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How Could That Have Happened?

April 20th, 2014 No comments

Tim Huelskamp, a Republican congressman from Kansas, is claiming that the number of uninsured people in his state has risen since Obamacare.

Among the problems: first, there is no data to support his claim.

Second: even if there were, Republicans in Kansas aggressively campaigned against Obamacare, warned people in their state not to join, rejected the act’s Medicaid expansion, and refused to set up a state-based exchange to help its citizens get insurance.

So for a Republican now to be blaming Obamacare for a likely fictional drop in the rate of insured people in his state is, well, priceless.

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The Republican Mindset

April 20th, 2014 1 comment

This article crystallizes the mindset of the Republican party extremely well.

Common Core is a set of K-12 educational standards that would delineate what any student should know at the end of a grade level in English and Math. It was created by the National Governor’s Association as a state-driven initiative. It had bipartisan backing and strong Republican support. Only a few crazies on the wingnut fringe opposed it.

Then Obama got behind it too, offering a few incentives for states to adopt it.

Suddenly, conservatives have abandoned it en masse and now call it “Obamacore,” saying it is a vile overreach by the federal government to warp the minds of youngsters.

Like Obamacare itself, and so many other ideas that actually were conservative to begin with and had major right-wing support, all it takes is for Obama to voice support for it, and suddenly the bulk of the Republican Party and conservatives everywhere make a 180-degree turn and call it treachery.

The Republican revolt against the Common Core can be traced to President Obama’s embrace of it, particularly his linking the adoption of similar standards to states’ eligibility for federal education grants and to waivers from No Child Left Behind, the national education law enacted by President George W. Bush.

The comparison to Obamacare is not coincidental; now that the ACA has flopped as a political war cry, conservatives appear to be desperate for anything they can grab ahold of to win elections with, and if that means sabotaging what they believed was an important improvement to children’s education, well, so be it.

A few Republicans stand in defense of the program, but are kind of being drowned out by the rush of Republicans turning tail.

Jeb Bush said the pivot seemed more like pandering. In remarks this month during an event at his father’s presidential library, he affirmed his support for the Common Core. “I guess I’ve been out of office for a while, so the idea that something that I support — because people are opposed to it means that I have to stop supporting it if there’s not any reason based on fact to do that?” he said. “I just don’t feel compelled to run for cover when I think this is the right thing to do for our country.”

With a knowing grin, he added, “Others that supported the standards all the sudden now are opposed to it.”

Some other former Republican governors who pushed the adoption of the Common Core agree with Mr. Bush. “There is a great deal of paranoia in the country today,” said Sonny Perdue, a former governor of Georgia, who was also instrumental in creating the program. “It’s the two P’s, polarization and paranoia.”

“Polarization and paranoia,” well-put. But there’s one more P: Politics.

Supporters of the Common Core, which outlines skills that students in each grade should master but leaves actual decisions about curriculum to states and districts, say that it was not created by the federal government and that it was up to the states to decide whether to adopt the standards.

But opponents say Mr. Obama’s attempt to reward states that adopt the standards with grants and waivers amounts to a backdoor grab for federal control over what is taught in schools.

The only meager silver lining I see in this is the generation of idiotic utterances to support a completely hypocritical and empty opposition to something purely on political grounds. Cue Ted Cruz:

“Standards inevitably influence the curricula being taught to meet those standards,” Mr. Cruz said.

Ya think? Never mind that educational standards were a big Republican idea until just recently.

Or, if you recall, this dilly from a Republican candidate for governor of Arizona:

Melvin’s comments led Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, to ask him whether he’s actually read the Common Core standards, which have been adopted by 45 states.

“I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

Stay classy, Republicans.

Wrong on All Levels

March 13th, 2014 3 comments

About a week ago Paul Ryan made a speech at CPAC. He made the conservative case against school lunches, using the familiar theme that government assistance to those in need is an evil that is ruining America:

The left is making a big mistake here. What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. The American people want more than that. This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my buddy, Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.

Ryan’s point is that the little boy was being cut off from his family by a state that was trying to make itself his ward. This is the same point being made to cut off most all support for the poor and needy, from Medicaid to assistance for military families. For example, conservatives bashed Obama for abusing the troops because he made sure that they had medical, education, and other financial aids: in effect, making them “victims dependent on social-welfare and medical services offered by the Democratic coalition.” Americans in need, according to conservatives, are trying valiantly to stand on their own two feet, and liberals are callously making them into dependent parasites of the state, addicted to federal funds—money, of course, which is hard-earned by patriotic conservative folk who don’t want their fairly-won cash doled out to indigent freeloaders.

The conservative point, however, is just as flawed as Ryan’s poignant rhetoric. As it turns out, the story is untrue. Not that Ryan didn’t hear that story, but the story he was told was false: Anderson never spoke to such a boy. Instead, it appears to have come from a book, An Invisible Thread, a non-fiction account of a sales executive and her relationship with an 11-year-old panhandler. In that book, the executive offers the boy money, or to make lunches for him, so he’ll have food to eat. The boy, far from simply being from a poor family as Anderson and Ryan told it, was on the street instead because his mother was in prison. Which is likely why he asked for the brown-paper-bag lunches, so he could appear to be a boy who had a loving mother at home instead of presenting the painful reality to his schoolmates.

So on that level, Ryan’s touching homily kind of backfires: the boy he was in fact referring to was not even getting school lunches, nor were the handouts he was getting somehow estranging him from a loving family.

However, let’s just ignore the factual faux pas and assume that the story were true. What would that mean? Would Ryan have had a point? After all, we often do look back on those brown paper bag lunches with nostalgia; I got them as well (PBJ or tuna salad sandwiches), and certainly enjoyed them.

Now, think about how, as an 11-year-old, you would have felt if all of a sudden your mother stopped making those lunches and instead you got school lunches. That never happened to me, at least not that I recall. However, considering honestly what I would have thought, I can confidently say that my reaction would have been rather simple: will I like these new lunches? Although I’d like to say that I would have thought considerately that school lunches would have saved my mother some work and my family the expense, I probably would not have thought beyond how it would have affected me.

But the last thing I would have thought was that it somehow would mean my mother cared about me less. Had someone suggested that to the 11-year-old me, I probably would have thought them both idiotic and insulting.

Certainly, no kid at school would have looked at any other kid and said, “Hah! Your mother doesn’t care for you!” for the simple reason that every kid would be getting the same lunch.

In fact, if a kid were to react to school lunches like Ryan claimed, I would be deeply concerned—not that school lunches were cutting his family ties, but rather because if this kid’s sense of familial love could be completely severed by the loss of a bagged lunch, this kid was probably receiving little or no love at all from his parents at home.

Think about it. The reason I would not have minded losing the bag lunch would have nothing to do with wanting to feel loved, because I got plenty of affection in other ways from my parents. Any kid who suddenly feels unloved because his mother no longer makes bag lunches either has a massive insecurity complex, or, more likely, just isn’t getting the attention he needs at home—in which case, school lunches have nothing to do with the problem.

In fact, if Ryan had any sense whatsoever about poor families, he would realize that a child from a truly poor family would be acutely aware of the shortage of money in his home, would see his parents working incredibly hard, and so would probably have three predictable reactions to free school lunches: (1) my family can’t afford much so this will help us out, (2) my mother works so hard, I’m glad this will give her less work to do, and (3) will I like these new lunches?

In fact, maybe the school lunches would mean that the kid gets a better home-cooked meal in the evening, and a little more attention from mom in the morning.

But hey, I’m of the left, so obviously I don’t understand such things nearly as much as Randian conservatives do.

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Fox News Reports That Arizona Law Is an Attack on Homosexuality, and That God Is Dead

February 27th, 2014 2 comments

Foxhl-2Fox News has reported that a Mississippi woman tried to get Bible scriptures copied at Walgreens, but the clerk at the shop refused to do so on copyright grounds, in an act which is characterized as an “attack on Christianity.” In doing so, Fox is clearly suggesting that denying service to a class of people is equivalent to an attack on those people; thus, the proposed laws in Arizona and Ohio to refuse service to gay people is, by inference, an “attack on homosexuality.”

Furthermore, Fox appears to dismiss the copyright claims baed on the statement that “Copyright law typically covers books for the life of the author, plus 50 years,” clearly indicating that Fox News believes that God is dead, and has been for at least half a century.

Fox News has so far not commented on its new atheist, pro-gay policy.


Seriously, though, this article is a bonanza of bias. First of all, what the hell is a major “news” outlet reporting on a woman having difficulties with the copy clerk at her local Walgreens? Is it that slow a news day? This reads more like an article from The Onion.

Second, the clerk actually had a valid point: it was not just Bible scriptures, there was artwork involved, and the clerk had no way of knowing if those images were copyrighted or not.

Third, the issue has already been resolved, with Walgreens simply asking the woman to sign a waiver to take care of any potential copyright issues.

Fourth, this has nothing whatsoever to do with religion, unless someone has evidence that the clerk was acting on grounds aside from the purely reasonable legal grounds claimed; none whotsoever is presented.

And lastly, acting like any of this is somehow an “attack” on anything is hysteric hyperbole.

In short, this can be safely classified as “Wednesday at Fox News.”

Are You Kidding Me?

February 24th, 2014 1 comment

A few months ago, I noted that liberals generally check to see if the latest news story about Republicans is actually satire, while conservatives tend not to check if the latest satire about Obama and Democrats is really news.

This effect hit me today, hard, when I saw an article out of Arizona which I decided had to be satire. No way these guys could be so stupid.

Then I checked the site: The Arizona Daily Star. Checked out the front page (there was no “about” page), then looked at some articles. Looked completely legit. So, maybe this one piece is in the “Entertainment” section? Nope; “Education” under “Local News .”

I still couldn’t believe it. I mean, I have seen some really stupid stuff in American politics, but this takes my breath away. It begins startlingly enough:

Ignoring pleas from business leaders, the Senate Education Committee voted 6-3 along party lines Thursday to bar Arizona from implementing the Common Core standards the state adopted four years ago.

What is “Common Core”? It’s an educational standard set by states to establish common expectations for English Language and Mathematics teaching in K-12. Only Virginia, Texas, and Alaska are not members, and only Nebraska has not adopted the standards yet.

Arizona had adopted the standards, but now it looks like they might reject it.

Why? Well, here’s the good part:

“It got hijacked by Washington, by the federal government,” said Melvin, a candidate for governor, and “as a conservative Reagan Republican I’m suspect about the U.S. Department of Education in general, but also any standards that are coming out of that department.”

Melvin’s comments led Sen. David Bradley, D-Tucson, to ask him whether he’s actually read the Common Core standards, which have been adopted by 45 states.

“I’ve been exposed to them,” Melvin responded.

Pressed by Bradley for specifics, Melvin said he understands “some of the reading material is borderline pornographic.” And he said the program uses “fuzzy math,” substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

Fuzzy math. Substituting letters for numbers in some examples.

Are. You. Fracking. Kidding. Me.

Okay, maybe this is just some imbecile speaking impromptu and said something completely idiotic by mistake. But even looked at that way, this still pushes the boundaries of “stupid” to pretty cutting-edge extremes. Variables in algebra as a reason for wanting to reject math standards. Wow.

Another aspect to the explanation is that this guy most likely had very little understanding of even his own objections, and was just following a political campaign led by conservatives—another in a long line of attempts to make the Obama administration look evil in some way. The “pornographic” references are the real meat of the issue, as two titles in the list of suggested reading exemplars include Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Cristina Garcia’s Dreaming in Cuban; the first is a story which involves a girl who is sexually abused as a young teen, and the second has a brief but fairly explicit description of sexual acts carried out by an adult couple.

The readings are not required—only suggested as examples (ergo, the term “exemplar”) for readings by students in the 11th grade and higher—but have served as fuel for the conservative base to erupt in massive outrage at how Obama is pushing porn on children.

Melvin’s comments spring from that movement—garbage in, garbage out, I suppose would be one way of seeing it.

Categories: Republican Stupidity Tags:

Still Not Getting It

February 21st, 2014 5 comments

“Joe the Plumber” recently blogged about something I find rather amusing: the Tea Party dislike of the term “teabagger”:

I had three days of orientation, and now I’m “on the job” over here at Chrysler and on Day 4, I’m outside on a break smoking a cigarette and right on cue – some guy calls me a “teabagger.”

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Democrats and liberals, who are supposed to so tolerant and enlightened regarding homosexuals have for three or four years now, have been using a gay slur to describe people who they think are associated with the Tea Party. “Tea Bagger” has traditionally been a derogatory slur used to intimidate, put down, humiliate and otherwise taunt, smear, bully or just discriminate against gays – usually gay men – based on a sex act that gay men apparently made popular.

Decorum prevents me from describing it – they got this thing called “Google” now for that – but suffice it to say that the double-standard for what Democrats can say and what conservatives can say continues unabated, but still I thought to myself, did this guy think I’m gay, or was he making a statement of my political affiliation? I tried talking to him, but he went off about how he was a “journeyman” and started walking away.

Umm… wow. Really?

First of all, let’s not forget that the use of the term “teabagger” in politics was initiated by the Tea Party people themselves. This was not a term that liberals made up. It was made up by the people who now act all offended when anyone else uses it. The initial Tea Party activists gave the name to themselves, using the name on innumerable signs and in many self-descriptions.

Liberals then started pointing out the inanity of the name while no one in the Tea Party seemed to realize what the name meant. In fact, what surprised me was the fact that Tea Partiers continued using the name for themselves months after the cat was out of the bag! (Timeline of the term’s use can be found here.)

Theoriginoftheteabag Screen-Shot-Teabagger-Calls-Self Tea Bagger Teabagging-For-Jesus

Teabag13 Teabag1-300X300

Eventually, however, they caught on, and did what conservatives usually do in a situation in which they’ve embarrassed themselves: they rewrote history and blamed liberals. Remember back before 2006 when Democrats in Congress occasionally used the filibuster when Bush would nominate a particularly extremist judge to a high court? Republicans were so pissed that Democrats used the filibuster, they threatened to do away with it, calling their plan the “nuclear option.” Later, when they realized that that particular term had a negative ring to it, they quickly changed course, using the rather odd-sounding term “constitutional option,” and suddenly claimed that Democrats made up the “nuclear” term. Same thing.

And this is what Joe is riffing on: the revisionist claim that liberals made up the term “teabagger.”

Now, one thing that is undeniable is that liberals—having been so amused that right-wing extremists cluelessly called themselves “teabaggers,” and the same right-wingers continued to call themselves “teabaggers” for quite some time after it was more commonly understood what the term meant—quite cheerfully continued to use the term after the last extremists finally got the hint and realized it was not the best choice of names ever made.

This is when conservatives, who have long made a huge point about despising “political correctness” and insisting that they should of course be able to use terms about people that those people no longer favor, made a complete reversal and suddenly, without any apparent awareness of the biting irony, cried foul and lambasted liberals for using the term.
Rats-Sub
Here’s what gets me: these self-same conservatives—who don’t even like to hear people call them “right wingers,” for crying out loud, because that’s just offensive—these same people continue to use all manner of epithets about liberals. Remember, these are the same people who tried to make the word “liberal” itself into an epithet! Conservatives now consistently misuse the noun “Democrat” in the adjectival form (as in “the Democrat Party” as opposed to the correct form, the “Democratic Party”), from the lowest blogger to former President Bush, and everyone in between—a practice that began soon after a 2000 GOP attack ad flashed the word “DEMOCRATS” on the screen, freezing for a moment on the last three letters, “RATS,” which they all found just hilarious.

So, a movement which delights in creating and then universally using pejoratives against their political opponents gets all out of sorts when their opposition uses a term these very conservatives created for themselves? It’s hard to miss the irony—unless, that is, you go to great lengths to pretend things never happened that way.

But that’s only the beginning of Joe’s bizarre point-making. To recount:

Now, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Democrats and liberals, who are supposed to so tolerant and enlightened regarding homosexuals have for three or four years now, have been using a gay slur to describe people who they think are associated with the Tea Party. “Tea Bagger” has traditionally been a derogatory slur used to intimidate, put down, humiliate and otherwise taunt, smear, bully or just discriminate against gays – usually gay men – based on a sex act that gay men apparently made popular.

A gay slur? Really? When exactly was this the case? Teabagging is not even an innately gay practice. Probably no one knows when the act began (probably in prehistoric times) or who first used that particular term (it is first popularly noted in the John Waters movie Pecker), but the sexual act is something that is just as heterosexual as it is homosexual. No one orientation “owns” it, any more than anyone “owns” the blow job.

Nor was it ever used as a slur against gay people; this was a complete fabrication made up by Fox News (which itself used the term “teabagger” at the beginning, then quickly got offended by it) when Obama used the term, and they wanted to smear him for using “sexual innuendo.”

Now, maybe I am just not very worldly. Maybe the term was indeed used at some point to insult gays. But you know, I really doubt it. It doesn’t even make sense: a man who teabags could be gay or straight; only if the recipient were male would it be a homosexual act. But a “teabagger” would not automatically be gay. It would be like trying to insinuate that a man is gay by saying, “I bet you got a blow job last night!” It would kind of fall flat.

But then, logic and reason have not exactly been any more a conservative trademark than have facts themselves.

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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

December 20th, 2013 12 comments

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty voiced his personal opinion about homosexuality:

Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.

Robertson was “indefinitely suspended” by A&E over his remarks. Sarah Palin, who I usually ignore because of the Ann Coulter Rule, made a public statement on Facebook which is noteworthy because it is a conservative meme far overused:

“Free speech is an endangered species,” Sarah Palin wrote on Facebook on Wednesday night. “Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.”

That’s the conceit: when a person speaks out and is criticized or punished in some way, their “free speech” rights are being violated.

And that’s the problem: free speech is about saying whatever you want (so long as it does not harm or endanger others) without fear of punishment by the government. The actual text in the First Amendment is “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” First Amendment freedom of speech says nothing about how others in society are suppose to lay off you no matter what you say.

Nor is this view by Palin and other conservatives based upon a principle. Imagine, for example, if someone on a popular TV show said hateful things about Christianity, maybe that it is a genocidal cult subscribed to by idiots and liars, which promotes the abuse of children and the killing of women. Do you think that this person would not be similarly treated? Would Palin be as ardent about protecting their right to say that and upset if they lost their job? Hell, no—she and other conservatives would be the ones calling for them to get the exact treatment that Robertson got.

For example, Palin called on MSNBC to fire Martin Bashir for calling her a “world class idiot” for her comparison of the national debt and slavery, and because he suggested, after noting a particularly cruel punishment meted out to a slave, that Palin was an “outstanding candidate” for such punishment for making the remarks she did.

Palin also called for Obama to fire Rahm Emanuel for using the word “retarded” as an epithet.

The term to describe this is “hypocrisy.”

But let’s just see if we can get one thing straight: getting criticism and losing a high-profile job in the media as a result of hateful remarks is not in any way a violation of anyone’s free speech.

The Annals of Selective Quoting

March 29th, 2013 3 comments

Republicans love to characterize Democrats as “Tax and Spenders.” They love to paint themselves as frugal. The problem is, they spend just as much as the Democrats, only with an emphasis on different things—and since they despise taxes, that makes them the party of “Tax and Borrow,” the party of “Tax and Debt.” Republicans are the chief architects of this nation’s debt; there is no question at all of that. And yet, fantastically, they try to blame it all on the Democrats.

Currently, Republicans are fighting a daily battle to blame Obama for all the debt, as if Republicans had not been handed a surplus by a Democrat, as if they had not obliterated that surplus in the name of tax cuts for the wealthy and massively costly wars and porkbarrel spending, as if they had not characterized the paying off of debts as a hideous injustice against taxpayers, as if $10 trillion in debt did not exist before Obama was elected, as if that debt was not chiefly created by Republicans, as if Obama had not been handed stupendous debts in a tail-spinning economy, and as if Obama had not been successful at lowering those deficits despite Republicans’ best efforts to make Obama fail.

In the latest round, John Boehner sent a memo to House Republicans, in which he cited Lincoln—a favorite pastime for conservatives vainly desperate to score on Lincoln’s gravitas. Boehner wrote,

The book Congressman Lincoln by Chris DeRose, which I recently read, includes a chapter focused on Abraham Lincoln’s efforts to help craft a new national agenda. At one point in the book, young Lincoln warns that government debt is “growing with a rapidity fearful to contemplate.”

“[Government debt] is a system not only ruinous while it lasts, but one that must soon fail and leave us destitute,” Lincoln warns his countrymen in Congressman Lincoln. “An individual who undertakes to live by borrowing, soon finds his original means devoured by interest, and next no one left to borrow from –- so must it be with a government.”

Well, it turns out that if you go to the source material for that quote, a campaign circular for the people of Illinois from March 4, 1843, you find that the quote is indeed authentic, and indeed Lincoln laments debt.

But here’s the thing: the very next words after that quote are,

We repeat, then, that a tariff sufficient for revenue, or a direct tax, must soon be resorted to; and, indeed, we believe this alternative is now denied by no one.

In other words, the very next words in Lincoln’s missive are a conclusion that revenues be raised—the precise solution Boehner and House Republicans have been fighting relentlessly to defeat! Not only that, but Boehner even quotes around Lincoln’s argument for taxation; Boehner cherry-picks the part about debt “growing with a rapidity fearful to contemplate,” but conveniently leaves out the very next sentence; the whole quote is,

By this means a new National debt, has been created, and is still growing on us with a rapidity fearful to contemplate—a rapidity only reasonably to be expected in time of war. This state of things has been produced by a prevailing unwillingness, either to increase the tariff, or resort to direct taxation.

Not just that, but Lincoln himself advocates tariffs over direct taxation not because he dislikes taxes, but because tariffs target the rich:

In short, by this system, the burthen of revenue falls almost entirely on the wealthy and luxurious few, while the substantial and laboring many who live at home, and upon home products, go entirely free.

But wait, it gets even better. Lincoln, as it turns out, was on Obama’s side, as pointed out by Greg Sargent:

Lincoln was also a firm believer in spending public money on infrastructure and boosting the economy.

As an Illinois state legislator, Lincoln was a leading proponent of using the proceeds from sales of public lands to pay for the digging of canals and building of railroads. As a member of Congress, Lincoln defended the idea of federal subsidies for internal improvements. Indeed, Lincoln was an ardent believer in Henry Clay’s “American System,” which was heavily predicated on government sponsored internal improvements and was one of the most significant instances of government intervention in the economy in the country’s history.

“Lincoln was a tremendous advocate of government spending on infrastructure and economic development,” leading Lincoln historian Eric Foner told me. “As president Lincoln presided over a tremendous increase in government spending, not just because of the war but also on the Homestead land grant system and aid to construction of the transcontinental railroad.”

Huh. How about that. Lincoln wanted to raise revenues on the backs of the wealthy and use the money to pay off debts and invest in infrastructure improvements.

Well, Boehner? Any comments about how Abraham Lincoln was a Commie Socialist Fascist?

Unfortunately, the fact that a Republican, whose party has left us in financial ruin, attempts to heap blame on another man after repeatedly sabotaging that man’s efforts to alleviate that ruin, should selectively quote Lincoln in an effort to defeat Lincoln’s principles… well, let’s just call it “par for the course.”

Republicans, as if it is not obvious, and as if I have not said this repeatedly, are the most egregiously asinine lying hypocritical dirtbags you can imagine.

Stop Lying

February 18th, 2013 8 comments

On Bill Maher this weekend, Jamie Weinstein of the Daily Caller made the outright claim that raising the minimum wage would increase unemployment.

As you can see, the others recognize this as outright absurdity, but Weinstein maintains his assertion—despite the fact that it has been thoroughly disproven as a concept. Higher minimum wages pump money right back into an economy; the money does not disappear, it goes out and comes right back in.

Unlike giving more money to rich people—which conservatives claim is a job-creating act. Precisely the opposite also of what is true.

Tax cuts for the rich are the least stimulative thing you can do.

In contrast, food stamps—another thing conservatives hate (because feeding poor people is so Communist)—is one of the most economically stimulative things you can do.

It’s as if conservatives set out to find all the things that help the economy most and destroy them, and then find the things that are worst for the economy and embrace them.

Of course, it was deliberate, but not for those reasons. Instead, it is simply, purely self-interest at work. Greed. Screw the nation, screw the people. I’m getting mine, and you can go to hell.

Or, in other words, American Exceptionalism!

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Descent into Absurdity

January 27th, 2013 3 comments

Wow. After Republicans use every dirty word in the book against Democrats, and attempt to vilify every word in liberalism that’s not dirty, they get all offended at Obama for name-calling.

What unspeakable name did Obama call them?

“Right-wing.”

Yes, the party of “political correctness is fascism” is now seriously offended at being called “right-wing.” Which means that Fox News and the vast majority of those in the conservative media must have Tourette’s Syndrome.

And no, I am not making any of this up. This comes directly from David Avella, President of GOPAC. He appeared on Bill Maher and acted like the president was being so unreasonable and insulting. His words:

AVELLA: The president also talked about not making absolutism for principle, substitute spectacle for politics, and treat name-calling as reasoned debate. This is a week before he sit and name-called and made critical of Republicans in his last press conference! So which Barack Obama are we going to get?

MAHER: What did he call them? What name did he call them?

AVELLA: Oh, he talked about “right-wing Republicans,”…

MAHER: That’s a name-call? “Right wing”?

AVELLA: Sure.

MAHER: “Right wing” is a name-calling now?

AVELLA: It is a name-calling.

Words fail me.

Oh Really.

January 24th, 2013 3 comments

I’ve mentioned before about conservative projection, whereupon right-wingers will have a certain quality or perform a certain act to an extreme, and then accuse their opponents of exactly that.

John Boehner:

And given what we heard yesterday about the president’s vision for his second term, it’s pretty clear to me that he knows he can’t do any of that as long as the House is controlled by Republicans. So we’re expecting over the next 22 months to be the focus of this administration as they attempt to annihilate the Republican Party. And let me just tell you, I do believe that is their goal – to just shove us into the dustbin of history. I’ve been in these spots before. I remember November of ’06, January of ’07 — we’ve been through these periods before. And you know, our members get down, our supporters get down.

Republicans have savaged liberals over the years.

They have viciously attacked the Democratic support bases. If you are a social or political group which provides any substantial backing for the Democratic Party, the GOP will demonize your reputation and work night and day to destroy you as a group. Unions have been brutally decimated by conservatives. Teachers have been made into pariahs. Groups like ACORN, which tried to raise voter registration in poorer communities, was literally obliterated. The list goes on. If you are a significant supporter of Democrats, you go on the hit list, and it is not a metaphorical one: the Republicans will destroy you.

Conservatives have vilified Democratic causes. Reproductive rights was transformed into near-demonic support for murdering babies in the form of the “partial-birth abortion.” Equal rights for non-white male groups were depicted as “special privileges.” Secularism and fairness in religious belief was drawn as a “war on Christianity.” Racism was said to not even exist in our “color-blind” society, where the real evil was Affirmative Action, which somehow made life hell for poor white males. Minorities were told that not only should they not complain about racism, but that they should feel devalued and ashamed if there was even the slightest chance that they received favor through some form of Affirmative Action at any point in their lives.

Republicans have pulled every trick in the book to destroy Democratic voting rights and efforts. While they make completely baseless accusations of Democratic fraud after their own thorough investigations revealed nothing, they attempt to bring back Jim Crow laws even more destructive than ever to block Democratic voting. They resort to all manner of fraud, from voter caging to bogus felons lists. They attack Democratic voter registration organizations and shut them down. They gerrymander the crap out of states, even outside of census cycles, and are now set upon ramming through electoral vote distribution based on gerrymandered districts so that a Democratic candidate for president could win a state like Pennsylvania by 10% of the vote but get only 5 of 16 electoral votes for that state, and would still lose the national election even if they won the popular vote by 10 million ballots.

Politically, they leave only scorched earth. They now besmirch any form of compromise. Complete and utter obstruction is their policy when out of power, and ramming everything through wile leaving the other party in the dark is their policy when in power. If even their own policies become adopted by the other side, they suddenly turn and call them vile.

For Christ’s sake, conservatives have even done their best to make Democratic names into slurs. The campaign to smear the word “liberal” worked so well that many liberals now avoid the word and use “progressive” instead. To this day, conservatives refuse to utter the modifier “Democratic” and instead childishly say things like “the Democrat Party,” in an attempt to disassociate the party from its core values, while pushing the “DemocRAT” slur they so smugly adore.

All of this while their extremist PR arm, Fox News, works 24/7 to ludicrously defame and condemn anything Democratic or liberal, aided by bastions of “news” outfits, think tanks, bloggers, and action groups.


After all of that, Boehner says that Obama is out to annihilate the Republican Party… why? Because Obama outlined a strong agenda in his second inaugural speech?

That doesn’t just break irony. It vaporizes it. It reaches back into time and makes sure that irony died as an infant. It is so far beyond irony that it would take the light from irony two billion years to reach it.

And yet: conservatives will take this statement seriously.

The Republican Party is dying not because the president wants to get rid of them—something which, sadly, he has more or less done the opposite of—the GOP is dying because it is becoming so extreme that it is making extremists shake their heads in dismay. It is dying because their supporters are dying while the groups they vilify are growing.

SecState

December 22nd, 2012 4 comments

Shame on Obama for giving Republicans exactly what they want with Kerry as the new Secretary of State.

Far more shame for “America First” Republicans for engineering Kerry’s placement only so they can get a chance at a Senate seat.

I could forgive Obama if, as is likely, he actually believes that Kerry is the best person for the job—something that seems likely considering that he’ll be giving up something rather significant to get Kerry.

Republicans, however, are a completely different story. They are not trying to get the best person appointed. They are not trying to get someone more conservative nominated. They are doing all of this—to an extent, probably also fiercely opposing Chuck Hagel for Defense as well—for purely strategic and unprincipled political reasons.

Well, That Didn’t Last Long

November 21st, 2012 1 comment

Dean Chambers, the guy who ran that “UnSkewedPolls.com” web site, was unusually rational for a Republican after the election was over. He admitted that he read the polling data wrong, and congratulated Nate Silver on calling it right. At the time, I ran a blog post noting this unusual case from within the right-wing bubble of a Republican recognizing the obvious.

Well, it didn’t last.

Turns out Chambers was probably just nursing a hangover or something, because he got right back up and started “BarackOFraudo.com” (um, that would be “O’Fraud-A, because his name is Obam-A; at least get your vowels right, dude), a web site dedicated to ”exposing how they stole the 2012 election.“

Out of curiosity, I clicked on the state of Ohio on his map, a map (obviously stolen from RealClear Politics) which claims that Obama won four states—Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Florida—through vote fraud. Under the title ”Vote Scamming in Cleveland,“ Chambers notes that ”Democrats are known for years for stuffing the ballot boxes in the city of Cleveland“ (They are? Care to cite any actual evidence, like Bush’s comprehensive 5-year investigation that found essentially nothing?), and boldly claims that ”This was true with the state of Ohio in the 2012 presidential election.“ Yes, we know that because of the huge piles of No Evidence.

Then he backs it up with, well, very ambiguous reporting of numbers with no explicit conclusions. He indirectly cites that Obama won by wide margins in Cuyahoga County, ”including 9 voting divisions where Romney received zero votes and many more voting divisions where Romney received fewer than a half percent of the votes.“ He notes the same in Philadelphia.

Huh. Some of the poorer urban areas of Cleveland and Philadelphia had no votes for Romney. Gee whiz, I wonder how on earth that could have possibly happened? Nothing occurs to me. I will have to carefully think about this, because that sounds oddly suspicious. I cannot imagine any scenario of events or, I don’t know, demographics or stuff, that could possibly account for this.

He links to a right-wing web site where they sense the same curious voter fraud, which, like Chambers, they seem to feel is a sure thing because, well, after all, there was a mural of Obama in a voting precinct somewhere. OK, the mural was in Washington D.C., but apparently it caused massive voter fraud across the entire region.

All this even though they link to a Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper article which explains how such vote counts are, in fact, completely possible:

It’s one thing for a Democratic presidential candidate to dominate a Democratic city like Philadelphia, but check out this head-spinning figure: In 59 voting divisions in the city, Mitt Romney received not one vote. Zero. Zilch. …

In a city with 1,687 of the ward subsets known as divisions, each with hundreds of voters, 59 is about 3.5 percent of the total.

In some of those divisions, it’s not only Romney supporters who are missing. Republicans in general are nearly extinct.

Take North Philadelphia’s 28th Ward, third division, bounded by York, 24th, and 28th Streets and Susquehanna Avenue.

About 94 percent of the 633 people who live in that division are black. Seven white residents were counted in the 2010 census.

In the entire 28th Ward, Romney received only 34 votes to Obama’s 5,920.

Although voter registration lists, which often contain outdated information, show 12 Republicans live in the ward’s third division, The Inquirer was unable to find any of them by calling or visiting their homes.

Four of the registered Republicans no longer lived there; four others didn’t answer their doors. City Board of Elections registration data say a registered Republican used to live at 25th and York Streets, but none of the neighbors across the street Friday knew him. Cathy Santos, 56, founder of the National Alliance of Women Veterans, had one theory: ”We ran him out of town!“ she said and laughed.

James Norris, 19, who lives down the street, is listed as a Republican in city data. But he said he’s a Democrat and voted for Obama because he thinks the president will help the middle class.

A few blocks away, Eric Sapp, a 42-year-old chef, looked skeptical when told that city data had him listed as a registered Republican. ”I got to check on that,“ said Sapp, who voted for Obama.

Eighteen Republicans reportedly live in the nearby 15th Division, according to city registration records. The 15th has the distinction of pitching two straight Republican shutouts – zero votes for McCain in 2008, zero for Romney on Tuesday. Oh, and 13 other city divisions did the same thing in 2008 and 2012.

Three of the 15th’s registered Republicans were listed as living in the same apartment, but the tenant there said he had never heard of them. The addresses of several others could not be found.

Some conservatives are noted as claiming voter fraud is behind some of this and cite it as evidence that there should be voter ID laws in place. The Inquirer points out that ”[t]he absence of a voter-ID law, however, would not stop anyone from voting for a Republican candidate.“ Essentially, any fraud would have to include removing any votes for Romney from the ballot boxes, something not claimed and certainly something not supported by evidence. Nor would ”stuffing the ballot boxes“ in districts amounting to a few thousand votes sway things in a state Obama won by hundreds of thousands.

What we have here are small areas of solidly black, Democratic voters voting en masse for Obama. Which, apparently, is enough to trigger claims of ”vote fraud“ by conservatives.

The right-wing web site amusing concluded, in some of the very small, solidly Democratic districts:

…political uniformity may indeed have been achieved.

Yes. Achieved. It’s a nefarious Democratic plan to get all the low-income black people to gather together in small urban districts so that no one in a few blocks’ radius votes Republican.

Yes, that’s the reason things turned out that way. Such an ingenious, insidious plan!

Back to Chamber’s web site, I was amused to find that the pages for Pennsylvania and Florida had the exact same text as the one for Ohio:

Vote Scamming in [state name]

Democrats are known for years for stuffing the ballot boxes in a number of heavily Democrat leaning [area type] in [geographic area name]… This was true with the state of [state name] in the 2012 presidential election.

Essentially, what these people are getting down to is simple: black people voting for Obama in heavily black areas is equivalent to voter fraud. That’s why we need to stop them from voting with Voter ID laws.

Perfectly logical.

Categories: Republican Stupidity Tags:

This Is What Romney Shouldn’t Have Said

September 18th, 2012 6 comments

When Romney thinks you’re not listening—from a video taken in the spring:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. There are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them, And they will vote for this president no matter what.

And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49… he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years.

And so my job is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to is convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in come cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not.
[emphasis Romney's]

Hmmm. So, I’m dependent upon government checks, am I? Apparently, I don’t take personal responsibility, and I don’t care for my life. Et cetera.

What is significant about this… well, there are several ways that this is significant. The most obvious is that Romney is bashing nearly half the electorate. Way to win over people on the other side, calling 47% of the people irresponsible moochers.

Next, there’s the “47%” number. These are the non-taxpayers, he claims. He makes the remarkable claim that every single one of them is an Obama voter, while every single person in the country who pays taxes is a Republican or undecided. Every single one of them have no sense of personal responsibility; instead, they lay back, take it easy, and live the high life off of welfare checks, food stamps, and free government health care.

So, no Republican is too poor to pay income taxes? Or too rich? No Republican receives welfare, Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits? And people who do are irresponsible, incapable of caring for themselves?

His statement pretty damning evidence that Romney, like many right-wingers, truly has a skewed view of reality.

The 47% he speaks of includes 17 million senior citizens on social security. These are people who paid into the system all their lives, and now use tax breaks to bring their effective tax rate to zero. Does Romney think they don’t deserve those tax breaks? Does he want to get rid of those breaks for seniors? Way to win Florida.

Another huge chunk of people he mentions are not poor, but middle class families taking standard deductions and getting breaks for the care and education of their children. Does Romney want to get rid of those tax breaks? Way to win middle class families.

Besides which, of course, is the fact that the entire supposition about the 47% is flawed: nobody pays no taxes, most pay their share in social security and medicare taxes, most have property taxes, most face state & local taxes, and everyone pays sales taxes. Add those up and you may have close to the 13% that Romney himself paid.

As for “people who believe that they are victims,” that’s a label much more appropriate for right-wingers. The whole canard about the 47% who pay no taxes is in itself a badge of right-wing victimhood—those poor people are victimizing the decent, hard-working, real Americans who vote Republican! The white males who believe that they never benefit due to their race or gender and that when they fail it’s due to affirmative action, these are people who believe that they are victims. The right-wing Christians who think they are persecuted because they can’t have prayer in every last nook and cranny of public life and because a few department stores print ads saying “Happy Holidays,” these are the people who believe that they are victims.

And entitled? How many conservatives get Social Security and Medicare, and would be enraged if they lost these benefits? How many depend on unemployment checks when they lose their jobs? Remember the right-wing crowds bused in to break up Democratic town halls, screaming “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”? These are people who want all the benefits, but only for themselves, and the people who are not as well off—most of whom paid in to these systems and are just as deserving of the benefits—should be cut off. “I’ve got mine, you go screw yourself” is their motto. That’s not a sense of “entitlement”?

There’s so much more to say about that statement, I can’t put it all down here. But above are the key points. Romney and so many conservatives really think this way, that they are the only ones who work hard and pay taxes, and are being victimized by every single Obama voter, who are lazy, irresponsible moochers who demand to suck at the government teat as if it were their god-given right.

Not just Obama, but all Democratic contenders should use this from now to election day in their campaign ads. Romney thinks that if you get Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment benefits, then you’re a bum who can’t take care of himself, you think you’re entitled. Tell Romney that he’s not entitled to the White House,, that’s he’s not entitled to give himself yet another whopping tax cut, that he’s not entitled to raise taxes on the poor and middle class.

Is Government Necessary?

August 12th, 2012 13 comments

Part of an analysis of Obama’s “You Didn’t Build That” false controversy:

Jefferson, whom Democrats claim as the progenitor of their party and whom they celebrate with annual “Jefferson-Jackson Dinners,” was perfectly clear. The people of the United States created the government for one purpose only: to secure their rights. That is, the people, their possessions and their God-given rights existed prior to the state, which the people created to serve them.

With his Roanoke speech, Obama turned Jefferson on his head. In Obama’s formulation, government is not a tool for the people’s use, but the very foundation upon which all of American prosperity is built. Government is not dependent upon the people; the people are dependent upon the government.

Aside from the question of whether the author’s interpretations of the founders’ intentions are correct, the real question here is, can we say that Obama’s analysis is true? Do we depend on the government for being who we are?

The answer is easy: of course we do. I am tempted to add the biting comment, “Duh.”

We would be a completely different nation had we followed limited intentions as to the role of government. The fact is, we have grown, evolved, and become much more than was first established or envisioned. Had we not, we would not be the world power we are today, and we would not have the society we have today.

Historical romanticism is good and all, but you cannot base modern governance upon an ideal of returning to the principles of the role of government which may or may not have been an intended ultimate limit back when we were a fledgling agrarian society in a completely different age where human rights were delegated to a privileged few.

We should also not be fooled by the idea that this is about principles. Those espousing severe cutbacks in government programs are not doing so out of love for historical virtue. It is a more visceral reaction based upon avarice and bias. All the good that government does and has done is either dismissed, taken for granted, or subsumed into accomplishments by agents other than government. The cries for cutbacks come primarily from a desire to funnel money to the sector from which the cries originate while cutting as much as possible the burden of those doing the crying.

As a result, we see not so much reason and support as we do rewriting and obfuscation.

The writer of the article does essentially that. He first dismisses Obama’s idea that the middle class owes much of its existence to the the federal government by throwing up the straw man that Obama’s argument rests upon the supposition that the “middle class” at the time of the revolution would have to have been created, or allowed to form, by King George. Then he dismisses the entire argument about infrastructure by bizarrely arguing that this was the people acting, and not the government acting, defining the difference as being that the American people had tight control over how far the government would go in such endeavors. In short, the key to his argument seems to be based upon redefining things so that he’s right.

This has nothing to do with the argument being made publicly today, including the response to Obama’s statement: that government should not be, nor should ever have been as big as it is or as involved in advancing the general welfare of our nation. Building the nation should be up to private enterprise, as should health care, pensions, schools, security, and most everything else. And if you build a business, it’s all you and the government never did anything to help you–instead it only hindered you. Because we all know that government can never actually create any jobs, and when it tries to help, only horrific disaster ensues.

The question, then, goes back to that fundamental idea which the writer proposed, or more specifically, to the idea being forwarded by conservatives today: that the sole purpose of government is “to secure our rights” and anything beyond that is irrelevant to our achievements, or has actually held us back.

To consider this, you have to ask, exactly how does government secure our rights?

In the minimalist sense, government should do nothing more than is absolutely necessary to see that our rights are preserved. This would require a very small government, defending our borders and doing minimal policing inside them. No foreign wars would be prosecuted; no special services or assistance would be rendered to the people; no involvement in the economy would be performed. The government would make sure we’re not molested from without and do the bare minimum to preserve order within, and otherwise try to be as invisible as possible to the people. No huge projects, no safety nets, no redistribution of wealth. No trying to make the people better, just maintain the status quo and leave the rest up to society without the government sticking its nose in. No forced integration, no affirmative action, no government condoning of things like gay marriage.

Think over our history and how this would have affected our development as a country. Would we be who we are today without that?

Hell, no. We’d be a completely different society, and not a better one. We’d still be capitalist, but with income inequality even more severe than it is now. We would have become a plutocracy far beyond what we see today, with a manufacturing economy spreading from the north based on slave wages, and an agrarian economy from the south based on slave labor. Slavery would have lasted far longer, perhaps even into the present, with civil rights probably still only a dream. Public education would have been for-pay and only for those with wealth, as would be any kind of substantial medical care.

Despite being wealth- and production-centered, American industry and business would not have grown as it did. There would have been no government push for infrastructure. The rail system would have been minimal, interstate highways never built. Electrical systems would not have grown beyond sparse usage. Everything that our government has spent a great deal of money on in terms of infrastructure would have only been built as far as it was economically viable for private business–in short, not nearly as comprehensively as we have today. This would have saved money for businesses in the short run, but stunted their growth terribly in the long run. Computer technology was primarily funded by government spending, even as far back as the 19th century; that industry would have been greatly delayed, and infrastructure like the Internet never built. Ironically, it has not been the people bleeding the rich and the businesses for welfare checks, it has been industry calling for taxpayer money to build infrastructure too expensive for them to build themselves.

The author of the article suggests otherwise, and the argument could be made that building a national infrastructure is vital to preserving the rights of the people. (Ironically, these same conservatives are trying to stop infrastructure spending.) The problem with that argument is that if you take the idea of “preserving the rights of the people” as far as doing things like building infrastructure (acting positively to improve the society the people live in) then you essentially have the government we have today–in fact, you actually have a far more socialist government than we have today. How is providing financial security and good health to the populace not preserving their rights while building an infrastructure is? Really what the author is saying is, “We’ll stick to the absolutist principle except for stuff we like.” Sorry, but no–this is a situation where you cannot be “a little bit pregnant.” Either government works to preserve the rights of the people actively, or it doesn’t. Anything else is not principle, but instead is cherry-picking. Either we stick to the barest principles of the founders or we expand beyond it. You can’t establish a principle and then pick and choose when to violate it and still say the principle is sacrosanct to suit your needs. Sticking to the principle would have meant no government building of infrastructure, instead leaving it to private industry. And the fact is, we have decided as a society to act in the people’s interest.

Minimalists would have furthermore only protected imminent threats to our borders, but would not have participated in conflicts overseas. Even the Monroe Doctrine might not have passed. America would not have expanded its influence overseas, and would have sat out the first two world wars, figuring that we were not threatened because it would be too costly for European and Asian powers to bring war to American shores. America would never have become a world leader, and its ability to extend trade beyond its own shores would be in grave doubt.

I could go on, but you get the idea. All of this and far, far more serves as the foundation for the America we all know and want to have. It is all based on a strong central government which has grown well beyond simply minimally maintaining the rights of citizens–something which, when the Constitution was drafted, was limited mostly to wealthy white male land owners in any case.

What the government became, and what conservatives are trying to deconstruct, is a government which acts as an advocate for the people. If industry pollutes, the government stops them from harming the people. If a group is deprived of its rights by a bigoted majority, the government protects the rights of the people, not the ability of the majority to persecute. If the people are forced through desperate poverty to work for ruinous wages in harmful conditions, the government becomes their advocates. But the government does more than just that; it has tried to create a society where, as in a family, no one gets left behind to die in the street. It intervenes so the elderly are not forced to sleep under bridges in winter because some rich bastard stole their pension funds; so the poor are not made to starve in a land of plenty; so people can expect decent medical care without having to pay a king’s ransom because an industry holds their very lives as hostage.

Conservatives hate this. To them, it means that they are paying money for some freeloading bum to live in the lap of luxury with washing machines and big-screen TVs. They see a stark dichotomy with them doing all the work and making all the progress while half the nation sits on their ass without paying a dime in taxes, smoking dope and buying booze with food stamps, acting as parasites on the teat of big government. Reagan’s mythical welfare queen, now on steroids and writ large across an entire class.

Conservatives hate this straw-man moocher. You heard the crowds at the debates, not cheering, but shouting in outraged triumph at the idea of letting a poor schmuck die cold and alone in the streets instead of making them participate in paying for health care that would save the man’s life. You heard the crowds bused in to disrupt town hall meetings: I’ve got my Medicare, don’t you dare tax me to pay for health care for the poor. This is what they mean when they say they want “their country back.” It is what this all really comes down to: not a return to the founders’ glorious principles, but instead, “I want the benefits of government for me, not for those other bums.” Its just like the vote-suppression movements: “this country is for me; I deserve it and you’re a no-good parasite; you can go to hell!” They see others as being selfish when in fact it is them.

Obama was perfectly correct, and those who think government should never have grown beyond its infancy are indulging in a pipe dream. We are, in fact, not just dependent on each other within our own borders, we are dependent upon the world as a whole. Contrary to the fantasy world some libertarians dream of, you cannot have even a fraction of the wealth and prosperity we have enjoyed without also requiring exactly the things that these people wish never existed. Anyone who thinks they built a business and did it “completely” on their own is sadly and selfishly mistaken. Anyone who believes they would be better off without government is a fool.

The fact is, were the “drownable in a bathtub” government to exist, these people would not have a fraction of the things they presume have appeared because of their own individual efforts or the independent might of free markets. They are prosperous and believe they owe no one else for that prosperity.

Reality is very much distant from that presumption.

Petards Indeed

July 27th, 2012 5 comments

There’s one thing I find deliciously ironic about the fact that Romney has royally screwed the pooch and insulted millions of Britons.

He can’t apologize.

Categories: Election 2012, Republican Stupidity Tags:

When You Think about It, the Lack of Reasoning Makes Perfect Sense

May 7th, 2012 3 comments

Heartlandboard

The Heartland Institute is a conservative “think tank” (read: propaganda engine) set upon supporting conservative and corporate agendas. Aside from denying global warming, the institute has famously challenged the adverse effects of cigarette smoke, opposes public health care and education, and essentially supports privatizing almost everything government does. So one cannot expect them to exactly come from a place of reason if their purpose is so deeply set in supporting positions not achieved by reason. When you are so invested in issues that deny the obvious because they fail to benefit the political and economic agenda you want to believe in, basic logic tends to fly out the window.

Even so, the billboards on climate change had me puzzled for a while, in that they seemed so stupid, so nonsensical, that I figured I was missing the point. I mean, a fifth-grader could figure out that even bad people can believe in true things. Adolph Hitler believed that pi equals 3.14159! Do you?

Seriously, that does not even pass the laugh test. Trying to apply guilt-by-association to common-sense facts is, well, stupid. It truly puts on display how divorced from basic logic people like those at Heartland really are.

Filed Under “Petard, Own, Hoisted By”

April 15th, 2012 1 comment

Newt is pissed off because Fox News is biased:

During a meeting with 18 Delaware Tea Party leaders here on Wednesday, Newt Gingrich lambasted FOX News Channel, accusing the cable network of having been in the tank for Mitt Romney from the beginning of the Republican presidential fight. …

“I think FOX has been for Romney all the way through,” Gingrich said during the private meeting … at Wesley College. “In our experience, Callista and I both believe CNN is less biased than FOX this year. We are more likely to get neutral coverage out of CNN than we are of FOX, and we’re more likely to get distortion out of FOX. That’s just a fact.”

He’s OK with the network being obsessively biased in favor of conservatives, but is pissed when they are unfair to him. We all know that the man’s not such an idiot that he actually believes Fox is “fair and balanced.” I mean, if the man seriously thinks that Fox News is usually less politically biased than any other network, he’d have to be the blindest dumbass ever. Which he’s not. Which tags him as a whining hypocrite.

Another category to file it under: “Waaahhhhh.” Or, “Irony’s a Bitch.”

Cheerleading for the Freeloaders

April 2nd, 2012 3 comments

Van Jones makes a salient point:

“It’s so amazing to hear the Republican Party now cheerleading for the freeloaders,” Jones said on ABC’s This Week. “They say ‘hey listen, if you dive-bomb yourself into an emergency room, don’t worry about it, taxpayers will pay for it; we have no — there’s nothing we can do to make sure people don’t pay on the front end.’”

“What I don’t understand is, what does the Republican Party want here?” he added. “If we can’t have single payer, we can’t have a public option, and we can’t have individual responsibility, what we’re going to have here is more Americans dying.”

What it comes down to, of course, is that Republicans are simply opposed to just about anything Obama proposes, including their own pet policies–which the individual mandate was. Had McCain won and proposed this, the very same Republicans would all be pushing for it. As McConnell so aptly put, their number one priority is to make Obama fail; everything else, even their own policies, and surely the well-being of Americans, is secondary.

In response to Van Jones, Ann Coulter rather blindly stated that it is, quote:

“a freeloader problem created by Congress” thanks to a law requiring that emergency rooms do not turn down patients.

As if Van Jones had not just pointed out that it has been Republicans who, for the past few years, have consistently suggested freeloader use of emergency rooms as a viable alternative to health care insurance. She’s responding to Van Jones’ criticisms of Republicans encouraging this by saying that it’s a horrible mess created by Congress.

So, either she’s deaf and had no idea what he said, or she wasn’t listening, or she’s joining in on criticizing Republicans, or she’s just dumb as a post.

One presumes, however, that her point is that we shouldn’t have freeloaders using emergency rooms. As Van Jones pointed out, however, lacking the only alternatives–single payer, public option, or the individual mandate–millions of Americans will suffer and die without proper medical care.

Cue enthusiastic cheering from the Republican debate audience. “Americans suffering and dying! YEAHHH!!!”

Categories: Health Issues, Republican Stupidity Tags:

Assumptions and End Logic

December 31st, 2011 4 comments

This Rand Paul quote won the Malkin Award at Sullivan’s blog:

With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. It means you believe in slavery. It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses. … You have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you? That’s ultimately what the right to free health care would be.

This did not make sense to me the first time I read it; it sounded like a completely absurd non-sequitur, that having compulsory health care enslaves everyone in the health care industry. No doctor would ever be forced to do anything at gunpoint or by any other means of coercion, much less for no pay as the charge of ‘slavery’ would imply.

He did make this rationalization:

Basically, once you imply a belief in a right to someone’s services — do you have a right to plumbing? Do you have a right to water? Do you have right to food? — you’re basically saying you believe in slavery.

The problem, of course, is that it doesn’t work that way. I have a right to legal representation, but that doesn’t make a slave of the public defender. Such public services are paid for by the government, and no one in the service industry is forced to participate, nor is forbidden from making their own private practice.

So one has to wonder, is Paul deranged? How did he make the leap to slavery? I didn’t see it at the time.

However, reading it now, I see a code statement there which completes the “logic” circuit of the statement (if “logic” is a word that can be used here):

You have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you?

Out of context, that just sounds like a statement which supports the wild claim of enslavement, but it actually opens a window on the basis of the entire view (with the word “ultimately” in the next sentence modifying the sentiment).

This is something I did not realize before because I had not heard a core belief of Libertarian anti-taxation reasoning.

The reasoning is this: taxes are mandatory, which means that if you steadfastly refuse to pay them, the government will, ultimately, send people with guns to your door to force you to pay. Therefore, taxation equals theft at gunpoint. This reasoning is especially applied to compassionate acts, government activities to benefit the downtrodden. This is bad, as the use of tax money to do good acts is essentially use armed robbery to accomplish charity, and that is wrong. You can’t force people to do good things.

For some Libertarians, especially those of the Randian stripe, this is a fundamental concept which is thoroughly ingrained in their thinking.

In light of that reasoning, re-read the Rand Paul statement above, and suddenly his thought process becomes apparent. He wasn’t thinking through a real-life scenario where the issuance of the Affordable Care Act would literally lead to him being dragooned into medical thralldom.

Instead, he was taking the Libertarian maxim that taxation (especially for government acts of compassion) equals armed robbery, and applying it to the context of health care reform. Since taxation means that eventually the government forces you to pay at gunpoint, he reasoned that the equivalent is that compulsory health care eventually means that doctors will be forced to treat at gunpoint. From there, he got to the idea of health care workers being enslaved. Confusing the point is his statement that it was not an abstraction–but that’s exactly what it was. It just wasn’t an abstraction for Rand Paul, because the idea of taxation being armed robbery is so solidly hard-wired into his world-view that he takes it completely literally, and thinks it is a concrete step in a chain of reasoning.

Without the Libertarian concept in mind, one gets lost along the way. Paul could see the sense in it, as could many who have the same core philosophy. Without that knowledge, however, his claim sounds not just ludicrous, but wholly nonsensical.

This is the problem with any kind of interpersonal communication, really: many of us have basic assumptions which may differ greatly from those held by others. Since we form chains of reasoning which employ these assumptions, we come to conclusions which confuse other people because they lack that assumption.

For example, let’s say that I believe that computers put out radiation which causes all manner of health problems with just limited exposure. Let’s say that it is so core a belief that I either assume that everyone else knows it or can’t imagine anyone else not knowing it. Consequently, when you take out your laptop when you are around me, you will not understand why I get upset or accuse you of trying to kill me. I’ll sound like I’m insane.

In short, the key to understanding the madness on the conservative side of politics today is to know what particular brand of utter bullshit the people you hear talking take for granted. That will allow you to better understand their lines of thinking which lead them to believe that Obama runs death panels and other crap along those lines.

Alternatively, all too often there is no line of reasoning–they believe all manner of demented nonsense simply because they heard it somewhere and want to believe it. They’ll hear bullshit from sources like Fox News and simply assume that there is a line of reasoning which leads to the story they enjoy hearing.

That’s how, for example, they can believe Obama is a communist and a fascist at the same time–they heard one pundit say he’s a communist, and another say he’s a fascist. They trust both sources and simply accept whatever they say as truth. Since they did not go through the thought processes which lead to the conclusion, nor did they question either conclusion, they believe both at the same time and see no problem with it.