The Watering Hole – Saturday, Aug 18, 2012 – Soledad O’Brien, GOP Lie Detector

It’s been a while since I had any desire to tune into CNN, but thanks to Soledad O’Brien, there’s a chance slightly better than a snowball’s in Hell that I might start watching again. Soledad has been doing something lately you don’t often see on the TV machine – challenging Republican lies. And boy, do they get testy when you do that. This past Tuesday she nailed former NH Gov John Sununu, a former GHW Bush Chief-of-Staff who resigned after misusing government resources to conduct personal business, over his lie that the Romney Medicare plan is not being turned into a voucher program. Apparently the word “voucher” must not have tested well with focus groups when used in conjunction with Medicare (as opposed to when used with “school choice”) because the Republicans insist that it is not a “voucher program,” it’s a “premium support program.” The government will give seniors a fixed amount so they can go out on the free market and buy their own Medicare plans. That fixed amount in known in reality-based circles as a voucher. Notice how testy Sununu gets when Soledad points out the facts. He starts name-calling, and saying she’s just mimicking the White House. (Actually, she’s mimicking the CBO.) How mature.

The next day, she got in to a heated discussion with Romney Surrogate Liar Tim Pawle-zzzzzzzz.

I’m sorry, with former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawle-zzzzzzzz.

I’m never going to get this post finished if I keep doing that. Try again.

She got into a discussion with T-Paw, who tried to milk an old Washington trick to “prove” his point. The controversy centered around the Washington definition of the word “cut” in relation to spending and budgets. For those who don’t know, whenever someone proposes reducing the amount of money by which a government program will increase spending, it is called, by both political parties, a “cut.” They do it so they can say, “The other guy wants to cut Medicare!” (Or Education, or Defense, or whatever.) They say this even if the actual amount of money to be spent increases! And, of course, both sides do this because they know the American public doesn’t understand what they’re really saying. They hear “spending cuts,” and they think spending will actually go down. It doesn’t. It just goes up by less.

Which brings us to yesterday and an interview with Rep Jason Chaffetz. This time they were back to whether or not the Romney plan is a “voucher” program or a “premium support” program. Like his fellow Romney surrogates before him, Chaffetz just flat out denies the meaning of words in order to claim he’s right and she’s wrong. It’s another favorite tactic of Republicans – just say the opposite of the truth and claim that whatever the other person is saying is “simply not true.” Keep in mind that their goal is not to win the argument, which they can’t because they don’t have the facts on their side. Instead, the goal is to confuse the American people enough so they don’t believe the side that is telling the truth. The fact is that Obama’s plan saves money by reducing fraud, waste and abuse in Medicare spending. So the Republicans want to make people believe anything but that. And that’s pretty much how they approach any political argument.

If Soledad O’Brien keeps this up, I may just start watching CNN again. At least, I will when she’s on.

[H/T Pete, who brought Soledad O’Brien’s exploits to my attention.]

This is our open thread. Feel free to discuss any topic you want.

[Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain.]

Mitt Romney – Moral Mendacity or Memory Failure?

During Monday night’s Republican presidential debate, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was asked a question about what role FEMA should play in disaster relief and whether or not more should be done by the states themselves.

CNN’s JOHN KING: What else, Governor Romney? You’ve been a chief executive of a state. I was just in Joplin, Missouri. I’ve been in Mississippi and Louisiana and Tennessee and other communities dealing with whether it’s the tornadoes, the flooding, and worse. FEMA is about to run out of money, and there are some people who say do it on a case-by-case basis and some people who say, you know, maybe we’re learning a lesson here that the states should take on more of this role. How do you deal with something like that?

His response was not only confusing, but apparently in direct contradiction to the way he governed Massachusetts.

GOV MITT ROMNEY: Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.

Instead of thinking in the federal budget, what we should cut — we should ask ourselves the opposite question. What should we keep? We should take all of what we’re doing at the federal level and say, what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do? And those things we’ve got to stop doing, because we’re borrowing $1.6 trillion more this year than we’re taking in. We cannot…

KING: Including disaster relief, though?

ROMNEY: We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.

Okay, there are a few problems with this response. First, why is it that Republicans always feel that the private sector can do the government’s job “better”? Exactly what do they mean by that? Notice that John King just lets that slide without asking for any explanation. This is just another example of how the mainstream media that covers politics practices precious little journalism in favor of just letting politicians say whatever the hell they want unchallenged. The only thing that makes any sense to me is that when a Republican claims that the private sector can do something “better” than the federal government, they mean “more profitably.” Of course, the government is not supposed to be doing things “profitably,” they are supposed to do things as thoroughly as possible. They are supposed to serve as many people as possible, not serve some of the people and still have money leftover. if you do that, then you haven’t done your job of serving the People. Government exists to serve the People, not the Private Sector.

Second is the false idea that the states can do everything better than the federal government can. Not so. It’s true that not all one-size-fits-all solutions will work in every state, but that does not mean we have to abandon all federal support. It’s not an either-or choice – either the federal government does things everywhere or it does things nowhere. This is just the same old “States’ Rights” argument from the party that thinks we’re operating under the Articles of Confederation and not the US Constitution. We tried giving the states more autonomy and the results were disastrous. The Founders the republicans love to revere knew this and decided to do things differently.

But the thing that struck me most was Romney’s apparent immorality. He claims that it is “immoral” to “rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids.” Well, Mitt, if you believe that, then why are you a Republican? Republicans bear the most responsibility for our huge national debt. You were governor of Massachusetts during the Bush Administration when our country ran huge deficits. You said in the debate that borrowing more money to provide disaster relief was “immoral.” Was it immoral when you did it? Flooding and severe winter storms have been a problem for your state, and you accepted federal aid for it in 2004, 2005 (and with your state’s Congressional delegation helping), big-time in 2006 (see here, too), and again in 2007. There may be other examples, but I found those after a brief search of the internets. Was it moral for you to ask the federal government to borrow money to help your state with disaster relief back then?

You also claim that the states can do things better than the federal government, but you also expressed support for an idea floated by the Bush Administration in the wake of their disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina to have the Pentagon (a very federal agency) take the lead in responding to catastrophic disasters.

There is almost no support among the nation’s governors for President Bush’s suggestion that the Pentagon could take the lead in responding to catastrophic natural disasters, a USA TODAY survey has found.

Of the 38 governors who responded to a request for reaction to Bush’s comments, only two backed the idea: Republicans Mitt Romney of Massachusetts and Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota.

Looks like both you and your fellow Republican “T-Paw” got some ‘splainin’ to do, Mitt.

Cross-posted at Pick Wayne’s Brain

CNN: Family Raffles Off House To Save Their Child’s Life

The Thornton family are raffling off a house, in Clayton Co., Georgia, to pay medical bills for Payton’s future transplant.

Another reason why we so desperately need healthcare reform.

To say “my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, ‘Your end of the boat is sinking’.”

Sanchez Condemns Fox News On Guns & Fear

A statement issued by Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General on January 15th: “This administration has no intention of doing anything that would affect a states regulation of firearms, or who could carry a firearm..  There is nothing that we have discussed, nothing is in planning, nothing I can imagine that we’re going to be doing in that regard.”

I don’t think Eric Holder left any grey area in that statement.  It is very cut and dry that the Obama administration is not taking anyone’s right to own a firearm away.

CNN Sanchez: Limbaugh Should Have His Mouth Washed Out!

This is a new low for Rush Limbaugh.  I didn’t think he could get anymore disgusting than what he has in the past.  His comments about Prime Minister Gordon Brown are absolutely disgusting.  He should have his mouth washed out with soap!!

Petraeus: Disagrees With Cheney’s “Less Safe” Remarks About Obama

CNN:  Are the American people “less safe” under this new President?

PETRAEUS: Well, I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. I think in fact that there is a good debate going on about the importance of values in all that we do.