Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Last Call

Kevin Drum writes an article entitled "Barack Obama's Had a Pretty Damn Good Presidency" and then proceeds to trash him for about 75% of the article, without a trace of irony.

As long as we're piling on, I'd add a few other items to that list. First,Obama seems to despise the progressive base. He and his associates have made that clear over and over again.Second, he allowed Congress to take the lead on most of his domestic agenda. Whether this was smart or not doesn't really matter. What matters is that it makes him seem almost like an observer of events over the past three years, not a commander-in-chief. Third, from a progressive point of view, his record on national security is pretty bad. No, we're not torturing prisoners anymore, but the NSA surveillance program is still in place, American citizens are being targeted for assassination, the Afghanistan war has been escalated, drone attacks have skyrocketed, the state secrets privilege is still being used with abandon, Guantánamo is still open, and Patriot Act abuse seems to be as robust as ever.

He then lists things the President has actually accomplished...despite being arrogant and subservient at the same time while remaining worse than Bush.  Then he goes back to trashing him and concludes he took the best road available of a number of bad choices.

Now, it's true that any serious accounting also has to include Obama's domestic failures—most notably his feckless housing policy and his inability to pass cap-and-trade—but both of those were very heavy political lifts. (On cap-and-trade in particular, I think in retrospect that it was just flatly never going to happen no matter what Obama did.) There's also his weak record on judicial appointments. So could Obama have done better? Was there a more effective way to deal with an unprecedentedly obstructive Republican Party? On reflection, I doubt it. During Obama's first two years, Democrats had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate for only 14 weeks. This means that Obama needed two or three Republican votes for every bill, and if he had taken the blustering, partisan attitude that a lot of liberals wanted, he never would had gotten them. Republican obstructionism would have been even more hardened than it was with his more conciliatory attitude. So as annoying as Obama's "most reasonable man in the room" act was to the progressive base, it was probably his best strategy.

Such praise worthy of the ancient deities of yore, a mighty and resounding "meh" echoes through the halls of history.  And Kevin here actually wonders why the President has such a hard time getting across his accomplishments to the American people.

I can't possibly wonder why that would be the case, nor who could possibly be responsible for such a state of affairs.  Sully was right when he said if a Republican POTUS had accomplished what President Obama had done, we'd be carving his likeness into Mount Rushmore.  And yet, we're doing everything we can to hand the country back over to the Banana Splits.

People keep tripping over themselves to come up with explanations as why to President's Obama's most famous first has nothing to do with any of this, of course.  Those excuses, and the constant dogpiling on the President, are both wearing very thin, and we're starting to run out of plausible explanations as to why the liberal media is so invested in the "Is this milk spoiled?  Taste this for me!" theory of the President's accomplishments.

Iran, So Far Away, Part 15

Some 40% of Americans in a new poll believe President Obama will attack Iran before the end of the year.  I'm not one of them, but the numbers are depressing nonetheless.

A Poll Position survey shows that voters are almost evenly split over whether there will be a military conflict between the two countries over Tehran’s nuclear program: 40% said it is likely, 39% said it is unlikely. About 20% did not have an opinion.

The poll shows that opinion on whether there will be an attack breaks down along political lines with a majority of supporters of the Republican party – whose presidential contenders have been strongly critical of Barack Obama’s emphasis on diplomacy with Iran – saying there will be a conflict. A majority of Democrats disagree.

“Republicans see a conflict most possible with 57% saying one is likely, 25% said a conflict is unlikely,” said Poll Position. “Democrats differed with 54% seeing a U.S. military conflict with Iran unlikely, 22% believe a conflict is likely.”

Among age groups, younger Americans, those in the 18-29 year old age group, most believe a conflict is possible with 46% thinking it likely, 37% believe a conflict is unlikely.

It's somewhat depressing to see nearly half of America's young people believe we'll be in another decade-long war soon, but then again we've spent half the lives of your average 20-year-old in the sandbox in Afghanistan.  The US at war in the Middle East is all they've known, practically.  Why would they expect anything different?

If you wanted to depress the youth vote this November, spreading the fear that President Obama would get us into another lost decade of war is absolutely the best way to do it.  Ironically, a Republican president would make such a thing inevitable, which is what would happen if America's young voters stay home on election day.

A Bunch Of Dip Sticks

There's a lot of hue and cry going up about the latest ABC/Washington Post poll that proclaims that gas prices are now the only thing that matters to voters and that Obama is once again doomed.  Deaniac83 over at The People's View easily points out why "voters have turned on the President" over economic news:  they stacked their polls with Republicans.

From the last poll to this one, there is a net 7 point gain for GOP identified voters as opposed to Democratic ones, and there is a net 8 point loss in the President's approval rating. Hmm, looks like an awfully close correlation to me. If we assume that independents lean roughly the same way as the party ID numbers (really, very few voters are truly independent), GOP and GOP lean voters get a representation bump another 3 percentage points net, moving the GOP party ID vs. Democrats to a net +10 points as compared to the last poll. Given that about 80% of GOP and GOP-leaning voters oppose President Obama, the entire 8 point swing in the poll can be accounted for by the additional representation of Republican and Republican leaning voters.

But what are the real numbers on voter registration in this country? From the most current data from states that allow registration by party, Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 12 point margin, 43% to 31%, with independents coming in at 24%. Granted, only 29 states and DC allow registration by party, so take that data with that caveat, but I will note that the February poll had a much closer party ID difference (D +11) to the known actual national data (D +12). In this poll, that has dwindled down to a D +4, which is obviously a significant over-representation Republican and GOP-leaning voters, and an equally significant under-representation of Democratic voter registration advantage.

It is important to note here that the analysis above is not meant to show that ABC News and Washington Post pollsters somehow "cooked" the numbers. These variations - 3 points here and 4 points there, especially given the poll's margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points - are normal statistical anomalies. But it is intellectually dishonest to point to this poll and find a gas price related "dip" for the president's approval without looking at the very obvious factor of over-representation of GOP voters in the poll.

So yes, the poll oversampled Republicans.  Surprise!  Republicans hate the President.  So yes, we get a record 50% of Americans strongly disapprove of the President on the economy right now...when the economy has been improving significantly.

Either that, or the FOX news lies that the Department of Labor is lying to 310 million Americans and the world is so effective, there's really nothing the President can do.  I rather believe the former explanation.

Oh, Those Wild And Crazy Amish

First, the serious business.  Police in western New York state found several containers of alcohol... on board an Amish buggy.  One buggy pulled off some erratic moves, which actually led to it being hit by the police car.  Nobody was seriously injured.

A 20-year-old was also charged with providing alcohol to minors, as he was hosting the drinking party.  It sounds like a little normal youthful shenanigans going on, nothing more.  However, it did give me the line that made me laugh all morning long.

Deputies said other buggies fled the scene, The News reportws. [sic]
I did not realize until that moment I've always wondered what buggies fleeing the scene might look like.  Now, I'll never know.

Shocking Police Brutality

MOUNT STERLING, Ohio — A village police officer shocked a 9-year-old boy with a Taser this week, prompting a shutdown of the entire force.

Long-embattled Police Chief Mike McCoy has been suspended, and officers who were being used on a part-time basis are no longer working, Council President Lowell Anderson said.

McCoy didn’t tell village officials after the Tuesday incident, and that prompted the suspension, Anderson said.

Village Administrator Joe Johnson, in violation of state open-records laws, refused to release the report on what the village is calling “an incident involving use of force.” Mayor Charlie Neff said in a statement only that the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation has been asked to investigate.

A nine-year-old boy wouldn't go to school. Somehow, this escalated to the point that he was shocked with a Taser. Nine years old. No freaking way can any facts presented possibly excuse using that amount of force on a little boy. Stating he is large for his size changes nothing. I'm not even sure why that was brought up, it doesn't change the fact that he is only nine years old.

I'm glad they were shut down, mismanaged is a polite term used in the article to mean these guys are incompetent.

Presidential Bracketology

Leveraging the First Fan's NCAA bracket picks to help the President's re-election campaign?  Smart idea.  GOP hates it, of course.

With the “Obama Bracket Challenge” on the campaign’s website, supporters can electronically make their picks for the 2012 NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments and see how they measure up against Obama.

The president has filled out a March Madness tournament bracket each of the past three years during an interview with ESPN’s Andy Katz.  He’s expected to do so again this year, and his campaign will post his selections online.

To participate, users must provide their full name, email address and ZIP code.  They’re also prompted to make a donation to the campaign after submitting their picks.

“We’ll publish a list of everyone who does better than the president here on BarackObama.com after the tournament is over,” the campaign says.

I like it. Mainly because the GOP goes berserk every year the President does it.  More power to him.  I think I'll try my hand at it and see how my bracket stacks up.

The South Shall Be Stupid Again

While we're waiting to see which reactionary douchebag will win today's primaries in Alabama and Mississippi, keep in mind Southerners have a proud, proud tradition of racist code word nonsense  (and I grew up in the reddest part of NC, so I know what I'm talking about.)  So when you see a poll asking Republican voters in those states if President Obama's a Christian, please be aware of what that really equates to.

PPP asks Republicans in Alabama, "Do you think Barack Obama is a Christian or a Muslim, or are you not sure?" Guess how many say Christian? 14%! Among the remaining 86%, "Muslim" slightly leads "not sure," 45%-41%. ("Not sure" may by the demographic Rick Santorum is reaching out to when he accuses Obama of peddling a "phony theology.")
But the Alabama Republicans are a thoroughly trusting lot in comparison with their Mississippi brethren. Among Mississippi Republicans, just 12% say Christian, 52% say Muslim, and 36% aren't sure.

In other words, more Mississippi and Alabama Republicans believe in UFOs, angels, Bigfoot, and 9/11 truther nonsense than are sure that the President is a Christian.  That's willful ignorance covering up racial hatred, period, when 85%+ of your party believes the President's not a Christian.  They know it.  We know it.  (Yet these two states are some of the biggest money sinks in the country, taking far more in federal aid than they pay in taxes.)

Go figure.  If these two lovely examples of Southern Culture On The Skids here want to leave the union, let em.  We're better off, frankly.


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