Archive for the ‘Republican Stupidity’ Category

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!

Categories: Republican Stupidity Tags:

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?


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”?


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.


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 “” 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 “” (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


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.

How to Piss Off a Canadian

December 29th, 2011 1 comment

Rick Perry knows how:

“Every barrel of oil that comes out of those sands in Canada is a barrel of oil that we don’t have to buy from a foreign source,” Mr. Perry said in Clarinda, earning a loud round of enthusiastic applause.

One has to wonder exactly how many people in that crowd of supporters actually noticed the error.

One thing that you find out from being around Canadians (as I have here in Japan, where the working holiday visa has drawn a disproportionate number) is that they don’t particularly enjoy it when Canada is naturally assumed to be a “part” of the United States. If you want to really annoy a Canadian, ask them if Canada became a state before or after Hawaii. One interesting by-product of the resulting conversation is that you will learn how many and which Hollywood stars are actually Canadians.

Republicans and Economics: Reputation for Expertise, Track Record for Cluelessness

October 23rd, 2011 8 comments

A few weeks ago, I posted a stump speech I felt Obama should be making. In it, I pointed out that while Obama is trying to push a modest jobs plan, Republicans are blocking it. I also claimed that Republicans have no jobs plan of their own. They would deny this, of course; they have pitched a plan that they call a “jobs” plan. The plan: erase even more regulations so corporations can pollute. The idea is, if we stop holding back industries from making our air unbreathable, our water undrinkable, and our soil packed with toxic wastes, they will be free to create more jobs. That is logic along the lines of letting criminals serving time for assault & battery out of prison so that we can hire more doctors and nurses.

Paul Krugman (hat tip to Ken) meets this proposal with scorn from the economic side, debunking the idea that it will create loads of new jobs. Pay close attention to the last sentence in the excerpt:

Mr. Perry has put out a specific number — 1.2 million jobs — that appears to be based on a study released by the American Petroleum Institute, a trade association, claiming favorable employment effects from removing restrictions on oil and gas extraction. The same study lies behind the claims of Senate Republicans.

But does this oil-industry-backed study actually make a serious case for weaker environmental protection as a job-creation strategy? No.

Part of the problem is that the study relies heavily on an assumed “multiplier” effect, in which every new job in energy leads indirectly to the creation of 2.5 jobs elsewhere. Republicans, you may recall, were scornful of claims that government aid that helps avoid layoffs of schoolteachers also indirectly helps save jobs in the private sector. But I guess the laws of economics change when it’s an oil company rather than a school district doing the hiring.

This is really what is at the heart of Republican thinking, especially when it comes to economics: “facts” are things we make up to benefit ourselves.

When people listen to conservatives speaking about economics, they tend to give them credence, in part because they sound so confident giving all of these “facts,” but also because conservatives have a long-standing reputation for fiscal responsibility and know-how.

The truth, however, is that they play fast and look with the facts, and when they want to argue their own points or lambaste the opposition, they tend to do so in reckless disregard for even the most fundamental economic principles.

For example, one claim they have been making for a few decades now is that during the Reagan years, taxes were cut and revenues doubled. I heard this just last week, coming from a conservative on Bill Maher’s show. This claim is not just wrong, it is actually fraught with distortion. It tries to proves the claim that cutting taxes increases revenues, but ignores that fact that while some taxes were cut during that period, other taxes were raised, arguably for a net tax increase.

However, the big lie in the assertion is that Reagan doubled revenue, based on the fact that government revenues went from $517 billion in 1980 to $1,031 billion in 1990. First, this calculation includes Carter’s last year in office as well as Bush 41’s first two years. To be accurate, we must actually run from Reagan’s first year in office–1981, by the end of which Reagan’s economic policies were just beginning to kick in (his first tax cut did not take effect until 1982)–as a baseline, and then take the last year in office as a reading of actual increases. That gives us a rise from $599 billion to $909 billion, an increase just a shade over 50%. So, right there, we see the claim half-shattered.

But that’s not even the main point–remember, I am positing the idea that conservatives abandon the most obvious economic facts and principles to distort reality. What was the fundamental economic idea they ignored here?

Inflation. In order for any judgment to be made on revenue, inflation absolutely must be factored out–otherwise Jimmy Carter would come across looking like a magician. So, when you look at the numbers honestly and factor out inflation–using 1987 constant dollars–how did Reagan fare? Well, he went from $767 billion in 1981 to $877 billion in 1989. A net increase of 14%. Add to that the fact that the U.S. population grew by 7% during that time, and we see the net increase which could be attributed to tax policy brought down to a mere 7%.

So, instead of Reagan cutting taxes and doubling revenue, we have him raising taxes overall and increasing revenue by 7%.

Conservatives, however, would prefer to credit Reagan for things that happened when he was not president, and conveniently forget fundamental economic factors such as inflation and population growth.

Nor is the conservative habit of playing fast and loose with economics limited to Reagan. A more current example is their claim that Obama is responsible for the unemployment rate hitting 10%. Sure enough, unemployment hit 10.1% in October 2009, fully 9 months after Obama took office. So, hard to refute that one, right? Pretty sound fact conservatives have to nail Obama with, right?

Of course, no. First of all, when Bush took office in 2001, the unemployment rate was 4.2%; this rate rose to 6.3% by June of 2003, a fact which, one can be sure, conservatives would quickly attribute to the recession they claim Clinton saddled Bush with. It was another two and a half years–five years after Bush took office–before the rate fell below 5% again.

Jump forward to early 2008, a full year before Obama took office. The unemployment rate was at 4.8%, near to where it had been hovering for the previous three years. Then, in mid-year, the effects of the sub-prime crisis, the beginning of Bush’s Great Recession, started to show; the unemployment rate rose until, in February 2009, when Obama was in office, it hit 8.2%. (Unless you want to credit Obama with numbers that represent a month 2/3rds presided over by Bush, in which case it was 7.8%.)

So, right off the bat, we have Bush overseeing a rise in the rate from 4.8% to 8.2%–a 3.4% jump, or a 70% increase. Conservatives conveniently pretend this never happened–that the rate rose under Bush at all, or that the trend began with him. While they would eagerly attribute two years of rises in the Bush unemployment rate to Clinton, they would not dream of crediting Bush with any of the rate’s rise in Obama’s first nine months.

But still, the rate rose from 8.2% to 10.1% under Obama, right? That’s a 1.9% rise, or about 23%–so, still we can criticize Obama, right? OK, let’s blame Bush for the rate’s rise once he started office. See? I can be reasonable when it helps my argument. Can’t we then blame Obama for the 1.9% spike up to 10.1%?

Here, again, is where conservatives conveniently forget Economics 101. The unemployment rate, you see, is what you can call a “lagging” indicator–in other words, it does not immediately reflect changes in the economy. It takes 2-3 quarters to do so. For example, consistent job losses did not begin until January of 2008–but it took until May or June for these figures to have an effect on the unemployment rate.

Which means that at least the first six months of the unemployment rate under Obama is actually a direct reading on the last six months of the Bush administration. That would mean Bush was directly responsible for taking the unemployment rate not just up to 8.2%, but up to at least 9.5%–a total rise of 4.7%, roughly double the rate. Obama, then, is only responsible for the rate going from 9.5% to 10.1%–a mere 6% next to Bush’s staggering 98%.

And that is only if you blame Obama for the unemployment rate increases that started the moment he sat down at his desk, which is unrealistic, as he had to slow the plummet before he could turn it around. It is completely fair to claim–I would even say it is a solid fact–that Bush was completely responsible for the rise in the unemployment rate. Considering also that job losses did not begin to slow until just after Obama’s stimulus and therefore can easily be attributed directly to that act, it would be just as fair and factual to attribute the subsequent lowering of the rate to 9.1% to Obama.

So, instead of Obama causing the unemployment rate to shoot up to 10%, Bush is fully responsible, while Obama stopped the increase and actually brought it down a bit. Conservatives deny this simply by ignoring Bush’s existence and then conveniently forgetting the fundamental economic fact that the unemployment rate is a lagging indicator.

Not that any of this is a surprise. Whatever financial & economic clout, aptitude, or reputation conservatives might have had, it has now been thoroughly trashed. Yes, there are undoubtedly conservatives with good economic smarts around–but they seem to be in hiding.

In fact, the Republican party seems to be going completely around the bend; instead of just claiming that tax cuts for the rich will create jobs, now they are clamoring for significant tax hikes on the poor and the middle class in addition to tax cuts for the rich–and are arguing that in order to create jobs, all we have to do is open the flood gates on pollution. And, oh yeah, they want to dismantle health care.

If the American people–the 99%–vote Republicans into office next year, they will get exactly what they deserve: a trashed economy, higher taxes for them, even more tax cuts for the rich, and air, water and soil so polluted they’ll start getting sicker faster–just as Republicans shatter the last remnants of public health care.

In other words, they will not only be idiots–they will be suicidal idiots.

Seriously, could the Republican Party be more openly hostile to the American people? They’re like a mugger who just stole your money and knifed you in the gut, then told the you that it was all the fault of the cop who tried to stop him but failed–so vote for the mugger!

Looks Like I Picked the Wrong Day to Quit Blogging

August 6th, 2011 15 comments

The U.S.’s credit rating has been downgraded, with S&P citing political infighting and poor debt handling. Most significantly, this would not have happened if the Republicans had not taken the U.S. economy hostage, taking us intentionally to the very brink in a manner that assured it would end like this.

Once again, let us not forget who brought us here. Ten years ago, we were in surplus territory. Despite claims by Tea Partiers and conservatives in general that this is all the fault of Obama and the Dems, it was the Bush tax cuts, the two massive wars, the general mismanagement and the Great Recession which brought us to this point. And as weak as Obama and the Dems have been, it has been the Republicans who have been the primary force which continues to take us in the wrong direction.

They will undoubtedly react by becoming even more recalcitrant and hostile. The idiots.

Not that the downgrade is fully reasonable. But it has happened, and conservatives brought us here.

If the American people react to this by electing any more Republicans into office, they are the worst idiots imaginable. Seriously.

And no, I am not returning to blogging full-time. I noted that I would return occasionally when the mood hit me–it simply happened that a story like this broke the day after I said I’d be stopping. Figures.

It’s Simple

July 15th, 2011 1 comment

Romney holds Obama responsible for the entire budget/debt crisis Republicans have manufactured, claiming that Obama could end it any time he wants:

“It is within the president’s power to say to the leadership in the house and the senate that ‘I’ll cut spending, I’ll cap the amount of spending, and I’ll pursue a balanced budget amendment,’ and if the president were to do that this whole debt limit problem goes away.”

Of course, since Republicans won’t agree to any tax hike (except on the poor or struggling small businesses because they’re slackers who aren’t contributing), and will never agree to cutting defense, basically this means that all Obama has to do is either dismantle Medicare or Social Security, or else reduce both significantly. And take all the blame for it.

See? All Obama has to do is abandon all his principles, betray his party, fall on his sword, and give in on every single demand the Republicans are making. Simple! He can end this any time he wants to! And if he doesn’t, we threaten to run the U.S. economy over a cliff and take the world economy with it.

It is truly difficult to figure out which is the most outrageously inflated–the Republicans’ gall, idiocy, obstinacy, ego, or rank dishonesty. All are stunning in their magnificence.

The Master Plan

July 13th, 2011 2 comments

Republican strategy: abandon all accountability, pile it on the president (when, constitutionally, the budget is their responsibility), and then cast all blame, for all wrongs past, present, and future, on Obama.

Possible fault: they look like weak, scared idiots with no plan except to point the finger of blame. Or so it would seem to me, but I’m biased.

Categories: Republican Stupidity Tags:

Liberals Are Out to Get Me, So Let’s Tax the Poor

July 12th, 2011 1 comment

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch recently made a public statement chock-full of erroneous junk and studded with error. Let’s take a look. First, the merely political:

“It touched a nerve because last week after I raised this issue on the Senate floor, MSNBC and the liberal blogosphere — presumably armed with the talking points from the Senate Democrat war room — went ballistic suggesting that I wanted to balance the budget by raising taxes on the poor,” Hatch said.

This is more a political standby than an error, but citing MSNBC as a liberal bastion is not entirely accurate. It’s just the best that they have now. It used to be CBS–remember when that was what people used to counter Fox News? Not because it was actually a liberal bastion, but because it could be painted as one–for no other reason than that once, the CBS News anchor went after a story about Bush that turned out to be false. MSNBC may be an easier target because it has a strong lineup of liberal opinion shows, but the channel itself is no liberal bastion. They used to have a strongly conservative lineup, and still have people like Joe Scarborough, hardly a leftie. MSNBC, unlike Fox, is only home to many left-leaning shows because it has found them to be profitable; were that support to dry up overnight and right-wing shows become money-makers, they would switch. Fox, on the other hand, is a conservative bastion, in that they would never change their orientation, no matter what. It is their identity. With MSNBC, it’s the flavor of the day–not Democratic Party Headquarters.

This exaggeration of political bias is only reinforced by his next, almost conspiracy-theory statement that there exists a “Senate Democrat war room” which churns out “talking points” loyally taken up by liberal armies to vilify poor Hatch whenever he says something that could be taken the wrong way. This shows up the common conservative trait of projection–of accusing the opposition of doing what they themselves do all the time. Either it’s a way of trying to cast guilt away from themselves, or else it displays an inability for them to imagine people acting in a way different from what they consider so natural. Just watch Jon Stewart for a short time and you’ll inevitably see his version of shooting fish in a barrel: showing a long string of conservatives repeating, almost verbatim, the exact same word or phrase, again and again and again, showing up the power of the right-wing organization distributing and faithfully executing the day’s talking points.

And Democrats? If only they could be so solidly organized. On their best days, maybe, but usually they have far less effectiveness in getting any solidified point of view out. It comes both from being disorganized and from having a big tent.

Next, Hatch gets to the meat of the issue, to what those nasty liberals have so wrongly smeared him for: his desire to raise taxes on the poor and the lower-middle class, because they’re all a bunch of liberal freeloaders living large off of hard-working Republicans.

“I’m not surprised, but this completely misses my point and the point, and the point is this: no matter what these Democrats tell you, the wealthy and middle class are already shouldering around 100 percent of the nation’s tax burden, and 51 percent pay absolutely nothing in income taxes,” Hatch said.

Well, obviously this is not true. “100 percent of the nation’s tax burden”? Not even close. Even disregarding things like import duties, Hatch apparently feels that things like property taxes, state and local taxes, payroll taxes, and a variety of other taxes never hit the poor. And even if a person somehow avoids any of those by not owning a house, by living in a non-tax state or having an income so low they never touch you, or by not having a job, nobody escapes sales taxes entirely. Most “non payers” paid around 10% of their income in payroll taxes alone. Note that Hatch plays with the truth–he refers more accurately to “income tax,” but intentionally mixes it with the just-as-clear statement that they pay no taxes at all.

So, what about that 51 percent? Are they truly freeloaders sitting comfortably in, if not luxury, then in a decent standard of living, not paying what they could?

Well, first of all, 51% is a statistical blip–in the past, it was usually under 40%. Why is it high now? Because of the recession Bush drove us into. About 10% of taxpayers have lost jobs or else taken major hits to their incomes, driving them under the lower limits for federal income tax. Bush drove unemployment from under 5% to over 10%, and Hatch is surprised that this affects revenue?

Second, many of those are people you would not expect to pay taxes in any case–like retirees living off of Social Security not great enough to qualify for income taxes. A huge chunk–fully 75%–are people who make less than $20,000, well into poverty. We’re talking about a lot of part-time, minimum-wage workers. Really, Orrin, you want to tax them more? 97% make less than $40,000 a year, many if not most of those with families to support. Orrin, you try living on $40,000 a year today with three kids and see how comfy you are. In that state, I don’t think you’d be whining about how low your taxes are.

What about the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)? Well, a large part of that contingent is people who usually pay income taxes, but whose income has fallen to a low level for the current year–that’s one reason the “no federal income tax” crowd has peaked recently–because of, as stated above, the Bush recession and unemployment numbers. Most people getting the EITC are getting it short-term, and pay much more in taxes over time than the credits they receive.

So, right off the bat, we can see that it’s not such a huge contingent of freeloaders here. Just over one percent make any kind of decent living with disposable income and pay no federal income taxes, though they probably pay a whole bunch of other taxes.

But what about those people? They get tax breaks and tax credits and so forth! How about that guy making $75,000 a year and using tax breaks to pay nothing! Oh, wait, he’s a small businessman claiming business losses, carry-overs, and other tax breaks. You know–the kind that Republicans, like Orrin Hatch, claim they want to help, but are really using as a feint to get more tax breaks for the wealthy.

And that’s where the real hypocrisy comes in. Republicans can’t stand a person making $50,000 a year using tax breaks to avoid paying a few thousand dollars when that person is hardly living in luxury–but they have absolutely no problem at all giving far greater tax cuts, even to the tune of millions of dollars, or even billions for corporations, to people and organizations already flush with cash. They would have happily overlooked the billions of tax refunds to oil companies making obscene profits already and paying no taxes, but a family of five making $60,000 a year and getting away with paying no taxes because of the recession? Those freeloading, mooching bastards!

When it comes down to it, there are a few taxes at this level which can be raised–but not without being hypocritical when you fail to raise taxes far more significantly amongst wealthier Americans. If you think that a family scraping by with barely enough to keep their nostrils above water can afford to “pay their fair share,” then you can damn fracking well deal with raising the marginal tax rate on millionaires from 35% to 39%. Don’t worry, the rich won’t go on strike.

The basic fact: there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. As Heinlein said, TANSTAAFL. We need to raise taxes. But not, as Republicans now insist, on people making small incomes. Mostly, we need to up taxes on those already paying them, like it or not.

Here’s the real hoot:

“Keep in mind, I don’t believe we should tax the truly poor, but now that’s up to 51 percent in just over two years of this administration — people who don’t pay income taxes,” Hatch said. “Are they all truly poor? I don’t know. All I know is that it doesn’t sound right that the majority of people — the majority of tax units — in this country do not pay income taxes, and the minority has to carry the burden.”

“Keep in mind, I don’t believe we should tax the truly poor”–really, Orrin? Then why is it that you’re saying exactly that?

There’s the money quote: “Are they all truly poor? I don’t know.” That’s right, Orrin. You don’t know. You don’t have a clue. Or, more likely, you do, but you want to make something false sound true. Am I exaggerating? Hell, no–Orrin says that next: “All I know is that it doesn’t sound right.” Wow. An argument boasting ignorance, showing that he is not even trying to get the facts, easily accessible to him. Or else he is purposefully ignoring them.

Yes, we should listen to people like this. We should elect them to lead. The Republican Party: Let’s Tax Poor People Because That’s What a Clueless Person Would Do.

Rewarding Sabotage

June 23rd, 2011 1 comment

From TPM:

They’ve made it explicit. Democrats are accusing Republicans of trying to sabotage the recovery — or at least stall it — by blocking all short-term measures to boost the economy, even ones they previously supported.

Ya think?

And this is news? It’s been happening since Obama took office. When most economists were saying that we needed boosts in infrastructure and other job- and value-creating spending, and that more tax cuts were the least stimulating, Republicans fought tooth and nail for less stimulus and more tax cuts. While the Dems, and especially Obama, have been far too conciliatory and indulgent with right-wing demands, they have worked in mostly the right direction for recovery (or at least a much better direction), and, were it not for the changes they allowed Republicans to wheedle them into making, we’d be in a lot better shape right now.

Much of it may just be Republicans favoring their more wealthy constituents or following the party line, opposing anything Obama and the Dems propose–but it does, in fact, have the overall effect of sabotaging any economic recovery.

Republicans have demonstrated, repeatedly, that they consider their own hold on power as a far higher priority than the health and welfare of the people and the country. Boehner said it clearly enough: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term President.” The Republican leadership knows full well that a wrecked economy will hurt Obama and the Dems while they are in office, and that when Republicans take power back, the absence of them wrecking the economy can be played as them “saving” it. In the meantime, they are quite happy to threaten shutdowns and defaults and everything else that could make the economy tank, knowing that so long as Obama is in the White House, everything they do to trash the economy will be “his” fault.

The real tragic irony is that, in 2010, and probably again in 2012, the people, as a result of this purposeful slowing of the recovery, have rewarded and will likely reward those who harmed them the most.