Archive for the ‘Blogs For Victory’ Category

Welcome Blogs For Victory Readers

Posted: September 21, 2016 by watsonthethird in Blogs For Victory, Current Events
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Welcome Blogs For Victory readers. You may be wondering why Cluster linked to this mostly dormant blog this morning. It’s because we all have a shared history, which I am going to tell you about.

Four years ago B4V was a somewhat more robust place. You had many authors besides Mark Noonan, including Cluster. There were long, winding discussion threads representing diverse points of view, unlike what you see there now. The keepers of B4V never liked views that came from the opposite political spectrum, so they took to editing and deleting comments and blocking people from participating. Often comments would be suddenly deleted in the middle of threads, with the responses to them left intact, making for inadvertently hilarious and confusing reading. But hey, it’s their blog, they can do what they want.

Around that time, Cluster, largely disgusted with Amazona, got the idea to launch his own blog. He called his place All Polytics Now. His idea was a blog in which the authors would come from a variety of political spectrums, and he enlisted a few banned B4V contributors in his venture, including myself. I suppose in this polarized state of the world, his idea was doomed to failure from the start. Cluster also had trouble getting another conservative voice to contribute, and after a while he felt ganged up upon. Rusty also joined in the conversations, and after several heated exchanges, eventually Cluster had had enough of him. In the dead of night, he deleted the entire blog without bothering to inform his colleagues. In the aftermath, we started this place. Most of the people who contributed here were banned from contributing at B4V, and hence migrated here for occasional conversation. Rusty, who was also banned from B4V, migrated over here, too.

Sometimes we would talk about B4V blog postings. Not only did the folks at B4V not like having their politics challenged in their own blog, they didn’t even like being challenged in other blogs, so they took great pains to eradicate any mention of this place over there.

Mostly we all got tired of sniping at each other, too, and this blog drifted off into a moribund state. It was awakened the other day by two things. One, I noted Rusty and Amazona’s newfound cozy relationship, which is ironic if you know their history. Two, a banned B4V contributor noticed Rusty’s B4V comment on September 16, 2016 / 4:25 pm in this B4V thread. In it Rusty said,

I don’t think the alt right as a false construct but a very real groundswell; I think it’s a somewhat nebulous group of people organized around several basic principles: Immigration (secure borders, reduction and discouragement of illegals, tightly controls or at perhaps temporary bans); race realism; anti-PC; anti-identity politics; anti-social engineering; anti-globalism; anti-multiculticulturalism; support for Donald Trump who gives expression to these things.

Meursault wanted to know what “race realism” is. Unable to ask Rusty directly at B4V (because they don’t allow him to), he asked it here. This led to a round of discussion about it. This is the basis for Cluster’s silly claim that we have “have boundless sympathies for radical Islamists and of whom are in full support of Black Lives Matter, know a hell of a lot more about racism than any one of us.” Rusty has brought up race realism a couple of times at B4V. I encourage you all who are allowed to comment there to engage him in a discussion about race realism at B4V, as we clearly are not up to the task. I’m sure it would be enlightening. Furthermore, Rusty linked himself to the alt-right in his own words. He didn’t need us to do it for him.

Anyway, we don’t much blog around here anymore. I haven’t reviewed Mark Noonan and Matt Margolis’ new Obama book, but if you’re interested, here’s my review of its predecessor: A Review of 150 Reasons Why Barack Obama Is the Worst President In History. At first Mark Noonan claimed I didn’t read it; I had to prove it to him. Kinda like Trump claiming Barack Obama didn’t have a birth certificate.

It’s been a while since I’ve been inclined to post anything about politics, but I can’t let the occasion of the official destruction of The Deep Bench go unnoticed. The vaunted “deep bench” of Republican presidential contenders was today officially vanquished by an amateur. It’s about the only good thing to come out of Donald Trump’s impending nomination as the Republican candidate. But good lord, what a disastrous field the Republicans put forward this year.

I got a bit of a chuckle out of Ross Douthat’s column today, in which he writes that “Republican voters didn’t want True Conservatism any more than they wanted Bushism 2.0.” A longer quote (emphasis mine):

Trump proved that many evangelical voters, supposedly the heart of a True Conservative coalition, are actually not really values voters or religious conservatives after all, and that the less frequently evangelicals go to church, the more likely they are to vote for a philandering sybarite instead of a pastor’s son. Cruz would probably be on his way to the Republican nomination if he had simply carried the Deep South. But unless voters were in church every Sunday, Trump’s identity politics had more appeal than Cruz’s theological-political correctness.

Trump proved that many of the party’s moderates and establishmentarians hate the thought of a True Conservative nominee even more than they fear handing the nomination to a proto-fascist grotesque with zero political experience and poor impulse control. That goes for the prominent politicians who refused to endorse Cruz, the prominent donors who sat on their hands once the field narrowed and all the moderate-Republican voters in blue states who turned out to be #NeverCruz first and #NeverTrump less so or even not at all.

Finally, Trump proved that many professional True Conservatives, many of the same people who flayed RINOs and demanded purity throughout the Obama era, were actually just playing a convenient part. From Fox News’ 10 p.m. hour to talk radio to the ranks of lesser pundits, a long list of people who should have been all-in for Cruz on ideological grounds either flirted with Trump, affected neutrality or threw down their cloaks for the Donald to stomp over to the nomination. Cruz thought he would have a movement behind him, but part of that movement was actually a racket, and Trumpistas were simply better marks.

I’m not big on predictions–I’ll leave that to Mark Edward Noonan and his sorry track record–but I hope that Hillary trounces Trump. Nevertheless, one thing we should have learned by now is to not underestimate The Donald, nor the appeal that he generates. I think that appeal is too limited to win the general, and that the demographics are against him, but you never know. I may have to go work for another presidential campaign…

Meanwhile, to engage in a bit of schadenfreude, the comments at Blogs For Victory are just delightful. They’ll get with the program and support Trump because, ultimately, the only thing they all have in common is their hatred of President Obama, and now their hatred of Hillary Clinton. For example, see Amazona: “I’ll have to vote for Trump if he is the nominee, unless we come up with a third party before the election, which I think is probably impossible. I can’t just let the election go to Hillary because our party is infested with a bunch of fake conservatives who get all giddy and pee down their legs in glee if someone appeals to their issues while ignoring the fact that his promises all seem to depend on him out-Obamaing Obama when it comes to ruling rather than leading.”

Noonan hopes for a new party called the Christian Democrats. Yeah, that’s a great idea. Amazona suggests the Constitutional Party. “[A]nd I like Federalist except for the fact that it will confuse a lot of people when the party then comes out in favor of restricting federal size, scope and power.” She should read Douthat’s column.

Casper makes pretty much the same prediction as Noonan, and Amazona calls him a “good little Liberal footsoldier you.”

Eisenhower accurately lists the five cycles of grief (as seen on B4V as they come to grips with Trump) and gets jumped upon. Acceptance? No way, they cry. Except, well, yeah, we’re all gonna vote for him. Sure sounds like acceptance to me.

Cluster wants to “welcome this opportunity and work with the Trump coalition, educate it, and help navigate the party back to constitutional governance.” This after he admits that “it’s time that conservatives, and I include myself, recognize the reality of the political landscape and start to realize that our ideological brand is in the minority.” Um, Cluster, you don’t get it either. The Trump coalition doesn’t want or need your educational help. Does it occur to Cluster that his reaching out to educate them might come across as a tad condescending? Nah…

So at the Republican debate last Saturday night, Donald Trump went hard at Jeb Bush in his usual aggressive, bullying style. “Obviously, the war in Iraq is a big, fat mistake, all right? George Bush made a mistake. We can make mistakes. But that one was a beauty. We should have never been in Iraq. We have destabilized the Middle East.” And, “The World Trade Center came down during your brother’s reign. Remember that.” Trump continued that line of thought on the Sunday talk shows, and he’s kept it up on Twitter today:

Trump was booed at the debate, but the lingering question is, will his performance hurt him in South Carolina? I suspect not, and the reason is that Trump is speaking some unspoken truths that many conservatives know to be true in their gut. Deep down, they at least suspect that they were lied to about the Iraq war, and they know it was a mistake. They actually do know that the World Trade Center towers came down during the George W. Bush administration. They do know that no weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And yet, they stick to the party line. Why?

Well, first of all, to begin questioning the party line would be to admit that they themselves were wrong. That’s a problem for people who pride themselves on being, say, intelligence analysts. But it’s also because the thought leaders within their bubble continue to insist that the World Trade Center bombing was actually President Clinton’s fault, that the Iraq War was necessary because Saddam Hussein posed an existential threat to the United States, and that WMD actually were found, just like President Bush said they would (and even though President Bush has admitted they weren’t found). So it’s easy to just stick to the party line and keep the doubts beneath the surface, left unspoken. It’s a form of peer pressure.

We need to remember that a lot of conservatives have isolated themselves from anyone they think may be a liberal. This includes most of mainstream thought, not just true liberals. A perfect example is our friends at Blogs For Victory. Not only are they afraid to have anonymous discussions with individuals who challenge their opinions, their fear even extends to their daily, non-Internet lives. We know this because of the many times they have explained that they no longer speak to friends, or even relatives, who they deem to be “liberals.” They simply can’t stomach the thought of their worldview being challenged. Of course, the biggest challenge to them has been the election and re-election of Barack Obama. Sometimes these conservatives explain that they actually have healthy disagreement amongst themselves, but in saying so, they leave out what truly unites them, which is their shared hatred of President Obama and their belief that he is an illegitimate president.

This doesn’t mean that they aren’t aware of the mistakes of the Bush presidency–they’re just not willing to accept them being pointing them out by people who aren’t their thought leaders. Now along comes Donald Trump, who, at the Republican debate of all places, just comes right out and says it: Bush lied, the Iraq war was a horrible mistake, etc. Yeah, some people booed, but a lot of them know he’s right, even if they’re afraid to say so. An actual Republican candidate is giving legitimacy to some unaired thoughts.

They also believe he’s right when he says that Social Security and Medicare should be saved, not slashed. This particularly resonates with many of the bubble people because, well, they do or will shortly depend on Social Security and Medicare. See, conservative politicians can carry on about the Constitution and all, but conservative voters are a bit more pragmatic. It’s just that they generally won’t deviate from the party line until someone representing the party gives them permission to. And that’s what Donald Trump is doing. Conservatives would never accept it from a Democrat, but Donald Trump is running as a Republican, so he’s giving voice to their private thoughts.

You’ll continue to hear the usual conservative thought leaders bashing Trump for his apostasy. But silently, conservative voters are hearing things from Trump that they’ve thought about in their private moments–thoughts they wouldn’t admit to other conservatives, and would certainly never admit to a liberal–that is, if they even talk to any liberals anymore. But they do vote. We’ll soon see if Trump gets nicked by his outbursts or not.

We’ll get to SCOTUSblog, but first, Hugh Hewitt:

Lame duck presidents don’t get to make successful nominations for lifetime appointments in an election year. Not in 2016. Not for the past 80 years.

Hmmm. What is the definition of a “lame duck president”? The president in office after the next one has been elected, but before he (or she) assumes office? The president in office during an election year? Two years before the election year? Any time in the second term? The first term? Who knows? Hewitt obviously doesn’t, and he doesn’t care.

And presidents don’t get to make a successful nomination in an election year in the past 80 years? Well, that just isn’t true. There is no genuine precedent for the senate refusing to act on a nomination. As Amy Howe writes at SCOTUSblog, “he historical record does not reveal any instances since at least 1900 of the president failing to nominate and/or the Senate failing to confirm a nominee in a presidential election year because of the impending election. In that period, there were several nominations and confirmations of Justices during presidential election years.”

So Hewitt can’t hide behind “the past 80 years,” or act as though he has the authority of the Constitution. No, he’s just being nakedly political, and that’s really what replace of Justice Scalia is all about. Everyone understands the stakes, and they are high.

That said, Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSblug has an excellent rundown of the politics, and what he thinks is the likely path forward. It’s a good read, but I’ve excerpted the part in which Goldstein describes what he thinks will be the likely nominee:

Overall, in 2012, the white proportion of the voting population decreased to 71.1% and the minority proportion increased to 28.9% (22.8% black and Hispanic). For that reason, many attribute President Obama’s reelection to minority turn-out.

The best candidate politically would probably be Hispanic. Hispanic voters both (a) are more politically independent than black voters and therefore more in play in the election, and (b) historically vote in low numbers. In that sense, the ideal nominee from the administration’s perspective in these circumstances is already on the Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor, the Court’s first Latina.

On the other hand, I think the President personally will be very tempted to appoint a black Justice to the Court, rather than a second Hispanic. His historical legacy rests materially on advancing black participation and success in American politics. The role Thurgood Marshall previously played in that effort is inescapable. The President likely sees value in providing a counterpoint to the Court’s only black Justice, the very conservative Clarence Thomas.

For those reasons, I think the President will pick a black nominee. I’ve long said that the most likely candidate for the next Democratic appointment was California Attorney General Kamala Harris. She is fifty-one. A female nominee has significant advantages as well. That is particularly true for the candidacy of the likely Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton. For reasons I’ve discussed elsewhere, I think her nomination is difficult to oppose ideologically, given her history as a prosecutor.

If Harris wanted the job, I think it would be hers. But I don’t think she does. Harris is the prohibitive favorite to win Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat in the 2016 election. After that, she is well positioned potentially to be president herself. If nominated, she would have to abandon her Senate candidacy and likely all of her political prospects. So I think she would decline.

But Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who is fifty-six, is a very serious possibility. She is known and admired within the administration. At some point in the process, she likely would have to recuse from her current position, but the Department of Justice could proceed to function with an acting head. Her history as a career prosecutor makes it very difficult to paint her as excessively liberal.

Perhaps Lynch’s age would give the administration some hesitancy. They would prefer to have a nominee who is closer to fifty. But because the nomination would principally serve a political purpose anyway, I don’t think that would be a serious obstacle.

The fact that Lynch was vetted so recently for attorney general also makes it practical for the president to nominate her in relatively short order. There is some imperative to move quickly, because each passing week strengthens the intuitive appeal of the Republican argument that it is too close to the election to confirm the nominee. Conversely, a nomination that is announced quickly allows Democrats to press the bumper sticker point that Republicans would leave the Supreme Court unable to resolve many close cases for essentially “a year.”

I think the administration would relish the prospect of Republicans either refusing to give Lynch a vote or seeming to treat her unfairly in the confirmation process. Either eventuality would motivate both black and women voters.

No matter what happens, this election cycle has just gotten a lot more interesting, hasn’t it?

Tom Goldstein, How the politics of the next nomination will play out, SCOTUSblog (Feb. 14, 2016, 5:47 PM), http://www.scotusblog.com/2016/02/how-the-politics-of-the-next-nomination-will-pay-out/

*UPDATE*

National Review chimes in with valuable–and I’m sure, sincere–advice for President Obama: “The President’s best course of action is to simply leave the seat open and allow the American people to have a voice in the future of the Court.” LOL

*UPDATE 2*

And more deep thoughts from Blogs For Victory founder, Matt Margolis:

See? President Obama is an illegitimate president who shouldn’t have the power to do anything. Honestly, this is what people like Margolis think.

Blogs For Victory’s Mark Edward Noonan never misses an opportunity to prove he isn’t a scientist, repeating the latest climate change denialism talking points. And this week he was true to form, dutifully repeating a canard that’s been making the rounds of conservative blogs and websites lately:

A bit of a Global Warming Climate Change update – turns out that Antarctic ice mass isn’t actually declining. There are 6.36 million cubic miles of ice in Antarctica; the average thickness of the sheet is 6,500 feet (that is well more than a mile, folks) – we’re going to have to warm up more than a degree or two by 2100 to make a real dent in that.

It’s almost as if Noonan trolls the Internet for his talking points…

Anyway, Noonan’s secondhand source is Watts Up With That, not exactly a paragon of science. And Mark Edward Noonan, being a twenty-first century conservative, uncritically accepts anything that denigrates science. After all, science is, in his mind, a grand leftist liberal conspiracy to steal money from those who earned it.

Not surprisingly, Watt’s claim relies on a faulty and incomplete interpretation of partial data that is favorable to climate deniers, which they know the Noonans of the world will eat up. (This is also the way he wrote 150 Reasons Why Barack Obama Is the Worst President In History, by the way.)

Here’s what’s actually going on, courtesy Phil Pliat at Slate:

A new study just published in the Journal of Glaciology is causing some buzz in climate circles, because it appears to claim that Antarctica—long thought to be losing ice at extremely alarming rates—is actually gaining ice.

However, note the word appears. The reality is more complicated, and in the end the important aspect of this is that the study only talks about part of Antarctica, and only used data up to 2008. Both of these points are critical.

Here’s what’s what.

The authors looked at satellite altimeter data, using that to track how much snow accumulated over a given time period. Looking at different satellites, they found that enough snow fell over some parts of the southern continent (most importantly the vast area of East Antarctica) to more than balance the ice lost via melting.

In other words, East Antarctica (and parts of West) was gaining mass. That’s interesting!

But the authors note that the accumulation rate is steady while losses are increasing. As they mention in their conclusion, this gain in mass over the regions studied can’t keep up with losses, and they’re likely to balance in about 20 years. After that, losses win.

There’s more. They looked at data going from 1992–2008. Starting right around that time, mass loss due to melting ice in Antarctica (mostly in the west) has accelerated. It’s actually been speeding up for some time, but in recent years it’s really kicked in. Every year, about 6 billion more tons of ice are lost than the year before. In the past two decades, the loss rate has doubled.

This is enough to easily outpace the mass gained by snowfall over East Antarctica. Using data taken by the Grace satellites (which measure how mass underneath them changes over time), we know that overall, Antarctica is currently losing more than 130 billion tons of ice per year, and again, that number is increasing every year. Since 2002 it’s lost about 2 trillion tons of ice.

Mind you, this isn’t including Greenland, which is losing ice at an even more staggering 280 billion tons per year, and has lost well over three trillion tons over that same time period.

So no matter how you slice it, Antarctica is losing ice, and losing it fast.

Plait goes on to say (my emphasis added):

Of course, the usual suspects in the global warming–denying noise machine are jumping all over this study, claiming triumph … but, as usual, they obfuscate, they cherry-pick, and they ignore evidence that contradicts their claims that everything is rolling along just fine.

Here’s the difference between real science and what they do: When I first read about this Antarctic study, my reaction was one of hope. Although I knew that sea levels were rising, and that this must be coming from somewhere, if Antarctica was actually gaining ice, that could provide a good buffer against catastrophic melting.

But upon further examination it became clear that this was not the case. I was happy to entertain the notion that I might be wrong in my conclusions, and I still am. But all the evidence points to the conclusion that Antarctica is still losing hundreds of billions of tons of ice per year, will lose more every year, and it’s joined (and even outpaced) by Greenland.

The world really is warming up. We really are losing ice. The sea levels really are rising. Oceans really are getting more acidic as they absorb some of the 40 billion extra tons of carbon dioxide we humans pump into the atmosphere every year.

Just took a look at the comments on the Blogs For Victory “Never Again” post, in which Leo Pusateri insanely equates Planned Parenthood with the Nazi Germany genocide of European jews. Apparently poor Leo is completely unaware that real genocide actually has occurred in the intervening years since World War II ended. But I don’t want to talk about Leo as the comments thread is much more interesting than his original post. And I guess the moderator is on vacation because rusty’s comments haven’t been deleted, leaving a nonsensical half-a-thread in its wake. Nice to see some actual give and take. It’s all been pretty civil, except of course for tiredoflibbs. Good ol’ tired is nothing, if not consistent. Always the first–and in this case, the only poster–to resort to name calling. Attaboy, tired! Have a treat!

Regarding rusty’s point that the loss of Planned Parenthood clinics would, in many places, result in decreased family planning and contraceptive services, thereby leading to increased instances of pregnancies and abortions, one can look at the experience in Texas.

In 2011, Texas legislators excluded Planned Parenthood from taxpayer funding. The state has yet to make up for the loss.

The number of women served by clinics within the Texas Women’s Health Program dropped significantly between Fiscal Years 2011 and 2013, when the funding changes took effect. According to a Texas Health and Human Services Commission study, there was an average 25 percent drop statewide, with two of 11 HHSC regions reporting more than 50 percent drops.

As a result of this change, some Texas patients had trouble finding alternate sources of family planning and women’s health, in part because other providers in their area had not previously been providing specialized family planning services and had to first get expensive, time-consuming training in those areas.

“That high quality family planning is very difficult to integrate into primary care without specific programs to do that,” Dr. Janet Realini, the chair of the Texas Women’s Healthcare Coalition, a coalition of organizations working to assure access to preventive women’s care.

Realini did praise the state government, however, for “stepping up” and trying to compensate for the lost Medicaid funds.

Rep. Jim Keffer, a Republican state senator in Texas who worked on the defunding measures, also acknowledged that the state is still working to address lost provider capacity, including recently introducing a new website to help women access family planning programs.

“As Planned Parenthood has been going through their spiral here, we have been bolstering what Texas can offer through this other network,” Keffer said. “You can’t just close it off and wipe your hands of the situation because comprehensive women’s health care has to still be provided.”

A related issue is that some women might not go to a general practitioner — even one that introduced family planning into their practice — because they prefer going to a specialist.

“Some women prefer to go to dedicated family planning providers to get dedicated contraceptive services,” said Amanda Stevenson, a researcher at the University of Austin’s Texas Policy Evaluation Project working on the impact of excluding Planned Parenthood from the Women’s Health Program in Texas.

Stevenson noted a 2013 review from the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health policy group, which found that women say they prefer going to specialists for this care because of “the respectful, confidential, affordable and high-quality care they receive from them.”

I know it’s hard for the Bob Eisenhowers of the world to believe, but according to those who have actually studied the situation, some women prefer going to dedicated family planning providers instead of their primary care physicians–assuming they have a primary care physician. But then Bob Eisenhower has probably never had to worry about his health care ever. In fact, it would not surprise me to find out that Bob was a life-long civil service employee like so many conservatives who can’t conceive of life without guaranteed health care. (At least, this is my direct experience with conservatives; their entire lifestyle–including their healthcare–has been funded on the taxpayer dime. I know some might view this as anecdotal, but apparently that is all it takes to make a definitive judgement about the entire lot of ’em.)

The other fact that Bob Eisenhower ignores is that 20 states–all of them governed by conservatives like Bob–rejected the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, leaving an estimated 6.5 million Americans still without health insurance, and mostly without access to healthcare except in dire emergencies. It’s simple to sit back in your easy chair and pontificate about how easy it is for anyone–anyone!–to access health care whenever they need it, but that’s just not the case. And either Bob Eisenhower knows this and is being a tad deceitful, or he is woefully ignorant.

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!

150_reasonsMatt Margolis and Mark Noonan will be familiar to many readers of this blog. Matt is the founder of the conservative website Blogs For Victory (formerly Blogs For Bush), while Mark has been its primary editorial voice for many years. They wrote their first book, Caucus of Corruption: The Truth about the New Democratic Majority in 2007, chronicling “the corruption endemic to the Democratic Party.” Their most recent book is a 150 Reasons Why Barack Obama Is the Worst President In History, published in 2013.

Margolis and Noonan have just announced the pending publication of an update to 150 Reasons, titled The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama. In light of that, now would be a good time to dust off my review of 150 Reasons, which was intended for the old allpolyticsnow website before cluster, my conservative colleague, had a temper tantrum and unilaterally pulled the plug on it. Fortunately, I saved a draft of my review before he melted down.

Like its title suggests, 150 Reasons is a compendium of President Obama’s failings as viewed by Margolis and Noonan, backed by 511 footnotes to sources, the listing of which consumes 55 of the 274 pages. In the introduction, the authors state, “The goal of this book is make sure the truth about Obama’s record is not forgotten, so that history can make an honest, informed assessment of the Obama presidency… After Obama was reelected, we decided it was time to compile everything about Obama’s record that the media and academia chose to ignore (or cover up) so that the people could have all the facts in one place.”

Unfortunately, 150 Reasons is little more than a compendium, and as such, provides only a superficial survey of conservative criticisms of President Obama, real or imagined. The brevity of the book — most reasons are described in less than a page, some in just a single paragraph — means that there is virtually no analysis. Raw facts, such as the federal deficit for a given fiscal year, are presented with little or no context. The authors might argue that writing at length about each of their 150 reasons would have resulted in an impossibly unwieldy book, and that is true. But they would have been better served by emphasizing the quality of their arguments rather than the quantity of their reasons.

More problematic is the authors’ inherent biases, which lead them to uncritical and simplistic interpretations of events that unfailingly portray President Obama in the worst light, no matter how tenuous the connection, and at the exclusion of any other possibility. Allegations by conservative sources are treated as indisputable facts. Other points of view go unacknowledged. There is no consideration of the challenging circumstances confronting President Obama when he took office, such as the collapsing economy or the ongoing Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The first reason in the book is titled Stimulus Failure. Of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Margolis and Noonan write, “All we got for our huge investment was a mountain of new debt, a long list of failed ‘green energy’ companies, an infrastructure that remains insufficient, and a ‘recovery’ adding fewer jobs than needed to keep up with population growth. To say Obama’s stimulus failed to deliver is a huge understatement.”

When President Obama took office in 2009, the economy was in free fall; something needed to be done. Yet, the authors fail to suggest any options that the president should have been taken. They fail to draw parallels to how other presidents handled similar circumstances, and they fail to acknowledge that the majority of economists at the time agreed–and still agree–that a stimulus was not only needed, but should have been larger than it actually was.

The authors also fail to consider the argument that President Obama’s response to the crisis may have done some good. A serious work on the subject could reasonably be expected to deal with the book The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era by Michael Grunwald, which is widely considered to be the most thorough book written thus far about the stimulus. Instead, Margolis and Noonan are content merely to recite the debt figures as sufficient analysis to make their point. On top of that, the authors actually praise President Bush’s 2008 stimulus (in reason 126) as a “bipartisan success” even though the economy collapsed just months later.

When the authors do attempt some analysis, their biases always lead them to interpretations most favorable to their thesis, with no acknowledgement of other possibilities or facts that might get in their way. An example is reason 20: Redefining Poverty, in which Margolis and Noonan charge that President Obama “changed the definition of poverty to ensure that no matter how rich we, as a people, become there will always be people in poverty needing a host of government services to tend to their needs.” Per the single footnote, their reasoning is entirely based on an hyperbolic opinion piece from the conservative website The Daily Caller.

It’s true that the federal government developed a Supplemental Poverty Measure, but it wasn’t intended to replace the official poverty measure, nor has it. According to the Census Bureau, “The new supplemental measure would be published initially in the fall of 2011 at the same time and detail as the 2010 income and poverty statistics that contain the official poverty measure, and annually thereafter” (emphasis added). Furthermore, as the Census Bureau documents, this is a process that has been going on since 1990, when Congress appropriated funds for “an independent scientific study of the concepts, measurement methods, and information needs for a poverty measure.” Those findings, reported by the National Academy of Sciences in 1995, proposed a relative poverty threshold which lead to the first supplemental poverty measures in 1999 and 2001. This wasn’t something that President Obama invented after inauguration day. One wishes that Margolis and Noonan would have conducted their research beyond a single opinion piece in The Daily Caller, but they don’t because doing so might have lead them to material that contradicts their pre-determined premise.

Anything that may be deemed a positive for President Obama is instead cast as a negative. In the book’s only acknowledgement that Obama ended the Iraq War (in reason 82: Higher Casualty Rate in Afghanistan), the authors simply complain, “on several occasions, he actually sent more troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, and even to Turkey and Libya. While our troops were eventually pulled out of Iraq, the situation in Afghanistan has not improved, and arguably has gotten worse.” Even the killing of Osama bin Ladin (reason 79) is turned into a negative. Ending America’s use of torture is not acknowledged at all. (The word “torture” only appears once in the main text, while describing a 14-year-old Christian girl who was tortured in Pakistan — a fate that the authors blame on Obama, of course, in reason 65: Ignoring Christian Oppression.)

Margolis and Noonan are schizophrenic when it comes to government spending. On the one hand, they blame President Obama entirely for increasing government spending and deficits (reason 19: Largest Deficits in History, reason 21: More Debt Than All Past Presidents… Combined). But they also blame him for cutting government expenditures (reasons 31: Skyrocketing College Costs, 41: Cutting Funding to Fight AIDS, 70: Cutting Military Benefits, and 72: Cutting Weapons Programs). And of course, they fail to acknowledge any conditions President Obama inherited that may have contributed to those deficits. (In their minds, doing so would be reason 121: Blaming Bush and Congress.)

The authors seem challenged to come up with 150 reasons. Some show up more than once, such as Obama’s Enemies List, which is the title of both reasons 106 and 108. A lack of transparency is the topic three times (reasons 30: Transparency Failure, 52: Lack of Health Care Transparency, and 116: The Not-So-Transparent Administration). In addition to the previously mentioned reasons 1, 19 and 21, Margolis and Noonan take yet another swing at spending in reason 149: The Four Trillion Dollar Man.

President Obama is blamed for events for which he had minimal control over, such as reason 3: Lower Wages For American Workers. The authors blame him for the Boston Marathon bombing (reason 150), writing, “what we do know at this time suggests that the Obama Administration could have prevented the tragedy that occurred on April 15, 2013.” Obama is assigned the entire blame for Partisanship in Congress (reason 126), even though it is a well-established fact that Republican Congressional leaders conspired to opposed every Obama initiative before he was even inaugurated.

Then we get into the truly silly reasons, like 37: Narcissist in Chief, in which President Obama supposedly honors the memory of American heroes with photos of himself. Or reason 43: Superstorm Sandy Photo Op, in which the authors claim that Obama’s response to the disaster amounted to little more than a “cool photo of himself with Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.” No doubt President Obama’s failure to properly salute every time he disembarks from Air Force One will make it into the new book. The authors often lapse into hyperbole, as in reason 135: The End Of Free Speech. (It must be a wonder to them that their book was allowed to be published at all.)

In reason 121: Blaming Bush And Congress, the authors complain, “Obama rarely took responsibility for his failures, but often took sole credit for accomplishments he should not have, like healing one of the victims of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado who had been shot in the head.” That is their over-the-top interpretation of something President Obama said during the second 2012 presidential debate:

QUESTION: President Obama, during the Democratic National Convention in 2008, you stated you wanted to keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. What has your administration done or planned to do to limit the availability of assault weapons?

OBAMA: We’re a nation that believes in the Second Amendment, and I believe in the Second Amendment. We’ve got a long tradition of hunting and sportsmen and people who want to make sure they can protect themselves.

But there have been too many instances during the course of my presidency, where I’ve had to comfort families who have lost somebody. Most recently out in Aurora. You know, just a couple of weeks ago, actually, probably about a month, I saw a mother, who I had met at the bedside of her son, who had been shot in that theater.

And her son had been shot through the head. And we spent some time, and we said a prayer and, remarkably, about two months later, this young man and his mom showed up, and he looked unbelievable, good as new.

But there were a lot of families who didn’t have that good fortune and whose sons or daughters or husbands didn’t survive.

Regarding the 511 footnotes, I did not attempt a thorough review of them all, taking at face value their veracity. But I was disappointed when the very first footnote I did attempt to verify didn’t pertain to the criticism raised by the authors. I refer to reason 24: Taxpayer Dollars For Hired Trolls, which consists of a single paragraph containing this allegation:

In 2009, it was revealed that Obama’s Justice Department, under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, was hiring bloggers to participate in a secret propaganda campaign by anonymously posting comments on newspaper websites with stories critical of Obama, Holder, and the Justice Department.

The lone footnote backing up this assertion is:

Ronn Torossian, “Millions Paid to Liberal Public Relations Firms,” Frontpage Magazine, 10/30/2012, (http://frontpagemag.com/2012/ronn-torossian/millions-paid-to-liberal-public-relations-firms/)

The article cited doesn’t refer to Eric Holder at all, nor does it talk about a secret propaganda campaign perpetrated by the Justice Department. Rather, it complains about “Liberal PR firms” making money “without oversight.” I’m not saying that Margolis and Noonan’s footnotes are fraudulent and I trust this is an innocent error. But even granting that, reason 24 is an example of how the authors uncritically accept “reporting” on conservatives websites as fact.

A little Internet searching reveals that in 2009 there was indeed chatter among conservatives about a so-called DOJ “Blog Squad.” These reports all lead back to a website called the Muffled Oar. It still exists, but the page that detailed the charges no longer does. So what we’re left with is an unsubstantiated rumor that was repeated by the conservative blogosphere (and denied by the Justice Department, though you wouldn’t know it by reading 150 Reasons). This, evidently, is enough for Margolis and Noonan to include it in their book as one of those facts the media doesn’t want the public to know about, complete with the authoritative stamp of an erroneous footnote. In short, one conservative blog makes unsubstantiated claims that are repeated by other conservatives until it becomes accepted fact. That’s not the stuff of a credible book.

Theses criticisms aside, ultimately the authors miss an opportunity for a truly interesting book by failing to compare the Obama administration to other presidencies — something you might expect from a book that claims he is the worst of all time. Rather, the authors simply assert that he is the worst, believing that their list makes it self-evident. Given that many historians believe that Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, was among the worst presidents ever, the authors might have directly compared their presidencies. Instead, we get veiled comparisons that amount to quibbling, such as defending Bush’s many trips to his ranch in Crawford, Texas while criticizing Obama’s vacations in reason 22: Taxpayer-Funded Vacations. (For the record, according to the acknowledged authority on such matters, CBS’ Mark Knoller, as of August 2013 President Obama has taken 14 vacations totaling all or part of 92 days. At the same time in his presidency, George Bush had made 57 trips to his ranch or his parents’ compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, amounting to more than a year’s worth of days.)

In summary, the authors fall victim to cliches that have dominated conservative media since Obama was elected, and readers who follow politics closely will easily recognize that. The result, then, is a book that may satisfy those who seek uncritical reinforcement of their strongly-held anti-Obama positions, but others looking for informed opinion and analysis will find little of value. (And this is reflected in the Amazon reviews, which consist only of one stars or five stars.)

Having said all that, the Amazon preview is more than enough for anyone to decide whether to buy 150 Reasons Why Barack Obama Is The Worst President In History.

With the recent confirmations by NOAA, NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency that 2014 was the hottest year on record, conservatives have gone through a few stages of dealing with that reality. First, they tried to impugn the data. Second, they claimed that global warming is so minimal that it doesn’t matter. Third?

Well, every once in a while, conservatives express themselves with such candor that it is actually refreshing, if not revealing. Such was the case when our favorite retired Naval intelligence officer said this, in response to the fact that 2014 was the hottest year on record:

Who cares? The Left doesn’t care if my descendants live in a less free, less prosperous world. Why should I care if their descendants live in a slightly warmer world. Besides, in the over all scheme of things, warmer is better than colder. You want to watch a Liberal’s head explode? Ask them how much colder they’d like it to be, and what scientific principles they propose using to get to that temperature. Better yet, ask them what significant changes they’ve made in their personal lives and how much of their income the’ve voluntarily donated to help address the problem.

Wow. At the heart of his statement is what motivates conservative thinking these days, which is, “I’ve got mine, now fuck off.” It’s a desire, more than anything, to just maintain the status quo, which is not surprising coming from individuals are already well off and taken care of. Disrupting the status quo is perceived as a threat, and that, ultimately, is the emotion that guides their thinking. (It’s also worth pointing out that, in stating that he doesn’t care about the climate that will confront “their [liberals’] descendants,” he tacitly admits that he also doesn’t care about his own descendants. That is truly breathtaking. It is sad that such individuals can’t look beyond themselves.)

But then he moves on to acceptance that the world is warming, and states with impunity that, not only does it not matter, it will actually be better for humanity. “Warmer is better than colder.” This is truly ignorant. Since this conservative lives on Frozen Pond, Indiana, the direct experience he has recently had is actually colder temperatures. This is because the easter part of the United States is one of the few places on earth that was actually colder than average in 2014, as can be seen in this map.

As far as “warmer is better,” it’s such a simplistic and superficial analysis that it strains credulity to believe that an intelligent person would make it. Since residents of Frozen Pond consider themselves to be a part of the heartland of the United States — the “real Americans” –– perhaps this analysis from the State of Wisconsin will help:

On the plus side, a warming climate during the first half of this century could mean lower winter heating costs, a longer frost-free growing season and better yields of some crops. It is also expected to improve forest growth, and enlarge resident populations of birds, warmwater fishes, reptiles and small mammals, especially nuisance animals like mice, bats, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and opossums. Waterborne commerce will enjoy longer ice-free shipping seasons on the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi River. Winter recreation may suffer, but summer recreation could enjoy a boom.

On the minus side, as the climate continues to warm, it will bring higher summer cooling costs, more frequent ozone alerts, and longer, more intense heat waves. Over time, the benefits of a warming climate for agriculture will likely be outweighed by the adverse effects of declining soil moisture and more frequent droughts, severe storm and erosion damage, and a northward invasion of various warm-climate crop and livestock pests and pathogens. The need to irrigate crops and greater urban demands for water will strain groundwater supplies in some areas. Warmer, damp conditions will cause populations of disease-carrying insects to swell and spread, and outbreaks of infectious diseases like West Nile virus may increase.

Greater evaporation due to generally warmer temperatures and less winter ice cover are expected to cause Great Lakes water levels to decline several feet, threatening coastal drinking water supply systems as well as waterborne commerce, and causing shipping, dredging and harbor maintenance costs to rise. Barge and train traffic through the Upper Mississippi River Valley could be interrupted alternately by low summer-autumn stream flows and winter-spring floods. Warmer water temperatures and increased stormwater runoff will reduce the water quality of many inland lakes and rivers as well as Great Lakes coastal waters.

Longer, hotter, drier summers and increasing evaporation will result in warmer and shallower rivers, shrinking wetlands, and dried-up streams, flowages and wild rice beds. Algal blooms will create anoxic conditions for aquatic life in ponds and many lakes. These conditions will reduce the amount of suitable habitat available for trout and other cold-water fishes, amphibians and waterfowl. A two-degree rise in temperature could wipe out half of Wisconsin’s 2,700 trout streams. Hot dry conditions, coupled with more frequent thunderstorms and lightning, will increase the chance of forest fires. Red pine, aspen and spruce trees will disappear from our northern forests.

And that’s just Wisconsin, which would be impacted less by global warming than other regions. And a lot of food is grown in other regions –– like California, whose prolonged drought certainly threatens the food supply of the country. (California has been the top food and agricultural producer in the United States for more than 50 consecutive years, and produces more than half of the nation’s fruit, nuts, and vegetables.) But cloistered conservatives on Frozen Pond can’t think beyond their porch — even ones who should know better.

Finally, he asks, “what significant changes [liberals have] made in their personal lives and how much of their income the’ve voluntarily donated to help address the problem.” The implication, of course, is that he knows the answer, which is that liberals have done nothing. And he’s wrong again. And again, it’s because he is unable to look any further than Frozen Pond. No electric or hybrid cars in Frozen Pond? Must mean that no one is buying them anywhere. No solar installations at Frozen Pond? Obviously no one is using solar anywhere. I personally know a lot of people who have bought electric cars in the last couple of years. And I know a lot of people who have installed solar panels on their homes. But that doesn’t count in Frozen Pond because they can’t see such people from their porches.

And we haven’t even gotten to the government policies that liberals support with their own tax dollars, which comes from their own pockets. And here the conservative argument falls apart again, because they already know that there are government policies that have been put in place by so-called liberals, which conservatives abhor. So therefore they know that liberals do support changes that will affect their personal lives and their own pocketbooks. After all, who put these “liberal” elected officials into office? Conservatives? I don’t think so.

I can respect a thoughtful argument questioning the effects of global warming and the policies that should be undertaken in response. But ignorant responses motivated solely out of fear need to be called out.

This guy’s cut from the same cloth as those he would deride for having “Bush derangement syndrome.” Stay classy, Matt.