Hey all, I’m back. Long story short, an innocent mistake literally destroyed my computer (Super Bowl Sunday, I left my TV antenna cable on the ground still connected to my PC, surging raw power through my motherboard for over two hours, frying it, my HDTV card and one of my harddrives). Fortunately, when I’m not blogging, I’m a computer tech with decades of experience. I built my computer, so I had no problem RE-building it. Naturally, the process did not go smoothly and I spent the entire month of February buying parts, returning damaged items still under warranty, rebuilding a new computer, re-installing Windows and all my software, then configuring everything back the way I like it… an ordeal I highly recommend to all you masochists out there not content with simply bashing you skull against the wall.)

Since Obama’s inauguration barely one month ago, and despite his futile (and vehemently condemned by me) attempts to appease the Republican Party (dinner with Columnists like George Will, Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer, followed by meeting with Republican leaders in Congress TWICE his first two-weeks in office… the same number of times Bush met with Democrats in eight years BTW) and making changes to his Stimulus Plan based upon their recommendations that they all (sans 6 in the Senate) ended up voting against anyway (so why not put the things they took out back in?), the Republicans seem to have gone into overdrive in recent days attacking President Obama… led by no other than Rush Limbaugh:

ThinkProgress: Right Wing Claims Stock Market Declined
Because Obama Was Nominated For President

You see, Republicans DEPEND upon you having a short memory and even shorter attention span. They make facts up and re-write history to try and convince you that the fantasy world they live in is in fact reality. Always remember that. Read on…

The problem with their “Stock Decline” argument is they can’t point to a single thing Obama has said or done that’s responsible for the continued decline in the stock market. “You mean, something Obama has said or done is spurring investors to sell off their stock? Really? Name one?” They can’t. Did you hear Rush cite even a single example in his rant above? Of course not. Apparently, these guys aren’t aware that the problems that have been plaguing Wall Street for the last three years… foreclosures, the banking crisis, the collapse of the auto industry, and a White House whose answer to it all was to throw $700 Billion dollars at the problem with NO oversight… all didn’t just disappear on January 20th, 2009

Notice these same guys aren’t claiming “Obama has kept us safe” because we haven’t been attacked since he took power. Why not? How come he gets the blame for the continuing decline in the stock market after only one month in office (or six months as the de facto President according to Rush), but none of these Right Wing hacks draw the same correlation between Obama’s National Security policies and the lack of a terrorist attack? I mean, he vowed to close Gitmo, end warrantless domestic wiretaps, end rendition, and has announced a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq… all things they said would endanger us, yet, here we are, just 40+ days (or seven months by Rush’s clock) later and no attacks! Amazing! Aren’t both arguments equally valid? I mean, if just the expectation that Obama was going to win and inflict his policies upon the rest of us is enough to send the GLOBAL economy into a nosedive, they why haven’t all their dread fears regarding terrorism come true as well?

If you look at the daily declines in the stock market, each can be explained by CONTINUING problems that began under President Bush. For example:

Monday, the DOW fell 299 points, closing below the 6,800 mark for the first time since 1997. Why? Because AIG, the insurance company that was declared “too big to fail” late last year, and the largest recipient of TARP funds, announced a record quarterly loss of $61.7 billion… the largest quarterly loss of any corporation in U.S. history… and would require an additional $30 billion (taking the total taxpayer bailout of AIG to $180B). Obama didn’t do that, nor did any of his policies cause it. It didn’t help that Billionaire investor Warren Buffet’s made the observation that the economy would remain in “a shambles” for the remainder of 2009.

Sean Hannity observed on his program Monday that “On October 1st, Obama had a solid lead in the polls and was almost certain to defeat John McCain in the election. The next day, the DOW fell 340 points.” Obama didn’t suddenly surge way ahead of McCain on October 1st. On September 22nd, Obama took the lead over McCain for good. A week and a half later on October 1st, Obama’s lead was just 5.3% over John McCain (RCP moving average), just 0.7% higher than it was the week before. So what happened on October 1st to precipitate a plunge in the stock market? A highly criticized speech by Obama? No. In fact, Obama’s permanent lead in the polls can better be attributed to “McCain’s erratic economic message” after the first Presidential debate a week earlier as much as Obama’s “steady message” contributed to his lead.

On October 2nd, the Securities & Exchange Commission (under Bush BTW) announced that it was going to require FULL PUBLIC DISCLOSURE of the names of investors that were “selling short” (gambling on the likelihood a stock will go down) to discourage people from driving down stocks deliberately. Investors revolted, and the DOW went on a two-week losing streak, plunging nearly 2,400 points.

Then on October 13th, the DOW skyrocketed 936 points after Interim Assistant Treasury Secretary for Financial Stability Neel Kashkari announced the U.S. plan for the U.S. bailout, as well as an announcement from the G7 Economic Summit that the U.K. would be pouring $64 billion into their troubled banking system (this is what moved the Bush Administration to go ahead with TARP… the Troubled Assets Relief Program condemned by both Conservatives and Liberals alike) to bailout our own banks. Obama’s lead the day the DOW soared 936 points? 7.2%, just 0.1% shy of his Election Day victory margin of 7.3%.

The number of banks that have applied for a Federal bailout is astonishing (dozens of pages long). Almost every day, another bank or major corporation makes a devastating announcement (such as GM’s announcement last Thursday that it lost $30.9 *Billion* in 2008… its second largest loss in the 100 year history of the company).

In short, the DJIA is still sinking because the financial crisis on Wall Street didn’t go away simply because we elected a new President. And while Republicans continued to blame Bill Clinton for seven years after Bush took office for the collapsing economy, barely a month after taking office, these same Republicans are blaming President Obama for not turning the economy around. Instead, they have all apparently agreed upon the “Obama wants to institute Socialism” meme because it seems to connect with voters.

Rush Limbaugh defended his statement that “he wants Obama to fail” at CPAC last week by making false claims against Democrats: “Democrats accused Petraeus of LYING before he even testified” [no, we feared he might sugar-coat the truth before reporting to Congress and urged him not to]; “wanted Bush to fail in Iraq.” [nonsense. We disagreed, but no one wanted all the lives wasted in Iraq to have been totally in vain], etc. David Neiwert of Crooks n Liars summed it up elegantly:

I’d like to challenge Hannity, or Steele, or Limbaugh, to search the public record to find any leading Democrat — congressman, senator, talking head, or otherwise — who ever said: “I hope George Bush fails in Iraq.”

Particularly not in the months leading up to, or after, the invasion. Indeed, the congressional authorization of the invasion passed the House 297-133-3 (82 Democrats voted yes) and the Senate 77-23 (29 Democrats voted yes). Moreover, it wasn’t until many months had passed and it became clear the Bush Administration had no exit strategy in Iraq — and indeed intended an indefinite occupation — that Democrats began openly criticizing Bush’s war policies. But even then, there were no open expressions of a desire to see the U.S. “fail” in Iraq — only the open recognition that we were headed for failure, which is quite a different creature.

There was even greater unanimity in the days after the 9/11 attacks, which was the last time the nation faced a grave crisis and came together accordingly. The Authorization to Use Military Force Against Terrorists passed the Congress with the full backing of Democrats as well as Republicans. It passed the House 420-1-10, and the Senate 98-0-2.

The nation now faces another serious crisis in the economy, one at least as grave as the one we faced after 9/11: Our entire way of life is at risk if we do not get the economy moving again. Republicans seem to be positively rejoicing in the ongoing decline on Wall Street — one for whom they share the lion’s share of the blame — because they think it proves them right. What they seem not to be considering is the effect their constant badmouthing of the Obama recovery program might be having on the Wall Street psychology as well. […]

Note again that last paragraph. Think about what Republicans would have said if Democrats were as bitter partisan and obstructionist after 9/11 as these people are today in the face of this catastrophic financial crisis?

Later, Rush said of the Obama Administration on the economy: “They want you to live in fear [of economic collapse] so that you will allow them to fix this crisis any way they see fit [ie: Socialism].” Uh, hello? Where were these guys the past eight years? Anyone remember talk of “Mushroom clouds”, “WMD’s”, “Mobile Chemical Weapons Labs” and “UAV’s spraying nerve gas”? (note: linked photo from Powell’s 2002 UN slideshow is actually of one of OUR UAV’s.) How about Cheney’s “Vote for us or we’ll be hit again” threat in 2004? But unlike those clear acts of political terrorism, the economic crisis ACTUALLY EXISTS, and the ideas on how to fix it have been tried AND WORKED before.

Tim LeHaye, co-author of the “Left Behind” series of novels, in an interview with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, criticized the Obama Administration’s economic policies, pointing out that: “A government that decides who can be poor and who can be rich” was practicing Socialism.

LeHaye: Obama promoting Socialism

Again, doesn’t this describe Bush as much as (if not more than) Obama? With Bush’s massive tax cuts heavily favoring the rich and vehement opposition to an increase in the minimum wage resulting in the greatest income-disparity between the rich & poor since the Great Depression, wasn’t the direct effect of Bush’s policies to “decide who can be poor and who can be rich”?

Another growing GOP meme: “Gasoline was only $1.50 when Democrats won back Congress in 2006, which hit $4 last Summer, causing the economic collapse.” First, off course, as I’m sure you’re aware, gasoline wasn’t $1.50 when Democrats took back control of Congress in January of 2007. Not even close. According to the Department of Energy website, the national average for a gallon of Regular Unleaded in January of 2007 was $2.41/gal (even if we take them LITERALLY, on Election Day, gas was still $2.24/gal) vs $1.50 the day Bush took office in January, 2001. There even seems to be a suggestion in that statement that “the economy was just fine” when the entire country suddenly decided to just up & vote for Democrats in such huge numbers in 2006 as to flip control of BOTH houses of Congress in a single election. Can’t imagine why they’d do that when things were going so well.

In December of 2000, the Republican Congress voted to deregulate energy trading futures (which later became known as “The Enron Loophole”). A bi-partisan June, 2006 report issued by Senators Carl Levin (D-Michigan) and Norm Coleman (R-Minnesota) found that the “Enron Loophole” may be responsible for as much as an additional $20-$25 in the (then $70) price per barrel of oil. Sen. Levin introduced the first bill to close the loophole on Sept 17, 2007. It was Barack Obama who vowed to close the “Enron Loophole” on June 22, 2008, just three weeks before oil’s peak in July. After the election, the bill was finally passed just this past December. In addition to rampant unregulated speculation on Wall Street, the 18 months from January, 2007 to gasoline’s peak of $4.23/gal on July 14, 2008, the War in Iraq continued, OPEC cut monthly production in 2008 by more than 2 million barrels (artificially pushing prices higher), and the White House saber-rattled almost daily against Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology… all of which helped push oil to its record high. Again, I challenge Republicans to point to a single policy or decision made by the Democratic Congress to cause the rise in gas prices. Again, they are confusing “coincidence” with “causation” (of course, Republicans would argue that the mere thought of Democrats in control of Congress was enough for Wall Street to tumble out of fear of what they might do. But Wall Street doesn’t shoot itself in the foot simply because they have “a bad feeling” about what Democrats MIGHT do. The plunge in stocks is costing corporations (and Wall Street) billions. If you were a stock broker, under which Party did stocks do better? The suggestion Wall Street is selling out of fear of what Democrats might do is absurd and completely without merit.

And so it goes. Republican hypocrisy knows no bounds. When the problem occurs on their watch, it’s their predecessor’s fault. But when Democrats are in office, if they haven’t fixed the problem in a week, they are 100% to blame (unless things turn good, at which point they’ll be given none of the credit).

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