Archive for August, 2012

The Chance to Hope
August 26, 2012

Again and again I see Republicans on television saying that President Obama “had his chance” and that “his policies have failed”.

I’m sick of it.

There is no part of this statement that is true; every part of it is an outright lie, and I really wish one of the show hosts would finally call someone out on it, because it’s infuriating.  But since they never do, I thought I’d take a few minutes today to completely refute this entirely false assertion.

There are two components to the lie, and I’m going to show you what they are and how they are not just mistakes, but absolutely calculated lies.

1) PRESIDENT OBAMA HAD HIS CHANCE.

Let’s take a look at this statement, shall we?  Because it’s not as simple as it first appears.  On the surface you might think, “Yeah, he DID have his chance.  He got elected didn’t he?  He’s been President for nearly 3 years.  That’s a pretty big chance! Good call, Republicans, America did indeed give him a shot, by electing him.”

But what kind of chance are we talking about here? The chance to live in a nice house?  The chance to be in the news a lot?  The chance to make speeches?

No.

The chance they mean is the opportunity to do what the job of President of the United States of America entails.  That’s more than just a really choice seat on a nice airplane.  It means you set the agenda for Congress in terms of voting on laws.  You also make appointments to fill key positions in government agencies, and you choose the people who ensure how those agencies will be run.

Saying PBO “had his chance” amounts to saying “Hey, once he took office he had free reign to do all those things and put every policy he wanted in place.”

That’s not what happened.

Republicans have fought, tooth and nail, every single thing the President has tried to do since he took office.  In terms of legislation, they’ve not only voted against everything he’s attempted in solid blocks, they’ve spent millions of dollars in advertising to turn the public against him at every turn.  The billionaire Koch brothers orchestrated the creation of the Tea Party, the biggest “Astroturf” political movement in recent memory, to try to squelch the Affordable Care Act and win back the House of Representatives in the 2010 elections.

Now, you might say, they’re supposed to fight for their position, nothing wrong with that.  And I’m with you, as far as that goes, nothing wrong with that.  But that’s not “giving him his chance”, is it?

And it doesn’t stop there.  In the Senate, the Republicans have filibustered more than any Congress in U.S. history, killing bills that had over 50 votes.  In other words, even with a MAJORITY VOTE, bills have failed because of the non-stop overuse of the filibuster.  The REQUIRED vote for a bill to pass the Senate is now 60, a so-called “Super-majority”.   And this from the same party that never stops going on about what the Founding Fathers might have wanted.

Is that “giving him his chance”?  Misuse of power to stop majority-supported bills from passing at every single opportunity?  Hardly.

But wait, there’s more.  Congress has blocked nearly every single appointee the President has tried to make, and there are STILL, four years later, agencies with no head because of it.  Republicans would rather make sure there is no qualified person running the offices that head our government than allow President Obama to get one thing done.  Because once the agencies aren’t run effectively, goverment will break down, and once it does, they can blame the Present, and say “he had his chance”.

Don’t believe it.  It’s the worse kind of lie, and anyone who says it should be called out for it and shamed.

2) PRESIDENT OBAMA’S POLICIES HAVE FAILED.

Republicans have really been hammering this one home, haven’t they?  Now that you’ve seen how clearly the President “had his chance”, surely you’ll see this too.  The economy is still sluggish;  PBO must have failed.  Debt is skyrocketing; PBO must have failed.

Let’s leave aside for a moment the first part, that the President never really had his chance to put his policies fully in place.  We’ll pretend it’s true, even though it almost makes you want to vomit.  We’ll play along.

When President Obama took office, this country was hemorrhaging jobs at an astounding rate.  We were on the verge of a great depression.   What did the President do to stop this?

Let’s talk about the stimulus package.  The stimulus package was intended to be over $700billion in spending which would stimulate the economy and stop the shrinking, encouraging it to grow again.  Almost IMMEDIATELY, we stopped losing jobs at the same rate.  And over the next year, the job loss rate declined until we started gaining jobs again, and we have been EVER SINCE.  The economy stabilized.  Panic was assuaged.  People began to feel better about things.  Spending came back somewhat, not where it had been, but some.

Never mind that this was a spending package watered down by the Republicans to be half tax cuts, towns got big checks to spur work on their infrastructures.  Lots of Republicans got their pictures taken handing them out to city mayors, smiling through their teeth and hoping no one noticed they voted against them (sorry, guys, Rachel Maddow noticed).  Even with all their attempts at screwing it up, it still worked.

That’s not a failure.  It’s not as much a success as it might have been if Republicans hadn’t managed to screw it up so much, but failure? Hardly.

How about the auto bailout?  PBO engineered that, saving a million jobs in the process.  How did prominent Republicans like Mitt Romney want to handle it?  Let the auto companies enter managed bankruptcy, so they could be sold off.  Of course, the banking system had nearly failed months before, so no capital existed anywhere in the system to support such a bankruptcy, so that was pretty much a pipe dream.  Of course, even if such a bankruptcy had happened, thousands would have still lost their jobs in layoffs, probably kicking off a real live Second Great Depression.  That wouldn’t have affected the Romneys of the world in their ivory towers.  The Koch brothers don’t care if blue-collar people are out of work, that doesn’t affect them; so basically, the GOP solution was to put their fingers in their ears and hum real loud.

As winning a solution as that seems to be, personally, I’m glad PBO didn’t go that way.  The auto bailout kept a bad situation from driving (pun intended) right off the fiscal cliff.

Failed?  …Really?

Yes, deficit hawks, debt is skyrocketing, thanks in part to the Bush tax cuts, which gave huge savings to rich people.  They also gave us the worst job creation rate in history, the biggest recession since the Great Depression, and put the final nail in the “trickle down” theory’s coffin.

Yes, the bailouts and stimulus added to the deficit, and therefore the debt, but the purpose of those measures was to halt the absolute freefall of our economy.  The Affordable Care Act is also, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, a cost-saving measure, which will cut the deficit over time, no matter what Mike Huckabee says on television or how many times GOP Super-PAC money allows them to run him saying it.  The ACA also enabled thousands of people to have coverage who otherwise couldn’t.  These policies did not fail.  They worked.  Despite all attempts by Republicans to quash or sabotage him at every single step, they worked.

THEY WORKED.

So don’t let anyone tell you President Barack Obama had his chance, and his policies failed.  Stop them in their tracks.  Tell them they never even considered giving him a chance, and despite all that, his policies worked.

And in November, let’s truly give him the chance to do good things for this country, by giving him four more years, and a better Congress to work with.

Just you watch him then.  Just you watch.


August 18, 2012

A steamy and somewhat tongue in cheek poem by my friend ThinkingBeauty.

More Than a Little Curious…
August 5, 2012

It’s here.

In just about six and a half hours’ time, the NASA rover Curiosity will land on the surface of Mars, joining its still-active brother, Opportunity, in exploring the red planet.

This time, though, we’re sending a complete organic chemistry analysis lab, capable of testing samples for the components, or remnants, of life as we know it.  For the first time, we’ll be in a great position to determine once and for all if Mars has ever supported living things.

Excited yet?

Let’s just say that drill goes down and pulls back something that tests positive.   What will it mean for us all?

My mom and I were discussing it today, and she commented “It won’t affect us.”

“Whaaat?” I said, “Of course it will! If we find even extinct life, it would mean for the first time we know life exists outside our world!  Our whole concept of the universe would change, our whole view of our place in it would change.  Science itself would be changed forever, it would be the biggest discovery of all time!”

“Well, yeah,” she added. “But that’s ALL…”

She’s a character, my mom.  But she went on to say that our daily life and experiences wouldn’t change.

IS she right?

Say NASA / JPL announce this week that Curiosity has found actual microbial organisms in the Martian soil.

How would your life change?

How would your views/beliefs change?

How would your understanding of what it means to BE alive change?

Would it be better to find out they are wholly unrelated to us and unique to Mars, or would it be better to learn we all came from the same comet strikes, or something of that sort?  Or would it matter at all?

How much more or less likely would you be to support space exploration?

Would you care at all? Or is it just something for us nerds to geekgasm over?

I can tell you that I, for one, will be watching tonight and hanging on every press release from NASA / JPL in the coming weeks. Who knows when or if such a discovery might happen / be announced?  Or it might not happen at all.  It might be that Curiosity finds nothing, except more rocks and dirt, yielding no doubt fascinating geological data, but nothing that would shake us to our philosophical and religious cores.

But that won’t stop us from wondering, and wanting to go out there more and more, and further and further, and see and touch and examine and seek and find all the secrets of the world and unlock each and every one of them.  At least, I desperately hope it doesn’t, don’t you?

Aren’t you curious?