Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mitt Breaks Past 800 Lies

It was a relatively slow week for Mitt Romney, as he took a back seat to running mate Paul Ryan as the news media focused on the vice presidential debate. But Steve Benen of recorded 39 untruths, including one he had missed from the previous week, to bring the total lies told by Romney in his Republican presidential campaign this year to 808.

While it looks increasingly doubtful that Romney can reach 1,000 lies in the three weeks remaining in the campaign, he clearly is in a league of his own and 900 lies is well within his grasp. Even The Onion took notice, with a fake news story on its cover headlined: "Romney Proudly Explains How He's Turned Campaign Around: 'I'm Lying More,' He Says."

Benen noted, "Behind all great satire, of course, is a degree of truth -- or in this case, more than a degree. Consider, for example, the 38th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity. (This is the second longest list of the year -- and the quotes below are entirely real, not satire.)"

Along with the 38 lies Benen noted this past week, he noted that he had missed a statement made by Romney the previous week that "Right now, the (Congressional Budget Office) says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year."

Benen added, "That is 100% wrong," providing citations, as he does for all Romney's untruths. 

Note also that reported that Paul Ryan spoke for 40 of the 90 minutes during Thursday night’s vice presidential debate and managed to tell at least 24 "myths" during that time.


Friday, October 12, 2012

Selections from the November 1, 2012 issue

Editorial: A Lying Shame

President Obama was too cautious in the first presidential debate and Mitt Romney took advantage of the president’s flat-footed performance to rebrand himself as a moderate. But that doesn’t mean Romney should be rewarded for playing fast and loose with the facts.

Who could have predicted that Mitt Romney would turn an about face on the “severely conservative” stances on which he had campaigned during the Republican primary race and make wild misstatements about his policies and Obama’s performance? Well, consider that Romney had told at least 719 documented lies from January through the week before the debate, according to Steve Benen’s tally at, and Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom predicted in March that Romney would pivot after the nomination to appeal to moderate voters, suggesting that Romney’s conservative policy positions were written on an Etch A Sketch. “Everything changes,” Fehrnstrom said on CNN March 21. “It’s almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and restart all over again.” And Romney’s pollster had told reporters at the Republican National Convention they were “not going to let [their] campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

So Obama’s campaign team in Chicago might have had an inkling to expect Romney’s Etch A Sketch to be cleared at the debate. But, to bend a line from The Sound of Music, what do you do with a liar like Mitt Romney? Do you call him on every lie, or just the really big ones? Obama did call Romney on backing off the promise to cut taxes by 20% across the board, which would cost $5 trillion. But he let Romney repeatedly get away with saying that the Affordable Care Act took $716 billion from Medicare, when most of that money was taken from the insurance companies that were taking excessive profits from the Medicare Advantage program. (Under Romney’s reasoning, we suppose Obama also cut Medicare when a federal strike force on Oct. 4 charged 91 people, including a hospital president, doctors and nurses with $430 million in fraudulent Medicare charges.)

When Obama noted that corporations took advantage of tax deductions to move American jobs overseas, Romney — who as head of Bain Capital actually moved American jobs overseas — countered that he’d never noticed such a deduction in the tax code. “I maybe need to get a new accountant,” Romney said. Obama let it pass until the next day, when he joked that the “very spirited fellow” he met at the debate was “not the real Mitt Romney ... The Mitt Romney we all know invested in companies that were called pioneers of outsourcing jobs to other countries. But the guy on stage last night he said he’d never heard of tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas. Never heard of them. And he said, if that’s true, he must need a new accountant. So now we know for sure that wasn’t the real Mitt Romney because the real Mitt Romney is doing just fine with the accountant he already has.”

Obama’s campaign team in Chicago doubtless will harvest Mitt’s misstatements and policy pivots and deploy them in advertisements for the battleground states, but it would be nice if Obama had bloodied Mitt a bit for the national TV crowd and stood up for progressive programs such as Social Security and Medicare and done a better job defending the Affordable Care Act. Of course, then he’d have the Fox Noise bloviators complaining about the angry socialist black man in the White House — but he got that treatment anyway.

Thom Hartmann suggested on his radio show that it was more than a coincidence that a few days before the first debate the rightwing and Fox News dug up an old speech then-Sen. Obama delivered at Hampton University in 2007 — which was covered by the news media at the time — in which Obama gave a shout-out to his old United Church of Christ pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and suggested that racism played a role in the shabby treatment of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina — which is not exactly a radical view. Then, during the debate, Romney compared Obama to one of his “boys,” who were inclined to lie to him “but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it.” Hartmann noted that the line undoubtedly was prepared in advance and it’s hard to believe that none of Romney’s advisers saw the racial implications of calling the first black president a “boy.”

Obama was wise not to respond to Romney’s race-baiting, but the President cannot let the challenger’s lies go unchallenged in the remaining debates.

As if to underscore the racist dog whistles that were being employed, the day after the debate, Romney campaign co-chair and former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu (R) on Fox News described Obama’s performance as “babbling,” “lazy” and “disengaged” and dismissed the possibility that he could do better in the future. “When you’re not that bright, you can’t get better prepared,” Sununu said. Later, on MSNBC, he again called Obama “lazy and disengaged” and said the debate revealed his “incompetence.”

Republicans should be ashamed of the way their campaign is being run, but they are long past embarrassment.

Good Enough for Government Work

As the general election campaign enters its final weeks, some progressives may have to overlook their disappointment at the performance of President Obama and the Democrats in some areas — particularly in continuing the war in Afghanistan and continuing and expanding terror-inspired restrictions on civil liberties. We know many were outraged that Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act into law with the provision for indefinite detention, even with his statement that he would not use the power. A judge appointed by Obama Sept. 12 threw out that indefinite-detention provision as flying in the face of the Bill of Rights but a three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 2 allowed the provision to remain in place while it is appealed. But progressives should not only re-elect Obama; we must elect more progressive Democrats who will stand up to Obama, if necessary, to strip the indefinite detention provision from next year’s NDAA and restore civil liberties.

We shouldn’t trust any president with the power to detain anybody indefinitely without recourse to the courts. But the Bill of Rights needs popular support that is not apparent at this time.

However, election of Romney and/or Republican members of Congress will put us further in the hole. Charlie Savage reported in the New York Times Sept. 27 that Romney’s advisers, who mainly are retreads from Bush Junior’s administration, have urged Romney to “rescind and replace” President Obama’s executive order banning torture of prisoners and permit secret “enhanced interrogation techniques against high-value detainees that are safe, legal and effective in generating intelligence to save American lives,” according to an internal Romney campaign memorandum. And Romney, who believes corporations are people, can be counted upon to nominate judges that will be well to the right of Anthony Kennedy, creating a conservative bloc that not only will defer to executive authority but also will set in stone pro-corporate decisions such as Citizens United and threaten generations of progressive court precedents.

If Obama doesn’t light your fire, despite the many good things he has accomplished in the past four years, progressives can get excited about candidates for the Senate such as Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin in Wisconsin, Shelley Berkley in Nevada, Martin Heinrich in New Mexico, Mazie Hirono in Hawaii, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Chris Murphy in Connecticut, as well as re-electing progressive populists such as Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). And progressives ought to get excited about electing 25 more Democrats to the House, which would give the gavel back to Nancy Pelosi and put progressives in charge of key committees now helmed by right wingers. — JMC

From The Progressive Populist, November 1, 2012
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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why do so many right-wingers seem so grim and angry?

By Marc Jampole

I normally associate fear with many conservative positions:  Fear of minorities and the poor. Fear of losing a job or a home. Fear of terrorist attack. Fear of cities and those that have different lifestyles and backgrounds. This fear of the other that haunts U.S. culture through history.

But what I’m feeling from the right in the current presidential election cycle is anger, not fear.  Anger at people who accept government benefits—except for themselves, of course. Anger at Muslims and at Arabs (two different things). Anger at unions. Anger at anyone who wants to raise their taxes. Anger at women who have abortions and even at women who use birth control.

There have been so many Republican candidates who had fed this anger and then fed off of it that I don’t know where to start: Certainly, Mitt deserves notice for his “47%” comments, delivered in the smooth corporate style that Bertram Gross once called “friendly fascism.”

But even at his worst, Romney is so genteel. I’m talking about bitter, hateful words that seem to spew from the mouth like spitfire from an automatic weapon—Rick Santorum, Paul Ryan, Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich and Todd Akin are the A-team of the angry candidates, but other Republican celebs fomenting anger include Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Jack Welch, Jack Nicklaus and Sarah Palin.

I have experienced this anger in the tweets I receive whenever I write something critical of Romney or right-wing positions.  I must preface this remark by mentioning that I get very polished and enlightening tweets on a regular basis from a dozen or so conservatives who vehemently oppose my views—vehemently but with civility.

But I am getting a very large number of tweets from Romney supporters, global warming deniers and those who want to lower taxes on the wealthy and end Social Security/Medicare/Medicaid that manifest anger, and in many cases contain nothing more than angry invictive. Over the past few months every grammatical tense of all the common four-letter vulgarities have been tossed my way, along with a number of other usually tedious and gratuitous insults and an occasional veiled threat involving firearms.

I especially like when people infer things about me or my life, for example that I was a hippie, that I didn’t study in college (I won the scholarship as the outstanding student) or that I am not financially successful (when I have earned a great living running a business for more than 20 years).

But my favorite tactic of the angry birds attacking me on Twitter is “machine-gunning tweets,” by which I mean sending eight or nine tweets in a row. I can understand wanting to string some tweets together to make a point that requires too much detail for the 140-character Twitter limit. When machine-gunning tweets though, the tweeter is not building an argument, just sending a series of disconnected statements, all dripping with hostility.

(I can’t say if the progressives and centrists who tweet me are angry—they tend to agree with what I have written, so why would anger leak into their communications to an ally? They may display hostility when they tweet those with whom they disagree. I do know that a lot of them express fear when they tweet me—fear that Social Security, Medicare or food stamps could be eliminated, fear that we’ll restart our torture gulag, fear that they’ll lose reproductive rights, fear they’ll lose basic civil rights.  But I can’t say what the underlying emotional tone is when they tweet conservatives.)

The switch from fear to a mean-spirited anger came with the ascension of the Tea Party, which studies show basically comprises wealthier than usual whites living primarily in distant suburbs and rural areas.

Both anger and fear have an object and that object is the other. We fear the other. We hate the other. The other in the United States (as in many countries) are racial minorities and newcomers (AKA immigrants). It is truly a propaganda tour de force, though, that the Republicans have gotten away with adding poor people, those who receive government benefits (except for those that the hater receives), school teachers, union members and intellectuals to the list of the despised other without large numbers of people realizing that the list now includes a majority of all Americans.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mitt Closes in on 800 lies

Steve Benen recorded 50 lies told by Mitt Romney during the past week — including 31 during the first presidential debate on Oct. 3 — in the 37th installment of "Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity."

Benen noted:

Joe Conason watched the presidential candidates' debate this week, and had a reaction I could relate to. 
"'It's not easy to debate a liar,' complained an email from one observer of the first presidential debate -- and there was no question about which candidate he meant. Prevarication, falsification, fabrication are all familiar tactics that have been employed by Mitt Romney without much consequence to him ever since he entered public life," Conason wrote. 
Concerns along these lines were not uncommon yesterday. In fact, note David Gergen's take from Wednesday night: 
"I think [President Obana] was so surprised, he thought Romney was just flat-out lying," Gergen said. And if the president was thinking that, he had good reason to.
With the 50 lies this past week, Benen has documented 769 lies told by Romney since January. Romney will have to pick up the pace a bit during the next four weeks to reach 1,000 lies this past year, but with two more debates on tap it is possible.