Yo, The Stimulus Worked – Thank You President Obama!

Common refrains from people who say it didn’t work:

  • But Obama promised that unemployment would be less than 8%. Horseshit on a stick. First, he didn’t “promise” a damn thing, if everything an incoming president says is turned into a “promise”, well then there has been a whole lot of promise breaking going on in our history. Second, the cautious prediction made during the transition was based on the numbers that the outgoing Bush administration was feeding the Obama team. They were flat out wrong and completely underestimated what was going on in our economy. Hey media, that’s called context. Buy some at the local C-store.
  • But soooo many people are still out of work. Yes, and that totally sucks. But that does not mean that the over 3 million people who did get jobs are insignificant or don’t matter. They do. If the measure for whether the stimulus worked is full employment, then those people will be waiting till the end of time — we’ve never had anything close to full employment. And you can damn well bet that those people still looking for work are encouraged by the fact that others are starting to find jobs, which of course increases the number of people looking and drives up the unemployment rate.
  • But Fox News says we are still in a recession, the numbers are being cooked. The only thing cooking at Fox New is the meth that the anchors must be smoking during commercial breaks.
  • But, but, but….let’s just all say it together, the stimulus worked. And yes, we have more to do, but don’t let the Republicans and the compliant media make you think that cutting taxes for the rich would have been much better, that is a big part of what got us into this freakin mess.

I’ll Take Cognitive Dissonance For 200, Alex! The Fox News Alternate Reality Game

In keeping with the alternate reality created by Fox News and perpetuated by it’s minions like Rush Limbaugh, the anchors at Fox News are questioning the recent uptick in the number of jobs created in the private sector. They are pushing the idea that the books have been “cooked.” It is really astounding how obvious they are in their attempts to keep their alternate reality propped up. Alex Seitz-Wald at ThinkProgress spells it out pretty clearly.

If it weren’t improper to psychologically analyse strangers, one might think the Fox hosts are displaying a textbook example of cognitive dissonance here, a psychological phenomena in which people who hold a strong belief about something invent (sometimes far fetched) explanations for new evidence that conflicts with their existing views. Obama is bad for the economy, the jobs numbers show the economy is doing better, so there must be something wrong with the jobs numbers.

To illustrate how Fox News is selective in believing the job numbers, we only have to look at how they report when unemployment rises.

The Labor Department reported that employers added just 18,000 net jobs in June, the fewest in nine months. The jobless rate ticked up to 9.2 percent from 9.1 percent. The pace of job growth is not even enough to keep up with population growth — it would take about 125,000 jobs per months to do so — and certainly not enough to bring down the unemployment rate.

The article then goes on to quote extensively from the Labor Department’s report, while sprinkling in Republican talking points along the way. Not a single mention of any books being cooked or numbers being manipulated, because — you know — the bad numbers fit with the narrative.

What is disturbing to me about this tactic is that it works for their audience.They are feeding them exactly what they want and they really don’t care if their viewers are misinformed. In fact, I would argue that they count on it. Several studies of Fox News viewers have shown a huge disconnect between reality and the manufactured one that the right have been feeding them. Steven Benen wrote an excellent piece a while back on how disconnected Fox News viewers are from reality.

borrowed from White Noise Insanity

The quantifiable evidence is overwhelming. Eight years ago, just six months into the war in Iraq, the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) at the University of Maryland found that those who relied on the Republican network were “three times more likely than the next nearest network to hold all three misperceptions — about WMD in Iraq, Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11, and foreign support for the U.S. position on the war in Iraq.” […]

The problem is actually getting worse.

In December, PIPA published a report, this time on “Misinformation and the 2010 Election” (pdf). The point was to measure Americans’ understanding of a variety of key developments that news consumers would likely be familiar with. As was the case eight years ago, Fox News viewers were “significantly more likely” to be confused about reality.

It really scares me to think that viewers of the most watched cable news network live in a world where empirical reality has no place. They absorb only information that conforms to their beliefs and block any conflicting information, regardless of the source. And even when presented with clear evidence to the contrary, they either attack the messenger or just cover their ears and go “na na na, I can’t hear you.”

My theory on why they are successful at this tactic is that most of these uninformed viewers have a mindset that is based on emotion, fear and bigotry. Logic plays no role in their thinking and because of that, they are extremely susceptible to suggestions and selective facts they fit those biases and fears. Fox News only has to confirm those fears and play with those emotions. Fox News has made a science out it…except, of course, they don’t believe in science either.

Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles

Keystone XL Pipeline — The “Drill, Baby, Drill” of 2012!

Our “liberal media” at work!

The Republican Party is picking up where they left off in the last election and helping to define themselves as the party “of and for” corporations – especially big oil.

In 2008, they had “Drill, Baby, Drill” and all the money that came along with that. This election year, they’ve chosen the Keystone XL pipeline to show how they plant their lips on the ass of big oil.

Once again, they have the media on their side in this endeavor. Media Matters for America did a study of media coverage from August 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011 on the Keystone XL pipeline.  The results aren’t a surprise to anyone who pays attention to reality. This chart tells the story pretty clearly.

The GOP has been tremendously successful at getting the media to play along with them since August of 2011 on this issue and the above chart shows us the results. The red bars show how “job creation potential” was mentioned in the coverage from major media outlets with the green bar representing the “environmental concerns.” If you’ve been following the topic recently, it is obvious that Republicans are trying to make this into their jobs program, or at least an attempt to show how the Obama administration is preventing job creation. Go read the whole article at Media Matters, it was very thorough.

When you drill down into the numbers (I couldn’t resist), it turns out that reality is much different than the propaganda that has been sold to the American people. In a different post, Media Matters has some interesting information that gets to the real job numbers associated with the pipeline. Here are some snippets that show a progression that begins with Fox News…

Fox Anchor Martha MacCallum: 20,000 Jobs Is “The Low-End Estimate.” [snip]

TransCanada Said In 2010 That Keystone XL Pipeline “Is Expected To Create Over … 13,000 New Jobs For American Workers.” [snip]

Wash. Post: Based On TransCanada’s Numbers, “The Number Of People Employed” Would Actually Be 6,500. A November 5 article in The Washington Post reported that TransCanada CEO Russ Girling “said Friday that the 13,000 figure was actually not a true job number, but actually accounted for ‘one person, one year.'” The Post added that “if the construction jobs lasted two years, the number of people employed in each of the two years would be 6,500.” [snip]

Cornell University Global Labor Institute: Based On TransCanada’s Numbers, “The Project Will Create No More Than 2,500-4,600 Temporary Direct Construction Jobs.” [snip]

Cornell University Global Labor Institute: “Based On The Figures Provided By TransCanada For The Canadian Section Of The Pipeline, The New Permanent US Pipeline Jobs In The US Number As Few As 50.” (emphasis mine)

The estimate by the independent group at Cornell University puts the number of temporary jobs at 2,500 – 4,600 and the number of permanent jobs at 50. Those jobs would certainly matter to the people lucky enough to get them, but it ain’t no 20,000 jobs for sure. And considering all the risks to the states that this pipeline would travel through, not worth it at all.

Republicans are either stupid or crazy, take your pick!

In November of 2011, the Republicans decided to embrace the issue in their negotiations for extending the payroll tax cut that President Obama was fighting for. The pipeline became their bargaining chip in those negotiations, even after being warned by the State Department that trying to force the issue would result in it being killed for sure. That didn’t seem to bother the GOP, from a State Department briefing on December 12, 2011…

The State Department has led a rigorous, thorough, and transparent process that must run its course to obtain the necessary information to make an informed decision on behalf of the national interest. Should Congress impose an arbitrary deadline for the permit decision, its actions would not only compromise the process, it would prohibit the Department from acting consistently with National Environmental Policy Act requirements by not allowing sufficient time for the development of this information. In the absence of properly completing the process, the Department would be unable to make a determination to issue a permit for this project. (emphasis mine)

But like the flat footed, clumsy party that they are, the GOP kept right on pushing it. So during the holidays, we were treated to the White House fighting for tax cuts for every American while the Republicans were blocking those tax cuts and supporting big oil. Coming off the BP oil spill in 2010, I’m not sure that is the group you want to wrap your arms around.

Just over a week ago on January 18, 2012, President Obama officially rejected the Keystone XL pipeline bid.

But the president said today in a statement that the congressionally imposed deadline did not provide adequate time for the State Department to finish a customary review of the pipeline’s route through six states.

“The rushed and arbitrary deadline insisted on by Congressional Republicans prevented a full assessment of the pipeline’s impact, especially the health and safety of the American people, as well as our environment,” Obama said.

“As a result, the secretary of state has recommended that the application be denied. And after reviewing the State Department’s report, I agree.”

What is so astounding to me is that they don’t seem to really want the pipeline to go through, they just want it as a campaign issue. Steve Benen summed it up very well…

I’d argue that this is the outcome Republicans wanted all along. The GOP didn’t really want the pipeline; they wanted the ability to whine about the absence of the pipeline. This wasn’t, in other words, about energy production; this was about creating an issue for the 2012 campaign.

There were signs that the Republicans might abandon that tactic, but the other day, Boehner hinted that he may double down on that strategy.

 Besides the stupidity of pitting tax cuts for all Americans against the interests of big oil, Republicans also touted those outrageous claims of how many jobs it would create. Going into an election year that everyone says will be all about jobs, you would think they might pick an issue that would actually create some jobs. But instead, they’ve inflated and exaggerated numbers that even the company building the pipeline doesn’t agree with.

I’m seeing a new slogan, “Lay Pipe, Baby, Lay Pipe.” Now get your minds out of the gutter.

Cross-posted at Angry Black Lady Chronicles

H/T to The Washington Monthly and Media Matters for America

Is Candy Crowley Getting Paid For The Work She’s Doing For Romney?

Steve Benen put up a post the other day about an exchange between Candy Crowley and David Axelrod that is a perfect illustration of how the media has morphed into stenographers for politicians, mostly Republicans. Many in the media have abandoned critical thinking and analysis in lieu of the easy routes – polls, talking points and false equivalency nonsense.

Here is the exchange that has Candy Crowley doing the heavy lifting for the Romney campaign.

CROWLEY: But couldn’t that huge gap, which is a pretty big gap between those who think you could handle the economy as opposed to Mitt Romney — couldn’t it also be that, from the day — from the month the president took office, we still have 1.7 million fewer jobs in the marketplace?

AXLEROD: Candy, let’s have — you know what, I’m happy to have that discussion. Do you know that, when he was campaigning for president in 2007 and 2008, Governor Romney had nothing but praise for the economic policies that were in place at that time, as America was sliding into the worst recession since the Great Depression, after eight years in which we…

CROWLEY: But this isn’t Romney. This is a fact.

Steve Benen goes on to point out that in the first 6 months of the Obama presidency, the country lost 3.89 million jobs. And yes, President Obama was president at the time of those job losses, but if anyone thinks that a single thing that President Obama did in that first 6 months had ANYTHING to do with the job losses, they are seriously deluded.

Here is a chart that shows the number of job losses/gains over the last 10 years or so.

Courtesy of Steve Benen at The Washington Monthly

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Economy Grows at 2.5 GDP in Third Quarter

Guest Blogger: Mike Sax

This time the consensus was right. While we had worried earlier that such optimism could be dashed, I had concluded that the trend in data lately has unquestionably been up.

For my earlier piece-that I wrote before dawn-please go here.

As it turns out GDP growth increased by exactly the 2.5 percent predicted. At the moment it seems that while we haven’t felt confident-recent consumer confidence is at its lowest level since the 2007-2009 recession-things have been getting better. Consumer spending, which accounts for 70 percent of economic activity, grew by 2.4 percent as opposed to only .7 percent in the second quarter.

Similarly, business investment picked up:

‘Similarly, while some business surveys have pointed to a contraction in factory output, there is little sign corporate America is cutting back spending. Indeed, recent data has suggested business spending is picking up. Business spending rose at a 16.3 percent pace as companies splurged on equipment and software, and invested in nonresidential structures. ”

Like consumers it seems that business spending exceeds confidence. Unemployment claims were down 2,000 to 402,000 and have clearly shown a downward bias in recent months though sustained job growth is only indicated when they are able to consistently dip beneath 375,000 a week.

“Apart from consumer and business spending, growth in the third quarter was also supported by a smaller U.S. trade deficit, and the careful management of business inventories bodes well for fourth-quarter production.”

“The GDP report also showed a moderation in inflation pressures, with the personal consumption price index (PCE) rising at a 2.4 percent rate in the third quarter, slowing from the April-June quarter’s 3.3 percent pace. Core PCE, which excludes food and energy, rose at a 2.1 percent rate after increasing 2.3 percent in the second quarter.”

[via CNBC]

Also found at Diary of a Republican Hater

Occupy Wall Street Has Friends And Enemies!

Even though the Occupy movements have many people who despise both political parties, there is a clear distinction between which party is a friend and which is an enemy to the movement.

The Democratic Party is clearly on the side of the 99%’ers and no amount of denial and blame shifting can change that. And yes, the Democratic Party has their share of elected representatives that act more like conservatives than liberals, but that fact shouldn’t diminish the hard working liberals in the party who are fighting for all of us in this country who don’t have lobbyists. When I hear or read people generalize and group all Democrats in with big business, they are ignoring reality and perpetuating false memes.

I had an exchange on Twitter the other day with a person who exemplifies much of that “head-in-the-sand” thinking. Here are a few of his tweets, with my responses.

Tweeter: The difference between a Democrat and Republican is the difference between a man and his mirrored reflection.

Extreme Liberal: How does the mirror reflect the repeal of DADT? Or health care for children? Or Lily Ledbetter? Or the Matthew Shepard law?

Extreme Liberal: Or who’s reflection is opposite Sotomayor or Kagan? Do you want a Republican picking the next nominee to the SUPREME COURT!

The Tweeter in question then sent a tweet that he has since deleted, probably had second thoughts about it, but he basically said that the issues I raised were “petty”, to which I replied…

Extreme Liberal: Tell my niece who now has health care that she is petty or over 60,000 LGBT people now serving openly in our military.

Extreme Liberal: And if you have any females in your family, are you willing to give up their rights to their own bodies? Supreme Court matters!

Tweeter: Bush might as well have been a Democrat, Obama a Republican for the similar aims and interests re: domestic/foreign policy.

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The Republican Jobs Plan Is To Help Wall Street And Pollute!

President Obama spoke in Asheville, North Carolina this morning as part of his continued push to bring jobs to the American people. He laid waste to the Republican’s “plan” and did a little comparison for us that spells out a stark reality. It needs to be shared with the people marching in the streets across the country…(emphasis mine)

THE PRESIDENT:  They said no to helping veterans find jobs.
Essentially, they said no to you — because it turns out one poll found that 63 percent of Americans support the ideas in this jobs bill.  (Applause.)  So 63 percent of Americans support the jobs bill that I put forward; 100 percent of Republicans in the Senate voted against it.  That doesn’t make any sense, does it?

AUDIENCE:  No!

THE PRESIDENT:  No, it does not.

Now, it turns out that the Republicans have a plan, too.  I want to be fair.  They call — they put forward this plan last week.  They called it the “Real American Jobs Act.”  The “real one” — that’s what they called it — just in case you were wondering.  (Laughter.)  So let’s take a look at what the Republican American jobs act looks like.  It turns out the Republican plan boils down to a few basic ideas:  They want to gut regulations; they want to let Wall Street do whatever it wants. 

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Occupy Wall Street – Sign Of The Day

I’m very encouraged by the energy being generated by the “Occupy” movements happening across the country. And even though it is made up of people with many different views on politics, I’m hopeful that it gets people involved and more people register to vote — because elections do matter. If you don’t think they matter, you must have been sleeping through President Bush’s 8 years in office. This movement has the potential to change the corporate hold on Washington and give voice to those who don’t have lobbyists, the 99% of us just trying to survive. Viva La Occupy!