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Process of a Smear

December 10th, 2014 4 comments

Recently, I’ve heard more than a few people in media express wonder at why people in general have such an adverse reaction to the word “feminist.” Considering that the word simply expresses the idea of equality between men and women, why is there such a negative sense to the word?

The answer is easy: feminists are a liberal constituency. And if you’re a liberal constituency or issue, there is a process of denigration that is rather consistently carried out.

Here’s how it goes:

Step One: Find the most extreme, worst example of that issue or group.

Step Two: Assume all the worst imaginable motives for the worst possible intentions.

Step Three: Subtract or diminish any redeeming qualities.

Step Four: Exaggerate what remains.

Step Five: Add imaginary negative qualities to it to suit common fears and build scapegoats.

Step Six: Claim that this is wholly representative of the issue or group.

Step Seven: Popularize and reinforce as much as possible in the media.

This happens for pretty much any liberal constituency that you can imagine. Feminists? Arrogant, aggressive, ugly, butch, man-hating lesbians intent on dominating men because they were never admired by them.

Minorities? Shiftless, aggressive, uneducated, drug-using incipient criminals with a sense of entitlement enabled by feeble-minded liberals, looking to get free government handouts paid for with taxes taken from hard-working conservative whites. Ignore and whitewash the centuries of relentless discrimination which has kept so many minorities in poverty and/or jail.

Unions? Corrupt thugs who command high salary and benefits only for those in their lodge; union workers are under-qualified oafs demanding constant breaks, more concerned with union rules than efficiency, demanding union fees like a protection racket while stifling efficiency and production at the cost of the taxpayer, their padded paychecks causing American companies to fail and be less competitive. Ignore and whitewash the endless accomplishments of unions to create universal standards for strong, well-paid jobs with safe working conditions.

The poor? Welfare queens, the indigent 47%, either unemployed by choice or stuck in low-end jobs because they refuse to work hard, always on the make for another government handout—food stamps, welfare checks, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security—while living in taxpayer-funded government housing with all the modern conveniences (they have refrigerators!), always ready to convert food stamps into liquor and fine dining or welfare checks into big-screen teevees and nice cars. Ignore and whitewash the fact that these people do the lion’s share of the most difficult and necessary work to keep our society functioning, and pay a great deal in taxes to earn their fair share.

Educators? Lazy ivory-tower socialists unable to get a real job in the free market who opt for a job with banker’s hours and three full months off in summer while demanding tenure so they can never be fired no matter how inept or harmfully incompetent they are—because of union protection. Ignore and whitewash how overworked and underpaid these well-trained professionals are in doing one of the most important tasks in society.

Same thing with issues. Abortion? Late-term abortion, happens all the time, bloody fetuses resembling newborns, used frequently and callously by feminists as an alternative to virtuous self-control.

Affirmative Action? Reverse racism, allowing any and every unqualified minority to grab a college slot they do not deserve or demand a job that would have gone to a better-qualified white person, after which they are bulletproof and exempt from the same requirements and standards whites must satisfy.

I could go on, but you get the idea. Think of any liberal constituency or issue and you’ll find the same laundry list of extreme, exaggerated, irredeemable, negative qualities applied to the entire interest. This has grown to include cities (San Francisco, Hollywood, Chicago, Boston, etc.) and any professions where liberalism is considered dominant.

If a group or issue begins to lean liberal where it did not before, or becomes more significant than it previously was, it is added to the list and put through the same process. Scientists were not one of the constituencies until evolution and climate change started to become bigger issues; when that happened, we started hearing about scientists whoring for government grants and so forth. If, say, nurses or farmers begin to emerge as a group supporting liberals, we’ll begin to see similar stereotypes begin to form.

So, no, I am not surprised that feminism has gotten a bad name. That constituency was smeared a long time ago.

Categories: Right-Wing Lies, Social Issues Tags:

What’s a Jobs Bill? Who Cares, SUE OBAMA!

July 13th, 2014 3 comments

Boehner’s petition to sue the president included this claim:

After years of slow economic growth and high unemployment under President Obama, they are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ The House has passed more than 40 jobs bills that would help. But Washington Democrats, led by the President, just ignore them.

Wow! More than 40 jobs bills! Why haven’t we heard of this before? Must be the Liberal Media just trying to make the Republicans look bad.

So, what were the bills he’s talking about? There’s a list of 46 “pro-growth jobs bills” on this page.

One thing you notice right away is that six of the bills listed here were either signed into law or are supported by Obama. We know that because Boehner’s list itself makes this clear. So, exactly how are “Washington Democrats, led by the President” just ignoring them?

But hey, that’s still 40 jobs bills that Democrats haven’t approved! They must be anti-jobs!

Let’s look at the list, starting at the top. Right there is the Keystone pipeline bill that Democrats refuse to pass in the Senate. They’re preventing oil from being more easily delivered from Canada!

Umm, wait. That’s a jobs bill?

Ah.

A piece of legislation called a “jobs” bill should be first and foremost focused on creating jobs. If it is focused on a very different task, even though it results in some jobs being created, then it’s not a “jobs” bill.

For example, let’s say I write a bill proposing that all businesses must submit 100 extra pages of forms every year for some purpose or another. Those businesses will obviously need to hire more people to collect that information, confirm it, and submit the forms. Arguably tens of thousands of new jobs must be created to accomplish this task.

Did I just write a “jobs” bill? No.

No, a “jobs” bill is one that is at the very least mostly about creating jobs, and should be directly about creating jobs. For example, in 2012, Obama was pushing strongly to pass a bill that would give tax incentives to companies which would bring jobs now outsourced overseas back to the United States. That’s clearly a “jobs” bill, as creating jobs in the United States is the primary objective. Republicans opposed it because it would make it less advantageous to hire cheap foreign labor.

Then there was the “American Jobs Act” in 2011, which Obama was also pushing, and Republicans also blocked; Obama split the bill up and got a few elements passed, but Republicans stopped most of it. The bill called for suspending some payroll taxes for employers and employees; unemployment benefits and jobs training; spending for creation of infrastructure, construction, teacher, firefighter, and police jobs; prohibiting discrimination against the unemployed; and loosening regulations on creating capital for new business projects. Again, the theme of all of this is clearly to create jobs, both directly and by economic stimulation.

So, how is the Keystone pipeline a “jobs” bill? The primary objective for the Keystone pipeline is to support the production and sale of controversial tar sands oil. It’s kind of hard to argue that approving an oil pipeline to profit oil companies—one of which is not a United States firm—is somehow primarily an American “jobs” bill. It is, however, part of a distinctly partisan pro-corporate agenda.

In fact, an estimate of the impact of the project says that the project would create only 2,000 short-term construction jobs over two years, with as many as 40,000 “indirect” jobs (providing food services for workers as one example) which are just as if not more temporary. That’s a job increase worth just 15% of last month’s job increases—and those are temporary jobs that would expire after two years, creating a jobs lurch whenever that happens.

Remember back in 2009 when Obama was really pushing the economic stimulus, and a big part of that was to create jobs on infrastructure projects? At the time, Michael Steele and the GOP claimed that these weren’t “jobs” because they were not permanent:

Steele: “You’ve got to look at what’s going to create sustainable jobs. What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.”

Stephanopoulos: “But that’s a job.”

Steele: “No, it’s not a job. A job is something that a business owner creates. It’s going to be long term.”

Stephanopoulos: “So a job doesn’t count if it’s a government job?”

Steele: “Hold on. No, let me finish. That is a contract. It ends at a certain point, George. You know that. These road projects that we’re talking about have an end point. As a small-business owner, I’m looking to grow my business, expand my business. I want to reach further. I want to be international. I want to be national. It’s a whole different perspective on how you create a job versus how you create work.”

So, if Keystone passes, how many “actual,” that is to say, permanent, jobs would be created in America? About 50. More jobs that that would be created—but in Canada. The real profit from this would not be in jobs, it would be in the source of oil. This oil must be refined, but there is no new refining going on, we’re just using a different source. Which means no more new jobs on that end, not in the United States.

But wait a minute. The pipeline delivers oil, but is not the only delivery method. Is this oil that would never be delivered without the pipeline? No. It’s not like we’re not getting the oil—we’re just transporting it by less cost-effective measure, namely rail, truck, and/or barge. Which creates jobs for people running those lines of transportation. Which are currently well-paying, permanent, full-time jobs—which will be killed by the pipeline.

Then there is the fact that the pipeline will lead to higher fuel prices in the midwest, which will have a negative impact on jobs. Oil spills kill jobs over time. The costs for the pipeline will have an opportunity cost on investment in green energy, an industry which has been a true job creator and source of economic value for the United States.

According to various reports, Canadian oil companies would be the biggest winners for this project, with a few jobs spilling over to the American side, which will probably be offset by job losses created by the pipeline. Oh, and tar sands oil is incredibly polluting. In contrast, look at clean-energy car technology initiatives—which created 150,000 long-term manufacturing jobs in the United States. But that’s the kind of industry Republicans mock and deride.

So, no, Keystone is obviously not a “jobs” bill. It’s an oil-industry bill, aimed to mostly profit oil producers and refiners, mostly in Canada, with a minimal or negative jobs impact.


But hey, maybe they just really like the Keystone project, so they topped the list with it. Maybe the 39 other bills on the list are actually “jobs” bills.

How about the “Offshore Energy & Jobs Act” which will “revitalize manufacturing, create jobs, and restore our nation of builders”? That’s offshore drilling with the word “jobs” attached to it. There are other bills for “onshore drilling,” and for deregulating fracking, and other general “drill anywhere” and “get rid of all environmental protection regulations.” Essentially, most of the energy-related jobs bills are “drill & pollute as much as you like” legislature—which, like the Keystone project, is about energy interests making tons of money, and oh yeah, some jobs may be created in the process. Those are not jobs bills.

In fact, nearly half of the “jobs” bills are actually let’s-give-billions-to-morbidly-profit-rich-energy-corporation giveaways, mostly bills which attack Democratic policies to keep air & water clean and not completely wreck the environment.


But hey, maybe the other two dozen or so bills on the list are actually “jobs” bills.

The first non-energy bill listed: kill Obamacare. Which would result in millions losing the first affordable healthcare they have seen in a long time, and in many other greatly beneficial policies getting struck down. But hey, the CBO said 2 million jobs would be lost!

No, the CBO said that the equivalent of 2 million jobs in hours worked would be reduced, mostly from people working themselves half to death to pay for pre-ACA health care, which now they don’t need and so can work less but still get the same benefits. Overall, the ACA is probably more job-neutral than anything else—primarily because it’s not a jobs bill. Killing it will not create jobs, that’s GOP fantasy politicking.

So, what’s next on the list? Oh, the next three “jobs” bills are also about killing Obamacare. Go down the list, and you’ll see that they are mostly of this stripe: partisan laws trying to get Republican political agendas signed into law and Democratic political agendas repealed. Privatization of schools, half a dozen limits or prohibitions on government regulation, importing cheaper labor in high-tech industry, more attempts to get rid of the ACA, defunding welfare, spending cuts (which ironically fund jobs), cut food stamps (which are actually job-stimulative due to increase sales business), tax cuts & credits for corporations—stuff like that.

You can read it on the list. Once you get past the hyperbolic “jobs, jobs, jobs!!” titles & language adorning the proposals, you will see that none of these bills are in fact focused on creating jobs, but depend on side effects (many of them fictional) to create the jobs. But the bills themselves are all about something other than jobs.


So, essentially, John Boehner and the Republicans are complaining that Obama is not passing their partisan legislative agenda which is not about jobs, but instead is about rewarding Republican constituents and breaking down Democratic ones.

Of course, since then, the Republican “justification” behind the alleged lawsuit has been revealed as a delay in enforcement of the ACA for some businesses—a move which Republicans not only approved of at the time, but actually pressured the president to do in a different form—until they realized they could use it as a way to attack Obama, at which point they suddenly opposed such delays.

I can imagine that a lot of Americans who are not favorably inclined towards Obama will believe that there is something to the lawsuit, but only because they do not listen, think, or study the issue seriously. They will hear Boehner and other conservatives saying something like, “Obama blah blah blah failed blah blah blah killing jobs blah blah blah shameful blah blah blah destroying America blah blah blah gerbils blah blah blah fluoridation blah blah blah therefore we must [ sue / impeach ] him.”

Apparently, in conservative politics nowadays, this is what is referred to as “Thursday.”

Viral GOPer

May 19th, 2014 Comments off

A Republican congressional candidate from Arizona (where else?) is claiming that

It’s totally ridiculous if you look at all of the fiascos that of occurred, 99 percent of them have been by Democrats pulling their guns out and shooting people. So, I don’t think you have a problem with the Republicans.

He is almost certainly citing the viral email I debunked a few weeks ago (go to the end of the post). And, of course, nobody in the media is going to call him on it.

Categories: Right-Wing Lies Tags:

Sterling and…

April 29th, 2014 5 comments

In the wake of Sterling’s alleged recorded comments demonstrating his racism, major sponsors for the Clippers are now pulling out, and the NBA may be considering suspending Sterling for “conduct detrimental to the league.” Fans are boycotting the games and merchandise. The NBA could eventually put enough pressure on Sterling as to essentially force him to sell the team.

People are comparing Sterling’s remarks to Bundy’s, but I see an even more appropriate comparison: Brendan Eich.

Now, Sterling has been accused of institutional racism for years, most notably in two suits brought against him, one for housing discrimination (favoring Korean tenants over blacks and Hispanics), and one for pay discrimination. Both involved allegations of racist remarks by Sterling, but there was no definitive proof. His contributions to an array of minority advocacy groups may have smoothed over the ruffled feathers—enough, apparently, that Sterling was about to receive his second lifetime achievement award from the NAACP.

How does this compare to Eich? Well, keep in mind that there was no firestorm over Sterling until the recording was made public. While it hasn’t been positively proven as genuine, there is little doubt regarding its authenticity. And now pretty much everyone has started shutting down their relations with the man, leading to much harsher consequences than Eich suffered. Remember, there was relatively mild reaction to Eich—employees and users protested, and one company disallowed Mozilla’s browser. In response to Sterling, however, fans are in an uproar, employees are protesting, virtually all sponsors are pulling out, and the league is probably going to get involved.

In Sterling’s case, we suspect that he was discriminating against minorities, while at the same time, we know he was helping them in other ways. The key point is that no great public outrage happened until there was evidence of a racist belief; the charges of actual discrimination have been around for years, and never sparked anything like what we see today.

Eich is usually defended on the basis that only his beliefs are in issue—so how is that not equivalent?

In Eich’s case, however, we know that he not only believed that gays should be denied the civil right of marriage, but that he wanted that discrimination written into law. Not just applied to people he dealt with directly, but to one of the most populous and influential states in the country.

Naturally, the two cases do not line up perfectly, but I find it hard to see how the reaction to Eich is unjustified if the reaction to Sterling is justified—unless you consider discrimination against gay people somehow more acceptable.

One common response is that the discrimination against gay marriage was more popular, that millions of people voted for it. Is that supposed to somehow make it better?

Tell me, if Eich had contributed to a bill that would have made it illegal for non-whites to get married, would the reaction have been different? Would it have been more OK if millions of people had sided with such a proposal?


An amusing side note: though Sterling was already drowning out the Bundy story, conservatives did not waste a minute pointing out that Sterling is a “Democrat donor,” and that “100%” of his political donations are to Democrats. See? Democrats are racist! And hypocrites!

What they don’t mention is that Sterling has been a registered Republican for the past 16 years.

They don’t mention that the donations to Democrats were made 22 and 24 years ago and amounted to all of $4000.

They also do not mention that Sterling made a grand total of three donations to three politicians. Two of them—Bill Bradley and Patrick Leahy—were basketball players before becoming politicians. How about that. For all we know, the NBA or someone within the organization may have solicited the donations in order to garner support for the organization. The other donation was to a California governor. Sterling has not donated anything since then, suggesting that he is not exactly a political activist. In short, there is as much reason to believe that Sterling made the donations for pragmatic rather than political reasons.

Not that I am surprised at the conservative attempts to frame Sterling as a Democrat; it’s what conservatives do, especially when right-wingers are on edge about associations of such people with conservatives and conservative causes. Take, for example, mass shootings; whenever there is a notable mass murder involving firearms, there is a common assumption that these people are wingnuts, so conservative forums, web sites, and bloggers waste no time in labeling them as “Registered Democrats.”

A recent viral email (which made it into letters to the editor as well) identified a half dozen infamous mass murderers as “Registered Democrats”:

Adam Lanza was tagged as a “Registered Democrat” on nothing more than that Connecticut is a blue state. Lanza was said by people who knew him as politically conservative, and he was never registered to vote.

Nidal Hasan, the (first) Ft. Hood shooter, was also tagged as a “Registered Democrat”—but lived in states where there was no registration by party affiliation.

Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech shooter, was called a “Registered Democrat” despite the fact that he was not even a U.S. citizen and thus not eligible to vote.

James Holmes, the Aurora theater shooter, was described not only as a “Registered Democrat” but also as staff worker on the Obama campaign, an Occupy Wall Street participant, and a progressive liberal. The voter registration was based on someone else of the same name. The other stuff is complete fiction made up by conspiracy theorists.

Finally, while Columbine shooters Klebold and Harris were too young to vote, their families were identified as (you guessed it) “Registered Democrats” and progressive liberals. This claim was never substantiated; the families lived in a conservative suburb; and the boys’ ideology was most marked by admiration for Timothy McVeigh. Which is not to say that they or their families were conservative, but rather to point out that what little evidence there is points in neither direction in any conclusive regard.

Versions of the email also included “Timothy McVey” (presumably Timothy McVeigh) and the Unabomber.

“McVey” is labeled as “Oklahoma City Bombing raised Democrat and pro-Union.” McVeigh was a registered Republican who also voted for Libertarian candidates. His father was a Democrat and a union member; to label McVeigh, his causes, and his inspirations as somehow influenced by ideological opposites simply due to family association is, to say the least, specious.

Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, is claimed to a “Registered Democrat and inspired by Al Gore’s Book Earth in a Balance.” Kaczynski was neither Democrat nor Republican, but a rather specific breed of anti-technology anarchist, and wrote disparagingly of “leftists.” The Gore reference is based both upon a right-wing meme that connected Kaczynski’s writings to Gore’s book, and an unsubstantiated rumor in the conservative American Spectator that FBI agents had found a heavily notated copy of Gore’s book in Kaczynski’s cabin, but this was “suppressed” to avoid embarrassing the Clinton administration. In short, more conspiracy theorist crap.

In short, just a whole lot more hooey. Not that one could expect much more from a viral right-wing email.

Categories: Race, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

No, They’re Not Equivalent

April 26th, 2014 7 comments

After hyping Cliven Bundy for more than a week as being some kind of outstanding folk hero, conservatives were sent scrambling into damage control mode when Bundy suddenly started spouting rather racist comments on camera. Most of them loudly condemned what Bundy said—good for them!—but they are complaining even more loudly that liberals are taking advantage of the situation, unfairly smearing conservatives and the Republican Party in general.

One tack is to complain that liberals get away with such statements all the time, and are never criticized in the media when they go racist. Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer:

[W]hat I find fascinating as the chief spokesman for Republican Party is when a guy with a problem with cattle grazing and discussion about the size of government and overreach of the federal government makes a comment, every reporter calls the Republican National Committee asking for comment. But yet when similar incidents happen time and time again on the left, there is zero coverage, absolutely zero.“

”Just this week Gov. Pat Quinn, the Democratic governor of Illinois, president’s home state, made anti-Semitic Jewish and black comments and there was zero discussion until last night when CNN picked it up,“ he continued. ”But, the rest of the national media, a sitting Democratic governor does anti-Semitic comments that were offensive to Republicans and blacks and there was no coverage. So, while I’m willing to call out time and time again anyone who uses inappropriate language and RNC has gotten — time and time again we’re asking from student council elections to county officials … but when similar instance have happened on the left – zero, zero, zero coverage….

His key example is Democratic (kudos to Spicer for getting the adjectival correct!) Gov. Pat Quinn, who, according to Spicer, “made anti-Semitic Jewish and black comments.” These are supposedly more or less equivalent to Bundy’s comments.

So let’s see if this is true. What comments did Quinn make?

Umm, actually, he made no such comment. The incident being reported was about a tweet made by his campaign staff, in the campaign’s Twitter account (separate from the governor’s). So, what was the racist, anti-black, and anti-Semitic tweet?

“If Rauner is willing to throw his own money away like this, what’s he going to do when he gets his hands on ours?” http://t.co/a1vAS0cChl

Umm… doesn’t seem really racist. Who is Rauner? A white Republican candidate running against Quinn. But hey, maybe the article is totally racist. The tweet does not endorse the article, just quotes from it, but I suppose it could be considered and implied endorsement. Click on the link, and you’ll find an article in the Chicago Sun-Times written by Neil Steinberg, which contains the quote. The quote is the last sentence in the article. So, what’s the article about?

The article is a scathing criticism of a woman named Hermene Hartman, a woman who publishes a periodical for the African-American community. According to Steinberg, Hartman was given $51,000 from Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner, and, allegedly, wrote a glowing piece about Rauner in exchange for the money.

It’s certainly a serious charge, albeit one of relatively minor importance. But how is that anti-black, and anti-Semitic?

It is because of this part of the article, in the first three paragraphs:

“The machine,” political guru Don Rose said, years ago, “could get 30 percent of the black votes for George Wallace over Martin Luther King.”

Though we don’t have to raise hypotheticals. When the actual Dr. King actually did bring his open occupancy marches to Chicago, there was no shortage of black aldermen willing to rise in City Council and denounce King as an unwelcome outsider, their strings pulled by Richard J. Daley.

Let me be clear: As a general rule, individuals will sell out the interests of their groups in return for personal benefit. It isn’t just a black thing. Jews collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, helping them to round up their own people in the hopes they’d be the last to go.

Ah! OK, there’s the Jewish connection. If you read conservative comments, the conclusion is that the emphasized statement above from the article is saying that blacks are like Nazis, and the whole thing is anti-Semitic.

Umm, really? First of all, Steinberg did not say that black people are like Nazis, but rather that in any community, you will find people who will sell out their own, as some Jews did in WWII. And, sadly, it did happen—some Jews did indeed collaborate with the Nazis (examples here, here, and here).

What, exactly, is anti-black and anti-Semitic about that? It’s a scathing indictment of one woman and allegedly some unspecified others, but not of black people in general. The writer is careful not to label this as only a black issue. And while pointing out that Jewish Nazi collaborators existed is not exactly the most politic thing to do during Passover, it is not false, either.

So, what do we have here?

On the one hand, Cliven Bundy, which most of the conservative community was hyping as a hero to their cause, giving him massive coverage and a national platform few every enjoy, standing in front of a camera and saying that “Negroes” who got abortions and “put” their young men in jail never learned to “pick cotton” and would be happier as slaves. When asked later if he really meant that, he repeated it.

On the other hand, you have, not even the Democratic governor of Illinois, who is little-known and not highly-praised, but a campaign staffer for the governor, tweeting a quote from an article which was not racist at all, but in the opposite end of the article, a statement was made which said that every community including the African-American community has sell-outs, and used Jewish collaborators from WWII as an example.

Yeah, I totally see why it’s reasonable to be outraged at how the national media did not treat these two stories in a similar fashion.

This is what happens when you delve into claims of equivalency made by conservatives when they get all defensive: the truth is nothing like they portray it to be. They just lie, and hope that nobody looks too closely at their claims.

Further Dissemination of the Lie

April 15th, 2014 1 comment

On April 4, I blogged on misleading reports about North Carolina stats on “voter fraud.”

[A]fter months have gone by, the same people will have seen many other reports of the same nature, with the same results, and bullshit piled on to bullshit will come across as even more convincing. Because few people dismiss total bullshit completely, and when they see variations of the same bullshit enough times, they begin to believe that at least some (probably most) has got to be true.

Indeed, PolitiFact reports on exactly that trend:

The pursuit of voter fraud is a running theme among Republicans and the latest numbers out of North Carolina made the conservative websites pop with alarming headlines. “Oh My: Audit Finds Evidence of Widespread Voter Fraud in North Carolina,” wrote Townhall.com. The National Review had “N.C. State Board Finds More than 35K Incidents of ‘Double Voting’ in 2012.”

Fox “News” contributor Dick Morris ramped it up:

“It’s most important data I’ve read in a year,” Morris said on Fox News’ Hannity. “The elections commissioner there, Kim Strach, did a study of those who voted in North Carolina who also voted in another state in 2012 and she found 35,500 people voted in North Carolina and voted in some other state.

”And only 27 states pool that data. Texas, California, New York and Florida did not pool their data. So you’re talking about probably over a million people that voted twice in this election. This is the first concrete evidence we’ve ever had of massive voter fraud. We’ve talked about it ad nauseam. This proves it.“ [emphasis mine]

See? Now it’s a million false votes. (Undoubtedly all for Obama!) And as Morris said, it’s now proven! Concretely!

Where does Morris get that number? Well, more specifically than the obvious ”straight from his ass,“ what he did was to take the 35,500 (35,570 actually) number and extrapolate that to the entire population of the United States. Which brings him roughly to the 1 million number, meaning that 1 of every 126 votes cast is fraudulent. Most Fox viewers will doubtlessly conclude that this is rock-solid proof that Obama actually lost in 2012, not reflecting even on the fact that Obama won by 5 million votes.

Still, a million votes is a lot! Shouldn’t we be worried about this alarming concrete proof Morris has pointed out?

The problem is that the 35,570 number is even more bogus than a Florida felon purge list. It only counts matching first, last names, and birth dates only. Meaning that John Alex Smith born on January 1 voting in North Carolina and John Brett Smith born on January 1 voting in Alaska are counted here as voter fraud. It may even count votes in more than one election by the same paired-name voters as separate cases of fraud. Worse, Morris’ 1 million number counts the supposed vote happening both in North Carolina and Alaska as two separate cases of fraud.

This list is, essentially, meaningless, as proved by the accompanying statistic that when Social Security numbers are added to the comparison, the 35,570 number dwindles to a paltry 765.

Still, maybe you could argue that 765 extrapolated into the whole population is 10,971 cases of voter fraud (21,943 divided by 2 because we’re assuming 2 votes per one act of fraud).

Unfortunately, this is still bogus. In any election, there are innumerable cases of clerical error. For example, you go to the polls to vote, and the worker at the station crosses your name off the list. However, he did not cross off your name, but the name just below it—the name of your neighbor who moved three years ago, who is also voting in another state this year. Or, more likely, the worker confused you with your brother who also moved out of state to go to college.

Out of 126,000,000 votes cast in 2012, you would only need this kind of error to happen once every 11,500 votes to get the number reported in the North Carolina list. In other words, almost all of the cases reported will turn out to be exactly this kind of error, and the actual cases of fraud will sink to single- or low-double-digits.

Not, however, in the minds of people who saw the story on Fox, then read about it in The National Review, and then heard Morris talk about it, and saw their local, state, and Congressional representatives mention it in emails, and then maybe noticed stories on WND and a half dozen blogs. These people will see the story, be inclined to believe it, and simply assume it is true. Golly! A million fraudulent votes! And they will never see the follow-up story about how the list of 765 names got whittled down to almost nothing, because it won’t be covered on Fox, or, sadly, on almost any other news service either. It just won’t be a sexy story.

This is how you disseminate lies in the modern age.

Categories: Corruption, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

More Christian Persecution!

April 12th, 2014 Comments off

You see stories like this all the time in the conservative media: child does something related to religion, intolerant school teacher punishes the crying child, the War on Christianity goes on….

Unsurprisingly, these stories seem to appear only in the conservative media—especially Fox, WDN, and a variety of right-wing Christian publications—and other than that, just the local press where the story happened.

Just as usually, the story is more of a press release by the aggrieved parents’ attorneys, with the story too fresh to contain any meaningful comments by school administrators, often too bound by rules to make statements about students’ cases.

In this particular story, it is told that a first-grade class was filling out Valentine’s Day cards, an age-old stupid activity where children are forced to write something nice to every other child in the class. I remember having to do this. It is kind of on par with having to recite the pledge of allegiance: the kids do it only because they’re told to, not because they want to or really understand what they’re doing. These students were allowed to add stickers to their messages on the cards; some put Star Wars or Despicable Me stickers on theirs, others had various common designs, like one student who affixed a sticker with a skull saying, “You’re a Rock Star!”

But this one child was putting a message about Jesus on his cards, so, reportedly, the teacher “confiscated” them and made the boy cry. And naturally, the parents sued. Their child’s First Amendment rights were being violated! And look at the other cards! Skulls! Guns! That’s allowed, but a loving message from Jesus is not?

Sounds open-and-shut, doesn’t it? If you read the Fox News version, it sounds even worse. You have to apply critical thinking skills to realize that the narrative is told completely by the plaintiffs (actually, their attorneys), and there is nothing from the defendants—in other words, the story, as told, is essentially as biased as you’re going to get. Most readers will not pick up on this, however, and will accept the narrative as straight reporting of facts.

Here’s the real heart of the story in my opinion: the message the child “wrote” on the cards:

Happy Valentine’s Day!

St. Valentine was imprisoned and martyred for presiding over marriages and for spreading the news of God’s love. In honor of St. Valentine’s Day, I want you to know that God loves YOU!!!!

“…God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

…And that’s where the card becomes objectionable: the message was not from the child. The message was from the parents. And it was a message of proselytization.

I mean, really, I can understand a 7-year-old choosing stickers of cute skulls or Lego Star Wars figures (examples chosen by the parents/attorneys to highlight what horrible stuff was allowed)… but I do not think any 7-year-old is going to write a message about martyrdom and then print it out along with a Bible verse.

Clearly what happened was that the parents saw an opportunity to spread the word of God and gave their child the message to hand out to other students. Their child obviously had no idea what the card said, without doubt not understanding words like “imprisoned,” “martyred,” or “presiding,” nor what “giving his only son” or “not perishing” is all about.

In essence, the child was only a conduit for the parents’ religious message.

I’ll bet you this: if the child wrote a message about “Jesus loves you” which was clearly written by a 7-year-old, I think the teacher would not have taken the cards. The fact is, the child’s First Amendment rights are not at the center of the case.

If and when the school eventually releases an opinion, I do not expect stories explaining such to be so widely distributed. Only if the case wins, or if it is shut down and so counted as evidence of the persecution of Christians, that’s when we’ll hear about it again.

In the meantime, it is yet another “example” of the “persecution” of Christians in the ongoing “War on Christianity” proving America’s “intolerance” for religion.

Categories: Religion, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

It Has to Be True

April 4th, 2014 3 comments

It’s easy to fool people that want to be fooled. If you have people who are addicted to nicotine and you give them a BS “scientific study” showing that the deleterious effects of tobacco smoking have been overblown, chances are most of them will buy into it. I know, I’ve seen it, many times—people who are intelligent enough to know better, but they hold up “studies” paid for by tobacco companies as evidence that smoking isn’t so bad.

Want to see this principle in action, right now? Then head over to Fox “News.” The big, blaring headline there:

Hundreds of cases of potential voter fraud uncovered in North Carolina

Wow! Voter fraud! In large numbers! Just the proof we’ve been looking for that Republican voter-ID laws are not a political scheme to steal votes, but instead are completely reasonable efforts to stem massive amounts of voter fraud!

Of course, the headline does warn that the fraud is just “potential,” but we know that this is just Fox being unusually cautious, right? After all, if it weren’t real, then why would Fox make a big deal out of it?

So, let’s see the really convincing evidence!

State elections officials in North Carolina are investigating hundreds of cases of potential voter fraud after identifying thousands of registered voters with personal information matching those of voters who voted in other states in 2012.

Oooh! Thousands! Fox was being really cautious, to say it was just “hundreds!” After all, this lede just says it all: thousands of voters with matching personal information of people who voted in other states. This paragraph doesn’t say that any of these people voted in North Carolina, but I’m sure they will.

Tell us more!

Elections Director Kim Strach told state lawmakers at an oversight hearing Wednesday that her staff has identified 765 registered North Carolina voters who appear to have cast ballots in two states during the 2012 presidential election.

Umm… OK, we’re back to hundreds. Not sure what’s up with that, but hey, they appear certain that these people all voted twice in the last election. (I bet they all voted for Obama!)

Strach said the first names, last names, birthdates and last four digits of their Social Security numbers appear to match information for voters in another state. Each case will now be investigated to determine whether voter fraud occurred.

Well, that’s pretty convincing! If all those things match, then it’s pretty certain that they’re the same people. This paragraph doesn’t say the people among the “hundreds” cast any votes at all in 2012, just that they were “voters.” But I’m sure this will be cleared up soon.

“Could it be voter fraud? Sure, it could be voter fraud,” Strach said. “Could it be an error on the part of a precinct person choosing the wrong person’s name in the first place? It could be. We’re looking at each of these individual cases.”

Um, what? “A precinct person choosing the wrong person’s name?” What does that mean? Nothing, I’m sure, they’re just being cautious again. I won’t take the time to figure out what that means. Let’s read on.

WRAL.com reported that 81 residents who died before election day were recorded as casting a ballot. While about 30 of those voters appear to have legally cast ballots before election day, Strach said “there are between 40 and 50 [voters] who had died at a time that that’s not possible.”

Um, wait. Voters who died? I thought that this was about voters who matched other voters in other states. And it was hundreds, maybe thousands.

No matter! It’s the graveyard vote! I’m sure that that’s tied in, somehow! Onward ho!

“We have the ‘Walking Dead,’ and now we’ve got the ‘Voting Dead,’” said state Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg. “I guess the reason there’s no proof of voter fraud is because we weren’t looking for it.”

Yeah, right! Because the five years the Bush administration spent looking for fraud doesn’t count, especially because they only found a hundred or so cases nationwide, most of which were simple errors, and the few that were real involved local races—that doesn’t count, because it didn’t show us what we know is real! That, and the whole US Attorney thing, and the huge amounts of scrutiny and attention by conservatives and the media over the past decade—hell, it’s like nobody was looking for anything!!

So, how did all this come to light, anyway?

A law passed last year by the Republican-dominated state legislature required elections staff to check information for North Carolina’s more than 6.5 million voters against a database containing information for 101 million voters in 28 states.

Money well spent, I’m sure! Let’s see the results!

The cross-check found listings for 35,570 North Carolina voters whose first names, last names and dates of birth match those of voters who voted in other states. However, in those cases middle names and Social Security numbers were not matched.

Well, that kind of makes that number irrelevant, but it sounds like a lot! Otherwise, why mention it? Go on!

The analysis also found 155,692 registered North Carolina voters whose information matched voters registered in other states but who most recently registered or voted elsewhere. Strach said those were most likely voters who moved out of state without notifying their local boards of elections.

Wow! A hundred and fifty-five thousand! That’s another big number! OK, so it’s just matching information and may have no relation to people who voted twice, but it’s still a big number!

Let’s hear more of this unusually consistent and convincing evidence!

Republicans leaders immediately touted the preliminary report as evidence they were justified in approving sweeping elections changes last year that include requiring voters to present photo ID at the polls, cutting days from the period for early voting and ending a popular civics program that encouraged high school students to pre-register to vote in advance of their 18th birthdays.

Exactly! Because what we have seen so far is rather shockingly clear and damning evidence that as many as dozens, hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, or more than a hundred thousand people may have somehow been in two databases at once! An absolutely iron-clad reason to believe that laws which just happen to throw roadblocks in front of mostly Democratic voters are completely justified and are not political chicanery at all! And I’m sure they’ll tie all those numbers together somehow at some point, or eventually show that any of the names are really the same person and that they actually voted twice in the same election—but at this point, do they really need to?

I mean, hey, where’s the outrage?!

“That is outrageous. That is criminal. That is wrong, and it shouldn’t be allowed to go any further without substantial investigations from our local district attorneys who are the ones charged with enforcing these laws,” state Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-Wilmington, told the Charlotte Observer.

State House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, and Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, issued a joint statement Wednesday on what they termed as the “alarming evidence.”

“While we are alarmed to hear evidence of widespread voter error and fraud, we are encouraged to see the common-sense law passed to ensure voters are who they say they are is working,” said the statement. “These findings should put to rest ill-informed claims that problems don’t exist and help restore the integrity of our elections process.”

There’s the outrage! Yeah! About time! Alarming evidence! Which I’m sure has been somehow proven by this time, I mean I’ve lost track, but dammit, it’s alarming! And outrageous!

Of course, by this time, I have seen so many mentions of large numbers, and so many different ways people are cheating, that I have completely forgotten about how every paragraph seems to have wildly varying numbers of people, and that nothing whatsoever in the article is anything close to actual evidence of anything more than clerical errors and the fact that when people move, they almost never bother to remove themselves from voter rolls in their former states. (As it turns out, the 765 number appears to be the only relevant number, as it is the only one with names that might actually match—but it is very likely that most if not all were errors where the precinct worker checked the wrong name on a list—not at all surprising considering the millions of ballots involved.)

And that’s the trick: just throw a whole bunch of nothing, just random clumps of bullshit—even better, toss in a few words of caution that there might be errors involved, so the story comes across as more honest—and pepper it with just the correct amount of righteous indignation, then wait for a few weeks or months—and then most of the people who read the story will only recall that they saw a news story where it was all but certain that rampant voter fraud had indeed taken place. They proved it! At least I’m fairly sure that that’s what happened after all that evidence was looked at, though I never saw it or anything.

Also, after months have gone by, the same people will have seen many other reports of the same nature, with the same results, and bullshit piled on to bullshit will come across as even more convincing. Because few people dismiss total bullshit completely, and when they see variations of the same bullshit enough times, they begin to believe that at least some (probably most) has got to be true.

Especially because they want to believe it.

It’s what you call “modern journalism in action.”

Categories: "Liberal" Media, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

It’s Important Only When It Suits Us

February 7th, 2014 1 comment

The Wall Street Journal, November 2009:

Grim Milestone as Jobless Rate Tops 10%


Bad news for then. Today, we hear that the unemployment rate fell yet again, to 6.6%, the lowest it has been since Bush exploded job losses in 2008.

So, what’s the Journal’s headline today?

Ignore the Unemployment Rate


Not that I expected anything different. Conservatives almost gleefully pinned the unemployment rate to Obama, making a huge deal of it, even before he entered office. Now that it’s getting back down to more reasonable levels, they’re acting like it’s no big deal. The current WSJ article doesn’t even say what the rate is now.

And in truth, the numbers are in fact deceptive. However, the issue is not how accurate the numbers are; it’s how baldly conservatives claim they’re vital when they can use it as a political weapon.

The Easy Lie

February 6th, 2014 1 comment

Conservatives hardly need much excuse to baldly distort reality so as to create a completely false meme. Look at the Obamacare “Death Panels,” for example: a minor advisor who had written a medical ethics paper more than a decade earlier along with a now-defunct allowance in the program to provide counseling for the elderly was all that they needed to begin trumpeting the ludicrous idea that Obamacare would empower federal bureaucrats to condemn grandma to an early demise.

Other claims they falsely make are more convincing because they are not so ludicrous, and more insidious because they take ten times longer to explain the truth which is ten times harder to understand. Take Darryl Issa’s quick remark on Bill Maher’s show last week, that most House seats that go unchallenged due to gerrymandering are Democratic ones. Which is a “true lie,” because the seats are more Democratic, but only because Republicans gerrymandered them that way. When you gerrymander, you don’t make incontestable seats for your own party; instead, you balance the makeup of your districts so your candidates can get something like 55% of the vote in as many districts as possible—and pack as many opposition voters as possible into as few districts as possible. If a district has 90% Democratic voters, there will be no challenger—but that’s not good for Democrats, as 35% of those voters could be in other districts making a difference. In a state with 20 districts where normally half the districts would go to each party, gerrymandering by the Republicans could lead to 14 or 15 “win by a comfortable margin” districts for the GOP, and maybe 3 or 4 over-the-top wins for the Democrats. So, Issa made it sound like Democrats were corrupt when actually his evidence points to Republican corruption. An easy lie.

This is what conservatives excel at. And now, due to a new report from the Congressional Budget Office, they have a whole new line of bovine fecal matter to sell.

The CBO report says on what is actually an advantageous effect of Obamacare. Currently, millions of American workers have to work to keep their insurance plans, lest they get kicked off and are uninsurable; alternately, many people with prohibitively expensive insurance must work extra hours to pay for it. Obamacare helps millions of Americans with these problems; so much so, that between 2017 and 2024, workers who would otherwise be forced to work in order to qualify for insurance or pay for health care will no longer be forced to work those hours, and may opt to work less. For example, someone now working 3 jobs for a total of 70 hours a week may drop one of those jobs because they don’t absolutely have to anymore. From page 119 of the report:

….For some people, the availability of exchange subsidies under the ACA will reduce incentives to work both through a substitution effect and through an income effect. The former arises because subsidies decline with rising income (and increase as income falls), thus making work less attractive. As a result, some people will choose not to work or will work less—thus substituting other activities for work. The income effect arises because subsidies increase available resources—similar to giving people greater income—thereby allowing some people to maintain the same standard of living while working less. The magnitude of the incentive to reduce labor supply thus depends on the size of the subsidies and the rate at which they are phased out.

Get that? It’s not about jobs being “cut” or “lost” or “destroyed”; it’s about people who are working more than is necessary just to be able to pay for decent health care. Richard Mayhew at Balloon Juice gives us three examples of people in these kinds of situations:

Jamaal is in his late fifties. He has qualified for a full pension from his union plus he has some money squirreled away in savings and a 401(K). If he retired tomorrow, he would be able to get an inflation protected full life annuity that would replace 70% of his current income and as soon as he is Social Security eligible, his income replacement would be in the mid-80s. He has three young grandkids, an interest in making furniture and a medical history that scares away insurance companies after they see the first page. He works and continues to damage his knees and his back for the health insurance. If he could get affordable health insurance that could bridge the gap between retirement and Medicare, retiring to be a full time granddad and a part time cabinet maker looks really good. PPACA allows him to get out of the labor market a year or two earlier than he thought he otherwise would have.

Sally works as a receptionist at a local theatre company. Her husband makes most of the money in the family as a highly skilled roadie for a variety of not quite indy bands. She works for the health insurance. The theatre pays 90% of the cost to cover her, but she has to pay the full cost of covering her husband. Covering her husband is basically half of her post-tax pay per month. She would like to have kids, she would like to go back to school but they can’t afford to go naked. PPACA allows her to get out of the labor market for a couple of years to go finsih her degree and have a kid while spending the equivilent of a week of her former salary a month for family coverage.

Bob lives in a Medicaid expansion state. He has two young kids. The older kid is going to kindergarten next fall and the younger one will be in kindergarten in 2016. His girlfriend is working full time as a shift leader at McDonalds and he works fifteen hours a week as a security guard. He recently qualified for Medicaid, the kids were always covered by CHIP, and his girlfriend is on a cost-sharing assistance Silver plan. The family is doing well enough right now, so when his boss offers him another 15 hours a week and the ability to get on the Bronze level plan at work, he declines as he would rather stay home and raise the kids.

In short, this is a good thing: people will not be forced to work when they do not need to or want to. Over the span of 7 years, it means a possible full-time equivalent of 2.3 million jobs being shed. Not lost, but shed by people who will no longer need the hours—and possibly opening up those hours to people looking for work but currently not finding it. The “full-time equivalent” part means, for example, hundreds of thousands of people will take earlier retirement, several hundred thousand more will leave jobs they don’t want but felt they had to keep, a million or two may drop their third part-time job, and several million more will opt to not work as many overtime hours to make ends meet. Not due to economic havoc, but because of economic freedom.

Some in the conservative sphere are trying to get around the outright distortion by creating slightly more tangential distortion: The Wall Street Journal, for example, vilifies liberals for what they cast as a choice of millions to become moochers:

The CBO essentially says that because ObamaCare’s means-tested subsidies phase out as cash income rises, some people will choose to stay poorer to keep earning benefits. Some of the giddier liberals even extol ObamaCare for “liberating” workers from the adult responsibility of earning a living.

The article goes on to slam liberals for this viewpoint which they repeatedly cast as more or less evil—but if you also read carefully, you will note that they never get around to actually explaining why it’s evil that millions of people will be able to have more comfortable lives because they can now afford health care by working hard instead of working themselves to death. Other news sources are fact-checking this and trying to give the facts as they are, but you know that enough people will be fooled so as to make it all worth it for the conservatives.

For the most part, they’re are acting like a kid on Christmas, squealing with joy. Obamacare kills millions of jobs! It’s a job-destroyer! We told you so!

Expect to see this all over the congressional race campaigns this year. Conservatives love the easy lie.

Categories: Right-Wing Lies Tags:

Selective Outrage: How Fox News Is Harming Their Viewers

October 20th, 2013 5 comments

Sean Hannity airs a piece in which he finds three couples who are “victims” of the “Obamacare train wreck.”

Paul and Michelle Cox say that they cannot grow their business because of Obamacare. They had to cut employee hours down to less than 30 a week to avoid disastrous costs that would be incurred.

Allison Denijs and her husband say that they were forced off their current policy and had no choice but to choose from ACA-compliant policies, meaning they may not be able to keep seeing their doctor of choice.

Robbie and Tina Robison also say they’re being kicked off of their non-ACA-compliant Blue Cross plan, and they would have to pay 50% to 75% more under an ACA plan. Also, the ACA plan covers all kind of stuff they don’t need.

All in all, these people believe that Obamacare has derailed their health care and cost them dearly; it is likely that millions of Fox News viewers seeing this broadcast will even more strongly believe that Obamacare will similarly destroy their health care and their livelihoods.


Eric Stern at Salon thought these stories sounded a little too much, so he investigated.

Paul and Michelle Cox’s business? They only have 4 employees, and the ACA only requires employers to contribute if they have 50 or more workers—so there is absolutely no need for the Coxes to cut down the hours of their workers. Either they did so under false beliefs, or, like so many businesses, they are dishonestly using the ACA as an excuse to cut costs on workers that otherwise would be cause for employees to complain.

Allison Denijs? Her family pays $20,000 a year for their current policy. If they shopped on their ACA marketplace, they could enroll in a similar plan that costs $7,600. They didn’t check, claiming that the web site didn’t work, but Stern found it working fine when he found a policy that would save them $12,400 a year.

As to her being forced to change doctors? That is not clearly a result of the ACA; Stern pointed out that insurers shrink doctor pools all the time as a means to save money—and there is little doubt that many of the big insurers are using the ACA as an excuse to do the damage while illicitly blaming the ACA as forcing them to.

Either way, Allison will save $12,400 a year. Does she value her current doctor that much?

Robbie and Tina Robison? They claim that their “insurance agent” told them that they would need a plan costing 50% to 75% more, and they refused to check their ACA exchange, claiming they simply oppose it outright. Their current plan costs $10,000 a year, so we are to believe their costs will increase to $15,000 to $17,500 a year. However, when Stern checked their ACA exchange for them, he found a plan that cost $3,700 a year, about 63% less than his current plan. And most plans, probably including his current plan, cover just as many unnecessary items they don’t need.


Here are the results, boiled down:

  • Many employers are using the ACA as an excuse to shortchange their workers and save money. They want to switch to part-time because the costs to them are less irrespective of the ACA. They would do this normally, but it would outrage their workers. With the ACA, they can claim they have no choice. If their workers watch and believe Fox News, they will fall for it and be hurt.
  • Many employers with fewer than 50 workers are cutting hours of workers because they truly believe they have to. Their false beliefs were created by Fox and other similar sources. If they really don’t want to do this, then both their workers and they are being hurt by the falsehoods being spread by Fox and others.
  • Many insurance companies are using the ACA as an excuse to jack up prices and reduce offerings, depending on the false beliefs generated by Fox and others to blind their customers to the alternatives.
  • Many Fox viewers are avoiding the ACA exchanges and rejecting cheaper and better insurance plans simply because they are not aware that the cheaper plans exist and are not horrifying traps, or because they oppose the entire system for reasons that are similarly untrue. As a result, these people will be severely penalized because of what Fox tells them.

So, people who would be helped by the ACA are made to hate it and become weapons against it. People told lies then take actions which ultimately cause a great deal of self-inflicted damage. Employers take advantage of this for profit, and even employers who mean well are made to fear and thus do things which not only do harm to them and their employees, but which actually bring about the very conditions they were told to fear.

This is not the first time that a right-wing campaign to spread utter falsehoods has generated such results. Take the lies about unions. Unions help almost all workers, across the board. They improve pay and benefits and help cut down on employee abuse. This is not to the detriment of corporations—they profit from having a customer base which is able to afford what they sell. However, it is the default position of corporations to make more money and pay out less, regardless of long-term, indirect effects. If there is any way to fire workers, they do; if there is any way to pay them less, they do. If there is any way to cut their benefits and cut corners on their working conditions, corporations will do that. That’s what corporations do, as a rule. Conservatives talk about the built-in checks that keep such abuse in line; the problem is, the built-in check is unions, and conservatives have been deliberately and systematically destroying these.

They accomplish this by turning against the unions the very people who would benefit from them. People are told that if the minimum wage is raised, they will lose their jobs. They are convinced that if corporations have to spend one penny more on them, even in the context of billions in untaxed profits, “job creators” will be, sadly, “unable” to keep them on. They are told that unions are populated by violent thugs. They are told that they are over-taxed, and a chief reason is that unions demand and get overpaid cushy jobs just for themselves, and live the high life at government expense. Thus, the very people who would be helped most by unions are made to fear and hate them, and become instruments to destroy them.

Another rather prominent example is Affirmative Action. The lie was spread that businesses must hire minorities and women even if they are not qualified. Many managers actually believed this, even when their offices were not even under quotas at all—not to mention that no quota nor AA in general ever requires any manager to hire an unqualified worker; if a good-faith effort was made to hire and no qualified minority or female candidate appeared, the manager is off the hook, even when under a strict quota.

I remember an exchange with someone who said this was not true, and he saw it happen in his own workplace. However, all he saw was that an apparently unqualified minority worker was hired—he did not see any law or regulation which said that was necessary. And this is what happens: people actually believe the crap that conservatives dish out as horror stories, and they react accordingly—thus completing a self-fulfilled prophecy that, yes indeed, these things actually happen.

No they don’t. Not legitimately, in any case. Mr. Cox had absolutely no reason to cut his workers hours, and the Denijs and Robison families could save a small fortune on their insurance, and be just as happy with it, if they did not buy the lies and propaganda issuing forth from “news” organizations like Fox.

The ACA is not hurting people. Fox news, the Tea Party, the Republican Party—they are hurting people. And, obscenely, making these people hurt themselves.

Categories: Right-Wing Lies Tags:

Right Wing Expectations

October 13th, 2013 5 comments

Bill Maher had Carol Roth on his show, yet another of the long line of conservatives calling themselves “independents,” talking deficit reduction we somehow never heard when Bush was in office. One of her points was about how Obama has raised the debt by “6 trillion dollars over the last four and a half years,” and despair that we have to raise the debt ceiling at all.

First of all, the $6 trillion number only comes from adding the full spending for 2009—which was George W. Bush’s budget, not Obama’s. And what Obama did spend over that was expressly to deal with the massive economic catastrophe Obama inherited on day one.

That’s a favorite ruse conservatives love to play: conflate the tail end of Bush with Obama’s own record, as in “Obama gave us a $1.4 trillion deficit,” or “Obama drove the unemployment rate up to 10%.”

A less contrived total deficit would be $4.7 trillion over five years. So, where did that come from? Did Obama just say, hey, let’s generate $4.7 trillion dollars in spending that wasn’t there before?

Of course not. Almost all of the debt under Obama has been from the money that, again, George W. Bush and Republicans in Congress committed us to. The Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And then there was the damage caused by the fiscal cataclysm Bush handed Obama in early 2009.

The fact is, Obama has done almost nothing but cut the deficit since he came into office:

Year Deficit in
$ Billions
$ Change
in Billions
2009 1,413   –
2010 1,294 -119
2011 1,300 +6
2012 1,087 -213
2013 973 -114

But that’s not good enough for Roth; she was appalled that Obama’s spending was still raising the debt ceiling at all: “[The debt ceiling is] going up because the government overspends, because they refuse to balance the budget…. If they didn’t overspend, we wouldn’t be hitting the debt ceiling.”

So, what was Obama supposed to do, cut $1.4 trillion dollars in one year? To wipe that out in even five years would require raising revenue and/or cutting the budget by $282 billion per year, every year. Something unprecedented, save possibly for coming off of wartime spending at the end of WWII.

When Bush was in office, most of that time being when Republicans also controlled both houses of Congress, deficit spending went up more often than it came down (up 5 years, down three years). When it went up the first two years of Bush’s budgets, it went up by huge amounts: $286 billion and $220 billion.

The three years the deficit went down under Bush, it went down by $94, $70, and $87 billion dollars, an average of $84 billion a year—something conservatives at the time hailed as little short of genius. Under Bush overall, the deficit increased $192 billion a year—and we did not hear conservatives complaining even a tenth as much as they do now.

Under Obama, the deficit has fallen an average of $110 billion per year.

Even under Bill Clinton, while he was creating a surplus, it went down only $70 billion a year.

So, what exactly do conservatives expect from Obama, when they themselves are entirely mute on where this money should be cut? Of course, we know where they want to cut it: Social Security and Medicare, the exact programs they claim they want to “save.”

We know where Republicans do not want to cut it: from the military, where almost all of the waste and overspending exists. In fact, they want to increase our ludicrously high military spending. They not only want to stay in Iraq and Afghanistan, they want to start a new war in Iran—and wanted to invade Syria, at least until Obama said he’d take action there.

And we know where Republicans do not want to raise revenue: from millionaires and billionaires, and from corporations making tens of billions in profit every year with many of them paying no taxes at all on those profits.

So when a conservative whines about how Obama is spending us into oblivion? I would suggest trying to speak facts to them, but they would almost certainly not listen, and would instead probably spout the same utter bullshit like Roth was on Maher’s show.

Tenure Tempest

September 28th, 2013 Comments off

You hear a lot about teacher tenure nowadays. Tenure is bad. Teachers get tenure automatically and then are guaranteed a job for life no matter how incompetent they are. We see reports in the press about how tenure makes school systems worse.

So, it’s a real problem, right?

Let’s begin with the article I link to above. It comes from the Wall Street Journal—a conservative publication, now owned by Murdoch, so there is immediate suspicion of bias. Then the report it quotes comes from the National Bureau of Economic Research, often cited as “non-partisan” and “highly respected,” which just happens to always report that Democratic ideas are failures and conservative policies are the bee’s knees. I’ll get back to this later.

Instead, let’s look at tenure itself.

Do all teachers automatically get tenure? No. You have to get certified and then teach while being evaluated for 3 to 5 years, depending on the state. During this time, a teacher can be fired at will, without any reason whatsoever. At the end of the review time, you are either given tenure, or you are dismissed. If the school grants tenure, that means that the school, after years of review, feels that you are qualified. If you do not pass muster, then you should not be allowed to continue teaching, and the school should hire someone else who is. If an incompetent teacher gets tenure, then it is a clear failure of the administration to perform their duties.

Is tenure a lifetime appointment? Don’t teachers wish. No, it’s not. Teachers with tenure can be fired, and often are. It is important to understand that K-12 tenure—the issue everyone is talking about—is very different from university tenure.

Does tenure make it almost impossible to fire a bad teacher? If a teacher is performing badly, the school can fire them; they simply need evidence of the poor performance, which would probably take the form of evaluations and student performance relative to other teachers—in short, the very data that would inform a school of poor performance in the first place. There is often talk about how it costs huge amounts of money to go through the process. Maybe, in some states, that could be true, but if it is, then the answer is not ending tenure, but instead to revamp the system so that standard evaluation methods could be applied to the process. However, I have the feeling that most “expensive” terminations are padded with costs like the full teachers’ salary during the period of review. I also suspect that most “extremely difficult” terminations are over reasons that tenure was designed to prevent, namely ones that are not actually related to teacher performance.

So, if a teacher can be fired, what is tenure about? Simple: it means a teacher cannot be fired “at will.” The school is required to show cause and to go through the process of demonstrating that cause. Which is, to be honest, what every employer should be required to do with every job. The fact that this is not true is not indicative of fault in schools, but instead of faults in how we generally treat workers like disposable objects.

So, why is there such a furor over teacher tenure?

The answer is simple: teachers are a liberal constituency. If you are a liberal constituency, conservatives will try their best to destroy you, and failing that, to vilify you. They will manufacture false outrage over trumped-up scandals and drive you and your organizations into the ground.

Who are the biggest supporters of Democrats? Unions. Conservatives are rather blatantly doing everything they can to vilify and crush labor unions. People are made to feel that unions are run and populated by thugs and demand sweet, cushy jobs at the expense of the public.

Hollywood is a liberal constituency, so it is often denigrated, devalued, blamed, and dismissed by conservatives (until a movie star voices support for conservatives, at which point Republicans swoon and try to elect that person to some office or another).

Any city with liberal leanings is smeared. San Francisco, Detroit, Chicago, many cities in New England—all horrific bastions of sin and disgrace. You’ve been hearing a lot about “San Francisco Values” and “Chicago-style Politics.” You’ve seen how Detroit has been treated. They are not the “Real America.”

Minorities are also big supporters of Democrats. So guess who just can’t help insulting, smearing, and working against the interests of minorities? Who works day and night to slant election laws to keep minorities from voting? Who attacks immigration reform and blames illegal immigrants for society’s woes?

Young people are also Democratic constituencies, but they’re harder to target—and yet conservatives often do. Republican politicians are known for resenting college voters (remember Rick Santorum sneering at the idea of going to college?), with many conservative vote-suppression techniques aimed squarely at them. Some Republicans have started challenging student voting rights altogether.

Tenure is not a problem. It is simply yet another opportunity for conservatives to paint a liberal group as a scapegoat.

Categories: Education, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

Manufacturing Equivalent Outrage

August 26th, 2013 3 comments

There has been a great deal of “outrage” in right-wing media and blogs lately about the Christopher Lane murder, and how it’s not a big deal in the media. The thesis of this outrage is, “a white/Hispanic man shoots a young black man, and the nation goes into an uproar; three black kids (as conservative sources originally identified them; in fact, one of the kids is white) senselessly murder a young white man, and the media falls silent.” A representative sample from The Daily Caller:

A Hispanic guy shot a black teenager in self-defense, and it was proof that America hasn’t gotten any better since Emmett Till was murdered. Whereas the following story, which is literally an international incident, has no significance beyond the individuals involved. It’s not useful to Al Sharpton and Barack Obama.

This article has a fair rundown of how the conservative media is handling the story.

I do not use the word “outrage” in quotes because there is no outrage, but rather because it is politically manufactured outrage. This commonly happens after a story that puts conservatives at a disadvantage: they pounce on a story that seems to turn the tables, carefully frame it to suit their political needs, then start beating the drum across the media. You know how some people, when you criticize them, by reflex start criticizing you back on some other matter? That’s essentially what this is: an attempt to excuse their own shortcomings by trying to make the “other side” look hypocritical.

“It’s worse than a double standard. This is a purposeful, willful ignoring of the exact racial components, but in reverse, that happened in the Trayvon Martin shooting.” —Rush Limbaugh

And, as is usual when conservatives do this, the “equivalent” story isn’t equivalent at all. Conservatives, like Limbaugh above, claim that the Lane story should have gotten the exact same reaction as the Trayvon story because they were identical, only with races reversed. Their complaint is that the media and liberal leaders react to incidents when the victim is black and the assailant is white (or close to that), but if the assailant is black and the victim is white, liberals and the “Liberal Media”™ fall silent. They further postulate that because of such, they don’t actually “care” about the black victims but are using them to further an agenda. (Keep conservative tendencies to project in mind, now.)

Which, of course, is not even close to being true. The Martin case would not have been in the news at all had it not been for the fact that (1) the police failed to act on what appeared to be at minimum negligent homicide; once that made the story of some note, it became bigger when (2) the defense used was a controversial law that seems to legitimize killing someone for insufficient cause; and then it was further inflamed when (3) it became apparent that the entire incident was caused by racial profiling.

Race was absolutely a factor, but it was not what made the story a big one. There have been many other killings of black people by white shooters under the “stand your ground laws,” but none of them made national headlines—proving that race alone was not what made the story significant.

In the Christopher Lane killing—which did make national headlines—none of the elements that made the Trayvon Martin case significant exist. The killing did not appear to be racially motivated, but rather simply opportunistic; the killers have been arrested and will almost certainly be convicted in accordance with popular expectation of justice; and no controversial law is being used (at least not yet) to get the killers off.

Now, had the three youths immediately cited a controversial law, had the police processed them then let them go, and had there been evidence that they had chosen their victim because of his color— you can bet you life that it would be as much a story nationwide as the Trayvon Martin case. But none of those elements existed, therefore the two cases are not at all equivalent.


So the whole “where’s the outrage?” outrage on the right is, as usual, completely unfounded, as most of their politically motivated crap tends to be.

Conservative Myths, Memes, & Lies

July 14th, 2013 3 comments

There comes a point where the sheer volume of fault- and falsehood-ridden conservative “facts” and ideas is rather breathtaking to behold. With sadly lowered expectations of what passes for logic and standards of evidence, and then to be assaulted with such claims on an almost daily basis, we sometimes fail to appreciate the startling number of assumptions and opinions held by conservatives which are not only demonstrably false, but usually obviously so.

Here is a list of ones that come to mind at the moment. I had to stop at fifty, the list was getting so long.

You cannot say the word “God” in the public square. Yes you can. God is everywhere, in every public oath and on every piece of currency. How many children are compelled daily to mention God in the pledge in public schools? How many television and radio shows and even stations are dedicated to preaching 24/7? Clearly, you can say the word all you want. Myths about people practicing religious freedom in public and being arrested for it are inevitably about people failing to secure parade permits and the like. If this claim is instead made to mean that god cannot be mentioned in government buildings, then a person claiming such may be referred to any American legislative session at any level, virtually all of which are initiated, daily, by a clergyman saying a prayer.

You cannot say the word “God” in a public school. Of course you can. The only restriction is that no one representing the school may advocate a specific religion to the exclusion of others.

Children are not allowed to pray in public schools. Wrong. Students can and often do pray in public schools. Any “private, voluntary student prayer that does not interfere with the school’s educational mission” is allowed.

There is a war on Christianity in American society. Quite the contrary. It is other belief systems that are discriminated against; Christianity is safely dominant in American society. The perceived “war” on Christianity is nothing more than (1) appropriate and yet often-less-than-wholly-effective resistance to unconstitutional encroachments by Christianity in violation of the First Amendment, such as resistance against teacher-conducted prayer in public schools; or (2) fictional “attacks” on religion which are nothing of the sort, such as a business using the expression “Happy Holidays!” to greet all customers, including Christians.

Conservatives fight for freedom of belief. Not true; they do so only when the religion in question is Christian; all other belief systems are second-class or worse. Religious discrimination is in fact practiced in the United States—only it’s conservative Christians who are the most often guilty of it. Blocking the building of mosques, demanding atheist billboards be taken down, shouting down a Hindu cleric delivering an invocation—even harassing a Jewish family when they object to their daughter being pressured to convert to Christianity.

Secularism is anti-religious. Secularism is not the banning of religion, it is the policy in which no one religion is allowed to be presented as the official religion of the state, as it is a historical fact that when a belief system is endorsed by the state, all other belief systems suffer as a result. Christians who want state officials and representatives to overtly promote Christianity are in violation of this principle, but do not see things that way. They see their dominance in state affairs as a given, only natural and right; they see secularism as a means of preventing their “religious freedoms,” i.e. to impose their religious beliefs (which they see as moral imperatives) on others. In a way, this is similar to the claim that science is anti-religious when it announces observations such as life evolves from simpler forms or that the universe is billions of years old; these claims do not attack religion, but instead simply contradict religious excursions into realms in which religion has no right to dominate.

Separation of church and state is an offense to religion; the founding Pilgrims would have abhorred it. Very similar to the claim above. The invocation of the Pilgrims is especially ironic, as their plight was one of the reasons that separation of church and state was established, and serves as an excellent example of why the principle is sound. The Pilgrims were driven out of England when the state-endorsed religion enacted a series of laws requiring all subjects to attend state-sponsored churches and to read from state-authorized prayer books, else face fines and imprisonment. The only way to allow all belief to flourish is to do so in a state where no one belief system is allowed to dominate; the only way to assure that is to maintain a strict separation of church and state.

Corporations are job creators. As Nick Hanauer pointed out, businesses, by nature, are opposed to creating jobs. Employing people is an expense, and businesses avoid every expense possible. Businesses hire people only when there is no other choice, and fire people whenever possible. Job creation is most accurately attributed to demand for goods and services, which is mostly driven by middle-class consumption.

Wealthy people are job creators. Untrue, for many of the same reasons listed above. Consumption by rich people is far less responsible for creating jobs than is consumption by other groups, including the poor. Investment by wealthy people does not create jobs, rather said investment is a response to demand that presents an opportunity to a wealthy person to gain more money by purchasing ownership in a business which will attempt to hire the fewest number of people possible to respond that that demand.

Cutting taxes raises tax revenues. The idea that the government can raise more revenues by cutting the amount of taxes people pay is dubious at best. There may be stimulative tax cuts if they are targeted precisely, but it is more likely that there are far better stimulative alternatives—amongst which the strongest include issuing food stamps and spending on infrastructure projects. Worse, conservative tax cuts are aimed primarily at the wealthy, a type of tax cuts which is rather plainly not stimulative.

Cutting taxes for wealthy people and businesses spurs investment in businesses which create jobs. This is usually argued when conservatives wish to cut the capital gains tax, or other taxes which mostly affect wealthy people. It is patently untrue. If a market is depressed and no one is spending, you can give all the money in the world to wealthy people and businesses, and they will not invest it in job-creating industries—precisely because no one is buying anything. Why should a wealthy person build a factory to create things when no one is buying them? In contrast, if you give wealthy people and businesses no tax cuts, or even if you raise their taxes, they will always find revenue to invest (by using their collected wealth or by borrowing from banks) if people are buying something.

Wealthy people will stop working if you raise their taxes. And people will stop eating if you take away most of their food. Or, wait, that’s incredibly stupid.

Reagan cut taxes and doubled revenue. Net taxes actually went up under Reagan, and most revenue increase claimed to his credit was inflationary.

Conservatives want to cut taxes for all Americans. This is contradicted by the most recent election cycle, in which conservatives wanted to repeal both the estate tax and slash the capital gains tax and corporate taxes—and at the same time also advocated raising taxes on the poorest Americans, most specifically by eliminating tax credits and breaks aimed squarely at low- and middle-class earners. This was proposed under the infamous “47%” claim, in which it was usually asserted, either overtly or by inference, that 47% of Americans paid no taxes. The number referred to those who owed no federal income taxes, but who still paid sales, property, payroll, and many other taxes, some even in excess of the percentage paid by the excessively wealthy Republican presidential candidate himself.

Liberals are “takers” who tax hard-working conservatives so they can live off of government entitlements. It is usually not directly stated that liberals are the takers and conservatives are the makers, but that is clearly what is meant. What is ironic is that it is conservative states that take more than they contribute, conservative areas that take more than they give. Generally speaking, the division is much closer to equal than otherwise; there are takers and makers on both sides. However, it is clear that conservatives are just as enamored of entitlements as liberals are; they are just less willing to pay for them when they go to other people.

Democrats are tax-and-spenders; Republicans want to cut the budget. Everyone in government is a “tax and spender.” If there is a differentiation, it works out that Republicans are “spend-and-debtors,” in that they are less willing to pay the bills at the end of the day. The vast majority of spending, the deficit, and the debt has been incurred by Republican administrations and policies over the past several decades.

Business owners built their businesses without any government help. Nobody lives in a vacuum, nobody lives cut off from everyone else. Everyone depends upon resources created by others, many created by or nurtured by the government. Everything from trade deals to education to infrastructure contributes to every business; without the government, business as we know it today would be completely unrecognizable, and certainly far less robust. The assertion to the contrary is part of the recent conservative desire to stop having to pay for what they receive by denying they receive anything at all.

Private industry created the Internet. Yes, people really claim that. I refuted it here. Spoiler alert: the claim is not true.

Freedom on the Internet is threatened by government regulation. To the contrary, the “regulation” claimed to be throttling Internet freedom is that which prevents private industries, primarily telecommunication firms, from asserting ownership over a public resource, which would result in diminished freedom, not to mention higher costs.

Government never creates jobs. This claim is obviously ludicrous, considering the 22 million jobs held in federal, state, and local governments, many of them life-long, in fields ranging from education to the military. One can only assume that the claim being made is that specific stimulative spending does not create jobs in private industry, under the assumption that “creating jobs” means permanent lifetime employment. However, no matter how absurdly you parse the claim, it is utter nonsense; the 2009 stimulus saved millions of jobs, and helped create millions more. Claims of its “failure” are as unfounded as all the other conservative claims on this list.

Conservatives support higher wages and better working conditions, which can only result from a free market system without government regulation. This is one of a class of statements which predicts riches for everyone if only the government stops interfering and businesses can do virtually anything they like. Needless to say, the relentless drive to deregulate business, dismantle unions, and block minimum wage raises has resulted in a workforce remunerated far less than before. It is a rule of business that, unless forced otherwise, wages must be driven down and benefits cut wherever possible, while “efficiency” (fewer people doing more work for less pay) is driven as high as it can be. Witness the rare exception, Costco, paying better wages and benefits—and being castigated by Wall Street for doing so.

Academic excellence can only be achieved through government-regulated standardized testing. Which, when you think of it, is kind of ironic when you consider how conservatives are against anything being government-regulated. Unless, of course, it is something they don’t like, in which case, the government should regulate or ban it. Suffice it to say that standardized testing is a horrible way to run public education.

Conservatives freed the slaves. Conservatives to blacks: “You’re welcome.” This claim is dredged up when conservatives feel like minorities, for some weird, inexplicable reason, seem to be voting less and less Republican. The logic: conservatives today are Republicans, the Republican Party was founded by Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln freed the slaves—therefore, conservatives freed the slaves and are champions of civil rights. They even sometimes try to claim that liberals supported slavery, hinting that liberals oppose religious groups (another common conservative fallacy), and religious groups were abolitionists (most religious groups of the day were not).

Martin Luther King, Jr. opposed corrective or reparative measures against racism. An old idea to combat Affirmative Action by citing King’s statement about judging a person only by the content of their character—whilst conveniently ignoring that King was speaking of a future devoid of racism, not a present in which racism flourishes and corrective measures are the best manner to at least partially counteract such forces.

Racism is no longer an issue in America; the country is color-blind, and corrective measures are reverse racism against whites. This is essentially what the conservative bloc on the Supreme Court recently decided. Within hours of that decision, states which had formerly been restrained by the Voting Rights Act immediately begin passing and enacting strongly discriminatory redistricting and laws, aimed at robbing minorities of the ability to vote and elect representatives for their interests. So, no, we’re not color-blind, and the Voting Rights Act was not reverse racism.

Laws intended to offer equal protection to women and minorities are “special privileges.” “Special privileges” is one of those code words for equal rights and treatment under the law. How a law, for example, requiring equal pay for women and allowing them to sue when they do not receive it, is a “special privilege” is somewhat difficult to reason. Conservatives will likely point to hate-crime legislation as a “representative” example of such special treatment; however, such laws apply to everyone—including violence against whites—and are in effect not to give special treatment to minorities, women, or gays, but to protect society from individuals who pose a special threat as they wish to do violence against entire classes of people.

Businesses and workplaces are often forced to hire unqualified women and minorities in order to satisfy quotas. If such a thing ever happened, it would only as a misapplication of the law, usually due to people believing this very myth. No quota ever required any business or office to hire someone unqualified for the job.

The free market is self-regulating. No it’s not. Oh, it regulates certain economic factors in very crude ways, but it does not self-regulate the behavior currently handled by government regulations. Left to itself, it would abuse employees, pollute the environment, and cheat people to no end. Its chief goal is to make money; all other considerations fall in that wake of that prime directive. It does not react to consumer complaint by cleaning itself up and regulating itself; if it did, government regulation would never have been necessary in the first place. Besides which, non-governmental factors which would help regulate certain aspects of business—such as unions—are consistently opposed by conservatives.

Treatment for drug addicts is coddling criminals / a waste of money. All evidence to the contrary. People have a tendency to reject treatment over incarceration because it means spending money to help people they disrespect or outright despise. No matter that it costs far more to incarcerate, and creates an incredible drag on the economy as well as general damage to society as a whole. Like drug laws overall, it is not about what makes sense or is best for people, it is about appearances and appearances only.

The context of the Second Amendment has not changed at all in 222 years, but the context of the Voting Rights Act has completely changed in 48 years. Do I even need to go into details?

We have never executed a person innocent of the crime for which they were executed. Wrong. Statistical evidence proves it beyond any rational doubt. Most individual proof is extremely difficult as states regularly destroy all evidence after someone is executed, and police and prosecutors refuse to investigate the crime further. Not to mention the fact that we do know of such specific cases. Ironically, conservatives who claim the government never does anything right and do not trust the government at all to regulate business, educate children, or run health care, nevertheless seem to trust the government explicitly to never wrongly execute someone.

States rights must prevail. Except when they want to do something conservatives don’t like. If a state, for example, wants to legalize marijuana, allow gay marriage, or permit people dying of terminal illnesses the right to end their own lives, then states do not have rights over the federal government. But if a state wants to ban abortion, relax gun control, or outlaw gay marriage, medicinal marijuana, and right-to-die, then state’s rights becomes the absolute principle that must be respected. Historically, “state’s rights” has a powerful racial impact due to its use to defend slavery, and later, segregation; like “strict constructionism” and “judicial activism,” “state’s rights” is really just a code word for advocating conservative agendas; these are by no means actual “principles.”.

Conservatives are against “big government.” Funny, then, that every time they get control of things, we get bigger government. Not that Democrats are much better at it—but at least they don’t pretend to be against something they clearly support. For conservatives, “big government” is yet another code word, this one meaning “spending we don’t like.” Medicare, for example, is “big government,” while an exploding military budget which vastly outspends the rest of the world combined is somehow defensible.

Conservatives want to “save” Medicare and Social Security. By dismantling them and replacing them with programs given the same name but not resembling the original programs at all.

Conservatives support the troops; liberals hate the soldiers. Remember how liberal protesters spat on returning Vietnam vets on the tarmac of airports? So do a lot of people—which is strange, as it never happened. In fact, war protesters were usually supportive of vets, which is evidenced by the fact that so many of the protesters were themselves veterans. The specific story as well as the general myth that conservatives are pro-soldier is false. Conservatives have gained the reputation for being pro-military primarily for their support of military spending, in addition to their generally hawkish stances. They mouth support for the troops, but fall short of actually giving it. In fact, when it comes to supporting veterans’ causes, it is liberals who often do the best job, while conservatives do their best to block such support. Conservatives have even claimed that Obama’s efforts to increase benefits and support for troops is evidence that he hates them—I shit you not. Veterans groups typically give very high scores to Democrats for supporting veterans’ issues, and very low scores to Republicans. Republicans, despite their reputation, are much more liable to block the granting of benefits and programs for vets. As General Wesley Clark said in 2004, “Republicans like weapons systems; Democrats like the soldiers.”

If a conservative says something that offends people and results in damage to their reputation or career, their First Amendment rights are being violated. This is a common dodge to controversy. Although conservatives have no problems pushing for boycotts to punish people and causes they disapprove of, when the same happens in reverse, they often claim that the person’s first-amendment rights are being violated. This despite the clear fact that the First Amendment protects your right to say what you want, and not your right to avoid people shunning you for it.

Obama caused high unemployment. Conservatives who claim that Obama was responsible for high unemployment consistently and conveniently ignore that the rate began to skyrocket under Bush, who took it from 5.0% in April 2008 to 7.8 % in January 2009, a rise of 2.8% in just 9 months, and that it hit a high of 10% in October 2009, a 2.2% rise in another 9 months. However, to hold Obama responsible for the latter rise is questionable at best, and most likely completely inaccurate. Imagine Bush piloting an aircraft at 40,000 feet: he pushes the airplane into a steep dive, and at 28,000 feet, as the plane plummets, he hands over the controls to Obama. Obama struggles to level out the plane, but cannot manage to do so until it reaches 20,000 feet—at which points conservatives blame him for the low altitude and do everything they can thereafter to impede his piloting duties. In addition to sheer inertia, the fact is that the unemployment rate is a “lagging indicator,” meaning that the current rate indicates the response to what was happening in the economy 6 to 9 months previously. Meaning that Obama only began “owning” the unemployment rate when it was already at its peak—and has consistently driven it down ever since.

Obama skyrocketed the deficit. Nope. As with the unemployment rate, the deficits skyrocketed under Bush; Obama has done nothing but reduce them. The current deficit is primarily a result of Bush-Cheney tax cuts, the wars in the Middle East, and the 2008 economic collapse. Obama has initiated far less deficit spending than Bush; Bush went from incipient surpluses to a trillion-dollar deficit; Obama has only brought down spending and deficits. Historically, over the past half-century, Democratic presidents have presided over deficit reductions, while Republican presidents have exploded them.

Republicans have always fought hard to balance the budget, but are confounded by Democrats who bust it. See above. When Republicans had control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, they went from a surplus to a nearly $600 billion deficit—and that was before the 2008 collapse. They try to take credit for the deficit reduction in the 90′s, but that was due as much to the Internet boom and to Clinton’s 1993 tax hike. Even under Reagan, who supposedly tried to cut spending while Democrats foiled his efforts, the facts are that the Democratic Congress passed budgets which were lower than Reagan’s proposals 7 of 8 times.

Gay marriage will undermine the institution of marriage, leading to polygamy and bestiality. See my recent post. In short, no.

Gay marriage will undermine population growth. Again, no. Stupid claim.

Global warming is a myth. Funny that Fox News doesn’t put Al Gore’s book on the sidewalk now. Do we really need to discuss how global climate change is real? I hope not.

Scientists disagree on global warming / evolution. There is no consensus. It can be said that scientists disagree on virtually everything. When 97% believe it is happening, that’s pretty conclusive. When only 1% ~ 6% of climate scientists claim that humans have had little or no effect on climate change, claiming that the debate “isn’t settled yet” is disingenuous at best. As for evolution, only 0.15% of scientists in fields relating to evolution disbelieve in it.

Evolution is “only a theory.” So is gravity, but you ain’t floating away, are you? This chestnut is just a distortion of the meaning and use of the term “theory.” The evidence for evolution is overwhelming; we simply do not understand all of the details yet. The creationists use the “theory” dodge to avoid the mountain of evidence supporting evolution, and contradicting their own claims which are supported only by faulty interpretations of ancient scripture. As stated near the top of this list, noting certain realities such as evolution does not attack religion, but instead simply contradicts religious claims about science which religion is not justified to make.

Money equals free speech. It may be true legally, but not in fact. Free speech is free speech; money is a means to elevate one person’s freedom to speak above everyone else’s. You have the right to speak, just not the right to be heard. Money allows a very few the assurance that one will be heard. That is not a right. It is a means of granting extraordinary power and special rights to those who possess wealth, with all of the freedoms a right confers so as to avoid any attempts to level the field. Arguably, the idea that money is free speech actually degrades the freedom of speech for most people.

Corporations are people. This is a legal fiction constructed to allow corporations to create contracts, participate in lawsuits, and shield individual shareholders (e.g., prevent the collection of debt from reaching personal possessions). Although the legal fiction describes the corporation as a legal “person,” this had never been assumed to grant corporations constitutional rights—at least until the right wing of the Supreme Court made the ethically repellent decision of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and declared that corporations have First Amendment rights, as if they were actual people. This is a break from tradition, and has poisoned our political process since then, far in excess of the toxic mess it already was. The conservatives on the court, from thin air, created a right that had not existed before—as audacious a case of “legislating from the bench” as has ever been witnessed before. Suddenly, corporations could be wielded as a super-person by people who already enjoy their own individual rights, giving them extra powers—not by all shareholders, but just those few wealthy and power people who actually control them.

Capital gains tax is double-taxation. No it’s not. Corporate shareholders are shielded by the “body” of the corporation; the price for this is that the corporation is treated separately from the shareholders. It is not double taxation when an employer is taxed and then an employee is taxed. The same principle applies here. Those who make this claim simply want all the protections a corporation supplies without paying any of the costs—an all-too-common conservative theme.

Liberal justices legislate from the bench; conservatives are strict constructionists who want to preserve or “restore” the original constitution. In simple terms, a conservative will define any decision that conservatives disagree with as “judicial activism” and “legislating from the bench,” no matter what the grounds. It is little more than a reflexive response to dismiss judgments that go against them.

Actual judicial activism is when a decision is handed down that goes beyond or contradicts precedent, engages in judicial overreach (the court going well beyond what is necessary to settle the case), and defies standards of judicial restraint.

While it can be argued that both liberal and conservative judges and justices have practiced such activism, there is ample evidence that this is far more a practice among conservative jurists than of liberal ones. Roe v. Wade is the primary and usually sole arguable example of liberal judicial activism. Conservatives, however, have been going on a spree of such activism in recent years. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, Bush v. Gore, District of Columbia v. Heller (rewriting the Second Amendment to match current conservative views), or the recent fiasco of Shelby County v. Holder (essentially gutting the Voting Rights Act)—there has been a long string of outrageous decisions by conservative jurists which go beyond any precedent and often any standing law and create completely new legal assumptions based upon little else than a egregiously unrestrained conservative agenda. In 2005′s McCreary v. ACLU, for example, Scalia attempted to rewrite the Establishment Clause.

This flies in the face of “strict constructionism,” which has historically been, according to William Rehnquist himself, a philosophy used when a judge is not “favorably inclined toward claims of either criminal defendants or civil rights plaintiffs.” Strict constructionism, nominally at least, is supposed to be about interpreting the law very narrowly. It holds that anything not clearly expressed may not be interpreted, and—in complete contradiction to the Ninth Amendment—that if a right is not positively granted by the constitution, it does not exist.

Not only is this “philosophy” patently unconstitutional, it is not even consistently applied—as the many cases of conservative judicial activism, exemplified by the cases above, evidence more than clearly. In addition, for a group that claims to be “preserving” the constitution, it seems strange that they are constantly trying to amend it.

Voter fraud is a serious issue. No it’s not. Voter fraud is rare, and conservative claims to the contrary are completely unevidenced. Usually cited are cases where people hired to collect registrations create false documents to collect more money—documents which are found, trashed, and never result in actual stolen votes, mostly due to the fact that there was never any intent to do so.

Election fraud, on the other hand, is copious these days—and is quite notably a completely conservative practice. From Katherine Harris’ historical perverting of the Florida Central Voting File throwing the 2000 election illicitly to Bush, to the current right-wing judicial activism allowing conservative states to gerrymander and rewrite voting laws to specifically disenfranchise minorities, conservatives have rigorously and rather openly driven to abuse their legal power in order to win elections dishonestly.

The media has a liberal bias. I’m not even going to dignify that long-standing piece of excrement with an explanation; if you are not fully aware of why it is wrong, then there’s no talking to you; you may return to viewing Fox News, which is totally unbiased.


If conservatives comment on this list, they will most likely do so in their usual fashion: to ignore the bulk of the list, go after the one or two points they believe are weakest, and within those points focus on only one contention or a subset of the entire point—and never, ever concede everything (and possibly anything) else. We’ll see.

Yes, There Really Was a Partisan Political Witch Hunt

June 25th, 2013 1 comment

It has been a while since I could get a full blog post out. My apologies; work has demanded my full attention for several weeks now. It hasn’t lessened too much, but I am enjoying a little bit of a breather.

During that time, I abortively started a post on the IRS “scandal” at least a few times. Each time it seemed to be less and less likely that the scandal was a scandal at all. Each time I sat down to address the issue, there was more and more evidence that this, like Benghazi, was indeed a political witch hunt—just by conservatives against Obama, and not the other way around.

The first clue: Republicans said it was a scandal of monumental proportions. This tends to be a fairly good indicator of a non-scandal. Conservatives have been attempting to smear the administration with something since he started running for president. Any time anything comes along, it’s supposed to be The Thing That Takes Obama Down. How many “Obama’s 9/11”s have we seen? How many “Obama’s Katrina”s? How many “Obama’s Watergate”s? And yet, nothing sticks, because nothing was there in the first place. Wishing does not make it so, even though conservatives have been wishing so hard that you’d think it would make it so. When right-wingers start claiming that something is “worse than Watergate and Iran-Contra combined, times maybe 10,” you can rest assured that there’s nothing to it.

The second clue: predictably, accusations by Republicans starting turning out to be bullshit, like the story about how IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visited the White House “at least” 157 times, which of course could only mean he was constantly scheming with Obama personally to target conservatives. The “at least” was a cute touch, meaning that it was probably even more than 157 times. It turned out that this “smoking gun,” as Fox News talking heads referred to it, was baloney. Shulman did not visit the White House 157 times. The number refers to how many events Shulman was cleared to attend. In fact, Shulman signed in only 11 times over 4 years. Furthermore, 76% of the clearances were for health care-related briefings.

The third clue: it was revealed that about two-thirds of the groups applying for tax-exempt status were conservative, and about two-thirds of the groups approved… were conservative. As Kevin Drum pointed out, it’s a funny way to run a “witch hunt.” If the intent was to target conservatives and disproportionately shut them down, why did that not happen?

The fourth clue: right-wingers started using the investigation of whether there was a focus on conservative groups applying for tax-exempt “social welfare” status to claim that any IRS audit against any conservative for any reason was only more evidence of Obama’s criminality. Take Wayne Allyn Root, former Libertarian vice-presidential running mate and conservative talk show host. He was claiming to anyone who will listen that he knew all along there was a witch hunt, because he was audited!

Despite the fact that it was a personal audit—meaning that, in fact, the current IRS brouhaha has absolutely no relation to Root’s case. Nevertheless, Root claims he is “vindicated” in his accusation that Obama personally targeted him for persecution.

The fifth clue: after many hearings and enough investigation so that some clear evidence of wrongdoing should have been uncovered, Darryl Issa (whose personal reputation is hardly sterling) issued a statement which clearly insinuated that Obama, through his lackeys, was directing the IRS to attack his political enemies—but when you looked closely, it was clear that Issa had nothing:

… Republican Rep. Darrell Issa said interviews with workers in the Cincinnati IRS office show targeting of conservative groups was “a problem that was coordinated in all likelihood right out of Washington headquarters – and we’re getting to proving it.”

“My gut tells me that too many people knew this wrongdoing was going on before the election, and at least by some sort of convenient, benign neglect, allowed it to go on through the election,” he said. “I’m not making any allegations as to motive, that they set out to do it, but certainly people knew it was happening.”

Now, read that carefully: “in all likelihood,” “getting to prove it,” “My gut tells me.” When you factor all of that in, you are left with, semantically, nothing. Zero. But after reading it, you get the strong impression that this is real and true. After all, “people knew it was happening,” and there can’t be “motives” for something that was not happening, right?

And the excerpts of testimony? They seemed to consist of every time that “Washington D.C.” was ever mentioned, so as to give the impression that D.C., and therefore Obama personally, was involved. But again, a close inspection shows that no one piece of testimony showed any actual evidence of direction from D.C., and that references to “requests” for information from D.C. were likely of a simple procedural nature.

The sixth clue: an IRS manager, this time making clear statements, said that the focus on “Tea Party” groups did not originate from D.C. (not that originating from D.C. in any way means that Obama was involved anyway). And this official claiming it was his idea was a conservative Republican.

That was kind of when the ongoing firestorm of conservative-media outrage ebbed quite a bit.

But today, we have one last piece of the puzzle:

The Internal Revenue Service used the terms “progressive,” “Israel” and “occupy” on internal documents that helped agency employees screen groups’ applications for tax-exempt status, according to IRS documents.

In other words, it was not a witch hunt for conservatives. They were looking for wrongdoing by pretty much anyone.

My favorite line comes next in the article:

The disclosure adds a dimension to the controversy surrounding IRS scrutiny of applications for tax exemptions.

Ya think? The “extra dimension,” by the way, is that this is not a scandal at all. The groups under scrutiny are supposed to be “promoting social welfare,” and it seems clear that many, if not most, are primarily partisan political action groups using the tax-exempt and donor-anonymous status illegitimately as a shield. Which is why any political leaning is a clue. The wrongdoing would have been if one type of group had been singled out over the others. This new information suggests that this was not the case.

Republicans like to ask, “What did Obama know and when did he know it?” the classic Watergate question. Now it becomes, “Did Darryl Issa and the Republicans know about this new information, and if so, when?”

Because there has been an egregious abuse of power culminating in a partisan political witch hunt—by Republicans, targeting Obama. That abuse of power, that string of lies, that waste of taxpayer money will never be investigated. And the media will likely allow this all to fizzle without fanfare, leaving a huge chunk of the American population to feel like there was something there, because it was not refuted as loudly or as clearly as it was accused.

In Case You Needed More Reminding that Republicans Are Flaming Hypocrites

May 20th, 2013 2 comments

It looks like the three “scandals” brewing for the last week are, by any objective standard, petering out. The IRS scandal was at low levels, and neither Obama nor his staff knew anything at a time when it was relevant, nor tried to cover anything up. There is no evidence that Obama could realistically have been expected to do anything that would have prevented the violence in Benghazi, and the editing of the talking points was an interagency scuffle which did not involve him, nor did it really have any significant impact in real life. And the AP phone record incident, while reprehensible, was pretty pedestrian as far as national security snooping has been for the past decade; ironically, it’s the kind of thing Republicans have been pushing for, and which the administration has, at least in principle, been trying to weaken.

None of this will stop Republicans and their PR machine from claiming they are scandals worse than Watergate-times-infinity-plus-one, however. Republicans desperately want a scandal to be there, and will never stop investigating, will never stop reacting in false outrage, and will never stop making baseless accusations which they claim are high crimes and misdemeanors.


Now, remember back in 2004, when the Bush administration was drowning in scandals—actual, real-life scandals, scandals which caused real and significant damage to our country and its principles—and the Republicans in Congress steadfastly refused to investigate?

Republican leaders in Congress have refused to investigate who exposed covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose identity was leaked after her husband, Joe Wilson, challenged the administration’s claims that Iraq sought nuclear weapons. They have held virtually no public hearings on the hundreds of misleading claims made by administration officials about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda.

They have failed to probe allegations that administration officials misled Congress about the costs of the Medicare prescription drug bill. And they have ignored the ethical lapses of administration officials, such as the senior Medicare official who negotiated future employment representing drug companies while drafting the prescription drug bill. …

There is a simple but deplorable principle at work. In both the Clinton and Bush eras, oversight has been driven by raw partisanship. Congressional leaders have vacillated between the extremes of abusing their investigative powers and ignoring them, depending on the party affiliation of the president.

Nor were they really trying that hard to hide why:

Republican Rep. Ray LaHood aptly characterized recent congressional oversight of the administration: “Our party controls the levers of government. We’re not about to go out and look beneath a bunch of rocks to try to cause heartburn.”

In fact, they not only avoided investigations, they deplored them as unpatriotic and damaging to the nation. They went so far as to make the claim that any such investigations would derail the business of government and cause us to plummet into an abyss of anarchy and terror. And no, I’m not really exaggerating here. They claimed that such investigations would literally cause terror attacks. Starting in early 2006, Ken Mehlman, Chairman of the RNC, sent out multiple fundraising letters which warned that Democrats would try to investigate, censure and impeach Bush if they took back Congress. This warning, for example, went out in March:

The Democrats’ plan for 2006? Take the House and Senate, and impeach the President. With our nation at war, is this the kind of Congress you want?

Here’s another from May:

This year, we face another momentous choice. Fight and defeat the terrorists, or retreat from the central front in the War on Terror. Live up to our calling as Americans to stand for freedom, or choose Democrats, who are being as clear as they possibly can that they will censure and impeach the President if they win back Congress.

Republicans continued to use this scare tactic even after Pelosi specifically ruled out any attempt at impeachment should Democrats take back Congress.

Of course, Democrats did win back both houses in 2006—and did not try to investigate, censure, or impeach Bush, despite having a long list of offenses which richly merited such attention.


So here we are, with Republicans in control of the House… and they are doing exactly what they said would ruin the country if Democrats did it, and for reasons far more spurious and illegitimate.

Like the post’s title said, this is nothing new. However, it does bear repeating from time to time when it is at peak tide.

The Truth, Revisited

May 20th, 2013 3 comments

This post is from a year ago. Maybe I should re-post this annually, or even monthly. It bears seeing again, and again. Recommend this. Share it. Post it. It’s the Truth.


Precisely. I’ve also been reading Thomas Frank’s Pity the Billionaire, which deals with the same topic from a different perspective.

The frustrating thing is, this should be so obvious, as obvious as the fact that the Laffer curve was full of crap. And yet millions, even a majority, buy into the bull.

Money naturally circulates upward; in order for an economy to work well, there must be some kind of mechanism to circulate the money back down. Conservatives think that jobs will perform this function all by themselves, even as they try to destroy unions, deny workers benefits, and otherwise minimize that precise flow downwards. In fact, a healthily progressive tax system and good working conditions are what create jobs and a prosperous economy.

The best way to stimulate the economy is to inject the money into the lower half of the economic cycle; injecting it into the upper half is counter-productive.

Taxing the rich is not only a good thing, it is a necessary thing. Government spending on infrastructure, education, and supporting the poorest among us is not just a good thing, it is a necessary thing. If you truly wish to have a robust economy.

But just as we still prosecute the same old drug war despite decades of studies telling us that decriminalization and treatment would be light-years better, we still bridle against the bloody obvious in economics.

We know it’s a fact that dollar for dollar, food stamps are the most effective stimulus mechanism, followed closely by unemployment benefits and infrastructure spending, and yet most of the nation seems to accept Republican whining about how that will destroy the economy.

It is just as solid a fact that dividend & capital tax gain tax cuts, corporate tax cuts, and the billionaire-slanted Bush tax cuts are among the absolute worst stimulators–and yet we somehow allow right-wingers to insist that these be given a priority.

We’ve tried it the Republican way for 30 years and we have nearly destroyed our economy. Now right-wingers complain about how they have never gotten a chance and how liberals have ruined everything. They are absolutely wrong. Tax rates for the wealthy and for corporations should rise, for their own good as well as everyone else’s. Tax rates for the middle class should stay the same (being as low as they are) or be eased. Money should be spent on infrastructure, scientific & technological research, and education.

Categories: Economics, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

It Long Ago Stopped Being About What Matters

May 17th, 2013 6 comments

Last Friday, Republicans leaked what they claimed were exact quotes from administration emails showing the alteration of talking points. The emails appeared to be somewhat damning, suggesting that “the changes suggest administration officials were interested in sparing the State Department from political criticism in the wake of the attack.”

One email leaked by Republicans, from Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser to President Obama, read thus:

We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation.

The problem? He didn’t write that. The administration released the actual emails today. In the email quoted above, the genuine quote is:

We need to resolve this in a way that respects all the relevant equities, particularly the investigation.

Just a wee bit different, wouldn’t you say?

Turns out that CBS, which received the leaked emails and reported them on May 10, were none too pleased at having been lied to. Their original report did not specify where they had gotten the emails.

This is a common game in D.C.: partisan players leak info damaging to the other side, but demand anonymity so that it won’t look like a partisan attack. The news agency reports the information without naming the biased source, thus presenting the appearance that the information is more trustworthy and not part of a political attack.

Except in this case, the release included intentionally faked information to make the administration look bad—meaning that Republicans hoodwinked CBS into making a false political smear against the administration.

So today, they not only noted the altered emails, they also revealed their source as having been Republicans.

Another alteration, this one of an email purportedly written by State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland, read:

…and the penultimate point is a paragraph talking about all the previous warnings provided by the Agency [CIA] about al-Qaeda’s presence and activities of al-Qaeda…[which] could be abused by members of Congress to fault the State Department for not paying attention… so why would we want to cede that, either?

The actual email:

…and the penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings, so why would we want to cede that, either?

The main point that Republicans are making is that the Obama administration altered information given to the public for political purposes. Which is exactly what the Republicans did here.

You might wonder, “Why is this at all important? The changes don’t seem too great, and it’s not as big an impact as the government misinforming the people in the midst of a presidential election.”

The answer is that, in the case of the administration reports before the election, it is virtually impossible that different reporting by the administration could have altered the election. After all, Republicans were making great hay about Benghazi in the final weeks of the election; had there been 100% perfect transmission of information from the administration from Day One, there would have been far less damage to the administration—and yet, despite the greater damage, Obama still won handily. In short, the impact of the claimed distortions was petty, at best.

On the other hand, Republicans would clearly love to impeach Obama over this controversy; failing that, they wish to damage Obama at least to the degree of derailing his political agenda and bringing even more gridlock and delay to government policies intended to repair the economy and fix the problems we face. In which case, faked information could have a substantially significant impact.

In the end, however, this entire affair comes down to nothing more than sordid and contemptible political game-playing—which means that facts have little impact on what will happen. It’s has moved from a matter of saying and doing things with meaning, to a reprehensible game of creating and fighting back against absurd partisan narratives.

We no longer have a functioning government. But then, that is hardly news.

UPDATE: New Headline!

FOX: NEW EVIDENCE HILLARY KILLED LINCOLN

The accusation against Mrs. Clinton drew a strong response from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.—S. Carolina): “There’s been a concerted effort by Hillary Clinton to cover up her role in President Lincoln’s murder. She has said nothing about it. This is bigger than Watergate, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Second World War put together.”

The Wall Street Journal

March 8th, 2013 1 comment

I presume that, at some time, The Wall Street Journal actually did perform some respectable journalism. However—and this might coincide with Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition of the institution—it seems that whenever I look at what they write nowadays, it’s a piece of politically slanted excrement.

Take, for example, this ludicrous article from 2008, in which columnist and WSJ Deputy Editorial Page Director Daniel Henninger tries to deny that regulation shortfalls caused the subprime mortgage crisis by instead blaming secularization, literally suggesting that the more-inclusive “Happy Holidays” occasionally replacing “Merry Christmas” caused those in the financial industry to lose their religious-based principles and thus fell into avarice and depravity. Seriously, read the article.

This seems to be a recurring theme: if a well-reasoned and accepted explanation of an important issue rankles them politically, they try to say it just ain’t so—and use any risibly asinine bullshit they can think of to deny it.

Last year, it was the role of government in supporting businesses and the people in general, which conservatives found a new opportunity to attack with Obama’s “you didn’t build that” statement. Gordon Crovitz at the WSJ wrote an article that set the tone from the very first sentence when he, like so many other conservatives, quotes Obama out of context. But he then focused on one other statement Obama made: “The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all companies could make money off the Internet.”

He then presented his thesis statement: “It’s an urban legend that the government launched the Internet.”

Really.

His argument, of course, is total BS. To make it seem like he’s disproving something with fact, he weaved in a red herring, the contention that the Internet was developed to maintain communications after a nuclear strike, which he easily dismissed—giving the impression that he just disproved government involvement when he in fact was speaking to an assertion which was not really relevant.

Sometimes his bullshit runs so thick that you trip over outrageous falsehoods and errors in virtually every sentence. Take this segment:

If the government didn’t invent the Internet, who did? Vinton Cerf developed the TCP/IP protocol, the Internet’s backbone, and Tim Berners-Lee gets credit for hyperlinks.

But full credit goes to the company where Mr. Taylor worked after leaving ARPA: Xerox. It was at the Xerox PARC labs in Silicon Valley in the 1970s that the Ethernet was developed to link different computer networks. Researchers there also developed the first personal computer (the Xerox Alto) and the graphical user interface that still drives computer usage today.

One gags on the sheer volume of error. Let’s go through this a bit. “Vinton Cerf developed the TCP/IP protocol”? Not by himself; with Robert Kahn, he deserves much of the credit, but did not do it single-handedly.

“Tim Berners-Lee gets credit for hyperlinks”? Holy crap, that could not be more wrong. Hyperlinks were in use long before Lee made use of them. Lee developed HTML and HTTP, essentially the World Wide Web (not the Internet); the credit for hyperlinks goes to Ted Nelson for the concept (begun when Lee was 5 years old!) and Douglas Engelbart for implementation less than a decade later.

“Full credit goes to Xerox”? Sure, and Lee Iacocca invented the car. This is the specific version of the aforementioned thesis, and it’s wrong. Xerox was involved, but far from responsible. Crovitz seemed to conflate the development of Ethernet with the development of the Internet.

“Researchers there also developed the first personal computer (the Xerox Alto)”? Really? The Alto was the first PC? No. Not even close. The Alto was an early, cutting-edge precursor of modern machines for its use of the GUI a decade before the Macintosh, but it cost $32,000 in 1973 (well over $100,000 in current dollars) and was never commercially produced. The Xerox Star, which followed in 1981, was a business computer.

“…and the graphical user interface”? Not really. Douglas Engelbart gets most of the credit for creating the GUI. Xerox was the first to apply it to manufactured computers, but to say they “developed” it is overstating it.

Crovitz then goes on to base his central thesis on a secondhand quote from a book about Xerox, in which one Xerox researcher is quoted as saying, “We have more networks than they [the government] do,” noting government bureaucracy as an impediment.

That’s pretty much it. Xerox had some internal networks in 1973. Therefore they created the Internet. Okaaayyy…

He then segues off into more red herrings like Steve Jobs negotiating with Xerox for access to the Alto, another side issue.

He then concludes:

It’s important to understand the history of the Internet because it’s too often wrongly cited to justify big government. It’s also important to recognize that building great technology businesses requires both innovation and the skills to bring innovations to market. As the contrast between Xerox and Apple shows, few business leaders succeed in this challenge. Those who do—not the government—deserve the credit for making it happen.

Thus he “establishes” a “fact” which will be widely but just as vaguely cited by conservatives everywhere, based on horse manure like so many of their claims, but distant enough that they can get away with it and not suffer too much from any scrutiny that may be applied.

Vinton Cerf, one of the men most responsible for developing the Internet, was interviewed in response to this. Cerf explains in detail how the Internet was created, and when asked directly about Crovitz’s argument, he replied simply:

I would happily fertilize my tomatoes with Crovitz’ assertion.

I really wonder sometimes how the WSJ can maintain its reputation when disseminating opinions that are of Fox-News quality—specifically, full of crap.

Categories: Right-Wing Lies Tags: