Why the death of bin Laden matters — and why it doesn’t

I heard commentary earlier today, on our local DC news radio station, that bin Laden really didn't matter anymore from an operational standpoint for al Qaeda.  The fact that his compound didn't have modern communications, this analyst said, demonstrated he wasn't really in charge, and was only a "spiritual leader."

I disagree with this analysis.  Bin Laden had not, in fact, employed advanced communications since the mid- to late-1990's, after he discovered NSA was tracking his communications and whereabouts thanks to his use of satellite phones.  Yet, he signed off on and played a pivotal leadership role in planning and training for 9/11, from tents and caves in Afghanistan.

If anything, I think bin Laden's living conditions demonstrate that, far from being hunkered down, too fearful, bombarded and cut off to have involvement in al Qaeda's operations, he was in fact living in comfort and likely continued to serve a pivotal and active role in that organization.

So, in my opinion, the death of bin Laden will serve as more than a "feel-good moment" for the Western world.  It is a critical and damaging blow to al Qaeda.

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Obama Releases Original Birth Certificate. Now STFU and Create JOBS GOP!

Here you go….

Barack-Obamas-long-form-b-001

Now, GOP, fix the goddamn economy. Assholes. 

Learning the Right Lessons From the Budget Battle

In reading leftie blogs and watching my Twitter feed over the weekend, I’m afraid a lot of progressives are taking the wrong lessons away from the first stage of the budget battle in Washington this year. 

The issue isn’t that so many useful programs were cut and that the GOP are bastards. If you didn’t know the GOP are bastards going in, turn in your membership card.  We should already KNOW that when the denizens of the current incarnation of the GOP get into office, they will screw the poor and anyone else they can, in order to funnel money to their rich benefactors. That is not a shocker.  What’s shocking is that we keep letting them do it.

And that’s the issue. In a nutshell, what you should be learning from this budget fiasco is that allowing the current incarnation of the Republican Party to hold office right now is a very dangerous thing. And we should be looking at the only solution available to us at the moment; electing more Democrats.

Yeah, I know the drill; a lot of Democrats are “too conservative.” Those “Blue Dogs” screw up everything.  And if I hear “Obama doesn’t fight enough” one more time, I think I’ll scream.

What the hell do you expect from him? Do you expect him to go on TV and call Republicans ugly and insult their mothers? He's the President of the United States, for Chrissakes. 

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Obama’s Created More jobs in Two years Than Bush Did in Eight

On April 1, I Tweeted the following statement, and it was not a joke:

More jobs created under Obama in 2 years than were created in eight under Bush.

When I made the initial statement last Friday, some silly person (by the tone of the messages, I suspect this was a male, but I could be wrong) who claimed expertise on the subject because his anonymous handle included the word “math” immediately jumped on it and threw up some numbers of his own. Here’s his reply:

137M employed when Bush took office, 142M when he left. We're now at 139M. Where's your math?

He kept on me, even after I explained that it was pretty much impossible to cite “my math” in 140 characters or less. Seriously, some folks think they can “prove” their statements simply by declaring them true in less than 140 characters. He claims he was getting his numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and his simplistic answer was actually stunning. His claim of 142 million employed? He got that from the January 2009 report, which indeed lists the total number of employed individuals as 142 million.I give him a little credit for at least blaming Bush for January. Many folks basically use the December number as the cutoff. 

But he’s looking at the wrong number, anyway. The number to look at is “non-farm payroll.” That is the number the BLS uses. When they claim the economy grew by 216,000 jobs in March, they’re using non-farm payroll numbers, not the total number of employed. 

But regardless of which numbers he cites, he’s still wrong, because he doesn't understand what I said. The first mistake he makes is his false assumption regarding time. I said “in 2 years,” not “since January 20, 2009.” I also don’t use BLS raw (easy) numbers as my sole source, because they don't tell the whole story. But just for the hell of it, let’s start off with BLS numbers. I refuse to cite numbers beginning with February 2001 and ending with February 2009, though, because presidents aren’t magicians. They don’t take office and immediately influence job creation. I think a more accurate measure is to use fiscal years, especially since the stimulus, passed by Democrats with ZERO Republican support, didn’t become law until April 1, 2009, and nothing but the tax cuts actually took effect then, anyway. The first stimulus money started being distributed in June.  But since I’m being fair, I’m not going to give Bush credit/blame for the first months of his administration, either. I was going to use the beginning of each fiscal year as a comparison, but then I realized that October 2001 was right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which might be unfair to Bush. We’re not talking about his incompetence with regard to security, but rather his incompetence with the economy. So, I’m going to go with July 2001. That works, because the numbers aren’t influenced by 9/11, and July 2009 is about when the stimulus money started reaching its recipients. I would also note that most economists agree that the Bush Recession ended in June 2009, so July seems like a relatively fair beginning and ending period.

In the July 2001 report, the total nonfarm payroll was 132.4 million. Eight years later, in the July 2009 report, it was 131.4 million. So, even without giving Bush credit for the rest of the fiscal year, the net loss of jobs under Bush in eight years was over 1 million, even just using raw BLS numbers. The number in the March 2011 report, which was just issued last Friday, is 130.7 million. I know what you’re thinking; it’s still a negative, right?

Wrong. First, I’ll remind you, I’m using the July numbers as a courtesy to Bush. But you can’t simply use raw BLS numbers and compare one month to another month, because it doesn’t tell the whole story. That brings up the second false assumption my critic makes. I spoke of “the number of jobs created,” not the net jobs gained. There is a difference.The fact that some folks can’t read basic English, or insist on jerking their knee when they’ve been told something they don’t believe, doesn’t make me wrong. Even using the pure raw numbers, Bush shows a net loss of 1 million, and Obama’s shows a net loss of 700,000, and that number is shrinking rapidly, and will probably be in the positive territory by early summer. So, even using the simple-minded math this guy seems to prefer, I’m still correct. But there’s more.

See, at no point in Bush’s eight years could it be said that the economy added a net of more than 4 million jobs, even using just the BLS raw numbers. At one point, at the height of the bubble economy, there were 135.3 million non-farm employees, which means in the last two years of the Bush fiasco, the economy overall LOST 5 million jobs. If I wanted to be a real prick, I could point to just private sector employment. If I did that, then the economy lost 7 million jobs during the last two years of the Bush era. In fact, though, it was the public sector jobs that Obama created and/or saved with the initial part of the stimulus package that prevented us from hurtling toward 15% unemployment, and which set the stage for a boom in private sector jobs. At the time, some local districts were looking at laying off half their teachers, as well as lots of police officers and firefighters, until the stimulus bailed them out. If you don’t think that had an overall positive effect on private sector jobs, than you must be a Right Winger. Those teachers, police and firefighters spend a lot of money in the economy. That’s why it’s just too simplistic to simply add and subtract one number from another and declare "well, that's the truth. Period."

Obama deserves credit for the jobs the stimulus created, even as the rest of the economy was shedding others. For example, according to most economists NOT hired by the Fox News Channel, the stimulus package alone was responsible for 2.5-3 million jobs. In addition to the teachers, police and firefighters who got to keep their jobs, it’s estimated that the Cash for Clunkers resulted in nearly 500,000 jobs. The fact that many of those jobs were offset by the continued loss of jobs in other areas of the economy caused by the Bush recession does not change that fact. 

If I use annual figures, the only positive Bush years were 2004, 2005, 2006 and (barely) 2007.  And 2006 and 2007 were only positive because he was having the Fed print money in the hope that he could hide the mortgage meltdown that actually started in late 2005 (and which I predicted on my old blog back in 2003). That means half of his Administration found the economy in the shitter. Using just numbers from FY 2010 and FY 2011 so far, Obama beats that track record by a mile, even if you subtract temporary census workers from the mix. In fact, when you remove the census workers from the mix altogether, Obama has seen 13 straight months of positive job growth; a record Bush didn’t accomplish until September 2004. Between March 2010 and March 2011, the private sector has seen its first positive annual job growth in more than four years, adding nearly 3 million jobs, all told. If Obama had continued doing the same things Bush was doing in the last year of his presidency, we would have lost 2.5-3 million jobs more than we did, and most economists estimate that the unemployment rate would have ended up north of 15%.

But Obama and the Democrats acted fast, and they stopped the bleeding. (Yes, I know; in a perfect world, the stimulus should have been larger.) He has also turned the economy into a job producer again. It’s not enough to just count the number of jobs that were created; it’s also necessary to count jobs that weren’t lost. I will grant you, the overall job numbers still look anemic, but the fact that nearly 3 million jobs have been created in the private sector over the past year alone points to major progress. Companies are making more profit than ever, and they have begun hiring again. I’m still feeling a little wary, especially with the GOP bozos who are in charge of the House, but the positive growth should start feeding itself as the employment picture catches up to the economy. And the 3 million private sector jobs created in the last year, combined with the 2.5-3 million jobs created with the stimulus package put him up near Bill Clinton in job creation territory, even though he’s just started his third year.

Once again, George Bush’s record on jobs was an overall negative, when you look at his record honestly. The effects of the Bush recession didn’t magically end on January 20, 2009. As you can see if you look at the actual numbers, job numbers bottomed out in late 2009, just as the stimulus was taking effect, and they have been showing a positive trend since. When you add in the jobs that were proven to have been created by the stimulus package, there is no doubt that Obama’s job creation numbers are better in the last two years than Bush’s were in eight years. Every job created under Bush disappeared, while the jobs created during the Obama era seem to be here to stay. He’s created new jobs and new industries that promise enormous growth in the future, so that record will get even better.

Like I said:

More jobs created under Obama in 2 years than were created in eight under Bush.

Just Call Republicans The Party of Fiscal Irresponsibility

Let's talk about “fiscal responsibility,” shall we?

Republicans love to use that term, don’t they? They became the “Party of No”™ by whining and complaining about the deficit pretty much every day, and using that as a rationale for trying to kill everything.  Suddenly, they are so incredibly worried about the huge debt our kids will be left with; it’s almost touching, unless you consider the incredible hypocrisy involved. 

You see, more than 90% of the current level of national debt was laid there by Republicans. They can seek to blame others for it, but the bottom line is, the only reason there should be concerned about the deficit now is because of the foundation the Republicans have laid at our feet. Their concern about our children and grandchildren might be touching, except for the fact that Republicans have already stuck them with higher taxes than would otherwise be necessary, had they not been fiscally irresponsible for the better part of a generation.

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The Real Reason for Higher Gas Prices.

Watch this video and learn something, kiddies.  He is absolutely right. Think about it. There is no shortage, and Libya and Egypt are not major oil powers. In fact, OPEC has already agreed to cover missing Libyan oil production. You're paying more for gas, and you're watching food prices rise, precisely because no one is watching the store. While Republicans were in charge, they robbed the store. Now that Republicans have retaken the House, and there is little chance of intervention, they're robbing us again. 

 

Breitbart Protege O’Keefe Has a New Video; NPR Execs Portray Teabaggers Truthfully

James O’Keefe is back, apparently. And even after all of his legal troubles, he still doesn’t understand the concept of a “sting.”

James, buddy; a “sting” is where you put someone in a position where they commit some sort of illegal act, or act in a way that undermines their credibility. This video makes me want to double my donation to NPR. I just heard that Vivian Schiller has resigned, and Ron Schiller was forced out earlier than planned over this. Why the hell does anyone pay any attention to anything O'Keefe does? For Chrissakes, folks; why isn't anyone asking to see the unedited video, at the very least? 

Seriously, getting two NPR execs to tell you how they honestly feel about racist elements in the Tea Party isn’t really much of a “get.” And I’m sorry, but just WTF are “citizen journalists”? All journalists are “citizens” of their respective countries. If you mean, “two journalists with no credentials," then just say it. 

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Shocker: Proving CNBC Economic Analysis Wrong: SS, Medicare, Unemployment NOT “Hand Outs.”

Seriously, folks; before you believe anything you read from any source, check on it, especially when it’s offered up as an opinion piece. Don’t just believe it because it comes from what seems to be a reliable source. If the information doesn’t seem to make sense, it probably isn’t correct.

This is one such case; an article by John Melloy, who is Executive Producer of Fast Money on CNBC, and the article is on the CNBC web site. The article is complete and utter bullshit, beginning with the headline:

Welfare State: Handouts Make Up One-Third of U.S. Wages

As you could probably guess, this article has been re-published on a number of right wing sites, and it has been Tweeted by several right wingers, including some who probably know better. Their followers, however, do not, which is what they count on. The headline is complete crap for two reasons. Government entitlement payments are NOT INCLUDED in wage and salary calculations. They are two separate numbers that actually have no relation to one another. Therefore, the phrase “make up” is, well, made up. And that makes the basic premise false.

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Cutting More Right Wing Crap: Right Boob Annie Coulter on Unions

What is with the right wing’s obsession with making a differentiation between “private” employees and public ones, and using that as a rationale for the union busting the Republican Party is engaging in at the moment? Yes, in theory, public employees unions shouldn’t work. How can people essentially “collectively bargain” with themselves, right? Oh, wait; the right wing also differentiates between “public employees” and “taxpayers,” as if one isn’t a subset of the other. 

Unfortunately for Republicans, we figured out a way to unionize public employees, and the meme that collective bargaining just doesn’t work has been proven wrong. 

Besides, their arguments on this are disingenuous, at best. Republicans hadn’t been key in trying to bust “private” unions for the last half century or so. But probably not, because the idea is asinine. The latest to peddle this crap is Little Annie Coulter. I’ll leave out the invective, which takes up most of her article (Annie, Honey; Wisconsin students have some of the best test scores in the country, and the fourth-highest graduation rate in the country. Just sayin’…) Let’s get to her “logic” on univast majority of statesons.

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Coming After Breitbart and the RW Fart Machine a Lie at a Time

It has become my quest to honor the title of this blog by simply revealing the bullshit perpetrated by the Right Wing Fart Machine. My Twitter feeds are full of RW bullshit, and I’m getting sick of it going without a response. I will take a bunch of these concepts and reveal the truth behind the bullshit. The concentration will be on the bullshit moreso than the people peddling it.

Case in point; Andrew Breitbart (again) is trying to push his Pigford lies and trying to smear the teachers in Wisconsin who are trying to keep their right to bargain with their employer. (Just as an aside, I am NOT going to help this asshole’s cause by providing links. If you want to find him, Google the exact quotes.)

I’ll start with the union busting in Wisconsin. His blog contains two interesting items on this.

Over the weekend, on Twitter and all over his blog, he kept pushing this idea that the doctors who were giving out “doctor’s notes” were somehow violating some unstated “ethical rules” in doing so. (He’s not alone, Michelle Malkin and pretty much everyone at Fox News was doing the same.)

The very concept is absurd.

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