TBT: Trump’s Twitter Rants on Syria are a Steaming Heap of Hypocrisy

The videos of Syrian children suffering and dying from chemical bombings are almost too awful to watch. But even as Donald Trump castigates Assad, he pivots to blame President Obama for the atrocity. Trump’s public comments so far manage to produce nothing but bluster and impotent finger-pointing. He chastises Obama for not having done enough, but over the past couple of years Trump has repeatedly argued for doing nothing at all.

Donald Trump

Now CNN is reporting that:

“President Donald Trump has told some members of Congress that he is considering military action in Syria in retaliation for this week’s chemical attack, and recognizes the seriousness of the situation, a source familiar with the calls tells CNN.”

In light of that news, let’s revisit his Twitter posts for the past three years:

Those last two tweets have particular significance. Any military action has the potential of going awry. Civilians are too often the victims, even in well-intentioned missions. And already Trump has presided over more than 1,400 civilian casualties in Syria and Iraq, according to some reports. More than 200 in one incident alone. And he’s been in office less than three months. Is this what he meant during the campaign when he said that he would “bomb the hell” out of ISIS?

Also, it will be interesting to see if Trump will comply with his demand to get congressional approval before taking any military action. Needless to say, Trump has not exactly been a bastion of consistency. But on this matter he will be challenged by his Republican colleagues on Capital Hill. Sen. Rand Paul has already said publicly that he will oppose any military moves on Syria without authorization from Congress.

There really are no good solutions to this problem. Surface level analyses that advocate sending in the Marines will almost certainly result in painful losses. That includes both innocent Syrians and American troops. But more complex combinations of diplomacy and international cooperation are seemingly beyond Trump’s mental capacity to comprehend. And none of these routes guarantee a desirable outcome.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Unfortunately, America is now burdened with a leader who has no experience addressing these kinds of problems. Nor does he have any relationships with other world leaders. And he has recruited a staff that is just as unfit as he is. Does anyone really think that Jared Kushner or Rex Tillerson will find a path to peace? That leaves us with little more than crossed fingers and anxious hopes that the Pentagon will muster up some common sense and be able to exert some influence over our incompetent president. It isn’t much to hang onto, but it’s all we’ve got.

GOP Debate Lowlights Featuring Donald Trump’s ‘Sarah Palin Moment’

Fox Business Network is patting itself on the back for pulling off the most boring primary debate to date (transcript). They led the candidates through what amounted to a two hour Republican infomercial. The moderators were so detached that when Donald Trump flew off on a tangent about China in response to a question about the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, they failed to inform him that China was not a party to the deal. Rand Paul stepped in to correct the record, but they never followed up to get a straight answer from Trump.

And speaking of Donald Trump, he contributed some of the most hair-brained comments of the evening. Most notably, Trump may have delivered what will become his “Sarah Palin Moment.” He was asked what he would do in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, Trump said “I got to know [Vladimir Putin] very well because we were both on 60 Minutes.” That’s about as delusional as Palin’s belief that her geographical proximity to Russia gave her insight into the region’s labyrinthine complexities.

The Republican Foreign Policy Dream Team:
Donald Trump Sarah Palin

Furthermore, Trump never actually met Putin who taped his 60 Minutes segment in Moscow. Trump was interviewed in his Manhattan penthouse. So what he meant by being “stablemates” is incomprehensible. It’s impossible to avoid the conclusion that he was being deliberately misleading.

In addition to his fudging a close relationship with Putin, Trump came out against raising the minimum wage because he thinks that people “have to work really hard and have to get into that upper stratum.” He continued saying that if wages were higher it would make the U.S. less competitive. In other words, he expects American labor to compete with the slave-wage earners of China and other nations that abuse their working class. That should make a good campaign bumper sticker.

But a Trump rant wouldn’t be complete without his descending into rancid bigotry. And Trump didn’t disappoint. While answering a question about his utterly ludicrous proposal to round up and deport eleven million undocumented residents, Trump sought to validate his approach by comparing it to a program implemented by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. And as if to put a sunny disposition on the controversial program, Trump introduced the comparison with a reminder of Eisenhower’s chummy campaign slogan, “I like Ike.” What Trump left out is that Eisenhower’s Operation Wetback (yes, that was what it was called) resulted in dozens of fatalities and a taint of racism. Approximately 1.2 million people were deported to rural areas of Mexico with none of their possessions or other resources necessary to survive. Trump is calling for ten times as many deportations and still won’t explain how he will do it.

Now we don’t want to pick on Trump exclusively. Ben Carson also indicated his opposition to raising the minimum wage saying that “Every time we raise the minimum wage, the number of jobless people increases.” Once again, Carson is pulling data out of a human body part far removed from area that he generally operated on. There is ample evidence that raising the minimum wage has no negative impact whatsoever on job creation. But not satisfied with merely misstating reality, Carson went on to actually call for lowering the minimum wage for some workers.

Marco Rubio weighed in on the matter of wages and education. Apparently he is not too anxious to encourage Americans to seek higher education. Consequently, he advocated for vocational training as opposed to college. Of course, there isn’t anything wrong with vocational schools, which may be superior alternatives for some students. But Rubio reduced the argument to “Welders make more money than philosophers. We need more welders and less philosophers.” However, Rubio’s argument is not based in reality. The median salary for philosophy professors is almost $64,000. The median salary for welders is about $37,400. And philosophy majors (who often go into many other lines of work where an understanding of people and society is required) command higher average salaries throughout their careers. We need both welders and philosophers, but no one should be persuaded based on dishonest applause lines from self-serving politicians.

Rand Paul’s breakout moment in the debate came during a discussion on income inequality when he said that “If you want less income inequality, move to a city with a Republican mayor or a state with a Republican governor.” Not surprisingly, this is another Republican distortion of the truth. Of the ten states with the worst income inequality gaps, six are run by Republicans. Do these people ever get tired of being wrong?

Apparently not. Because Carly Fiorina joined the parade in a rant against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She inexplicably said that “We’ve created something called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a vast bureaucracy with no congressional oversight that’s digging through hundreds of millions of your credit records to detect fraud.” What Fiorina considers a “vast bureaucracy” is a relatively small agency with fewer than 1,000 employees. For comparison, the IRS has about 90,000. What’s more, it has the same measure of congressional oversight of almost every other federal agency. It’s director must be confirmed by the Senate, and it is subject to budgetary constraints imposed by Congress. Finally, you’ll have to ask her what she finds so offensive about uncovering fraud and protecting America’s consumers.

To give credit where it’s due, there some questions that where genuinely probing and worthwhile. Sadly, not one of them got a direct answer. The candidates exercised the old debate strategy of not answering the question you are asked, but the question you wish you were asked. And the moderators did nothing in the way of follow ups to attempt to get a responsive answer. Here are three outstanding, and unanswered, questions:

Gerard Baker, Wall Street Journal: Now, in seven years under President Obama, the U.S. has added an average of 107,000 jobs a month. Under President Clinton, the economy added about 240,000 jobs a month. Under George W. Bush, it was only 13,000 a month. If you win the nomination, you’ll probably be facing a Democrat named Clinton. How are you going to respond to the claim that Democratic presidents are better at creating jobs than Republicans?

Maria Bartiromo, Fox Business: [Hillary Clinton] was the first lady of the United States, a U.S. senator from New York, and secretary of state under Barack Obama. She has arguably more experience, certainly more time in government than almost all of you on stage tonight. Why should the American people trust you to lead this country, even though she has been so much closer to the office?

Baker: Income inequality has been rising in the United States. Fifty years ago, for example, the average CEO of a big corporation in this country earned 20 times the average salary of one of his or her workers. Today, that CEO earns about 300 times the average salary of a worker. Does it matter at all that the gap between the rich and everyone else is widening?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

This debate was a peculiar creature from the start. The Fox Business Network has program ratings so low that Nielsen doesn’t even publish them. The only explanation is that it was a gift from the Republican Party to Rupert Murdoch and the Fox News family. As it turns out, it was a generous gift in that the debate drew a record number of viewers (13,500,000) for the tiny network. Although it was still the smallest audience of any of the debates held so far this election cycle. The next debates are scheduled for November 14 (Democrats on CBS) and December 15 (GOP on CNN).

Rand Paul Follows Ted Cruz To Sean Hannity’s Fox News/GOP Welcoming Party

Yesterday marked the arrival of the second official candidate for the Republican Party’s nomination for President of the United States. Kentucky senator, and former self-certified ophthalmologist, Rand Paul placed himself in contention for the nomination at the Galt House in Louisville. For those fortunate enough to have never slogged through Ayn Rand’s tedious and preachy novel “Atlas Shrugged,” John Galt is a leading figure who is best known for epitomizing the childish “take my ball and go home” philosophy of social interaction.

Rand Paul 2016

In what may signal a trend in the GOP’s strategy for launching a political campaign, Paul went straight from the Galt House to Sean Hannity’s House at Fox News for his first post-announcement interview. That is exactly what Ted Cruz did after announcing his candidacy at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, where students were threatened with fines if they did not attend. Perhaps Fox News has implemented the same policy wherein Republican candidates will be fined, or otherwise punished, if they do not pay their respects to Hannity before proceeding with their campaign.

While it is no surprise that GOP presidential wannabes would kowtow to Fox News (aka the PR division of the Republican Party), it is a demonstration of their arrogance that they are not at least trying to disguise their biases for the sake of appearing to be credible. Apparently that ship has sailed, been commandeered by Fox pirates, and is now rusting on the ocean floor.

As for Paul, he delivered what he called a “a message that is loud and clear and does not mince words.” Indeed, it was loud. And that message turned out to be decades old sloganeering whose words relay nothing of substance: “We have come to take our country back.” It’s easy to mock this theme by asking simply “back to what?” From all appearances, Paul wants to take us back to the Reagan years, with its soaring deficits, crushing unions and working people, abandonment of the poor and mentally ill to the streets, and illegally bankrolling foreign terrorists with money made from selling arms to terrorist states.

However, the more interesting question is who does Paul mean when says “We?” The “we” that he is leading so that he can snatch the country back from the citizens who twice elected Barack Obama, are the bankers, oil barons, and other privileged elites who he would free from regulations that protect the public from their greed and abuse. Paul is a favorite of the Koch brothers and, of course, Fox News kingpin, Rupert Murdoch.

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It will be interesting to see how the rest of the GOP roster rolls out their campaigns. Marco Rubio is anticipated to be next in line. He would be smart to skip the Hannity ring-kissing ceremony, if just to differentiate himself from the pack. After all, he could go straight to Megyn Kelly and still satisfy his bosses at the network.

And just for fun…

Paul was famously outed as a plagiarist by Rachel Maddow who noticed that his speeches were curiously identical to the Wikipedia page for the movie Gattaca. If that seems like an odd source for staking a false claim of authorship, then what do we make of his having designed a logo for his presidential campaign that appears to be a rip-off of the logo for the hook-up site, Tinder?

World on Fire

I’m just asking. And while we’re at it, why do both Paul and Cruz feature flames in their logos? Is it to convey their belief that “the world is on fire,” as Cruz told a frightened little girl?

UPDATE: Marco Rubio did indeed make Hannity his first media stop. That makes Hannity and the GOP field three for three.

To Rand Paul, Rush Limbaugh, And The Idiots Who Blame Cigarette Taxes For Eric Garner’s Death

Conservative zealots have been in a quandary over what to make of the police officer who choked Eric Garner to death on video. They don’t want to be seen as agreeing with the liberals they so feverishly despise, but they can’t find a reasonable argument to justify the unambiguously brutal killing of a man caught committing a crime on the scale of jaywalking. And unlike the police shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, there is video evidence of the officer’s brutality.

Rush Limbaugh Tobacco Tax

With the passage of time some of these right-wingers have begun to settle on a debate strategy that absolves the police of any guilt. It was first articulated by Sen. Rand Paul from the tobacco-growing state of Kentucky. Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Greg Gutfeld joined the fruitcake choir. Shortly thereafter, Rush Limbaugh picked up the baton and ran a bit farther around the track. Here is what they said:

Paul: I think it’s also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes […] For someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it. But I do blame the politicians.

Limbaugh: The police in New York, because they’re so eager for tax collection, what is being done here with regard to taxes and the state’s desire to collect them no matter what […] I think the real outrage here is that an American died while the state is enforcing tax collection on cigarettes.

Let’s get one thing straight here: Eric Garner did not die for anything related to tax collection. He was murdered by a police officer who strangled him while ignoring his repeated cries that he could not breathe.

Furthermore, Garner was never alleged to have violated any tax laws. The fact that the police originally approached him regarding his allegedly selling single cigarettes was incidental to his death. Selling “loosies” is not a violation of any tax code. It is a violation of statutes that prohibit the unlicensed sales of controlled substances. Garner would have been subject to the same legal scrutiny had he been selling single shots of whiskey.

There is only one cause that can be cited for Garner’s death, and that is the excessive force and reckless endangerment by the officer that placed him in a chokehold, a tactic that was explicitly prohibited by the guidelines of the NYPD.

For anyone to shift the blame from the overzealous officer to the legal pretext for the arrest is patently absurd. This is just an opportunity for anti-tax extremists to exploit a tragedy to advance their agenda and simultaneously excuse the behavior of a rogue cop. If Garner had been stopped for allegedly shoplifting a pair of socks from a Wal-Mart, and subsequently died at the hands of the police, would any of these wacko Libertarians be arguing that the laws against shoplifting caused the death and that those laws should be repealed?

It takes a special kind of stupid to advance a theory that a minor legal infraction somehow compelled a police officer to use deadly force against a suspect. That behavior is not supported by any statute or the code of conduct of the police department. It was solely the decision of the officer.

The proponents of this theory, however, may have ulterior motives. First of all, they are desperate to avoid agreeing with their ideological adversaries that the police might be responsible for having overreacted. Secondly, they don’t want to allow legitimate charges of racism to settle in despite the evidence that black men are 21 times more likely to be shot by the police than white men. And finally, both Paul and Limbaugh have personal conflicts of interest. Paul represents the second biggest tobacco producing state in the country. And Limbaugh is an avid consumer, and visible proponent of, tobacco. They would both be very happy, no doubt, if regulations of tobacco were eased or revoked.

It is ironic that Republicans have wrapped themselves in the cloak of personal responsibility, but when it comes to the behavior of police officers who shoot down unarmed teenagers, murder twelve year olds with fake plastic guns in public parks, or fire on patrons in department stores carrying toy guns they intend to purchase, personal responsibility is cast aside. And the fact that in all of these recent incidents the victim was an African-American male speaks to the barely disguised racism that infects our society. Particularly when white men exercising their “right” to openly carry firearms in grocery stores and burger joints never seem to encounter any problem with the local police.

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BY THE WAY, Cigarette taxes save lives. They deter both adults and minors from consuming a product that will eventually make them acutely sick and probably kill them. Tobacco is far more dangerous than terrorism. In fact, if Al Qaeda or ISIL were interested in raising the number of fatalities they cause, they should consider buying Philip Morris. Cigarettes kill more than 400,000 Americans every year. That’s more than 100 times the death toll on 9/11 and far more than any terrorist organization has ever imagined. Plus it’s entirely legal so they could kill more Americans without having to dodge drones or Navy SEALs.

Nevertheless, the right is obsessed with permitting this wholesale slaughter to continue. And it goes back decades to the seeds of the Tea Party. That’s part of the reason that the AstroTurfed, Koch brothers funded Tea-bacco lobby launched their mission with attacks on public health care.

So not only did cigarette taxes not cause Garner’s death, they have prevented sickness and death for millions of Americans. It gives a whole new and meaning to the hashtag #ICantBreathe.

Rand Paul States The Obvious: The Republican Party Brand Sucks

Every now and then a politician will surprise people by saying something that is manifestly true. However, they often only resort to that strategy when it is also unarguably obvious or they have an absurd explanation for why the truth is what it is.

Sen. Rand Paul (KY-Tea Party) made just such a pronouncement yesterday while on the campaign trail for his Kentucky colleague, Mitch McConnell. The glaringly evident observation that Paul issued was that “The Republican Party brand sucks.”

Rand Paul

No, really? Who knew? Well, pretty much everybody except for GOP chair Reince Priebus and most of the cult-bound viewers of Fox News. Notwithstanding all of the media pouncing on President Obama’s low approval rating in recent polls, his 41% looks awfully good compared to the GOP’s ranking down in the low teens. So it’s understandable that Paul would seek to provide a tortured interpretation of reality to explain the public’s distaste for his party. And apparently it’s all the fault of colored folk.

Paul: For 80 years African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans. Why? Because of a perception. The problem is the perception that no one in the Republican Party cares.

Indeed there is a perception among African-Americans (and Latinos, and women, and gays, and youth, and seniors, and workers, and the poor) that Republicans don’t care about them. But it is a perception based on political reality. The GOP’s policies have been aimed straight at the heart of Americans who are not wealthy or otherwise privileged. When Republicans oppose raising the minimum wage, and cutting social security, and advocating tax reform that puts more money in the pockets of the rich while incentivizing corporations to send American jobs overseas, there will be a perception resulting from such deliberately harmful legislative practices.

What’s more, if African-Americans have had nothing to do with Republicans for 80 years, it may have something to do with the fact that throughout all of that time the Republicans have tried to suppress them by opposing the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, and other measures aimed at insuring a more equal society. Even today the GOP has been fiercely fighting to impose obstacles to voting for minorities and other citizens they fear will vote against the GOP. Why on Earth would any of these disenfranchised Americans have a positive perception of Republicans?

Paul, it should be noted, is specifically among those who have advocated for policies harmful to African Americans. In an epic debate with Rachel Maddow he argued his position against parts of the Civil Rights Act, although he later denied he ever took such a position. This disparity is certain to come up again should Paul enter the primary for the GOP nomination for president in 2016, as many expect that he will.

So it is small wonder that the Republican Party brand sucks. It is more surprising that anyone might still hold it in high regard. But for Paul to carry this message as if he were positioned to fix the branding is ludicrous. And the notion that the GOP’s problems are merely related to perceptions, rather than substantive differences with their historical and current platform, is really just another example of why the party is so out of touch.

OBAMA SCARE: The Right’s Fright Offensive To Scare People Away From Affordable Health Care

Halloween is approaching and the hobgoblins of conservative minds are already spinning nightmarish tales of the horror of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). Actually, they have been doing it for quite some time dating back to at least March of 2010 when Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller published an article headlined “IRS looking to hire thousands of armed tax agents to enforce health care laws.” Fox News re-posted the article on their community web site and Fib Factory, Fox Nation despite the fact that it was a complete fabrication and was debunked by the Annenberg Center’s FactCheck.org

Fox News
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This year the campaign to recast a program that makes health insurance accessible to millions of Americans as a plague of locusts has risen to fever pitch. The Republican Party and conservative media has pulled out all the stops in a strategy aimed at scaring people from signing up with the hope that low enrollment will collapse the system. President Obama had the same concerns last month when he said…

“What you’ve had is an unprecedented effort that you’ve seen ramp up in the past month or so that those who have opposed the idea of universal health care in the first place — and have fought this thing tooth and nail through Congress and through the courts — trying to scare and discourage people from getting a good deal.”

These are not the hackneyed GOP talking points about death panels, job killers and government bureaucrats coming between patients and doctors. These are far more fanciful efforts that stretch the limits of credulity and appear to have more in common with satire than actual news reporting. Yesterday Rush Limbaugh “ruminated” (sourced to Breitbart) that ObamaCare may just be a ruse to set up gun registries in the United States. This is what it has come to as ObamaCare has finally reached the consumer stage and conservatives are desperate to keep people from discovering its benefits. For instance…

1) Fox News Warns That If You Sign Up For ObamaCare Hackers Will Steal Your Life Savings
On an episode of “The Real Story” on Fox News, host Gretchen Carlson introduced an ominous new strain of fear mongering to demonize ObamaCare. She interviewed John McAfee, the anti-virus software developer who is presently a fugitive from a murder investigation in Belize. He asserted a wild accusation that visitors to Healthcare.gov are going to be victimized by hackers who will steal their identities and/or drain their bank accounts.

However, neither Carlson nor McAfee actually provide any evidence of such a threat. In fact, when directly asked about it. McAfee diverts from the question and lays out a completely different threat that has nothing whatsoever to do with the ObamaCare web site. He alleges that nefarious individuals could set up their own unaffiliated web sites in the hopes of luring naive people of whom they will seek to take advantage. Of course, that is a threat that exists every day for every web site, and has since the Internet began. But visiting Healthcare.gov does not expose anyone to these phony sites as implied by the fear mongers at Fox.

2) WorldNetDaily Reports “Obama ‘Crashing Health-Care Site On Purpose'”
This article asserts that the President is so afraid that insurance shoppers will learn that ObamaCare is really more expensive than the old system that he deliberately caused the website to crash to keep people from seeing the rates. No one is defending the botched launch of the insurance exchanges, however, the notion that the technical glitches were intentionally caused by Obama is delusional.

WND’s argument (supported by links to Rush Limbaugh) that rates will increase leaves out the subsidies and tax credits that are available for many applicants. With these adjustments, premiums for most people will be substantially lower. The administration would, therefore, be anxious for consumers to have access to that information and would not be putting obstacles in their path.

3) Rand Paul: Take ObamaCare Or Go To Jail
The Tea Party darling Rand Paul has made innumerable false statements about virtually every policy that has emanated from the White House. But none surpass the diversion from reality than when he said “They say take [ObamaCare] or we will put people in jail. People say we aren’t going to put anybody in jail. The heck they won’t. You will get fined first. If you don’t pay your fines, you will go to jail.”

That’s interesting coming from someone who has frequently complained that no one in Congress has read the Affordable Care Act. If he had read it himself he would have known that the law explicitly prohibits criminal consequences for non-payment of fines. It states “In the case of any failure by a taxpayer to timely pay any penalty imposed by this section, such taxpayer shall not be subject to any criminal prosecution or penalty with respect to such failure.” It rarely gets more clear than that, but the mission to frighten the public exceeds the motivation for truth on the part of GOP scare-meisters.

Notably, Bill O’Reilly insisted that no one on Fox News ever claimed that failure to enroll in ObamaCare would lead to a prison sentence, but he was hilariously embarrassed by the videos that proved otherwise, including on his own program.

4) Right-Wing Think Tank Mortified That ObamaCare Web Site Links To Voter Registration Form
This is a particularly curious horror story as it seeks to raise an alarm over something that ought to be regarded as a civic duty. Nevertheless, the conservative MacIver Institute (a Koch brothers funded operation) published an article that implied there was some sort of heinous objective on the part of the Obama administration for having included a link to a voter registration form on the ObamaCare website. This startling revelation is met with foreboding by MacIver and a flurry of right-wing media outlets that disseminated MacIver’s story including National Review, Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, Breitbart News, the Daily Caller, and of course, Fox News. All of their reports agreed that this was a clandestine attempt to register only Democratic voters despite the absence of any partisan framing. MacIver even asks specifically “[W]hat does registering to vote have to do with signing up for Obamacare?”

The core of the right’s trepidation is rooted in a more fundamental aversion to the act of voting itself. It is why they are continually erecting new barriers to voting, such as unreasonably stringent identification requirements, shortening or eliminating early voting periods, wholesale purges of voter rolls, and of course, brazenly discriminatory gerrymandering. Democrats, on the other hand, have sought to expand voter turnout with bills like the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (aka Motor Voter) that mandates that certain government agencies provide people with access to voter registration. In fact, it is that twenty year old law that requires the ObamaCare administrators to make voter registration available. MacIver, and their similarly mortified conservative comrades, are either unaware of this, or are deliberately feigning ignorance in order to rile up their conspiracy-prone base.

5) Weekly Standard Finds Imaginary Threat On ObamaCare Website
The ultra-conservative Weekly Standard dispatched their crack reporters to ferret out what they portrayed as an ominous security threat on the Healthcare.gov website. What they found were comments in the site’s source code that said that “You have no reasonable expectation of privacy regarding any communication or data transiting or stored on this information system.” The Standard notes that these comments were not visible to users and were not part of the site’s terms and conditions. But that didn’t stop them from implying that users would be still be bound by it because “the language is nevertheless a part of the underlying code.” Not really. It’s only a part of some inoperative text that carries no more obligation than some discarded notes.

This is another situation where you have to wonder whether these people are embarrassingly stupid or brazenly dishonest. There is a reason that this language was not visible. It was deliberately removed with the use of HTML comment tags by the site’s programmers. It was undoubtedly edited out because it was not an accurate expression of the site’s privacy policy. It does not mean that users are agreeing to a secret clause permitting the government to spy on them as the Standard implied. If any of these “reporters” had a fourteen year old at home they could have learned what this is about. But that would have interfered with their goal which is to leave Americans with the false impression that some hidden danger lurks beneath the surface of ObamaCare.

6) Fox News Fears ACORN Is Back To Push ObamaCare
The Curvy Couch Potatoes over at Fox & Friends had a jolly old time resurrecting their fear of a community organizing enterprise that no longer exists. ACORN was wrongly hounded out of business by right-wing opponents after pseudo-journalist and convicted criminal, James O’Keefe, distributed some deceitfully edited and libelous videos. But that hasn’t stopped conservative media from exhuming the corpse whenever they are in need of a sensationalistic story, as demonstrated by Fox co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck who announced that “We’re getting information that ACORN operatives are trying to sign people up for the Affordable Care Act.”

While ACORN was never found to have engaged in any unlawful activity, there was a bill passed that prohibited them from receiving federal funds. However, there is nothing in the law that prevents organizations with former ACORN staff from getting federal grants. In fact, there isn’t even any current law that prevents ACORN from getting grants as the previous ban was not included in the latest Continuing Resolution. Fox is brazenly misrepresenting the facts in an attempt to reignite fears of the old ACORN bogeyman. And they upped the terror ante by further alleging that ACORN would use your personal medical and financial information against you politically. They never revealed how that would occur, or to what end, but that isn’t the point. Their only interest is in spreading fear, no matter how irrational and unsupported.

Conclusion:
The zealousness with which these right-wing propagandists pursue their disinformation campaign is evidence of their own fear that Americans will come to appreciate having access to affordable health care. Therefore, they see their mission as derailing the program before that eventuality unfolds. Their tactics get more extreme and absurd the closer the program gets to gaining acceptance. A particular target of their attack is young people whose participation is important for the program to succeed. Consequently, opponents have launched a well-funded campaign (thanks to the Koch brothers) to scare off young consumers. Generation Opportunity has already released the now notorious “Creepy Uncle Sam” videos that make false implications of government intrusion into medical care. Next they are embarking on a twenty city college tour to mislead students.

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PolitiFact has reviewed sixteen claims made by ObamaCare detractors and found all of them false. Twelve of those were designated “Pants On Fire” lies. If there is one question that begs to be asked, it is this: If ObamaCare is so terrible, then why do opponents have to lie so much about it?

ObamaCare Myths

Rand Paul’s Tea-publican Hero-Worship And The Vacancy Of The Stupid Party

This past week saw an unusual amount of media attention focused on a singularly non-newsworthy event. The big story of the week involved a United States senator who droned on interminably without ever saying anything of much substance. That’s about as significant a news item as a plane landing safely in clear weather. In fact, it’s pretty much what every senator does every day.

Rand Paul

However, for some reason, Rand Paul’s soliloquy has captured the attention of the press and an adoring congregation of conservative true-believers. The beatific praise that Paul has garnered exceeds that of nearly every other right-wing idol competing for the limelight. Here is some of what is being said about him since his solo outing:

  • Sen. Rand Paul: Filibuster was victory and blow for freedom
  • Rand Paul’s shot heard ’round the world
  • Rand Paul’s Filibuster: ‘A Stroke of Political Genius’
  • Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky performed a national service
  • Rand Paul’s ‘Epic’ Filibuster
  • New leader of the GOP: Rand Paul
  • Rand Paul, a civil liberties hero
  • Rand Paul’s Filibuster Proves He is the Future of the Republican Party
  • Rand Paul’s filibuster was ‘completely awesome’
  • The Rand Paul Moment Has Arrived
  • Rand Paul filibuster energizes Tea Party against GOP establishment
  • The World Stands With Rand Paul For Nearly 13 Hours
  • Rand Paul a ‘constitutional hero’ for Brennan filibuster

That’s a lot of glory for the dubious achievement of not shutting one’s mouth for thirteen hours. The filibuster was premised on a fallacy having to do with paranoid fears of President Obama advocating a drone strike program in America. There has never been any suggestion of that and when PolitiFact checked into the validity of the charge they rated it false.

Nevertheless, Paul persisted in his quixotic endeavor for a purpose that cannot be fathomed. He succeeded only in tying up the senate for a couple of days when there are numerous other critical matters to be resolved. And the specific matter that he was holding up, the nomination of John Brennan as CIA Director, was completed just a few hours after Paul’s filibuster ended with a successful confirmation.

The underlying issue of military drones is a serious matter and deserves discussion. In fact, there are probably areas in which the left and right will agree with regard to their use and abuse. But Paul’s stunt did nothing to further that discussion. To the contrary, it inhibited it because no conversation other than his monologue could take place while he held the floor.

What is not particularly surprising is the affection sent his way for this carnival side show. The GOP is famous for showering plaudits on their most inane spokespersons. They create heroes out of nitwits with nothing to offer but bluster and venom. During the Republican primaries last year there were fleeting leads for questionable characters like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Donald Trump, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich. They all had temporary moments in the sun when they were regarded as the second coming of conservatism. And they all receded back into relative obscurity after the sunlight exposed their all too apparent shortcomings.

The same sort of ephemeral adulation was offered to one-time objects of idolatry like Sarah Palin, Chris Christie, Paul Ryan, and Bobby Jindal. They too have lost some or all of their luster. But they represent exactly the same values that are now propping up Rand Paul. Values that have the shallowest basis for admiration. It is nonsense like “death panels,” and birth certificates, and legitimate rape, and electrified border fences, and denial of climate change and evolution, and prohibitions against gay marriage and reproductive choice, that has driven the GOP to its lowest levels of support in decades. It is why Gov. Jindal has castigated his Republican colleagues saying that they have to stop being the “Stupid Party.”

That’s a tall order for a party that has made ignorance a plank in their platform. For that reason it is hard to imagine that Paul’s celebrity will last any longer than any of the other briefly revered rightists. Either a newer, more stridently conservative contestant will supersede him, or he will say or do something that will turn the applause into jeers. And it doesn’t take much, as Gov. Christie learned when he toured the hurricane damage in New Jersey with the President. As a tactical gesture, Obama could deep six Paul’s presidential aspirations by simply proposing legislation that prohibits the use of drones in the U.S. against citizens who are not engaged in combat or treasonous activities. As soon as Paul endorses anything supported by this president his hopes for higher office will be dashed for ever.

As bad as this environment is for Republicans seeking to attain relevance, it is equally disturbing that the media is so easily seduced by the most trivial actions. Paul’s stint as rodeo clown produced nothing he can brag about. He delayed more important matters, ran his mouth off, and preened for press photos. At least Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith” kept going until he was in near physical collapse. Paul, on the other hand, only quit because his bladder gave out. That’s not a particularly dramatic ending for the historians who will be composing the account of this episode. Just imagine if Patrick Henry was immortalized for having bravely demanded, “Give me liberty or let me pee.”

Memo To Media: Don’t Cover The Phony Tea Party Response To The State Of The Union

It was announced last week that GOP Sen. Rand Paul will be giving the “official” Tea Party response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. In previous years it was Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann (who CNN carried live).

Tea PartyThere hasn’t been any indication yet of whether the media will carry Paul’s response live, but it should be noted that to do so would be a total farce. There is no such thing as the Tea Party. It is simply a fringe wing of the Republican Party. Rand Paul is, of course, a Republican. He represents the views of the rest of his party, as well as those of the person giving the official GOP response to the President, Marco Rubio (who is also a Tea Partier).

What this means is that the GOP is trying to get two bites of the post-SOTU apple. The media should not fall for this ruse. Paul was even quoted on CNN as saying that his remarks would not be competing with Rubio’s and would just be “extra.” Therefore, coverage of his comments would only serve to double up the opposition to Obama’s speech.

The Tea Party has recently sunk to new lows in support from the American people. Their caucus in congress is much smaller than that of the Democrats Progressive Caucus (Tea Party, 49; Progressive, 71), despite having more Republicans in the House.

If the media is intent on giving undeserved attention to the Tea Party, fairness would require them to give equal time to a progressive response. Perhaps they could invite Bernie Sanders to respond to the President. He would surely articulate a message that differs from the administration in greater measure than Paul would differ from Rubio. Or maybe they could call on Carolyn Maloney, whose advocacy of reforms for gun safety would be a timely subject.

In any case, it would be unethical for the media to grant an unpopular fringe group the opportunity to propagandize the nation when they already have an official spokesman in Rubio. And if they did so without balancing the coverage by presenting a progressive response it would affirm their right-wing bias. Will the media act unethically? Well, it aint like they haven’t before.