Interestingly, if you ignore the political aspects and instead read the Census Bureau’s actual report, you will find that the contention that (a) median income fell under Bush; (b) poverty rose under Bush is mostly a product of the bookends chosen. Both statistics spiked very strongly at the end of Clinton’s reign, owing to the tech bubble, which makes Bush’s years look worse than they actually were.

Long-term, Bush was a wash. Things didn’t get any worse. But they also didn’t get any better. That’s hardly a record to boast about but hardly the worst in history either.

The Ragged Edge

Look, comparing any American President to Hitler is beyond stupid; it’s ridiculously offensive. But when I see signs like this, I have to wonder what percentage of the protestors are saying such things. The media and the Left have a tendency to find the most stupid and extreme representative and claim they are part of the whole. But my Dad was part of today’s protests; he was going up with about a thousand other doctors to talk to Congressmen and explain the problems they have with the healthcare bill. Why does that get zero press and the Hitler-sign-toting fucktards get plenty?

Because it fits a narrative, that’s why.

Matt Welch has a much fairer take here. Interestingly, the protestors are very anti-Bush as well as anti-Obama.

Prez Talks to Kids

I have little to add to the controversy over Obama’s school speech, other than noting something you already knew:

The controversy over President Obama’s speech to the nation’s schoolchildren will likely be over shortly after Obama speaks today at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. But when President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar speech on October 1, 1991, from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington DC, the controversy was just beginning. Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush’s speech — they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue.

Unlike the Obama speech, in 1991 most of the controversy came after, not before, the president’s school appearance. The day after Bush spoke, the Washington Post published a front-page story suggesting the speech was carefully staged for the president’s political benefit. “The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props,” the Post reported.

In the GOP’s and others defense, what they objected to wasn’t so much the speech but the creepifying instructions from the Administration for kids to figure out how they could support the President. I thought the reaction was overblown. But I also thought — for the political pundits, at least — it was cynical.

I don’t like the “Cult of the Presidency” aspects of the speech. I have, for some time, been concerned about the image of the President as the Great Moral Leader Of The Nation. But even before I saw the fairly innocuous speech, I thought wasn’t worth the fury it engendered.

So why did it become a big deal? Mainly because of people like Michele Malkin and Rush Limbaugh, who seem to thrive on stoking hysteria. I can’t even listen to Rush Limbaugh anymore, he has become such a caricature of himself. He has fallen from the towering figure of he 90’s, who responded to Clinton and the Democrats with reason, logic and fact — to a right-wing parody who peddles in paranoia and hysterical over-reaction. It’s not enough to oppose Obama, anymore. You have to think he’s evil. And that attitude has trickled down to more and more of conservative base.

It’s enough to make me want to stop blogging. I tire of getting flamed anytime I say anything remotely nice about Obama or obliquely critical of the Right.

I think Friedersdorf says it best:

Unlike some in the media, I don’t regard the grassroots on the right as uniquely insane. I’ve done enough reporting at that level to know that most Americans on the right and left are reasonable people acting in good faith. The right’s fringe problem at this moment in time is one that elites have created as much as any crazy fringe righty. Outfits like Fox News, people like Glenn Beck, talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh — these outfits deliberately play on the worst impulses of the conservative base, stoking their paranoia and misleading them about reality, all for the sake of bigger audiences and greater revenues. That ought to outrage anyone who actually respects the grassroots, and has their best interests at heart.

I am growing increasingly tired of smug lefties informing me that crazy racist hysteria has always been the heart of conservatism — it’s just coming out now. This is just false. I know these people; I’ve lived with these people; I’ve worked with these people; I’ve campaigned with these people. They are not racists or lunatics or hysterics. But they are being fed a constant stream of paranoia-stoking bullshit from a relentless and cynical Right Wing Echosphere.

The good news is that this too will pass. The problem with the fear-stoking rants of Glenn Beck et al. is that it will exhaust itself. Anger and fear are not sustainable and never have been. Eventually, people will tire of having their emotions toyed with. And when that happens, the rating/pageviews of the RWE will collapse and the reasonable Right will re-emerge.

It. Begins.

College football is back. Time for the annual BCS complaint. Yes, you, Mr. Easterbrook?

Because college football is commencing, it’s time for TMQ’s annual check of cupcake schedules. The two phoniest aspects of football-factory existence — playing more games at home than on the road, and appearing at home against schools that are perennial losers or from lower divisions — both are on display in 2009.

Notre Dame plays eight games at home, four on the road, and opens at home against Nevada, which last season lost 69-17 at Missouri. (All Division I-A and Division I-AA schedules can be found here.) Auburn has eight games at home and four away, and plays its first four at home. Auburn fearlessly faces, at home, Division I-AA Furman, which last year lost to Elon. Forget conferences; do you even know what state Elon is in? Tennessee has eight games at home and four away, and the home dates include meetings against Western Kentucky (2-10 last season, and the sole team beaten by 1-11 North Texas) and the Ohio Bobcats. Actually, the Bobcats may be a tougher opponent at this point than the Oakland Raiders.

Penn State gets the award for the weakest schedule, of course.

To me, this is a bigger problem than the unfairness of selecting the two best teams for the national championship. At worst, you can argue that the BCS system does not necessarily select the two best of several deserving teams. Or you can argue, as I do, that there is no real way of knowing who among the top ten is the “best” team and a playoff among conference champions (and only conference champions) is the only way that’s really fair.

But the cupcake schedules are a direct attempt to get undeserving teams into the championship game. Because the BCS will almost always go with an undefeated team with a laughable schedule over a 1- or 2-loss team with a real schedule.

College football fans lose because of this. A few years ago, I was living in Austin when the Longhorns made their run for the title. That year, they played Ohio State during the regular season. It was a monster game and the buildup was electric. The excitement and tension were palpable. That’s what the college football season should be like — not “oh yeah” games against cupcakes.

I’m not against cupcake matchups altogether. It please alumni and, more importantly, spreads some big-time university athletic money to smaller schools. But non-conference schedules should not be all cupcakes.

There’s a simple solution. Starting in a few year’s time, you implement a new BCS rule. To be eligible for a BCS bowl, a team’s non-conference schedule has to include:

1) at least one team from another BCS conference AND
2) at least one road game

Now this might mean that Auburn plays Northwestern at home and Akron on the road. But that’s an improvement.

The really real way you would improve this, however, is to restrict the BCS to conference champions — with the Big Six conferences guaranteed entries and the remaining slots distributed among mid-major conferences and independents. That way, there is no advantage in beating the shit out of four wussy non-conference teams and no disadvantage to playing tough non-conference teams. If Penn State loses to Georgia, Notre Dame and Texas A&M, it doesn’t hurt their BCS chances as long as they win their conference.

This will, of course, never happen. Because the people running the BCS don’t care about the integrity of the game or the excitement of regular season monster matchups. They like it when teams schedule cupcakes. It makes it more likely that some team will luck into an undefeated season and they can shout from the rooftops that the system works.

Friday Linkorama

  • More on death penalty innocence from Ta-Nehisi. The Willingham case I blogged on provoked a rebuttal from John Jackson that mostly consists of innuendo and character assassination. Rebuttals to the rebuttal are here and here. My neutral position on capital punishment is slowly moving toward “mostly against”.
  • Well, duh.
  • CFC bulbs are exaggerating their efficiency. But you already suspected that.
  • I think the Feds have too much time on their hands.
  • No, Virginia, we are not turning a profit on TARP.
  • Pat the Straw Man

    Can anyone take Pat Buchanan seriously anymore? After he write this piece of garbage arguing that Hitler didn’t really want a war? Serwer, silbey and Moynihan take him apart.

    I could be generous and say this is based on Buchanan’s anti-communism and his desire to portray Stalin as a villain. But that’s simplistic thinking. Both men were evil.

    I won’t be generous. This is pure ignorance. Any reading of the record — as detailed exhaustively in Schirer’s towering Rise and Fall of the Third Reich — will destroy the notion that Hitler did not want war. He may not have wanted war with Britain — not right away, at least. But he absolutely had designes on conquering the entirety of Eastern Europe and putting the vast bulk of its “inferior” population to the sword.

    Maybe, as Buchanan has suggested, we could have stayed out and let Russia and Germany fight it out between themselves. But there’s no question that Germany would have won and emerged stronger and ready to bring the rest of the world to heel.

    Anyway, Buchanan is a bad joke. This is the sort of thing that should end someone’s career as a commentator.

    Update: Orac destroys Buchanan. It’s beautiful and includes a Mel Brooks clip.


    I’ve said many times that our healthcare system is far from perfect. This is a perfect example of the sort of stuff that needs to stop — insurance companies canceling a policy based on “pre-existing condition” that isn’t.

    My preferred solution is to turn insurance regulation over to the Feds. It has become abundantly clear that the state insurance regulators are utterly toothless. Insurance companies do this because few people have the motivation or resources to sue. The Feds, however, have effectively infinite resources.

    There is an additional problem in that many state insurance markets are effective monopolies — allowing interstate competition would solve that problem.

    What we do not need is coverage mandates and rescission laws that make it easier for people to wait until they’re sick to buy insurance. That will only make the problem worse.

    Midweek Linkorama

  • An Oldie from Greenwald about political dynasties. Although he conspicuously leaves off Ted Kennedy from criticism.
  • Speaking of Kennedy, the hagiography is getting a bit much. Check out Donald Boudreaux here, here and here. For my part, I can’t get over his attempt to work with the Soviets to undermine the President, an act that comes dangerously close to treason in my book.
  • A wonderful response to the people telling us that it’s bad when people can afford food, clothing and shelter. Don’t waste your liberal guilt on me.
  • Andrew Sullivan smashes the torture defenders. I’ve disagreed with a lot lately, but this one is a return to form. More here, including a deconstruction of the notion that waterboarding isn’t torture.
  • One of the issues I’ve moved leftward on is the death penalty. I used to support it, now I oppose it. Stories like this are why. What happened in this trial is not unusual at all.
  • E-fucking-gad.
  • It’s no surprise to me that we are at a low point in violent conflict. The idyllic picture of primitive societies is fictional and causes much stupidity from Right and Left.