The entire title to this post is:
If You Are Fooled By Conservatives Once, Shame On Them. If You Are Fooled By Conservatives Twice, Fool Me… Won’t Get Fooled Again.
During his speech to CPAC, Paul Ryan gave a “moving” example of the difference between the Republican party’s desire for hard work and the left’s supposed desire to maintain dependence on big government.
What they’re [the left] offering people is a full stomach—and an empty soul. The American people want more than that.
This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my friend Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch—one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him.
That’s what the Left just doesn’t understand. We don’t want people to leave the workforce; we want them to share their skills and talents with the rest of us. And people don’t just want a life of comfort; they want a life of dignity—of self-determination. A life of equal outcomes is not nearly as enriching as a life of equal opportunity. The party that speaks to that desire—that tries to make it concrete and real—that’s the party that will win in November.
When I heard that anecdote my reaction was “good lord, now Ryan is just trying to be a raging a-hole.” It really takes some sort of warped outlook to think that families who rely upon the school lunch program do not love and care for their children as much as families who send a brown bag lunch. What about the kids who pay for their lunch at the cash register or the card reader? Are they less loved and cared for than the other kids? In the grand scheme of things, Brown bag vs. the lunch program is just an absurd metric by which to measure the love and devotion of parents for their children.
Well, all of my angst and consternation at Ryan’s piss poor attitude for families who do not comport with his outlook turns out to be for naught, because Ryan’s anecdote is a complete fabrication. Anderson, the Wisconsin pol Ryan (btw Ryan is also a Wi. pol, making him a pol Paul… but I digress!) cited paraphrased the inspiring example of childish boot strap lifting from a book, editing the story to fit her ideological point of view. Of course Anderson did not bother to offer a citation for her story, and Ryan was given four Pinocchio’s by Washington Post Fact Checker Glen Kessler for the anecdote to CPAC.
In fact the unattributed author of the story, Maurice Mazyck, works for an organization named No Kid Hungry that helps connect poor families with free school lunches. Awkward!
All of which leads me to wonder how it is that Paul Ryan, a man who professes pride his Catholic faith, would be willing to play so fast and loose with the truth. The recent report he published on the 50th anniversary of the “War on Poverty” is another example of this carefree attitude regarding the truth as it is filled with mischaracterizations and half-truths in pursuit of his anti-poor, pro wealthy right wing agenda. These omissions and falsehoods may be chalked up to carelessness if they generally affected both sides of the argument but somehow each mistaken interpretation of research, each lie about the results of this or that study, each deceptive tweak or deletion of data somehow serves to promote Ryan’s right wing point of view.
Anyone who believes the results of a study forwarded by the great conservative minds of our times is just asking to be duped. The New Family Fractures Study, ostensibly proving that children raised by heterosexuals fared better in life than the children of gay parents: Debunked. The Reinhart and Rogoff paper titled Growth In A Time Of Debt, the gold standard for evidence as far as trickle down conservatives including Paul Ryan are concerned: Debunked. Another study cited by Ryan in his budget, the Alberto Alesina paper purporting to show economic growth from austerity: De-freaking-bunked. The Heritage Foundation study on immigration: so debunked that the racist author resigned.
I learned a saying as a child. “Your walk talks and your talk talks, but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.” For all the lip service paid by conservatives to Christian values it is very telling that any major campaign they launch devolves to a fusillade of lies and deceit in order to make their case. Just think of the complete flim flam that engulfed the Romney Presidential campaign. Romney presented himself as a paragon of morality and family values. Yet the entire Republican convention was themed “We did build that”, a riff on a statement by President Obama that was ripped from context and falsely presented as an attack on small business.
There is no greater proof of the willingness of the pious right to continue lying than Rick Santorum’s post-election lament that the you didn’t build that kerfuffle was mishandled by the Romney campaign. Santorum, a man who takes great pride in his religious belief and unwavering conservative values, did not think that it was wrong to attempt to smear Obama in a patently false way. Santorum thinks the Romney folks did not play it up enough!
Obamacare is another example of the rights propensity to flat out lie if they think it will give them a political advantage. The plethora of anecdotal cases presented by the right of Jane or John Doe having their premium skyrocket while losing medical services have been roundly debunked. The LA Times looked at the growing tide of disproven right wing Obamacare anecdotal lies and headlined an article Maybe there are no genuine Obamacare horror stories.
Since fact checking those stories has resulted in the claims being debunked, the newest tactic is to attack the fact checkers. Conservative columnist Byron York blares:
It’s time for journalists — especially those in Washington and New York — to remember that they are supposed to be serving the public interest, not the partisan preferences of a president most admit they admire. Their first priority should be fact-checking politicians, not private citizens exercising their First Amendment rights.
This is an echo of the Romney campaign marching into battle declaring that they would not be dictated to by fact checkers. I think it is just a given now that conservative causes must declare themselves free of the yolk of the fact checker, lest they be unbearably constrained and unable to make effective arguments in support of their beliefs.
However, it must be noted that in making his argument York is playing fast and loose with the facts. The ad in question is hardly the production of your run of the mill everyday working folks just trying to be heard. In fact the advertisement is paid for by Americans For Prosperity. AFP is affiliated with the Koch brothers and have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on ads using blatant lies to attack Obamacare. Apparently York believes politicians should be fact checked, but not conservative organizations that use fabricated sob stories to make false accusations about Obamacare.
It’s not quite like the WAPO fact checkers randomly picked some conservative themed letter to the editor out of a podunk newspaper in middle America and set about disproving the author. But I suppose if the facts are not on your side, just declare war on the fact checkers.