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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Strategy of Lies

Man swears to tell the truth with fingers crossed behind his backThere's something you should know about the Republican party; they lie. Somewhere along the line (let's say, the Bush administration), it became the worst thing in the world to point this out. You can use the word "misled," you can say someone "fudged," you can use almost any synonym you like, but you can't call a Republican a liar. I suppose it's supposed to be incivil and I'd be inclined to agree in cases where the charge is itself a lie, but calling a lie a lie is just a statement of fact. If Republicans find being called liars offensive, they could always take the drastic step of knocking off all the lying. It seems to me this is the easiest remedy to the problem, but it's also the least likely one to happen.

Not that I'm saying that Democrats are truth-machines either. If you drop a comment after this post pointing that out, I'll take that as proof you didn't even read this to the second paragraph. All politicians lie, but Republicans make it look easy and run to that strategy like it's the only tool in their toolbox. I think that if you looked at history, you'd see that, while Democrats tend to lie in defense of themselves ("I did not have sex with that woman"), Republicans tend to lie to attack other people.

What gets me most about all of this is just how shameless GOP lying is. Republicans will drop a lie, get called on it, and keep telling it. It doesn't make any difference that this has been proved wrong, what matters is that the lie has been focus-grouped and market-tested and the data shows it works. For example, House minority leader John Boehner recently put out "10 Facts Every American Should Know About Speaker Pelosi's 1,990-Page Gov't Takeover of Health Care." It included this little morsel of BS:

MASSIVE CUTS TO MEDICARE BENEFITS FOR SENIORS. Despite grave warnings from CBO,, and the independent Lewin Group that cuts to Medicare of the magnitude included in Speaker Pelosi’s bill would have a negative impact on seniors’ benefits and choices, Speaker Pelosi’s health care bill stays the course and cuts Medicare by hundreds of billions of dollars.

Two problems here; one, the Lewin Group study has been widely debunked, yet the GOP keeps going back to that same well. The group is "independent" in the same way that a wad of chewed gum you find under a movie seat is a pearl. According to the PR watchdog site SourceWatch, Lewin Group is "wholly owned by the health insurance giant UnitedHealth Group." The site says, "The Lewin Group has a reputation as the 'go to' firm for beleaguered organizations in need of reports and research to support controversial positions and issues." Like a professional witness, Lewin Group reaches the conclusions they're paid to reach.

Second, calls Boehner's memo "a partisan document containing misleading characterizations of the bill" and calls BS on the House GOP leader.

We never have said that seniors would suffer "massive cuts to Medicare benefits" under the pending House or Senate overhaul bills, and in fact have done our best to debunk claims to that effect. The only seniors who might see cuts are those enrolled in Medicare Advantage, about 22 percent of the Medicare population. Currently, many of those seniors receive a bit more in benefits than regular Medicare fee-for-service patients – perhaps a gym membership, a pair of eyeglasses, a reduced premium. But, as we’ve written, Medicare pays the private companies that administer Medicare Advantage about 14 percent more per beneficiary than it does for the rest of Medicare beneficiaries, who wind up subsidizing the program, according to government analysts.

And here's where things get fun -- and by "fun," I mean shameless. After called the GOP out on their lie, the official stance of the Republican party is to stand by it. "We asked Boehner’s office to take our name out of the document, but spokesman Michael Steel said: 'I’m not inclined to do so,'" and invited us to send an e-mail further making our case," reports. "We are doing so."

Caught in a lie, the Republican Party refuses to correct the record and, as a result, continues to tell it. Check the page yourself, the claim is still there.

You can't call this anything other than a blatant lie. I'm sure Republican apologists would tell you that this is merely a difference of opinion, but the difference lies in what actually said. Seems to me that they ought to be the experts on that subject, not the GOP. Especially when we can go back and check.

This tendency to lie is cropping up again in Republican criticism of the economic stimulus:

Associated Press:

Beware the math. Some Republican lawmakers critical of President Barack Obama's stimulus package are using grade-school arithmetic to size up costs and consequences of all that spending. The math is satisfyingly simple but highly misleading.

It goes like this: Divide the stimulus money spent so far by the estimated number of jobs saved or created.

You see the problem here, right? If stimulus money is spent to build a school, and the school costs X, then you're dividing the cost of labor and the school -- which will be there long after the construction stops, providing other jobs and lasting value -- and saying that the jobs provided by the school came at an insanely inflated cost. This calculation would only be honest if the construction workers, architects, etc., created all the building materials, tools, and machinery themselves, built the school, then knocked it down when they were finished and went home to count all their stimulus money.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you haven't noticed that happening anywhere in your neighborhood. X plus labor divided by laborers gives you a meaningless, nonsense number. But it's a focus-group tested number, a lie put to rigorous scientific testing to see how it holds up, and it turns out that it's probably pretty effective. So, despite having been called out as a lie by AP, don't expect Republicans to stop telling it.

So that's it in a nutshell; Republicans lie. If they tell you the sun came up this morning, look out the window and check. Their lies are more than deliberate; their lies are tweaked and tested as thoroughly as a marketing campaign for a new brand of toothpaste.

And how good can an argument for or against something be when it's all a lie?


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sofa said...

Both parties are full of petty kleptocrats who wipe their ass with the Constitution as they lord over the people.

Americans are waking up, and are rejecting both parties. The 1770's were the result of less than what is transpiring today. Gov't rarely shrinks and yields power willingly. Hope that speech and voting can get the country back from these leeches, the DEM and GOP statists and the guys like Soros who play them; they are gorging on the body of the people. Health can only be restored after invasive surgery to remove the statist parasite, and then by squashing it.

In the 20th century, the collectivist lie killed 150 million people who resisted, within their own countries. Facts not disputed, just ignored by DEMs.

How many will collectivism kill in the 21st century?

Anonymous said...

So glad to see a sociopath was the first person to comment on what amounts to a very enlightening, if not surprising, article.

Venture said...

Sofa has problems. Coming from one of the countries that has single-payer health insurance, AFAIK not one person was "killed" to get that.

And you can't claim that the number of jobs *currently* created is a measure of how many will be created. When the government offers stimulus money, many projects are not at the stage where they're fully staffed.