Archive for April, 2010

Bachmann lies, Maryland edition

April 28, 2010

Michele Bachmann recently spoke at the Frederick County, MD Republican Party’s annual fundraising dinner. Because, um, that helps Minnesota’s Sixth District, we guess. Anyway, the Frederick News-Post did a short piece on what she said, and we managed to spot several outright lies just by scanning it and eating pretzels. Lie #1:

“You’re at the point where you almost feel sorry for Barack Obama,” she said. “No president in the history of polling has fallen faster or farther than Barack Obama, and it couldn’t have happened to a better candidate as far as I’m concerned.”

This is blatantly untrue. Obama’s approval rating was around 44% about a month ago, which CBS says is his personal low, but not the lowest approval rating ever and not the biggest fall from an all-time high. We don’t have time to do an exhaustive study, but we don’t have to — Obama’s immediate predecessor, Mr. George W. Bush, holds the dubious distinction of having left office with the lowest final approval rating of any president ever: 22%. His personal low was 20%. He also had the highest approval rating of any president ever, 90%, just after September 11. (Note: We were not among those who approved of him that month, or any month.) So for Bush, that’s a 70% drop. Obama cannot possibly have had a 70% drop, because 100-44=56. So, Bachmann is lying. We wouldn’t expect the Frederick County Republican Party to actually care, but we submit that the local paper, and indeed Minnesota papers, might care.

Next lie:

She also criticized calls for a new international currency, rather than the U.S. dollar remaining as the international reserve currency.”Do we really want the dollar’s value intermingled with that of Zimbabwe?” she asked. “Well at the rate that Barack Obama’s going, our currency will be worth about as much as Zimbabwe’s if we don’t get a hold on it.”

This is both a lie and misleading as to what the lie is about. In fact, the president specifically told a press conference that he does not support an international reserve currency. This is not an international day-to-day currency like the Euro; it’s for trading and international commodities purchases and is thus far entirely theoretical. Two of his advisors, in response to direct questioning from Bachmann herself, apparently said they supported such an international reserve currency, but Obama doesn’t think we need it. (As well he might; the U.S. gets a discount when borrowing as long as the dollar is being used.) Bachmann must have known very well that she was taking the statement out of context and attributing it to the wrong person. She also knew very well that a sympathetic audience and a small-town news reporter would probably let her get away with it. (BTW, this was rated outright false by PolitiFact.com.)

Finally, this:

She said Obama has been spending the country into a “debtor’s prison,” and that the national debt accumulation under his presidency is more than all of the spending of all other presidents combined.

There is no such thing as debtors’ prison in the United States, much to the disappointment of credit card companies. Leaving that issue alone, let’s go back to “more national debt accumulation than the spending of all other presidents combined.” That presumably is a paraphrase, which may explain the weird comparison of national debt to spending. Or maybe she actually said it that way, who knows. In any case, it’s a lie. As Talking Points Memo noted in February, debt accumulation under Obama went up by about $1.7 trillion as of that month. The costs of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone are more than $900 billion, and it’s a short step from there to guessing that other spending during every other presidency makes up for the rest.

You know, all we do here is use Google. Any reporter in the Twin Cities could do the same.

Bachmann puts incorrect words in Mitt Romney’s mouth

April 25, 2010

According to the Huffington Post, the right wing has been slagging off on Massachusetts’ health care plan lately. This is despite the fact that Mitt Romney, one of their supposed front-runners for 2012, was the governor behind it. Michele Bachmann, our very favorite attention whore, apparently got in on this on some radio show:

Well, I think that he has real concerns with what he did on health care in Massachusetts. I think that’s, you know, he understands economics, but I think clearly what happened in Massachusetts has not been a good thing for that state. It’s driving it towards bankruptcy as is TennCare in Tennessee.

As the HuffPost points out, Romney has actually been saying it works well, or at least he’s been saying that lately. As the HuffPost didn’t explicitly point out, Romney also doesn’t think it’s bankrupting the state. From the Faux News transcript they linked:

Well, it’s actually working pretty much as anticipated at the time it was passed. The legislature wanted to make the policies a little more gold-plated than I preferred. And so it’s about — it costs about 1.5 percent of the state budget, which was what was expected.

Just another in the long line of outright lies that Bachmann is constantly getting away with due to an actively complicit conservative media and a lazy mainstream media.

Bachmann prediction of doom fails to come true

April 24, 2010

That almost doesn’t even seem worthy of a headline.

Dump Bachmann must have been digging around its archives, because it’s got a post up about Bachmann’s apocalyptic predictions about what would happen if Obama got elected. Health care for poor people has passed (THE HORROR!!1!), but one thing that has not come true is Bachmann’s prediction that gas prices would hit $5 a gallon if he was elected.

“This is their agenda,” Bachmann states bluntly. “I know it is hard to believe, it’s hard to fathom — but this is ‘mission accomplished’ for them,” she asserts. “They want Americans to take transit and move to the inner cities. They want Americans to move to the urban core, live in tenements, [and] take light rail to their government jobs. That’s their vision for America.”Bachmann predicts gasoline will rise above $5 a gallon if Barack Obama is elected president.

We actually think it would be nice to live in the middle of the city and take light rail to work, but we can’t afford it because the “urban core” areas are full of fancy, expensive lofts, not the tenements she invokes. Also, there’s not too much light rail in most cities. But in any case, gas prices are not only not at $5 a gallon, but actually below their peak during the Bush administration.

Bachmann completely misunderstands meaning of “net neutrality”

April 23, 2010

Remember net neutrality? This is the idea that internet service providers shouldn’t be able to limit what their users get to see. The threat was that ISPs would take money from certain companies to make those companies’ sites load quickly, and perhaps make the sites of their competitors load much more slowly than usual. Obama mentioned it during the 2008 campaign.

Well, in one of her lovefests with Sean Hannity, Bachmann brought up net neutrality — and claimed that it is censorship. Whaaaaaat? City Pages has it:

So whether they’re attacking conservative talk radio, or conservative TV or whether it’s Internet sites, I mean, let’s face it, what’s the Obama administration doing? They’re advocating net neutrality which is essentially censorship of the Internet. This is the Obama administration advocating censorship of the Internet. Why? They want to silence the voices that are opposing them.

Here’s the video, if you prefer things that way:

The City Pages suggested that Bachmann is in the pockets of big business. While this is probably true in general, we think that quote shows that she just doesn’t understand the concept of net neutrality, or maybe that she is cynically betting that most of her constituents are so poorly educated on this that they’ll believe her. As longtime Bachmann observers know, this is not unprecedented. Recall her comments comparing tea partiers to the Charge of the Light Brigade, which of course was doomed, or her claim that carbon dioxide is a harmless and natural gas.

As the City Pages points out at length, net neutrality is essentially the opposite of censorship. It also has nothing to do with political content itself, just access to it. So, to repeat ourselves: Either Bachmann is incredibly ill-informed on this topic, or she’s betting that enough of her constituents are so ill-informed that they won’t notice the laughable mistake she just made. Either way, it’s not flattering for the Sixth District.

Bachmann expands her “government owns 51% of the economy” gaffe even further

April 21, 2010

Remember when Michele Bachman said the government owns 51% of the economy, and everyone who was paying attention laughed and the media didn’t run an embarrassing story explaining that the Bush (yes, Bush) bailouts didn’t give the federal government majority ownership of any bank?

She’s tempting fate by not only continuing to bring it up, but actually expanding the lie! According to Think Progress, she went on CNN and told viewers that the federal government “literally owns banks” and a variety of other businesses:

The federal government literally, in 18 months’ time, has taken either direct ownership or control of 51 percent of the private economy. Eighteen months ago, 100 percent of the private economy was private. But today, the federal government literally owns banks, the largest insurance company in the United States. The federal government owns over half of all home mortgages today in the United States — Chrysler, G.M. the student loan industry and now health care.

Now, Bachmann has had trouble with the word “literally” in the past, but let’s read it as an intentional use. This would mean that the federal government outright owns or is a majority shareholder in various banks, G.M., Chrysler and AIG. As Think Progress explains, this is far from the truth. For example, the feds owned 6 percent of Bank of America in early 2009. Also, they will own zero percent of any health insurance or student loan company when the health care bill is fully implemented, although more people will get those services directly from the goverment.

It’s also worth noting that 100% of the private economy is still private. 100% of the private economy is always private, by definition.

Watch the video in which she says this:

Bachmann catches heat for ‘gangster government’ remarks

April 20, 2010

We have been following Michele Bachmann long enough to see multiple instances in which she calls the federal government a “gangster government.” We haven’t touched this one because we really weren’t sure what she meant — is the Obama administration supposed to be like gangsters? Because it allegedly raises taxes and tries to regulate things? Wouldn’t a gangster government be Prohibition-era Chicago or Taliban-dominated Afghanistan? Wouldn’t it, you know, shoot at and steal from its citizens?

Tonight, we have figured out that yes, she does actually mean to compare the government to gangsters. How? Because former president Bill Clinton criticized the metaphor in an interview with the New York Times. Then he drew parallels between the anti-government rhetoric used by the Timothy McVeigh-era militia movement and the anti-government rhetoric being used today. Our ISP has decided not to load nytimes.com all of a sudden, but CBS blogged it:

“They are not gangsters,” Mr. Clinton said in an interview with the New York Times. “They were elected. They are not doing anything they were not elected to do.”…

He called McVeigh and his supporters “profoundly alienated, disconnected people who bought into this militant antigovernment line.” Furthermore, Mr. Clinton said the Internet has allowed political messages to reach both the “serious and seriously disturbed.”

Conservative anger over health care reform did coincide with a rash of threats against members of Congress, and a few people have been arrested for threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and GOP House Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). The Tea Party movement has said negative stereotypes of the group are not true.

Mr. Clinton said that lawmakers should try harder to distinguish between acceptable dialogue and rhetoric that crosses the line, the Times reports.

So he didn’t name her by name, but it’s easy to read that as a reference to Bachmann and her ilk.

Interestingly, one of Bachmann’s colleagues from the Minnesota House delegation, Betty McCollum, ran a press release April 16 that explicitly attacked Bachmann for the “gangster government” line, using much the same logic as the former president. According to the Star-Tribune, Bachmann dismissed this as an attack based on her policies (which ones?):

“They have been maligning people who oppose their policies, inferring that people may be racist or inferring that they may be violent,” Bachmann said.

If she is referring to the tea partiers, well, if the shoe fits…

Edit: OMG, now Marsha Blackburn — who some suggest is the Bachmann of the South — is piling on!

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) on Sunday all but criticized her colleage, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), for using the phrase “gangster government” at a Tea Party rally earlier this month.While Blackburn would not condemn those remarks during a roundtable on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” she did say “it would not have been a choice in words I made.”

Bachmann claims people dislike her because she uses liberals’ own statements

April 19, 2010

Where did this whopper come from? Why, Fox News Sunday, of course. Host Chris Wallace softballed the following to Bachmann: Why are you such a lightning rod? Her response:

“I think part of that may be because when I talk about what is happening in Washington, D.C., I use the actual statements or comments or the data that Nancy Pelosi or President Obama or Harry Reid refer to. I use their own statements on them. And usually they don’t like that very much. They don’t like to be quoted back with what they’ve said.”

They especially hate it when they get caught saying something controversial, then try to pretend they never said it despite massive amounts of evidence on video, then wait 15 months and go back to acknowledging that they did say it.

Oh, wait, that’s Bachmann who did that.

Even The American Spectator has unkind things to say about Bachmann

April 18, 2010

That’s a conservative publication, remember. After running down the things her detractors say, with snarky comments here and there, the April 12 article actually makes some criticisms of Bachmann herself. First it talks about the high turnover rate in her office. Then:

Still, Bachman’s headline-grabbing stunts, time spent on talk radio and cable, and even labels from staff and peers would be worth it if she could put her money where her mouth gabbed. This is her second term as a U.S. Congresswoman. She has yet to sponsor and pass any effective legislation at all, let alone any related to the issues that put her in the spotlight — though in her defense she’s outnumbered, and to her credit, she has co-sponsored some good bills.

Is the author referring to the bill seeking to stop the phase-out of incandescent lightbulbs? Or her nonbinding resolution saying hydrocephalus is bad? More:

She’s one of Hannity’s favorite conservatives and she knows how to draw a crowd, but a November Rasmussen poll showed Bachmann’s district may not love her as much as everyone else does. Fifty-one percent of likely voters said they somewhat approve of Bachmann’s job performance and 45% disapprove. That could be more due to the fact that the district has been trending left in recent years, as local Democrats have picked up several state seats, rather than Bachmann’s vocal conservatism.

Music to our ears.

Bachmann swears never to appear on ABC’s “This Week”

April 18, 2010

Actually, no, that’s not true as far as we know. But it might become true, because the New York Times reported that “This Week” has arranged to fact-check assertions made by guests using PolitiFact, the excellent project of the St. Petersburg Times. Bachmann’s carelessness with the truth was cited as one of the reasons:

But some say that TV misstatements demand attention from the networks themselves. After Representative Michele Bachmann, Republican of Minnesota, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” last month that the United States government was “taking over ownership or control of 51 percent of the American economy,” CBSNews.com published a report specifying that she had “offered no facts” to back it up.

Luckily for her, she’ll always have Faux News.

Strib: Bachmann’s anti-tax rally cost taxpayers $13,600

April 17, 2010

The Star-Tribune reported this April 14. The rally in question was in November and opposed the health care bill. Bachmann and three other lawmakers split the bill using their congressional member allowances.

Various experts in the article said this isn’t illegal. And frankly, we don’t exactly mind. We just think it’s highly ironic for a bunch of people who claim to hate big government and taxes. (And who, until a Democrat got elected, thought protests were un-American.) Of course, all tea party rallies everywhere use public roads, public spaces, crowd control by law enforcement and other government resources supported by taxes.