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Archive for the ‘Steve Benen’ Category

Unemployment Has Gone UP Under Obama? Some Believe The Hype

In http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jobs, Rachel Maddow BLOG, Steve Benen, US economy. economy on May 15, 2016 at 6:47 PM

Take a moment to review a chart published by Steven Benen for the Rachel Maddow blog. The chart was delivered from the results of a recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey. The survey results show major differences in respondent perceptions of a critical aspect of the US Economy: unemployment and jobs. 

The PPP survey delineates the sad state of conservative information dissemination or conservative manipulation of large swaths of the US population.  

The-persistence-the-reality-gap-matters

PUBLIC POLICY POLLING (excerpts)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 11, 2016 INTERVIEWS: Tom Jensen 919-744-6312

There continues to be a lot of misinformation about what has happened during Obama’s time in office. 43% of voters think the unemployment rate has increased while Obama has been President, to only 49% who correctly recognize that it has decreased. And 32% of voters think the stock market has gone down during the Obama administration, to only 52% who correctly recognize that it has gone up. In both cases Democrats and independents are correct in their understanding of how things have changed since Obama became President, but Republicans claim by a 64/27 spread that unemployment has increased and by a 57/27 spread that the stock market has gone down. “It’s a fact that unemployment has gone down and the stock market has gone up during the Obama administration,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “But GOP voters treat these things more as issues of opinion than issues of fact.”


Q2 Do you think the unemployment rate has increased or decreased since Barack Obama became President? 

43% The unemployment rate has increased since Barack Obama became President
49% The unemployment rate has decreased since Barack Obama became President
 9% Not sure




How is it possible so may have no idea the full measure and scope of an economy that has added 15 million (rounded) jobs? Are so busy seeking television giggles and following reality TV shows or singing contest shows, we live oblivious to that which is critical to our lives?  Are survey respondents who declared as republican getting their news from outlets such as Fox News and Am radio? 

Conservative media and conservative politicians have performed as masters of deceit in salting the minds of millions with the dire state of the US. It seems, however, either more non-conservatives are paying attention to conservative media (and the GOP) or millions upon millions are busying themselves with superfluous lifestyles, we can not sit for a moment to absorb tidbits of current events and news. As bad as US media has become, there are moments of factual information dissemination if you are a non-Fox News viewer. Yet the current political season shows overwhelming evidence of nitty hammer like behavior across the political spectrum.

The PPP poll also reports survey respondent  demographics which are troubling, to put it mildly. (see survey methodology and demographic data below). 

-78% of voters nationally support increasing the minimum wage to at least $10 an hour, and 49% support going to at least $12 an hour. Only 10% think the current minimum wage
is fine, and another 10% think there should be no minimum wage at all. 95% of Democrats, 69% of independents, and 61% of Republicans support a hike at least to $10 an hour.

Q3 Do you think the stock market has gone up or down since Barack Obama became President? 

52% The stock market has gone up since Barack Obama became President
32% The stock market has gone down since Barack Obama became President
16% Not sure


 -83% of voters nationally support background checks on all gun sales, to just 12% who are opposed. There’s very broad bipartisan support for that with Democrats (89/9), Republicans (79/14), and independents (78/14) all overwhelmingly in favor of it, -68% of voters support the EPA Clean Power Plan to 26% who are opposed. That includes 65/29 support from pivotal independent voters.

Q9 Do you support or oppose requiring a criminal background check of every person who wants to buy a firearm?

83% Support a criminal background check for everyone who wants to buy a firearm
12% Oppose a criminal background check for everyone who wants to buy a firearm
 5%  
 Not sure

Survey methodology and demographic questions.

Public Policy Polling surveyed 1,222 registered voters from May 6th to 9th. The margin of error is +/-3.2%. 80% of participants, selected through a list based sample, responded via the phone, while 20% of respondents who did not have landlines conducted the survey over the internet through an opt-in internet panel. 

Q15 Would you describe yourself as very liberal, somewhat liberal, moderate, somewhat conservative, or very conservative?  

Very liberal……………………………………….  14%  

Somewhat liberal …………………………………….. 21%  

Moderate  …………………………………………………………29%  

Somewhat conservative  ……………………………21% 

Very conservative  ……………………………….15%


The bell-shaped distribution of the sociopolitical makeup of the sampling is representative of a fair application of the survey tool. 

Q16 If you are a woman, press 1. If a man, press 2. Woman 53% Man 47% . 

Again a representative sample which fairly portrays national gender demographics.  

Q17 If you are a Democrat, press 1. If a Republican, press 2. If you are an independent or identify with another party, press 3. 
Democrat 43% ………………………………………………..  

Republican 36% ………………………………………………   

21% Independent / Other………………………………….  

Herein lies what I refer to as troubling. Only just over a third of the sampling indicates Republican. Even if we consider the prospect of a few “crafty” respondents who would declare themselves IND. knowing full-well they are Republicans, we may still find approximately one-third of the pool offering the PPP findings.

Q18 If you are Hispanic, press 1. If white, press 2. . If African-American, press 3. If other, press 4.  

Hispanic 10% ………………………………………………….  

White 70% ……………………………………………………..  

African American 12% ………………………………………  

Other 8% 


Another fair distribution considering current US population racial breakdowns.

How is it possible so many supposed progressive or independents have a little knowledge of the state of US employment?  The answer may lie in the same cesspool that has Trump atop the GOP presidential race. Basically, people are self-dumbing themselves into a dangerous state.



While the US economy is not rolling along like a pending tsunami wave, it is a far better economy than we experienced prior to President Obama. While republicans surely have a greater information void and false beliefs regarding the unemployment figures, overall the PPL survey is disturbing. The survey may show the failings of US cable media in failing to deliver accurate and relevant information vs entertainment segments which dominate with each and every cable news show.

Even more tragic is the prospect many of the 1200 plus respondents may not follow any form of news or currents events or they are influenced by conservative media even in the case of non-conservative respondents. 

December 2015 Jobs Report And A Reminder Of Dem Vs. GOP Job Creation

In http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Jobs, Steve Benen, White House dot gov. Democrat job growth beats GOP Jobs growth on January 8, 2016 at 11:13 PM


Job Growth anyone?

MSNBC’s Steve Benen start his news day off with a review of and reminder of US job growth.

The nation ended the year with what some are calling a “cork popping” jobs picture. Benen runs with a piece from which I extracted a few tidbits.
Many economists predicted the U.S. job market would end 2015 on a strong note, but few expected it to be this strong.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported this morning that the U.S. economy added 292,000 jobs in December, well above projections. The overall unemployment rate remained at 5.0%, which is still the lowest it’s been since February 2008, nearly eight years ago. 

Making matters even better, the revisions were also heartening: October’s job totals were revised up, from 298,000 to 307,000, while November’s totals were also revised up, from 211,000 to 252,000. Combined, that’s an additional 50,000 previously unreported jobs.


Benen’s continuing look at Private Sector Job Growth:
Read more linked above.

In a later post, Benen took his review here:

Even the right can’t deny job market’s hot streak

By Steve Benen 01/08/16 09:11 AM

It is truly amazing any sane American would actually consider voting GOP in the coming General Election when faced with jobs reports as such.

January 8, 2016

As you worked your way through the jobs graphics, you thoughts probably reached to the common naysayer points that follow each and every positive jobs report.

Business Insider provided the naysayer platform this month. We certainly do not dismiss the following economic considerations, but we do consider the glass half full notion of what the naysayers would say with jobs reports as indicated via the red bars in the White House chart (above). 


I offer the very unqualified posit that as long as American executives (CEOs. management teams et al) are so handsomely remunerated, in some cases regardless of company performance, Participation Rates and Wage Growth will remain stagnate.

Since we started this piece with a review of December job growth, we will end with a link to a piece that drives home our point about voting GOP. Linked here.
And,a final slice of the Jobs “cake” from Bloomberg. Linked here.

The Daily GOP Ignominious: The Benghazi (Get Hillary) Committee Stumbles Along Like The Keystone Cops

In Elijah Cummings (D-MD), http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Mediaite, Rubio and Bush, Steve Benen, The Daily GOP Ignominious, The Rachel Maddow Blog, Trey Gowdy on October 23, 2015 at 9:53 AM

Mission NOT Accomplished!

Yes, while working on an item I was afforded the opportunity to listen and occasionally peep up at the 11 hour “Get Hillary” Benghazi Select Committee charade. The hours were probably the most embarrassing exercise from the GOP since their 55 attempts to repeal the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act ($90 plus million Budget hit) and it foretold a party without a winning platform for 2016.  

Some writers are keyboarding about the almost universal reaction to the 11-hour charade.  The common sentiment is, The seven GOP hit operatives didn’t fluster nor damage Hillary as a candidate: their ultimate goal.

Steve Benen, The Rachel Maddow Blog, published a short read detailed piece inclusive of reaction from a few on the Right.  
Excerpt

Nearly everyone who saw this ignominious display – left, right, and center – agreed that congressional Republicans had an opportunity to advance their cause, but they blew it. Bloomberg Politics reported:

To hear Republicans tell it, a series of unfortunate events culminated in a rough day Thursday for the House Benghazi committee, leaving conservatives to wonder if they’ve lost their most potent political weapon against Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. […] 

Among House Republicans, there were no high-fives: A half-dozen lawmakers surveyed offered a muted response when asked about the hearing on Thursday afternoon. Many conservative commentators were unimpressed, if not angry with the proceedings. 

At one point, during Rep. Mike Pompeo’s (R-Kan.) attempt to badger Clinton, John Podhoretz, a prominent conservative writer and former Republican speechwriter,said on Twitter, “Why doesn’t Pompeo just go over and swear her in for president now – if he goes on like this he’ll practically get her elected.” 

It was that kind of day for Republicans. 

Podhoretz’s concerns were surprisingly common among conservatives. Erick Erickson lamented the fact that the hearing proved to be a “waste of time.” The Washington Examiner’s Byron York characterized the hearing as “very, very good news for Hillary Clinton.” 

The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis wrote midday, “Unless something happens, it’s starting to look like Hillary Clinton won’t merely survive this hearing – she will have come out on top.” Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw said, “This hearing is turning into a disaster on wheels,” adding, “Jesus, I spend half my day criticizing Hillary Clinton and even I find this set of questions embarrassing.”

End Benen excerpt

Of course, two GOP 2016 candidates reacted to the day with typical GOP false reality. I won’t post their reactions here.  Google will find them for you, but know that Rubio and Bush commented about Hillary’s performance in a most typical ad expected manner. Rubio should seek an opportunity to cast a Senate vote to wash away growing scrutiny of his virtual total absence from matters of governance after announcing his intent to run for the GOP nomination. 


Bush continues to show he lives without access to state-of-the-art electronic communication tools and he obviously has advisers who live via The Drudge Report and AM talk radio. He is so out of touch he embarrasses all Americans.

Let’s end with a few post from that land of the conservative high-end baby boomer heaven: Mediaite.  It seems even Mediate developers were forced to the reality of GOP strategy that failed.

Many Americans, even Republicans, think the Benghazi hearings are purely political.

Posted by Mediaite on Thursday, October 22, 2015

CNN analyst doesn’t understand the GOP’s “obsession” with Sidney Blumenthal at Benghazi hearing.
Posted by Mediaite on Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hillary Clinton and Trey Gowdy go at it.
Posted by Mediaite on Thursday, October 22, 2015

The following is a short rant from the Select Committee Ranking Member, Elijah Cummings (D-MD). I have posted the rant, not for bias (homer) lauding of a progressive reaction to the 11-hour charade, I post if for far less flattering reasons. Cummings vilified the state of US politics with implications of shameful acts from the Right. He often states, “This is not what we are about”, or “This is not what America is about.” Well, it has come to me, this is what America the GOP is about.  We no longer live in ties of political cooperative opposition. We have entered an era of irrational political opposition and regressive national molding from the Right. 
I admire the Senior Congressman from Maryland, but his often spoke refrain needs a tweak to the reality of America Circa 2015.

How about a reaction from the Select Committee Chair.

As I think of the latest example of GOP politics at our expense ($5 million Select Committee cost) I think of this 28-second clip

Obama International Leader, Iran Deal, GOP, False Mantra And Polling

In Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Republicans, CNN/ARC poll, Haaretz.com, http://schemas.google.com/blogger/2008/kind#post, Iran deal, Obama failed Leader, Pew Research, Steve Benen, Washington Post-ABC News poll on August 9, 2015 at 11:26 PM

 

Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, President Barack Obama, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, President François Hollande of France and others react emotionally while watching the overtime shootout of the Chelsea vs. Bayern Munich Champions League final, in the Laurel Cabin conference room during the G8 Summit at Camp David, Maryland, May 19, 2012. Cameron raises his arms triumphantly as the Chelsea team wins their first Champions League title in the overtime shootout.
G8 leaders watching the 2012
UEFA Champions League Final

   President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on Operation Neptune's Spear, a mission against Osama bin Laden, in one of the conference rooms of the Situation Room of the White House, on May 1, 2011. They are watching live feed from drones operating over the bin Laden complex. WIKI Images

President Barack Obama along with members of the national security team, receive an update on Operation Neptune’s Spear, in the White House Situation Room

May 1, 2011. See also: The Situation Room 
(photograph)               

As the GOP deploys strategy towards their quest to take the White House in 2016, you are being inundated with false mantra with no factual basis. How often do you hear Republicans rail about President Obama as a failed political and international leader?  You hear it as often as you see or hear comment from any Republican. GOP politics is about the business of disparaging a current president vs. offering real solutions to “problems” they often fabricate or embellish. And, as GOP politics go, so goes the nation (tragically). The strategy to win in 2016 via disparaging Barack Obama is a political reality and should insult your intellect.

We are going to spend a few screeds on false mantra from politicians on the Right. We will start with GOP rhetoric about Obama as a failed international leader. “We are not respected around the globe!”
Before we explore President Obama as an international leader ask yourself a few questions. 

Why haven’t we heard one word of GOP politicking about the US economy?  

Why not railing about ObamaCare, beyond the standard we will repeal mantra?  

Have you heard any references to the world climate (environment) from the GOP candidates for 2016?  

Why do you think Donald Trump scored last Thursday night with his attack against Megyn Kelly regarding “If I were not here you would not be talking about immigration?”  

Anyone capture any sound or video about cop abuse across the nation from anyone in the Republican Party?

What we do hear are: Christianity (GOD), abortion, nascent judicial activist on the SCOTUS, and the horrors of Obama (domestic and international). Moreover, we hear that our president is not highly regarded overseas.

We  offer a few Tight-wing headlines (and links) from a quick Obama as “disastrous president” Google search.

Let’s explore…..
The United States Around the World

We so often hear how the US is an object international laughing with no respect across the globe. Republican assertions and claims are as ridiculous as the performance of the ten presidential hopefuls who stumbled through a debate last Thursday.


Pew Research Global (July 2015)
Mostly Favorable Ratings for U.S.

Russia, China ad Pakistan? We realize conservatives favor Vladimir Putin over the 44th President of the United States, but the Pew data doesn’t support GOP rhetoric.

World leaders (who actually count)
MSNBC’s Steve Benen June 2015

In this handout provided by The White House, U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a working dinner in Laurel Cabin, seated clockwise from the president are: Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of Russia,...

In this handout provided by The White House, President Barack Obama hosts a working dinner in Laurel Cabin, seated clockwise from the President are: Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of Russia, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Josw Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan, Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy, Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada, and President Francois Hollande of France during the G8 Summit on May 18, 2012 at Camp David, Maryland.
Photo by Pete Souza / The White House / Getty Images

More specifically, though, President Obama is an especially popular figure in many parts of the world.

Half or more in 29 of 40 countries surveyed say they have confidence in President Obama to do the right thing in world affairs. Throughout his terms in office, Obama has received particularly strong ratings in Europe and Africa, and that continues to be the case this year. Majorities in every EU and sub-Saharan African nation surveyed give him positive marks. […]

Overall, Obama’s image has improved in the last year. In 14 countries of the 36 countries where trends from 2014 are available, more people now say they have confidence in the U.S. president. The largest gain occurred in India, which Obama visited in January. Almost three-in-four Indians express confidence in Obama, up from 48% a year ago. Double digit gains are also found in Ghana (+22 points), Turkey (+21), Nigeria (+20), Uganda (+11) and Brazil (+11).

Read more 

The following June 2015 Pew Research article refutes GOP claims of Obama as a failed and non-aligned world leader with an exception for…you guessed it…. Israel.

Global attitudes simply do not match the GOP rhetoric.

Pew Research Fact Tank

JUNE 24, 2015

7 charts on how the world views President Obama


Is it possible the GOP gauges Obama’s international influence and effectiveness solely based on Israel and the president’s obvious slack of interest in war in the middle East? Let’s be frank, Israel wants to attack Iranian nuclear facilities thus ensuring war that will draw the US. Unfortunately, GOP politicians and certain Democrats seem to want same. 

We certainly are aware of GOP and conservative affinity for Russians Putin. Could right-wing love of Putin have a basis beyond Putin’s race? Could his penchant for armed invasion of former satellite countries provide a form of war libido satiation on the Right?

Lest we forget Republicans accept significant contributions for defense contractors. Defense contractors are not producing armaments, weapons and military equipment to simply fill their, nor government, storage facilities. Armaments are meant to be used. One of the nation’s most productive and prolific industries must sell armaments to exist as an ongoing business concern. In many cases the US military is the only customer for some defense contractors. If you understand producers/supplier and markets relationships, you know the rest. Military conflict isn’t to be avoided. 
If President Obama’s reticence regarding military combat is the root denominator of GOP international malcontent and criticism, the nation suffers.
Last June one GOP presidential hopeful, who lives and operates from a platform of less intellectual acuity, spoke an overt lie about The United Kingdom’s Cameron perceptions and inner thoughts bout President Obama.


MSNBC’s Steve Benen

Excerpt 

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) actually got specific on this point on Friday, saying that British Prime Minister David Cameron told the far-right governor directly that he’s unsatisfied with American leadership. Time reported:

Walker, who has taken several trips overseas in recent months to study up on foreign policy in preparation for an all-but-certain presidential bid, told a roomful of Republican donors Friday that world leaders, including Cameron, are worried about the U.S. stepping back in the world. […]  

“I heard that from David Cameron back in February earlier when we were over at 10 Downing,” Walker said. “I heard it from other leaders around the world. They’re looking around realizing this lead from behind mentality just doesn’t work. It’s just not working.”

Benen reported a  response from a Cameron spokesperson:

The problem, not surprisingly, is that Cameron quickly pushed back, suggesting the Wisconsinite, who’s repeatedly struggled with foreign policy, has no idea what he’s talking about.

“The Prime Minister did not say that and does not think that,” a Cameron spokesperson told Time.

Criticism aside, we at the TPI laud GOP strategist. The party manages its members with tight strategy and effective lock-step talking-points. All GOP elected representatives and pundits need only state mis-representations, falsehoods and outright lies for GOP supporters to assimilate each word like life-sustaining oxygen.
The incessant drum of our “disastrous president” as a weak and ineffective international leader coupled with unsubstantiated oratory about “this nation is in trouble” seems to work. It works because conservatives and many independents assimilate the rhetoric without seeking specificity.
The Iran Nuclear “deal” is a classic example of the effectiveness of GOP strategy and rhetoric. First, the deal goes against the Israeli majority opinion and want for war. Second, such a deal will further advance the Obama legacy while placing yet another nail in the coffin of Paleozoic American republicanism. As Obama now doesn’t hesitate to state: ” When have they been right on any issue?”
Support for the nuclear deal is polling along political lines with a dangerous showing of non-support from Independent voters. CNN/ARC poll July 2015.

The new poll finds a sharp partisan gap on whether Congress should approve the deal, with 66% of Republicans and 55% of independents saying Congress ought to reject it and 61% of Democrats saying it should be approved. Younger adults, who tend to lean more Democratic, are more apt to favor the deal: 53% of those age 18-34 say approve it, while 56% of those age 35 or older say reject it. There is also an education divide on the deal, with 53% of college graduates saying the deal should be approved, while just 37% of those with a high school degree or less formal education saying they think it should be approved.

Independent Americans are in some cases Libertarian and potential voters who will not hesitate to vote Republican. I posit the so-called Libertarian is a conservative who some some reason abhors the word “conservative.” Thus current support for the nuclear deal precariously hinges on people easily flipped by GOP rhetoric. 

In March of 2015, the Washington Post posted poll results that indicated GOP commitment to scuttle the pending deal hadn’t taken form.


The July CNN/ARC poll results show the impact of GOP strategy to scuttle the deal simply based on the existential reality of the deal itself. No deal would find acceptance with Israel and no deal will find acceptance with powerful interest in the US.
The Deal

While some media are reporting questions about unresolved deal details/issues, Talking Points Memo and Haaretz.com are reporting worthwhile deal considerations.

Talking Points Memo


“Used with permission from the TPM websites, a service of TPM Media LLC.”

Excerpt 
Instead of enriching uranium to the 20 percent purity Iran had previously—way too close for comfort to weapons-grade—for the next 15 years they’ll be prohibited from enriching higher than 3.75 percent. Meanwhile, their maximum allowable stockpile will be a token 300 kilograms, requiring them to give up 98 percent of what they now have. 
The enrichment process runs uranium through huge cascades of centrifuges (imagine your laundry in the spin cycle, getting passed from one washing machine to the next). Iran currently operates nearly 20,000 centrifuges, yet for the next decade they’ll have to mothball all but 6,104 of their least modern centrifuges—with strict R&D limits that will constrain their ability to modernize afterwards. 
To keep Iran from amassing plutonium as another route to a bomb, they will be prohibited for the next 15 years from reprocessing plutonium from its nuclear reactor waste; plus, the Iranians went even further by declaring they have no intention of reprocessing in the longer term. And the U.S. and the nuclear deal’s other international parties will know Iran’s reactors quite intimately as they work with Iranians on redesigning their main reactor and demolishing a new plant that was under construction.
The Haaretz link navigates credible backing from 29 highly respected Nuclear scientist. 

Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Republicans are playing politics with international stability. They are playing while you, me and the world sit as hapless pawns.  


GOP 2015 Primary Parade (Charade): Rand Paul

In GOP 2015 Primary Parade, MSNBC, Rand Paul, Steve Benen, U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) on January 14, 2015 at 8:23 PM

var icx_publication_id = ‘14291’; var icx_copyright_notice = ‘2014 TheProgressiveInfluence’;


When the surrounding environment changes, this guy changes his colors to blend and match. The guy imaged below who also changes his colors.  Rand Paul figuratively changes his colors to attract attention and to capture the minds of the gullible: to blend and match
Rand Paul’s latest issue…his claims of people “gaming” the disability systems and securing unwarranted benefits. Paul is erecting the classic GOP slippery slope: fabricate an issue, attack it, turn votes on it and consequently people suffer. Classic GOP…. Now watch social media as Fox News and ravishing conservative sycophants pick-up the issue and run with it like Forrest Gump.

MSNBC’s Steve Benen captured the Nascent Paul moment. As is always the case with Benen, he leveled facts and data at the Paul “issue.” The candidates ‘false’ issue crumbles under the slightest of scrutiny. As you read the introduction to the Benen piece (below), take a look at the eyes of the subject in the image.

Do you notice something about the visual?

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), a 2016 Republican White House hopeful, speaks to a group of state legislators at Murphy's Diner in Manchester, New Hampshire on Jan. 14, 2015. (Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters)

U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), a 2016 Republican White House hopeful, speaks to a group of state legislators at Murphy’s Diner in Manchester, New Hampshire on Jan. 14, 2015. 

Brian Snyder/Reuters

Do you recognize the visual?
             

MSNBC

Rand Paul takes on disability claims

01/14/15 03:19 PM


Of all the people Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) could have complained about, he picked people who receive disability benefits?

Actually, yes. At an event in New Hampshire this morning, the unannounced presidential candidate suggested many Americans who rely on disability insurance don’t actually deserve it.
“The thing is, in all of these programs there’s always somebody who’s deserving, but everybody in this room knows somebody who is gaming the system.  

“What I tell people is, if you look like me and you hop out of your truck, you shouldn’t be getting your disability check. Over half of the people on disability are either anxious or their back hurts.  

Join the club. Who doesn’t get up a little anxious for work every day and their back hurts? Everybody over 40 has a little back pain.”
Let’s unpack this a bit. First, the Republican senator’s statistics appear to be off – as the Huffington Post reported, “In its latest annual report, the Social Security Administration says 14 percent of disability beneficiaries suffered ‘mood disorders’ and 27.7 percent had diseases of the musculoskeletal system or connective tissue, which would include back pain.”

But more important is the implicit argument that Americans on disability are committing some degree of fraud, “gaming the system,” and receiving benefits they do not deserve.

And on this point, Rand Paul doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.

Read more here

Paul knows the issue will resonate. It will not resonate due to empirical data from research nor archived data. It will resonate with the target GOP 2016 Primary voter because it touches that conservative paradigm regarding “takers.” No one exemplifies the mindset better than Mitt Romney via his 47% Boca Raton high-end per plate remarks!

Paul, the consummate chameleon, will ride his newly discovered ‘false issue’, as far as it will take him into this year’s GOP nomination scrums.

If you are receiving any form of disability payment, you may find Paul’s political ploy reprehensible. Often campaign issues via the GOP tend to turn on those who benefit most from programs they use as fodder for primary voters. Paul dare not take his disability payments abuse issue into the General election should the GOP lower itself to a nomination of the plagiarizing, bigoted Senator from Kentucky.

AFP Ad Again Manipulates People

In Americans for Prosperity, Kochs, Steve Benen on March 1, 2014 at 12:49 PM


Nice UNI-demographic crowd, eh?
The Koch funded Americans for Prosperity continues to run anti-ACA ads that are not fully revealing while reaching into your psyche for pity. 


We are certain there are people who are being negatively impacted by the cancellation of policies some felt was “their cup of tea.”

Yesterday February 28, 2014, Steve Benen addressed the Lamb commercial, and her medical insurance experience, here
Benen’s article is particularly noteworthy in its probing of Lamb’s actual insurance experience. 

Here’s Lamb’s message:

“I was diagnosed with lupus when I was 27. Lupus is an autoimmune disorder. It’s dramatically affected my life. I voted for Barack Obama for president. I thought that Obamacare was going to be a good thing. Instead of helping me, Obamacare has made my life almost impossible.“Barack Obama told us we could keep our health insurance if we liked it. And we can’t. I got a letter in the mail saying that my health insurance was over, that it was gone. It was canceled because of Obamacare. My premiums went from $52 a month to $373 a month. I’m having to work a second job to pay for Obamacare. For somebody with lupus, that’s not an easy thing. “If I can’t afford to continue to pay for Obamacare, I don’t get my medicine; I don’t get to see my doctors. I am very disappointed in Barack Obama as a president. He made promises he didn’t keep. And that’s disheartening.”

Benen cogently and concisely address the Lamb’s insurance experience, thus showing the AFP ad for what is is worth: Propaganda. 

Lamb’s old insurance plan included low premiums because it was part of a Tennessee program that split the costs between consumers, their employers, and state funds. The plan, however, wasn’t very good – it included, among other things, a low annual cap, exactly the sort of thing the Affordable Care Act prohibits. So it’s true that those with bad insurance were required to make the transition to better insurance. But what about her high premiums? Glenn Kessler took a closer look. 

Once Lamb was required to go on Obamacare, she discovered she qualified for a $15-a-month subsidy, which could be applied to nearly 40 different options. She chose one of the more expensive options – a Platinum plan – because it limited out of pocket expenses to $1,500, as her doctor fees and blood tests would be higher under the Obamacare plans. She also considered a plan with a lower premium, but it would have meant higher out of pocket expenses. “Instead of paying $6,000 a year, I would have been paying $10,000 a year” with the plan with a lower premium, she said. […] In other words, AFP has managed to highlight a very unique case – someone with a chronic condition who did not face high annual costs. A very unique case, indeed. Kessler flagged a more typical experience for someone with Lupus. 

One Lupus sufferer, Erin Kotecki Vest, blogged that she was amazed at Lamb’s tale of woe after she researched the coverage provided by CoverTN. “Just ONE of my treatments ALONE wipes out everything CoverTN had to offer me,” she wrote. “I would hit CoverTN’s $25,000 annual limit the first week of January.” In contrast to Lamb, this Lupus sufferer is thrilled to be on Obamacare. Kotecki Vest gleefully wrote in November that her family ditched her husband’s employer-provided plan after they discovered they would save nearly $19,000 a year by switching to a plan offered on healthcare.gov. For some reason, Kotecki Vest was not asked to appear in an AFP ad. 

Imagine that.

Concerned Americans should know, the Kochs are would be plutocrats who would love nothing more than an American oligarchy with their faces emblazoned across the first 50 feet of the Washington Monument.   

The Shameless GOP! Backstabbing The Veteran (Again)

In Daily Kos, Steve Benen on February 27, 2014 at 10:09 PM

Senate GOP Blocks Veterans Benefit Bill

A U.S. Army unit marches during the annual Veterans Day Parade in NYC, Nov. 11, 2013.

PHOTO BY STAN HONDA/GETTY IMAGES

A U.S. Army unit marches during the annual Veterans Day Parade in NYC, Nov. 11, 2013.

As a rule, legislation related to veterans’ benefits tends to garner bipartisan support,  but as we were reminded this afternoon, there are exceptions. Senate Republicans stopped Democrats from advancing a bill that would have expanded healthcare and education programs for veterans.


In a 56-41 vote Thursday, the motion to waive a budget point of order against the bill failed. Democrats didn’t have the 60 votes needed to overcome the Republican roadblock.

Only two of the Senate’s 45 Republicans – Sens. Dean Heller (Nev.) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) – voted with the Democratic majority. That was obviously not enough to end the GOP’s obstruction.

Read more linked title above


As a US Veteran this topic piqued my interest.  Yet, I have decided to go with a re-blog (and comment) vs digging into the topic any further. The GOP has taken major strides to remove veterans benefits over the past 15 years. I will never forget the harsh manner in which I found out about the 2003 Bush directive to walk-back the decades old promise of medical coverage for honorably discharged, recovering and disabled former members of the US military. He ordered the benefit reduction with no notification from the VA to the millions who felt the promise was as good as a U.S. Savings Bond. Well, I for one found why the U.S. Savings Bond has never been of personal interest as an investment vehicle. We should hope most Vets did not find out about the directive, as I became aware. While between jobs (unemployed), ill and in need of care a VA supervisor gave me the hard news. I received a perfunctory (figurative) pat-on-the butt and was told, “I cannot help you due to the 2003 Bush directive.”

As Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld/Rice/Tenet and, yes, Powell, moved towards war in Iraq, they effectively made room for war injured via the 2003 directive. A directive that was alleged to facilitate quality care to those in immediate (and most) need. Sounds good on the surface, doesn’t it?  It was and is an absolute sophism. I posit it was pure bunko comparable to other lies the cabal developed to facilitate attacking Iraq.


Background on the directive from the Cincinnati Enquirer. 
Sunday, May 25, 2003


Veterans’ care squeezed by VA

Many lose coverage under new policy 
By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer 
Soon, tens of thousands of veterans will come home from the Iraqi war, be discharged with honor, and have a gift waiting for them – free health care from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for two years. 
It used to be a lifetime guarantee. 
That, critics say, will force many veterans to say goodbye to a health-care system they had assumed would be available all of their lives.Hundreds of thousands of veterans of earlier U.S. military conflicts might also no longer qualify for VA health care or might be forced out by rules proposed by the Bush administration to relieve an overburdened system. The changes would increase veterans’ out-of-pocket costs by increasing co-payments for out-patient care and prescription drugs, as well as require many to pay a $250-a-year enrollment fee just to stay in the VA health-care system. 
VA officials say they must focus on veterans with the greatest needs – those with the most serious service-related illnesses and injuries and those too poor to afford other health care. 
But many veterans – and the organizations that represent them – say it is a broken promise. 
“Young men and women go off and fight for their country and are told that their needs will be taken care of,” said Ronald Conley, national commander of the 2.8-million member, Indianapolis-based American Legion. “To change the rules on them when they get back is wrong.” 
The Bush administration’s proposed changes cut off enrollment for veterans who make more than about $24,000. Those who are above that threshold and are already enrolled in the system would have to pay an annual $250 fee to keep their health-care benefits. In addition, the Bush administration is proposing increasing co-payments for higher income patients from $15 to $20 per outpatient visit and from $7 to $15 for prescription drugs. 
Tim Culbertson, a 50-year-old Army veteran from Cheviot who was wounded in Vietnam, has a VA disability rating of 50 percent and receives regular treatment at the VA Medical Center in Cincinnati. Culbertson often steers veterans through the maze of red tape, helping them get medals that were earned but never awarded and hooking them up with the VA system. He said he believes excluding veterans from health care is wrong. 
“This country is sending billions to Turkey, and they wouldn’t even let us station troops there,” Culbertson said. “And we’re going to have people coming back from Iraq who will probably never get VA health care. There’s something wrong with that picture.” 
The VA will give returning Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans something the veterans of the first Persian Gulf War did not get – two years of free VA medical care. But, after that, they will have to show service-related disabilities and meet the other requirements to keep the service. 
Conley, the American Legion’s national commander, said he believes the two years of free health care may not do the Iraq veterans much good. 
“It took longer than two years after Vietnam for Agent Orange to start showing up, or PTSD (post-traumatic stress syndrome),” Conley said. “We don’t know what some of these young soldiers and Marines might develop somewhere down the line because of their service over there. Two years is not enough.” 
It is not just recent veterans who might be excluded. World War II veterans are now elderly, and most have some kind of health problem – service related or not. The Vietnam generation of veterans is reaching its 50s now – an age when health problems become more common.

A closing bit of cogency from the Daily Kos.

Re-Blog from the Daily Kos…

U.S. Senator John Cornyn speaks to the media following the weekly Republican Senate policy meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, February 26, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed

AP reports on the GOP’s successful filibuster of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ veterans benefits bill:

Senate Republicans have blocked a Democratic bill that would enrich health, education and job-training programs for the nation’s 22 million veterans.

And why did Republicans—who “won” the vote because “only” 56 senators voted in favor of moving forward with the bill—decide to block it?

Republicans complained that the bill was too expensive. And they were upset that Majority Leader Harry Reid prevented a vote on a GOP amendment cutting the bill and adding sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.

Ah yes, we mustn’t be too generous when it comes to the people we ask to defend our country with their lives. Especially not when we’re not even able to have a vote on an unrelated piece of legislation, even if that unrelated piece of legislation would make it more likely that we’d send even more veterans to their death, as their Iran sanctions bill would do.

Lovely Republican Party, eh?

Chad Stone For The Center for Budget And Policy Proprieties: January Jobs Report

In CNN, Jobs, Steve Benen on February 9, 2014 at 12:48 PM


Re-Blog from The Center for Budget Policy Priorities, CNN, MSNBC.… And,  only for those who closely follow the US economy.  Not for 140 character readers!


The December 2013 and January 2014 Jobs Report have come-in at levels  that have to be labelled as “disappointing.” 


Despite contrary reports of continued job growth since 2009, the data dampens one’s perception of an improving economy.  


Before we move to Chad Stone’s detailed analysis and comment, let’s take a quick run through two noted economy watchers: Steve Benen and Christine Romans. 

And Christine Romans, CNN (Video)

The Cycle with Jared Bernstein

Chad Stone with Permission from the CBPP


Today’s Jobs Report in Pictures

February 7, 2014 at 9:51 am
Today’s jobs report offers mixed views of the job market, with employers reporting only modest additions to their payrolls but households reporting large employment gains. The usually more reliable payroll survey portrays a labor market that is healing only slowly from the Great Recession and subsequent protracted jobs slump. Time will tell if the more volatile household employment numbers presage better times. In any case, today’s report does not justify Congress’s reluctance to reinstate emergency federal jobless benefits.
Below are some charts to show how the new figures look in historical context. Click here for my full statement with further analysis.

More About Chad Stone

Chad Stone
Chad Stone is Chief Economist at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where he specializes in the economic analysis of budget and policy issues. You can follow him on Twitter @ChadCBPP.


Full bio | Blog Archive | Research archive at CBPP.org

CBPP Statement: February 7, 2014 
For Immediate Release

Statement by Chad Stone, Chief Economist, on the January Employment Report


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Today’s jobs report offers mixed views of the job market, with employers reporting only modest additions to their payrolls but households reporting large employment gains.  The usually more reliable payroll survey portrays a labor market that is healing only slowly from the Great Recession and subsequent protracted jobs slump (see chart).  Time will tell if the more volatile household employment numbers presage better times.  In any case, today’s report does not justify Congress’s reluctance to reinstate emergency federal jobless benefits.
    The litany of job market scars from the Great Recession is familiar: modest job growth that has not yet pushed payroll employment above its pre-recession peak nor reduced unemployment to close to what it would be in a healthy economy; weak labor force participation (a smaller share of the population working or looking for work) that along with elevated unemployment has kept the share of the population with a job close to where it plunged in the recession; and, of course, an unprecedented amount of long-term unemployment this far into a recovery.
    The Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program, which expired in late December and which Congress refuses to restore, would provide needed financial assistance to workers who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own and not found work before their regular state jobless benefits run out.  Because those who would receive emergency benefits need the money and would spend it quickly, the program would also provide a worthwhile boost to the economic recovery at a time when it needs one.  Because EUC is a temporary program it does not compromise policymakers’ ability to address longer-term budget deficits.
    The Congressional Budget Office reported this week that it does not expect the job market to return to reasonably normal conditions until late 2017 or to be fully healed until even later.  It was too soon to let EUC expire, and it’s too soon to leave it that way.

    About the January Jobs Report

    Payroll job growth in January was disappointing; households, in contrast, reported large gains in employment.  Payroll job growth is generally considered the more reliable measure of job growth because the household data are more volatile from month to month.  Interpretation of today’s report is further complicated by a number of technical changes to the data.
    Historical payroll employment data have been revised to reflect the annual benchmark adjustment for March 2013, a reclassification of industries included in the survey, and updated seasonal adjustment factors. Unemployment and other household survey data for January 2014 reflect updated population estimates and are not directly comparable to earlier data, which have not been revised to incorporate those estimates.
    • Private and government payrolls combined rose by just 113,000 jobs in January and the Bureau of Labor Statistics revised job growth in November and December upward by a total of 34,000 jobs.  Private employers added 142,000 jobs in January, while government employment fell by 29,000.  Federal government employment fell by 12,000, state government by 6,000, and local government by 11,000.
    • This is the 47th straight month of private-sector job creation, with payrolls growing by 8.5 million jobs (a pace of 181,000 jobs a month) since February 2010; total nonfarm employment (private plus government jobs) has grown by 7.8 million jobs over the same period, or 167,000 a month.  Total government jobs fell by 655,000 over this period, dominated by a loss of 414,000 local government jobs.
    • Despite 47 months of private-sector job growth, there were still 851,000 fewer jobs on nonfarm payrolls and 288,000 fewer jobs on private payrolls in January than when the recession began in December 2007.  January’s job growth (even with the revisions to earlier months) was well below the sustained job growth of 200,000 to 300,000 a month that would mark a robust jobs recovery.  Job growth averaged 194,000 a month last year, but only 94,000 in the December and January of this year.
    • The unemployment rate was 6.6 percent in January, and 10.2 million people were unemployed.  The unemployment rate was 5.7 percent for whites (1.3 percentage points higher than at the start of the recession), 12.1 percent for African Americans (3.1 percentage points higher than at the start of the recession), and 8.4 percent for Hispanics or Latinos (2.1 percentage points higher than at the start of the recession).
    • The recession drove many people out of the labor force, and lack of job opportunities in the ongoing jobs slump has kept many potential jobseekers on the sidelines.  January bucked that pattern.  After accounting for the change in population estimates described earlier, the labor force (people aged 16 or over working or actively looking for work) grew by 499,000 in January, the number of people with a job rose by 616,000, and the number of unemployed fell by 117,000.  As a result, the labor force participation rate (the share of people aged 16 and over in the labor force) edged up to 63.0 percent in January.  That’s still 0.6 percentage points lower than a year ago.  Prior to 2013, that is the lowest since 1978. 
    • The share of the population with a job, which plummeted in the recession from 62.7 percent in December 2007 to levels last seen in the mid-1980s and has remained below 60 percent since early 2009, edged up to 58.8 percent in January, slightly above its 2013 average of 58.6 percent. 
    • The Labor Department’s most comprehensive alternative unemployment rate measure — which includes people who want to work but are discouraged from looking (those marginally attached to the labor force) and people working part time because they can’t find full-time jobs — fell to 12.7 percent in January.  That’s down from its all-time high of 17.2 percent in April 2010 (in data that go back to 1994) but still 3.9 percentage points higher than at the start of the recession.  By that measure, about 20 million people are unemployed or underemployed.
    • Long-term unemployment remains a significant concern.  Well over a third (35.8 percent) of the 10.2 million people who are unemployed — 3.6 million people — have been looking for work for 27 weeks or longer.  These long-term unemployed represent 2.3 percent of the labor force.  Before this recession, the previous highs for these statistics over the past six decades were 26.0 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, in June 1983, early in the recovery from the 1981-82 recession.  By the end of the first year of the recovery from that recession, the long-term unemployment rate had dropped below 2 percent. 
    # # # #
    The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities 

    Media Serves As A Platform For The Right

    In CNN, Crooks and Liars, Fox, MSNBC, Steve Benen on December 31, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    Just after the 2010 mid-term elections, Ari Melber published a prophetic piece related to the extent to which reporters leveraged the 2010 “shellacking” into “the language of the midterms.” Melber’s focus was omission of the tea party from those reporting the landslide midterms vs the greater GOP, The GOP tea party infestation had not been sworn-in to the House and Senate, and reporters, within days of the election, set the stage for what has metastasized into a virtual GOP Sunday Morning news show monopoly. And, we sit and wonder why we hear and read reports of the prospect of the GOP gaining seats in the US Senate in 2014.  

    Melber wrote for The Nation:
    Elections have a way of setting agendas.


    While the candidates elected last week will not actually wield power until January, the political world is already adopting the language of the midterms. 


    That’s especially true for political reporters, who frame the questions thrown at the White House’s freshly shellacked podium. 

    To get a snapshot of the new language, The Nation counted up the most frequent words that reporters used in their questions during three major post-election sessions. 

    We used the day-after press conference with President Obama, a similar outing with press secretary Robert Gibbs, and a trio of Sunday talk shows—Meet The Press, State of the Unionand Fox News Sunday.

    Below is a snapshot of the New Change created through the website Wordle.

    Melbers work in now way related to what’s to come in this piece, but retain the details of this cloud for a bit. 

    It would be totally fascinating to see a cloud related to political appearances on the Sunday Morning news shows.   Steven Benen, MSNBC, has studied the predominance of the GOP on Sunday Mornings. The data reflects the essence of Melbers Wordle cloud a full three years later. Benen’s data also reflects the very reason I have stopped watching the Sunday shows since well before President Obama’s first election to the presidency.

    Benen’s review reflects the 2013 Sunday Morning winners. 

     

    As indicated 10 of the top 13 Sunday Morning fixtures are Republican.

    Read Benen’s analysis and comment, here

    It appears electronic media leverages public sentiments in developing news stories, booking guests and slanting stories. While MSNBC, sets on the Left of a political ideology spectrum, we find CNN and Fox News on the opposite point, “the proliferation of Sunday Ideology sharing.” Of course, MSNBC doesn’t present a Sunday Morning show comparable to those in the Benen reviews; NBC is a stand-in. The network serves as a stand-in for MSNBC with one major problem: David Gregory as Meet The Press host. Gregory is as conservative as any major news host and his broadcast also serves as a GOP ideology platform.

    You recognize the danger, of course. Both Gallup and Pew Research published studies in 2013 showing people get their news from television.  Linked
    If people get the preponderance of their Sunday morning news from television, and the major networks (via Meet The Press, Face The Nation and Sunday Morning, State of the Union, Ans Fox News Sunday) is their any wonder 47 % of the 60% of eligible US voters flocked to the voting booths and cast votes for Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan? How about the prospect of so Americans many finding fault with the Affordable Care Act on general principles well beyond website problems? If you think our absence of inertia on slowing climate change is due the fact no one really cares, think again. When was the last time you saw or heard a report on climate change from either of the networks delineated above? 

     

    What do you think of the millions who actually believe the nation has a voter fraud issue? We fall for such because the networks occupy on-camera seats with people who are there to spread an agenda and to spread ideology. Heck, the only cases of fraud that made the media in 2012 from the right and which perpetrator was a white person.

    If I may give another much more poignant example.  Let’s visit the bayou bigots, Duck Dynasty, for a few minutes. The Arts and Entertainment Network (AKA A&E LIVS Network) [ LIVS Low Information Voters network], suspended Phil Robertson for bigoted anti-gay and insensitive (and inaccurately/indifferent) comments about the African American experience in the deep south.  

    Robertson’s GQ interview set the media ablaze and awakened the nation’s Right comparable to the ACA and Benghazi.
    First, Robertson is in his mid to latter 60s. I have read he grew to adulthood in the American South. How could he miss life as depicted to the right?
    Robertson has also been reported via the Interent (NOT NEYTWORK NEWS) in the following manner.

    Crooks and Liars reports that Robertson is no hypocrite as he was 18 years of age when he started  dating his current wife at age 14. 

    As you know A&E (LIVS Network; Low Information Voters) network has reversed the Robertson suspension; he will be full-fledged head of the klan (excuse the pun) starting next week.  

    We have commented on Robertson based on the absence of reporting character issues.  If I am not mistaken there are men in prison as you read this convicted of sex with under-aged girls. while there may be no scriptures related to sex with under-aged girls, we find it acutely disturbing Robertson platformed his comments with a version of the Bible in tow. Some, the networks have failed to report the ‘full’ Robertson story, we suspect many people who will ‘thump’ to church this weekend have no idea of his positing on guys getting them at age 15.  

    Ultimately, the networks are failing the nation. We realize business is business and some networks are vying for viewership, we suspect others are like Fox News adopting and postulating political positions. The Benen data above illustrates the extent of right-wing monopoly of the Sunday News shows and networks like Fox and CNN are shaping our political paradigms. Their work on behalf of conservative America is as dangerous as it comes. 

    When we consider the social mores and economic catastrophe of Republicanism, we have the right to feel media should take on a role of investigation and revelation. What we have today is promulgation of Right-wing punditry and demagoguery with network revenue commensurate with viewer ratings.  As we move farther and father to the Right!

    Putin Misjudges Our Nation; The New York Times Editor’s Poor Judgment, And "Bushed out"

    In Edward Snowden, Steve Benen, The New York Times on September 12, 2013 at 4:04 PM

    Andrew Rosenthal, New York 
    Times Editor











     Internationalism took a turn yesterday. 




    After President Obama’s speech of Tuesday evening, the world has witnessed a first yesterday.   The New York Times published an OP-ED from Russian President, Vladimir Putin. An OP-Ed from the leader of another sovereign nation! In an effort to quell my emotions (angst),  I fell asleep last evening after counting to ten.  
    As I awakened this morning with 15% less angst, I thought maybe it is time to express a thought or two on the matter. 


    First a question.  Will the next OP-Ed opportunity from the leader of another nation come from Iranian Ayatollahs? Imagine a Wall Street Journal post as an OP-Ed spread from Kim Jong Un, North Korea, with additional comment from Dennis Rodman
    Russian US PR firm


    The overwhelming sentiment in the United States is not to take action against the gassing of innocent people buy a despot. A sentiment understandingly evolved from the horrors of Bush/Cheney:

    • Fabricated evidence to facilitate war, 
    • Two simultaneous wars contributed to a Great Recession,
    • Possible lack of attention to serious warnings of an attack on the US, 
    • No bid contracts that provided millions to Dick Cheney, (some “big business” benefits while everyday people do not.)
    • Outing a US CIA agent,
    • Trample on International Laws (Atty General Gonzales and torture),
    • Lack of attention to issues on the home front,
    • GOP cuts to social programs,
    • Developing isolationist paradigms as the US falls away from an international leader
    • Recognition of our history of military action from each president since before the election of FDR (Including Carter’s attempt to rescue hostages from Iran…. military failure).
    Yes, the nation is war’d out! We also are suffering “Bush (itis) and chronic Cheney Mania” coupled with fear of losing control of what little control we have on our everyday lives. That said, I question the gall of both Putin and the New York Times.  Both facilitated a message to our nation that included warning of Putin’s perception of “an extremely dangerous statement ” during President Obama’s Tuesday Night speech to the nation (and the world).  Putin took exception to President Obama’s encapsulizing the wrongs of chemical weapons use and preventive measure via focusing on Obama use of the word “exceptional.” Now, take a look at how media use inflammatory headlines to capture readers.
    See how the OP-ED was received by Huffington Post – POLITICS via an AoL teaser headline: Putin rips ‘American exceptionalism’. The linked Huffington Post headline was much more civil and professional while making the teaser AoL headline papers silly and video game-like.

    We are linking to the President’s address, despite the fact most of you have seen it, heard it, or decided not to bother. The comments Putin grabs for his “KGB” move to the New York Times is towards the very end of the address (transcript below).

    President Obama’s Address to the nation: http://youtu.be/kkVW-0L12eo


    I am also posting an NPR excerpt from the last two minutes of the address.

    Excerpt

    ……And so to my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just. 

    To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor, for sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough. 

    Indeed, I’d ask every member of Congress, and those of you watching at home tonight, to view those videos of the attack, and then ask: What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way? Franklin Roosevelt once said our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideals and principles that we have cherished are challenged. 

    Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used. America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong. But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act. That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. 

    With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth. 

    Thank you. God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.




    I am reading Putin, and the New York Times via publishing the OP-ED, are taking exception to president Obama’s use of the word exceptional . While I take great exception (excuse the pun) of overuse of the phrase “American Exceptionalism” from GOP political campaigners, Obama’s use of the word and the theme of his address should not warrant complicity from a US media outlet.  Moreover, the president’s choice of adjective should not warrant an effort by Putin to use the US free press for what is clearly his personal agenda.

    I do not recall Putin commenting on the use of chemical weapons. In fact, I do not recall Putin even publicly cautioning his minion leaders in Syria about any damage to Syria/Russian alliances over use of such weapons. Additionally, via the Op-ED Putin seems to have accepted the Assad government did use chemical weapons, despite his more public claims of “No proof.”

    Putin starts his OP-ED with, RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders.”  See excerpt and linked OP-ED.


    The New York Times

    OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

    A Plea for Caution From Russia

    What Putin Has to Say to Americans About Syria

    By VLADIMIR V. PUTIN
    Published: September 11, 2013

    MOSCOW — RECENT events surrounding Syria have prompted me to speak directly to the American people and their political leaders. It is important to do so at a time of insufficient communication between our societies.
    Relations between us have passed through different stages. We stood against each other during the cold war. But we were also allies once, and defeated the Nazis together. The universal international organization — the United Nations — was then established to prevent such devastation from ever happening again.

           Image Right:  Oliver Munday

     Read more

    Is Putin such an ego maniac he actually has a self-aggrandizing view that he is well respected internationally? Or, could the Russian leader have such an old-school view of the world he exercises poor judgment out of desperation? Had the Russian leader exercised as much energy and inertia with his ally? We have no doubt Putin is aware of previous uses of sarin gas as the Syrian Civil War has trudged along. How about the old adage, “…..an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure?” Why has the Russian leader worked to managed reality for his ally?  At the risk of appearing a bit jingoist,  of which I am not, one would think the Russian leader would manage his ally to avoid any prospect of armed conflict with a super-power. Russia is no longer a world super power. The nation can ill afford to have exposure of their actual military capabilities. And, I do feel the Russian leader wants to have his cake and avoid any deaths (I do believe that). But, his cake is a facade, it was not managed well. 

    A couple of additional thoughts and the reason I find the New Times editor Rosenthal outside acceptable standards in publishing the Op-Ed. The American public relations firm that barks and retrieves the ball when Putin orders (and pays) is also culpable. I will take my criticism a step farther. Both American entities should be publicly chastised for their siding regrading an incident that led to the visible deaths of 400 plus children. Roesenthal commented today, he felt the OP-Ed was “well written. “Does he for one second believe that Putin wrote the OP-Ed? Was he contacted by a US public relations firm? (Already acknowledged: “Yes.”) Do such firms write such appeals, letters and position statements for their clients? I posit Roesenthal felt the Op-Ed echoed his sentiments and he ran with it. He may have also felt an opportunity to leverage public opinion. In any case he appears to have “flubbed-up.”

    The New York Times….

    The Times editorial department was approached Wednesday by an American public relations firm that represents Mr. Putin, offering the piece.  Also on Wednesday, Mr. Putin’s spokesman, in the course of an interview about Syria, mentioned to The Times’s Moscow bureau chief Steven Lee Myers that an article was in the works.

    Mr. Rosenthal agreed to review the article and quickly decided to publish it. It was posted on the Times Web site by Wednesday evening. 

    “I thought it was well-written, well-argued,” he said. “I don’t agree with many of the points in it, but that is irrelevant.” 

    “Syria is a huge story and Putin is a central figure in it,” giving the piece great news value, he said. It has created a major stir, including plenty of criticism. Richard Murphy of Fairfield, Conn., wrote to me Thursday with harsh words for The Times’s decision to publish it. He described himself as “horrified” and said that The Times was “aiding and abetting a long-term foe of the United States.” 

    Mr. Rosenthal rejects that argument. 

    Now, finally, one more key point. After you read the Op-Ed did you notice a few things. First,  and not so obvious, what entity in US history has strategically avoided the ultimate authority and stakeholder while reaching others with powerful vested interests. The Continental Congress and top Colonial revolutionaries (some call them “Founding Fathers”)  chose to focus all attention and communication to the British Parliament. They never once negotiated nor effectively worked with or against (directly) George III, King of England. He was ignored; a strategic move! 

    Once again, if you read the OP-Ed there is language there-in which brings fleeting thoughts of the declaration of independence or related documents. As an example:  “…. created us equal.”  


    Does anyone in the free world other than Edward Snowden actually believe Russia is an idyllic world of social equality? According to reports from minorities who live in Russia: “Not true.” And, it is obvious the current treatment of LGBT people who live in Russia smack against, “….all created equal.” 

    We do not feel Putin even wrote the Op-Ed.

    Last point; we posit as we started this piece. The current collective psychology of the nation lends itself to manipulation. For weeks now, I have fought-off, crazy, zany and out right ridiculous misinformation via social media. Some of the zany stuff appears to come directly from government operations groups. 

    The climate, thankfully, is very much against armed interventions. Of course, we recognize any GOP Administration would have launched a full-scale attack two years ago.  We are so Bushed-out we have given a foreign leader the thought he could, possibly following advice from some bush league PR firm and, publish a letter to US Citizens with a complete end run of our president. Even if our president was Foghorn Leghorn, we are mismanaging ourselves as stated by the president this past Tuesday. 

    Mr. Putin must understand we may be created equal, but we are not of the same ilk.  Additionally, I do not feel Assad and I were created equal for many reasons. 
    Rachel Maddow Blog’s Steve Benen weighs-in.


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