Archive for June, 2015

The Supreme Court affirms the right of same sex couples to marry, just like heterosexual couples. Conservatives pitch a hissy fit because they can no longer deny other people the same right that they enjoy. And for good measure, Justice Scalia once again demonstrates what an awful person he is.

The Supreme Court rejects the cynical argument that the Affordable Care Act was written in such a way as to destroy itself. The only reason this case was brought to court was to damage the Obama presidency. The plaintiffs didn’t really care about how it would affect them. As I said, cynical. But that’s conservatism in the twenty-first century.

Bristol Palin, paid abstinence spokesperson, is again pregnant out of wedlock. She doesn’t seem too happy about it, and asks that no one lecture her. If only she had taken her own advice instead of, well, spending years lecturing other people, she might find a more sympathetic audience. Instead, she’s just another conservative hypocrite.

Sarah Palin no longer has a job at Fox News. May we never hear from her again.

Donald Trump refuses to release his birth certificate. Another conservative hypocrite. Oh my God, though, the 2016 Republican presidential contest is going to be fun. Talk about a clown car! I think they all take turns driving it, though The Donald no doubt thinks he’s the only one who can possibly drive it correctly.

A black woman is arrested for removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina state house grounds.

May was the hottest May on record; 2015 on track to be hottest year on record. But nothing to see here.

Over at B4V, Cluster–our dear friend and former blogging colleague (until he couldn’t tolerate dissenting comments about his posts and retreated to a safe haven in which his views are never challenged)–writes in the comments that he is “FUCKING tired of tired of progressives and their penchant to use every damn issue under the sun to hate on white conservatives and divide this country.” He then uses as his sole example a New York Times article titled “White Terrorism Is as Old as America.” The article’s lede?

My grandmother used to speak of Klansmen riding through Louisiana at night, how she could see their white robes shimmering in the dark, how black people hid in bayous to escape them. Before her time, during Reconstruction, Ku Klux Klan members believed they could scare superstitious black people out of their newly won freedom. They wore terrifying costumes but were not exactly hiding — many former slaves recognized bosses and neighbors under their white sheets. They were haunting in masks, a seen yet unseen terror. In addition to killing and beating black people, they often claimed to be the ghosts of dead Confederate soldiers.

Yes, an article that describes the ugly history of terrorism perpetrated by white Americans–namely the Ku Klux Klan–upon Black Americans is equated by Cluster as “hating on conservatives.” Glad we got that one straight.

Did I miss anything else?

P.S. I have to say, it is a bit sad to see conservatives so unhinged that they can no longer even bring themselves to talk to people with whom they disagree. Oh, also, nothing but 107+ degree weather on Cluster’s porch for the foreseeable future. Better get the golfing in early, my friend!

So you’re at the gym and you run into the local former Naval intelligence analyst–you know, the guy who never fails to remind you that he was an intelligence analyst because it makes it him sound both intelligent and capable of thoughtful analysis. In the course of the conversation, you mention that you recently read an article explaining that since 1900 unemployment has been much worse, on average, during Republican administrations than Democratic ones; and that more recessions have started under Republicans than Democrats.

This causes the intelligence analyst to go silent for a few seconds, eyes blinking, until he utters his favorite one-word response when confronted with facts for which he has no counter. “Bullshit,” he says, expecting (hoping) that this will put an end to the conversation and you will go away.

Ah, but this time you pull out your iPad and point out the interesting passages from the article (highlighted in bold below), which is based on research conducted by Dr. James Gilligan in the course of writing his book, Why Some Politicians Are More Dangerous Than Others. His book shows that the rate of lethal violence rises under Republican presidents and falls just as consistently under Democrats. What might explain this correlation? “According to Gilligan, criminologists and public health experts have long been aware of another striking set of data that reliably parallels increases in murder and suicide when traced over the past hundred years: the rate of unemployment.”

Noting the apparent congruence between unemployment, economic inequality and recession across one dimension, and lethal violence across another, Gilligan put together his own statistical picture of economic conditions under American presidents since 1900, using data compiled by both the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Bureau of Economic Research. He saw what other academics and journalists have remarked upon from time to time (including me, in a 2003 book titled Big Lies) — namely that unemployment rates have gone up during every Republican administration and gone down during every Democratic administration, without exception. Every time a Republican president left the White House, unemployment was higher than when he came in, while the opposite was true whenever a Democratic president completed his term. Rates of unemployment stayed higher for longer periods under Republicans too.

Then he did some simple addition: “If we count up the net sum of all the increases that occurred during Republican administrations from 1900 through 2008, we find that the Republicans brought about a cumulative increase of 27.8 percent in the unemployment rate, and the Democrats an almost exactly equal decrease of 26.5 percent.” The net cumulative difference in the partisan effects was a staggering 53.8 percent. He also calculated the cumulative difference in duration of unemployment among the jobless during Republican and Democratic administrations, and again the numbers are enormous. From 1948 to 2003, Republicans oversaw a net cumulative increase of 24.6 weeks of unemployment, while Democrats oversaw a net decrease of 13.6 weeks — a difference of 38.2 weeks, or almost ten months.

Why is the unemployment record of the Republicans so awful? When Gilligan looked up the tabulations of expansion and recession tabulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research — an organization that was headed for many years, as he notes, by the conservative economist Martin Feldstein — he found a simple answer. The NBER numbers show that “from 1900 through October 2010, the country suffered approximately three times as many months of recession during the times Republicans were governing the country as during the times Democrats were: 246 months (more than 20 years) compared with 86 — a discrepancy that could not have happened by chance more than one time out of 10,000.” Moreover, recessions began 17 times during Republican presidencies and only six times during Democratic presidencies, and always lasted several months longer under Republicans as well.

Now, you explain to the intelligence analyst that you don’t actually subscribe to the notion that presidents have direct control over the economy, but the correlation, over the course of more than a century, seems greater than could be explained by chance. And besides, conservatives are always–always–yammering on about how Democrats are terrible for the economy and Republicans are great, so you found this information curious. The intelligence analyst blinks a few more times, mutters “Bullshit,” and walks away. Yup, the conversation is over.

You know those emails your conservative uncle sends to you and everyone else he knows? The ones that sound like they might be true, but aren’t? Yeah, we all get them. Funny, I never get those emails from my liberal friends and relatives, even the ones I know well who worked on past presidential campaigns. But I digress…

It’s always delightful to see actual Republican presidential candidates demonstrate that they are no wiser–nor thoughtful, nor capable of discerning fact from fiction–than your crazy uncle, uttering bogus quotes about the Founding Fathers that they probably read in an email (and therefore assumed that it must be true). Steven Benen noted a few examples in this post.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) routinely incorporates quotes from the Founding Fathers into his campaign speeches, and BuzzFeed highlighted a good example of this the other day.

Speaking in Greenville, South Carolina last week, Rand Paul said, “Patrick Henry said this, Patrick Henry said the Constitution is about ‘restraining the government not the people.’”

Paul was summarizing this quote, often attributed to Henry: “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”

The problem, of course, is that both versions of the quote are fake. There’s no record of Patrick Henry ever having said or written such a thing. Someone made it up, it made the rounds, and Rand Paul appears to have repeated it.

This comes on the heels of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) telling supporters that “Thomas Jefferson said it best” when the Founding Father said, “That government is best which governs least.”

In reality, Thomas Jefferson never said or wrote this. As with Paul, someone made up a quote, conservatives ran with it, and Walker ended up falling for it. (In an amusing coincidence, Rand Paul has repeated this bogus quote, too.)