The Fox News of the left: Pundits who forgot their concern for Social Security and Medicare after Obama strengthened both

Since Obama took office, I’ve been disappointed to observe that a significant segment of left punditry prizes their ideological hang ups over accuracy. The third party left, whether Green, Libertarian or Socialist, campaign for their party by ignoring anything positive Obama does and exaggerating every negative. They feel they need to undermine support for the two major parties at all costs. Those who advocate direct action tactics in place of electoral politics, do the same. Some progressive Democrats join the chorus, made hardened cynics by years of disappointing third-way politics.

It has become clear that we can’t rely on many of these pundits for honest commentary or an accurate picture of what’s really going on. They always push the same message of disappointment and cynicism, even when there’s reason to celebrate a victory. It’s the same pattern of placing ideology over reality that we see from Fox News.

We know what to expect from Fox, conservative talk radio, and House Republicans. Anything Obama supports, they oppose, even if they supported it the week before. Their commentary is a non-stop parade of speculative accusations and exaggeration. It’s important that we call out and rebut those voices on the left who engage in the same behavior, lest we mirror the echo-chamber in a bubble that the talk-radio cult of the right has become.

I could catalog a long list of examples over the past four years, but today, I’ll stick with the most recent episode. A pundit-blogger complex of hysteria has emerged around threats to Social Security and Medicare. No doubt, we must speak up to protect these programs that are under assault, and Obama must be pressured to stand by them. There’s indication that he’s at least willing to negotiate with Republicans who want to fundamentally change both programs. But, the effort to defend has escaped into the realm of fantasy by the pundits who cry wolf.

The reality of what Obama says on Social Security and Medicare are things most progressives support. He speaks about minor reforms, like lifting the income cap on paying into the system. He does not publicly advocate major cuts or the privatization schemes favored by Republicans. Despite the lack of any discernible effort by Obama to attack either program, there’s a mountain of anonymous-source stories and tortured interpretations of vague statements to prove that Obama is out to put grandma in the poor house!

We were told the Simpson-Bowles “cat food commission” was proof that Obama was leading the assault on Social Security. That turned out to be a false alarm. The cuts they proposed were not large, and would have made the system more progressive by increasing benefits to low-income retirees. They even proposed lifting the income cap on paying into the system, which is the only change Social Security really needs. But, Obama refused to support even those minor changes because the recommended cuts were too deep. To my knowledge, none of the pundits who predicted the deficit commission was part of Obama’s secret plot to destroy Social Security admitted to their error. They readied for the next scare.

Next, we were told Obama was selling out retirees in the debt ceiling fight. Once again, it didn’t happen.

Most recently, they were sure Obama was itching to deeply cut Social Security and Medicare. Not just because he was forced to negotiate with a Republican majority in Congress who hate the middle class, but because, as Cenk put it, it’s what he really wanted all along. Cenk and others similarly minded would have us believe that, despite years of plainly expressing strong support for Social Security and Medicare, Obama has been waiting for just the right moment to leap out of the shadows, revealing his true self, thirsting for the blood of poor seniors! Does he remind you of NRA leaders who convince fearful gun owners that Obama is just waiting for the right moment to take everyone’s guns away? Continue reading The Fox News of the left: Pundits who forgot their concern for Social Security and Medicare after Obama strengthened both

The Differing Prices of Freedom and Profit

Recycling is a noble goal except when it comes to politics. Unless it’s a way forward, pushing the same ideas year after year is ignoble and ignorant. But yet again, we see the return of the single note of the dead horse of the tax cut, with the Republicans grabbing the crop and flailing away, going nowhere. Soundly rejected at the polls, they keep the idea alive that tax cuts are an idea that America can ride.

Rather than prosperity, their argument is really about power. In a government the size of America’s, more important than legislative power, the power to make laws, is budget power, the power to buy and cut, to control the purse. The advantage of politicizing the balance sheet is that buying and cutting happens outside of the public’s eye. Name the builder who got the plumbing contract for your local schools; name the company that makes the cockpit canopies for jet fighters; or the manufacturer of something as common as the military’s MREs (ready to eat meals); I can’t. Through government, we spend lots of money on things we don’t know about and have no idea how much they they cost. We also spend money on services—health care, food—that impact people directly, and these programs are well known.

The Republican path to power doesn’t involve innovation or efficiency; nor is its end goal savings. Their hunger for power recycles the buzz words “tax cut” because it opens the way to changes in the balance sheet and advances the Republican drive for power on different fronts at the same time.

One of the unique properties of democracy is that rights are expanded through government. By the same authority of government, rights can be diminished. For those with intra-gender preference, the expansion of rights to marriage, open military service, survivor’s benefits, child adoption, non-discrimination and job opportunities is tied directly to the powers of government, state and federal. The contraction of rights, say in a woman’s right to choose, also results from attacks led through government, aimed at the money spent to create the opportunities of reproductive choice. State legislation barred money from being used for choice procedures and has piled on building requirements that make it almost impossible to operate a clinic; the costs of the required modifications are too high. Continue reading The Differing Prices of Freedom and Profit

A Friendly Reminder

A friendly reminder… just in case you forgot.

The enemy of your enemy still isn’t your friend.

The TV “news media” still carries water for the corporations that own and operate their networks, and/or sponsor their broadcasts.

TV “journalists” are still brainless bobbleheads who spew whatever they are paid to spew.   And what they are paid to spew is still anti-Dem/pro-GOP crapola.

The political websites that were catapulting rightwing propaganda during the BushCo years are still doing exactly that.  Only more so.  They did not become legit news sources at any time in the past – and will not become legit news sources at any time in the future.  Quoting their fallacies as facts is still as annoying as it was when the Republicans were doing it – it is even more annoying when done by self-proclaimed Democrats.

An unidentified “someone” is still not a reliable source for anything.   That includes the entire Someone Family:  someone in a position to know, someone in attendance, someone who heard, someone who knows someone, someone sworn to secrecy, someone who you’d-die-if-you-knew-who-it-was, and the ever-popular someone who can only speak on the basis of anonymity.

This is especially true of the latest “someone” on the scene, that all-knowing and downright prescient “someone who is familiar with this Administration’s thought processes.”   This particular someone is invariably touted as “knowing” exactly what the POTUS will say or do on any given issue – the after-the-fact inaccuracy thereof never being acknowledged.

The RW loudmouths who were lying, self-serving assholes during the Bush administration are still lying, self-serving assholes.  They didn’t suddenly become honest and intelligent, nor interested in your welfare or that of the country.  They were full of BS when they told you there were WMDs in Iraq; they are full of BS when they tell you that Obama plans to destroy Social Security or Medicaid.

The legitimacy of polls and/or the accuracy of their numbers doesn’t fluctuate commensurate with what you personally want to hear.

The RW Troll is still alive and well, and infiltrating Democratic message boards.  They pose as former Obama supporters who feel a need to express their disappointment with his leadership as often as possible.  How to spot them?  Well, posting nothing but RW talking points and cut-and-pastes of every negative article they can find about Obama and the Democratic Party – to the exclusion of anything else, ever – is usually a damned good, in-your-face, how-obvious-can-it-be indicator. Continue reading A Friendly Reminder

Reagan & Bush Tax Cuts and the Theft of Your Money

Adam Zyglis Cartoon

Its’ the 10th Anniversary of the Bush Tax Cuts, seems like the perfect day to get down to what’s really been going on with taxes. When I . . . → Read More: Reagan & Bush Tax Cuts and the Theft of Your Money