Thursday, August 30, 2012


I've been a political junkie since I was a kid, working for my old man who, besides being a small business owner (home repairs), was part of what was called "the Democratic machine" of Essex County  New Jersey. I've been watching the presidential nomination conventions every year ever since we got our first TV.

But this is the first year I've been tuning out. I watched snippets of Ann Romney's speech last night and a few others, and a good portion of Paul Ryan's tonight, as well as others. But pretty much every word they said was so predictable and so predictably untrue (except for the bromides, like we're for freedom or we love America etc.) and the obvious disgust, even venom felt toward our president seemed to me unprecedented.

Mocking the opposition, even getting snide about the opposition, is classic presidential politics in my experience. But obvious outright lies projecting and promoting the idea that the president is beneath contempt, the epitome of evil and deliberately trying to undermine our union and society and well being etc. etc. etc. No, that's descended to a new level.

Every speaker got elements of that justification for contempt for our democratically elected president into their speeches somewhere somehow, and some that's all they did (I learned later from watching analysis and The Daily Show and Colbert and reruns etc.). Like the chairman of the Republicans, who illustrated exactly the point I'm making when he answered a question about running ads and making speeches that tell lies about Obama's record by dismissing "fact checkers" as irrelevant and then went on to give a speech full of lies.

Ryan is the poster boy for this, including lies even about his home town and home state (as well as about Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts). The reality is though, that certainly Republicans themselves buy into the lies and like the chairman of their party dismiss facts as irrelevant to the story they're trying to convince voters about. And unfortunately so do a lot of others, like so-called "independents" who don't fact check and pick up their information from the media that gives equal weight to facts and fiction in their coverage because they want a horse race and one that's exciting and dramatic and close enough to keep people interested for the duration.

If the Republicans were not successful in getting laws demanding picture i.d. to vote in a majority of states now, that will repress the vote, for example in Pennsylvania by as much as 9%, enough to turn that blue state red, and if the media actually talked facts and not opinions etc. Obama would be reelected by a landslide. Just the media making it clear that the economy does not need to be "turned around"—that's what Obama did, turn around an economy speeding into the abyss of another Great Depression. The economy needs to grow faster, but it IS heading in the right direction, thanks to Obama and the Democrats in Congress whose attempts to make it grow faster have been thwarted every step of the way by an obstructionist Republican party that declared on the first day of Obama's administration that their top priority was making sure he failed!

But that's not reality. What's happening is the Republicans have more money, especially the undisclosed donor kind that can run nasty lying ads in more states and more times than the Dems, and they have their own media as well as the mainstream media cowed by their insistence that any questioning of their lies only proves their "liberal" bias, etc. and many voters will stay home out of disappointment in what they believe are Obama's failures because they have bought into the message of the rightwing lies in their ads and media repetition of those lies, or not be able to vote because Republicans have managed to get voter i.d. laws passed that mostly will keep the poor and the elderly from being able to vote.  There's a very good chance Romney/Ryan can "win" this as a result.

Plus a lot of folks are just tired, probably feel battered by the relentlessness of the rightwing Republican machine's repetitive propaganda (and maybe of the Democrats failure to transcend these attacks) and have lost interest in the whole political process. Which will only help the Republicans. But if we want to avoid an even worse future than the one we have ended up with after Bush/Cheney moved the country further to the right than Reagan who moved it further right than Nixon, etc. we've got to buoy each other up with enthusiasm and encouragement to not just vote but to get the message out to anyone we encounter or can reach through any means.

Here's to rising to the occasion.

[In the meantime, to the poster I shared in my last post as a rejoinder to the right's idea that anyone can become wealthy if they work hard enough and a comment on the first night of the Republican convention, here's another poster to share as a rejoinder to the second night:]


Robert G. Zuckerman said...

It's sad that candidates don't win on their merits, but on the hypnotism of media buys bought with ill gotten gains. It's also sad that a large segment of our population cannot think and see through all the lies, and that the horribly backward mentality still exists of those shameful peanut throwing ignoramuses and the RNC yesterday. Not to mention all the speakers who came out and prefaced their diatribes with anti divisivenss rhetoric and then proceeded directly into lying trash talk. And it's sad that people cannot see through this and get hypnotized into it. Oh, and I hate this frikking figure out the word thing below before you can post your comment.

Anonymous said...

you might appreciate this in today's washington Post:

I've yet to read the L.A. Times piece.

Lally said...

Thanks for the link, and Robert, I keep doing what they ask to eliminate the letter thingee so people can comment directly but it comes back now and then. I'll try again.

JIm said...

Of course Paul Ryan and Condi were great as expected. For me the surprise was Governor Susan Martinez, who had been a Democrat and her story about her conversion to the GOP. She and her husband were invited to dinner to discuss philosophy by a Republican. She said they discussed welfare and I assume they also discussed equal outcomes vs equal opportunity, adherence to the founding documents etc.

After the meeting she turned to her husband and said,"Dam I am a Republican."

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

I wonder if they discussed unequal opportunity and unequal outcomes?

Kirk Petersen said...

Michael, I seem to recall that George Bush also was faced with opponents "promoting the idea that the president is beneath contempt, the epitome of evil and deliberately trying to undermine our union and society and well being etc. etc. etc."

It's only natural to notice the slings and arrows when they're directed at your own team, and overlook those coming FROM your own team. If someone on my team makes an unfair comment -- garden-variety unfair, not Todd-Akin-reprehensible-unfair -- my reaction is to shrug, discount it and move on. But a similar comment in the other direction sticks in my craw, I remember it and maybe resent it.

Separately, as far as I recall, the only prominent conservative who openly talked of wanting Obama to "fail" was Rush Limbaugh. Limbaugh does not speak for me or for the Republican party.

Lally said...

You're incorrect Kirk. A short list of Republicans leaders who called for Obama to fail from the day he took office would include the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, the whip in Congress Eric Cantor, and I would guess, oh, maybe 100& of Tea Party republicans etc. And no one at the Democratic convention that nominated Kerry attacked Bush junior in anyway near the disrespect shown Obama. No president in my lifetime which started with FDR has ever been treated with as much disrespect as Obama. I will match clips from past conventions with you anytime and dare you to find anything to compare to what Clint Eastwood did tonight or the chariman of the RNC did two nights ago. Nor will you find anywhere in my lifetime a speech by a vice presidential candidate with as many outright lies in itlet alone all the others who spoke. I have plenty of Republican friends. This isn't about politics and us vs. them, this is about a major sea change in our politics with one party basing pretty much its entire campaign on lies. Not opinions, not judgements, not a different perspective: lies.

Kirk Petersen said...

I must say I was relieved when Eastwood finally got off the stage tonight.

We may be talking about different things Michael. I'm making a narrow point about the use of the incendiary word "fail" or variants thereof. Of course McConnell and Cantor and the Tea Party started Obama's presidency by wanting to limit him to one term. The opposition party opposes. But if you Google "Obama I hope he fails" you won't find any Republican leaders. Only Limbaugh.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Oh yeah?:

Posted at 12:21 PM ET, 10/18/2011 TheWashingtonPost
CNN poll: Republicans want Obama’s policies to fail
By Greg Sargent
A great catch by Jed Lewison: In the new CNN poll, Republicans are the only group that wants Obama’s policies to fail. From the internals:

In general, do you hope that Barack Obama’s policies will succeed or do you hope that his policies will fail?
Succeed 39
Fail 51
By contrast, 66 percent of independents want his policies to succeed, and 67 percent of overall Americans want that, too.

Even more interesting, when Republicans are then asked about some of the Obama policy ideas themselves — without Obama’s name attached to them — majorities support them.

The only two Obama ideas polled that are opposed by Republicans are an increase of unemployment benefits and tax hikes on those over $250,000. Meanwhile, 58 percent of Republicans support cutting the payroll tax for all workers; 63 percent of Republicans support federal aid to states to hire teachers and first responders; 56 percent support federal spending on infrastructure; and 56 percent of Republicans support raising taxes on millionaires.

But when asked about Obama policies, Repblicans want them to fail. Go figure.

In fairness, maybe when Republicans say they don’t want Obama’s policies to succeed, they are talking about the first stimulus, the health care reform bill, and Wall Street reform — and what they mean is they want to see these policies repealed. Or maybe the less charitable interpretation is true — whatever the consequences for the country, if Obama’s policies fail, he won’t get reelected. Or maybe the answer to that question represents the depth of strong GOP dislike for the president. Or maybe it’s a combination of all these things.

Anyone got a better explanation?

By Greg Sargent | 12:21 PM ET, 10/18/2011

JIm said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Kirk Petersen said...

Robert, that's interesting, but you do understand that the poll you cite is not pertinent to the discussion, right? The respondents are not Republican leaders, and there's a world of difference between volunteering the thought that "I hope he fails" and answering a multiple choice question where the only choices are "fail" and "succeed".

Lally said...

Kirk, you're either being disingenuous or don't really want to address the point of the pot and the reality that Republican leaders wanted Obama to fail from the gitgo. Rush didn't say he wanted Obama to fail, he said the dirty little secret is that every Republican wanted Obama to fail, and no republican leader said that wasn't true or challenged Rush and in polls a majority of Independents and Democrats etc. said they wanted Obama to succeed but not Republicans polled. Republican leaders in Congress and their fellow party members voted against policies they originally initiated when Obama came out for them. They said no to their own ideas, their own think tank ideas, ideas their own past and present leaders were for...until our president said he was for them. There is no way any person with an understanding of reason, logic, evidence and and awareness of Congressional voting on issues put foreward by the Obama administration can deny that Republicans, top to bottom, have said and done everything they possibly could and can to make Obama fail. Look at the record which is cited on post on this blog and has been since Obama was elected.

Kirk Petersen said...

Michael, actually I DO want to address the point of your original post, and I have been very careful to focus on the substance and to avoid questioning anyone's motives by using terms like disingenuous, lies, etc.

As I read it, the point of your post is your assertion that President Obama's opponents have "descended to a new level," even though you acknowledge that "Mocking the opposition, even getting snide about the opposition, is classic presidential politics in my experience."

I disagree that there is anything unique about the nature of Obama's opposition. But I have no quarrel with you for expressing that opinion, which certainly is widely held by Democrats and people who lean left politically. You and I have different opinions on the topic... fine.

Where I start to have a problem is with the assertion that Obama and the Democrats have been "thwarted every step of the way by an obstructionist Republican party that declared on the first day of Obama's administration that their top priority was making sure he failed!"

No. In the context of Obama's presidency, one person owns the word "fail": Rush Limbaugh. Here's what Limbaugh said four days before Obama's inauguration:

So I'm thinking of replying to the guy, "Okay, I'll send you a response, but I don't need 400 words, I need four: I hope he fails." ... I would be honored if the Drive-By Media headlined me all day long: "Limbaugh: I Hope Obama Fails." Somebody's gotta say it.

The "I hope he fails" meme survives because partisans on the Left want to hang it around the neck of all Republicans. Limbaugh obviously has a large audience, but he does not speak for me, or for the Republican Party.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Kirk makes generalizations as well, it's just natural. However you try to parse words, there has been and is opposition of, and disrespect to, President Obama from the get go (remember ""Liar!") Based not upon what he's actually done, but upon hearsay and prejudice.

Lally said...

So I take it Kirk that you voted against Reagan and both Bushes if you're against large government debt and voted FOR Clinton because the figures for them are not too old etc. And here's an example of how this campaign is different. When fact checking showed that Republican ads made untrue claims about Obama they still kept and keep running them. In past campaigns when ads were called out for being proven false they were pulled. That's a sea change. And they did the same with the candidates speeches, like Ryan's, and his man said that facts didn't matter, as have many Republicans when interviewed (Giullianni (sp?) said it after Ryan's speech when a reporter pointed out one of many lies in the speech—although like most reporters he didn't use the term "lie" but instead said it was "false" etc. And the reason I called your comment disingenuous is because it is Kirk. There is no way you can argue that Republican leaders have not made it clear that they wanted Obama to fail, they've stated it, and it is there and when I feel like wasting even more time on these silly arguments that try to refute reality because it doesn't fit an ideological frame maybe I'll list a few (they can be found in previous posts from the last four years) and there is no way you can defend Republican Senators and Representatives voting against what were originally Republican ideas but suddenly became "socialist" because Obama proposed them. How in the world can a sane, logical, reasonable person defend someone saying a certain policy is intended to destroy our country deliberately (like the movie Obama 2016 posits and Republicans have been attesting throughout Obama's time in office) after being FOR THAT POLICY RIGHT UP TO THE SECOND OABAMA PROPOSED IT AS PRESIDENT! He as conceded again and again to Republican proposals only to have the goalposts moved so that there can be no success he can claim and even when he succeeds despite their opposition they then reinterpret his success as failure! Ala Romney/Ryan's claims about the auto bailout. Oh man, it's too tedious and tiring (a strategy that obviously is working for the right) to constantly battle over why a fact is not a fact because it comes from the left and why a lie is not a lie when it comes from the right without getting to the substance. And the reason is because the substance exposes Republican policy suggestions (like Ryan's) as harmful to those of us who aren't wealthy, and even more so to the poorest among us and more costly than Obama's policies and proposals. Can you at last admit that the facts show that under Reagan/Bush and Bush/Cheney THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT GREW and so did the debt AT A RATE NEVER BEFORE SEEN IN HISTORY and under Clinton the government actually shrank as did the debt and under Obama government also has shrunk and if you subtract the debt that he inherited the debt he has accrued (mostly as a result of the Bush tax cuts and the failing economy he inherited) is less than what Reagan/Bush and Bush/Cheney accrued? Or do we have separate facts on that too and the Congressional budget office can't be trusted even though it has been nonpolitical and bipartisan etc. etc. et-endlessly-cetera.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Based on what he's already written, Kirk will comeback with another pedantic response and will not have the "stand-up" to acknowledge the facts and the truth. I hope he proves me wrong here, I love being proven wrong.

Kirk Petersen said...

Michael, I freely acknowledge that Republicans and Democrats alike have been complicit in the bloating of the size of government. I don't think it's particularly useful to argue about who is MORE to blame.

The data is available at Yes, Reagan's defense spending drove the debt and the deficit up sharply. (It also contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which strikes me as a good tradeoff.) Yes, the strong economy made Clinton look good (I voted for the man twice, and on balance I consider him a successful president). Yes, the wars and the financial crisis and the expansion of Medicare to prescription drugs all happened on Bush's watch. Bush was no fiscal conservative.

At that OMB website, if you look at Table 1.1, you'll see that in fiscal 2009 (a year for which Bush was far more responsible than Obama), the deficit ballooned from $459 billion to $1.4 trillion. It literally tripled. That's not Obama's fault.

What Obama has to answer for is failing to roll back the spending and deficits that should have been a one-time emergency response to the financial crisis. He's turned an inflated spending level into the new normal, in part by increasing government control of the one-sixth of the economy related to healthcare, through a bill opposed by a majority of Americans. Even when measured by the more forgiving standard of a percentage of GDP (Table 1.2), the four largest deficits since World War II have been the fiscal years 2009 through 2012.

Romney's experience with "Romneycare" (which passed with broad bipartisan support in Massachusetts) makes him an imperfect vessel for the fight to overturn Obamacare. But while Romney is not ideal, he and Obama are the only alternatives we have.

Lally said...

So Kirk you don't want to argue abour who is MORE to blame for bloated government. To my mind that's a devious way of getting out of the fact that government grew under Reagan/Bush and Bush/Cheney and shrank under Clinton/Gore and Obama/Biden. As for Reagan's raising the debt to unprecedented levels being excused because it caued the Soviet Union to collapse, the Soviet Union was collapsing already and Reagn's CIA at the time (which his vice presient had run) claimed the USSR was actually going to defeat us if we didn't spend even more money on arms and had no, NO analysis that predicted the fall of the the USSR. if anyone had anything to do with that it was Gorbachev, if it wasn;t for him and Yeltsin much of the USSR may have remained intact, especially once Putin arrived on the scene. As for presidents contributing to the fall of the USSR, Carter's Afghanistan policy (one which I objected to at the time) did more than any other. It was the Soviet defeat and retreat from Afghanistan that began its deminse.

I'm not going to get in a point by point refutation of your comments kirk because that's not why I started or continue this blog. The evidence is in previous posts of mine over the several years I've been doing this now or in some of my books and other writing, as it is all over the web.

And if the figures you quote from the OMB are really correct, the obvious logical response is that if Obama had not been presiding over the smashed economy near Great Depression levels he inherited including the wartime tax reduction for the wealthiest etc. there would have been more revenue to offset necessary spending to stimulate the economy. If anything, he should have spent even more.

I'm outta this discussion now and am not interested in the reframing of reality to soften the catastrophic results of Republican rule in my lifetime while distorting the Democratic record to make them look worse than they are or were.

Robert G. Zuckerman said...

Thank you Michael, for shining the light of truth into the pedantic fog.