Wednesday, January 25, 2012

PARTY OF LIARS: You Wouldn't Know It Listening To Mr. 'Adee-Tude'

Granted, instant punditry and "analysis" is an oxymoron, but Chris Matthews' deluded Americana fantasy, as usual, takes the cake. (I'm keeping a list of major myths Matthews mouths, including: "Only in America ..." Get back to me when you've elected a true working class hero president who went on to become the world's most popular elected leader ever, succeeded by a woman president, which by the way has happened in countless other democracies on three continents except the United States. Just for starters; we'll revisit other myths, but I digress.)

Fortunately, Rachel tossed cold water on Chris's gushing praise for Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels' Republican response to the SOTU. "I could not disagree more," she told an irritated Mr. 'Adee-Tude' who had just asserted Daniels' speech was "midwestern conservatism at its best", "honest values fiscal conservatism" that said the "rich can't plunder the poor anymore." I'm still searching for this passage.

Indeed, Rachel reminded us that Daniels "was George W. Bush's Budget Director," in a gem of understatement, "which does cast a bit of a penumbra on his own comments about fiscal responsibility." In short, the man who was the principal architect of Bush's failed, castastrophic economic policies was cast, in a classic role of doubling down on the failed Republican ideology of Reaganomics, as if nothing has happened in the intervening 12 years, let alone the past 32 years, to bring us to this place.

Daniels even resorted to the time-tested propaganda technique of doubling down on the GOP's most glaring ideological weakness and owning it with the "Big Lie": "The President's grand experiment in trickle-down government has held back rather than sped economic recovery." It's an obvious lie, but the notable phrase is "trickle-down government" which attempts to wipe clean 32 disastrous years of "trickle-down Reaganomics" that gutted our economy and the middle class but was a boon for vulture crony capitalists.

Perhaps Rachel was rightly offended by the benign characterization of one of the villains of our economic distress who is now visiting on Indiana the same toxic and disastrous policies he championed under George W. Bush. If he can reinvent himself and pull the wool so completely over Matthews' eyes, which must have surprised Rachel (but not me), her reaction was to push back hard. Her instinct was right. Few people know better what's going on in those red state laboratories of right wing radicalism than Rachel, reporting nightly on the Republican wave of terror sweeping aside Chris's (and Romney's) amber waves of grain.

Chris's assertion that Daniels is a "responsible" Republican, like the fantasy-lie that Mitt Romney has not called President Obama a "European socialist," is another attempt to fit the political debate to his rose-tinted worldview, unable to confront the reality of right wing extremism at all levels of the Republican Party. If "responsible" and inclusive government is presiding over a Democratic Party in rebellion which refuses to be a rubber-stamp quorum for union-busting "right-to-work" legislation in Indiana, backed by the hardest-hitting union in the world, the NFL Players Union some 10 days before the Super Bowl in Indiana (which is so cool), how far can Michigan-style "emergency rule", voter disenfranchisement, and a militarized police crackdown on popular protest and revolt be?

What fictional "midwestern conservatism" is Chris Matthews channeling from Mitch Daniels, faced with the triple-dose reality of radical right wing extremism from Daniels' comrades, Rick Snyder in Michigan, and Scott Walker in Wisconsin? What Chris heard in Daniels' Republican response to the SOTU was a different speech from the one Rachel and I heard. Here are some of Mitch Daniels' cascading lies from the Party of Liars:

"[President Obama] cannot claim that the last three years have made things anything but worse." Really. Unemployment is still too high, but is down around 8.5%. Jobs were hemorrhaging by the hundreds of thousands after the President took over from Bush, with an economy in freefall. Mr. Obama has presided over a steady and consistent positive jobs growth in the private sector — 22 consecutive months. Furthermore, the economic outlook would have been far better had Daniels' partisans done their patriotic duty and cooperated on several jobs and infrastructure bills with the President, instead of obstructing government.

Even Mitt Romney had to acknowledge the economy is improving. Oops.

As Rachel noted, the rhetorical fig leaves and bromides are a thinly-veiled disguise for the same old Republican fear-mongering — "be afraid, be very afraid." In stark contrast to the President's optimistic message, Daniels said, darkly: "In our economic stagnation and indebtedness, we are only a short distance behind Greece, Spain, and other European countries now facing economic catastrophe." Not even close. Perhaps if he'd mentioned Britain, France, and Germany, countries that are on much more solid economic footing, we wouldn't need to call him a demagogue.

Daniels has outlined the problem of unemployment but offered no solutions: "Those punished most by the wrong turns of the last three years are those unemployed or underemployed tonight, and those so discouraged that they have abandoned the search for work altogether". But he was silent on his party's cruel, mean-spirited, and misguided approach to the unemployed, eagerly slashing benefits and throwing them out on the street to fend for themselves. His own privatization nightmare and benefits-slashing in Indiana belies the empty rhetoric and cruel GOP propaganda that says one thing and does another. Meaningless words. Propaganda so skillful that it even fools Chris Matthews.

This lie is particularly offensive, given its brazenness, bred, I believe, from Republicans' instinctual contempt for working class and middle class people, and the poor: "Contrary to the President's constant disparagement of people in business, it's one of the noblest of human pursuits. The late Steve Jobs — what a fitting name he had — created more of them than all those stimulus dollars the President borrowed and blew." Steve Jobs was admirable in many ways; but creating vast numbers of jobs in America was not one of them. In fact, when asked directly by President Obama why those Apple production jobs in China, Asia, and Europe cannot be made in America, Jobs replied bluntly: "Those jobs are gone forever." Here is Steve Jobs' checkered job-creation history vis-a-vis the United States:
Apple employs 43,000 people in the United States and 20,000 overseas ... Many more people work for Apple’s contractors: an additional 700,000 people engineer, build and assemble iPads, iPhones and Apple’s other products. But almost none of them work in the United States. Instead, they work for foreign companies in Asia, Europe and elsewhere, at factories that almost all electronics designers rely upon to build their wares.

“Apple’s an example of why it’s so hard to create middle-class jobs in the U.S. now,” said Jared Bernstein, who until last year was an economic adviser to the White House.

“If it’s the pinnacle of capitalism, we should be worried.”
Even more disturbing is Apple's child labor problem, which is a big Republican talking point. Newt Gingrich claims it builds character, not exploitation. Former House Republican whip Tom "The Hammer" DeLay proclaimed the sweatshop child labor horrors of the U.S. Mariana Islands territories while on a visit there to be "the future of capitalism".

And, of course, no Republican "response" would be complete without the obligatory LIE that the stimulus bill did not work or create any jobs
The Facts: A more accurate jobs count may come from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which estimates the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus bill, "increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million" in the second quarter of 2010 alone. The budget office also states that well over half a million jobs were funded in each of the other three quarters of 2010.
Even factoring in the 700,000 jobs Apple created in China, Asia, and Europe, which to Republicans, the kings of outsourcing American jobs, are all part of the mix so long as the foreign jobs are provided by an American company, the Steve Jobs overall job-creation record isn't even close to the millions of jobs created by the stimulus bill. Indeed, Mitch Daniels, that "honest" midwestern conservative is quite a devotée of the "Big Lie" and fuzzy math. Here he is, once again lying about the Keystone pipeline:
"The extremism that stifles the development of homegrown energy, or cancels a perfectly safe pipeline that would employ tens of thousands, or jacks up consumer utility bills for no improvement in either human health or world temperature, is a pro-poverty policy."
Please. The President answered the energy issue quite completely in the SOTU. It's a winning argument for him in this re-election campaign. The purpose of the EPA is to balance environmental concerns and public health issues against our energy needs. Were it up to these wholly-owned Republican puppets of the Oil and Gas industry, we'd be drilling the Grand Canyon and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The alarming rise in fracking, a little known and poorly regulated danger to our environment and health is already generating man-made earthquakes and polluting underground fresh water reservoirs. This new breed of Republican is eons removed from true environmentalists like Teddy Roosevelt and even Richard Nixon. Nixon created the EPA after our rivers began catching fire. It's those rivers of fire to which Republicans aim to return, so long as they're not in their backyards.

As for the inflated jobs figures, well they're LIES, of course. Here are the facts about the Keystone pipeline and jobs:
Transcanada (TRP), the energy giant bidding to build the pipeline, projects the undertaking would create 20,000 jobs in the U.S., including 13,000 positions in construction and 7,000 in manufacturing.

That figure, based on a report by a consulting firm hired by Transcanada to assess the project's economic impact, has been widely cited by Keystone backers on Capitol Hill. Other estimates advanced by supporters of the pipeline have been even more optimistic, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce claiming it could create 250,000 permanent U.S. jobs. 

But subsequent analysis suggests that Keystone's job-creating potential is more modest. The U.S. State Department calculated last year that the underground pipeline would add 5,000 to 6,000 U.S. jobs. One independent review of Keystone puts that number even lower, with the Cornell University Global Labor Institute finding that the pipeline would add only 500 to 1,400 temporary construction jobs. The authors of the September report also said that much of the new employment stemming from Keystone would be outside the U.S.

Transcanada itself cast doubt on its employment forecast when a vice president for the company told CNN last fall that the 20,000 jobs Keystone would create were temporary and that the project would likely yield only "hundreds" of permanent positions.
I think we've had just about enough LIES, don't you Chris? Hello? Imagine this: Chuckles Toddy saying to Mitch Daniels: "Would it be fair to say, that you've told one LIE after another in your response to the SOTU? Here are the facts" — (see above.) That'll Be The Day. Rachel is right. There was no "shining city on a hill." At least not on this planet. Maybe Krypton;  and we know what happened there.

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