Monthly Archives: April 2011

Oh my god! Birtherism has gone completely mainstream!

Still, in the USA TODAY poll, only 38% of Americans say Obama definitely was born in the USA, and 18% say he probably was. Fifteen percent say he probably was born in another country, and 9% say he definitely was born elsewhere.

Republicans are inclined to say the president was born abroad by 43%-35%.

via Poll: What kind of president would Donald Trump make? –

Wait, what’s this? Oh, there’s more text here.

For what it’s worth, not everyone is convinced Trump was born in the USA either: 43% say he definitely was born here, and 20% say he probably was; 7% say he definitely or probably was born in another country. Nearly three in 10 say they don’t know enough to say.

Donald Trump was born in Queens. This is not and has never been disputed, yet only 7% more of the sample believes he was born in this country than believes the same about Obama after 3 straight years of the issue being out there. The correct conclusion is not that birtherism is mainstream, but that we shouldn’t pay attention to fucking idiots.

…and by the by, a poll that says x% of Americans think something is not even remotely the same thing as a poll that says x% of likely voters feel that way. It’s worthless all around.


This exchange between Obama and Stephanopolous is definitely an example of talking to people like adults, but I’m not so sure the “I blatantly played politics on this issue in the past, therefore I can tell that’s what the Republicans are doing in the present” approach is something people will be willing or able to follow. This is definitely a coordinated strategy, as we have Harry Reid saying the same thing to ABC about his own vote. They’re absolutely telling the truth, but it remains to be seen whether that old saw can be flipped around into an absolute offense.

Also, I’d point out that both of these articles are blatantly one-sided. Harry Reid and Barack Obama say that their votes in 2006 were flatly political, but what do Some People say on the subject? Where does ABC get off ramming this claim that Obama and Reid said something down my throat? Reasonable people can disagree. Opinions differ. Equal time for both sides.


Update update: I don’t want to step too much on the administration’s selling point, but progressives upset by the claim that there are three dollars of spending cuts for every dollar of tax increases should be aware that there’s a bit of creative labeling going on. As I understand it, they’re counting both interest savings and reductions in “tax expenditures” — subsidies through the tax code — as spending cuts. It’s a much more balanced plan if you look at the balance between revenue increases and non-interest outlays.

via The Budget Speech –



Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The speech has three sections, with the end being an appeal to comity and shared sacrifice and the beginning a balancing act where he juggles American exceptionalism and an uncomfortable degree of “we screwed up and if we don’t change course the debt will eat our children” pro-austerity framing. In the middle you have the policy details, which start halfway down page 5, after he shits all over the Ryan plan in order to put his own ideas in context.

What I’m concerned with here are the claims that’re at least halfway measurable, verifiable, etc. Kind’ve hard to decide exactly where to draw the line; when he says he won’t allow Medicare to become a voucher program, that’s impossible to misinterpret. “We will invest in new roads and airports and broadband access,” is less clear but we can at least watch for these things to happen. On the other hand, rhetorical ornamentation like “I will preserve these health care programs as a promise we make to each other in this society” could mean almost anything. Paul Ryan wants to turn Medicare into a promise that old people will fuck off and die, for instance.

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David Koch (artist's interpretation)

And by kind’ve I mean that this wildly exceeded any expectations — and frankly any hopes — that I had for pushback against conservative frames. From the speech . given today by President O-Face:

The fourth step in our approach is to reduce spending in the tax code, so-called tax expenditures. … [T]he tax code is also loaded up with spending on things like itemized deductions. … I believe reform should … build on the fiscal commission’s model of reducing tax expenditures[.] … [My proposal] calls for tax reform to cut about $1 trillion in tax expenditures—spending in the tax code.

Remains to be seen if this can be made to stick — it sure doesn’t help that there’s a pre-packaged “Obama was for tax expenditures before he was against them” argument here for the GOP, but the end of last year was … fuck, at least a week ago, so we can probably count on our collective societal ADD to take most of the edge off that one. Also, let’s be honest: it’s not particularly hard to frame tax expenditures for “just folks” as different, better, and more wholesome than tax expenditures for the monocles-tophats-and-fangs crowd.

I’ve been scared lately, and I’ve been shitting on the President pretty hard as a result. (Mostly in private, as you can see from the copious amount of work I’ve been putting in over here.) Credit where it’s due: this is encouraging.

Can’t think of clever title, but it seems to me the takeaway here is that Justin Bieber’s handlers are more politically savvy than (what we’re expected to believe about) Obama’s.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has canceled his date with pop sensation Justin Bieber over the singer’s refusal to meet with children living in communities affected by Gaza rocket fire, Channel Two reported on Tuesday.

The prime minister was scheduled to host the young singer at his office in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening, before Bieber’s Thursday night concert.

Taking advantage of the PR opportunity presented by the meeting with Bieber, Netanyahu’s advisers invited a group of children from communities near the Gaza border to attend.

The children had disembarked from a school bus just before it was hit by a Hamas rocket last Thursday, critically wounded a teen and moderately wounding the bus driver.

Bieber reportedly refused to meet the children, which led Netanyahu to cancel the meeting.

via Netanyahu cancels Bieber date over refusal to meet kids affected by Gaza rockets – Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News.


Translation: surprisingly-savvy pop star refuses to be railroaded into becoming de-facto proponent of Israeli government policy.

…but I’m sure the part where they didn’t invite the kids until after Bieber’s visit was announced publicly was just an honest mistake.