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Anecdotally, Corporations Are Sweethearts

August 15th, 2015 6 comments

It really ticks me off when somebody advocating the “free market” and opposing government regulation uses anecdotal evidence as proof that somehow corporations can be counted on to do the right thing. Here’s Carly Fiorina giving a definitive example of exactly that line of drivel:

I don’t think it’s the role of government to dictate to the private sector how to manage their businesses, especially when it’s pretty clear that the private sector, like Netflix, like the example that you just gave, is doing the right thing because they know it helps them attract the right talent. What I mean by the federal government not having its house in order, the federal government is in a shambles right now.- it’s inept. The night — TSA fails 96% of the time. That’s ineptitude.

You see? Netflix does it! So, no problem! That’s like the people who claim that since Obama was elected president, racism doesn’t exist any more. Besides, I can point to a cherry-picked, completely unrelated government activity that has an unusually high failure rate, so all businesses are pretty fantastic all on their own!

Notice that when citing industry giving paid maternity leave, Fiorina cites only a few companies, but when she points to government failure, she cites percentages. And to top it off, both are examples from the extreme ends of the spectrum that she wants to dishonestly highlight.

There’s a reason that anecdotal evidence, or cherry picking, is considered a logical fallacy. Just because Netflix announced a relatively enlightened policy (the policy does not cover everyone in the company, and does not apply at all to those who work in Netflix’s DVD or customer service divisions) does not mean that “the system is working.”

Even though there is a federal mandate to provide leave for companies with 50 or more workers, and some states, like California, have stronger mandates (which have shown to be overwhelmingly positive for companies), only 13% of workers have access to any kind of paid leave at all. That’s a failure rate of 87%, even after federal and state mandates. Before the mandates? Only 2% of workers had access to paid maternity leave. A failure rate of 98%. That’s what happens without government regulation—that’s how the industry “attracts talent.”

What was that you were saying about “ineptitude,” Carly?

On Domestic Right-Wing Terrorism

June 26th, 2015 5 comments

In the wake of the Charleston tragedy, I think it is highly relevant to remember that in 2009, the Department of Homeland Security issued a report on right-wing domestic terrorism. One of the memorable points in the report:

DHS/I&A has concluded that white supremacist lone wolves pose the most significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy—separate from any formalized group—which hampers warning efforts.

It is also significant that conservatives, at the time, were livid, claiming that the report was nothing but a liberal smear job, an attempt to politicize homeland security, leading to oppression against conservatives.

Remember Pamela Geller, the woman who recently organized the Mohammed “art show” designed to provoke an attack? This is what she said about the report back in 2009:

It is the fascist blueprint to create a police state and legalize gulags. This is not a spoof. This is Obama’s “civilian army’s” MOB. According to Obama’s DHS, patriots are the real threat to America…

And to the specific part of the report about white supremacist lone wolved posing the greatest threat?

This document poses the most dangerous threat to these great United States.

…There he goes again. Playing the race card again. Racism was dead in this country. It is Obama’s objective to create a divisive schism in this country. The country ain’t buying it. We, as a nation, elected him. Racism charge dead.

Nor was she alone. Newt Gingrich tweeted that the DHS report did nothing more than smearing conservatives and demanded the person who wrote the report be fired.

Rush Limbaugh spake:

[T]his Department of Homeland Security report is nothing more than a partisan hit job filled with lies and innuendo that portrays any conservatism as right-wing extremism.

Michelle Malkin at the time wrote:

In Obama land, there are no coincidences. It is no coincidence that this report echoes Tea Party-bashing left-wing blogs … and demonizes the very Americans who will be protesting in the thousands on Wednesday for the nationwide Tax Day Tea Party.

On the right-wing blog “Town Hall”:

Have we really come to this? Has Adolf Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels been reborn and recruited by the Obama administration to scare the heck out of the American people with absurdities such as this whacked-out document?

As a result of these protests and much more, the DHS backed off from at least outwardly reporting on the issue; whether or not this had an effect on actual work done by the DHS and other agencies, I have no idea. I imagine, however, it certainly did not help in any way, shape, or form.

I suppose it is no mystery as to why conservatives are now publicly stating their confusion as to what possible motive this clearly mentally ill non-conservative might have had, except that he seemed to hate Christians. After all, he couldn’t be racist, because someone on right-wing blogs said that he had a lot of black friends on Facebook.

But it couldn’t be right-wing terrorism. That just doesn’t exist.

It’s part denial, part No-True-Scotsman; they know that Dylann Roof lived at the heart of their political base, and is likely not mentally ill, but instead just filled with the hate that influential members of their movement find so politically useful to promulgate.

Liberal Hypocrisy! Until You Read a Unbiased Report! More Carefully! Which We Hope You Won’t!

May 30th, 2015 4 comments

Conservative news outlets are going nuts with the story about unions in Los Angeles asking for an exemption from the $15 minimum wage hike in that city. Reading their headlines, it at first appears that unions are trying to get away with paying their own employees less than the new minimum wage or something.

Read a little bit further, and you might get the information that this has something to do with bargaining purposes, but you also get exposed to rhetoric about how the unions are arrogant, overbearing, and hypocritical, and probably hurting their own workers for a corrupt power grab. What it boils down to is, “Unions bad!! Unions hypocrites!! Unions Corrupt and Evil!!!

After all that, after moving the needle for the national press in their direction as well, they are hoping that you won’t notice how nonsensical their claims are, or that you will not read the details enough to discover that the exemption is not only reasonable but actually makes good sense.

Fox:

Unions seek exemption from LA minimum wage law they helped pass

Union leaders in Los Angeles are being accused of hypocrisy after being caught trying to exempt themselves from a new minimum wage law they tried to impose on others.

The Washington Times:

L.A. labor leaders seek $15 minimum-wage exemption for union allies

Labor leaders in Los Angeles who pushed for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020 are now seeking an exemption — for unionized companies.

Forbes:

Hypocrisy Thy Name Is Union; Unions Demand Exemption From LA’s $15 Minimum Wage

This is really quite glorious as a display of sheer naked chutzpah. …The unions are now insisting that that $15 an hour should not actually be the minimum wage in workplaces where unions are involved. Unionised shops should be allowed to set the wage lower than $15 if that’s what they want to do. This could be described as chutzpah, as I have above. It could also be described as repulsively naked arrogance, your choice there.

The Daily Caller:

Los Angeles Unions Like The New Minimum Wage, For Everybody But Them

Despite advocating for the Los Angeles minimum wage increase, some of the same union leaders are now asking to be exempt for negotiation purposes.

Newsbusters:

LA Unions Lobby for Exemption From $15/Hr. Minimum Wage Law They Pushed

This has to be the month’s top entry in the “Just when you think you’ve seen it all” category — and it will be more than a little interesting to see how the nation’s press handles it.

After reading further down in each article, you get to the assertion that unions are doing this as a corrupt and hypocritical way to boost their own power. The idea is that if unions lower the wages for their workers for a business, any business that wants to be competitive (or just escape the soul-crushing burden of paying workers a livable wage) will be oppressively forced into accepting union dominance and control in their fragile workplace.

Evil!

Perhaps not surprisingly, a good chunk of the mainstream media is reporting it this way as well, and even the coverage that isn’t is doing such a poor job of explaining the rationale behind the move that it is easy to just assume the unions are being hypocrites.

However, if you read carefully enough and in the right places, you discover the real reason: flexibility that will help people get better conditions that will actually be more favorable to small businesses.

Evil! It’s pure, unadul—wait, what? Favorable to small businesses? And to workers? What’s the catch?

First of all, the exemption isn’t mandatory, it is only an optional adjustment if the situation warrants.

Second, this is not something “for” unions only, nor is it something that unions “get” or can force on businesses. If a business refuses to cooperate, the reduction never happens. The reduction only applies if both the business and the workers can agree on it.

Third, it only applies to union shops because the entire idea is that it allows workers and employers to work out a deal that is beneficial to both parties, but without union protections, businesses can and usually do force workers to take cuts without any benefits. The union-only exemption is the only way to make such deals work without employees getting shafted.

And finally, this is most advantageous to both workers and businesses because it allows them to come to a deal that is flexible and allows the best possible deal for both parties. Despite the garbage that Fox & Co. are trying to sell, unions and worker organizations are not so stupid that they want to destroy the businesses where their workers are employed.

Quite the contrary, they want them to be prosperous—a fact that conservatives routinely get wrong, just like their belief that lower taxes for the wealthy will improve the economy. Unions well understand that a more prosperous company can mean more prosperous workers, and even some smart business leaders understand that costs to better the lives of employees today will lead to far better profits in the future.

Conservatives claim that massive numbers of small businesses will collapse if they are forced to pay a higher minimum wage; while this is an obvious lie, it remains true that some very specific businesses will be too stressed with the wage hike as mandated by law. The union exemption allows businesses to negotiate a deal with workers that allows the business to remain healthy while giving workers as close to the living wage as needed.

In other cases, workers might be better off with alternative compensation, including specific health plans, retirement savings, or other workplace changes that would be just as valuable to them while also being a more reasonable alternative for the employer.

You see, it is about negotiation, something conservatives despise when it means workers can get something out of it. However, when practiced freely (the part of the “free” market conservatives hate), negotiation can benefit everyone and lead to a more prosperous workplace.

So, why do conservatives hate it? Partly because it will also benefit unions, which they abhor with a passion because they are supporters of the Democratic Party (never mind that unions also are the only free-market force which strives for the benefit of the working stiff). Partly because it means that businesses couldn’t shaft their workers for ever-more immediate profits. The main reason conservatives are ranting and raving now, however, is because they can. They have a story which, while reasonable when explained clearly, can easily be skewed to make it look like unions are evil hypocrites.

So, naturally, they are running with it, milking it for all they can.

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He Was For It Before He Was Against It

May 15th, 2015 2 comments

One of the reasons John Kerry lost the 2004 election was the now-famous statement by Kerry on the Iraq War: “I was for it before I was against it.” Except, he never said that. He said,“I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.” The quote was about an $87 billion appropriation bill for military operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq, not Kerry’s actual position on the Iraq War. Kerry voted for a version of the appropriations bill that would be paid for by getting rid of some of Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, but later voted against a version which lacked that provision. His statement, which Kerry admitted was “inarticulate,” was then taken out of context and now is almost as famous as Al Gore’s “I invented the Internet,” another quote that was baldly misrepresented. Still, it cost Kerry dearly.

Well, how about Jeb Bush now? He’s had years to decide where he stands on the Iraq War. What’s his position on it?

Well he was for it, and would do it again if he had to face the same choice.

But that was Monday. On Tuesday, he didn’t know.

Tuesday is so long ago, though; on Wednesday, he said that answering the question would offend the troops.

And now? Well, it’s Thursday, and Bush is now against the war.

So, he was for it before he wasn’t sure before he wouldn’t answer before he was against it.

I admit, it’s not as catchy as what they made Kerry’s quote out to be. How about, “He was for it before he was against it, and waffled a few times in between.”

Or maybe just stick to the classic, “He was before it before he was against it.” Sure, you lose the waffling, but the short version has merits: it’s catchier, it demonstrates flip-flopping, it illustrates irony—and it is a far more accurate representation of Bush’s actual statements than it ever was of Kerry’s.

Oh, and let’s not forget the canard that Bush threw in at the start: that Hillary voted for the war too. “I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody”

As I have pointed out, that’s yet another asinine Republican lie. Clinton voted for the war powers act, and possibly did that as a political weasel, but she also made crystal clear in a Senate floor speech that her vote was to give Bush a bargaining chip to pressure Saddam, and that war was only a “last resort.” Only an idiot would presume that Clinton, on her own, would have taken us into Iraq. As much of a hawk as Clinton is, she clearly would not have done that.

Blaming the Victim Is Not Just for Rape

May 6th, 2015 Comments off

A month ago, a guy named Larry Pfeifer started a false rumor that Harry Reid was actually injured not by exercise machinery, but instead by his drunken brother in a fistfight. Conservatives ate up the story without bothering to do the slightest checking on its veracity.

It makes me wonder: if I were to make up a fictional story about an unarmed black man shot in the back by a white police officer from, say, San Antonio, Texas, and was able to get it slipped into a right-wing web site somewhere, I wonder how long it would take before all kinds of “revelations” popped up about the shooting victim’s background and actions on that day?

Because that’s the knee-jerk reaction amongst conservatives these days: if there is an African-American victim of any sort, especially a sympathetic one, right-wingers fall all over themselves in a rush to paint the victims as vile, despicable “thugs” who deserve no compassion or human respect. After the Zimmerman shooting, Trayvon Martin was painted as some gangsta criminal, usually using photos of someone else tagged as Martin. Black victims of Katrina were accused of all manner of deviances, and stories of black refugees terrorizing generous white people were common in right-wing circles—primarily as a way of making Bush’s criminal inaction seem justified.

Things have gotten no better as time passes; instead, the reaction now seems pretty much deep-set, even institutionalized. When the Freddie Gray story broke, conservatives came out with a flurry of stories about how Gray’s death was his own fault, and the police were, if anything, the “real” victims.

Reports were spread about how Gray gave himself the spinal injury by throwing himself around inside the van so as to frame police for excessive violence and therefore win a legal settlement for quick cash.

Another story that spread in the right-wing bubble claimed that Gray had had spinal surgery a week earlier—and managed to make the story about how he was scamming Allstate for a cash settlement in a lawsuit. The kicker: when The Baltimore Sun, as well as Snopes, debunked the story, the right-wing stories carried updates that played down or flat-out ignored the fact that the reports of spinal surgery were fake, and instead claimed that the news organizations confirmed that Gray was involved in some legal scam against Allstate.

And virtually every right-wing story contained or focused on Gray’s arrest record, with the clear implied message that this was a dishonest, drug-using criminal who deserves no sympathy and was just asking for what he got.

Never mind the fact that the list represents arrests, not actual crimes committed. Never mind the fact that when Gray was arrested that last time, it turned out that the reason for the arrest was unlawful—but, had Gray not been killed, the arrest would have been one more charge on the rap sheet. Never mind the fact that almost every entry on that list of for marijuana busts, and it is a fact that black people are arrested for marijuana possession as much as ten times more often than whites, who use the drug with equal frequency.

These stories persist and amplify in the right-wing bubble, and are what conservatives use as the context for the issue—explaining at least in part their irrational response to such things, seemingly inexplicable in an objective context. It’s the classic “narrative,” building a version of reality based upon ideological mythology which justifies all manner of horrible assumptions and actions.

Nor is that context limited to blaming the victim; there are other approaches as well. For example, attacking the African-American State Attorney who brought the charges, calling her everything from conflicted to racist, while others belittled her as a “smokeshow.”

But hey, we have to be careful: accusing conservatives of racism is just so unfair and unwarranted. Worse, it’s racist. Because white male conservatives are the real victims here.

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John Boehner: Almost No Corruption in D.C.

May 4th, 2015 1 comment

Wow.

I mean, you want to defend just yourself, that’s one thing. But to claim that there’s virtually no corruption in politics? To say that what your party is doing is completely fair and above-board?

Wow.

In an interview on Meet the Press, that’s pretty much what Boehner said.

Americans might see their political system as rigged against them and in favor of big-money donors, special interests and incumbent members of Congress.

But House Speaker John Boehner says he’s not buying any of it.

The Ohio Republican dismissed each of those concerns Sunday in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Money in politics? “We spend more money on antacids than we do on politics,” Boehner said.

Aside from being false (about twice as much was spent on the 2014 elections than on antacids), it’s also completely irrelevant. We’re talking about bribery; amounts don’t matter, the results do. If a politician takes a bribe for $10,000, it doesn’t matter how much we spend on peanut butter or safety pins relative to that. What matters is that a politician was bought and the people were betrayed.

And it is not just clear, but startlingly clear that money sways politics. In both parties, naturally, but it’s the Republicans who are trying a hundred times as hard to please the monied interests. And Boehner is their leader in these endeavors.

Overly influential special interests? “Everybody’s a special interest. When I get home, everybody I talk to has their own interest,” he said.

Yes, they are. But guess what: the only special interest you are supposed to be swayed by are the people. And they generally get to be last in line, and more often than not are duped by the first interests that Boehner serves due to massive corruption in both the media and in political spending.

Politicians rationalize their focus on monied special interests by speciously claiming that the people’s interests are best served when the businesses that employ them and supposedly power the economy are served first, second, and last.

Gerrymandered districts that predetermine elections’ outcomes? “You can call it gerrymandering, but in Ohio, the Democrats had the pencil in their hand for 50 years. Now the Republicans have had it for the last 20 years. Our turn to draw the lines.”

If all Republicans were doing was gerrymandering where they happened to win enough elections to do so, that would not be especially remarkable. But that’s far from all they have been doing.

First of all, Republicans made a concerted effort in the aughts that exceeded any previous ones, in which they specifically targeted local and state elections for the purpose of taking over as much local territory as possible in time for the 2010 decennial census—and then proceeded to carve out “the most egregious gerrymandering in American history.” Most of it accomplished due to massive spending by billionaires who now profit obscenely from it.

Not to mention specific cases where liberals have been far more even-handed than conservatives; in blue California, a liberal electorate voted for non-partisan districting, while in red Texas, conservatives decided that they could gerrymander any time they damn well pleased, not just after the decennial census.

Add to that incessant ploys by conservatives to pass laws targeted to disenfranchise liberal voters, cage liberal voters, rig felon’s lists to include non-criminal liberal voters, and a bevy of other Jim-Crow style laws, to claim equivalency in gerrymandering is not just disingenuous, it’s dishonest as all hell.

Categories: Corruption, Right-Wing Lies Tags:

Not Hard to Predict

April 8th, 2015 Comments off

It happened again, inevitably. A white police officer pulled over a black man for an alleged traffic violation. The details are still scarce, but at some point the officer tries to subdue the driver, uses a taser on him, and then, as the man attempted to flee on foot, the officer fired eight times, hitting the man in the back, killing him. After handcuffing the dying man, the officer then radioed in that the “suspect” had been “threatening” to the officer.

This time, the officer was charged with murder—an extremely unusual outcome, mostly because or third-party video showing the incredibly egregious act.

I had to wonder, how are conservatives reacting to this? Well, it really isn’t very hard to guess, as their tactics are always the same: when there is one incident of an injustice they don’t want to recognize, paint the aggressor as a hero and the victim as a villain; when there are multiple incidents, find any example of the reverse happening and cry in outrage that it isn’t being reported on. It’s what they always do. Always.

And sure enough, when I did a search for exactly that, there should be zero surprise at what I found: two police killings, one of an 18-year-old man in Mobile, Alabama, and one of a 20-year-old man in Salt Lake City, both incidents where unarmed white men were killed by black police officers—and conservatives are just outraged that the media isn’t giving these killings the same level of attention as they gave Michael Brown in Ferguson.

As usual, you can guess who can be counted upon to stand up for the oppressed white men:

Talk-show host Rush Limbaugh blamed the discrepancy between the two cases on “the liberal world view” that portrays whites as oppressors and blacks as victims.

“[I]n the current climate in the United States, a black person can never be the oppressor, and a white person can never be a victim,” said Mr. Limbaugh on his national radio show last week.

This attitude is mirrored in the comments to the articles, where conservatives demand equal attention be paid to these stories, condemn the media as “liberal” for not doing so, and point out that white people, unlike blacks, aren’t rioting and looting everywhere.

The fish-in-the-barrel counter to that, of course, is that when it happens once or twice a year, it’s not news. When it happens at least a hundred times a year, probably much more often (police, for some reason, are reluctant to keep track of how often unarmed black men are shot by white police officers), it is news. When it’s a chance occurrence, it’s not a story that merits strong national attention; when it’s a trend, marked by nationwide racial profiling, countless black people stopped, frisked, tased, arrested, shot, and killed, which creates such a spontaneous outrage that people nationwide protest the massive injustice, then it’s a story.

It’s not a story because you can see that your worldview is shamefully wrong so you have to dig deep to find some reverse case which you then claim is equal to the massive outrage.

On Global Warming and Climate Change

March 24th, 2015 3 comments

You’ll be hearing more like this from Ted Cruz and others as campaign season picks up and the race for the base begins:

…[R]emember how it used to be called ‘global warming’ and then magically the theory changed to ‘climate change’? The reason is it wasn’t warming, but the computer models still say it is, except the satellites show it’s not.

Now, of course, Cruz is full of it. This conservative trope is essentially data cherry-picking, and has long since been debunked.

However, that’s not the worst of it. A rather embarrassing fact for Cruz and his fellow travelers is that conservatives pushed for that exact change in name for the theory… for political purposes:

It’s time for us to start talking about “climate change” instead of global warming and “conservation” instead of preservation.

  1. “Climate change” is less frightening than “global warming”. As one focus group participant noted, climate change “sounds like you’re going from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale.” While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge.

The fact is that on the science side, the terms “global warming” and “global climate change” have both been used, in almost equal measures, since the 1980′s. They didn’t choose either for political purposes, but rather to describe the phenomenon as best they could. Both are true: the planet is warming, and it is experiencing climate change.

There has been a push amongst scientists to leave the term “global warming” behind—but not to avoid embarrassment over incorrect theories. Instead, it is because of what Stephen Colbert termed as “Peek-a-boo-ology,” a political science-denial technique conservatives have been using in force, which basically tries to push the idea that “global warming” means that “every inch of the Earth must be getting noticeably hotter or else the whole thing is false.” If it’s not warm where I am right now, there’s no global warming. If temperatures don’t rise consistently every year, there’s no global warming. Of course, this is idiocy, but to combat this, the more comprehensive “climate change” designation offers more clarity. The climate change is still caused by global warming, but if people see a snowstorm and get confused, best not to tax their intellect too far.

In short, Cruz and other conservatives are trying to deny climate change by claiming that scientists switch the terms to avoid embarrassment over being wrong, when in fact it was conservatives who effected to switch, in two different ways, for political purposes.

Categories: Right-Wing Lies, Science Tags:

While the Truth Puts On Its Boots

March 22nd, 2015 9 comments

Something that people should be made very well aware of is that one person can quickly shoot out factoids and quips that sound convincing and true, and while what they’re saying is total bullshit, it takes so much effort to show they’re full of it that by the time you get halfway there, nobody is listening to you anymore. That’s why it’s often so easy to lie, and so hard to insist on what’s true.

Here’s a sterling example of that in real time: former Georgia Senator Jack Kingston, a Republican, criticizing Obama, saying that he “is not able to put together an international coalition the way that President Bush did.”

When the person sitting next to him points out how badly that turned out with the Iraq War, Kingston quipped, “You mean the war that Hillary Clinton and John Kerry voted for?”

Watching that exchange—which only took twelve seconds—you would think that Kingston put his opponent to shame, when in fact he was, in fact, selling a line of shit so deep it would be hard to plumb its true depths.

Seriously, saying that Obama is at fault for having trouble putting together a coalition where Bush succeeded is like saying that Obama can’t drive worth a damn because he’s trying to use the same car Bush drove into a brick wall at 80 miles per hour. Bush made a halfway-decent coalition in Afghanistan only because it was right after 9/11 when we had most of the world strongly behind us; a rodeo clown could have done that. Bush then made a bad joke of a coalition to invade Iraq, the “Coalition of the Willing,” as you may recall, one that consisted of countries like Costa Rica, which has no military. Now the entire region is falling to crap and nobody wants to deal with it.

Kingston followed up with the jab about Hillary and Kerry voting for Iraq—as if Clinton or Kerry would have ever started that war if it were up to them. What they did was stupid, but in the context of the time, being piled upon for being anti-American and weak on terror, at a time when being seen as such was considered a political death sentence. Bush made it easier by lying and saying he was only asking for the authorization so he could use it as leverage. They were weak, they caved—but to suggest that Democrats, or even these specific people supported the war, wanted to start it, or were somehow equally responsible for its disaster, based on that vote… it’s pure and utter bullshit.

But the above two paragraphs would take a minute and twenty seconds to try to get out, during which time, someone like Kingston would interrupt, change the subject, and put out six or ten more lines of BS. This is the art of the modern conservative.

People need their own bullshit detectors to combat this, formed with a solid foundation in critical thinking. Which is why it should come as no surprise to anyone that the element of modern education that conservatives hate most is critical thinking skills.

Categories: Right-Wing Lies Tags:

Google Announces “Truth Rankings”; Fox News Objects

March 9th, 2015 3 comments

Well, naturally.

This was bound to happen: some impartial body would begin judging objective truth, and conservatives would start going ape. Because, after all, as Stephen Colbert once so aptly put it, “Everyone knows the truth has a liberal bias.”

And here’s Fox News actually claiming that, in their fashion:

But others who follow media bias note that even the media watchdogs – let alone the sites used by the Google researchers like Wikipedia – are often biased.

“They’re very good at debunking myths if they upset liberals, but if it’s a liberal or left-wing falsehood, the fact-checkers don’t seem as excited about debunking it,” Rich Noyes, research director at the Media Research Center, told FoxNews.com.

He cited a 2013 study by George Mason University researchers, which found that fact-checking site Politifact declared 52% of Republican claims it looked at to be false, but did the same to just 24% of Democratic claims.

Yes. Because it is inconceivable that Republican claims are actually false twice as much as Democratic claims are.

What’s really laughable here is that sites like Politifact and FactCheck are usually guilty of the reverse: going after fewer conservative falsehoods and more liberal falsehoods in a facile attempt to appear “less biased,” because giving a more accurate measurement of such things would produce a much more lopsided tally, resulting in even more cries of “bias” because false equivalency is not applied. This is referred to as “working the refs,” a sports term in which complaining harshly that the referees are biased against you will cause them to judge more favorably towards you in the future. Conservatives do this with incredible ferocity, and it works: fact-checking organizations fear nothing more than reporting the true balance of bullshit, knowing it will make them ripe for cries of bias. As a result, they let conservatives off lightly.

For example, when Obama and Romney had a debate FactCheck listed five “false claims” by both candidates as if to make it seem like they were telling truth and falsehoods equally—though Obama’s were grouped higher on the list, making him seem a bit more dishonest. Not only that, they had to stretch the definition of “false claims” for at least one or two of Obama’s statements to bring his tally up to five.

What they did not mention was the fact that at least a dozen more whoppers by Romney were left entirely off the list.

PolitiFact did the same thing, ignoring most of Romney’s fabrications, while going out of their way to make Obama seem untruthful. Among the examples I found at the time: Obama’s statement that Romney was proposing a $5 trillion tax cut. Politifact called this “half true,” because Obama did not take into account the fact that Romney intended to offset the tax cut with closing loopholes (which were never specified), even though Obama expressly mentioned that exact fact. Obama’s statement was fully true, but Politifact dinged him on it.

Meanwhile, Romney was rated as fully “true” for criticizing Obama on not halving the deficit in half in four years as he had pledged. Politifact ignored the criticism and only checked the plain fact of the original statement; they did not take into account or even note that any deficit cutting attempted by Obama was fully obstructed by Republicans. To choose this statement to rate as “true” is along the lines of giving Romney credit for telling the truth because he pronounced Obama’s name correctly. In the meantime, Romney was making substantive claims about Obama doubling the deficit, a clearly bald-faced lie—but PolitiFact could not be bothered to focus on that claim.

Conservatives do not want some organization to have an automated system of fact-checking, because you can’t “work” a robotic referee.

And that would screw up their entire game plan.

Categories: Right-Wing Lies Tags:

Giuliani Is a Moron—Not That I’m Questioning His Intelligence

February 20th, 2015 4 comments

Giuliani on Obama:

I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.

Later, he explained:

I’m not questioning his patriotism.

Right. because when you say that someone doesn’t love his country, that has nothing to do with his patriotism.


Late edit: Giuliani is now taking the coward’s way out. Instead of apologizing or at least admitting that what he said was stupid, he’s now trying to make himself the victim by claiming that he’s getting death threats. This is a common tactic, used for example by Sarah Palin as an excuse to cancel an event that had to close because attendance would be so low, and as a general “I’m the victim” ploy to avert unwanted attention for a gaffe.

This is not to say that Giuliani didn’t receive any death threats (though there is no evidence and no known police report); rather that death threats are kind of ubiquitous in this day and age. Obama has gotten endless overt and covert death threats on a regular basis throughout this presidency.

Now, if Giuliani had any evidence that he was getting an unusually high number of explicit death threats, that might be something of note; otherwise, it’s just another politician using his usual hate mail as a diversion from something idiotic they did.

Process of a Smear

December 10th, 2014 6 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.