Factless Facts

After nearly a week of hard and grueling work covering the Republican convention, the fact checkers can take a well-deserved weekend off.

In fact, they just as well take the rest of the year off, and maybe never come back.

Why? Because Republicans have decided Mittens and Paul, after all, are entitled to their own set of facts, facts that are beyond checking by journalists, or anyone else who doesn’t share an enthusiasm for, well, lying.

As Media Matters noted, the truth-detectors are being shot, one by one, by Romney surrogates and the campaign’s rather extensive public relations department, also known as conservative media:

♦ Romney pollster Neil Newhouse:

We’re not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.”

♦ Rush Limbaugh:

Within five minutes, the drive-by media was on a mission to try to prove that Paul Ryan had lied. And they got their bogus fact-checkers up and in gear.”

♦ John Nolte of Breitbart:

For four long years, I’ve waited for these disgracefully partisan left-wing fact checkers to implode, and this morning and last night it finally happened.”

♦ And another piece of wisdom from Nolte:

This isn’t journalism; this is extortion. And “lie” is nothing more than the new word the corrupt media uses to describe any and all effective attacks launched against Their Precious One.”

♦ Jon Scott of Fox “News”:

…a rousing speech from Paul Ryan gets folks at the convention all fired up. But there’s also been some criticism of the speech. Some media outlets suggesting he got some of his facts wrong. Is that fair?

♦ National Review:

The website PolitiFact is going to be truth-squadding the Republican convention speakers this week, delivering verdicts on which claims are “mostly true” and which deserve a “pants on fire” rating. Our advice: Pay no attention to those ratings. PolitiFact can’t be trusted to get the story right.”

♦ Erick Erickson of Red State:

The media’s fact checkers are propped up as arbiters of truth when they just still promote the media’s own bullcrap, just this time with a “truth” label stuck to it.”

So, the Romney campaign will not be “dictated by fact-checkers,” and thus by facts, because fact-checkers are “bogus,” “left-wing,” “corrupt,” “unfair,” “untrustworthy” and promoters of their own “bullcrap,” whatever that means.

The result of this all-out offensive against fact-based journalism will, of course, have an effect. It will, as it always does, make mainstream journalists,

a) think twice before writing or broadcasting a story claiming Republicans got their facts wrong, and/or

b) make those journalists play the “both sides do it” game and hand Democrats just as many Pinocchios as they give Republicans, thereby making it safe for Romney-Ryan to keep on lyin’.

And that is the reason for the offensive.

Silence Of The Fact Checkers

The left is rightfully outraged over Politifact’s designation as “Lie of the Year” Democratic claims that Republicans, when voting on Paul Ryan’s budget plan, voted to end Medicare.

Politifact was wrong and Democrats are right.

Even if Politifact and FactCheck.org are technically correct that the program “would not end” under the Republican proposal, that is a distinction without a difference. Voucherizing the program for all people under 55 would completely change it from its original conception by inventing a new system to take its place. Republicans weren’t so dumb that they would actually change the name of the program, but they would completely change its nature and its name would mean something totally different from what it means today.

What Republicans would actually do—we know this because almost all of them in the House and Senate voted to do it—is kill Medicare for those under 55, skin its corpse like Buffalo Bill did his victims in “Silence of the Lambs,” and dress up their new program in Medicare’s pelt. 

Now, if Politifact and other fact-checking organizations still think it is fair to call what’s underneath that layer of skin “Medicare,” then they are doing their readers a great disservice and it is up to Democrats to educate people before it is too late and the program is in the morgue—where many conservatives have wanted to put it since it was born.

America Aint Broke, But The Fix Is In

Michael Moore, filmmaker and gifted liberal propagandist, gave a great speech in Madison on Saturday.  It began:

America is not broke.

Now, maybe I loved Moore’s speech so much because I, too, have argued that America is not broke.  It’s simply not true. No matter what you hear on television or radio or read in the papers, it’s not true.

Most of that nonsense comes from panic-inducing politicians and pundits who represent a segment of the population who will benefit from your fear, from your sense that America is failing and on the edge of financial ruin.

Politifact, the fact-checker, posted an article about two weeks ago refuting the whole notion that states are broke.  The article was set in the context of the Wisconsin fiasco, brought on by Governor Scott Walker, who,

started using the “broke” description as he unveiled his controversial budget-repair bill, which would force state employees to pay more for health care and pensions and curtail collective bargaining rights for most public employees.

The article cited five Walker quotes, which are typical of what you hear all over these days:

I don’t have anything to negotiate. We are broke in this state. We have been broke for years.

The bottom line is we are trying to balance our budget and there really is no room to negotiate on that because we’re broke.

We’re broke. We don’t have any more money.

You can’t really negotiate if you don’t have any money to negotiate with.

The facts are clear: Wisconsin is broke and it’s time to start paying our bills today – so our kids are not stuck with even bigger bills tomorrow.

This stuff is sort of like another popular phrase we have all heard a thousand times, sometimes even from the lips of President Obama, who should know better:  “We have to live within our means.” 

“Means”?  What does that mean?  If it simply means we have to get closer to balancing our budget, we can all agree.  We do.  But if it means what one writer cited by Politifact thinks it means, then, well, we shouldn’t agree:

There may be talk about governments being bankrupt and insolvent when what is meant is, “We don’t want to raise taxes and don’t want to spend so we have to cut.”

Politifact demolished the idea that “broke” actually means “bankrupt.”  A University of Wisconsin-Madison professor, Andrew Reschovsky, put Walker’s hysterical claims in proper perspective with another point I have made over and over:

“That’s obviously absurd,” Reschovsky said. “We obviously aren’t broke. The analogy to a household is really a fallacious one.”

He said the government has powerful tools at its disposal to make ends meet: taxes or manipulating fees. You could also put off some spending or shift some debt into the next fiscal year — tricks that state budget offices have routinely used.

No, government budgets aren’t like household budgets, something Obama also says way too much.  Governments can tax; they have the power to responsibly increase their revenues, if the will is there.

But like Republicans everywhere, Governor Walker refuses to consider raising taxes.  In fact, he cut them when he took over, adding to the state’s deficit problems.  So, it’s just false to use the word broke.  Or, “We have to live within our means,” if by means one happens to mean a grossly underfunded government.

Here is how Michael Moore put it:

Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you’ll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It’s just that it’s not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich.

Calling the idea that our nation is broke the “Big Lie,” Moore said,

For us to admit that we have let a small group of men abscond with and hoard the bulk of the wealth that runs our economy, would mean that we’d have to accept the humiliating acknowledgment that we have indeed surrendered our precious Democracy to the moneyed elite.

He also made yet another point I tried to make a while back in Grandma Margie’s Magic Pie—you can see how great minds think alike here, right?  Moore said,

They control the message. By owning most of the media they have expertly convinced many Americans of few means to buy their version of the American Dream and to vote for their politicians. Their version of the Dream says that you, too, might be rich some day – this is America, where anything can happen if you just apply yourself! They have conveniently provided you with believable examples to show you how a poor boy can become a rich man, how the child of a single mother in Hawaii can become president, how a guy with a high school education can become a successful filmmaker. They will play these stories for you over and over again all day long so that the last thing you will want to do is upset the apple cart — because you — yes, you, too! — might be rich/president/an Oscar-winner some day! The message is clear: keep your head down, your nose to the grindstone, don’t rock the boat and be sure to vote for the party that protects the rich man that you might be some day.

I had pointed out that I knew people who received Social Security and Medicare—Democratic programs—who couldn’t wait to vote for Republican budget-slashers last November.  I knew people whose children enjoyed free and reduced lunches—a Democratic program—who couldn’t wait to go to the polls and punish liberals.  And I knew union members—long supported by Democrats—who would salivate as they cast their votes for the very people out to destroy their union.

Mostly because of the false idea perpetuated by the wealthy class, that anyone can be rich and those nasty liberals and Democrats want to ruin everyone’s chance at success and make everyone a ward of the state.

Saying our country is broke is just the latest way of convincing the working class of voting against their economic self interests. But perhaps Governor Walker’s actions in Wisconsin have, at least for the next election cycle, motivated enough folks to work to throw out a large number of Republicans and restore at least some semblance of fiscal sanity without further devastating the American worker.

Republican Adventures In Wonderland

It’s Official: Republicans Lied

The Frank Luntz-inspired “bailout” mantra, applied to the Democrats’ financial reform proposal by Republicans like Mitch McConnell, can now officially be called a “lie.”

PolitiFact’s Truth-O-Meter has rated as FALSE McConnell’s (and by extension Luntz’s and all Republicans’) comments that “new financial regulations under consideration in the Senate” “will lead to endless taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street banks.

…we base our ruling primarily on the legislation. It clearly states that the intention is to liquidate failing companies, not bail them out.

Mr. Luntz, no doubt, will generate other ways to sabotage the efforts to reform Wall Street, but let’s hope the Democrats will not bend on this one.

 Aloha To Your Campaign Donations

Another example of how in-touch Republicans are with reality, not to mention with “regular folks,” the GOP filed FEC reports indicating that its semi-annual meeting, held in January in Waikiki, cost Republican donors a mere $340,000. According to the National Journal‘s Hotline On Call:

The $340K documented in FEC filings does not include airfare for each staffer, which could amount to tens of thousands more.

I wonder how far 340 grand would go here in Republican Southwest Missouri?  Heck, with that kind of money invested in local Republican politics, the party would never have to worry about competition from Democrats.  Oh, wait—there’s no competition from the Democrats now around these parts, so Aloha! to all you Republican donors!

 Let Me See Your Papers, Comrade!

Arizona Republicans have finally figured out a way to deal with illegal immigration: make racial profiling a state lawAccording to CNN:

Under the bill, police would be required to question anyone they suspect of being undocumented.

You have to love the way Tea Party Republicans interpret our Constitution, which they claim Obama is trashing.

Sadly, John McCain, who once championed sensible immigration reform, seems to have lost not only his soul, but his sense.  Here is an exchange he had with Bill-O:

O’REILLY: Now, next week, the governor is going to sign, we believe, a very stringent state law that gives the police in Arizona very, very broad authority to question people. And a lot of people say it’s going to be racial profiling. You’re going to look for Hispanics, question them, to see if they’re here legally or not. And it’s just not fair. And you say why?
MCCAIN: I say that the federal responsibilities have not been fulfilled. Therefore, the states are acting — the state of Arizona is acting and doing what they feel they need to do in light of the fact that the federal government is not fulfilling its fundamental responsibility to secure our borders. Our borders must be secure.
O’REILLY: But what about the racial profiling? You know that’s going to happen has to happen.
MCCAIN: I hope — I would be very sorry that if some of that happens. And I regret it, but I also regret the — really, it’s not just the murder of Robert Krantz. It’s the people whose homes and property are being violated. It’s the drive-by that — the drivers of cars with illegals in it that are intentionally causing accidents on the freeway. Look, our border is not secured. Our citizens are not safe.

Don’t ask me, I don’t know where you go to get both your integrity and your sanity back.

 Go Ahead, Make My Day And Say You’re Gay!

Finally, at a South Carolina Tea Party (where else?), we have a Republican struggling with decorum, but finally giving in to bigotry.  From HuffPo:

William Gheen, head of the conservative, anti-“amnesty,” anti-illegal immigration group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), spoke at a Greenville, S.C. Tea Party rally this weekend and called for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to “come out of that log cabin closet.”

Mr. Gheen said he “thought long and hard” about bringing up the rumors about Sen. Graham’s alleged homosexuality, but finally he just couldn’t help but call him on it. 

You see, because Lindsey Graham doesn’t want to act like Arizona Republicans on the immigration issue (he favors a more sensible approach, something like the old John McCain’s), he must be motivated by something else.  Mr. Gheen said:

Sometimes I wonder what it would take to sell their own country out like that, and there’s one thing it could be that I’m gonna put out in the open here today… Senator Graham, you need to come forward and tell people about your alternative lifestyle and your homosexuality.

When they say this about fellow Republicans, no wonder they don’t blink at calling President Obama a Marxist.

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