'It's not a lie if you believe it'

So says Seinfeld's George Costanza. But whether or not he really believed that is hard to say. It's often hard to say whether or not the speaker really believes what they're saying when they're saying something that isn't true. Yesterday we discussed a currently circulating political falsehood, trying to discern whether it was repeated as an outright lie or just an irresponsible rumor. The realm of untrue statements is large and incredibly diverse. It includes honest mistakes, honest … [Read more...]

Is Rick Perry a 'sucker,' or was he just lying?

Here's a good catch by Kevin Drum, by one of his readers in Iowa, and then by the Des Moines Register: "Rick Perry Gets Suckered by an Urban Legend." From Kevin's reader: I was at the Iowa State Fair today and caught Rick Perry's speech. He started talking about this stupid new regulation that would require farmers to get commercial drivers licenses if they drive their tractors across the road. I remember reading about this very issue on your blog so I yelled "That's not true" a couple of … [Read more...]

Witnessing tools and resentment

In a post last week -- "You might be an evangelical ..." -- I touched on some of the esoterica of the evangelical subculture. Much of that post was inside-baseball, jargon and references some readers (maybe the luckier ones) found a bit bewildering. Such as this, for example: If you think the phrase “a witnessing tool” refers to something that’s good to have rather than someone it’s bad to be, then you might be an evangelical. "What is a 'witnessing tool'?" I am asked. Well, it's a tool … [Read more...]

The greatest degeneration

I'm a big fan of these homefront propaganda posters produced by the U.S. government during World War II. There's a peppy, can-do spirit about them. The posters convey what folks back then might have called "moxie." And they presumed that the people reading them would share that spirit. The assumption was that Americans were full of moxie. And that assumption, for the most part, proved correct. World War II could not have been won without the concerted effort of millions of people who never … [Read more...]

'Stop kicking people when they're down'

If we want to reduce poverty, we have to stop doing the things that make people poor and keep them that way. Stop underpaying people for the jobs they do. Stop treating working people as potential criminals and let them have the right to organize for better wages and working conditions. Stop the institutional harassment of those who turn to the government for help or find themselves destitute in the streets. ... At least we should decide, as a bare minimum principle, to stop kicking … [Read more...]

The tea party just cost you $322

The Tea Party just cost you $322. That's the latest cost of their incoherent national tantrum -- $100 billion in increased financing costs for which America gets nothing in return. That works out to $322 for every man, woman and child in the United States. So the Tea Party just cost you $322. They just cost my family $1,288. You don't get anything in return for that $322, nor does my family get anything in return for that $1,288. It is simply an added cost due to our sharing this country with … [Read more...]

Evangelicals and the politics of spite

The headline is depressingly unsurprising: "Polling Evangelicals: Cut Aid to World's Poor, Unemployed." The combination of stupidity, selfishness and resentment for resentment's sake here is an unholy abomination that makes me want to scream and throw things. And I would, if I thought screaming and throwing things would help get through to these folks, but at this point I have no idea what would get through to them. Neither facts nor faith seem to matter to them at all. Lest … [Read more...]

Don't you know that you can count me out

The tea party and the loudest, most strident voices of anti-abortion politics love to flirt with the idea of armed revolution. This is, for the most part, just adolescent foolishness -- a kind of fantasy play-acting that can be summed up in a single word: Wolveriiiiiines! By pretending to believe that America is on the verge of collapse into a totalitarian tyranny, they can pretend to themselves that they are the vanguard of a courageous resistance. The Red Dawn fantasy isn't all that … [Read more...]