We've remarked from the get-go that the most remarkable thing about the Tea Partying Republican Right is that they represent a political bloc predicated on people believing things that are provably untrue. This has, of course, ranged from the Birth Certificate nonsense to the belief that Obama is going to take everyone's guns away, and everything in between.
But these are in many ways secondary add-ons to Tea Partyism, whose core mantra really revolves around the federal deficit and spending: We're on the verge of bankruptcy, they claim, and it's being caused by "out-of-control" federal spending.
In the video above, Van Jones -- who knows all about right-wing lies -- deconstructs the Really Big Lie that is a cornerstone of Tea Party beliefs, not to mention right-wing media talking points, namely: We're going broke.
Meanwhile, Brian Beutler at TPMDC deconstructs the claim that "federal spending is out of control":
But a close look at the numbers reveals a few important, and frequently overlooked facts. Domestic discretionary spending is a small sliver of the budget. Our deficit and debts can be traced to the fact that spending on entitlement programs and defense has shot up, and tax revenues have plummeted to their lowest level in decades. But spending on domestic discretionary programs has grown much more slowly. And, if you correct for inflation, and for growing population, it turns out we're spending exactly the same amount on these programs as we were a full decade ago.
These numbers come from Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee, who are doing their best to guard this turf.
"Although non-defense discretionary spending in nominal dollars has increased, when taking inflation and population growth into account the amount contained in the [2011 budget] represents no increase over what we spent in 2001, a year in which we generated a surplus of $128 billion," said chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI) in a prepared statement. "So the right question to ask is: Are we really spending too much on non-defense programs? The answer is clearly no."
Beutler provides some graphic illustrations of the reality behind the numbers that make it clear, as he suggests, just who the chief culprit in this matter really is: right-wing governance and its mania for cutting taxes.
In the wake of the Bush tax cuts, and the Great Recession, tax revenue has fallen through the floor to near-historic lows. As a percentage of GDP, it's fallen 24 percent since 2001, and if you correct for inflation, the government is collecting nearly 20 percent less per person than it was a decade ago. At the same time, the population-adjusted costs of mandatory spending programs -- driven by Medicare, including its new prescription drug benefit, and Medicaid -- have increased by over 30 percent. And, of course, defense spending has skyrocketed. But if you isolate domestic discretionary programs, a decade later we're spending no more on a per-person basis than we were back then.
Meanwhile, Robert Reich explains all this in detail:
Yes, it's true: Right-wing ideology is increasingly built on a foundation of lies.
Bob Vander Plaats, President of the Iowa conservative Christian organization The FAMiLY LEADER, is taking umbrage at random anonymous comments from online threads in a plea to raise money for the group. A recent article in The Hill (and the Iowa Independent post highlighting it) suggested that Vander Plaats is one of the “top 10 coveted endorsements for Republicans running for president,” but Matt Reisetter (Director of Development) was very irritated by some of the comments he saw:
Flattering as that might be for Bob or for our organization, what caught my eye were some of the outrageous comments posted in response to the article, as it was displayed on various blogs. Here is a small sample of what some of the “haters” are saying:
“So when people think of Iowans, this…rabid, hate-spewing turtle is what they picture as the median? Great. Just great.”
Posted on The Iowa Independent by LIBERaliTY on 6/28/2011
“hahaha I hope the republicans give him all of the influence in the world. He’s nuts. put him as far out on stage as possible.”
Posted on The Iowa Independent by UIgrad2010 on 6/27/2011
“So many right-wing nut-jobs read this website?”
Posted on The Hill by Marc Jacobs on 06/26/2011
The FAMiLY LEADER thinks it’s hateful to be called hateful and feels that random anonymous comments (aside from perhaps “Marc Jacobs”) are an “outrageous” destructive force. This, from the group who called being gay a “public health risk” akin to second-hand smoking. Often, bullies who seek allies to vindicate their bullying are implying their tacit awareness of the negative impact they’re making.
If Reisetter and Vander Plaats are concerned with “haters” in online feedback, perhaps they should pledge to help monitor and clean up the comment threads on “It Gets Better” anti-bullying videos. Here’s a look at some comments found on them today:
“Nobody is completely “normal”. That said, there? ARE standards of “normalcy” in a thriving culture. One of them is a recognition of what sex is and why it exists. Homosexuality circumvents it as much as an appetite for rotting flesh instead of fresh food circumvents the reason the appetite for food exists. And in both cases, the results are disastrous – not only for the individual involved.”
Posted on “It Gets Better” ? Love, Pixar by RobRoyRed42 on 07/03/2011
“And gays aren’t brave! They ask for negative responses. If someone is gay and doesn’t talk like it? fine be gay cuz no one will have to know. But if your flaming and doing the talk and acts for show u deserve to be hated on”
Posted on “Google Chrome: It Gets Better“ by MrGetmoney303 on 07/04/2011
“Stupid nigar gays go against the bible? that’s all there is to it”
Posted on “President Obama: It Gets Better” by paytonhester on 07/02/2011
Which group is really being bullied? Jonathan Rauch calls out this kind of self-victimizing at The Atlantic today (see number 11):
In a country where evangelicals outnumber self-identified gays by at least 10 to 1, and where anti-gay bullying is endemic in schools, and where same-sex couples cannot marry in 45 states, and where countless gay Americans cannot even get their foreign partners into the country, much less into a hospital room ? here, we?re supposed to believe that gays are the bullies? Get used to it. This is the script of culture wars to come.
During a town hall meeting in New Hampshire this morning, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched into a rambling and confusing attack on President Obama over his handling of U.S. involvement in U.N.-authorized NATO’s air campaign in Libya. In one of his first points, Romney said he hoped the president warned Qaddafi before NATO began enforcing the no-fly zone there last March:
ROMNEY: The President had three choices in Libya. The first choice, I hope he took, I don?t know that this has come out but ? Before we carried out any kinetic military activity I hope we contacted Qaddafi and said, ?Mr. Qaddafi, if you attack your people, if you put any aircraft in the air and you attack your own people, we?ll come shoot them down, we?ll take out your aircraft defense sites and you?ll see the full weight of the United Sates of America at your doorstep and over your country. We?ll put in place a no fly zone.?
Yesterday, in response to a call for action by the Libyan people and the Arab League, the U.N. Security Council passed a strong resolution that demands an end to the violence against citizens. It authorizes the use of force with an explicit commitment to pursue all necessary measures to stop the killing, to include the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya. [...]
Now, once more, Moammar Qaddafi has a choice. The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Qaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya, and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.
It’s unlikely President Obama “contacted” Qaddafi personally to make this warning. This is why the United States, and every country around the world, has diplomats. But assuming that Qaddifi has access to television and/or the internet, it’s probably fair to say that he got the president’s warning. Perhaps Romney just wasn’t paying attention at the time.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy — biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind — has passed a milestone as domestic production is now greater than that of nuclear power. During the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources provided 2.245 quadrillion Btus of energy, 11.73 percent of U.S. energy production, six percent more than that from nuclear power, which provided 2.125 quadrillion Btus. Production of renewable energy, which goes to transportation, electricity, and heat, has increased by 15 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010.
So, come on down, Rick Perry! He may be the favorite by default, but the Texas governor is also a terrific match for the Christian Right. Sarah Posner of Religious Dispatches recently outlined Perry?s social conservative bona fides and they?re impressive:
? Signed a gay marriage ban into law at a Christian school in Fort Worth with evangelical heavyweights Tony Perkins (Family Research Council), Rod Parsley (Ohio mega-church pastor), and Don Wildmon (American Family Association) in attendance.
? The Sunday before his 2006 re-election, Perry attended Cornerstone Church and sat by the side of controversial pastor John Hagee (in 2008, John McCain had to reject Hagee?s endorsement after critics pointed out the pastor?s many extreme statements, including calling the Catholic Church ?the whore of Babylon?).
? Supported and was a primary beneficiary of the Texas Restoration Project, an effort to increase the electoral involvement of conservative pastors.
All of this, however, pales beside Perry?s current project?a Christian all-day prayer event called ?The Response? on August 6 in Houston. The governor is sponsoring the event along with the American Family Association, which is footing the estimated $1.5 million tab for the gathering. The Response is intended for Christians only, although one spokesman said that if people of other faiths attend, he hopes they will see the light and ?seek out the living Christ? for their lives.
We can probably be confident that Perry is rock-solid on the Israel issue. After all, it’d be a lot easier to turn the United States into a Christian state if us pesky Jews would all get lost and move to the Jewish state. But I’m guessing that, as usual, religious minority groups of all stripes are going to see that we have common interests in resisting this style of majoritarian identity politics.
For the past few months, various Obama administration officials have said publicly that the United States would be willing to keep an unspecified number of U.S. troops in Iraq after the Dec. 31, 2011 withdrawal date if the Iraqis asked. Just last weekend, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq again extended the offer, one that some analysts credit with increased attacks on American soldiers there.
However, the White House has been silent. The AP reports today however that “senior Obama administration and U.S. military officials” say the “the White House is offering to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq next year”:
Already, though, the White House has worked out options to keep between 8,500 and 10,000 active-duty troops to continue training Iraqi security forces during 2012, according to senior Obama administration and U.S. military officials in interviews with The Associated Press. The figures also were noted by foreign diplomats in Baghdad briefed on the issue.
The AP added that “White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor said there currently are ‘no plans’ to keep U.S. troops in Iraq” past 2011. But Vietor added that an Iraqi request “would be given serious consideration.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) scoffed at the idea of keeping more troops in Iraq past the withdrawal deadline.
“As Iraq becomes increasingly capable, it is time for our own troops to return home by the end of the year and for these precious resources to be directed elsewhere,” Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said in the statement. “There is no question that the United States must continue to provide support for the Iraqis as they progress, but now is the time for our military mission to come to a close.”
Last June marked the deadliest month for U.S. forces in Iraq since 2008, and the rate of U.S. troops in killed there is at 2003 and 2004 levels.
Kathy Griffin is a somewhat inconsistently effective comedian, but she can be quite an effective demonstration of the political work artists can do that conventional operatives can’t. I think I’d have to see tape of this incident before I trust that it happened exactly the way Griffin says it went down, but the fact that she turned questions of heredity around on Michele Bachmann is funny and smart in and of itself. This is what Griffin says happens when she ran into Bachmann on an elevator and one of Bachmann’s aides started recording the encounter with a flip cam:
?I was just wondering, were you born a bigot or did you grow into it?? Are you ready for the answer? ?Well that?s a good question I?m going to have to think about that??So then, I lost it. I said ?let me rephrase.? I said ?do you feel you were born a bigot or do you think that its more environmental?? She goes ?I?m going to have to get back to you on that one.?
Think kind of politicized comedy can be unfairly manipulative, and not that effective. I’m of the camp that believes that what Borat exposed more than anything else was the essential decency of a lot of Americans when faced with someone who’s behaving bizarrely, even if that means that they go along with something offensive. But asking someone if they were born a bigot is not the kind of thing that a debate moderator would ask, and it’s not something that a conventional political operative would ask because the potential for a high dungeon-inflected “No!” and looking like a jerk is pretty high. Griffin, though, can take the risk, walk away from it if it pays no dividends, and give everyone else a nice slice of footage if her audacity pays off.
I’ve recently been told that liberal groups and blogs are eager to pounce on the administration for not living up to certain progressive principles but rarely highlight instances of accomplishment. And so, it’s in an effort to correct the imbalance that I point to the government’s efforts to reduce health care premiums in the federally-run, high-risk insurance pools ? temporary coverage programs for uninsured people who can?t find coverage in the individual market ? and encourage more uninsured Americans to sign up:
Uninsured sick people got some good news recently, or some of them did, anyway. Starting July 1, the Obama administration reduced the premiums by up to 40 percent in special high-risk insurance plans that the federal government is running in 17 states and the District. [...]
On the low end, Mississippi will reduce premiums by 2 percent. Several states will cut monthly rates in the 15 to 25 percent range, including the District , which will reduce premiums by 18 percent. Six states, including Virginia, will reduce their premiums by 40 percent.
The change means that a 55-year-old District resident who would have owed $551 per month under the old rates for the standard plan will now owe $450. In Virginia, the same person?s premium would now be $297 monthly, compared with $498 before.
The premium rates in the 23 states where the federal government runs risk pools will now more closely resemble the “rates for individual policies in each state,” which, while lower than what those pools had been charging, are still prohibitive for many of the individuals who would quality for coverage.
Still, a recent report from the Commonwealth Foundation found that high premiums aren’t solely responsible for pools’ relatively low enrollment rates. “[P]eople with preexisting conditions who have been uninsured for a long time may have stopped looking” for coverage, the government has conducted limited outreach efforts (due to the relatively fast implmentation schedule), and given the multiple court challenges to reform and the media’s taste for covering negative verdicts, Americans may simply be confused about the status of the law, the report found.
Two Michigan state Senators have proposed legislation which would allow counseling students to decline to counsel some clients because doing so would violate their ?sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction.?
The legislation is a response to the ongoing case of former Eastern Michigan University student Julea Ward. Ward was removed from a counseling program after refusing to counsel a gay student about his relationships. She said she could not do that as it would be encouraging or validating a ?lifestyle? she did not condone of believe in because of her Christian faith. Ward transferred the student to another counselor, but soon found herself being booted from the university. She sued in federal court, but thus far the courts have ruled that EMU?s counseling education program was within its rights to boot her.
But Detroit Democratic Sen. Tupac Hunter says Ward was ?discriminated against? by the university. That is why he agreed to co-sponsor the legislation with Grand Rapids area Republican Sen. Mark Jansen.
Health experts in Portugal said Friday that Portugal's decision 10 years ago to decriminalise drug use and treat addicts rather than punishing them is an experiment that has worked.
In another key number, Gallup notes that among Jewish Democrats, the group Republicans have specifically said were beginning to part ways with Obama, support has remained rock solid, with ?86% approving of Obama prior to the speech and 85% after.? While Gallup notes that it?s difficult to gauge the immediate impact of the speech because their tracking poll doesn?t have a large enough sample size of Jewish voters, it nevertheless concludes that ?aggregated Gallup Daily tracking interviews for the month and half periods prior to and following the speech show no significant nor sustained shift in Jewish Americans? views toward Obama.?
Former Louisiana lawmaker and Ku Klux Klan head David Duke has begun a 25-city tour to gauge support for a possible presidential bid, The Daily Beast reported.
Duke, a former Pelican State legislator and KKK grand wizard, made two runs for president -- as a Democrat in 1988 and as a Republican in 1992.
Duke said he hasn't considered a run for any public office since his gubernatorial bid in the 1990s, but told The Daily Beast Monday 2012 is becoming a pivotal year for "white civil rights advocates."
An aide to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords who was injured in the same mass shooting that left her with a gunshot wound to the head is set to return to work Tuesday in the Arizona Democrat?s district office for the first time since the incident nearly six months ago.
James Jeffrey, the new US Ambassador to Iraq, told reporters that the US would consider a request to keep troops in Iraq beyond the December 2011 deadline for withdrawal. He added that, if the United States does stay, the Iraqis would have to help with[...]
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