Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Guide to Living With (and Responding to) Obama Derangement Syndrome

By Nathan Rothwell

If this is how President Obama routinely appears to
you in your also routine nightmares, you may suffer 
from Obama Derangement Syndrome, or ODS.
If you or someone you know is suffering from ODS,
consult this article immediately.
It's way cheaper than a psychiatrist.
In 2003, Fox News stormtrooper correspondent Charles Krauthammer coined the phrase “Bush Derangement Syndrome.” When critics of the Bush Administration took it to task over its misadventures in foreign and domestic policy, Krauthammer dismissed the criticism as symptoms of a faux medical condition that causes "the acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency — nay — the very existence of George W. Bush."

Here we are a decade later, and one can easily see how “George W. Bush” can be replaced with “Barack Obama,” and the term “Obama Derangement Syndrome” can just as easily be applied to some of the Obama Administration’s most outspoken detractors. Many an uninformed voter exists who can’t have a rational conversation about Obama without launching into a tirade of either unquantifiable or improvable belief statements (Obama HATES the troops), or attacks stemming from a realm of pure fantasy (Obama waived the work requirements for those lazy welfare freeloaders!) So while it pains me to lend Krauthammer any credit, this Obama-version of his “derangement syndrome” concoction seems to best describe some of these people.

A form of O.D.S. found its way into my inbox recently in the form of one of those “Why OBAMA Should GO!!!” emails making its rounds in the American cyberverse. It pains me greatly that chain emails comprise any sort of public discourse in this country, let alone political discourse. However, it did grant some insight into the world of those who despise President Obama, but aren't particularly artful in explaining why. Their core beliefs are backed by discredited statistics, and sometimes no facts at all.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said that “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” In this spirit, I thought it might be fun to respond to the source of the chain email with facts that fly in the face of the “reasons” that President Obama should be voted out of office. And in the spirit of promoting informed debate during this election season, I’ve reprinted responses to some of the more common unfounded criticisms surrounding Obama. While many have made their minds up to hate him no matter what, I hope that there are some people out there who might reevaluate their convictions when presented with information stemming from outside the Fox News bubble of myopia.

Anyway, onto the fun. 

The “reasons” listed by the chain email’s sender appear in bold italics; sources backing my responses appear in the links.

“Extending unemployment benefits makes people lazy. Unemployment compensation for 99 weeks? It’s not a ‘safety net,’ it’s now a hammock.”

I’m not sure if anyone who has been unemployed for upwards of 99 weeks would call unemployment benefits “a hammock.” But more importantly, in response to the “laziness” charge: economists have found that only a fraction of unemployed workers would have found a job sooner without benefits being extended for 99 weeks. This fraction of people does not have a significant effect on the economy, and is not of much policy concern.

“It’s Obama’s fault the US credit rating was dropped, thanks to his high debt and enormous deficits.”

Republicans insist on laying all the blame for the credit downgrade debacle on the president, but I’m not sure why. In citing why they dropped the credit rating, Standard & Poor specifically stated that the fault lies with Congress for playing “political brinksmanship” with the debt, and particularly took Republicans to task for resisting any and all measures which would increase revenues. Maybe Obama can be criticized for not being the most skilled negotiator during this process, but the ones responsible for dropping our rating specifically called out congressional Republicans for taking hostages.

“Gas prices were $1.85 per gallon in January 2009, and now around $3.78. Way to go Obama!”

I’ll just let Fox News (circa Bush era) tell us about the president’s role in controlling gas prices…

“Most of the stimulus went to companies like Solyndra and other ‘green’ jobs, and cronies of the president.”

Obama naysayers love to bring up “companies like Solyndra,” in decrying the stimulus, but rarely present any examples other than Solyndra itself; of course, the author of this email provided no examples of his own. Solyndra represented $535 million of the total $850 billion stimulus package; to put the Solyndra complaint perspective, it would be like someone giving you more than a quarter-million dollars, then complaining that you can’t be trusted with the money because you wasted around $500 of it. Until I can see some other examples of the stimulus being wasted on “unwanted green jobs” and “Obama cronies,” it can only be safely argued that a laughably tiny fraction of the stimulus was wasted, which means that I cannot (at least for now) take this claim all too seriously.

“Gay marriage: need I say more? What rights do I have that homosexuals don’t? None.”

Assuming the misinformed author of this claim is married, here are some of those rights:

Death: Partners of homosexuals are not entitled to bereavement leave from work, file wrongful death claims, draw Social Security, or inherit property when no will is present.

Health: Unlike spouses, unmarried partners are not typically considered “next of kin” for the purposes of hospital visitation and emergency medical decisions. Imagine not being allowed to see your beloved in his or her final hours, or make crucial end of life decisions; these are everyday realities for many gay couples.

Legal Rights: Unmarried couples are not protected against having to testify against each other in court, and are also usually denied insurance coverage for crime victims counseling and other protection programs normally afforded to married couples.

Taxes: Unmarried couples cannot file joint tax returns and are excluded from tax benefits and claims specific to marriage. In addition, they are denied the right to transfer property to one another or pool resources without adverse tax consequences.

The folks over at Freedom to Marry bring us these facts, as well as many, many, many more rights denied to gay couples.

“Obama only cut spending for one department – defense!”

This is not true at all. Almost all the departments received some budget cuts for 2013; among those that received significant budget cuts are Depts. of Defense, Education, Interior, and Labor;  Homeland Security; NASA; and the Engineer Corps.

“Obama overturned the work requirement for welfare recipients. Hammock!”

I mentioned this criticism earlier, and as others have widely reported, this claim is 100% false. The Department of HHS is permitted to waive federal requirements for states who apply to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for block grants to operate their own welfare programs. The federal requirements are only waived if the states’ own programs are sufficient; in making sure this is the case, the TANF sets job, job training, and education guidelines for welfare recipients. Basically, this amounts to the federal government giving freedom to the states to administer their own welfare standards, but only if they are stringent enough to supercede the normal federal requirements. Republicans have dishonestly twisted this into "Obama waived the work requirements for those lazy freeloaders!" Sadly for them, it's just not true.

“Obama endorses abortion for the full 9 months… the American people do not support abortion in the third trimester.”

Ah, abortion… the ultimate wedge/distraction issue. This claim came straight out of left field, and speaks to the badly misinformed notions some people have about just how many people actually get abortions, and for what purpose. Late term abortions are extremely rare (only about 1% of all abortions performed in the U.S. occur after 21 weeks) and most states have enormous restrictions on obtaining late-term abortions that aren’t solely to protect the life of the mother. This has been the case long before Obama took office, and there’s no evidence that shows he intends to depart from the current rules.

“Obamacare = more taxes, more debt.”

Non-partisan budget analysts have concluded that Obamacare will reduce, and not add to, the federal deficit. Private costs to insurers are offset by the fact that the mandate to purchase coverage expands the pool of customers, which will in fact earn them more money. The so-called “tax increase” applies only to people who are well-off enough to afford health care but choose not to get it; Chief Justice Roberts cited he believes this will apply to about 4 million people, or 0.012% of the American population. So when there’s not that many of them, and they have plenty of money, to that I say: tough noogies.

1 comment:

  1. Well I just got an email from Jessica Alba encouraging me to register to vote!!


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