Another Romney Lie

Being involved in Ella Ward’s campaign is making it difficult for me to keep this blog updated. It will be even harder when classes start in late August.

But let me share this Gem from

Also note, the Romney campaign argued yesterday that if John Kerry only released two years’ worth of tax returns, it’s acceptable that Romney do the same. The problem with this argument is that it’s a lie — during the 2004 race, voters had access to Kerry’s tax returns for the previous 20 years. If Romney wants to meet Kerry’s standard for disclosure, he has a long way to go.

Kerry only released two years because he had already released 18 years of tax records prior to his presidential bid.

Obama’s not allowed to talk about Bin Laden

Apparently, if the Obama campaign makes any effort to dispel the ridiculous opinion being spread by the right (though not by the Romney campaign) that Obama was nothing but a bystander in the decision to strike Bin Laden in his Abbottobad compound, that’s “Crowing”, or Doing a Sack Dance.

So apparently, Obama should sit quietly while pundits at CNN suggest that Obama was not in charge and idiots like Ben Shapiro accuse Obama of not even knowing what the mission to get Bin Laden was. Indeed, a dignified response to the accusations would be no response at all. I’m sure if he refused to respond to the lies, the right would show the same respect they did for all those months during which Obama refused to respond to the lies about his birth certificate.

Nor should Obama suggest that anyone else, especially Romney, would not have made the same decision. Romney said, ‘Any thinking American’ would have done the same. Except, Romney would have done things differently, as would many of Obama’s top advisors.

Romney’s level headed response,

“It’s totally appropriate for the president to express to the American people the view that he has that he had an important role in taking out Osama bin Laden,” Romney said after visiting the lower Manhattan fire station with Rudy Giuliani, who was mayor when terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center’s twin towers and killed nearly 3,000 people.

“I think politicizing it and trying to draw a distinction between himself and myself was an inappropriate use of the very important event that brought America together,” Romney said.

was, at least, not nasty and doesn’t suggest that Obama is taking credit for other people’s work. But considering the barrage of misinformation that Obama is fighting against during this campaign season, it’s appropriate for Obama to take credit for the decisions he has made as well as it is to distinguish himself from his opponent, who is now trying to distance himself from statements he made in the past.

So I don’t agree that Obama should keep quite about Bin Laden just to avoid politicizing his accomplishments when everything he does or doesn’t do is going to be politicized anyway.

Barack Obama is justified to take credit for his role in killing Osama Bin Laden and in pointing out that Romney was against the strategies that Obama used. The president is not suggesting that he was on the ground in Pakistan with a hunting knife or that Romney didn’t care about Bin Laden. He’s only trying to set the record straight, and is under no obligation to sit quietly while right wing pundits spread lies.

The President’s Warning

It’s been almost a week and I keep reading about the president’s unprecedented warning to the Supreme Court.

Copied from Real Clear Politics, here’s what the president said in response to a question about health care and the Supreme Court:

With respect to health care, I’m actually — continue to be confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the law. And the reason is because, in accordance with precedent out there, it’s constitutional. That’s not just my opinion, by the way; that’s the opinion of legal experts across the ideological spectrum, including two very conservative appellate court justices that said this wasn’t even a close case.

I think it’s important — because I watched some of the commentary last week — to remind people that this is not an abstract argument. People’s lives are affected by the lack of availability of health care, the inaffordability of health care, their inability to get health care because of preexisting conditions.

The law that’s already in place has already given 2.5 million young people health care that wouldn’t otherwise have it. There are tens of thousands of adults with preexisting conditions who have health care right now because of this law. Parents don’t have to worry about their children not being able to get health care because they can’t be prevented from getting health care as a consequence of a preexisting condition. That’s part of this law.

Millions of seniors are paying less for prescription drugs because of this law. Americans all across the country have greater rights and protections with respect to their insurance companies and are getting preventive care because of this law.

So that’s just the part that’s already been implemented. That doesn’t even speak to the 30 million people who stand to gain coverage once it’s fully implemented in 2014.

And I think it’s important, and I think the American people understand, and the I think the justices should understand, that in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care. So there’s not only a economic element to this, and a legal element to this, but there’s a human element to this. And I hope that’s not forgotten in this political debate.

Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress. And I’d just remind conservative commentators that for years what we’ve heard is, the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint — that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, this is a good example. And I’m pretty confident that this Court will recognize that and not take that step.

I’ve read this a few times but I keep missing the big warning.

Of course a warning can be implied, like a boss telling an employee, “I’m confident you’re not going to use the company car for personal business”. But unlike the boss and his employee, Obama can’t fire the Supreme Court. He can’t get Congress to fire them and can’t get the American People to fire them. There is nobody in the world with better job security than a Supreme Court justice, and few who are as unaccountable for their decisions.

So I can’t figure out what hundreds of Right wing politicians, reporters, pundits, and bloggers have in their heads whey they accuse President Obama of “warning” or “trying to intimidate” the Supreme Court.

The president’s words are not unprecedented either. As the Daily Beast aptly points out:

In words echoed by Obama this week, Reagan reminded Americans that “in our democracy, it is the elected representatives of the people, not unelected judges, who make laws.” And Reagan warned what would happen if justices ignored that civics lesson: “If that happens,” he said, “the words of the documents that we think govern us will be just masks for the personal and capricious rule of a small elite.”

In those quotes, President Reagan was not referring to a specific ruling, but those words were still as much a description of the president’s expectations as Obama’s were.

President Obama did, by the way, correct his mistake about the precedence of the Supreme Court overturning congressional law, and explained that he was referring to laws concerning the commerce clause. Without that modification, the suggestion was absurd.

But despite that slip, there’s nothing unprecedented about a president stating how he expects the Supreme Court should act. His words were mild compared to some of those before him, and all this nonsense about the president’s warning is another dishonest effort to invent nefarious meanings hidden behind the president’s actual words.

Reason: Yes, Mitt Romney Flip-Flopped on the Mandate makes a strong case that Mitt Romney did, in fact, advocate for health care reforms on a federal level. Mitt Romney Central disputes that claim, citing a 2009 Newsweek Op-Ed in which Mr. Romney wrote:

Center reforms at the state level. Open the door to state plans designed to meet the various needs of their citizens. Before imposing a one-size-fits-all federal program, let the states serve as “the laboratories of democracy.”

But after reading the back and fourth between Mitt Romney Central and those who accuse Mitt Romney of flip-flopping, I’ve concluded that while Mr. Romney would allow more flexibility to the states in administering the program, on top of it all would be a federal policy which either rewards citizens for purchasing insurance or penalizes them for not doing so. Even in the rebuttal on Romney Central, Ben Collins quotes Mitt Romney:

For the uninsured who can afford insurance but expect to be given free care at the hospital, require them to either pay for their own care or buy insurance; if they do neither, they would forgo the tax credit or lose a deduction. No more “free riders.”

and states:

What Romney is saying is that those who don’t purchase health insurance lose the opportunity to gain a “tax credit” or “deduction.”

Romney is not advocating a “mandate” of the type Obama used where people are fined for not purchasing insurance, and Romney is certainly not advocating a FEDERAL mandate of any kind

My problems with Mr. Collins’s argument are that it’s a false distinction between causing those who don’t purchase health insurance to “loose an opportunity to gain a ‘tax credit'” and penalizing them with a fine, it’s a dishonest use of semantics to call financial incentives to coerce people to purchase health insurance something other than a “mandate”, and imposing such a mandate is a use of congressional power even if administering that imposition is delegated to the states.

Even NRO’s Andrew McCarthy, a kinder, gentler hatemonger who usually writes about why Muslims can never be trusted, delved into this issue and admitted that “health-care extortion, by the way, is not Obama’s doing”. He only accuses President Obama of “fast-forwarding to the next logical steps.”

But the health care mandate is not a “fast forward”. It’s what’s required in order to make health care accessible to all Americans, other than a single payer system.


As the Rational Republican points out, Democrats and Republicans can each refer to charts which bolster their arguments for or against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.


One chart that I haven’t seen used much is the employment/population ratio.

Employment Population Ratio (falls at end of Bush years and after Obama takes over but then flattens out).

What this shows is in the end of 2009, our jobs losses stopped. Not a very good chart to use against Obama but also not the most impressive chart to support him, because it flattens out in the end rather than rises up.

Much better for Obama is the chart showing the amount of jobs lost and created. Clearly we were loosing jobs at a rate unseen for over 60 years, but after stimulus we started adding millions of jobs back into the economy. But our population also grows, so we have to add millions of jobs each year just to keep up. It’s a lot better for the Obama administration to say, “We’ve added millions of jobs” than, “We’ve added millions of jobs and are keeping up.”

Bar chart showing negative job growth prior to ARRA then positive.

Republicans like to show the labor force participation rate, because it looks so bad. Republicans point out that unemployment figures only show people looking for work, so they actually improve when people give up. Labor force participation drops when people stop looking for work, so they claim it’s a better indication of the nation’s employment situation. But the labor force participation rate only tells a small part of the story. If during hard times two people loose their jobs, than one finds a new job while the other gives up, the labor force participation rate will go down even as the employment situation improves.

Chart showing decline of labor forced participatin rate.

It may be misleading for the Obama administration to show jobs created without putting them into the context of an ever growing population, but it’s more misleading for Republicans to present a chart that only shows a piece of the puzzle and use that chart to suggest that we’re actually loosing jobs.

If you want to understand our employment situation, you’re going to have to do more than look at a chart.

The Truth is Too Biased for Politifact.

Update: Politifact changed their rating of the President’s statments on jobs from “half” to “mostly” true.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Our original Half True rating was based on an interpretation that Obama was crediting his policies for the jobs increase. But we’ve concluded that he was not making that linkage as strongly as we initially believed and have decided to change the ruling to Mostly True.

That said, the rest of my post is still mostly true.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Jared Bernstein expresses his disappointment with Politifact’s lame reasoning for giving President Obama a “half-true” rating on his statements that “In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs.”, and “Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005.”

Mr. Bernstein says:

This is not half true or two-thirds true. It is just true.

So why, I ask you, why do they go where they go? Because of this:

In his remarks, Obama described the damage to the economy, including losing millions of jobs “before our policies were in full effect.” Then he described [sic!] the subsequent job increases, essentially taking credit for the job growth. But labor economists tell us that no mayor or governor or president deserves all the claim or all the credit for changes in employment.

Really? That’s it? That makes the fact not a fact? I’ve seen some very useful work by these folks, but between this and this, Politifact just can’t be trusted. Full stop.

Politifact seems to use “half-true” most of the times a politician makes claims about jobs, based on that advise from their “labor economists”. That’s a pretty weak policy, but at least it’s fair. Politifact would be even more fair if they simply used “half true” for everything.

When Romney said “More Americans have lost their jobs under Barack Obama than any president in modern history.”, they rated it as mostly false. It should have been pants on fire. Romney compared Obama’s unfinished term against previous presidents’ final tallies. If you use a fair measurement, by their own words:

So by this measurement, Obama doesn’t have a net loss of jobs at all — in fact, the only president who does is George W. Bush.

Additionally, Romney counts jobs losses that Obama can’t be responsible for, in the beginning of his term before his policies took effect. I don’t think “mostly false” covers it.

But Politifact has policy of aiming for the middle whenever a politician makes a claim about jobs.

So what good are they?

Lying about Employment with Charts and Numbers

In response to Mitt Romney’s boldface lie that Obama is a “job destroyer”, Greg Sargent has been calling on Romney to explain himself. The truth is, as soon as the stimulus took effect, the hemorrhaging of jobs that occurred as a result of deregulation and lack of oversight started to turn around, and jobs have been created; not destroyed. How can so many people be fooled when the numbers are readily available and how can pathological lier like Mitt Romney be hailed as the Republican candidate most likely to beat Obama?

Take a look at these two charts:

Series Id: LNS11300000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title: (Seas) Labor Force Participation Rate
Labor force status: Civilian labor force participation rate
Type of data: Percent or rate
Age: 16 years and over

Series Id: LNS12000000
Seasonally Adjusted
Series title: (Seas) Employment Level
Labor force status: Employed
Type of data: Number in thousands
Age: 16 years and over

Both are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. One was pointed to in a Hot Air article to suggest that Obama’s policies, specifically health care reform, destroyed jobs (The article is titled “ObamaCare, the Job Destroyer”). The other is similar to a chart in Paul Krugman’s blog demonstrating that Obama has created jobs.

How can two charts about employment data look so different? Because only the second chart, “Employment Level”, shows whether jobs have been created or destroyed after the President’s fiscal policies took effect.

The other chart represents a problem and is concerning, but it does not indicate what Hot Air wants you to believe and does not undermine the fact that after the stimulus passed, the job decline turned around and our economy created over two million new jobs.

What the first chart, titled “Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate”, shows is the percentage of U.S. population who are either employed or looking for work. Employed or looking for work means you’re part of the labor force. How does a person fail to be counted as employed and also fail to be counted as looking for work? Certainly, when someone gets fed up after weeks of not finding a job and becomes discouraged, that person drops out of the labor force. Like I said, it’s concerning. But also people who stay in school rather than finding a job, stay at home parents, and retirees are not in the labor force.

The baby boomers are retiring, and that’s having a real effect on labor force participation, as are discouraged workers.

To get a feel for the meaning of employment level vs labor participation, and whether a drop in labor force participation makes Obama a “job destroyer”, imagine a group of 10 people. 8 are working, and 2 are looking for jobs. One new job appears and one of the job-seekers snatches it up. The other gets discouraged and stops looking. Has employment improved or have jobs been destroyed?

When someone says that Obama is a Job Destroyer, they are mistaken or lying. And you cannot trust any news source or presidential candidate that promotes such a fallacy.

Update: I had the first chart labeled incorrectly, and incorrectly referred to the second chart in the text when I was talking about the first chart. I had mislabeled it “(Seas) Civilian Labor Force Level” instead of “Civilian labor force participation rate”

Tim Kaine’s Loyalty Arouses Obama Bashing Commenters

The Pilot’s report, “Kaine says he’ll stand by Obama in Senate bid”, generated predictable comments from on-line readers. One commenter said, (in part)

President Obama raised the debt to 14 TRILLION dollars.
Let’s give credit where credit is due-but of course, our AAA bond rating has been cut to AA with Obama in office, too.

I’m amazed that the bond rating loss can be used as a club to beat Obama with. My reply:

With Obama in office
Submitted by bnmng on Tue, 11/15/2011 at 7:29 am.

the debt reached 14 trillion. But it was already 10 trillion when Obama took office and half of the debt is due to tax cuts and wars. Even if you support both wars, don’t say “14 trillion” without acknowledging how much wars and cutting taxes for the rich during war time has cost the nation.

According to the S&P report the bond rating drop was due to Republican obstructionism in Congress.

It’s going to be a tough race for Obama and his supporters if people don’t read past the headlines and one-liners and see what’s really causing our economic troubles and how much has been done to hold our economy steady during a world-wide economic crises which started here.

Vote “Democrat” to Support Small Business and Create Jobs

Republicans want us to think that greater profits for the rich will lead to more jobs and a better standard of living for anyone willing to work. Like most good lies, the hype about low taxes and deregulation is based in some truth.

A small business owner, like the owner of my local feed store, might hire more help if he had more money available. The feed store owner has a couple of people working for him but often works the register or loads and unloads stock in his warehouse. The store doesn’t need any new employees, but if the owner hired someone new he could avoid the grunt work and get home a little earlier. It wouldn’t be a good business decision, but it might be a good personal decision.

Now consider Walmart. If the lines were shorter the customers would be in better moods and the work would be more pleasant for the cashiers. I’m usually in a pretty bad mood by the time I get to the register. But in a large corporation, the people at the top don’t feel the pain of the workers on the floor. Walmart isn’t going to hire more cashiers until the cost of doing so would be outweighed by the increase in customer purchases. It doesn’t matter how angry the customers are as long as they continue to stand in line, and it doesn’t matter how much money Walmart has in the vault. Walmart already enough money to hire more people.

In fact, more money in the vaults of big business is just as likely to result in fewer jobs. At my local McDonald’s, the owner recently purchased new cash registers. They are easier to operate, require less training, and make it easier for the manager to fire workers if he sees fit. A big business owner that suddenly finds extra money available is more likely to invest in automation or overseas facilities than extra labor. A while ago, McDonald’s corporation was testing the idea of long-distance drive-through operators. The person talking to you through that little speaker might be far far away. This would allow fewer people to handle more orders, or allow your order to be taken by lower paid workers in third-world countries. But this kind of change requires investment in research and capital. This is what McDonald’s spends all that extra profit on. Not on American jobs.

There is something that would encourage big and small business to create more jobs: More customer spending. Walmart will hire more workers when the the shelves empty out too fast or the checkout lines get so long that people choose to leave without buying anything. The feed store owner will also hire more help when he has more customers than he can handle.

So, the formula for creating jobs is: Tax breaks for small businesses more customers with more money to spend. That is the Obama jobs plan. Republicans are against this plan because it means higher taxes for billionaires and higher taxes for the kinds of corporations that use capital spending to replace workers with technology or replace Americans with low-paid workers in third-world countries.

Republicans have done a good job convincing Americans that Obama’s fiscal policy has failed us. Indeed, we’re still suffering from the economic malaise that began during the last years of the Bush administration. But Obama’s policies stopped the hemorrhaging of U.S. jobs and held the U.S. economy steady as turmoil overtook the rest of the world. Imagine a doctor gives you medicine which makes you sicker, then you go to a different doctor who gives you different medicine. You immediately stop getting sicker but don’t recover at the rate you were hoping for. Do you go back to the original medicine? Republicans suggest that the appropriate response to disappointment with rate of our nation’s recovery is to return to the kind of deregulation and tax-cuts for the wealthy that caused the economic down-turn.

One of the biggest Republican complaints is that the high corporate tax rate in the US is holding down the economy. But the the OECD has been tracking corporate tax rates around the world, and the data reveals that those countries that have held strongest during the world wide economic downturn, including the U.S.A. and Germany, have higher corporate tax rates than most countries that are in serious trouble, including Iceland, Ireland and Greece. Along with the dismal performance of our economy after the Bush tax cuts (as reported by Slate and several other sources), there is plenty of evidence to suggest that tax cuts for the rich and deregulation for large corporations are not what our economy needs to recover.

Republicans are correct in saying that we can’t keep blaming Bush for the current state of the economy. But that doesn’t mean we should forget that deregulation caused the economic downturn and tax cuts for the wealthy did not help. Job-saving programs and constraints on recklessness have saved jobs and kept the U.S. economy strong despite challenges throughout the world. If there is an argument to be had about president Obama’s policies, it is an argument about whether he gave away too much to his political opponents or achieved the best possible compromises considering his level of support. Either way, the answer is the same. The president needs more support to pass job-creating legislation that is currently being blocked by Republicans.

Don’t be fooled by lies about tax cuts for the rich and deregulation. Support legislation that cuts taxes for small business and creates jobs for Americans. Vote for the those who support honest and sensible economic policy in 2011. Vote for the President and his supporters in 2012.

Like OMG, Four Troops in Libya!

The first paragraph of a Fox News story:

Despite repeated assurances from President Obama and military leaders that the U.S. would not send uniformed military personnel into Libya, four U.S. service members arrived on the ground in Tripoli over the weekend.

Well, then, I guess we invaded Libya after all! Not quite. The rest of the story is more sane then the opening paragraph. It explains that these four military members are being sent to the U.S. embassy to disable explosive traps and provide general security. The article even quotes John Bolton, saying this is “No big deal”.

Nowhere in the article is Obama accused going back on his word. But the phrase “Despite repeated assurances from President Obama” is very suggestive. As I’ve said before, most readers won’t get passed the first paragraph. So Fox can lead with a harsh sounding teaser, nullify its own words in the following paragraphs, and claim to be as innocent as a cherub after triggering an army of keyboard reactionaries to spread the word that Obama is a lier.

And the keyboard army is, indeed, in motion. From the comments on a you-tube video:

sorry that facts bother you HA HA HA
so many ignoramuses on YT so little time!!
Obama Lies Yet Again!: ‘No U.S. Ground Troops In Libya’
Pentagon Confirms U.S. Troops on Ground in Libya…
Despite repeated assurances from President Obama and military leaders that the U.S. would not send uniformed military personnel into Libya, four U.S. service members arrived on the ground in Tripoli over the weekend.

So popular is this story that as of this morning, if you type “Ground Tro” in Google, it will auto-fill “Ground Troops in Libya”, and the Fox news article will be the first hit.

I’ll say it again and again: You have to read the story, not just the headline, and not just the first paragraph. And you have to read critically, and consider alternative views. That’s true if you’re a Liberal or a Conservative. I know we’re all busy and it’s Football season again, but if you’re going let yourself be led around by the nose from any agenda-driven news source, you’ll be even worse off than you would be if you imposed a news-blackout on yourself.

Read carefully and critically, then vote. Don’t do one without doing the other.