Thursday, November 4, 2010

When Republicans Fail at Math and Logic


President Obama is about to travel to India, Indonesia and South Korea. He begins with talking to business leaders in Mumbai, Indonesia, the G20 Summit in Seoul and Japan. And according to some top secret Indian government insider who discussed Obama's upcoming stay in Mumbai with an Indian paper,

The US would be spending a whopping $200 million (Rs. 900 crore approx) per day on President Barack Obama's visit to the city[Mumbai].
A WHOPPING $200 million PER DAY!?!?!?! And the article says that "3,000" people are traveling with Obama. And no, despite all common sense alarms that should be going off in your head, those alarms didn't go off for Drudge or Limbaugh or Michele Bachmann or the hordes of right-wing dumbasses who either believe it or are hoping their followers won't have any common sense alarms going off. And of course, no right-wing conspiracy is complete without a chain email.

A reporter for The World Net Daily insisted to Robert Gibbs in the daily White House briefing that because he's read the $200 million figure in many places, it MUST be true. He's one of those people who doesn't think to himself, "If I read something written exactly the same, word for word, in multiple places, it's still ONE story copied and pasted from ONE source".

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, Michele Bachmann appears to not be aware that the President is also traveling to the G20 Summit and suggested the President should just do a teleconference. And because she is either woefully uninformed or deceptively manipulative, she focuses, instead, on the made-up figures and changes from "3,000" people to "2,000" people and from the article's claim of the White House booking 500 rooms at a hotel to them booking 870 rooms even though the hotel only has 560 rooms. But perhaps that's because the same Indian news site printed yet another article that states:
Around 800 rooms have been booked for the President and his entourage in Taj Hotel and Hyatt.
Stuff like this is what worries me about the fact that any naive, ignorant person can be elected to Congress. First, all Presidents travel. For the same reason Americans hate emails and conference calls: it's better to meet face to face. And if we want to consider our country a leader in the economy then we better meet with other countries to secure our foreign interests. Our economy and security are directly related to how well we play with others. In order to play with others we must have play dates and that often means going to someone else's house. We don't make friends staying in our own sandbox -- any stay at home mom will tell you that.

Apparently, Ms. Bachmann has no clue how many people attend one of these G20 conferences, which is where his larger posse will join him. Does it not occur to her that if "3,000" people (unsubstantiated figure) travel with the American President, that perhaps "3,000" people are traveling with the other world leaders? Can you just imagine "thousands" of world leaders and staffers all hovering over a speaker phone or leaning in to the picture on a teleconference -- and how many picture-in-picture windows would be needed? Well, I guess 20 windows would be needed since it's the G20. But then again, I think even non-G20 guests are invited but you get my point.

Hell, Korea is BUILDING ISLANDS for the Summit! Picture in Contact where they created an entirely secret place for the second secret machine. This is a big deal. The President doesn't set up a damn conference call.

But then again, she isn't really thinking about the ten day trip. She's thinking about sensationalism.

And really, why doesn't it bother a member of the United States Congress that a foreign news site is giving out detailed accounting of our President's security while traveling in an area recently attacked by terrorists?

Rush Limbaugh, on his radio show said:
No president has ever anywhere close to 40 airplanes, 3,000 people, 500 rooms in one hotel. And that's just one hotel, for a ten-day trip, $200 million a day.
The claim that the entire hotel was reserved has been debunked by Jonathan Weisman of the Wall Street Journal, but even he doesn't state how he knows this. Even and have already debunked this entire thing.

According to Obama's itinerary, he will only be in the lavish Mumbai hotel, for one night. ONE NIGHT. And it is relevant that he is staying at that particular hotel because it was the site of terrorists attacks. We all watched on TV as this very hotel was under siege for days. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Obama:
...will take the opportunity to address a small group of individuals who were in one way or another marked by the attack, the officials say, noting that the president will be staying at the “centerpiece” of a four-day terrorist operation.
What IS unclear, is how many people are traveling with the President and how many are paying their own way, i.e. press and business people. The White House likely reserved the hotel as a block hold, leaving people to pay their own way. I am also guessing they got one hell of a group rate. But let's look at this: the Taj Mahal Palace charges 170,000INR a night for its top-notch suite. Not all rooms are that expensive, but for fun we can multiply that times 560 rooms and we get just over $2 million dollars. So one night of an entire 5-star hotel is around a million dollars when you adjust for the cheaper rooms IF they actually did book the entire hotel. So that leaves us with $199 million of the daily expense. What on earth could cost the $199 million the Indian Deep Throat claims the one night and two day in Mumbai will cost?

But what about that "3,000" people entourage? Aside from that being an absurd number, my guess is that the Indian Deep Throat is conflating separate legs of Obama's trip. There is no need for Obama to travel with more than a dozen, or so, aides, advisers, doctors, etc. (not including Secret Service) in India. However, he WILL need quite a few more to join him in Seoul for the G20 summit. The summit consists of days of meetings on global economy, business, finance. President Obama reportedly took 500 people to the G20 Summit in the UK. But then again, I have no clue how accurate that report is. Or how accurate this report is of Bush's trip to Sydney that included 700 people. But considering two different news sites reported similar figures in regards to two separate presidents in two separate years, I am guessing that this is a more accurate number than the "3,000" that came out of no where and is only supported by others who link to the same original source.

Another thing this monstrously high phantom figure of $200 million per day COULD include, though it shouldn't, are the costs that a nation covers associated with a head of state visit. How much of that figure includes India's expenses they cover when a foreign dignitary visits? Any security, beautification, staffing, the events that he will be speaking at, etc. MAY be lumped in this ginormous dollar figure, but that is not American tax payer dollars IF it so exists.

When I said, up top, that all Presidents travel, it's just a simple, verifiable fact. In 2000, several Senate Republicans requested to see the DOD costs of Clinton's international travel between the years of 1997 and 2000. The report presented shows that in that time span Clinton made 27 international trips. According to a separate report requested and presented a year earlier by the GAO, the cost of three of Clinton's trips in 1998:
The estimated costs of the President's trips to Africa, Chile, and China were at least $42.8 million, $10.5 million, and $18.8 million, respectively.
Granted, that was 12 years ago, but logic tells most people that a trip that cost a total of $42.8 million would not now cost 5X that amount -- PER DAY. Logic. Simple logic.

Interestingly, I did not find any reports requested by Congress to clarify the expenses associated with Bush's travel for international business -- they did, however question his request to raise his travel budget so he could fundraise for Republicans. But all Presidents do that, too. And that's a separate issue.

Now, aside from all the unfounded and bizarrely accepted claims, many take issue with the President leaving at all. Some think, "How can Obama go NOW of all times"? Well, let me remind those people that we are technically no longer in a recession because our GDP has been growing each quarter since the middle of last year. Also, since Obama's policies and budget have been in place, our deficit has DEcreased and our stock market has increased. Now, about those jobs... perhaps if we were building something we could sell, other countries would buy from us. Things like cars and wind turbines -- you know, the things Obama has spent the last two years ensuring that this country builds.

But back to the "not the time" argument let's put things in perspective: in November of 2008, post-election, then-President Bush traveled to Peru for the APEC Summit. We lost 240,000 jobs the previous month and went on to lose 533,000 jobs that month -- the largest monthly job loss to that point since 1974. Heck, he was only going to be the President for two more months. Did he really need to travel? What good was he going to accomplish?

Hell, so much happened on that trip you may as well read the pre-trip briefing and the summaries of the eventful, and highly relevant trip because I can't write a proper summary, and if that doesn't justify expensive travel during a recession, while hemorrhaging jobs, I don't know what does. Since we are better off now than we were then, then why can't this President travel on a highly relevant trip? President Obama's schedule covers so many topics it's best that you just read one of the many press briefings regarding the trip, too. But essentially, it's a big deal trip. Bush made a similar trip in 2005 and it was a pretty big deal as well.

I think part of what is ridiculous about this whole drama is that I have linked to several pieces of valuable and thorough information with deep insight into foreign relations and the world economy and an American President's effect on these issues. And yet, the right-wing wants to focus on a made-up, unsupported piece of absurdity that comes from an anonymous source who would have no idea how much money will be spent by our government. I hate to say this, but I actually agree with Sarah Palin on something:
I don't read some of it because I know that those that are impotent and limp and gutless, and then they go on, their anonymous, their sources that are anonymous, and impotent, limp and gutless reporters take anonymous sources and cite them as being factual references. You know, it just slays me because it's so absolutely clear what the state of yellow journalism is today that they would take these anonymous sources as fact. So, when a story especially is filled with those and we know it's bogus and we're not going to read it.

But what irks me the most is that Diane Rehme now has to ask her guests to clarify the reality in an interview on her show. And White House correspondents like Mark Knoller are Tweeting about the drama. And now the issue is becoming that the stinking White House hasn't released actual figures due to security concerns. Well, I'd say the first person to answer to anything should be the reporter from the Indian newspaper who quoted an anonymous source. That reporter should have confirmed with the White House before printing the article. After all, wouldn't the White House know better than some fella who works for India's government? And the second person who should be held accountable is Mr. Indian Deep Throat.

What disgusts me most is that all of this hullabaloo even exists today because of right-wing media and the people who take it as gospel. Ridiculous and shameful. And those people voted on Tuesday.


NowhereMan said...

We are a nation made up of mostly uninformed, lazy idiots.All you have to do is look at the results on election night.If they were truly worried about the economy,then they would've realized the Republicans are stalling or filibustering every jobs,unemployment and small business relief bill in both houses.If they knew that,they would've realized that the people they voted for are the same people who are preventing the economy from recovering.To the republicans,ignorance is bliss.Its the only way they ever win.
As for the 3,000 people who the media believed was traveling with Obama to India,Its just further proof how they keep dumbing down the media who then keep dumbing down the voters.

JUDI M. said...

This country is a mess. Thank you Republican Tea Party! I'm at a loss as to how you can combat this sort of thing. People have become total idiots. We need a Lib 24/7 TV channel....but even if we ONLY told the truth, people are conditioned now to only accept BS.

I'm very afraid, now.