Woodward On Hannity–UPDATED

It was bad enough that Bob Woodward, once an esteemed reporter, told a falsehood about President Obama (which everyone but the right-wing now clearly sees was a falsehood). It was even worse that he then strongly implied that someone in the White House threatened him (which, now that we can see the email in question, we know was not true).

But Thursday night Woodward made it all completely intolerable by going on Sean Hannity’s show, once again. Hannity, a man who never misses an opportunity to slander President Obama, or pour gasoline on the fire of Obama-hate that rages throughout the wing-nut right, or feed the white-man angst so prevalent in our politics, was up to the task of sullying, just by being himself, the reputation of a once-proud reporter.

On Hannity’s show, Woodward continued his claim that he was a victim of an intimidation play, by a man, Gene Sperling, who by all accounts couldn’t intimidate Pee Wee Herman. But never mind. Woodward, now a fool, was very comfortable—smiling and laughing—in the presence of one of the most despicable personalities in the history of Milky Way broadcasting.

To give you an example of the kind of shtick Hannity gets paid to do every night, and to show why any journalist with Woodward’s reputation should avoid him at all costs, I give you this: Just before the first commercial break, Woodward sat and listened to Hannity tell viewers that Ann Coulter—humanity screeching across a chalkboard—was coming on the program to help him “expose the countless other examples of how the Obama White House has obstructed the freedom of the press for more than four long years.”

Then, Hannity told viewers that his feud with congressman Keith Ellison—the first Muslim elected to Congress—was still ongoing and that he was “going to investigate his radical background,” blah, blah, blah.

I waited with some anticipation, maybe hope, that when Hannity came back from the commercial break Woodward would tell him that his appearance on Hannity’s show was all a big mistake and that he did not know what he was thinking and that, yes, Sean Hannity was certifiably nuts.

Ah, but that didn’t happen. Woodward was all smiles when Hannity came back, especially after Hannity flattered him, telling the journalist, who had earlier noted his advancing age, that he didn’t look “a day over fifty.” How sweet. How perverse.

Woodward went on to equate Fox “News” and MSNBC (“a lot of people who support Obama who just believe he can do no wrong”), a notion that is as false as his claim that Gene Sperling threatened him. There is nothing, I repeat, nothing, comparable to what Fox does every hour, every day, every week. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

I get calls and emails from people telling me I’m insane to come on your show,” he told Hannity. Those weren’t just people, Bob. Those were your friends, who were trying to save you from yourself, from perhaps your advancing age. At one point, Woodward seemed to praise Hannity’s, uh, journalistic reflexes (“you dig into things”). Oh, my.

It’s one of those times where you had to see it to believe it: a man who has had a mostly sterling career in journalism laying his credibility, his integrity, on the altar of a man who makes a titmouse look like an intellectual giant.

It was sad is what it was.

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UPDATE: On Friday’s Morning Joe, Woodward once again claimed that he did not say Sperling’s email contained a threat, that others interpreted it that way. He refused to admit that he in any way suggested or implied that he was threatened. He had nothing but good things to say about Gene Sperling.

Yet both CNN and Politico, after interviewing Woodward—before the actual email in question was released—reported Woodward’s comments as suggesting he was threatened. If you watch his appearance on CNN, you can see for yourself that he wanted everyone to draw the conclusion that an attempt was made by the White House to intimidate him, something he reiterated on Sean Hannity’s show.

Woodward also continued to defend the falsehood he has been promoting, that the deal in 2011, which produced the sequester, essentially took revenue increases off the table and that President Obama was “moving the goal posts” by insisting on those increases now. Yet on Morning Joe this morning, the only one who attempted to hold Woodward accountable for his false reporting was David Axelrod. Joe Scarborough and company were in defensive mode on behalf of Woodward. That is how tribal Washington works.

Now we know that Gene Sperling’s suggestion to Woodward, that he would regret his false reporting, was prophetic.

Old Iconic Journalists Never Die, They Just Exaggerate

On CNN yesterday, Bob Woodward, an icon of American journalism, clearly suggested that he was threatened by someone, someone quite high up, in the White House for a column he wrote accusing President Obama—falsely, it turns out—of “moving the goal posts” in his dealings with Republicans over sequestration.

Today, we know that Bob Woodward, an icon of American journalism, has lost a lot of his, well, iconishness.

Woodward has told anyone who will listen, or read, that the sequester nonsense was the White House’s idea, personally approved by President Obama. Republicans and their supporters in right-wing media have, for once, loved Woodward’s reporting.

But what Woodward the iconic reporter doesn’t tell folks, at least very clearly, is that the sequester nonsense was sort of a last ditch effort to stop Republicans from destroying the country’s credit worthiness and wrecking the economy in August of 2011.

Lest we forget, the idea behind the sequester was to avoid for a time the debt ceiling issue and to present something so stunningly stupid that both sides would bend their wills to avoid it and a compromise could be reached. If Obama made a mistake, it was in underestimating the Republican leadership’s fondness for stupidity.

In any case, Woodward’s column last week included this falsehood:

So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts.

Woodward claims that when Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell reached that now infamous deal in 2011, it “included an agreement that there would be no tax increases…” We know this is false for at least three reasons:

1) President Obama has always, since the fight with Republicans began, talked about the need to raise revenues, as part of a “balanced approach” to deficit reduction.

2) The law resulting from the deal (the Budget Control Act) contradicts Woodward’s claim, for reasons you can clearly see here.

3) Woodward’s own book on the subject, The Price of Politics, contradicts the Woodward talking and writing today, as Dave Weigel (“How Bob Woodward’s Book Debunks His Big Washington Post Op-Ed”) and others have pointed out.

All of which brings us to Woodward’s suggestion to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that some high Obama administration official threatened him, which CNN reported this way:

Bob Woodward says he was threatened by White House

Veteran journalist Bob Woodward said Wednesday he was threatened by a senior Obama administration official following his reporting on the White House’s handling of the forced federal spending cuts set to take effect on Friday.

Woodward would not reveal to Blitzer who the offender in the White House was that sent him this supposed threat in an email, but he did reveal the email he received to Politico, which reported it this way:

Digging into one of his famous folders, Woodward said the tirade was followed by a page-long email from the aide, one of the four or five administration officials most closely involved in the fiscal negotiations with the Hill. “I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today,” the official typed. “You’re focusing on a few specific trees that give a very wrong impression of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here. … I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

Woodward repeated the last sentence, making clear he saw it as a veiled threat. “ ‘You’ll regret.’ Come on,” he said. “I think if Obama himself saw the way they’re dealing with some of this, he would say, ‘Whoa, we don’t tell any reporter ‘you’re going to regret challenging us.’”

Today, of course, the alleged offender in the White House fought back. Again, from Politico this morning:

POLITICO’s “Behind the Curtain” column last night quoted Bob Woodward as saying that a senior White House official has told him in an email he would “regret” questioning White House statements on the origins of sequestration. The official in question is Gene Sperling, economic adviser to the president. The White House has since pushed back, saying the exchange was far more innocuous than Woodward claims.

Innocuous? Well, yes. Very innocuous as you will see when you read the email below (as well as Woodward’s response to it). But I want to first say that I have watched Bob Woodward’s appearances on MSNBC’s Morning Joe for a couple of years now, and the more I have heard him talk, the more I have noticed that he seems to enjoy being “the story” more than the storyteller, and this sad episode appears to confirm that.

Here is the email, via Politico, from Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama, followed by Woodward’s response:

February 22, 2013

Bob:

I apologize for raising my voice in our conversation today. My bad. I do understand your problems with a couple of our statements in the fall — but feel on the other hand that you focus on a few specific trees that gives a very wrong perception of the forest. But perhaps we will just not see eye to eye here.

But I do truly believe you should rethink your comment about saying saying that Potus asking for revenues is moving the goal post. I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim. The idea that the sequester was to force both sides to go back to try at a big or grand barain with a mix of entitlements and revenues (even if there were serious disagreements on composition) was part of the DNA of the thing from the start. It was an accepted part of the understanding — from the start. Really. It was assumed by the Rs on the Supercommittee that came right after: it was assumed in the November-December 2012 negotiations. There may have been big disagreements over rates and ratios — but that it was supposed to be replaced by entitlements and revenues of some form is not controversial. (Indeed, the discretionary savings amount from the Boehner-Obama negotiations were locked in in BCA: the sequester was just designed to force all back to table on entitlements and revenues.)

I agree there are more than one side to our first disagreement, but again think this latter issue is diffferent. Not out to argue and argue on this latter point. Just my sincere advice. Your call obviously.

My apologies again for raising my voice on the call with you. Feel bad about that and truly apologize.

Gene

From Woodward to Sperling on February 23, 2013:

Gene: You do not ever have to apologize to me. You get wound up because you are making your points and you believe them. This is all part of a serious discussion. I for one welcome a little heat; there should more given the importance. I also welcome your personal advice. I am listening. I know you lived all this. My partial advantage is that I talked extensively with all involved. I am traveling and will try to reach you after 3 pm today. Best, Bob

 

Guns, God, Hemp, And Ozark Billy

The local wingnuts have been busy.

The Joplin Globe reported:

More than 150 residents, local politicians and rally organizers attended what was described as a “peaceful demonstration to support and defend the Second Amendment” Saturday at Landreth Park in Joplin…

One of those residents is a man named John Broom, who the Globe said is trying to start a “permanent group” of locals in order “to support firearm rights.” Apparently for Broom the NRA isn’t doing enough.gun rally in joplin

Broom, I must say, did an excellent job—much better than I could do—of exposing just how misguided gun enthusiasts can be:

We want people to know what we are about and why we support this right. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. It’s not about competition or sport, and it really isn’t about self-defense. It’s about rights of the people to protect themselves from invaders and from tyrants. We have to start educating folks really quick.

Yep, really quick, I mean, quickly: before people figure out how dumb it is to sit around the house with a small arsenal, waiting for invaders and tyrants. In any case, thanks to John Broom for that enlightening interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Last Saturday proved to be a busy day for local reactionaries. The Jasper-Newton County Lincoln Days brought into Joplin none other than Tom Schweich, who is Missouri’s auditor. Schweich told his Republican congregation:

God is a part of the Republican Party.

Yep, he said it. And, as the Joplin Globe reported, he said it “to applause from the crowd.” God always gets an ovation around here, don’t you know.

Apparently, the Globe couldn’t get God to comment on the remark, or, more likely, the paper didn’t bother to ask Him. Maybe next time. Oh, and maybe the Globe could ask God about that ass whippin’ that Barack Obama and the Democrats gave His party last November and just what He intends to do to get even. Democrats would do well to remember: Vengeance is mine, I will repaysaith the Lord.

During his keynote speech, Schweich estimated that 70 percent of the gathered locals were Christian conservatives. He was way off on that one. I doubt you could have found anyone in the crowd who would have courageously testified to being, say, an Allah-loving Republican. It’s GOP Jesus or nothing around here.

And speaking of GOP-Jesus-loving Republicans, Ozark Billy Long was in attendance. My congressman did not disappoint. He gave my president a compliment:

We spent all our time saying Barack Obama was nothing but a community organizer. He organized his community and got out the vote.

That had to hurt the Sarah Palin fans in attendance. The former fractional governor and former Fox babe made a small fortune by making fun of the community organizer. But fearless Billy had more to say, as reported by the Globe’s Susan Redden:

Long, speaking at the local Lincoln Days event, noted that a recent National Journal ranking had placed him as more conservative than Reps. Michele Bachmann and Paul Ryan.

Only in Southwest Missouri would a congressman actually brag about being nuttier more conservative than Michele Bachmann. And although Redden didn’t report it this way, I’m guessing that Long made his I’m-crazier-than-Bachmann statement “to applause from the crowd.”

Finally, Ozark Billy has been called out by, uh, The Weed Blog: Marijuana News and Information. It seems one of Billy’s constituents wrote him, asking support for the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013. Yes, there is such a bill, and it has several bipartisan co-sponsors in the House (the Senate version includes Mitch McConnell as a co-sponsor).billy long and hemp

For those of you who don’t touch the stuff, industrial hemp is not marijuana, although both are prepared from Cannabis plants. As Wikipedia points out,

Hemp is refined into products like hemp seed foods, hemp oil, wax, resin, rope, cloth, pulp, and fuel.

The stuff in the Cannabis plant that gives you the munchies (THC) is very low or nonexistent in industrial hemp. Thus, when we’re talking about hemp farming we’re not talking about growing pot, as disappointed as that may make some of you out there, and you know who you are.

In any case, Billy Long responded to his constituent with a letter that, as The Weed Blog noted, indicated Long didn’t have the slightest idea what industrial hemp was. In the response letter, Long said,

While I am a strong believer in personal freedom, I do not support the recreational or medical use of illegal drugs regardless of whether the drug is marijuana, cocaine, or any other illegal substance.

The Weed Blog writer, Johnny Green, wrote:

I find it odd that someone who dislikes hemp so much, doesn’t even understand what it is. Is he serious?

Well, it’s hard to answer that question, Johnny. Perhaps Billy Long, somewhere in his past, had a bad experience smoking industrial hemp. Who knows? Smoking industrial hemp may explain a lot about Billy Long.

But I certainly don’t find it “odd” that Long, like so many Bachmannish conservatives, can dislike something without understanding it. That’s how they manage to stay in power in places like Southwest Missouri. From evolution to global warming to hemp farming, the less they understand, the more popular they are.

Smoke ’em if you got ’em, everyone!

Ben Bernanke Channels Paul Krugman

I have been watching Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, testify this morning before the Senate Banking Committee.

He has sounded a lot like Paul Krugman.*

Krugman, an economist of distinction who also happens to be a liberal, has been telling anyone who will listen that all the scary talk about the national debt is misplaced, considering that we have a genuine jobs crisis going on right now.

Bernanke said this morning:

High unemployment has substantial costs, including not only the hardship faced by the unemployed and their families, but also the harm done to the vitality and productive potential of our economy as a whole.

Ya think? He also said—again sounding like Paul Krugman:

In terms of the near-term recovery, there is a sense in which monetary and fiscal policy are working at cross purposes. To some extent, the fiscal policy decisions being made are mismatched with the timing of the problem. The problem is a longer-term problem, and should be addressed over a longer time frame in a way that, to the extent possible, it does no harm to the ongoing recovery.

In other words, the actions of Congress (fiscal policy—focusing only on long-term debt) are working against the Fed’s actions (monetary policy—buying government bonds now in order to help stimulate the economic recovery) and the result of those “cross purposes” is sluggish growth and needlessly high unemployment.

Now, we have to ask ourselves: Why would congressional Republicans, who are leading the charge when it comes to ginning up fear over our long-term debt problems, want to work against the economic recovery?

You can supply your own answer to that question. Suffice it to say here that we not only have most economists in the country saying it, including Paul Krugman, we now have clearly on the record the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board saying it too: Stop worrying so much about the future and concentrate on the now. There are still a lot of folks suffering from the Great Recession.

As for the dreaded sequestration, Bernanke supported the Congressional Budget Office’s “reasonable estimate” that the automatic $1.2 trillion spending cuts due to begin on Friday will dampen economic growth in 2013 by 0.6% and cost 750,000 jobs.  He also said that, in terms of the effects on economic growth, it didn’t matter much how the cuts were made, whether judiciously or injudiciously. That’s simply too much money to extract from the economy in the short term, even though “the sequestration takes place over time” and its impact “would probably build over a period of months.”

Bernanke also made a point about the constant battles over fiscal policy, what with cliffs, sequestration, and continuing budget resolutions, which cause enormous amounts of uncertainty for everyone and which Republicans use as devilish leverage to drastically cut spending. He said:

Uncertainty itself is costly.

Yes, the uncertainty created by hostage-taking Republicans, again and again, is costly, even though no one can exactly quantify it. But I doubt even the Fed chairman, trying to talk sense to the kidnappers, will help.

Ultimately, the American people will have to send the kidnappers a message because, in our democracy, the people are, paradoxically, both the hostages and the hostage rescuers.

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* Even though the two players have had their disagreements in the past.

If You Don’t Learn Anything Else About Social Security “Reform” Learn This

A frequent contributor to this blog (HL Gaskins) sent in a fantastic and informative clip from MSNBC’s The Last Word that aired last November. I am posting it here because the five-minute essay by Ezra Klein needs to be seen by anyone who gives a damn about Social Security and what it means to so many working people. And after you watch it, pass it on to others.

My parents, both gone, are the kinds of folks Klein is referencing in his piece. When I hear knuckleheads on TV and radio, fretting over the national debt or pretending they want to “save” Social Security and Medicare, saying that we ought to raise the retirement age or the Medicare eligibility age or otherwise penalize working folks for the sins of Wall Street gamblers, I think of my parents. And then I get pissed.

Fortunately, Ezra Klein expresses my outrage in a much more civilized manor:

Missouri And Sequestration

The White House released what it says will be the effects of the so-called sequester on the state of Missouri:

MISSOURI IMPACTS

If sequestration were to take effect, some examples of the impacts on Missouri this year alone are:

♦ Teachers and Schools: Missouri will lose approximately $11.9 million in funding for primary and secondary education, putting around 160 teacher and aide jobs at risk. In addition about 17,000 fewer students would be served and approximately 60 fewer schools would receive funding.

♦ Education for Children with Disabilities: In addition, Missouri will lose approximately $10.8 in funds for about 130 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities.

♦ Work-Study Jobs: Around 1,280 fewer low income students in Missouri would receive aid to help them finance the costs of college and around 750 fewer students will get work-study jobs that help them pay for college.

♦ Head Start: Head Start and Early Head Start services would be eliminated for approximately 1,200 children in Missouri, reducing access to critical early education.

♦ Protections for Clean Air and Clean Water: Missouri would lose about $3,745,000 in environmental funding to ensure clean water and air quality, as well as prevent pollution from pesticides and hazardous waste. In addition, Missouri could lose another $1,184,000 in grants for fish and wildlife protection.

♦ Military Readiness: In Missouri, approximately 8,000 civilian Department of Defense employees would be furloughed, reducing gross pay by around $40.3 million in total.

♦ Army: Base operation funding would be cut by about $56 million in Missouri.

♦ Air Force: Funding for Air Force operations in Missouri would be cut by about $14 million.

♦ Law Enforcement and Public Safety Funds for Crime Prevention and Prosecution: Missouri will lose about $298,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives.

♦ Job Search Assistance to Help those in Missouri find Employment and Training: Missouri will lose about $758,000 in funding for job search assistance, referral, and placement, meaning around 25,460 fewer people will get the help and skills they need to find employment.

♦ Child Care: Up to 700 disadvantaged and vulnerable children could lose access to child care, which is also essential for working parents to hold down a job.

♦ Vaccines for Children: In Missouri around 2,500 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases such as measles, mumps, rubella, tetanus, whooping cough, influenza, and Hepatitis B due to reduced funding for vaccinations of about $171,000.

♦ Public Health: Missouri will lose approximately $572,000 in funds to help upgrade its ability to respond to public health threats including infectious diseases, natural disasters, and biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological events. In addition, Missouri will lose about $1,300,000 in grants to help prevent and treat substance abuse, resulting in around 3300 fewer admissions to substance abuse programs. And the Missouri State Department of Health & Senior Services will lose about $211,000 resulting in around 5,300 fewer HIV tests.

♦ STOP Violence Against Women Program: Missouri could lose up to $127,000 in funds that provide services to victims of domestic violence, resulting in up to 500 fewer victims being served.

♦ Nutrition Assistance for Seniors: Missouri would lose approximately $419,000 in funds that provide meals for seniors

Austerity Doctors Warn: If We Don’t Stop Spending We’ll Go Blind!

I have seen and heard countless Democrats, including President Obama, make the case that allowing sequestration to happen next week is bad for the country, from jeopardizing our military readiness to damaging our ability to conduct medical research.

However, none of the scary stories that Democrats tell reporters, who then tell the public, are working to change the minds of Republicans, many of whom have actually decided that sequestration is the best cure for what ails the country.

Haley Barbour, former governor of Mississippi and a man who once chaired the Republican National Committee, is one of those Republicans—let’s call them “austerity doctors”—who want to fix the patient by hurting the patient.

National Review.com reported yesterday:

...Haley Barbour says he expects the GOP to allow sequestration to occur, and that the party should see it as an important step toward fiscal responsibility. “I hope and believe that Republicans will allow the sequestration to go into effect, so that we can start down a path of trying to get control of spending and reduce the deficit,” Barbour explained on Fox Business Network’s Cavuto…

These austerity doctors are so worried about the deficit that they are willing to do almost anything to get Americans to stop what Republicans see as our bad habit of pleasuring ourselves with federal dollars.

All of which reminds me of another doctor who tried to do what he thought was right by using rather strange techniques to get Americans to stop pleasuring themselves.

John Harvey Kellogg is most famous for co-inventing the breakfast cereal Corn Flakes in 1895. But he also had a medical degree and ran a sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, owned by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. And he also held what we regard today as bizarre opinions about, well, I’ll let Wikipedia say it:

He was an especially zealous campaigner against masturbation.

Self-pleasure, according to the theologically-minded doctor, was self-destructive:

Kellogg strongly warned against the habit in his own words, claiming of masturbation-related deaths “such a victim literally dies by his own hand,” among other condemnations. He felt that masturbation destroyed not only physical and mental health, but the moral health of individuals as well.

Dr. Kellogg thought that masturbation caused cancer, epilepsy, insanity, and, according to Wikipedia, “dimness of vision.” Yep. Keep it up and you’ll go blind.

Given the doctor’s views, something had to be done to fix things:

Kellogg worked on the rehabilitation of masturbators, often employing extreme measures, even mutilation, on both sexes. He was an advocate of circumcising young boys to curb masturbation and applying phenol (carbolic acid) to a young woman’s clitoris.

He also creatively applied “one or more silver sutures” to the penis in order to make erections “impossible,” therefore,

the slight irritation thus produced acts as a most powerful means of overcoming the disposition to resort to the practice.

This guy was serious:

He also recommended, to prevent children from this “solitary vice”, bandaging or tying their hands, covering their genitals with patented cages and electrical shock.

In his Ladies’ Guide in Health and Disease, for nymphomania, he recommended “Cool sitz baths; the cool enema; a spare diet; the application of blisters and other irritants to the sensitive parts of the sexual organs, the removal of the clitoris and nymphae…

In Teaching America About Sex: Marriage Guides and Sex Manuals from the Late Victorians to Dr. Ruth , the authors, M.E. Melody and Linda Peterson, try to explain Dr. Kellogg’s work:

Kellogg certainly was not deluded. Part of the American tradition includes a view of a righteous God who punishes moral transgressions. In Kellogg’s view, these transgressions are acts of treason against divine governance and, hence, call for decisive responses. Though his teaching about masturbation seems extreme, the act must be understood as rebellion against divine governance, an ostensibly minor event that can, if amplified, cause the destruction of nations.

Masturbation can cause “the destruction of nations”? I remind you that Speaker John Boehner told a gathering of religious broadcasters two years ago:

Yes, this debt is a mortal threat to our country.

If all this is a little too much for you, good. It’s too much for me too. I share with you Dr. Kellogg’s zeal against onanism because I see a similar zeal among Republicans regarding, as I said, what they see as our national bad habit of pleasuring ourselves with federal dollars. They want to stop it, and if it means using the fiscal equivalents of silver sutures and carbolic acid and cool enemas and a spare diet—the sequester—then so be it.

Meanwhile, economist Paul Krugman—who has been under fire from the austerity doctors on TV and radio and in print—has exactly the right take on the sequestration mess:

The right policy would be to forget about the whole thing. America doesn’t face a deficit crisis, nor will it face such a crisis anytime soon. Meanwhile, we have a weak economy that is recovering far too slowly from the recession that began in 2007. And, as Janet Yellen, the vice chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, recently emphasized, one main reason for the sluggish recovery is that government spending has been far weaker in this business cycle than in the past. We should be spending more, not less, until we’re close to full employment; the sequester is exactly what the doctor didn’t order.

Government Jobs Are People Too

I know I posted a segment from The Rachel Maddow Show earlier today, but I just have to post the segment below because it is the best 8 1/2 minutes you will spend, in terms of hearing a rebuttal to what right-wingers claim both about the nature of government employment and the alleged radical nature of President Obama and his administration.

Before you watch the segment, here is a graphic St. Rachel uses to make the point that what was standard practice in fighting recessions in the past has been turned on its head during the Obama presidency. The graph plots the change in government employment during the 1981 recession when Reagan was president, the 1990 recession when George H.W. Bush was president, the 2001 recession when George W. Bush was president, and the Great Recession when the Scary Negro socialist/communist was president:

government employment and recession

As you can clearly see, Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II did not seek to shrink government, and government employment, when the economy slowed down. That would have been stupid. And neither did President Obama initially seek to eliminate government jobs. Part of his stimulus plan put in place early in 2009 was designed to help states keep teachers, cops, firemen, and other government workers on the job. But that stimulus, much maligned by Republicans as a “failure,” is long gone. And nothing like it is coming back.

Here is the St. Rachel segment, which you should commit to memory, especially those of you who have hard-headed conservatives in your midst:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The Republican Party Crackup, Presented By Rachel Maddow

No one on television quite ties it all together like the charming St. Rachel:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Remarks And Asides

First the bad news:

If Higgs Boson Calculations Are Right, A Catastrophic ‘Bubble’ Could End Universe

Now the good news:

Earth will likely be long gone before any Higgs boson particles set off an apocalyptic assault on the universe. Physicists expect the sun to burn out in 4.5 billion years or so, and expand, likely engulfing Earth in the process.

___________________________

at a couple of town hall meetings in Arizona on Tuesday, John McCain got in a scrap with know-nothings over immigration reform. These are the same ignorant folks McCain pandered to during his last election, so he damn well deserved it.

Here’s how the AP reported part of the pushback:

“There are 11 million people living here illegally,” [McCain] said. “We are not going to get enough buses to deport them.”

Some audience members shouted out their disapproval.

One man yelled that only guns would discourage undocumented immigration. Another man complained that undocumented immigrants should never be able to become citizens or vote. A third man said undocumented immigrants were illiterate invaders who wanted free government benefits.

McCain urged compassion. “We are a Judeo-Christian nation,” he said.

“A Judeo-Christian nation”? The senator apparently doesn’t understand Judeo-Christian compassion, at least the kind we see on display these days. From USA Today:

BEAUMONT, TEXAS — Pastor James McAbee believes the Scriptures can tame temptation and wash away sins.

But he’ll tell you that nothing repels true evil like a well-placed, loaded Glock .40-caliber pistol.

Speaking in strange tongues, the Assembly of God preacher said:

I preach peace. Having a firearm keeps the peace.

A piece keeps the peace? Amen, say all the followers of Jesus, the gun-toting Prince of Peace.

_____________________________

The Washington Post’s Wonkblog published an article titled, “Wal-Mart’s freaking out about the economy. Should the rest of us?” It began by citing comments from “a couple of internal e-mails from Wal-Mart executives panicking about the company’s worst sales start in seven years” :

Well, we just had one of those weeks here at Walmart U.S. Where are all the customers? And where’s their money?

Where’s their money? Heck, that’s an easy one. The Walton family finally has it all!

From the Forbes list of the 400 richest folks in America:

walton family wealth2

That’s a total of $115.5 billion. Those folks need to do a little more shopping at Wal-Mart!

___________________________________

f 2inally, there is the case of Dan Friedman, a reporter for the New York Daily News. He has come forward to admit it was he who, accidentally, started all those weird stories about yet-to-be-confirmed Chuck Hagel speaking to “Friends of Hamas”:

Here’s what happened: When rumors swirled that Hagel received speaking fees from controversial organizations, I attempted to check them out.

On Feb. 6, I called a Republican aide on Capitol Hill with a question: Did Hagel’s Senate critics know of controversial groups that he had addressed?

Hagel was in hot water for alleged hostility to Israel. So, I asked my source, had Hagel given a speech to, say, the “Junior League of Hezbollah, in France”? And: What about “Friends of Hamas”?

The names were so over-the-top, so linked to terrorism in the Middle East, that it was clear I was talking hypothetically and hyperbolically. No one could take seriously the idea that organizations with those names existed — let alone that a former senator would speak to them.

No one could take seriously the idea”? Huh? We’re talking about crazy people here. HuffPo describes what happened next:

The following day, an article appeared on the conservative website Breitbart.com with the headline, “SECRET HAGEL DONOR?: WHITE HOUSE SPOX DUCKS QUESTION ON ‘FRIENDS OF HAMAS.'” Conservative pundits, including Mike Huckabee, and other websites also addressed the rumor. It even came up during a Fox Business segment with host Lou Dobbs.

The right-wing website RedState also got in on the action and someone commenting on that story explained exactly how wing-nut journalism works, when it comes to Barack Obama:

Any accusation against the President or anyone in anyway connected to his administration must be treated as a fact based truth until otherwise proven false.

Yes!

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