Randy Forbes: Dems Playing into Partisan Spectacle by Boycotting Partisan Spectacle

Randy Forbes released the following statement:

At a time when our allies across the globe continue to have questions about this Administration’s commitment and competency, the United States’ support for Israel should be unwavering. Instead, we see the White House prioritizing risky negotiations with a nuclear obsessed Iran over the concerns of a trusted ally, and Democratic Members of Congress playing into a partisan spectacle rather than respecting the longstanding relationship between our two countries. To allow the American commitment to the nation of Israel to be thus called into question is not only shortsighted, it is detrimental to security and U.S. interests in the region.

Forbes makes a pretty bold statement as he conflates our friendship of Israel with our trust in Bibi Netanyahu. We now know he lied about Iran’s nuclear capabilities in 2012, when he used a stupid picture of a cartoon bomb to exaggerate how close Iran was to being a nuclear power. A leaked Mossad document shows that Netanyahu’s lies contradicted information held by his nation’s own intelligence agency. But of course Republicans support lying about military data in order to start wars, so I guess Netanyahu’s lies only bolster Republican’s affection for him.

It’s also a pretty bold statement about allies across the globe having questions about this administration’s commitment and competency. It was George Bush, after all, who invaded Iraq under false pretenses and squandered the international support we had gained after the September 11th attacks that he failed to protect us from. Obama actually raised international support back up from Bush’s low. Peter Beinart’s article in the Atlantic pointed to a Pew Research report (which has since been updated) that shows us that international attitudes towards the U.S. are positive, and much better than they were when Obama took office.

America’s image began to rally in some nations and to soar by the end of the decade following the election of Barack Obama, at least in Europe and parts of Asia and Latin America. After slipping a bit again in the first years of this decade, brand U.S. has stabilized and even recovered in a few nations in 2014.

So where are all those allies questioning this administration’s commitment and competency?

The biggest decline in ratings for the U.S. is in Russia, where 71% now hold an unfavorable opinion.

Of course, Russia’s not an ally, but the way Republicans have been fawning over Putin lately, maybe Forbes is a little confused.

Pretty bold of Forbes to call into question Obama’s commitment to our national security, since he just voted ‘No’ to even a one week stop-gap measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

Pretty bold to talk about the concerns of an ally when even Israeli’s are questioning the wisdom of his visit and about 200 members of Israeli’s security community have voiced their opposition to it.

It’s pretty bold to talk about partisan spectacles considering what a partisan spectacle it was for the Speaker of the House to breach protocol and Constitutional law by inviting a foreign leader into our Congress without notifying our President.

Considering all of those facts, it’s not just bold, it’s bizarre to suggest that it’s un-American to boycott the inappropriate appearance in our nation’s Congress of a foreign leader who has lied to us to influence our diplomatic and military strategies, and is risking the security of our nation and his own in a desperate attempt to shore up his slipping popularity just before an election. But then, lying and risking national security to bolster their popularity is what Republicans do, so I guess Randy Forbes is just towing the Republican line.

Negotiating Health Care Reform

Crowing about the Republican failure to get their demands after costing the nation 24 billion dollars and threatening even more damage may be playing into Republican hands by helping to spread the “Democrats won’t negotiate” lie. David Akadjion warns about this while using, as an example, a Racheal Maddow chart which says “They Got (Nothing)”:

Note how the Maddow chart appears to a conservative who has bought into this idea that Democrats won’t negotiate.

Akadjion points out that negotiations were in place prior to the shutdown. But the Affordable Care Act was a negotiation right from the start.

The original idea was single-payer, but even before Barack Obama got elected with a significant majority, right wing pundits began lying about how horrible health care was in countries with nationalized health care. People in those counties defended their systems and thought Americans were crazy for resisting reform. The phrase “Best health care system in the world” was widely used by right wing pundits, and even when Glen Beck’s “best in the world” rants were starkly and hilariously debunked by Beck’s own bitter criticism of American health care just a short time earlier, Fox News fans, some of whom must have seen both stages of Beck, didn’t seem to get the irony.

The first health care compromise was to trade single payer for a public option. This would have allowed each citizen to choose between “socialized medicine” and a private insurer. But the Republicans criticized the public option on two fronts: First, that government will provide expensive, complicated, and low quality health care than nobody wants, and second, that private insurers will be at an unfair disadvantage in competing with such a system. Again, irony lost.

So be it. President Obama’s answer to Republican criticism was “Ok, we’ll do it your way”. And so the Affordable Care Act was patterned after Mitt Romney’s health care plan for Massachusetts (Romnycare) and on suggestions for health care overhaul promoted by such right wing outlets as the Heritage foundation. The right wing response to Democrats altering their own vision for health care in favor of a Republican idea was to fight it at all costs.

From that point on, any attempt to negotiate with Republicans was met with resistance, followed by lies about the intransigence of Democrats. Republicans achieved a new level of hypocrisy by taking their own idea to the Supreme Court. When ACA was deemed constitutional by SCOTUS, Republicans pinned their hope on electing Mitt Romney to repeal a national health care system based on one of the few successes he had in an otherwise dismal record as governor of Massachusetts. And Romney lost.

Republicans claim that the ACA never had majority support. That’s no longer true, but even when polls showed less than a majority in favor of Obamacare, Americans approved of the provisions of ACA as long as it wasn’t called “Obamacare”. A classic example is the Kentuckian who was impressed with Kentucky’s new health care exchange system.

… The man is impressed. “This beats Obamacare I hope,” he mutters to one of the workers.

Obamacare polls are also misleading in other ways. For one thing, much of the disapproval over Obamacare is about the concessions Obama made trying to woo conservatives. Another point which Obama pollsters fail to mention: There is no plan with majority support, including doing nothing. Even before Obamacare polled with majority support, it was more popular than any other idea.

So here were today, in the aftermath of a 24 billion dollar temper tantrum led by a junior Congressman who for some reason, has the Republican party by the nose. What Ted Cruz has to say about the damage he has caused in his failed attempt to undermine the will of the people is, “I hope that in time, the Senate begins to listen to the American people.”

If Congress were to listen to the American people, they would support Obamacare, and stop causing billions of dollars with of damage to our nation trying to destroy it.

Boston Blame

Well I figured this wouldn’t take long: “Obama ignored Russian FSB intelligence warning about Boston bomber (2011 warning disregarded by Obama’s FBI)”. Nor this: “Boston Jihad Bomber Could Have Been Deported After 2009 Domestic Violence Conviction”. We should brace ourselves for a tidal wave of right wing conspiracy theories blaming Obama for the tragedy in Boston. (also brace yourself for a bunch of popup ads when clicking on right wing websites).

It’s a lie that Tsarvaev could have been deported for domestic violence and only dishonest right wing websites are calling the domestic violence incident a “conviction”. According to the New York Times:

.. while Mr. Tsarnaev was arrested, he was not convicted in the episode. The law requires a serious criminal conviction in a domestic violence case for officials to initiate deportation, federal officials said.

And that’s not due to Obama’s policies.

It’s also a dishonest to blame Obama for failing to act on the Russian warning. The FBI investigated the elder Tsarnaev brother but “did not find any terrorism activity, domestic or foreign”

Another thing that “Obama’s FBI” blamers won’t mention is that FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed by George Bush. Is it fair for me to point that out? Only in the sense that turnabout is fair play. After 9-11, right wing pundits wouldn’t let us escape the fact that the CIA director at the time, George Tenet, was a Clinton appointee. I remember “a Clinton Appointee” following Tenet’s name as if it were a suffix, like “Jr”, “DDS”, or Esquire”. It didn’t matter that Tenet warned the Bush administration about al-Quaeda.

But even if the FBI missed an opportunity to catch the Tsarnaevs, Obama’s FBI under Bush’s appointee has kept us pretty safe from domestic terror. We’re not going to stop every attack. In 2002, Dick Cheney promised us that there will be more attacks, but apparently his preemptive ass covering was only to be used during his own term.

There are over 30 people murdered in the United States every day, and very very few of us are blown up by terrorists. Instead of blaming “Obama’s FBI” we should praise them for their service and turn our attention back to gun violence. People trying to politicize the tragic event in Boston are crackpots, hypocrites and liars.

Update: and now this.

Check, Please

After I wrote,

I am loosing tolerance for the idiotic reasoning that criminals will get firearms anyway.

Lawrence Kennon wrote,

The argument is not that one should not make laws because criminals will disobey them. The real argument is that often the proposed law will negatively affect the rights or the law abiding without have much material effect on the non-law-abiding. It is basically an argument of unintended consequences.

He has a point, which I acknowledged. But then I heard this, from Kevin Starrett of the Oregon Firearms Federation on NPR:

Obviously, people who commit crimes with guns are not going to subject themselves to the background check. So who is it having any impact on? It’s having an impact on the people who are willing to obey the law, who wouldn’t do anything bad in the first place.

Keven Starrett seems to think that criminals will have an “opt-out” button that they can use to avoid subjecting themselves to background checks. That’s not how it works. Universal background checks will close off paths that criminals currently use to obtain weapons while still keeping those avenues open to law abiding citizens. They will force people who shouldn’t be buying guns to turn to illicit means of acquiring them. That won’t stop all criminals from getting weapons, but it will stop a lot of them.

A background check probably would have prevented this and many other tragedies like it:

Zina Daniel took out a restraining order against her husband after three years of abuse. The restraining order should have prevented her husband, Radcliffe Haughton, from buying a gun. Regardless, Haughton was able to skip a background check by buying a gun on the internet, which he used to shoot 7 people the very next day.

You can make all of the “criminals don’t obey laws” comments you want, but 100 percent background checks will prevent some people with violent records from obtaining guns. Some of them will find it too difficult or too risky, and others will get caught trying.

The beauty of 100% background checks is they don’t leave law abiding citizens unarmed while allowing criminals to easily get guns. Mr. Kennon argued that unless background checks are 100% accurate and nearly immediate, they’re a violation of our rights. I disagree. And so does the NRA.

Until recently, the NRA supported “mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere for anyone.” So is the NRA saying, “We used to support violating the 2nd Amendment but now we don’t”? It’s hard for me to imagine that the NRA had a genuine reversal of their interpretation of the Second Amendment. The 2nd Amendment didn’t change since Wayne LaPierre spoke clearly and strongly in support of 100% background checks and neither did LaPierre’s position at the NRA.

Nothing changed except an opportunity for the NRA to increase its popularity by obstructing the Obama administration, and gun sellers discovering that paranoia is good for sales. Gun organizations have been boasting about it. And the NRA can’t maintain lucrative gun grabber paranoia and hatred of Obama while supporting the administration on any gun control legislation, even if it’s legislation that the NRA strongly supported and even if it’s what over 90% of the American people want.

I acknowledge that Lawrence Kennon’s argument against background checks is not “idiotic”. But I can’t find a better word to describe Starrett’s statement that background checks don’t affect criminals because they won’t “subject themselves” to them. And I can’t abide the NRA’s reversal of a position they once so strongly supported, without changes in the facts on the ground other than the political landscape.

With overwhelming support among the American people for legislation that keeps firearms out of the hands of criminals while allowing law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms, defeating this legislation will not be a victory for the 2nd Amendment. It would be a victory for a small group of powerful lobbyists in their effort to circumvent the will of the people and put profits ahead of the lives of law abiding citizens.

Update April 6: I originally wrote that the facts on the ground hadn’t changed except the party of the current administration. That was a mistake since Clinton was in office while LaPierre was promoting universal background checks


I had the pleasure of drafting Ella Ward’s final campaign email message (not counting a note about an election night party which we sent later). After a few changes, it went out as follows:

This has been a contentious campaign season for politicians at all levels, but President Barack Obama has endured the most outrageous accusations, dishonest attacks, and distorted rumors directed towards him than any other candidate that I can remember.

If the president is defeated next week, the United States will return to the economic policies that started the recession from which we’re recovering, social policies which would codify bigotry and discrimination into national law, environmental policies which would destroy our beautiful and bountiful natural resources, and national security policies which kept America engaged in seemingly endless wars while our number one enemy escaped retribution.

But even when we re-elect President Obama, he will need the support in Congress to prevent the kind of gridlock, distraction, and damage that his opposition has given us over the past four years. Randy Forbes has been one of the most obstructionist Republicans in Congress during his tenure. Randy Forbes is committed to defeating legislation that would allow the president to succeed, even if doing so brings discrimination and economic hardship to his constituency.

I will support the President as he works to keep America safe, beautiful, equitable, and moving forward. I will fairly represent the people of the 4th Congressional District in Virginia, not just the wealthiest and the most influential residents.

Opponents to the President and supporters such as Tim Kaine and me have been feverishly motivating their base to get to the polls this November. They have used fear-mongering about socialism, gun grabbing, terrorism, and economic collapse to scare their supporters to the polls.

We need you to counter the effects of the distortions and lies and vote for Barack Obama, Tim Kaine and me, Ella Ward, on November 6th – and get your friends and neighbors to do so as well. A win for Barack Obama, Tim Kaine, and me will be a win for truth, a win for fairness, a win for Virginia, and a win for America.

And, if you can help out at the polls handing out sample ballots, please call our office and volunteer.

Thank you, sincerely, for all you’ve done and will do to keep America moving forward.

Ella Ward

Mitt Romney, who once said

“The people of America recognize that the slowdown in jobs that occurred during the early years of the Bush administration were the result of a perfect storm. And an effort by one candidate to somehow say ‘Oh, this recession and the slowdown in jobs was the result of somehow this president magically being elected,’ people in America just dismiss that as being poppycock. And they recognize it as that.”

is now saying just that, despite Obama’s expert navigation through a perfect storm including the incredibly steep and sudden loss of jobs that he had to deal with when he took office, the financial disaster in Europe which continues today as the European Economic Union fails to solve its problems with right-wing austerity measures, and the most obstructionist Congress in recent history. This obstructionist Congress even blames the president for their own actions, including the sequestration which Paul Ryan encouraged and the downgrade of the U.S. bond rating which resulted from a Republican-led near government shutdown.

It’s time now to vote. There are more people in America who want Obama in office than who want Romney in office, but Republicans are considered to be more reliable voters. They are more likely than Democrats to be financially secure, to own homes and to have lived at the same address for decades. It’s easier for them to take a few hours off of work, to find a baby sitter, and to drive to the polls. They are more familiar with their polling locations and are more likely to know people who will be working at those locations. And they are fired up with mean, dishonest rhetoric about socialism, gun control, accusations that Obama is a Muslim (and it shouldn’t matter even if he was a Muslim because Constitution makes it clear that it shouldn’t matter, but it matters to the bigots who won’t vote for him because they think he is), lies about the economy, and about health care. And now they are fired up because of an eerily timed vicious attack on our embassy, one of very few during this administration compared to previous administrations, but one about which mean and crazy speculations are popping up faster than can be put down before Tuesday. They’re even blaming Obama for the results of Hurricane Sandy, a storm likely caused by climate change which Republicans want to ignore, which FEMA, an agency Romney wants to defund is handling as quickly as possible.

It might rain on Tuesday. You might be tired after a long day at work. You might have to drag the kids with you. You might have to walk. But if you do, you will be part of the most important election in decades. In this election we will see if slanderous attacks and crazy accusations are more important to voter turnout than the will of the majority of Americans. I’m betting on the majority but it’s no sure thing as the polls show a dead heat in the final days of this race. Don’t let this race pass you by. Be part of it. Vote.

Romney’s lies are more important than his bungles

Romney’s week of gaffs has steered attention away from the lie he told to the VFW recently, and the dishonest sound-biting of President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” quote. Gaffs can be forgiven more easily than blatant lies, and Romney’s untruthful jabs at the President will continue to reverberate through the right wing blogosphere while fact-checking of his statements gets lost among jokes about his diplomatic errors. And those errors will be excused by apologists who actually see it as a sign of strength for an American to go around the world insulting our allies and carelessly violating protocol, as long as the violator is a Republican.

But let’s not forget the lies. Mitt Romney blamed Barack Obama for a bi-partisan congressional budget agreement that will result in defense cuts. Remember, last year congressional Republicans threatened to shut down the government if they didn’t get tax cuts for the rich and cuts to vital services for the rest of us. Their willingness to cripple the nation’s economy in order to get their way prompted a downgrade in Standard and Poor’s U.S. bond rating, and despite S&P specifically citing Republican “brinksmanship” as the cause, Romney was one of the first Republicans to blame Obama for the downgrade. Still, Democrats and Republicans worked out a short-term budget deal with a rider that if they couldn’t work out a follow-on deal, across-the-board budget cuts would automatically kick in, including cuts to the military.

Those automatic, pre-negotiated, bi-partisan budget cuts are the ones Romney refers to as “the president’s”. I wrote earlier that across-the-board budget cuts was a bad deal for Democrats. The idea that cuts in the military balance out cuts for programs that help the poor and middle class is ridiculous. Democrats don’t actually want to defund the military, but Republicans don’t care about defunding the poor and middle class. The pressure that Romney is putting on the president and Democrats indicates that when Republicans agreed to the budget cuts, they were lying, and always felt they could scuttle the agreement by accusing Democrats of not supporting the troops if they adhere to it.

The other big lie was the sound-bite, “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that.”. “That” was referring to an example of a bridge, a road, or some other improvement provided by the people as a whole, which is clear from the full quote. Romney can claim “soundbiting” for “I like being able to fire people”, but while the statement is less harsh in context, ( he likes being able to fire people because the ability to do so encourages performance ) at least nobody is being mislead about what the words, themselves, actually mean. Even though context softens his words, Romney does, in fact, like being able to fire people. Obama does not, in fact, believe that entrepreneurs don’t build their own businesses. Romney’s sound-biting of Obama’s speech isn’t just putting a negative slant on something Obama said, it’s making people think Obama said something that he didn’t say, and it demonstrates severe level of dishonesty. Romney is more honest than that when he just plain lies.

So by all means, let’s talk about Romney’s diplomatic blunders. They’re more than just funny, they’re an indication of Romney’s ability to represent the United States of America to our allies. But let’s not forget the more important fact: Mitt Romney isn’t just a bungler, he is a liar.

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.
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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?