Stupid On Purpose: Fox News Demonstrates Willful Ignorance Of Economics

There is a very good reason why Fox News viewers have been shown in numerous studies to be less informed than consumers of other media, or even those who consume no media at all. The reason is that Fox News deliberately misreports and distorts facts in order to advance their right-wing ideology. A perfect example of this was demonstrated in an article that Fox posted today on their community website, the lie-riddled Fox Nation. The article was titled “OBAMANOMICS IN ACTION: Typical US household Worth One-Third Less Than Under Bush.”

Fox Nation

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The source for the highly inaccurate assertion in the headline was a study performed by the Russel Sage Foundation (RSF) and published by the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality: Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality, and the Great Recession (pdf). The RSF describes itself as “the principal American foundation devoted exclusively to research in the social sciences.” The study itself is a well-researched and scholarly examination of the effects of the Great Recession on wealth inequality in the U.S. It took a fair degree of determination and willful ignorance to twist the conclusions into a criticism of President Obama’s economic policies. And they began by proving that they don’t know the difference between “median” households and “typical” households.

For the record, median, in this context, is referring to the dollar value of the subject’s net worth. It has nothing to do with the number of subjects in that value range. In fact, there are many more people on the lower end of the wealth spectrum than the upper end. Therefore, median does not translate to typical.

What the study shows is that wealth increased among the richest Americans throughout most of the Bush years, beginning with the GOP tax cut for the rich in 2001. That cut, along with two off-budget wars, also produced the massive deficits that sprung from the budget surplus Clinton left for Bush. During the same time period the rest of the country languished. Those in the 25th percentile actually began to decline in 2005, before the Great Recession hit. Following the Bush Debacle at the end of 2008 everyone lost money, but those at the bottom lost a far greater percentage of their net worth than those at the top.

Also, the characterization by Fox that things were so much better while Bush was president is based on measuring the difference from the beginning of the Bush term in 2001. But by using that as the starting point it diminishes his responsibility for the economic collapse over which he presided in 2008, and places more of the consequences of it on Obama. A more significant measure would start with the Great Recession in late 2008. From that point on there has been steady progress. The RSF report stated that…

“The housing, stock and job markets have all improved since 2009, but at very different rates. The stock market rebounded relatively quickly and returned to prerecession levels by the middle of 2013. The July 2013 unemployment rate of 7.4 percent was below the recession peak of 10.0 percent, but was still substantially higher than the 4.7 percent rate of mid-2007. However, the most important source of wealth for most Americans is their home, and by mid-2013 home prices were still 20 percent below their mid-2007 values.”

Indeed, it was home ownership that had the biggest impact on the wealth of the middle class because it is such a larger portion of their net worth. For the wealthy their homes represent only a portion of their total worth, and it may not even be the largest portion. They may also have millions in investments, retirement funds, and other financial assets. And since the Great Recession resulted in millions of foreclosures on the middle and lower classes, many of which were unwarranted, or even fraudulent, those on the bottom of the scale were hurt the most. This had the effect of making an already historically prominent level of wealth inequality even worse. This was also noted in the conclusions of the RSF report:

“While large absolute amounts of wealth were destroyed at the top of the wealth distribution, households at the bottom of the wealth distribution lost the largest share of their total wealth. As a result, wealth inequality increased significantly from 2007 through 2013; by some metrics inequality roughly doubled.”

Anyone giving a fair reading this report would come away with the impression that wealth inequality has risen to dangerous levels, and that much of the reason is the Bush recession. But the folks at the falsely named “fair and balanced” network brought their own biases to the table and delivered a preposterous mutation of the study’s findings. Their intention is clearly to deceive the public by persuading them of the fiction that Obama’s economic policies have failed, and that Bush’s were superior. However, you would have to be pretty stupid to buy that argument. Therefore, there are at least a couple of million Fox News viewers who will eat up with relish.

Stupid GOP Tricks: Slash The IRS Budget As Revenge For Phony Tea Party Scandal

Anyone looking for idiotic ideas from the Tea Party Republican Congress wouldn’t have far to travel before stumbling over a mountain of them. Some of the more obvious examples include denying reproductive health care, cutting taxes for the rich, suppressing the vote, shutting down the government, and promoting creationism. But wait, there’s more.

Ayn Rand Wet Dream Act

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Since the do-nothing GOP-run House isn’t doing anything else, they have had plenty of time to come up with ever more asinine initiatives in a committed effort to advance the cause of stupidity. The latest step forward in that regard is their bill to cut the budget of the IRS by 25 percent:

“The GOP-controlled House has voted to slash the budget for the Internal Revenue Service’s tax enforcement division by $1.2 billion, a 25 percent cut that would mean fewer audits of taxpayers and make it more likely that people who cheat on their taxes will get away with it.”

Brilliant! This is a win-win for Tea-publicans who hate government in general and the IRS in particular. This bill would make it harder for the IRS to carry out its responsibility for collecting revenue that the nation needs in order to function. Thus, it would open up the agency to criticism for inefficiency that was created by this budget cut. It would also create inefficiencies in every other branch of government that is starved for revenue by the reduced tax receipts which, in turn, would make them subject to criticism. It would increase the federal deficit by leaving untold billions of legitimately owed taxes uncollected. This, of course, would incite additional fury by the pseudo-deficit hawks of the GOP who would ignore the fact that they created this problem in the first place.

At the same time, a crippled IRS would be unable to audit the corporations and millionaires who routinely practice – shall we say “creative” accounting. Consequently, these folks, who are the benefactors of the Republican Party, would have free rein to rob the American people of billions of dollars necessary to run critical federal programs including Social Security, the military, public safety (food, water, consumer products, etc.), transportation and infrastructure, medical research, criminal prosecution and prevention, and so much more.

The severity of these cuts will disrupt detection and prevention of criminal activity such as fraud and identity theft, leaving average Americans more vulnerable to victimization. They would also hamper the agency’s ability to provide service to every taxpayer seeking assistance with common filing questions.

So these cuts would have the triple purpose of weakening vital services upon which every American relies, granting amnesty to tax cheats everywhere, and artificially creating excuses to lash out at Big Government. They should call it the Ayn Rand Wet Dream Enhancement Act of 2014.

For the record, these Wet Dreamers are proposing cuts that have a demonstrably negative impact on the nation’s finances. And they come on top of previous cuts that have already impeded the IRS from performing its duties. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in a detailed and enlightening analysis

“[P]olicymakers should not ignore the damaging effects of the significant cuts that have occurred in IRS funding, which remains well below its 2010 level even before adjusting for inflation. The cuts have led the IRS to reduce its workforce, severely scale back employee training, and delay much-needed upgrades to information technology systems. These steps, in turn, have weakened the IRS’s ability to enforce the nation’s tax laws and serve taxpayers efficiently”

Even worse is the impact on the federal deficit caused by an understaffed, underfunded IRS. The CBPP report also reveals that…

“…from a fiscal perspective, starving the IRS makes no sense, as the return on the investment is high. Each additional $1 spent on IRS enforcement yields $6 of additional revenue from collecting taxes owed.”

Where else in the federal government can the allocation of funds generate that kind of return on investment? It is an act of profound folly to kill such a productive and beneficial pathway to economic sustainability that doesn’t rely on new taxes or program cuts. So what would inspire House Republicans to behave so foolishly?

“The cuts reflect GOP outrage over the agency’s scrutiny of tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status and frustration over the agency’s failure to produce thousands of emails by Lois Lerner, the official formerly in charge of the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status.”

That’s right. A trumped up scandal that has elicited nothing but partisan animus and lie-riddled accusations is the impetus for choking off funds that would protect and benefit every citizen. It is the height of petty politicking that comes at the expense of the nation’s economic viability. It is transparent pandering to wealthy special interests.

In the end, it is law abiding Americans who will have to shoulder the burden for these deadbeats. So the question is: Are the GOP really stupid, or they shrewdly executing their mission to starve the government, crush the middle-class, and enrich their benefactors?

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What’s The Difference Between Wealthy (Koch) Republicans And (Soros) Democrats?

The billionaire Koch brothers have been corrupting democracy for decades. Their labyrinthine web of front groups toil 24/7 to distort the facts on issues like climate change, voter suppression, gun control, and taxes. And if that collection of topics sounds familiar, it’s because the Kochs almost single-handedly created the Tea Party (with PR help from Fox News) to push their views on those subjects unto a gullible sector of the American populace.

Koch Bros. Fatcat

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One of the right’s favorite knee-jerk responses to criticisms of the Kochs is to point to wealthy Democrats who contribute to candidates and causes that lean more to the liberal side of the political spectrum and claim that the Koch’s critics are hypocrites. However, there have always been some obvious distinctions between the right and left wing upper-crusters. The false argument of equivalency falls flat when given scrutiny.

For one thing, the Republican rich can usually be found bankrolling people and projects that benefit them personally or professionally. Thus the Kochs’ fixation on opposing unions and denying climate change is closely aligned with their exploitative and polluting business interests. Well-off Dems, on the other hand, commonly finance more philanthropic endeavors (civil rights, environment, aid to the poor) that aim to improve the quality of life without necessarily enriching themselves.

It is also notable that conservatives advocate for less regulation of money in politics, creating an environment where the rich get ever more power to bend society to their will. Liberals, conversely, spend more of their cash on trying to remove money from politics. As an example, it was conservatives, including the Kochs, who pushed for Citizens United so that they could fund their self-serving projects without restrictions or even identification. But Jonathan Soros, the son of the right’s favorite wealthy liberal George Soros, created the Friends of Democracy PAC, a SuperPAC aimed at ending the influence of SuperPACs.

A new survey was just published that affirms these distinctions between the rightist rich and the lefty leisure class. Conducted by the Spectrem Group for CNBC (Wall Street’s cable news network) the Millionaire Survey “polled 514 people with investable assets of $1 million or more, which represents the top 8 percent of American households.” Among the sometimes surprising findings was that more than half of the respondents agreed that “inequality of wealth in our nation is a major problem.” Also, 64% favored higher taxes on the rich. A similar number (63%) support an increase in the minimum wage. And only 13% said that unemployment benefits should be reduced. Remember, these are all millionaires in this survey.

Digging a little deeper into these numbers, another interesting trend takes shape. It turns out that there is a marked difference in the views expressed by the millionaire class depending on their political affiliation.

“Democratic millionaires are far more supportive of taxing the rich and raising the minimum wage. Among Democratic millionaires, 78 percent support higher taxes on the wealthy, and 77 percent back a higher minimum wage. That compares with 31 percent and 38 percent, respectively, for Republicans.”

CNBC Millionaire Survey

So the breakdown reveals that it is the Democratic wealthy who are the most conscientious and concerned about their country and their fellow citizens. While the Republican rich are selfishly and characteristically concerned mainly with themselves. It’s the difference between Patriotic Millionaires and Ayn Rand sociopaths. That’s not a particularly surprising revelation, but it is nevertheless useful to see it validated by hard data.

The ‘Fundamental Flaw’ In The Republican Brand According To Fox News

Always on the lookout for ways to help the Republican Party, Fox News published an editorial by Maggie Gallagher, a founder of the anti-marriage equality group, National Organization for Marriage, entitled “Hey, GOP, want to win in 2016? Fix fundamental flaw in Republican brand.”

GOP Rebranding

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Indeed, the Republican brand has suffered of late with even the Chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus, conceding that the problem is so serious it required an “autopsy” following the 2012 election to address the party’s tendency to drive away critical constituencies. The RNC’s “Growth and Opportunity” report identified several areas of concern that included poor outreach to minority voters, alienating the youth demo, and too many candidate debates (an admission that the more people see their candidates, the less they like them).

Now Fox News is weighing in with an opinion as to what the “fundamental” flaw holding back the GOP is. The article begins with a premise with which it is difficult to disagree:

“America’s economic problem isn’t just unemployment, it’s the deadly combination of steady mild inflation and stagnant wages that is leading to pervasive declines in middle class working families’ standard of living.”

Setting aside the curious assertion that “mild inflation” contributes to a “deadly” situation, Gallagher’s recognition that stagnant wages lead to a decline in the living standard of middle class working families is spot on – and something that Democrats have been focused on intensely. Republicans, in the meantime, have been staunch opponents of raising the minimum wage; they have drafted legislation to eliminate overtime pay; they support corporate policies that encourage sending American jobs to other countries; and they favor mergers that result in massive layoffs.

The Democratic agenda is squarely aimed at improving the economic status of America’s middle class, while the Republicans drive headlong into crushing it in favor of the wealthy business elites whom the right mistakenly regard as job creators. [This graphic illustrates who the Real Job Creators are] While Gallagher acknowledges that GOP rhetoric is overly focused on the needs of voters’ bosses, she also dismisses the notion of raising the minimum wage as “feeble.” So what is Gallagher talking about when she refers to the fundamental flaw in the Republican brand?

“One obvious place Republicans could show they “get it” is relentlessly focusing on the pay cut ObamaCare means for many middle class working families.”

Of course! It’s ObamaCare. The cause of the entire world’s descent into a dystopic cataclysm that threatens to devour liberty and thrust the planet into eternal depression and tyranny. Never mind that ObamaCare is actually reducing the financial burdens that have plagued middle class families who have suffered either exorbitant and ever-increasing insurance premiums, or worse, devastating medical bills that drive them into bankruptcy. With ObamaCare the middle class no longer needs to worry about being denied coverage or having their policy canceled should they have the audacity to file a claim. Nor do they need to remain shackled to a low-paying and unfulfilling job just to stay insured.

Gallagher’s retreat to ObamaCare as the universal thorn in whatever right-wingers are complaining about at the moment is absurd in the extreme. But her contention that this is the fundamental flaw that the Republican Party needs to fix makes even less sense. Where has she been the last four years? Undoing ObamaCare has been the single most prominent obsession of the GOP since it was introduced. If she thinks that the Republican brand is suffering because they haven’t done enough to oppose ObamaCare, she may need to take advantage of the mental health care benefits the new law has made possible.

Finally, Fox News frequently does stories about how the GOP can improve their electoral prospects. However, they never do stories with similar advice for Democrats. That may not be particularly fair and balanced, but judging by the advice that Fox is giving to the GOP, perhaps the best thing they can do for Democrats is to keep giving advice to Republicans.

Lose/Lose: The GOP Hates You If You Don’t Work, And They Hate You If You Work Too Much

For most of the past century, and especially the past five years, Republicans have stood forthrightly against every initiative aimed at relieving the suffering of low-income Americans. From opposition to extending unemployment benefits to slashing the SNAP (food stamps) budget to blocking an increase of the minimum wage, the GOP has exhibited stark insensitivity to the hardships of working families. And their determination to advance the interests of the rich is consistently at the top of their agenda.

Today President Obama signed an executive memorandum expanding the availability of overtime pay to millions of workers whose employers have been exploiting their labor by classifying them as management, despite the fact that they earn less than $24,000 a year. That classification enables the employer to forgo paying these employees when they work more than forty hours per week.

Republicans came out swinging as soon as the White House made the announcement of the change in policy. All of the typical right-wing complaints about stifling economic growth, killing job creation, big government intrusion, and executive branch overreach, gushed from the mouths of GOP politicians and Fox News pundits.

GOP on Overtime Pay

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What none of these partisans bothered to mention is that putting more money in the pockets of working class citizens is one of the most effective methods of stimulating the economy. These are people who, by necessity, recirculate their funds by spending them on goods and services, thus producing more growth and creating more jobs. Also not mentioned is how this policy will reduce expenditures on entitlement programs due to recipients being raised out of poverty and no longer requiring assistance.

Nevertheless, the conservative knee-jerk response to Obama’s directive predictably ignores the benefits while inventing problems that they cannot support with facts. Their determination to advocate on behalf of the ruling class and the wealthy corporations who oppose these measures is paramount to the Republican hierarchy.

What’s more, the GOP is engaging in blatant hypocrisy by making disingenuous arguments against the changes proposed by Obama, although they never had any such complaint when George W. Bush did the same thing in 2004 when he updated the overtime rules raising the minimum threshold from $250.00 per week to $455.00. That was ten years ago and it’s time to revisit the situation taking into account current economic conditions, inflation, and cost of living increases.

However, what was good enough for Bush and the GOP a decade ago, is seen by Republicans as the destruction of the economy by a radical tyrant bent on crippling the nation today. For some reason, when the Bush administration unilaterally expanded overtime rules with the stroke of his pen it was appropriate and beneficial, but when Obama does it, it is treasonous and unconstitutional.

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That’s the level of logic that this President has had to face for the last five years. And if he is finally getting around to recognizing the futility of reasoning with the obstructionist Tea-publicans in Congress, it is about damn time.

Let Them Eat Bombs: Cheney And Hannity Favor Military Bloat Over Feeding The Poor

With the Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has proposed a new budget that recognizes the realities of the current needs of the military establishment. Since we will no longer be fighting multi-front battles it makes sense to reduce the size of the military forces, focus on cutting wasteful programs, and direct scarce resources to modernization.

However, at Fox News any proposal advanced by President Obama or his administration must be immediately criticized as an attempt to weaken the nation and surrender it to our enemies. Consequently, when Hagel came forward to announce that our current Army “is larger than required to meet the demands of our defense strategy,” Fox reached out to war monger Dick Cheney to rebuke any effort to cut spending and reduce the deficit (something conservatives usually slobber over).

Fox News

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Cheney called into the Sean Hannity show with a predictable complaint that Obama’s budget would be “dangerous,” but he failed to demonstrate why. He simply asserted that Obama “would rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military.” Of course, that also happens to be the position of most of the American people.

Currently approaching $700 billion dollars, the U.S. defense budget is greater than the combined military budgets of the next ten largest spenders. And even after making the proposed cuts, we will still be allocating more money to defense than China, Russia, the UK, Japan, France, and Saudi Arabia combined. Yet somehow Cheney and Hannity believe that this would make America more vulnerable, and that it would be unpatriotic to reduce expenditures. It should be noted that neither Hannity, nor Cheney, served in the military, but Hagel is a decorated veteran.

In addition to the obvious logic of cutting spending when we have the opportunity, it is a policy that is favored by most Americans. This is particularly apparent when compared to the public’s support for programs that benefit the needy. A majority of Americans (59%) favor maintaining spending on programs for the poor over deficit reduction. But when asked about maintaining defense spending, a majority (51%) would rather cut the deficit.

And if that weren’t enough, the right-wing sheds crocodile tears over the welfare of veterans who might be impacted by defense budget cuts, but they utterly ignore the fact that “900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP [food stamps] to provide food for their families.” The conservative mindset that pictures all food stamp recipients as lazy moochers cannot comprehend the fact that many veterans are beneficiaries as well.

In the discussion with Hannity, Cheney complained that those in the administration “act as though it’s like highway spending and you can turn it on and off.” What exactly does he mean by that? Is he saying that once defense spending is turned on it can never be turned off? Or that if turned off, no new spending could ever be allocated? Obviously that’s nonsense. It is like any other allocation in the budget. It is determined by need and available resources. And right now we need more resources directed to domestic highways and infrastructure than to foreign adventures in warfare.

That’s the reality based on rational defense analysis and the priorities of the American people who are footing the bill. But leave it to Fox News to take a hard-line militaristic stance that ignores the wishes of the people in order to attack the president they hate so fiercely.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Giving Workers More Freedom Is ‘Devastating’ To Fox News

The Congressional Budget Office just released their latest set of economic projections for the next decade and the data provides some good news for America’s workers. But never let it be said that Fox News would receive such information and honestly present it to their woefully deceived audience. The headline at the top of the Fox Nation website trumpeted that the CBO’s report was “Devastating News for ObamaCare: Over 2 Million Workers Will Lose Jobs.”

Fox Nation

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Oh my. That would be devastating – If it were true. However, the CBO report never said any such thing. The truth is that ObamaCare will provide workers with more freedom of choice due to the fact that they will no longer be shackled to jobs they don’t want or need simply because they can’t afford to lose their medical benefits. What ObamaCare does is to make health care affordable so that people can decide whether to continue their employment based on factors other than their health plan. Here is how the CBO phrased it:

“The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply, rather than from a net drop in businesses’ demand for labor, so it will appear almost entirely as a reduction in labor force participation and in hours worked relative to what would have occurred otherwise rather than as an increase in unemployment (that is, more workers seeking but not finding jobs) or underemployment (such as part-time workers who would prefer to work more hours per week).”

What this means is that workers may voluntarily choose to leave their jobs or work fewer hours. It does not mean that employers will fire anyone or cut staffing. And when a worker freely decides to resign, it is ridiculous to say that they “lost” their job. They didn’t lose it. They know where it is still. It’s just that they have chosen not to go there anymore (h/t Bobcat Goldthwait). That’s called freedom of choice.

There are many reasons why someone might leave a job under these circumstances. They may be seniors who wish to retire. They may be young mothers who want to be at home with their children. They may want to seek opportunities at other companies. They may be entrepreneurs who require more time to start a new business. Before ObamaCare these choices may not have been available because people were locked into their employer-provided health plan at a job that was not otherwise helping them achieve their personal goals. Now they will have more freedom to structure their lives in a manner that is more satisfying or appropriate to their circumstances.

Nevertheless, the Fox Nationalists falsely portrayed this exercise of free choice by workers as “lost jobs.” Then they judged this phony loss a devastating blow to ObamaCare. Their source for this blatantly misleading analysis is the “Moonie” Washington Times, a disreputable newspaper with an ultra-conservative bias. But it doesn’t stop there. The same fraudulent reading of the CBO study was aired on the Fox News Channel where they recruited criminal/congressman Darrell Issa to lambaste the “bombshell” report.

It’s no wonder that so many studies have proven that Fox News viewers are more ill-informed than viewers of other news outlets – and even those who view no news at all. The problem with the Fox News audience has never been that they lack information. The problem is that the information they have is more than likely untrue. We’ve been warned about this in the past by some notable thinkers:

“Beware of false knowledge. It is more dangerous than ignorance.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” ~ Mark Twain

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts.” ~ Bertrand Russell

Fox Nation
[Update] As Fox Nation escalates their mischaracterization of the CBO report with a feature story asserting a “Death Blow,” PolitiFact has analyzed the spin and the conservative claim that jobs will be lost due to ObamaCare. They found specific allegations, as articulated by House Speaker John Boehner and Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson, to be “Mostly False.”

PolitiFact: “They made it sound as if jobs are going away because businesses don’t create them or because they eliminated existing jobs. The CBO report, though, was referring to workers who decide on their own to leave the workforce, because they don’t have to keep working a job just to keep their health benefits.”

Dumb Fox (News): Phony Think Tank’s Irrational Argument Against Minimum Wage Increase

By now no one should be surprised that Fox News, and the congregation of Tea Party conservatives they represent, would oppose legislation intended to benefit America’s working class. Fox has consistently fought against reforms that make it possible for people to take care of themselves and their families and to advance economically. Any policy that is viewed by their corporate benefactors as negative to their profit margins, or that might adversely impact their multimillion dollar compensation, is attacked by Fox News, and the rest of the rightist press, as anti-business or even socialist.

That is precisely the case with the current debate over whether to increase the minimum wage, which has not been done in seven long years. Raising the minimum wage is generally seen as politically popular, so in order to derail it, opponents have to pitch tortured arguments that have very little backing by knowledgeable, non-partisan economists. But the tactic being used by Fox today is particularly devoid of reason and is wholly unethical, even by the standards of Fox News.

Minimum Wage vs. Interns

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In an effort to manufacture a false claim of hypocrisy, Fox News is presenting an absurd comparison. Their story asserts that “Most sponsors of minimum wage hike bill don’t pay interns.” So F**king What? Internships are temporary positions made available to students so that they can get some real-world experience in their field of study and credit for school. They are not intended to be employment for personal gain. They serve the same purpose as the classroom at their school, and they don’t get paid for that either. Internships generally have a fixed term of a few weeks during the summer or other school hiatus. To compare that to jobs where people are working in order to support themselves and their families makes no sense whatsoever.

That said, there may be some good arguments for compensating interns, particularly in business where the enterprise has sufficient resources to do so. But to assert that members of Congress who support raising the minimum wage are being hypocritical for allowing students to get an up-close look at how government operates is simply a wild and irresponsible attempt to obstruct progress on policies that bring tangible relief to struggling Americans, as well as a substantial boost to the economy.

What makes this story even more repulsive is that Fox is citing data from a disreputable source with a vested interest in the welfare of the corporations it exists to serve. According to Source Watch

“The Employment Policies Institute (EPI) is one of several front groups created by Berman & Co., a Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by Rick Berman, who lobbies for the restaurant, hotel, alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries.”

So this organization is directly tied to the industries who are the most virulently opposed to a minimum wage increase. That should cause a legitimate news agency to steer shy of them if they are interested in unbiased information. But it doesn’t dissuade Fox, and a bevy of other wingnut “news” outlets, from eating up the self-serving tripe.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Berman & Company is also notorious for feathering its own nest. The bulk of the funds received by the organizations under its control goes right back into Berman’s pocket. For instance, the Employment Policies Institute reported $1,629,930 in total revenue for 2011, and $2,103,896 in total expenses. But despite running a half million dollar deficit, it paid Berman more than a million dollars that year. That alone should cast doubt on the quality of the economic advice they might dispense.

What we have here is a lobbyist who created a fake think tank so that he could raise funds from corporations to advocate on their behalf – and against the interests of average Americans. Then this fake think tank gets fake news enterprises (like Fox) to disseminate their tendentious opinions. That’s how the right-wing media machine poisons the public debate on important issues. And this particular article got spread to the the Wall Street Journal, the Daily Caller, Newsmax and other conservative mouthpieces.

To counter that, here is some more information on the benefits of raising the minimum wage. These articles explain in more detail why the nation should move forward with this legislation:

Economic Policy Institute: Low-wage Workers Are Older Than You Think

5 Right-Wing Myths About Raising the Minimum Wage, Debunked

SERIOUSLY? Fox News Thinks The U.S. Should Be More Like Rwanda

When it comes to America-hating rhetoric and bashing the values held by the majority of the citizens of the United States, Fox News takes a back seat to no one. Despite the diversity and tolerance of American society, Fox has made it their mission to inject bitter animus into the national family in order to create division and contempt. That’s why, in the Fox mindset, reproductive choice is murder, tax fairness for the wealthy is class warfare, affordable health insurance is communism, and an African-American president is a Marxist dictator who is unfit – even ineligible – to hold the office.

Nevertheless, it still comes as some surprise to find out what Fox regards as the utopian business model for the United States. In their feverish obsession for unfettered, free-market capitalism (which even the Pope recently condemned), Fox has long advocated the repeal of virtually every regulation they stumbled over. The Fox/Tea Party economic environment would be a chaotic anarchy where multinational corporations would rule with loyalty to nothing but their bottom line. It is that philosophy that is represented in their article that promotes, and distorts, a survey by the World Bank that ranked countries for their business friendliness.

Fox News

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The critical lesson from the data as analyzed by Fox, is expressed in their headline that laments that the “US ranks behind Rwanda, Belarus, Azerbaijan in ease of creating new business.” The inescapable conclusion is that the U.S. would be better off if it were more like Rwanda and the other third-world nations whose governments are too weak to provide any order or law or protection for its citizens who engage in business.

Setting aside the ludicrous notion that the U.S. should look to Rwanda for inspiration, the real problem with the analysis of the data is that it is comparing the U.S. to 189 other countries with which it has little in common. A more rational analysis would limit the comparison to other nations with large populations and high GDP. The World Bank’s website conveniently allows just such a comparison by filtering the list to include only those first-world countries in the Organization for Co-operation and Economic Development (OCED).

In the unfiltered list of all 189 countries, the U.S. comes in at 20th for “starting a business,” which isn’t really that bad out of 189. But when filtering the list to remove countries like Rwanda that tell us nothing about our place internationally, the U.S. jumps to number six. In fact, in the aggregate results for all eleven of the categories that the World Bank ranked (i.e. construction permits, credit, taxes, etc.), the U.S. is number two, behind New Zealand.

The question is: Why would Fox News want to deliberately misconstrue the survey to portray America as a third-rate loser in the world community? For the same reason they disparage everything else about this country that they despise. Contrary to Fox’s incessant whining about freedom and liberty, these are principles that they believe should only be available to corporations and the wealthy. It is in the interest of Fox conservatism to rebuke America as unfriendly to business in order to lobby for the elimination of the regulatory structure that they regard as impeding the liberty of the industrial class.

By misrepresenting the World Bank’s data, Fox has proven once again that they are more interested in advancing a rightist agenda than in informing their audience. And the direction in which they want to push America is one that will be distinctly unpleasant for most Americans, as demonstrated in this brilliant travelogue for the Tea Party vacation paradise of Somalia:

Hooray For Income Inequality! Or As Fox News Calls It ‘Income Opportunity’

Whenever Fox News encounters a progressive concept that they have difficulty refuting, they resort to redefining the terms of the debate. This was illustrated recently when they took to calling the government shutdown a “government slimdown,” as if it was a benign weight-loss program rather than a $24 billion boondoggle. It’s what turns free-market health insurance reform into socialized medicine. It’s tactic that is inbred into their political playbook, even going so far as to hire a “word doctor” to create an alternative language for their propaganda.

Now Fox News is pitching a new phrase to replace “income inequality,” which describes the gap between America’s ultra-wealthy and the average citizen. The current gap is greater than it has ever been, and the consequences are starkly negative for the nation’s economic health. The public is acutely aware of this problem and supports reforms aimed at resolving it. Therefore, unable to come up with a rational counter argument, Fox has introduced a new way of dressing up the problem that makes it seem all warm and fuzzy. They now call it “income opportunity.”

The new phrase debuted today when Fox News reporter, Doug McKelway, filed a story on the subject and noted that some amorphous congregation of anonymous critics are seeing the bright side of the loss of America’s middle class:

McKelway: Some critics say there is another side to income inequality. That’s income opportunity. For instance, as economic inequality between rich and poor has grown, women’s economic status has increased.

Really? So Fox News is now spinning this as a women’s rights issue. That makes sense because Fox has been such a stalwart defender of women’s rights. Like the right to be subjected to involuntary vaginal probes, or the right to be forced to carry a pregnancy to term, even if the father was a rapist. McKelway then deferred to an academic from Chicago (one of those rare times when Fox regards academics as credible sources), who took this reasoning even further saying that…

“Inequality, in terms of the gap between low and high wage people was creating opportunities for everyone, but women were especially able to leverage them. And that’s why you have so many women breaking the glass ceiling in recent years.”

Indeed. Opportunities for everyone have been gushing from the severe division between the rich and the poor. Never mind that this assertion was not supported by any facts, it must be obvious because, well, he said so. And who could have failed to notice that women have been crashing through the glass ceiling in unprecedented numbers. That’s why today “women currently hold 4.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEO roles.” And it also explains why, as of 2012, women are still paid only about 76.5 percent of what men are paid. And that’s actually a decline from 2010.

Finally, when McKelway completed his report, Fox anchor Jenna Lee injected another angle of inquiry to refute the fact that income inequality is necessarily to blame for any ill effects on the economy. Once again the anonymous specter of “some argue” entered the discussion when Lee posited to McKelway that…

“Some argue that the issue is less about the economy and more, really, about family.”

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Of course it is. McKelway took the baton and ran down a series of reasons why the lack of opportunity is all due to poor people often being single mothers with less than college educations. And that state affairs couldn’t possibly be because they are poor to begin with, could it? No, they all started off well-to-do, then dropped out of Stanford and had babies, and that led to their eventual poverty. But don’t bring any of this up because, if you do, you’ll be accused of waging a class war.

Fox News

These are the sort of theories that go over well with the deceitful Fox News editors and their dimwitted viewers. And it’s all made possible by inventing language that is deliberately meant to mislead. Remember that the next time you find yourself in the midst of a government slimdown and some socialist tries to sell you health insurance that infringes on the income opportunity of being one of the 99% of Americans who isn’t a billionaire.

Oh The Stupidity: Sarah Palin Wants Obama Impeached For Both Solving/Not Solving The Debt Crisis

America’s own rogue GOPachyderm, Sarah Palin, is such a consistent source of hilarity it seems impossible that she could keep up the pace any longer. But just when you think she’s exhausted her supply of inanity, she posts another Facebook column and reestablishes her crackpot bona fides:

“Apparently the president thinks he can furlough reality when talking about the debt limit. To suggest that raising the debt limit doesn’t incur more debt is laughably absurd. The very reason why you raise the debt limit is so that you can incur more debt. Otherwise what’s the point?”

What Palin is mocking as “laughably absurd” is known to those who have advanced beyond remedial economics as “the truth.” The point of raising the debt ceiling, which Palin goes out of her way to misunderstand, is to pay for debt already incurred. It does not, and cannot, authorize new spending. Only Congress can do that. So if Palin has a problem with the outstanding debt, she needs to take it up with John Boehner.

Palin continues by declaring that “It’s also shameful to see [Obama] scaremongering the markets with his talk of default.” I wonder if she would castigate the sainted Tea Party icon, Ronald Reagan, for saying (video here)…

“Congress consistently brings the Government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar.”

But Palin hasn’t even begun to showcase her Olympian idiocy. Her Facebook drivel proceeds with a self-contradictory passage that begins by stating that…

“There is no way we can default if we follow the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4, requires that we service our debt first.”

Actually, what the Fourteenth Amendment (Section 4) says is that “The validity of the public debt of the United States [...] shall not be questioned.” It is a controversial clause that many interpret as authorization for the President to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling at will. So it appears that Palin is advising the President to take matters into his own hands. But her next paragraph puts an end to that sort of thinking.

“Defaulting on our national debt is an impeachable offense, and any attempt by President Obama to unilaterally raise the debt limit without Congress is also an impeachable offense.”

Huh? Palin just got finished arguing that the Constitution demands that the President take any and all measures to pay our debts. Now she says that if he does so he is guilty of an impeachable offense. And just to lock in the crazy, she also says that not doing so is likewise impeachable. In Palin’s twisted reality Obama cannot glance sideways without violating his oath of office.

Shameless self-promotion…
Get Fox Nation vs. Reality. Available now at Amazon.

What is abundantly clear is that Palin wants to believe that whatever this President does is a justification for impeachment. Her perspective is so irreparably warped that it has lost any semblance of rationality. This is something that has been noticeable for quite some time with Palin, but what stands out as utterly incomprehensible is that there are still people who hang on her every word – including in the media. It’s a sad state of affairs, but one that is not irreversible. We just need to provide the proper educational support. So let’s start with something that Palin might be able to grasp.

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Cletus on Debt Ceiling

Does Fox News Think That Ronald Reagan Tried To Panic The Markets?

This weekend’s edition of Fox News Sunday had a segment wherein the host, Chris Wallace, interviewed Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. In the course of the interview Wallace addressed the government shutdown and the approaching debt ceiling crisis with this phony premise:

“This week both you and the president seemed to be trying to panic the markets about both raising the debt ceiling and the government shutdown, saying that they should be more concerned.”

Fox News

In fact, President Obama merely observed what every credible economist has said about the prospect of the United States defaulting on its financial obligations. It would throw the world economy into turmoil and inflate the U.S. debt by billions due to higher interest rates. Just the threat of taking such an irresponsible step would panic the market without Obama having to say a word. And Obama is not the only one who thinks so. Here is what the GOP’s sainted Ronald Reagan had to say about it back on September 26, 1987:

Reagan: Congress consistently brings the Government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holders of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits. Interest rates would skyrocket, instability would occur in financial markets, and the Federal deficit would soar. The United States has a special responsibility to itself and the world to meet its obligations. It means we have a well-earned reputation for reliability and credibility – two things that set us apart from much of the world.

The hypocrisy of the Tea Party Republicans pretending to care about impacting the financial markets is monumental. Their own words (not to mention their actions) have been far more threatening than anything Obama has said. They have been saying for five years that Obama and his Marxist policies would bring the nation to ruin. They said he would destroy the economy and the country; that ObamaCare would bankrupt the nation and lead to civil war; that asking the rich to pay a little more in taxes, rather than putting the burden on the poor and middle class, would crush the recovery; that anything the President ever proposed would be a job killer and a disincentive to investment.

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Those predictions were about as accurate as last year’s Mayan end-of-the-world prophecy. The stock market is higher now than it was before the recession. The unemployment rate has dropped from 10.1 to 7.3 percent. And ObamaCare has proved to so popular that the demand crashed the government servers. Given the right’s record on forecasting the future, how can anyone take them seriously? Even the words of their idol, Reagan, don’t seem to diffuse their rabid Obama Derangement Syndrome.

Dumbass Doocy: Fox News Still Doesn’t Understand What The Debt Ceiling Is

As the nation approaches another showdown over the raising of the debt ceiling, Fox News continues to prove that either they don’t understand economics or they are dedicated to misinforming their gullible viewers – or more likely, both.

On Friday’s episode of Fox & Friends, Steve Doocy and his couch potato pals reacted with surprise to President Obama’s remarks about raising the debt ceiling. The President correctly described the function of this routine economic procedure by telling the Business Roundtable what it actually entails.

Obama: Raising the debt ceiling, which has been done over a hundred times, does not increase our debt; it does not somehow promote profligacy. All it does is it says you’ve got to pay the bills that you’ve already racked up, Congress. It’s a basic function of making sure that the full faith and credit of the United States is preserved.

Concerned that a succinct and coherent explanation might make Fox viewers aware of a small bit of reality (something Fox works diligently against), Doocy stepped up to make sure that his audience remained blissfully ignorant. He played two videos of Obama, one talking about the risks of high debt and the other advocating raising the debt ceiling. Doocy then said that Obama was talking about the same thing and had flipped his position. However, the debt is not the same thing as the debt ceiling. But this is a subject that is apparently way over Doocy’s head.

Doocy: So the first sound bite was from the president a couple of days ago at the Business Roundtable where he really got people thinking, “Did he just misspeak?” because he said essentially that raising the debt ceiling does not increase our debt. I know he studied law, and not economics, but increasing the debt ceiling indeed raises the debt.

Well, I know Doocy studied journalism at the University of Kansas and not economics, while Obama got a B.A. in political science from Columbia University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law School, but Doocy clearly knows nothing about either economics or journalism. Raising the debt ceiling does not raise the debt one penny. Just as the President said, it merely authorizes the government to pay bills that Congress has already incurred.

Allow me to spell it out. Let’s say the national debt is $10 trillion and the debt ceiling is $9 trillion. If the ceiling is raised to $11 trillion so that it can accommodate the outstanding obligations, the debt is still $10 trillion. There is no change except for the fact that bills can now be paid which, ironically, would have the effect of lowering the debt. Failing to raise the debt ceiling would result in default which would cause the ratings services to lower the nation’s credit worthiness. That would increase the interest that we pay on the debt which, of course, increases the debt. Which is exactly what happened last year.

So Doocy, and most of the Tea Party right, have everything exactly backwards – as usual. There is only one real reason that Fox and the GOP are obstructing the debt ceiling increase, and that is to harm Obama by attempting to blame him for the economic debacle that would ensue following a default. And they regard the devastation that the American people would suffer as merely collateral damage. As evidence, take a look at this chart that I created a couple of years ago illustrating the Republican support for raising the debt ceiling until a certain event occurred:

Debt Ceiling

And the same dishonest, partisan, hackery is in full effect today.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Poor Have It Way Too Good

When Fox News isn’t bitching about how President Obama has fouled up the economy and caused severe hardship for the American people, they switch over to their completely contrary view that there isn’t really any hardship and that the poor in America are luxuriating in a virtual paradise.

Fox Nation

To hear Fox News tell it, the real problem with America is that the greedy poor have too much and the long-suffering rich have too little. Consequently, the poor should lose benefits that assist them with trivialities like food, housing and education, while the rich should get more tax cuts, subsidies, and relief from regulations that protect everyone’s air, water, and safety.

That’s the position taken today on Fox’s community web site, and truth mangling, Fox Nation. Their article on the state of Americans living in poverty suggests that being poor is like a pleasure cruise with all the amenities included. Their source is an article on CNSNews, a subsidiary of the uber-rightist Media Research Center. The article cites data from a 2011 census report showing that most households living below the poverty live have non-essential extravagances like phones and refrigerators. The presence of these opulent goods is evidence that poor people are enjoying prosperity at the expense of the hard-trodden wealthy.

A deeper look at the details of this alleged abundance reveals that, in most cases, appliances like refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, and air conditioners, come with apartment living and are owned by the landlords, not the tenants. Cell phones and microwaves are inexpensive items that hardly connote wealth. Yet the Fox Nationalists begrudge low-income working people for having access to things like televisions that they might have bought years ago, before the Bush meltdown.

This is typical of the Fox mindset. They regularly report this same fallacy with minor updates. Last April they hosted Robert Rector, a Heritage Foundation analyst, who whined to the addled-brained Fox & Friends crew that the poor “have no hardship whatsoever,” and that poverty measurements are just “an advertising tool for expanding the welfare state and for spreading the wealth by pretending there’s a massive amount of hardship that really doesn’t occur anymore in our society.” Well, I feel better already.

Rector has been spewing that nonsense for more than a decade, and Fox has been helping him to promote it. They generally leave out pertinent facts such as that the people they are disparaging are not the recipients of welfare who they routinely characterize as moochers. They are working people who are struggling to provide for themselves and their families in the face of adversity. And Fox ignores the obvious when they assume that just because you reside in an apartment that has a stove and a laundry room, that you also have enough money to buy groceries, clothes, medicine, and other necessities.

This is a perfect representation of the insensitivity of selfish elitists in the media and the GOP (Greedy One Percent) who recently removed food stamps from a draft of the Farm Bill, but retained the hundreds of millions of dollars that goes to wealthy agribusiness interests. In their world the rich are always unfairly put upon, and the poor are lazy scam artists. It’s a perverse and twisted version of reality that keeps good people down.

Bigots On Fox: Capitalist Pig On Fox News Lives Up To His Name

Jonathan Hoenig is the manager of the Capitalistpig Hedge Fund and a Fox News contributor who appears weekly on “Cashin’ In.” He routinely blurts out ignorant rants such as declaring that access to health care makes everyone a slave, or that kids would do better on the streets than in public school, or that Social Security should be scrapped.

On this week’s edition of the program (video below) Hoenig demonstrated that he is not above religious bigotry to make a dubious point and to slander a Democratic congressman.

Fox News
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During a discussion about the Inclusive Prosperity Act (aka the Robin Hood tax), a bill that would impose a fee of a fraction of a percent on certain financial transactions, Hoenig abandoned any pretense of debating the merits of the bill and instead decided to attack the bill’s sponsor, Keith Ellison, for his religious beliefs.

Hoenig: I don’t know if Rep. Ellison has read the Constitution. I know he is a practicing Muslim and in Sharia law, there is a prohibition against trading of derivatives, against speculation of any type. And so in my opinion you could make the argument this is even a little bit of Sharia creep here with the cracking down on trade, cracking down on the derivative trade, cracking down on wealth production.

The only “creep” here is Hoenig. His repulsive attack on Ellison’s faith is not only evidence of his ingrained hatred, but he makes no sense whatsoever on a financial basis. Nothing in the bill prohibits derivative trading or any other stock transaction. And in addition to generating billions of dollars, the nominal fee would produce a more stable trading environment that in recent years has become dangerously volatile.

The fact that Ellison is Muslim has nothing to do with the bill. It is co-sponsored in the House by 17 representatives who are mostly Christians (and at least on Jew). Hoenig is obviously not an expert in Islamic practices. Millions of Muslims invest in equities markets in the United States and around the world. That includes one Muslim named Al-Waleed bin Talal, a Saudi prince whose share of stock in the network Hoenig is broadcasting on is exceeded only by Rupert Murdoch and his family.

Furthermore, Hoenig’s snide curiosity about whether Ellison has read the Constitution only reveals his own constitutional illiteracy. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution explicitly grants authority for the government to assess taxes and fees such as the one in Ellison’s bill.

This segment is the perfect capsulization of Fox’s abhorrent philosophy and mission. It illustrates both their overt contempt for anyone who is not a member of their preferred fraternity (in this case Muslims), and their kneejerk opposition to any tax measure that benefits the nation if it imposes even a tiny burden on the wealthy and greedy corporations whose rights they regard as superior to the people.

Hoening is just another ignorant and insulting cretin to whom Fox News provides a platform to disseminate hatred and disinformation. And that includes the program’s host, Eric Bolling, who was quick to agree with Hoenig’s dumbshit commentary.

For God’s Sake, Do Not Take Financial Advice From Fox News

It has already been well established that Fox News is a round-the-clock lie factory (see Fox Nation vs. Reality), but in case anyone was ever curious about whether that distinction extended to their business channel, the Fox Business Network, you no longer need to wonder. This morning’s interview of FBN reporter Lauren Simonetti on Fox & Friends First has summarily resolved this question.

Fox News

The segment raised the issue of golfer Phil Mickleson’s recent showing at the U.S. Open where he came in second. It was the sixth time Mickleson fell just shy of victory at the event he has never managed to win. As a consolation, Fox News crunched some numbers and concluded that Mickleson was better off placing second because, according to their math, he would be poorer had he won. Here is Simonetti’s brilliant analysis (video):

“Sometimes coming in second pays off in the end. [...] We broke down the numbers with the help of some tax gurus, for how much he could save, and the answer is $400,000 on taxes. [...] So all in all, he’s $400,000 richer, I guess.”

Guess again. Simonetti’s logic revolved around the fact that had Mickleson won he would have earned an additional $3 million in prize money and bonuses on his sponsorships. The tax bill for that would have been about $400,000. Of course, that would still mean that after taxes Mickleson would be ahead by $2,600,000. But in the Fox universe, being able to avoid a $400k tax bite makes you $400k richer even though in the real world that the rest of us inhabit, you are actually $2.6 million poorer.

I really have to sympathize with the losers who have been duped by Fox into thinking that their business network is a reputable place to get information and advice. The irony is that Fox’s counsel is creating more financially deprived people who will necessarily have to rely on the government services that Fox so viscerally hate.

On the bright side (as Fox would say) is the fact that hardly anyone watches the network. After six years they are still a distant competitor to the business leader CNBC. That should mitigate the effect of the bad financial advice they disseminate along with their climate change denial, tax cut obsession, anti-ObamaCare hype, and general ultra-rightist propaganda. And remember, FBN was launched with a promise by its CEO, Rupert Murdoch, that it would be openly biased in favor of the corporatists saying that…

“…a Fox channel would be ‘more business-friendly than CNBC.’ That channel ‘leap[s] on every scandal, or what they think is a scandal.”

And Mr. Murdoch knows a thing or two about leaping on every scandal (i.e. Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, birth certificate, ACORN, etc.). Murdoch’s Fox News leaps on scandals like a horny teenager at whorehouse.

Pure Idiocy From Fox News On The Stock Market

OK, just about anyone with a functioning brain already knows that Fox News is a biased player working on behalf of the GOP. But their analysis of financial matters and stock market activity is not just biased, but astonishingly stupid. Yesterday on Fox Nation they posted this “news” item: Romney Rally? Stocks Close Higher One Day After Debate.

Fox Nation Romney Rally

Any time someone makes projections based on a single day of activity it is regarded by professionals as naivete and/or ignorance. So it goes without saying that Fox did just that. On the Fox Business Network, Stuart Varney dropped this mind-numbing stupidity: “Some will say this is a Romney Rally.” And Fox’s Lou Dobbs said “This is the beginning of what will be an even bigger Romney rally as the days unfold.”

Of course, any credible economist knows that market activity is based on a variety of financial data. Yesterday there was an abundance of factors to which the market’s movement could be attributed, including better than expected economic data and the European Central Bank’s freeze on interest rates at 0.75 percent.

Fox has a long history of making idiotic assessments of the stock market. In May of 2009, Brenda Buttner gushed, “Call it a tea party rally. Wall Street’s sure partying, up six weeks in a row.” In September of 2011, Fox Nation reported “Stocks Tumble Worldwide After Obama Speech.” Then in June of 2012, they fantasized that “Stock Market Drops After Obamacare Upheld.”

This tendency of the right to misinterpret all market activity as being the result of Obama (if stocks go down) or some conservative (if stocks go up), extends all the way back to Rush Limbaugh’s nutty commentary on February 8,2009, a mere two weeks after Obama’s inauguration, when he said “The Obama recession is in full swing, ladies and gentlemen. Stocks are dying, which is a precursor of things to come.” Since then stocks have died to the tune of doubling from about 6,600 to over 13,500. Nice call, Rush.

Even Mitt Romney got into it a few days ago saying that “If it looks like I’m going to win, the markets will be happy. If it looks like the president’s going to win, the markets should not be terribly happy. [...] Without actually doing anything, we’ll actually get a boost in the economy.” Romney, who considers himself an expert in finance, thinks the markets will advance by doing nothing. His magical name alone will rescue the economy.

What they commonly miss at Fox is that markets traditionally perform better under Democratic administrations than Republicans. And note that that link is to an article on the Fox Business Channel’s web site.

The one lesson that people can take away from this display of ignorance, is that anyone who relies on Fox News for economic advice deserves the economic ruin they suffer.

The Roots Of Romney’s Rage: Where His 47% Fiasco Came From

The Making of a Meme
Just in case anyone is wondering where Mitt Romney came up with the data behind the contemptuous affront he leveled at half of the population that he hopes to serve as president, it is a tenet of conservative philosophy that has been expressed repeatedly by pundits and politicians alike, although rarely with such disdain. Here is what Romney, a man who accuses President Obama of being divisive, told a roomful of wealthy donors:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.”

The erroneous charge concerning an alleged 47% of American freeloaders is one that has been exciting right-wingers for more than two years and has been notably championed by Fox News. To fill in the background of this story, I am re-posting an article I wrote in August of 2011 that describes the length and breadth of this fictitious political assault on the middle and working class of America. It illustrates explicitly the themes that Romney articulated to his wealthy supporters.


Debt Wish XI: The GOP/Tea Party Plan To Tax The Poor
(August 24, 2011) America’s Republican/Tea Party contingent, who are defined by their dogmatic devotion to lower taxes as a panacea for everything, have finally found a sector of society that they can comfortably saddle with a higher tax burden: The Poor.

That’s right. These anti-tax zealots have concluded that fairness cannot be achieved in the country’s tax code as long as there are disadvantaged freeloaders who are allegedly not paying into the system. While they fight tooth and nail to protect wealthy individuals and corporations from contributing even modest amounts to the nation’s recovery, the rightist brigade is marching lock-step in favor of soaking the poor in order to heal the malaise on Wall Street and the misery of long-suffering bankers. Their battle cry goes something like this: “Half of the Country Doesn’t Pay Any Taxes At All.” Fox News has been pushing that theme for quite a while. For the past two years they headlined it on Fox Nation right at tax time.

Fox News Tax Payers

This movement is not some scruffy assemblage of disorganized trust-funders seeking to upgrade their yachts. It is a coordinated campaign that has pulled together high profile proponents from politics and the press. Here is a sampling of the breadth and unity of the movement and the message:

  • Rick Perry (R-TX): We’re dismayed at the injustice that nearly half of all Americans don’t even pay any income tax.
  • Michele Bachmann (R-MN): A system in which 47% of Americans don’t pay any tax is ruinous for a democracy.
  • Sarah Palin (R-AK): The problem is more than 40% pay no income taxes at all.
  • Orrin Hatch (R-UT): 51 percent don’t pay anything.
  • Jim DeMint (R-SC): Over half of Americans pay no federal income tax.
  • Mitch McConnell (R-KY): In fact, about half of Americans don’t pay any income taxes at all.
  • John Boehner (R-OH): Fifty-one percent — that is, a majority of American households — paid no income tax in 2009. Zero. Zip. Nada.
  • Eric Cantor (R-MD): We also have a situation in this country where you’re nearing 50 percent of people who don’t even pay income taxes.
  • Alan West (R-FL): Currently we have some 40-45% of Americans who are not paying any taxes.

We’re not through yet.

  • Donald Trump (R-HisOwnEgo): You do have a problem because half of the people don’t pay any tax.
  • Bill O’Reilly (Fox News): 50 percent of Americans don’t pay any federal income tax now.
  • Stuart Varney (Fox News): About half the people who work in America, half the households, actually, pay any federal income tax at all.
  • Dave Briggs (Fox News): [A]lmost half of this country pays no income tax whatsoever.
  • Gretchen Carlson (Fox News): But what does that mean when you factor in that 50 percent of the nation doesn’t even pay federal income tax? Is that fair?
  • [Idiot Award Winner] Steve Doocy (Fox News): With 47% of Americans not paying taxes – 47% – should those who don’t pay be allowed to vote?
  • Sean Hannity (Fox News): 50 percent of Americans no longer pay taxes.
  • Neil Cavuto (Fox News): I’ve discovered nearly half of this country’s households don’t pay any taxes at all.

Oh yes, there’s more.

  • Dave Ramsey (Fox News): This idea that 42% of Americans don’t pay anything…that’s just morally wrong.
  • Brian Kilmeade (Fox News): Fifty-one percent of the country isn’t paying any taxes at all.
  • Eric Bolling (Fox News): 43 percent of households don’t pay any federal tax.
  • Glenn Beck (Right-Wing Radio): There was like 48 percent say they pay their right amount of taxes and 49 percent don’t pay any tax.
  • Rush Limbaugh (Right-Wing Radio): Meanwhile, 45% of Americans pay nothing.
  • Gary Bauer (Right-Wing Evangelist): But the reality is that nearly half of Americans don’t pay any income tax.
  • Rick Warren (Right-Wing Evangelist): HALF of America pays NO taxes. Zero.
  • Ted Nugent (Right-Wing Douchebag): This, of course, will not apply to those 50 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes.

Is there anyone who could seriously argue that this is not a coordinated effort aimed at demonizing low-income and working class citizens? The conformity and ubiquity of the identical messaging from such a broad spectrum of players is audacious and disturbing. And what’s worse, it is deliberately misleading and/or false.

First of all, claims that half the population pay no taxes at all are factually wrong. (See the chart at the left from the Wall Street Journal). There are about 46% who do not pay federal income taxes, but most of them do pay many other taxes including Social Security, state and local, sales, property, gas, etc. Secondly, it should come as no surprise that those with little or no tax liability have little or no income. The majority of this group is comprised of senior citizens, students, the disabled, and the unemployed. Those are the folks that the right wants to tap for new revenue rather than the rich who they have taken to calling “job creators” despite the fact that they haven’t created any jobs since they got the Bush tax cuts a decade ago.

To put this into perspective, federal income taxes account for just 20% of all taxes. When you include all the other sources of tax revenue, people making $20,000 a year pay approximately the same effective tax rate as people making $500,000, give or take 5 percent. However, those earning a half-million have seen their rate decline almost 50% since 1980, while the rate for the 20K earners barely budged.

What’s more, corporate taxes as a percentage of federal revenue dropped from 27.3% in 1955, to 8.9% in 2010. During that same time period individual income/payrolls as a percentage of federal revenue skyrocketed from 58% to 81.5%. Thus the burden of paying for our government shifted broadly from corporations to ordinary people (notwithstanding the Supreme Court ruling that corporations are people). These facts prove that the whole faux controversy over the tax liability of low income Americans is, in technical terms, a crazy zombie lie.

Also worthy of note is that one of the main reasons that many Americans owe no federal income tax is due to the earned-income tax credit that was introduced by Republican President Gerald Ford and expanded by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. And now the GOP is threatening to impose a tax hike on working people by opposing the extension of President Obama’s Payroll Tax reduction. This relief was passed as a temporary measure and is set to expire at the end of this year. Obama has proposed extending it for another year, but House Republicans are balking, saying that “not all tax relief is created equal” (Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-TX), and that tax reductions, “no matter how well-intended,” will push the deficit higher (Rep. David Camp, R-MI). Camp is a member of the deficit reduction seeking Super Committee. A spokesman for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), says the legislator “has never believed that this type of temporary tax relief is the best way to grow the economy.”

Really? Is this the same Eric Cantor who fought so fiercely for the temporary tax relief produced by Bush’s tax cuts for the rich? Cantor, and the rest of the Tea-publicans, are putting their deficit cutting necks on the line to raise the 120 billion dollars that would be restored to the treasury by letting the Payroll tax relief expire, but they will take the fight to Hell and back before considering the recovery of 800 billion dollars from the expiration of Bush’s gift to taxpayers earning more $250,000 a year. Apparently Republicans are opposed to temporary tax relief when it benefits the middle and working classes, but they are wildly in favor of it when it benefits the wealthy.

How can the GOP get away with portraying themselves as tax-cutters while advancing an agenda that would increase taxes for most Americans who happen not to be rich? How can the Tea Party assert through their acronym that they have been “Taxed Enough Already” when they view seniors, and other low-income Americans as not taxed enough? And when will the media expose this brazen hypocrisy?


So it’s clear that Romney was not speaking off the cuff in this newly released video. He merely reiterated what has been a mainstay of the conservative agenda for some time. If he tries to explain this away as a mistake or a gaffe, he is going to have to provide explanations for all of the identical statements itemized above. There is nothing out of character in the remarks he gave at his fundraiser. He is, after all, the same guy who said “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” He’s the same guy who said “If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for, vote for the other guy.” His denigration of Americans struggling during hard time is entirely on message, just as RNC chairman Reince Preibus said following the release of the video.

The condescending tone of Romney’s comments is what is likely to cause the most damage to his campaign. But let us not forget that the substance of his remarks is consistent with Republican ideology, and it is woven intricately into the fabric of the party’s structure. It reflects the views of their congressmen and senators and state officeholders. And it flows through the airwaves of their PR division, Fox News, and down the media food chain from there.

[Update] Romney may want to do some research into those 47 percenters he is writing off. Of the ten states with the highest percentage of residents who pay no federal income tax, ten are solid red, Republican states.

Fox Nation vs. Reality: Who’s To Blame For Bad Economy?

There have been numerous polls asking respondents to say who they hold responsible for the state of the American economy. In every one of them George W. Bush ranks at or near the top, with Congress and Wall Street following close behind. Usually President Obama is not the target of most of the blame.

Leave it to Fox News to come up with a poll that contradicts the others. And it should come as no surprise that the poll they’ve latched onto is the work of Rasmussen’s Pulse Opinion Research. However, even with a fixed pollster, and a rabidly partisan news outlet, Fox still finds it necessary to outright lie about the poll’s results:

Fox Nation Blames Obama

The headline of this article is blatantly false. In Rasmussen’s poll 34% said that Obama is the most to blame for the slow economic recovery. Most elementary school graduates know that that is not a majority. What’s more, if you add the responses of those who said that it was either Congress, Wall Street, or George W. Bush, it comes to a clear majority of 61% saying that Obama is not to blame. Some other significant results from the poll that Fox Nation declined to report are…

  • The poll found almost 6-in-10 are unhappy with the actions of Republicans in Congress who have challenged the president on an array of policy initiatives.
  • Fifty-seven percent of voters said congressional Republicans have impeded the recovery with their policies, and only 30 percent overall believe the GOP has done the right things to boost the economy.
  • Centrist voters, who may well decide the 2012 outcome, tend to blame Republicans in Congress more than the president for hindering a more robust recovery.
  • 53 percent of centrists said Obama has taken the right actions as president to boost the economy, compared with 38 percent who said he had taken the wrong steps.
  • Seventy-nine percent of centrist voters said Republicans had slowed the economy by taking wrong actions. Only 13 percent of centrists credited GOP lawmakers with policies that have helped the economy.

And that’s the poll that Fox Nation managed to feature on their website with a headline blaring that a “Majority Blame Obama For Bad Economy.” The Fox Nationalists must take great comfort in the knowledge that their audience is too stupid to actually look into anything themselves – or understand it if they did.

The Swiss Boating Of Mitt Romney: A CNN Fable

When you hear the right complain, as they always do, about the so-called liberal media, keep in mind the fact that Fox News is the most watched cable news network, that the Wall Street Journal is the largest national newspaper, that talk radio is dominated by conservatives, and that the Internet’s most referenced site belongs to Matt Drudge. What exactly do they think the media is?

Add to that the fact that many establishment news providers bend over backwards to avoid being targeted by conservative critics for having a liberal bias. Or worse, they strive to emulate the right-wing media in hopes of duplicating their perceived success.

CNN is the worst offender in this contest of running to the right. Their aggressive shift in ideology has been well documented. They have hired numerous far-right extremists with no effort to achieve any sort of balance. And that includes the news chief, Ken Jautz. Consequently, their ratings have collapsed along with their journalistic integrity.

Swiss MittThis past weekend CNN broadcast another example of how their sinking ethics have impacted their news judgment. The segment by Tom Foreman was centered on the absurd premise that the Obama campaign has engaged in “Swiftboating” Mitt Romney by accurately questioning his business experience, his millions of dollars in off-shore tax havens, and his refusal to release more than a year or two of his tax returns. Foreman concludes his report saying…

Tom Foreman: In ad after ad, Democrats are suggesting that Romney is a fatcat job outsourcer, an opportunistic financial predator, and an elitist out of touch with the working class. Never mind that many of those claims appear to be backed with little or no evidence. [...] Some Republican analysts fear that Mitt Romney could be the second politician from Massachusetts to be Swiftboated out of the presidency.

The problem with Foreman’s conclusion is that there is abundant evidence of the claims made in the Obama ads. And the questions they raise are those that would require answers from any political candidate. Who could deny that Romney is a fatcat? The job outsourcing by Bain entities is not even denied by Romney. He just argues that he wasn’t there at the time (despite official SEC filings that contradict him). And how could someone be more out of touch than by saying that he likes to fire people, he’s not concerned about the poor, and that corporations are people?

Foreman was not alone in raising the specter of Swiftboating on CNN. Reporter Jim Acosta misused the term when he interviewed Mitt Romney on Friday asking him whether he thought he was being Swiftboated. Talk about your softball questions. And media analyst Howard Kurtz also misused the term while promoting his Sunday program Reliable Sources. He was acutely concerned about Romney’s welfare under the intense pressure he must be suffering.

Howard Kurtz: I’ve been increasingly worried about whether the media that have been pushing a lot of these stories, “Boston Globe”, “Washington Post” on outsourcing, “Vanity Fair” on Cayman Island accounts, seem to some people to be echoing the message of the Obama campaign by raising so many questions about Romney’s business background.

Apparently Kurtz is of the opinion that if a story is getting a lot of attention the reporters should immediately stop covering it for fear of overtaxing the beleaguered subject of the story and to avoid charges of bias by “some people” on the receiving end of the bad news. How very considerate of him.

For the record, Swiftboating is a term that describes a campaign to disparage a candidate’s strengths that is based on falsehoods and lacks evidence. It is wholly improper to use the term simply to denounce ads that are critical of a candidate. Criticism that is rooted in the truth, with evidence to back it up, is not Swiftboating in any way shape or form. In fact, refraining from such relevant criticism would be campaign malpractice.

Asking Romney to account for his activities in business, which is the core of his campaign, is fair game. So is asking him to release tax returns as almost every candidate in modern times does – since his own father set the standard back in 1968. But suggesting that news coverage of such issues is Swiftboating, as CNN has done three times in as many days, is proof that the network has lost all interest in being a professional news enterprise.