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Sunday, October 28, 2012

BREAKING: NJ Gov Christie Cusses Out Hurricane Sandy at Press Conference


AOTL has obtained this audio from a confrontation between New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Hurricane Sandy. More as this story develops. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

And The Winner Is...

Sometimes it's good to take a break from commenting on the issues of the day. The 36 hour a day news cycle does enough of that, rehashing the same themes, many of them carelessly contrived, again and again and again to the point of saturation. From the first presidential debate until now, the main story has been "After losing the first debate, will Obama regain momentum?"

When it comes to real news on the matter, there was very little. As Maddow pointed out, it's common for the incumbent seeking reelection to flag in the first debate so Obama's "lackluster" (perfect word agreed upon by the talking heads) was not really news. It would have been news if Obama came out and kicked Romney's ass. 

Even since the primaries, (legitimate) news sources have held that this election would be very close. Now that the election is close, it's being treated as news. As far as the final outcome, it seems to me that most people have conceded for a while that Obama would pull out a victory. I put money on it a year ago. Ace prognosticator Nate Silver has consistently had an Obama win predicted at varying margins since, well, for a long enough time now to say with more than enough confidence that there is a trend. A successful Republican coup bred from desperate Republican trickery is not completely out of the question, but barring that, things are headed right where everyone expected. I must admit that Election Day will still be exciting. After all, it was exciting in 08 when an Obama victory was even more guaranteed. But gone is the organic electoral drama of the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. 

Also, with headlines referencing Romney's attempt at Obama's Ohio firewall, we know where all the attention really is. Plain and simple, a Romney loss of Ohio's electoral votes would make his victory extremely difficult. Ohio has consistently been polling blue as have the majority of states Romney would need to win in order to make up for the loss of Ohio. So if Romney continues to talk about the momentum he built coming out of the first debate, let it be known that he is is talking about a past phenomenon. 

But the real winner of this election season is the word "conflate," along with its many tenses and forms. An informal definition of the word would be to glom two things together into one or somehow relate them, e.g. "Romney himself was conflating the events in Cairo and Benghazi." The word has been bandied around so much lately I don't remember what word news people used before the popularization of "conflate."

"Conflate" goes down with other words that burst on to the scene during a political season like "gravitas" which was a biggey during the 2004 elections. "Game change" (two words, I know) was something McCain needed twice during the 2008 election, first, after his initial lagging in the polls during the primaries and then after his lagging in the polls heading into the conventions in 2008. It's now the title of a book about the candidacy of Sarah Palin and its companion Emmy-winning HBO movie. Take that, conflate!


Monday, October 1, 2012

And Now, the Comedy Stylings of Mitt "yuk yuk" Romney

According to the New York Times, the Romney campaign has been preparing to create memorable debate moments with rehearsed zingers and one-liners from Romney. Oh boy. The man in Costco shirts has some ground to make up and has shown a penchant for jocularity, which is often marred by his nervous laughter. But the right zinger can live on forever, being trotted out like Christmas decorations every four years during presidential debate season. Among the favorites we still see are veep candidate Lloyd Bentsen telling Dan Quayle "You are no Jack Kennedy." ZINNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGG. And then Quayle became vice president. So even if Mitt Romney doesn't win, with the right one-liner, we can look forward to seeing him being trotted out twenty years from now on a video that'll make us say "look at that 2012 hair."

Zingers in a debate are not something that you presell. They're supposed to seem spontaneous. The danger of hyping your zingers is that expectations get set high and when they come, everyone is sure to be disappointed. The only way not to disappoint is by being super-inappropriate which can be a game-changer, but not in any good way. But now Mitt has to deliver because if he doesn't, it will be the first of his campaign promises to be broken. 


Welfare = Race Baiting: Not a Conspiracy Theory



In my previous post I was pretty tough on the old GOP - tough but fair. I introduced the term chalkboardism for their propensity to desperately throw around untrue notions and conspiracy theories ala Glenn Beck in attempts to vanquish their Democratic foes. It made me wonder what someone in Tank Tea Bag would consider a left-wing conspiracy theory. Just being honest, they would consider anything they didn't want to believe a conspiracy theory because they create their own truths, but I did think of one issue in particular - the use of welfare as racial code.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the Romney campaign has ceased on a lie that Barack Obama has dropped the welfare requirement. Critics like me say that using welfare in cases like this is used to incite a certain segment of white America. Republicans deny this of course. They think they have their tracks covered. They challenge "how can it be about race when no one says anything about race." Oooo. Very tricky. Very tricky indeed. 

Well, it would be tricky except some racists just can't keep their mouths shut. Again, I refer to a previous AOTL post. In it I chronicle some Tea Party shenanigans including a Tea Party gathering in Arkansas at which the host opened with this joke (audio only). Did you click on the link and listen? Well if you didn't, here it is: 

"A black kid asks his mom, 'Mama, What's a democracy?'
"'Well son, that be when white folks work every day so us po' folks can get all our benefits.'
"'But mama, don't the white folk get mad about that?'
"'They sho' do, son. The sho' do. And that's called racism.'"

In all fairness, while the "comedienne" who delivered the joke resigned from her Tea Party group, there were plenty of people in the crowd who were comfortable with the joke as evidenced by the applause. And if you think that these attendees were the only people in America who instinctively correlate welfare with blacks, then the burden of proof is on you. It doesn't take calculus to figure out that there are people like that all over America, most of whom give white people on welfare a pass as evidenced by the fact that the joke was specifically about a BLACK family on welfare. Maybe AOTL should offer a bounty for a recording of any Tea Party group that kicks off with a joke about WHITE people on welfare. I'm guessing they don't think those are as funny. 

Those people in the room who clapped and laughed at that joke and the people like them are the lynchpin (pun intended) of the narrow coalition Romney needs to turn out and vote for him.You would have to be a real brand new type of dumbass to think that Mitt Romney and his campaign are not aware that these people with the racial raw nerve exist. Aside from blacks on welfare, these same people probably get just as ireful at the thought of private equity firms coming in and busting up their factories for scrap metal, but Obama beat Romney to the punch with that commercial bent. 



Word of the Day: Chalkboardism


- Obama is working behind the scenes to raise gas prices (Mitch McConnell)
- Hillary Clinton's staff includes infiltrators of the Muslim Brotherhood (Michele Bachmann)
- There is reason to believe that Barack Obama was born in Kenya (Donald Trump)
- Fast and Furious was an operation created to increase support for gun control (Darrell Issa)
- Obama's Kenyan anti-colonial father is a predictive model for Obama's rage (Newt Gingrich)
- 78-81 Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives are members of the Communist party (Allen West)
- Barack Obama is attempting to eliminate the Second Amendment (Wayne LaPierre)
- Barack Obama has removed the work requirement from welfare to get support from his base (Mitt Romney)
- 47% of Americans don't take responsibility for their own lives (Mitt Romney)
- There is a conspiracy among pollsters to skew polls for Obama and against Romney (Dick Morris)

Above is a collection of lies and conspiracy theories that have been espoused by high-profile Republican party affiliates over the past year or two. The support for these lies are not limited to the single attribute following the lies, for example, Sean Hannity has plenty of Republican company in believing that global warming is a hoax. While Gingrich is probably more famous for talking up the “predictive model” on Obama’s rage, that idea originated in the writings of right-wing kook Dinesh D’souza. Several Republicans including RNC chair Reince Priebus have backed up the claims that Obama has dropped the work requirement from welfare to shore up his base.

Why do they lie? Followers of AOTL have seen all of the reasons drawn out in previous posts, but here they are again.

As I have repeated before, the GOP is the control freak party. For the most part they have an infantile belief in an American Garden of Eden where God created Republicans who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and who fought the Revolutionary War. It explains their "we were here first and all this stuff is ours" attitude. As part of this fantasy, even Republican elected officials take as their priority, not governing, but beating Democrats (per Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “our number one priority is defeating Barack Obama”). 

Republicans therefore believe that everything they do is in the name of the Founding Fathers and the Constitution so lying in the name of victory is completely justified “under God, with liberty and justice for all.” It's about attempting to control the debate. As most climate change deniers see it, if Republicans concede that global warming exists then they are giving CONTROL of the dialog to the Democrats. By the same logic, if you make up lies or conspiracy theories about Barack Obama being born in Kenya, it THEORETICALLY weakens Obama's leadership position which, in the end is a good thing for America, so they think. Their hope is that more and more stooges will repeat this nonsense in hopes of it reaching a tipping point.

This was the basis for Glenn Beck's chalkboard and the mumbo jumbo he threw upon it like “communism” and “liberation theocracy” hoping some of it would stick. For this reason I will (derisively) call  this conspiracy theory approach to politics CHALKBOARDISM. Of course, you don’t have to be Glenn Beck to engage in chalkboardism. You only have to be as nefarious in your intentions. But it’s not like leaders in the Republican party had a get-together like a bunch of girls at a sleepover where they said “we hate Obama, so much because he’s so stupid and we should do stuff to destroy him like lie about him all the time” or did they?

There are varying degrees to which the chalkboardisms are effective. In most cases it only serves to self-satisfy since the mischaracterizations tend to spread only among those who are already in the Tea Bag tank. No one else absorbs it, and this is not giving credit to people for having good discretion for the things they choose to believe. It is a criticism of how little attention people pay to what is being said. But when the quality of the debate comes down to speed falsification, is it worth a public that pays attention? This goody-two-shoes would argue yes because if people paid attention, Rick Santorum would not be able to get away with much of the things he says and he shouldn't.

The most critical of the recent Republican lies was the Romney claim that Obama dropped the welfare requirement to appease his base. This was not just a throw-out line to see who would lick it up. This was the basis for an ad Romney ran. With every other demographic lined up in the Obama column, Romney has needed to assure a healthy turnout of white working class voters, thus the welfare ad. The gist of that spot is that while white people are hard at work, black people are laying on their ass sucking up tax dollars and those white workers should be angry enough to vote for Mitt Romney who is going to make it better (if you think this is a left-wing conspiracy theory please see my next post). Romney can deny any racial undertones in the ad because he doesn’t mention race, but the ad is effective at arousing antisocial sentiments nevertheless. It’s a lie to stir racial resentment and it’s immoral. Romney approved that message.

The optimist in me hopes that the Republican pattern of mendacity is so obvious that everyone sees it, but if I really had faith in my optimistic side I wouldn’t be writing this. What would be the point of calling out something everybody knows. Even as I (optimistically) intend to inform, it brings up one consistent mechanism that mitigates the foul behavior from the right. If I’ve heard it once I’ve heard it a thousand times: “Both sides do it.” Those words right there are the call of the obliviati, people who don’t pay attention, but still want to be fair. Part of what makes them oblivious is the fact that in order to be fair you have to know the facts. If you’re on a jury, you can’t get up before the trial and claim that the defendant AND the prosecution are both guilty and then call it a day. Anyone who says “it’s both sides” without putting up any real and comparable facts is doing as much a disservice to the national discourse as the liars themselves.

While talking politics with my good friend Ray three weeks ago he asked why it was we couldn’t have an honest debate anymore in this country. I responded “You can’t have an honest debate when one side refuses to be honest.” Then I repeated it. Then I typed it as a memo on my phone. Three weeks later I’m finally writing this post. Granted this wasn’t a rush job, I was so determined to finally get this finished that I sent a friend (not Ray) away when he showed up at my door with a case of beer earlier today. But that’s another story altogether.


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