enlargeJonah Goldberg is promoting his latest "nanny-boo-boo liberals!" coloring book, and Steve Inskeep of NPR basically got him to admit that's exactly what it is. After Inskeep smartly got Goldberg to agree that his book was railing against "politically poll-tested phrases that are designed to shut down debate rather than open it up"?Inskeep fired three fastballs by him.
INSKEEP: Although I'm sure that there are people who can say, well, if you guys can call President Obama a socialist, he's certainly able to call you a social Darwinist. There's probably more evidence for the latter than the former.
GOLDBERG: Well, to a certain extent, sure.
INSKEEP: Well, let's be fair. There are plenty of conservative labels that are applied on the rivals of conservatives. We could go back to the past administration: You're with us or against us. Are you with America, or are you with the other guys? There are plenty of rhetorical devices that are used to shut down debate on the other side, to make it - to not just appeal for unity, but to make it seem unpatriotic if you don't agree.
GOLDBERG: Yeah, no. And some of these things - I absolutely agree.
"Yeah, no"? Strike two.
INSKEEP: So you're opposed to these catchphrases that substitute for arguments. You're opposing making too many assumptions. I want to ask about one that is commonly set on the right, though: Government is the problem - said again and again. In fact, you imagined, I think, in September of last year, a speech that you wished that President Obama would give, and the last sentence was: Government is the problem. Is that an oversimplification? I mean, you're not against having a government.
GOLDBERG: No, I'm not against having a government. Yeah, and it's - I don't know, actually, if that qualifies as the kind of cliche that I'm talking about...
Yer out, Jonah.
Very nice work by Inskeep exposing Jonah for the hack he is?all with a breezy smile.
The national deficit clearly explained. Fix the economy, stop the wars and reverse the Bush tax cuts. Bingo. We are done.
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At 7:45 am I loaded up my cart with 200 copies of the first issue of the Brooklyn Occupant, 20 umbrellas, a dozen foam core signs with prints from OccuPrint.org, and headed out to Occupy Bushwick's May Day Morning Commute. As I looked at the pile of[...]
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So Karl Rove is pushing a stupid new web ad from some newly invented swift boat group that claims President Obama never thanked the heroes who took out bin Laden.
We just couldn't let a lie like that stand, so we put together a video response to Karl Rove's ridiculous attack:
Karl Rove, meanwhile, worked for the guy who invaded Iraq instead of going after al Qaeda and who declared Mission Accomplished nearly a decade before the war actually ended. Karl Rove worked for the guy who didn't get bin Laden when he should have and when he could have. And now Karl Rove is campaigning for the guy who opposed President Obama's strategy on getting bin laden.
So if Karl Rove or Mitt Romney wants to keep on talking about taking out Osama bin Laden, they should go right ahead. We'll be happy to talk about it from now until election day.
The kickoff of the general-election season has been marked by a series of inconsequential flaps?think caterpillars and hot mics, or the latest outrage over the fictional Julia (see the Daily Meme below). One might prefer more substance, but there's one issue that, thankfully, will be pushed off until after the election: raising the debt ceiling.
For a moment it looked like they may have miscalculated. Tax receipts continue to flow in at lower-than-expected levels as the recession lingers, inciting fear that the government will hit a spending roadblock while Barack Obama and Mitt Romney share a debate stage. Romney's general-election campaign remains beholden to the whims of his party's most conservative elements. Would he have the fortitude to stand against the voices in Congress bemoaning any more government borrowing? Luckily, we won't have to put him to the test. The Treasury Department announced yesterday that all was hunky-dory, with the cap settled in place until after the election but still expiring before the end of the year. That pushes the next debate into the lame-duck session of Congress. It?s bound to be another bout of anti-government posturing, but at least it won't be dictated by electoral gamesmanship.Last summer, congressional Republicans held the country hostage by refusing to pass a routine increase to the country's borrowing limit, which, lest we forget, resulted in Standard & Poor's first downgrade of the country's credit rating in history. The final agreement to intended to raise the debt ceiling high enough that Congress wouldn't need to touch the thing again until after the 2012 election. After all, if Republicans were willing to bring the country to the teetering edge of potential economic disaster during a sleepy summer, who knows what would happen on the eve of a major presidential election?
"Every one of us has 'oops moments' every day ... America may not forgive you for it. But God will."
?Rick Perry at a National Prayer Day breakfast, discussing his campaign-stopping debate performance.
Daily Meme: GOP & Julia
In new swing state polls from Quinnipiac, Romney and Obama are now within a margin of error in Ohio and Florida, while Obama has widened his lead to 47-39 in Pennsylvania.
From Andy Cobby and friends.
“Barack Obama has already held more re-election fundraising events than every elected president since Richard Nixon combined,” The (UK) Daily Mail reported Sunday, based on Brendan J. Doherty’s new book The Rise of the President?s Permanent Campaign. The paper also observed that Ronald Reagan did not have a single fundraising event for his 1984 re-election.
Despite the GOP’s overt support for unlimited campaign fundraising, RNC spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski blasted Obama for fundraising for his re-election:
It?s no surprise that the Campaigner-In-Chief has taken raising money for his re-election to a whole new level. The worst part is the American taxpayer has been footing the bill.
Though many on the right have gleefully repeated that President Obama has had more fundraising events than his five predecessors, they ignore something very important: context. President Obama is stuck spending so much time raising money for his re-election campaign for two major reasons.
First, the nation’s public financing system for presidential candidates, which went into effect in 1976 and was used by Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush for their re-elections, has fallen apart. The maximum $91.2 million available for the major parties’ nominees is insufficient for the costs of a modern national campaign. Neither Obama nor Mitt Romney will participate in the system this year. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who lost his presidential bid after accepting the funds and associated limits, said that “no Republican in his or her right mind is going to agree to public financing. I mean, that?s dead. That is over.” Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), the 2004 loser, strongly discouraged his party’s 2008 nominee from accepting the grants, noting that it was insufficient to “adequately fund the campaigns.”
But this was not always true. The five previous presidents needed to raise money for only their primary campaign, as public financing would kick in for the general. Reagan, meanwhile, was able to avoid raising any money entirely because he faced no primary and thus automatically received the Republican nomination and the the public financing that came with it. (Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also escaped re-nomination contests, but opted to use some primary funds to boost their standing for the general.)
Second, President Obama is the first president to run for re-election in the post-Citizens United world. While Other Presidents ran against opponents whose fundraising was limited by individual contribution limits, Obama has to keep pace with not just the Romney campaign, but also with outside groups that can raise and spend unlimited sums of money raised from wealthy donors and big corporations, which on balance support Republicans. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads Super PAC and Crossroads GPS 501(c)(4) alone may have $200 million or more to spend on television attack ads, and numerous other right-wing organizations are also getting into the act.
Also, Unlike most of his predecessors and Mitt Romney, Obama has vowed to not accept PAC money, accept donations from lobbyists, or allow any registered lobbyists to “bundle” contributions for his campaign. That leaves fundraising from generous donors as the only way to afford a modern presidential campaign.
The past year has, according to most reputable sources, brought a series of setbacks for al Qaeda. While al Qaeda continues to pose a threat, the killing of Osama bin Laden and other top al Qeada leaders has severely diminished the network’s reach and its ability to stage attacks against the U.S. and its allies.
Earlier this year, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said new U.S. intelligence estimates “lead us to assess that core al Qaida?s ability to perform a variety of functions ? including preserving leadership and conducting external operations ? has weakened significantly.” But the assessment of the Director of National Intelligence and U.S. intelligence agencies isn’t convincing to Mitt Romney foreign policy adviser Walid Phares. Phares, as reported on his Facebook Wall [screencap] and Twitter [screencap], told Canadian CTV last week:
[E]liminating Osama Bin Laden was part of the war withal [sic] Qaeda and an act of justice. But reality is that al Qaeda after Bin Laden’s killing is stronger everywhere it has a presence. From Yemen to Somalia, to the Sahel, as wel [sic] as in Pakistan and Afghanistan, al Qaeda has more militants, more battlefields and a new generation of commanders. Killing Bin Laden was one single operation in a war that is raging and growing
Phares provides no information to back this assertion which seems to fly in the face of U.S. intelligence assessments and the accomplishments made by the U.S. military and intelligence community in reducing al Qaeda’s operational capabilities.
Data from the National Counterterrorism Center’s Worldwide Incidents Tracking System shows that, in the past year alone, there has been: a 16 percent drop in successful attacks by the al Qaeda network; a 65 percent drop in successful attacks by the al Qaeda network outside Africa; and a 35 percent drop in casualties caused by al Qaeda. Twenty-two al Qaeda network senior-level operatives and leaders have been captured or killed since May 2011.
While the Romney camp has chosen to criticize the Obama administration’s accomplishments in killing bin Laden and weakening al Qaeda, Phares should provide some evidence to back up his claims that “al Qaeda after bin Laden’s killing is strong everywhere it has a presence.”
Also in mid-September 2008, politician Geert Wilders said during a speech in Parliament that Moroccans are colonising the Netherlands. According to Wilders, Moroccans didn?t come there to integrate, but ?to subjugate the Dutch? and rule overthem. ?We lose our nation to Moroccan scum who go through life while abusing, spittingand molesting innocent people,? Wilders stated. ?They happily accept our dole, houses and doctors, but not our rules and values?, he said. According to him there are ?two nations.? The cabinet?s nation is that of ?climate hysterics and uncontrollable Islamisation.?
The other nation, ?my nation,? Geert Wilders said, ?is that of the people who have to foot the bill and are being robbed and threatened by Islamic street terrorists.?
Dave Neiwert's question about whether we should ask who Sean Hannity hangs out with, or even just gives a pass to when he interviews them is a timely one. After all, Hannity tries to smear Barack Obama with the "extremist" brush on a near-daily basis while hanging out with a few himself. And just Tuesday night, he softballed an interview with the far-right wing Islamophobic extremist Geert Wilders.
In Europe, the radical right is rising faster than a full moon on a clear night and no single person might exemplify that rise more than Geert Wilders. After collapsing the Dutch government on April 21st, he's off on a book tour to pimp his extraordinary book about how the Muslims are out to kill him. Hence, the Hannitized interview to promote his peculiar brand of Muslim hate.
Via the Seattle Times:
Wilders ? who spent time in his youth on an Israeli kibbutz ? is pro-Israel and staunchly anti-Islam. Describing Islam as a religion of violence and hate that wants to "enslave" the West, he has called for the closure of Muslim schools, made a high-profile anti-Muslim film, and wants forced registration of all Dutch citizens holding two passports.
In 2010, he was put on trial on charges of inciting hate, though observers say the perceived liberal bias of judges and his eventual acquittal only elevated his popularity. It served him well at the ballot box, with his 6-year-old party winning so many seats in elections later that year that the center-right government required his support to stay in power.
His attempts to portray himself as a victim of the liberal elite has made him a darling of the right in the United States, where he has secured space on The Wall Street Journal's op-ed page. This week, Wilders is set to promote a new book published in the United States, "Marked for Death: Islam's War Against the West and Me."
Unlike our own right-wing extremists, Wilders is not above hijacking liberal causes in order to advance his extreme agenda, which seems to be to separate the Netherlands from the European Union and then cleanse it. His actions leading to the toppling of the Dutch government were a statement of resistance against the austerity measures imposed mostly by the German government. On its face, that would appear to be a good thing, except that Wilders offers no solution beyond peeling the Dutch away from the EU and then forcing registration of all residents who hold outside passports.
While the nuances of Dutch politics are far beyond my pay scale, it seems apparent to me that Wilders' ultimate goal is to ethnically cleanse Holland and rid it of all Muslims or people who might appear to be Muslim.
Here are some snippets from a speech Wilders gave on May 1, 2012. Read them and imagine Hannity going into paroxyms of paranoia if someone other than a right-wing extremist like Wilders had said them about Americans, or someone Hannity likes:
...we must stop the Islamization of our societies by restricting immigration from Islamic countries, and expelling those who violate our laws and commit violence. If you respect our laws you are welcome to stay; if you don't, you do not belong here..
And fourthly, we must reassert our national identities. The nation-state enables self-government and self-determination. This insight led the Zionists to establish Israel as the homeland of the Jews.
We are fighting for the future of our children, the survival of the Western spirit, the preservation of our liberty and democracy, our Judeo-Christian and humanist heritage.
These quotes are not all that different from what white nationalists say in this country. And yet, here's Sean Hannity, softballing an interview, not even mentioning the worshipful Breivik, and behaving as though it's perfectly all right to persecute people based upon their religious choice. (For what it's worth, Breivik not only cites Wilders some 30 times in his anti-multicultural "manifesto" justifying his rampage, he even traveled to England once to hear Wilders speak.)
Freedom must mean something different to Wilders than it does to the rest of us. And to Hannity, who thinks it's perfectly fine to smear the Occupy movement at will while holding Wilders up as a shiny hero.
CEO-to-worker compensation ratio, with options
granted and options realized, 1965?2011"Options granted" compensation includes salary, bonus, restricted stock grants, options granted and long-term incentive payouts for CEOs at the top 350 firms ranked by sales. "Options exercised" compensation includes salary, bonus, restricted stock grants, options exercised, and long-term incentive payouts for CEOs at the top 350 firms ranked by sales. (Economic Policy Institute)The chart speaks for itself. In 1965, the ratio of CEO-to-worker pay was 20.1-to-1. Now the gap is more than 10 times that. When you combine that with the low-wage economy, you get a very unpleasant snapshot that goes to the heart of income inequality. Remind me once again who is engaging in class warfare.
Laura Clawson looked Wednesday at just how much bigger a slice of the economic pie (shrunken for the past four years) the top 1 percent have cut for themselves.
The top CEO compensation adds to this picture. Lawrence Mishel and Natalie Sabadish at the Economic Policy Institute show us in detail what's happened:
Though lower than in other years in the last decade, the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio in 2011 of more than 200-to-1 is far above the ratios prevailing in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and mid-1990s. This illustrates that CEOs have fared far better than the typical worker, the stock market, or the U.S. economy over the last several decades. That begs the question: is there any gauge against which to measure CEO pay that hasn?t been surpassed?
The question is: Can something be done about this? Or, if something can be done about this, what is it? Or if the stagnation in workers' wages can be reversed and Americans in the bottom four quintiles of the population given a more livable income, will it matter what the CEO-to-worker compensation ratio is?
Whatever the case, a little bit of populist rhetoric every election cycle won't do anything to address this imbalance. Serious policy change is needed. Who will give it to us?