Archive for category Bush Failures

Americans Believe Our Economy is Broken

Unemployed

According to new polling by the Center for American Progress:

Nearly two in three Americans (64 percent) agree that “Most people who live in poverty are poor because their jobs don’t pay enough, they lack good health care and education, and things cost too much for them to save and get ahead.” By contrast, only 25 percent of Americans agree with a competing idea that “Most people who live in poverty are poor because they make bad decisions or act irresponsibly in their own lives.” Even white conservatives and libertarians prefer the structural explanation for poverty over the personal by a significant margin, 63 to 29 percent.

These results are not a surprise if you belong to the reality-based community. Economic conditions in this country are the worst since the Great Depression. Six years after the start of Bush’s Great Recession, there has been hardly any recovery at all for most Americans. According to research by Emmanuel Saez, an economics professor at the University of California at Berkeley, between 2009 and 2011 the top 1 Percent became 11.2 percent richer while the bottom 99 Percent got 0.4 percent poorer.

Long-term unemployment benefits expired for 1.3 million Americans on December 28. They were just a fraction of the 4.1 million people whom the Labor Department counted as unemployed for more than 26 weeks. Beyond the official long-term unemployed, more than 760,000 others are counted by the Labor Department as “discouraged,” meaning they have stopped looking for work (some economists think that the number may be higher).

It remains to be seen whether our broken political system can do much to fix our broken economy. Congress hasn’t even been able to agree on an extension of Emergency Unemployment Compensation, something that used to be routine.

UPDATE: Unemployment Is Falling For All The Wrong Reasons

One reason for the big drop in unemployment in December was that many, many people dropped out of the labor force — 347,000, to be exact. They stopped looking for work, which made them no longer “unemployed” in the eyes of the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

UPDATE: 50 Years Into The War On Poverty, Right-Wing Media Want To Give Up The Fight

Right-wing media have spent the last few years baselessly dismissing the decades-long push to alleviate poverty as not worth the fight, despite evidence showing that government efforts to reduce poverty have been successful.

UPDATE: Robert Reich: Today’s Jobs Report and the Scourge of Inequality

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The Republican Base: Frustrated, Angry, and Desperate

Ed Kilgore, at Washington Monthly, captures one of the key forces driving the conservative movement – frustration.

Since the 1960s, the conservative movement has been trying to repeal the welfare state:

It’s the Goldwater campaign over and over and over again, with the same goals, the same demonology and the same frustration at Republican Establishment squishes who are willing to settle for what Goldwater himself (in referring to the Eisenhower administration) called a “dime-store New Deal” instead of a rollback of the whole welfare state.  Indeed, the goals are so audacious and the frustration so intense that it can make conservatives look like “nihilists” if you miss the underlying patterns.

Kilgore quoted Ross Douthat:

[W]hat you’re seeing motivating the House Intransigents today, what’s driving their willingness to engage in probably-pointless brinksmanship, is not just anger at a specific Democratic administration, or opposition to a specific program, or disappointment over a single electoral defeat. Rather, it’s a revolt against the long term pattern I’ve just described: Against what these conservatives, and many on the right, see as forty years of failure, in which first Reagan and then Gingrich and now the Tea Party wave have all failed to deliver on the promise of an actual right-wing answer to the big left-wing victories of the 1930s and 1960s — and now, with Obamacare, of Obama’s first two years as well.

From the teabagger perspective, American politics has been defined as defeat followed by defeat even when electoral outcomes looked victorious.  The result is a revanchist movement driven to recreate a mythical golden age before the welfare state and liberalism came along and ruined everything.

Daniel Larison points out:

. . . the experience of the Bush era is a much more important factor than disappointments with inadequate conservative victories of the past. During the Bush era, most conservatives either supported the administration’s domestic and foreign policy agenda or they didn’t put up much of a fight against any of it for at least the first five or six years. Not only did they end up backing a huge expansion of the welfare state and extraordinarily costly foreign wars, but in order to justify these moves they emphasized the value that these things supposedly had for the political fortunes of the GOP. The Bush-era GOP didn’t just fail to roll back previous government expansions, but did a great deal to increase the size and scope of government. Not long after making this bad bargain, conservatives saw the Republicans lose control of Congress, and they were still associated with one of the most unpopular presidents of modern times. Most conservatives backed almost every bad political and policy bet that Bush-era party leaders made, and it all went horribly wrong for both the GOP’s electoral prospects and conservative priorities. Many conservatives realized too late that they had put the political goals of the party first too often, and had deferred to party leaders too frequently, and so now there is great reluctance to do these things under any circumstances.

When any of those same leaders warn them against a certain course of action now, many conservatives, especially those members of Congress elected in the years since the defeats of 2006 and 2008, are not inclined to pay any attention to them.

The Bush administration should have been a roaring success.  It followed the conservative playbook to a T – aggressive foreign policy, tax cuts and weakened regulation at home.  Conservatives followed Bush and his team to defeat.  America turned its back on them and there’s no going back.  FWIW, many teabaggers are angry at Bush and his cronies, seeing them as traitors to the cause, but also as the people responsible for the rise of Barack Obama.

The net result is a movement frustrated at its leaders, angry at its leaders and everyone else, and increasingly desperate as they perceive their window of opportunity (to affect change) closing.

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Worst Recession Ever Continues for Unemployed Americans

Unemployment graph
Source: Calculated Risk Blog

The excruciatingly slow and anemic recovery from Bush’s Great Recession continues, according to the August jobs report.

Employers added 169,000 jobs in August but many fewer in June and July than previously thought, the Labor Department said Friday. Combined, June, July and August amounted to the weakest three-month stretch of job growth in a year.

The unemployment rate dropped to 7.3 percent, the lowest in nearly five years. But it fell because more Americans stopped looking for work and were no longer counted as unemployed. The proportion of Americans working or looking for work reached its lowest point in 35 years.

Americans are not impressed with a so-called “economic recovery” that has produced mainly low-wage jobs.

Low-wage jobs, defined as those that pay no more than $13.83 an hour, accounted for 21 percent of recession job losses but have accounted for 58 percent of the recovery growth.

Meanwhile, Congress is debating a potential $12 billion war against Syria. If the past is any guide, that will prove to be a gross underestimate of the cost.

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Bush Library Rewrite Website Fact-Checks Fictional Legacy

Miss me yet?

H/t Huffington Post.

President George W. Bush famously remarked that he couldn’t think of any mistakes he was responsible for. That theme was carried forward in the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum that opened last May. Our Worst President Ever and his die-hard supporters continue to claim there was nothing wrong with Bush’s decisions.

Fortunately for the truth, the nonprofit group Bridge Project has produced The Bush Rewrite, a website that exposes Bush’s attempt to rewrite history in his favor.

George W. Bush’s presidency was bookended by a pair of crises that shook the nation: the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the financial meltdown that forced the government to bail out several of the nation’s largest banks in the fall of 2008. In between, the Bush White House was plagued by a series of scandals and controversies, policy failures, and another disaster in the form of Hurricane Katrina. By the end of his second term, Bush had become one of the most unpopular presidents ever as his political allies began working on the long-term project of restoring his legacy.

To that end, the creation of the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, opened in April 2013, offered a unique opportunity to attempt to rewrite history.

Located in Dallas, Texas, the Bush Library highlights the major events and policy initiatives that took place during Bush’s time in the White House. But as one might expect, the exhibits give the impression that Bush’s decisions were correct and admirable, while glossing over his failures and the harmful consequences of his actions.

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I Think These Are Important Films

Originally, I was thumbing through HULU to see if there was anything I could watch for free that would interest me, and I found a very good film by Robert Greenwald about the Koch Brothers. I’ve seen many of his films, and am so glad that somebody is working so hard, trying to find a way to inform us without making billions destroying our dignity here and around the world. The film tried to be – you know – “fair and balanced”, and they made many attempts to allow the Koch bro’s to criticize the content so they could add it to the end of the film. Apparently the Koch’s didn’t see this film as a threat.

Koch Brothers Exposed:

The Koch bro’s DID see a threat, when a film called, “Citizen Koch” was broadcast on a public television station and decided they had better attach themselves onto the end, before having the film erased from any other showings across the nation. They can do that, because they donate to public television. You can see David Koch’s name in the credits to the “Nova” science series, although – as Greenwalds film reveals -, the Koch’s don’t give a flying shit about your education or democracy. Their push to destroy both are WAY beyond the scope of this post.

After watching the HULU presentation of Greenwald’s film, another documentary automatically started which is called, “Crawford (2008). What a great film! This one is truly, “fair and balanced”, and I’m positive none of the people in Crawford, Texas made a dime, by giving their opinions on camera. These are just plain folk, who were speaking their minds. It covers what happened to this town, when George W. Bush decided to move in, just before his run for president in 2000. If you thought the entire movie was going to be about Cindy Sheehan – whom I admire greatly -, you’d be wrong. She is only featured in a fraction of the document. To me, the star of the movie is a young high school student in Crawford, who completely gets what’s happening around him and articulates it perfectly. You’ll find out what happens to him towards the end.

Crawford (2008):

I have to add one comment about Robert Greenwald. I went to a screening of a political film in Salt Lake many years ago which featured a discussion afterwards. After the discussion, a young man handed me copy of what might have been Greenwald’s first documentary. I think it was called, ‘The Truth About The War In Iraq’. It was dead-on, and proven to be accurate, even though it was published years before some of the media – sort of – dipped it’s toes into the truth. But the thing that amazed me was that this 30-something man also handed me a letter that was sent to him by Greenwald’s organization. The young man had bought about 13 of the DVD’s so he could give them out, but got a letter from “Brave New Films”, telling him he could just copy them at will and give them out. Sure enough, the DVD didn’t have any copy protection. :)

Some are in it for the money, and others aren’t. Who do you support!

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Can the US Stop Being a Blundering Giant?

Perhaps the most painful part of the wildly ill-conceived response to 9/11 was the way in which the US behaved like a blundering giant, lashing out at the world, smashing things like Iraq that had nothing to do with the attacks.  The Bush administration’s policies – arrest, torture, secret prisons, drone attacks, two failed wars – were seductive and disastrous and arose from a worldview formed by the Cold  War that saw the world in stark, dualistic ways.

The Obama administration had been stymied by Congress in its efforts to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.  They’ve managed to unwind our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and this week the President delivered the kind of speech that reminded me why I liked him in the first place – morally, ethically he seems to understand the issues, to speak them eloquently.  Too rarely, he’s matched his rhetoric and his action.  But at long last, it seems he wants to move our nation in the right direction, giving up the seductiveness of the imperial presidency and its vast powers.

In an article for the AP, from KSL, for example:

Some call it wishful thinking, but President Barack Obama has all but declared an end to the global war on terror.

Obama is not claiming final victory over extremists who still seek to kill Americans and other Westerners. Instead, he is refocusing the long struggle against terrorism that lies ahead, steering the United States away from what he calls an equally frightening threat – a country in a state of perpetual war. In doing so, Obama recasts the image of the terrorists themselves, from enemy warriors to cowardly thugs and resets the relationship between the U.S. and Islam.

The point is that the tools needed to successfully combat terrorists aren’t armies and drones.

Maureen Dowd, channeling her inner smart person, wrote about the President’s speech.

After four years of bending the Constitution, the constitutional law professor now in the White House is trying to unloose the Gordian knot of W.’s martial and moral overreaches after 9/11.

Safely re-elected, President Obama at long last spoke bluntly about the Faustian deals struck by his predecessor, some of them cravenly continued by his own administration.

The rest of her article describes her visit to Bush’s presidential library, with more than few choice phrases:

You could fill an entire other library with what’s not in W.’s.

And:

Decision Points Theater — a whiny “Well, you try being the Decider” enterprise — lets you make the decisions after getting taped briefings on W.’s crises from actors playing experts. But it is rigged with so many false binary options that the visitors I voted with ended up agreeing with Bush’s patently wrong calls on Iraq and Katrina.

I’m reminded that throughout his Presidency, Barack Obama has been a maddeningly cautious and centrist leader.  The result has been a slow, but steady, progression in the right direction.  No whiplash policy changes for this president, instead a constantly calibrating and recalibrating movement away from the disastrous policies of the Bush administration.

The War On Terror was always a misnamed, mishandled, misconceived thing, a disaster from beginning to end.  It was a fatally misconceived adventure that did more damage than good.  If at long last the Obama administration is turning away from it, rejecting its tactic and premises, I’ll suffice to say better late than never.

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A Complete Failure of Our Political System

From Kos:

Of all the people in that video, the only ones to get it right were the ones outside the White House protesting—and they didn’t even get a full sentence of coverage. It’s yet another example of how Iraq represented a complete failure of our political system . . .

I don’t think anyone in America’s political or media establishment has effectively grappled with their personal culpability for the Iraq fiasco.  A lot of people who knew better went along.  The voices speaking out against the war were ignored and silenced.

Krugman on the dynamic that still plays out in American politics:

The really striking thing, during the run-up to the war, was the illusion of consensus. To this day, pundits who got it wrong excuse themselves on the grounds that “everyone” thought that there was a solid case for war. Of course, they acknowledge, there were war opponents — but they were out of the mainstream.

The trouble with this argument is that it was and is circular: support for the war became part of the definition of what it meant to hold a mainstream opinion. Anyone who dissented, no matter how qualified, was ipso facto labeled as unworthy of consideration. This was true in political circles; it was equally true of much of the press, which effectively took sides and joined the war party.

I’m thinking about systems stuff lately and the Iraq war represented a massive breakdown but it didn’t happen overnight.  The Clinton impeachment nonsense was part of the breakdown.  The election of 2000 was part of the breakdown.  The arrogance and hubris of the followed the first Gulf War was part of the breakdown. 

 

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Ten Years Ago Today . . . And No It Was Not Worth It

I hate looking back.  Ten years ago today the US invastion of Iraq began. 

The push for war with Iraq felt like a time of public madness.  The American media has never been less absolutely incompetent than in those months.  Yeah, the media pretty much sucks now, but back then they were awful beyond the telling of it.  The largest peace rallies in history got no coverage.  American media has spent the last decade hoping no one reminds them how bad they were, how gullible, how insanely biased for the Bush administration they were and how they mindlessly lapped up any lie they were told. Read the rest of this entry »

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What Economic Recovery?

Recently we learned that real disposable income was down in January, partly due to the payroll tax hike that was part of the “fiscal cliff” deal. The federal government went over the so-called “cliff” anyway.

Today there was a party on Wall Street as the Dow Jones industrial average reached a record high shortly after the opening bell. It’s on track to close above the previous record of 14,164 reached on Oct. 9, 2007. It’s up 7.8 percent for the year. Some call it a “TINA market,” for “there is no alternative.” Interest on savings and bond yields are at rock bottom due to Fed policy, forcing investors to rely on stocks.

However, as Pat Garofalo points out on Think Progress, workers’ wages as a percentage of the economy are hovering near record lows.

Wages decline graph

Hey, check out what happened with wages during the Clinton administration (1993-2000). Only time since 1970 that wages recovered after a recession.

As Quartz’s Matt Phillips put it, “in many ways Americans are still sucking wind after the gut punch they suffered in 2008.” In fact, the richest 1 percent of Americans have captured 121 percent of the income gains achieved during the current recovery, meaning everyone else has actually lost ground in terms of income since the economy bottomed out.

Those jobs we lost in Bush’s Great Recession have either not come back, or they have been replaced by lower-paying jobs. Party on, Wall Street.

UPDATE:

Robert Reich: Why There’s a Bull Market for Stocks and a Bear Market for Workers

Rarely before in American history have public policies so radically helped the most fortunate among us, so cruelly harmed the least fortunate, and exposed so many average working Americans to such widespread insecurity.


UPDATE:

OOPS: Financial Pundits Predicted The Stock Market Would Plunge Under Obama

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National Rifle Association Has Turned the Second Amendment Into a Cruel and Deadly Hoax

The NRA is the enabler of death-paranoid, delusional and as venomous as a scorpion. With the weak-kneed acquiescence of our politicians, the National Rifle Association has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel and deadly hoax. – Bill Moyers

NRA Enabler of death

NRA Enabler of death

Bill Moyers Essay: Living Under the Gun from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

The procession of funerals of innocent children under the casual gaze of the gun lobby and 2nd Amendment zealots, reminds us that our public spaces are no longer safe. This is the antithesis of freedom and civic life. Americans must rise up now against this terror and demand basic security for unarmed people.

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Lawrence O’Donnell: Where Is Newt’s Apology For Being Wrong On Taxes 20 Years Ago?

Awesome. Via Think Progress:

On Sunday, during an appearance on Meet The Press, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell confronted Newt Gingrich for falsely predicting in 1993 that the economy would suffer if then-President Bill Clinton raised marginal tax rates.

Republican are making a similar argument against President Obama’s call to raise marginal tax rates on the richest Americans, even though the economy and jobs grew exponentially during the Clinton years when the top marginal tax rate was at 39.6 percent for the top income earners.

…Indeed, in 1993 when President Bill Clinton raised taxes on the top income earners, Gingrich and the Republicans argued that the hikes would result in economic decline and result in huge deficits. They were proven wrong. The country experienced the “longest period of economic growth in U.S. history, increased business investment, 23 million jobs added, and, of course, budget surpluses.” The same boom did not materialize after President George W. Bush enacted his tax cuts; the country experienced large deficits and the weakest job and income growth in the post-war era.

O’Donnell actually said: “Newt, [we] have been waiting for your apology for 20 years for being completely wrong about that.”

Of course, in the fake world of the media, no one ever apologizes for being flat wrong. In this case the cost of being wrong was a decade of flat wages, lost jobs, and rising poverty in America – culminating in the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression, and ongoing economic sabotage by Republicans in Congress. They are still threatening to kill the recovery out of pure hyperpartisanship even after President Obama agreed to make 98 percent of the Bush Tax Cuts For The Rich permanent.

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Faux News: Iraq WMD Intel ‘Turned Out To Be Correct’

Via Media Matters. Faux News version:

BRIAN KILMEADE (co-host): [T]he last thing I would say, the other talking point from the administration put out through the media is, well what about Condoleezza Rice, who talked about weapons of mass destruction and still got to be Secretary of State, when there were no known weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? And the answer to that is simple — about 80 percent of the Western world and the Middle East from Egypt to Jordan thought he had weapons of mass destruction. All the evidence was there. He actually was caught with them. And there is evidence that Saddam Hussein was reconstituting his nuclear program. So everything turned out to be correct. You had the world, and an eight-month investigation, and a report that was out. That’s a lot different than what Ambassador Rice was either given or said.

Real-world information:

In 2004, the Special Advisor to the Director of Central Intelligence released a final report on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The Iraq Survey Group, as it was known, found that Iraq “ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. ISG found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program.”

As for the claim that Iraq still possessed chemical weapons, the report stated:

While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad’s desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered.

The Iraq Survey Group report also judged that after 1995, Iraq “abandoned its existing [biological warfare] program in the belief that it constituted a potential embarrassment, whose discovery would undercut Baghdad’s ability to reach its overarching goal of obtaining relief from UN sanctions.” The report also stated that Iraq destroyed its undeclared stocks of biological warfare-related weapons in 1991 and 1992.

How many times and how thoroughly does a lie have to be debunked before the Faux News Channel stops repeating it?

I’m not even going to address Faux News Channel’s Benghazi conspiracy theory, because it doesn’t make the slightest bit of sense.

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