbinger of things to come. It wasn’t a harbinger and it wasn’t miraculous. During the Reagan recovery there were 23 months of job creation over 300,000. Reagan had a month of job creation of 1 million and this was at a time when there were 75 million fewer Americans.”

Unfortunately, that claim wasn't exactly true. Well, technically it was true, but as is the case when dealing with conservatives, very misleading. Over one million jobs were definitely created in September of 1983, but if you look at the jobs numbers the month before that, you'll find something interesting:



As Brother Benen at the Maddowblog pointed out:

If you check with the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and take a look at the monthly job totals from 1983, you’ll see something interesting: the U.S. economy, the data shows, lost over 300,000 jobs in August 1983, only to then add over 1 million jobs literally the next month, in September 1983. If something about this sounds fishy to you, trust your instincts.
Indeed. As Business Insider further explained:

So, sadly for the Reagan zealots, President Reagan, his economy, his tax cuts, his supply-side economics, etc., etc., never produced one million jobs in one month, or anything close to it. It was a simple matter of striking communications workers dinging the payroll numbers one month and, upon their return, goosing them the next. Nothing more, nothing less. Could not be more straightforward.
 
If you look at the data, the following month, the numbers of jobs added went all the way down to 271,000 jobs. Not that that's a bad number or anything, but the point being is that if we're supposed to credit the explosion in job growth in September to Reagan's economic policies, then the question arises, what happened to bring that number down so much? 

The answer is of course, nothing. It was a one time anomaly and Reagan hadn't had anything around the same ballpark before or after. The second highest month of job growth he had was in October 1987, at 492,000 jobs. Definitely a good number, mind you, but far from over 1 million.

The entire so-called Reagan economic boom, while admittedly very good in terms of job numbers, wasn't some major benchmark that the country had yet to surpass. Job growth was more impressive under Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. Yes, Jimmy Carter, who despite being the second worst U.S. president in history, presided over 10 million jobs in term, as opposed to Reagan who presided over nearly 16 million in two terms. For those of you keeping score, that's a higher rate of growth under Carter than Reagan.  And of course, Bill Clinton presided over 23 million jobs over his two terms.

Also (and this is really important), both Clinton and Carter did so without the power of REAGANOMICS. Carter dealt with a 70%+ top margical tax rate all throughout his presidency, and Clinton enacted, at the time, one of the largest tax hikes in recent memory. Yet somehow they were both able to keep up with and even surpass Ronaldus Magnus' job growth. How in the world can such a thing be possible?

Finally, let me just say that while March's numbers aren't anything to brag about, but 1) we've still had 59 straight months of private sector job growth, and 2) we should probably wait to see if this is the beginning of a trend, or was just a one off thing. After all, even the Gipper had several months of unimpressive growth as well (there were seven months after the recovery began that had job growth under 150,000).

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Blogging's Been a Little Light, I'll Admit...

Sorry for being gone for the past few weeks. Had to deal with some personal issues, sadly. But hopefully I'll start posting regularly starting today.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Sheriff Mack Says He's Not A Beggar, But He WILL Take Your Money, Thank You Very Much

The hits keep coming from freeloading freedom lover, Sheriff Mack. As I posted the other day, the Sheriff hates the idea of socialism, including things like social security, but will happily collect checks from said socialist program because it's "his" money. Now, Mack churned out this gem from a recent interview with liberal radio host, Thom Hartmann:



"Yes, we have some very serious medical problems.  and no, I did not go begging in the streets or begging on GoFundMe or any place else."

Now technically, he is correct. Mack didn't set up the GoFundMe page. That was done by some of his friends and his son.

Does this mean that Mack will be refusing all the money that's been collected so far on his behalf? Haha, of course not. At the end of the interview, the Sheriff directs "liberals" to go to his GoFundMe page and help him out. This is what's considered "self-reliance" among conservatives.

Hate to break it to ya, Sheriff, but it doesn't work that way. Just cause you yourself didn't set up this GoFundMe page, and weren't physically out on the streets with a tin can in your hand, doesn't mean you're not a beggar. Begging by proxy is still begging. Especially when you're keeping the money raised by such dishonorable means. Why should other people be taking care you for your own health problems? Why is it okay for you to be leeching off of other people? Why can't you solve your own issues?

Not surprisingly, this is the exact same excuse offered by a RedState.com editor, who was in a similar situation. "It can't be begging if someone else is doing it FOR me!"

None of this should be surprising though. Conservatives bark the loudest when it comes to things like personal responsibility, self-reliance, and good ole' fashioned bootstrapping, but the moment they face any difficulty whatsoever, they are the first to solicit help from anyone else to bail them out.

Begging, like with every other negative thing in life, is perfectly okay, if you're a conservative.


POST SCRIPT:

Also, can I just ask what this moron is actually protesting to begin with? He says he's against Obamacare (obviously), but what the hell does that mean? Obamacare is not a product. You can't go to a hospital or pharmacy and say "I'd like to buy some Obamacare, please". Obamacare is a system that regulates the private insurance market. That being the case, if one "opted out" of Obamacare, that would mean they would have to opt out of buying any existing private insurance plan.

That leaves the Sheriff with very few alternatives. Either he keeps paying for all his medical bills with his beggar funds for the rest of his life, or he waits until he's eligible for medicare. Considering he seems to have very little problem with collecting social security, it seems he won't put up much of a fight when it comes to being forced to take medicare. Which in itself is even more idiotic because medicare is way more of a socialist program than Obamacare is!

Reminder: Rush Limbaugh Vowed To Move To Costa Rica If Obamacare Was Still Around In 2015

(A tad late for this because my computer crashed the other day and wiped away all my notes about important upcoming dates to keep an eye on)

Five years ago, conservative Godfather, Rush Limbaugh made the following promise regarding Obamacare:


"I'll just tell you this, if this [Obamacare] passes and it's five years from now and all that stuff gets implemented -- I am leaving the country. I'll go to Costa Rica." 
Well, here we are five years later. Will Rush keep his word, and move to a supposed free market utopia that amusingly enough...has universal health care? Probably not, cause he's Rush, and as such, he never does anything that results in net positivity. But if by some miracle, he decides to follow through on his "threat", well, don't let the Statue of Liberty hit your ass on the way out.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Sheriff Mack Hates Socialism, But Will Gladly Accept Social Security

Last week, Talking Points Memo posted this karma-tastic story of right-wing jackass, Sheriff Richard Mack, currently being overwhelmed by medical bills because he refuses to by health insurance on account of the President's cooties:

Former Arizona county sheriff Richard Mack, a fierce opponent of Obamacare and a leader in the "constitutional sheriff" movement, is struggling to pay his medical bills after he and his wife each faced serious illnesses. The former sheriff and his wife do not have health insurance and started a GoFundMe campaign to solicit donations from family and friends to cover the costs of their medical care.

"Because they are self-employed, they have no medical insurance and are in desperate need of our assistance," reads a note on Mack's personal website.

Some of you may remember, the good sheriff was one of the few remaining patriots that stood by Cliven Bundy last year, supporting his constitutional right to kill any federal agent that decided to bother him for whatever reason. He came up with the ingenious idea to use women and children as human shields in attempt to make the government look bad should they have decided to open fire. Real swell fella, this one.

The idea of an anti-Obamacare dipshit being unable to pay for his own medical bills  provides a great helping of schadenfreude for liberals.


On Wednesday, Marc Lamont-Hill interviewed Mack on Huff Post Live. As you would expect, I, and many others, were no doubt interested to see if Mack had learned anything at all from his experience. Being a fanatical "constitutional" conservative for decades, however, it was a safe bet to assume the answer was "no":

"Socialized medicine, I don't believe was supposed to be part of the constitution of our country or its foundation.

...

We're not supposed to be a socialistic country.

I have bad news for the good sheriff. We've actually had socialized medicine (at least to some small degree) since the founding of the country.  So yes, we've been a socialistic country for a good while now.

But the best part of the interview was towards the end, when Lamont-Hill asks Mack how he feels about other socialistic programs like social security, medicare, and the VA:

"Social security is my money, and I want it back. But no, I don't support a federal government that believes it's there to take care of me from cradle to grave."
I have to say, I'm somewhat surprised Mack is willing to take back "his" money, despite the fact that it would be contaminated with government pathogens. I'd venture a guess that Mack would also be open to accepting help via medicare as well (which would be hilarious because both social security and medicare are WAAAAAAY more socialistic programs than Obamacare, but hey, who cares about minor details like that?).

I will give the Sheriff this much. At least when it comes to Obamacare, he does appear to be sticking to his principles by adamantly refusing to buy any form of health insurance.

But conservatives shouldn't celebrate Mack's courageous stand, just yet. There's another layer to this that needs to be pointed out.  See, conservatives like Mack love to mock and berate liberals for supposedly being moochers and leeches (as their most recent failed spokesman so eloquently stated). But now Mack himself is in the position of those he's despised.

But some may argue that, sure, Sheriff Mack may now an official member of the 47%, but he's only asking for voluntary donations. Thus, it's perfectly fine because thus nobody is being forced against their will to help him out.

Sorry, that argument won't fly. Whether you're begging for help from the government or begging for help from your "community", the fact of the matter is that you're still begging. Mack no doubt loves to think of himself as someone who solves his own problems, being a self-reliant, patriotic red-blooded American, but he's anything but at this point.

 "I don't want to be taken care of by Washington D.C. bureaucrats or politicians."

No, of course not. He wants to be taken care of by private citizens who feel sorry for him. That's how all real bootstrappers handle things, after all. And it seems he'll be relying on the kindness of friends and strangers for the next two years until he becomes eligible for (and accepts) that horrid socialized health care program we call medicare.

An almost identical situation happened with Caleb Howe, an editor for Redstate.com a couple of years ago, which I wrote about. And just like Sheriff Mack, he hated Obamacare with a passion, and wound up begging people to help out with his medical bills, and proceeded to not learn anything whatsoever with the ordeal.

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