Moving quickly to resolve this unfortunate situation

• Sometimes “fact-checking” political claims involves research. Sometimes it just involves remembering. 2008 wasn’t that long ago.

• Fact-checking David Barton is sometimes like “sword drills” from Sunday school. Just look up the Bible verses and you’ll see that they don’t say what he says they say.

Jesus/Romney is the answer. What was the question?

• Paul Krugman stares down Paul Ryan. Krugman “Blinks”. Geek worlds collide.

• Mrs. Dushku is keeping the Faith.

• U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., is like a Republican Cory Booker. Well done, sir.

• Looks like we may have a sequel to Oz’s ElevenOnze de la Mer.

• John Aravosis asks: “Did Haley Barbour make an assassination joke about Obama?” The answer is no. Haley Barbour made a slavery joke about Obama. And everybody knows about Mississippi

• You can break into someone’s house and steal everything they own without facing arrest. If you get caught, all you have to say afterward is, “We moved quickly and have been in contact with the family to resolve this unfortunate situation and right this wrong.”

Just say those magic words and there will be no arrest, no criminal charges, no jail time. (Note: This only works if you’re a bank.)

• The standard response to complaints about school budget cuts seems to be that “You can’t just throw money at schools and expect good results.” True enough, I suppose. But it’s likely also true that Arizona’s 21.8-percent decrease in per-student spending shouldn’t lead us to expect good results either. Or Alabama’s 21.7-percent decrease, or Oklahoma’s 20.3-percent decrease, or

• Dark comedy trigger warnings: Todd Akin’s nonsense prompts a mordantly funny pharmaceutical ad and a cheerfully bleak country song.

The culture war has always been about race
Liberation and apocalypse in a country song
Maybe we're on TV
Left Behind Classic Fridays, No. 48: 'Holy Spirits'
  • Mime_Paradox

    I officially nominate “Mrs. Dushku is keeping the Faith”  as the most misleading Buffy reference of 2012.

    ETA: Although I suppose the “Mrs.” should have tipped me off… >_<

  • Launcifer

    Damn it, I didn’t even see the reference until I read your comment. Guess I’d better hand in my card at the front desk.

    Seriously though, if Romney’s the (alleged) answer, then I would respectfully submit that someone asked the wrong question – quite possibly in the wrong language.

  • Carstonio

     Just who the heck is David Barton, anyway, and why would anyone with even an iota of knowledge about the Constitution listen to him? (No answer necessary.)

    I went to a Lutheran Sunday School for a brief while, and at least once the students were herded into the gym with Bibles, made to stand in a row, and challenged to find a certain book. I still remember the older man in charge calling out, “Deuteronomy” and kids dropping to the floor to leaf frantically through their copies. Is that the same as a sword drill?

  • aunursa

    The question that challenger Ronald Reagan asked voters in 1980 — and that Republicans are asking today — is not “Are we better off?  The question is “Are you better off?”

    [A]ll of you will go to the polls, will stand there in the polling place and make a decision. I think when you make that decision, it might be well if you would ask yourself, are you better off than you were four years ago? Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we’re as strong as we were four years ago? And if you answer all of those questions yes, why then, I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for. If you don’t agree, if you don’t think that this course that we’ve been on for the last four years is what you would like to see us follow for the next four, then I could suggest another choice that you have. This country doesn’t have to be in the shape that it is in. We do not have to go on sharing in scarcity with the country getting worse off, with unemployment growing. We talk about the unemployment lines. If all of the unemployed today were in a single line allowing two feet for each of them, that line would reach from New York City to Los Angeles, California. All of this can be cured and all of it can be solved.

  • Wesley

    While I in no way endorse Haley Barbour or anything he believes in, I think we need to take a giant step back on finding racist or evil undertones in common sayings. “A hot poker to his [various words for hindquarters]” is a common enough saying in the South, and while the imagery is disturbing and tone-deaf, it’s not racist or malicious (it refers to cattle, not slaves, and is used indiscriminately at least in the small Texas town I grew up in.)

    Let the other side feign outrage over “lipstick on a pig”; we’ve got better issues to hammer them on.

  • vsm

    Wow, Eliza Dushku’s mom is pretty cool.

  • BringTheNoise

    No, they will not. Not everyone votes based on their wallets AND YOU KNOW THIS.

  • connorboone

    That’s a basic-level sword drill.  The hardcore ones are the ability to find specific clobber verses fast.  Because, as we know, the purpose of the Bible is to use it as a weapon to clobber unbelievers and heretics with.

  • JarredH

    In my experience, sword drills usually involve finding a specific verse, but yes.

    And often, one of the verses include “Hezekiah 13:10.”  But that may be because the person who did sword drills at my Sunday school had a twisted sense of humor.  (Note for those who may be less familiar with the Bible:  There is no book of Hezekiah in the Bible.)

  • Donalbain

     An appeal to selfishness. How delightful.

  • JarredH

     I hope this doesn’t surprise you.

  • Robyrt

    That David Barton stuff is pretty mystifying. It’s easy to link passages in the Constitution with Bible verses, which is not surprising since the founding fathers probably learned to read with the King James Bible, and the common law also has a healthy dose of biblical influences. There’s no need to say it actually quotes the Bible, unless you are exaggerating for comic effect. (“Article I, Section 9! I saw a beast with seven horns, enacted with the advice and consent of the Senate!”)

  • Geds

    Just say those magic words and there will be no arrest, no criminal charges, no jail time. (Note: This only works if you’re a bank.)

    And that, my friends, is yet more support for why I call Wells Fargo “The Colossal Bank of Dicks.”  My phone actually recognizes it as a phrase.

  • Daughter

     My daughter and I just finished reading an American Girl book set during WWII.  It describes things such as rationing, having victory gardens, and volunteering for the Red Cross, and the propaganda campaign to convince people that to not  participate in these things (such as by buying on the black market) was to be unpatriotic.

    As I read, I wondered whether we could ever mobilize our country to be that sacrificial for anything again. I seriously doubt it.

    Note: I think that liberals would be just as selfish as conservatives today. But the conservatives would be the ones screaming about government intrusion.

  • Seraph4377

    Yes, I am better off than I was four years ago, by a country mile.  But that’s hardly indicative of anything; I’m one fortunate person in a resilient field in a city that recovered quickly.  One person’s selfishness is no measure of the nation’s health.  So to answer the rest of your questions:  This time four years ago, the economy was hemorrhaging jobs by the hundreds of thousands, the Dow was plunging toward 6,000, and firms that everyone had thought were eternal were dropping like flies.  We were less respected because our foreign policy was run by a stupid, belligerent cowboy and his evil puppet masters.  We were less safe because Osama bin Laden was still alive.

    Any more easy questions?

    The funny thing is that you’re so confident about November 6.  Bulletin: your guy is losing.  What kind of bubble do you live in?  Are you so completely surrounded by people who hate Obama that you believe everyone else does, too?  Or are you just that confident in the red states’ reinstatement of Jim Crow?

  • Seraph4377

    I think we could have been that sacrificial again, if anyone had asked us to be after 9/11.  Everyone was looking for some way to contribute, just like after Pearl Harbor.  Another reason George W. Bush is perhaps one of the worst presidents in American history: he took that transcendent moment when all Americans were willing to unify for the common good, and he used it to ask people to go shopping and create a permanent Republican majority.

    As to selfishness: the difference between liberals and conservatives in re. selfishness is that we don’t consider selfishness a virtue.

  • Dave

    The question was: how do we ensure that certain denominations preserve their superior social status?

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    “Yes, I am better off than I was four years ago, by a country mile. But that’s hardly indicative of anything; I’m one fortunate person in a resilient field in a city that recovered quickly.”

    I don’t get people who think their reality is everyone’s reality. My husband is in a field and area with a very low unemployment rate* (2%). Because of that, we haven’t been hit by the recession. But that doesn’t mean I think no one has, or that I don’t need to have some empathy or awareness toward people who have. 

    *If you can do something in IT and don’t mind moving to Dallas-Fort Worth, consider looking for a job there. They’re having trouble filling positions around here.

  • AnonymousSam

    Can’t say I expect much from a company who got its start hiring Wyatt Earp to shoot criminals. :p

  • MaryKaye

    I am in financial trouble, but I am still better off than four years ago because the ACA makes it harder for my insurance company to shaft me.  Both my husband and my son have serious ongoing medical conditions.  If we stopped being covered by insurance it would be catastrophic–there is no way we could cope.  And pre-ACA, if I lost my job it’s likely that neither of them would ever have insurance again, as those are pre-existing conditions.

    The ACA is not what I wanted, and is far from perfect.  But it is *so much* better than what we had before.  It may literally save my husband’s mobility or my child’s life.

    I am also seeing small signs of an economic upturn in my city; after many years in which there were never “help wanted” signs, there are beginning to be some.  Businesses which have been closed for years are cautiously opening.

  • aunursa

    I think your choice is very obvious as to whom you will vote for.

    Bulletin: your guy is losing. What kind of bubble do you live in? Are you so completely surrounded by people who hate Obama that you believe everyone else does, too?

    The polls have fluxuated over the past three weeks, based on the Republican National Convention, the Democratic National Convention, and the breaking news of the violence at U.S. embassies.  I’ve seen some polls showing incumbent Obama with a 5 point lead, and other polls showing challenger Romney with a 2 point lead.  Polls come out daily showing Obama leading in battleground states and others showing Romney with a slight lead in battleground states.  Not only do these polls change day-to-day and week-to-week, some polls use different D/R/I breakdowns than others; some mirror the 2008 electoral demographics, some the 2010 demographics.   I’ve read analyses indicating that Romney is in big trouble, and I’ve read analyses indicating that Romney is going to coast to victory, and I’ve read analyses indicating that it is going to be a very close election, perhaps decided by one or two states.  Based on all of that, I don’t know what to believe.  I don’t know whether I should be slightly confident or very concerned.

    Therefore your suggestion that I am living  in some kind of bubble surrounded by people who so hate Obama that they are divorced from political reality is … amusing.  Perhaps it’s a projection on your part.

  • Lliira

    You’ll be “very concerned” if the guy who wants to make it impossible again for millions of Americans to have health insurance loses. You’ll be “very concerned” if millions of Americans again have no way to get life-saving medical care, and/or medical care that allows them to work and live full lives, and/or emergency medical care…

    Tell me again why those of us whose lives were saved by Obamacare should give one fine damn about anything you have to say?

  • aunursa

    By and large people vote based on their self interests.

    And this caveat: What you consider to be another person’s self-interest may be very different from what that other person has determined is his self-interest.

  • Invisible Neutrino



    .. these pet peeves brought to you by Buck Williams’s cookie.

  • Invisible Neutrino


    Romney doesn’t even have a good grasp on what the middle class is.

    $250,000 and below? Get fucking real, Romney.

  • aunursa

    No one running for national office wants to make it impossible for millions of Americans to have health insurance.  No one running for national office wants to prevent millions of Americans from getting life-saving medical care.  The candidates disagree about the means to reach those ends.

  • Lori


    The question that challenger Ronald Reagan asked of each voter in 1980 — and that Republicans are asking today — is not “Are we better off?  The question is “Are you better off?   

    Of course that’s the question he asked. The Reagan Revolution killed off the last bit of the GOP even pretending to be about anything other than naked selfishness.


    The American voters will answer that question on November 6th.

    Even assuming that the economy was the only issue driving voting this year (which it isn’t, no matter how many times you repeat it), the notion that such a frame favors Romeny is not well thought-out.

    Let me put this in a way that you can understand. CNN did a poll on the economy. There are several things worth looking at, but I’ll just point out 1. They asked who people blame for the fact that the economy sucks. The answer did not favor the GOP.

    If you’re not afraid of getting Maddow blog cooties, Steve Benen put the results in a nice, simple graphic.

    You do grasp why this has significance for Romney’s campaign, yes?

  • EllieMurasaki

    No one running for national office wants to make it impossible for
    millions of Americans to have health insurance.  No one running for
    national office wants to prevent millions of Americans from getting
    life-saving medical care.  The candidates disagree about the means to
    reach those ends.

    Obama has put a mechanism in place to ensure medical care for everyone. It’s not the ideal mechanism, but it works. We know it works because it’s the exact same thing Romney did in Massachusetts.

    Romney opposes Obama’s health care plan. Why, I’m not clear on, because Obamacare was Romney’s idea to begin with, but Romney does plan to dismantle Obamacare, and Medicare, and Medicaid. Has Romney ever said what he’d replace these with? Because if Romney hasn’t advanced an alternate proposal, and I have never heard that he has, then it’s not a case of Obamacare vs Romneycare, it’s a case of Obamacare vs nothing. If it’s Obamacare vs nothing, then it’s not that the candidates disagree on how to provide health care for all, it’s that they disagree on whether it should be done.

  • delurker

    Can everyone just ignore the gigantic asshole in this thread for once?

  • Sign Ahead

    I’m not sure that “everyone votes in their self interest” is a winning argument. It sounds an awful lot like “But mom, everyone else was doing it!” and that never worked, even when I was six years old.

  • VMink

    I’d like to present a hypothesis for general debate, that it is in the best interests of the (eponymious)  media in general to make the Presidential election appear to be as tight and close and down-to-the-wire as possible, to make both candidates seem to be neck-in-neck for as long as possible.  Both low and high numbers will energize either side for different reasons.  (“Our guy is winning!  Keep it up!”  “Our guy is loosing!  We must work harder!”  “Their guy is winning!  Beat ‘em back!”  “Their guy is loosing!  Keep up the pressure!”)  And more energized means more people eagerly devouring/consuming/giving eyeball-time and brainspace to the selected media of their choice.

    I’m possibly (even likely, with my track record) wrong in this.  I just think that media in general has turned politics into some weird sort of really ugly spectator sport.  (“I gotta be there and support my Yankees, my Giants, and my Bloomberg!”)

    And yes, whom I will vote for is probably predictable.  I admit I stand somewhere to the left of Genghis Khan. =)

  • VMink

    Reminds me of the gaffe, “Getting paid $50 an hour to pick cabbage.”

  • jclor

    Romney doesn’t even have a good grasp on what the middle class is.
    $250,000 and below? Get fucking real, Romney.

    When you live on the fringe, you tend to (incorrectly) measure the middle based upon the median rather than the mean.  

    Thus, the filthy rich believe the moderately-rich-but-wealthy-compared-to-most-people are middle income.  

    And the Randian-Bircher-wingnut-teabagger loons believe every news outlet left of Fox News is a Communist Party mouthpiece.  

    And Armageddon-seeking evangelicals believe anyone who doesn’t hate gays and evolution and abortion is a Satan worshiping atheist.

  • EllieMurasaki

    If I put FiveThirtyEight in one tab and the NYT’s electoral map gizmo in the next, and put everything that 538 says is 90% or better chance of going Obama in the left circle and everything 90% chance or better of going Romney in the right, it’s 237 Obama to 167 Romney. If I move the states with an 80% or better chance of going somewhere to that somewhere, 253 to 191. The states in the middle at this point are Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire.

    If Obama wins Florida, or Ohio, or Virginia and New Hampshire, or Colorado and Iowa and New Hampshire, or North Carolina and New Hampshire, then Obama’s won the election. Romney has to win Florida and Ohio and Virginia and North Carolina and at least one of Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire in order to win. He could do without Virginia or North Carolina, but he’d have to take all three of Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire in order to do it.

    Of those seven states, the only one that’s pink on the FiveThirtyEight map is North Carolina.

    Romney’s toast.

  • Ross Thompson

    No one running for national office wants to make it impossible for millions of Americans to have health insurance.  No one running for national office wants to prevent millions of Americans from getting life-saving medical care.  The candidates disagree about the means to reach those ends.

    Yes. One party wants to provide millions of low-income families with health insurance, while the other party thinks people who don’t have heath insurance should just sell some of their stock to pay for cancer treatments. Obviously, we can’t make any judgements about which of these plans will better serve people who need health care, but can’t afford it.

  • Jamoche

    When Reagan said that, I was living in Texas where the oil-based economy had pretty much tanked. So everyone I knew would’ve answered “no” to that question.

  • The_L1985

     The 3 branches one is particularly puzzling.  For a goodly chunk of ancient and medieval history, your judge, king, and ruler, by definition were the same person.

    I also fail to see how a king or noble appointing military officers based on merit is like millions of voters electing government officials.  One is top-down; the other is bottom-up.

    Granted, a few of those verses very clearly show up in the Constitution.  But none of them is a direct quote!

  • Chaos-Engineer

    I’ve seen some polls showing incumbent Obama with a 5 point lead, and
    other polls showing challenger Romney with a 2 point lead.

    Remember that not all polls are created equal. A lot of the Romney-positive polls are coming from places like Rasmussen, which have an built-in Republican bias. (The main goal is to give the Republican Party something to take to donors: “See, we’re in good shape, so you won’t be throwing money away if you donate to us.” But they’re also useful to the mainstream media outlets that can attract readers by creating the illusion of a tight race.)

    If you’re looking for a good source of polling information, I can’t praise Nate Silver at enough. He was just brilliant in the 2008 cycle; his predictions for the primary contents and the electoral college were almost dead-on.

    So far this year, he’s seen neck-and-neck polls towards the end of the primary season, which widened to a three-point gap later on after the voters stopped comparing Romney to his primary opponents and started comparing him to Obama. The gap increased to five points after the conventions. It’s still a bit early to tell, but there are indications that Romney’s lost a little more ground over his Egypt/Libya gaffes.

    (That said, there are still almost two months until the election, so it’s still possible for Romney to regain lost ground. Maybe if there’s a major economic cataclysm, or if Obama gets over-confident and shows up drunk for the debates.)

  • The_L1985

    Yay, Molly!

    I read the AG books as a kid (back when there were only 4 characters).  They’re very good at making American history more interesting and relate-able to the target age group.

    Unfortunately, I do agree that few people on either side of the American political divide see much value in giving up anything, however inconsequential.

  • jclor

    Romney doesn’t even have a good grasp on what the middle class is.

    $250,000 and below? Get fucking real, Romney.

    Also: if 250 grand is middle income, I’d love to know where the likes of Romney place the poverty line.  According to him, there are a lot more poor people in America than we ever imagined.

  • The_L1985

    I have a relative who earns that much, and refuses to admit that he’s rich.  It’s irritating.

  • Charity Brighton

     I think you’re right, in that the media benefits from close races.

    I feel that most people suspected that Romney was going to win, especially after the field narrowed to just him, Gingrich, Santorum, and Paul. None of the not-Romney candidates at that point ever really eclipsed him in poll numbers (at least, not for more than a day or two, and only ever in one or two polls) and his primary win count (both number of states won and number of delegates accrued) was always much higher. Whenever someone did an analysis, the only way Santorum or Gingrich could have won was if they swept most of Romney’s strongest states — an unrealistic scenario in any case. That’s not even really getting into the personal deficiencies of the candidates; Gingrich failed to get on the ballot in his own state, for example, so it’s not like his campaign was even professionally-run.

    But you wouldn’t necessarily get that impression from coverage. It was always portrayed as a neck-and-neck race. There was always speculation about delegate math or a mystical strategy by Ron Paul to win the nomination without actually carrying a single state using the GOP’s arcana against them.

    Even after everyone admitted that Romney was actually going to win, they started playing up the idea of a chaotic brokered convention, based on the admittedly true fact that the party’s internal regulations were convoluted and the primary/caucus system was broken.

    Not every media outlet was doing this, of course. A lot of bloggers and mainstream media types did emphasize that the projections that made a brokered convention or a surprise win by Santorum or Paul were a long shot and that Romney was the most likely victor. But there was definitely a determined effort to portray it all as apresidential horse race, starting from before the Iowa straw poll last August.

  • Guest

    Ellie, I hope to God you’re right.

    Just looked at that map – whoa, how is Indiana 94% likely to go Romney? We managed to pull it out for Obama in ’08, what happened?

  • Jeff Weskamp

    As for the whole “Jesus is the Answer” sign, I think the folks who put up the sign are using the word “answer” in the context of “answer or solution to a problem” rather than “answer to a question.”  Some folks truly believe that if America pledges its official allegiance to Evangelical Fundamentalism, God will miraculously solve every single problem we are currently facing.  The economy and climate will go back to normal, people will stop being gay, women will stop having abortions, criminals will stop committing crimes, and all our enemies will suddenly go down in defeat.

    Also, that fake “pharmacetical ad” was immensely disturbing.  The way that lady kept on smiling and speaking calmly throughout the ad pushed the whole thing straight down into Uncanny Valley…..

  • Carstonio

    Free-market solutions for health care are inherently incapable of providing universal coverage. That’s because the goal of maximizing profits and returns inherently conflicts with the purpose of insurance, which is to spread risk among a large group so everyone can afford it. The for-profit insurers cater to policyholders who will mean the most profits, at the expense of everyone else. So when any politician from either party keeps pushing the idea that the market will fix everything, it’s reasonable to suspect that either zie is blind to how markets work, or zie believes that health care is a privilege and not a right.

  • jclor

    There’s a class of people who make a respectable six-figure income, but then sink it into payments on multiple cars and grandiose McMansions and fishing boats and nice vacations so they can claim they’re not rich because their income is fully leveraged.  It’s not logical to anyone but them.  You see, they need these things, like the rest of us need to pay for groceries and rent, so they’re living hand-to-mouth just like you and me.

  • The_L1985

     Er, the mean household income is dramatically higher than the median.  Means are more strongly influenced by outliers (in this case, the wealthiest 1%) than medians are.


  • The_L1985

    Those people sicken me, honestly.  But then, I’m one of those crazies who views small rooms as “cozy,” more cars than drivers as redundant, a “designer purse” as a purse that I designed and sewed myself, and boats as something it’s much easier to rent at the lake.

    I’m honestly baffled by the person who takes a second job because “I need the money!!!” while they’re wearing expensive clothes and clutching a Louis Vuitton purse.  It’s like the concepts of selling possessions or buying less-expensive stuff have never once occurred to them. You may not be able to sell your house, but you can damned well sell that purse and those earrings on eBay.

  • JarredH

    Possibly the worst part about this is that these are the people who then often project their own situation and behavior onto people who make significantly less than themselves.  They assume that those living in or near poverty are simply “living beyond their means” by spending money on things that, if push comes to shove, they could live without.  Just like they themselves do.

  • Beroli

    No one running for national office wants to make it impossible for
    millions of Americans to have health insurance.  No one running for
    national office wants to prevent millions of Americans from getting
    life-saving medical care.

    Would you like to provide evidence for this assertion?