Screenshot of the day

Via Chait:

Is it any wonder so many Republicans intellectually embarrass themselves by calling Obama a socialist?  As Chait points out, this is from a “real news” segment on Fox, not an opinion show.  If all it takes is talking about income disparity to be a socialist, then we’re probably a socialist country.  Of course, if that’s socialism, I don’t even know what’s left to refer to Scandinavian countries.

Also, let me point out once again– anybody who is seriously interested in actually understanding news and politics in this country only does themselves a disservice by watching Fox news.

The failure of capitalism?

No, not a socialist blog post, just a brilliant cartoon from XKCD:

But I didn’t know how the internet worked

In another dog bites man story, the Republican party chair of Virginia Beach, VA has had to step down after forwarding around an amazingly racist email.  Via TPM:

As the progressive Blue Virgina blog reportedMonday — and I independently confirmed from one of the recipients Tuesday — Virginia Beach Republican Party chair Dave Bartholomew forwarded a racist email comparing African Americans to dogs. The email, subject line “my, dog,” consists of a racist parable about African Americans and welfare. In the first 24 hours since the email came to light, Democrats condemned Bartholomew and he resigned his position with the Republican Party.

The text of the message, in full:

MY DOGI went down this morning to sign up my Dog for welfare.

At first the lady said, “Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare”.

So I explained to her that my Dog is black, unemployed, lazy, can’t speak English and has no frigging clue who his Daddy is.

So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify…

My Dog gets his first check Friday.

Is this a great country or what?

My favorite part?  Bartholomew’s excuse:

Second District GOP chair Gary Byler told the Virginian-Pilot that Bartholomew “agreed to resign because the e-mail had become a distraction to the Nov. 2 election.” He offered this to the paper by way of explanation for the racist email:

The e-mail was dated March 15 and sent from the address that Bartholomew uses as party chairman. Bartholomew forwarded it without reading the contents when “he was first getting familiar with the Internet,” Byler said.

Nice.  I’m going to have to use that “getting familiar with the Internet” line some time.

Chart of the day (government spending)

Kevin Drum takes the chart of Karl Smith and adds a handy red line, clearly demonstrating that federal spending under Obama falls clearly within the existing trendline and in no way represents some radical, socialist departure:

And here’s Drum with a super-important point:

In other words, government expenditures have grown about as fast for the past two years as they did during the Bush administration’s final term. All the supposed tea party angst over spending and deficits is based on precisely nothing. Federal expenditures are about the same as they’ve always has been, while revenue has gone down and transfer payments have gone up because of the recession. We have been adding to the deficit, but it’s because of the recession, not because spending has spiraled out of control.

It’s surely worth a full post on its own (and I seem to recall Drum doing one), but this, as much as anything, is what drives thinking liberals crazy about the Tea Party.  They clearly don’t give a damn about the deficit or they would’ve spoken up over the past eight years– they are just exploiting fears using the deficit as a handy cudgel in bad economic times.

Anti-empiricism

I feel good that rather than copying Jon Chait, I actually came to the same idea independently when it comes to the Gerson column in the previous post.  Chait actually links to several other right-wing sources that make similarly wrong points.  Nobody likes to be accused of being opposed to reality (except of course for the anonymous “we create our own reality” Bush administration flunkie– Gerson perhaps?), but if the shoe fits… Chait’s summary:

I can see why conservatives would be insulted at the suggestion that they don’t have facts and science and argument on their side. But, well, they don’t. (At least not facts and science.) That was the central theme of my review of Arthur Brooks’s book, “The Battle,” which is a conservative manifesto and, in part, an argument against empiricism that itself demonstrates total indifference to the facts. I wasn’t picking on some marginal figure or even a widely influential blowhard like Rush Limbaugh. I was analyzing the work of the president of the most influential conservative think-tank.

I think the critique of Brooks applies fairly well right now to the conservative movement writ large. This is a movement that rejects the science of climate change, that is wallowing in economic illiteracy, and budgetary fantasy. Now, to say that Obama’s policy-making process take science and empiricism seriously is not to say it always reaches the correct conclusion, or even that there is such a thing as a “correct” conclusion, disembodied from ideology. But while empiricism is not sufficient to produce good policy outcomes, it is necessary. And I do think Obama’s basic critique of the conservative movement as anti-empiricist is dead on.

Also, the Brooks piece he speaks of is awesome.  I’ve meaning to do a blog post on it.  Clearly I haven’t– just read it.

Mike Gerson might want to read his newspaper

Former Bush speechwriter and current Post columnist Michael Gerson had a column yesterday taking Obama to task for his “arrogance” in suggesting that Republicans are relying on fear while Democrats are relying on reason:

Obama clearly believes that his brand of politics represents “facts and science and argument.” His opponents, in disturbing contrast, are using the more fearful, primitive portion of their brains. Obama views himself as the neocortical leader — the defender, not just of the stimulus package and health-care reform but also of cognitive reasoning. His critics rely on their lizard brains — the location of reptilian ritual and aggression. Some, presumably Democrats, rise above their evolutionary hard-wiring in times of social stress; others, sadly, do not.

Though there is plenty of competition, these are some of the most arrogant words ever uttered by an American president.

One phrase for Gerson: “Ground Zero Mosque.”

And, of course, on the very same day the Post has a lengthy article rebutting virtually every single Republican fear-mongering claim on health care.  Hmmm.  I wonder what’s giving the idea that Republicans are just trying to scare the American public?

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