It’s like Christmas in Late November (re:WikiLeaks)

I’ve just started reading through some of the summaries and stories on the recent Wikileaks release of over 250,000 diplomatic cables and I must say,  this stuff is awesome…for international politics geeks.

Most of the world might get interesting in a few tidbits here or there (like Ghaddafi’s Amazonian guard) or some juicy bits of partisan chatter, but for those of us who like to watch the politics and policies unfold on the grand scale, this is an amazing resource of insider information.

There is going to be fallout from this release for years, if not a permanent change in the ways some of this information is handled (if it has happened once, it will happen again). 

Then NYT has a great intro article here.   There’s also going to be parsing and pawing at what one news source or another pulls out of the quarter-million cables.

But in reality is just tons and tons and tons of background on and inside info of what gets done, how it gets done, a very little on why.  

Regardless, for someone like me, watching all this stuff from the outside and guessing here and there on what is going on the inside, having a full and open view of what is going on the onside is like Christmas in late November.

It’s going to be the same for our friends and enemies as well, as there are more than a few major world figures who get the “here’s my full, honest opinion” treatment, which is always dangerous (try it with your boss some time).

Hindsight 2010

This’ll be a a Quick backwards looking post at Election 2010.  Now that we are a few weeks out, we’ve got a bit more perspective on what happened (and why).  I find it is generally useful to look back, after things are all said and done, in order to further refine one’s ability to look forward.   Since we know what we thought would happen and we know what happened, it’s time to re-calibrate.

And we’re off…

1) Speaking of “off” here’s Rasmussen.

Every election cycle has its winners and losers: not just the among the candidates, but also the pollsters.

On Tuesday, polls conducted by the firm Rasmussen Reports — which released more than 100 surveys in the final three weeks of the campaign, including some commissioned under a subsidiary on behalf of Fox News — badly missed the margin in many states, and also exhibited a considerable bias toward Republican candidates.

The 105 polls released in Senate and gubernatorial races by Rasmussen Reports and its subsidiary, Pulse Opinion Research, missed the final margin between the candidates by 5.8 points, a considerably higher figure than that achieved by most other pollsters. Some 13 of its polls missed by 10 or more points

Moreover, Rasmussen’s polls were quite biased, overestimating the standing of the Republican candidate by almost 4 points on average.

[full blog post here]

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear about a Rasmussen opinion poll somewhere.  If their real polls, the one where they make their bacon, where so far off, how bad do you think their “Do you like the President?” poll is?

Speaking of general bias in polling, one we’ve suspected for a while has finally become distinct and knowable.

A new analysis of 2010 election polling found that surveys that relied only on landline telephone users were more skewed toward Republicans, as opposed to polls that also included cell-phone users.

According to the Pew Research Center, polls that included landlines gave Republicans a roughly 6-point boost compared with polls that included both landline and mobile phones. According to Pew, its landline-only surveys found the GOP with a 12-point lead in House races ahead of Election Day. But when cell-phone users were included, the Republican lead dropped to just 6 points — a result much closer to what actually happened on election night.

We’ve discussed before (and will again shortly) how the U.S. Election of 2010 was dominated by old people, one can also see how this tends to skews the land-line polls.   I haven’t had a landline in many, many years, and I doubt a sizeable percentage of people younger than me will ever have an official one.   While this is generally just a thing, for the polling world, it has had predicted results now show up in hindsight.

Speaking of old-people, hindsight, the Tea Party and Election 2010, (see what I did there?), here’s a summary picture of the electorate’s attitude…

And here’s the poll summary data illustrating the same point.

According to an Associated Press-GfK Poll this month, 84 percent who call themselves tea party supporters don’t like how President Barack Obama is handling his job — a view shared by just 35 percent of all other adults.

Tea partiers are about four times likelier than others to back repealing Obama’s health care overhaul and twice as likely to favor renewing tax cuts for the highest-earning Americans.

Tea party backers were about five times likelier to blame Obama for the country’s economic ills, three times likelier to say Obama’s policies will be harmful and twice as apt to see the country on the wrong track.

These aren’t subtle shadings between tea party backers and the majority of Americans, who don’t support the movement; they’re Grand Canyon-size chasms.

Tea partiers are likelier to be white, male, older and more affluent than everyone else, the polls show — groups that tend to be more conservative. Yet even compared with the 47 percent of conservatives who don’t back the tea party, the views of conservatives who do support the movement stand out.

Among conservatives who are tea party backers, 74 percent are glad Republicans will run the House next year while Democrats retain control of the Senate and White House. Just 36 percent of conservatives who don’t back the tea party agree that divided government will be good for the country, likely because of concern over gridlock.  [see the special note on why this level of partisan hatred is bad thing]

Tea party backers are also far likelier than other conservatives to like Palin, the former Alaska governor.

[full story based largely on exit polls]

For those in need of another picture summary of who the Tea Party is, why they broke 100% for the Republicans, and why that’s not really a good thing for the country, here ya go…

I know, I know, it’s totally uncouth to call racists assholes, and I understand the only thing Teabaggers hate more than being called racists are minorities, but I have to point out the content-free character-assassination crap that just keeps coming from these dolts.  And there’s ever-more evidence that empowering them was a very bad idea, but hey, what are you going to do, vote against them?

Ha!  No one has more time to vote, and more reason to, than someone who’s well-being, income and healthcare, is paid directly by the govenment.   There’s a reason “small government” Republicans ran against the cuts (read: needing, obvious cuts) to Medicare that were a part of HCR.   

When your core constituency is dependent on the government and complete dedicated to the fight against socialism,  you’d best get while the getting’s good, because that’s not a stable situation that can last terribly long.   There are, of course ways to extend that cognitive dissonance…

So while I’m somewhat disappointed by the general outcome of the election, at least I’m not confused about why it happened (as is most of the world watching).

In the real world [and our special note mentioned earlier] we have Capitalist A#1 [who actually does kind of control the world] praising the Obama administration for their actions in saving the country…

Nor was it just business that was in peril: 300 million Americans were in the domino line as well. Just days before, the jobs, income, 401(k)’s and money-market funds of these citizens had seemed secure. Then, virtually overnight, everything began to turn into pumpkins and mice. There was no hiding place. A destructive economic force unlike any seen for generations had been unleashed.

Only one counterforce was available, and that was you, Uncle Sam. Yes, you are often clumsy, even inept. But when businesses and people worldwide race to get liquid, you are the only party with the resources to take the other side of the transaction. And when our citizens are losing trust by the hour in institutions they once revered, only you can restore calm.

When the crisis struck, I felt you would understand the role you had to play. But you’ve never been known for speed, and in a meltdown minutes matter. I worried whether the barrage of shattering surprises would disorient you. You would have to improvise solutions on the run, stretch legal boundaries and avoid slowdowns, like Congressional hearings and studies. You would also need to get turf-conscious departments to work together in mounting your counterattack. The challenge was huge, and many people thought you were not up to it.

Well, Uncle Sam, you delivered.

In the crazy world, where Commie-Jew-Bankers hold Kenyan-puppets on strings and Socialism, Socialism, Socialism is all you need to know about Beelzebub HUSSEIN Obummer, I guess people are happy that our most effective tool in fighting for our shared prosperity has been effectively hamstrung.

I guess we’ll see, in hindsight, if they turned out to be correct.

The Two Truths to Life (BONUS: With Questions around them and Answers to them)

The two truths to life (you’ve probably heard this before and will again) :

1) Death
2) Taxes

The two questions of life (you may not have heard these, but now you have):

1) What are you going to die for? (conversely and with the exact same real-world meaning: What are you going to live for?)
2) What should the tax rate be?

The two answers to the two questions of life (you’ve definitely heard these):

1) Freedom (allows one to decide what to die/live for)
2) Democracy (allows the many to decide how to tax the rich*)

* I know some may find this biased, but there is a reason there are *two* truths to life, and not one.

You Call *This* Socialism?

So I constantly hear about how my President is a socialist and transforming the country into a socialist hellhole.

There is pretty constant stream of incontrovertible evidence for this.   See, for example, the record corporate profits posted this quarter.

U.S. companies hauled in profits at a record annual rate of $1.66 trillion dollars in the third quarter, according to a report by the Department of Commerce Tuesday containing a number of economic indicators.

Corporate America is making a strong comeback this year. The rate of growth is set to be one-third faster than the last two years, which hovered around $1.2 trillion.

But if record corporate profits aren’t enough evidence of our slide into socialism, how about the fact that billionaires now pay lower tax rates than their secretaries?

In an interview with NBC’s Tom Brokaw that aired last week, Buffett took his “I’m not paying enough in taxes, and neither are my fellow billionaires” campaign to a new level, highlighting his contention that he pays a lower tax rate than all of his office employees.

He told Brokaw: “I’ll bet a million dollars against any member of the Forbes 400 who challenges me that the average (federal tax rate including income and payroll taxes) for the Forbes 400 will be less than the average of their receptionists.” 

And so far not a single billionaire has come forward to get their free money, ’cause, of course, they are TAXED ENOUGH ALREADY (and lower than their underlings).

They are, however, totally full of shit in their defense of their ludicrously low tax rates.

Several argued that Buffett isn’t taking estate taxes into account.  Casino owner Phillip Ruffin (Tied at #220 with $2.1 billion) told Forbes, “He is forgetting about the 55% estate tax at death that goes along with making the money.  Maybe he is getting senile?”  While not interested in the million-dollar challenge, Ruffin did say he’d play Buffett in poker.

Actually Phillip, he’s not.  Not only is the estate tax currently at 0% (yes, Bush lowered it all the way to 0%) but no one ever pays estate taxes every year, only that one year when you inherit a few hundred billion from dead old dad (like the self-made Tea Party founders, the Koch Brothers).   So even that caveat is gone.

So we have a socialist country where the richest pay the lowest rate, a person with a million dollar sitting in the bank doing nothing makes more and pays less taxes per year than your average blue collar worker, and this money rolls over and over forever, creating a long-term monied class that doesn’t have to work and pays lower tax rates than the working class.  

Now I know that this is being called “socialism” (largely by the minions of the aforementioned Koch Brothers) when in fact it is nothing less than a simple return to the U.S. economy of the late 19th Century, where the Robber Barons ruled all, bought elections with huge amounts of anonymous corporate money, and then had their newly elected employees turn around and lower their tax rates even further (and cutting services to pay for it).

It’s not socialism folks, heck, it’s not even capitalism. 

This is just bullshit.


NOTE: The funny part about this whole thing?  You know what it was that took the U.S from the Gilded Age to the part in history where we are the pre-eminment economy and super-power?   Hint:  It wasn’t tax cuts for the robber barons.

How Screwed Are We? (Election 2010 Edition)

I’m generally not one to focus on doom and gloom.  As I tend to be a cynically sarcastic optimist (and, of course, the RPN), I can look at and appreciate the horridness of life, the idiocy of our actions, and still, occasionally, find that ray of hope and sunshine in the midst of the shit and suffering.

Let’s see if I can do it here.

First off, the demographic shift.  This was the underlying game-changer in the election.

I see old people

I see old people

Old people vote.  And do so in a lot more numbers during the mid-terms.  Old people are scared about Mexicans, Muslims, and Socialists.  The media narrative pushed by many during the elections was about a national referendum on the Socialist Muslim President (who likes Mexicans) [this was The Big Lie].   You can guess how this ended up, well, you don’t have to guess, we all saw it.

U.S. House
After: 189 (D)- 239 (R)
Before: 256 (D) – 179 (R)
U.S. Senate
After: 51 (D) – 46 (R)
Before: 57 (D) –  41 (R)

After: 18 (D) – 29 (R)
Before: 26 (D) – 24 (R)

So where does this leave us?  Well, here’s a few things this leads to….remember that Gulf Oil Spill?   Well, they found some of the oil

A massive deep-sea coral die-off was discovered this week about 7 miles (11 kilometers) southwest of the source of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, scientists announced Thursday.

Large communities of several types of bottom-dwelling coral were found covered with a dark substance at depths of about 4,600 feet (1,400 meters) near the damaged Deepwater Horizon wellhead, according to a scientific team on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ship Ronald H. Brown.

“The proximity of the site to the disaster, the depth of the site, the clear evidence of recent impact, and the uniqueness of the observations all suggest that the impact we have found is linked to the exposure of this community to either oil, dispersant, extremely depleted oxygen, or some combination of these or other water-borne effects resulting from the spill,” Fisher said in a statement.

and then found some of the longer-term effects

Last month, Dr. Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, conducted blood tests for volatile solvents on eight people who live and work along the coast.

“All eight individuals tested had Ethylbenzene and m,p- Xylene in their blood in excess of the NHANES 95th percentile,” according to Subra’s report. “Ethylbenzene, m,p-Xylene and Hexane are volatile organic chemicals that are present in the BP Crude Oil. The blood of all three females and five males had chemicals that are found in the BP Crude Oil.”

Chuck Barnes is director of the Alabama district of the Eastern Surfing Association, and is responsible for organising surfing competitions.

“In early September our local government gave the all-clear so surfers started going back into the water,” Barnes said. “But we immediately had several surfers get sick with headaches, upper respiratory problems, and other things and that’s when I decided we needed to test the water.”

…and I bring all this up in the context of the election to remind you that Congressman Joe Barton (R-TX), the guy who infamously apologized to BP on behalf of the people of the U.S., is now going to most likely head the House Energy and Commerce Committee, like he did before.

And to add to the crap flow some more, a full 50% of the incoming Congressional class doesn’t even believe in the science…Barton now has a lot of company.


– 50% deny the existence of manmade climate change
– 86% are opposed to any climate change legislation that increases government revenue

So on that side (the environment) we’re pretty much totally screwed.  We’ll go from a House that passed good legislation to deal with a major global issue (that died in the Senate) to a House that very well might hold hearings investigating “Al Gore’s global warming hoax”.

Add in some standard “Where’s mine? Screw yours!” hypocrisy and we’re almost there.

What one needs to further factor in is the huge shift in Governorships and state legislatures.   We just finished a census, so now it’s time to re-draw districts.  Hence the national referendum election will lead to more local craziness that continues to erode our national image, like the Arizona racial-profiling law, which many new Republican legislatures want to emulate (remember, fear of Mexicans is what many of them ran on, expec them to follow-through).

There was one interesting sidenote to the corporate sweep of the House that fell short in the Senate.   Rewind real quick if you will to the State of the Union address wherein President Obama warned that a recent Supreme Court decision rolling back corporate limits on campaign contributions would be bad for our democracy.  Justice Alito responded with a “not true”, and reality has responded with a “very, very freakin’ true.”

In 2008, 97% of contributions to campaigns could be tracked back to individuals.  In 2010, that number dropped to 32%.  In many races, huge, untraceable, outside money flooded the airwaves with attack ads.  In some cases this backfired, in most it didn’t. 

In cases with higher-profile nutjob candidates (i.e. all the Tea Party Senate races), all but one Sarah Palin-backed nutjob lost (O’Donnell, Angle, Miller, Whitman all losers, only Rand Paul !RAND PAUL! won, and, sad though it is to say, he’s actually an improvement over the guy he’s replacing, Jim Bunning).  

This seems to prove the case that in smaller races (most house races) you can run a nut with a bunch of money and do well, but in higher profile cases where the candidate is more widely and personally known, slinging anonymous mud at one’s opponent is less successful.

Mix in this huge influx in anonymous corporate money, the tide change in demographics (from young and hopeful to old and fearful (i.e. the “Tea Party”)), and an electorate that is still largely ignorant to what caused the current crisis and how, quite frankly, phenomenal the response from the current administation has been (for reals…read this glowing assessment from none other than Warren Buffet) and you have a recipe for bad things, man.

This is Buffet’s assessment of the team that just got their ass handed to them…

When the crisis struck, I felt you would understand the role you had to play. But you’ve never been known for speed, and in a meltdown minutes matter. I worried whether the barrage of shattering surprises would disorient you. You would have to improvise solutions on the run, stretch legal boundaries and avoid slowdowns, like Congressional hearings and studies. You would also need to get turf-conscious departments to work together in mounting your counterattack. The challenge was huge, and many people thought you were not up to it.

Well, Uncle Sam, you delivered. People will second-guess your specific decisions; you can always count on that. But just as there is a fog of war, there is a fog of panic — and, overall, your actions were remarkably effective.

I don’t know precisely how you orchestrated these. But I did have a pretty good seat as events unfolded, and I would like to commend a few of your troops. In the darkest of days, Ben Bernanke, Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner and Sheila Bair grasped the gravity of the situation and acted with courage and dispatch.

So we had a team doing good work in a bad situation largely replace with the team that set up the bad situation in the first place.  We now have the Party of 2% holding the other 98% hostage in order to get huge tax breaks for their 2%.   When the 2% run the country and the 98% are beholden to them…well…that just leads to bad things, man.

Bad things.

Which, BTW, is my final assessment on the 2010 election. 

We’ll see how the country does when the thing that has kept us alive in the midst of catastrophe [prompt and useful government intervention] is hamstrung by the very people it saved.

The “Torturer’s Tax Cuts” And Obama, Reid and Pelosi’a Big Mistake

…and in this next episode of, what has Robot Pirate Ninja been reading lately.

I know you’re excited to get right to this one, to let’s just start straight up with the biggest mistake Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Barack Obama made over the last two years.

Here’s the context…

Although it comes as no surprise, George Bush‘s straight admission that he personally authorised waterboarding – an act of torture and a crime under US and international law – marks a dismal moment for western democracies and the rule of law. When again will the US be able to direct others to meet their human rights standards? Certainly not before it takes steps to bring its own house in order.

Unlike the UK’s coalition government, which has announced a judicial inquiry on allegations of British involvement in torture, Barack Obama’s administration has apparently ended the practice but has done nothing to investigate the circumstances in which it was used by the Bush administration.

Bush claims that the use of waterboarding on Abu Zubaydah “saved lives”, including British ones. There is not a shred of evidence to support that claim, one that falls into the same category as the bogus intelligence relied on to justify war in Iraq.

Yes, we are all torturers now.  That middle paragraph quoted above highlight’s Obama/Pelosi/Reid’s major flaw in the political arena. 

They would do the good thing (in italics: ending the policy of torture)  but not do the really important thing (in bold: prosecuting the torturers to the fullest extent of the law)

The first year of Obama’s administration should have been all about putting Cheney and Bush in prison.  He made the same mistake Ford did, and gave a pocket-pardon to a self-avowed torturer.  The fact that Bush claims to have done it for “our safety” does nothing to assuage my guilt.  How many need to be tortured to keep us safe? 

Once one is a torturer, the degree to which ones tortures is a footnote.  Kinda like being a murderer.  You don’t get kudos for only murdering a few people, when you could have murdered millions.  Same goes for torture.

Anyway, I will probably now refer to George W. Bush as “The Torturer” for a long time now. 

There’s another thing that has come up in The Torturer’s book-tour-victory-lap and it allows me to highlight one of the major problems facing 21st century America.  I highlighted one the other day (i.e. we generally have no idea how wealth is distributed in this country and this is a bad thing, at least we used to think so).  Another is that we have wildly diverging ideas on what caused the latest economic crisis.   From a review of The Torturere’s interview with The Gasbag.

Which gave Limbaugh a chance to slam Barack Obama, who, he suggested, has been demeaning the presidency. “The current occupant [of the White House] constantly runs around saying, ‘I inherited this mess from you!'” Limbaugh exclaimed.

(Apparently, Rush is unaware — or unconcerned — that Obama was actually following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan by doing this, and that the Gipper spent the 1982 midterm campaign season blaming Jimmy Carter for the country’s economic woes. “Our critics are saying our economy is on its knees,” Reagan said at an ’82 campaign rally. “Well, you know something, if the economy is back on its knees, that’s quite an improvement because two years ago it was flat on its back.”)

What else did we learn from the interview? Well, apparently Bush and Rush are golfing buddies. “I hear that your handicap is getting better now that you’re married,” Bush kidded the host at one point. Also, both men agreed that the financial crisis was a result of “the Democrat Party” and its policies toward Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Bush insisted that stories about him privately taking shots at Sarah Palin are baseless.

It’s that part there that I bolded.  There is this recurring myth, perpetrated by Limbaugh and the RWEC that claims it was poor people, yes poor people, overstating their incomes to qualify for liar-loans, yes overstating, on speculative real-estate investments, who were forcing,  yes*forcing*, Wall Street to repackage these over-valued loans as grade-A investments and trade them like securities.   

Obviously the years of de-regulation that let this happen, the relaxation of capital requirements for i-banks that Bush pushed through in 2004, and the general greed and recklessness of an unleashed Wall Street had nothing to do with it, it was all the poor people’s fault (and the Democrats for forcing poor people to overstate their incomes in order to…you do realize, dear reader, that their theory about poor people causing this by overstating their incomes is a logical contradiction?   I just mention this because it has not yet occurred to Limbaugh, Bush and the rest their theory on why we just had a huge recession is complete bullshit.)

Here watch this animation.  It’s a complex world sometimes, but simple easy answers that feel good (in this case, “It’s the poor’s fault”) are almost always wrong.

BTW, The Torturer is pushing for his cuts to be extended, completing the “I am the most fiscally irresponsible President ever” tri-fecta.    It’s not quite fair to blame all our fiscal woes on Bush.  After all, it was Cheney who cast the deciding vote on cutting taxes while going to war. 

Bush is pushing for his tax cuts to be extended the same way he did everything in office, by lying by omission.

“Most new jobs are created by small businesses,” Bush said this morning on NBC’s Today show. “Many small businesses pay tax at the individual income tax level; therefore, if you raise the top rate, you’re taxing job creators.”

Can someone please explain to him that humans and businesses are not the same thing, even when loopholes in tax law allow them to appear so?  Thanks.    By his logic, we would, of course, have seen epic job growth over the last 10 years (we saw net 0 jobs gains during his term, the debt went up by $5,000,000,000,000 though) and we’d be fine.  Instead we saw huge debts, all the money flowing to the top of the pyramid, then to Wall Street, then fed into the fire of crisis and catastrophe.

But instead of acknowledgeing this record of torture and ruin, the guy is taking a freaking victory lap after voters were pissed his successor was black and didn’t fix all the problems he caused in under two years.

So that’s why I think it was Obama and Reid and Pelosi’a biggest mistake to not hold the Torturer accountable.  It would have distracted voters from the economic disaster that was the Bush Years while they were cleaning up, rather than have voters blame them for both the disaster and for cleaning it up (what!? why do we need a stimulus!?  why do we need a domestic car industry!?)

Finally, by holding accountable the guy who ordered Americans to torture people we might have salvaged a bit of our national soul, as well. 

Oh well, maybe we can borrow enough money to buy a new, cheap one from the Chinese.

Another Day, Another Lie (re: Obama on Bush Tax Cuts)

I took a screenshot of this.   Note how the headlines from differing news organizations show the exact opposite information.

Ahh, but wait, it’s 2-1 for the lie.  Or is it….

Another Day, Another Lie

The point of lies like this one (again based on a paraphrase of an out-0f-context quote) is to help demoralize the base.  This one is particularly effective at it.

Many, many, folks want Obama to return the U.S. to some sort of fiscal sanity.  This includes returning tax rates back to where they were when the U.S. had full employment and a balanced budget (back before Bush).   Personally, I’m all for letting all the Bush tax cuts expire.  I don’t mind paying a couple extra percentage points to get us back on the right track.  Obama, the candidate, wants to keep the lower end cuts and get rid of the high end ones (for those that don’t know, the high-end cuts amount to about $100,000 per person of richest 1%, the lower-end folks (the other 99%) would be seeing about $1,700 per person).

Now a lot of these folks want Obama to fight for this.   So this story comes out about him capitulating without a fight, without any concessions, and essentially just rolling over and playing dead. 

This pisses off his supporters, weakening public support.

But the simple fact is that these headlines (ostensibly from two different sources, but actually the same one) REPORT FACTUALLY INCORRECT INFORMATION.

They are lies.   It is annoying to have to keep pointing this out, but…just…the blatant bullshit of it…the complete lack of anything resembling journalistic integrity or ethics…jeez.  Over the top.

And so it goes.

UPDATE: This Reddit thread points out where this crap started, and I agree with it wholeheartedly.   That site is crap, as it anyone who repeats their b.s. without verification (which is what my screen-capture highlighted).

UPDATE2:  This is why I’m happy to let them expire, rather than run up a huge debt to reward those who have already been rewarded (and are already spending like, well, like they have all the money again)

Much of the growth is coming from the wealthiest consumers, says Josh Chernoff, leader of business consulting firm Bain and Co.’s North American retail practice. Households earning more than $100,000 a year make up just 21% of households but are driving almost 40% of overall consumer spending, he says. That’s up from 34% of consumer spending in 2006. Retailers who cater to the affluent — higher-end department stores, luxury retailers and warehouse club stores — are doing the best “and we think we’ll see that trend continue through the end of the year,” Chernoff says.

Here’s the difference between the two parties’ plans.   This graph should be everywhere in the next couple months.  Obama should hold a press conference standing next to it.

The Difference In Tax Plans

The Short History of False Rumors and Those Who Believe Them

This little lie has been fun to watch worm it’s way around the world.  I’ve seen this happen before, and since I’m sure it will happen again, I’d like to point out exactly how this stuff happens, and what exactly it results in (well, we saw that last Tuesday, but I digress a wee bit early).

First up, the seed, in this case coming from an anonymous Indian government beauracrat

An Indian government source told the NDTV channel: ‘The huge amount of around $200 million would be spent on security, stay and other aspects of the Presidential visit.’

 That’s it.  That’s all it takes for one of these things to take off.   This is then reported as “news reports” in other stories…

President Obama’s trip to India will cost the U.S. $200m-a-day, it was reported today.

The visit – part of a 10-trip to Asia – will take place amid unprecedented levels of security in the city of Mumbai, where terrorists killed at least 173 people two years ago.

Then the story goes to Drudge, and the torrent is on.  Fox, of course, gets in on the action early.  They do this with the same “other people are saying” b.s. they use to introduce a lot of disinformation.

The details on the trip, extensively reported in the Indian media but strongly disputed by U.S. officials, read like lyrics for a hawkish version of “The 12 Days of Christmas.” 

The president will be accompanied by 40 aircraft, 3,000 people, a fleet of cars and 34 warships, according to a string of blow-by-blow news updates. The Press Trust of India quoted an official in the state of Maharashtra pegging the cost at $200 million a day. 

Read the full Fox story here.

The lie also gets play on their other TV networks.   At this point, it has now been reported as outrageous fact all over AM radio, News Corpse various networks, etc.  *AND* more importantly, the Secret Super-Patriot Warning System, also known as your crazy uncle/aunt/cousin forwarding emails fill with wild rumors and baseless rants by the thousands very night.  This is actually one of the biggest factors in spreading this kind of disinfo.

We know this story is making the email rounds because A) it is taylor-made for this kind of conspiracy nutjobbery and B) someone who gets a lot of her information from email forwards mentioned it publicly.

“Republican Paul Ryan has suggested sharp cuts in Medicare and Social Security. Are you willing to make cuts there?” Cooper asked. But [Michelle] Bachmann [R-MN] wasn’t initially interested in discussing Medicare and Social Security. Instead, she responded to Cooper by arguing about a much more pressing matter: the cost of President Obama’s upcoming trip to India.

“Well I think we know that just within a day or so the President of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day,” Bachmann said. “He’s taking two thousand people with him. He’ll be renting out over 870 rooms in India. And these are 5-star hotel rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. This is the kind of over-the-top spending, it’s a very small example, Anderson.”

But wait: $200 million a day? says that the $200 million figure, which has been picked up by right-wing blogs, is “probably false.” Snopes traced the rumor back to an anonymous Indian government official, quoted in a Press Trust of India article published on Tuesday. calls the claim “highly doubtful,” and points out that the entire war in Afghanistan currently costs about $190 million a day (h/t AJC).

So now the lie has made it halfway around the world before the truth can put its boots on.

Not only that, and I’ll get another post of this, but when asked what the cut from the budget, it’s crap like this the Republicans brings up.  They want to cut myths from the budget.  That’s the plan to balance it, make up crap and then cut it.

At this point the lie has become the “truth” and anyone who questions it is on the conspiracy.  In this part of the play, we have dupes like CNN coming in and “de-bunking.”

(CNN) — It’s a story that originated from a single, unnamed sourced in India — but it quickly gained momentum, spreading like wildfire among critics of the Obama administration in the United States and eventually, the airwaves.

The claim: The United States will be “spending a whopping $200 million per day” on President Barack Obama’s trip to Asia.

That’s roughly the amount the federal government spends each day on the war in Afghanistan. The figure has been dismissed by the White House as “wildly inflated.”

What’s more, the claim doesn’t appear to hold water.

There’s a couple standard response to this de-bunking.  First up is “Oh, it’s CNN they’ll say anything.” or, in this particular case, “They didn’t debunk it because they didn’t give the real number (which is assumed to be astronomical)”.    In this case that is difficult because spending on security is not something that is normally publicly divulged (quick sidenote:  Obama’s is the first administration *ever* to voluntarily release comprehensive spending figures on intelligence, they were quickly attacked for it.)

So on the one hand you have a wildly inflated figure (probably a mis-translation of rupees to dollars, $200M rupees is about $4.5M dollars, which sounds close to what similar trips have cost) and on the other hand you have the (Big Bad Evil) Government saying they can’t tell you the real number.

So the rumor keeps alive and, in fact, grows.    Note all those right-wing blogs and the echo chamber.  Less than 1% will ever post a retraction or clarification.  Those blogs get archived.  And then, two years later, we’ll hear this spending come up as a whisper campaign issue, like Obama being a Muslim, and being a Socialist and Obamacare raising the deficit, all rumors, all false, and all believed by the same group of people.

Luckily, after a pattern shows up, and keeps showing up, it can be studied.  Here it turns out that the results are not surprising, but it is good to know, precisely, how much bullshit your average Fox Viewer believes…

Those who rely on Fox News are more inclined to believe rumours, a study looking at the behavioral patterns of viewers of reports pertaining to the Ground Zero mosque in has concluded.
According to the study, a typical viewer who reported a low reliance on Fox News believed 0.9 rumors on average, while a similar respondent with a high reliance on Fox believed 1.5 rumors – an increase of 66 percent. On the contrary, people who relied heavily on CNN or NPR believed fewer false rumors. High reliance on CNN reduced the number of rumors believed by 23 percent, while heavy use of NPR reduced belief by 25 percent.

Read more:

You can also see, from the study, *why* it is that Fox viewers are so prone to believing in, and voting according to, rumors and lie.   It is not only their faith in a bad actor (Fox) but their hatred of less biased news sources like CNN and NPR, both of which have showed consistently and over time, to do a better job informing their viewers/readers of the real world  (which is why they are evil to the Fox afficianado, they are just like the older neighborhood kid who told you Santa Claus wasn’t real.  Fox News would never do that.)

So you can add one more lie/rumor to the big list of them.   This is how it happens.  I’m sure you’ll see it on comment boards and chain mails, rants and raves, and other racist rationalizations.  It’ll keep coming up.  

It’s a lie, a big one, and as last Tuesday proved, the Big Lie works.  You just have to keep saying it, over and over again.

Terrorists Kill Four in Texas with Biological Weapons

Here’s the news…

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Tests by federal health authorities have found listeria bacteria at a Texas food processing plant after state health officials linked four deaths to contaminated celery from the plant.

The Food and Drug Administration says results released Wednesday match testing by the Texas Department of State Health Services at the SanGar Produce & Processing Co. plant in San Antonio.

The tests found listeria bacteria in multiple locations in the plant.

I guess dying from food poisoning is 1000x less bad than dying from Terrorists, at least based on the reaction to the latest deaths caused by lax regulations and enforcement (or the “free market” as it is sometimes called).

BTW, that’s four more innocent Americans than Islamic terrorists killed this year.  Or Christian terrorists, for that matter.

If we don’t stop these vegetables now, it’s only a matter of time before Legume Law rules the nation.