Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Big Lies about Barney Frank

I've mentioned this before, but it can never be said too many times: One of the prime tools used by the Tea Partiers and the PTR is "the Big Lie": Repeat an untrue or imagined allegation enough times and people start to believe it. Hitler referred to the technique, but it is most associated with George Orwell and his book "1984" -- a satire of the totalitarian state, based on the former U.S.S.R. Do students still read "1984" or "Animal Farm" or even "Homage to Catalonia"? I've reread a few of Orwells works and I can say his clear thinking and writing are still a pleasure.

Anyway, as you might expect, the radical right -- there doesn't seem to be any "moderate right" these days -- has taken aim at Barney Frank, who happens to be my rep in Congress. Frank has certainly gotten their attention over the years by being an outspoken progressive on many issues, especially ones related to banking, since he is chair of the House Committee overseeing that industry. A loony from the Wall Street Journal editorial board named John Fund has attacked Frank for pushing what seems to be a ridiculously permissive voting-rights bill. The usual suspects Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh etc. have taken up the issue; here's a typical example from American Daughter. The only problem is that there is no such bill in either house of Congress or any sponsors for such a bill. Yes, it's the Big Lie: say anything or do anything to defeat people you don't like. Stalin would approve for sure. It's right up there with the Death Panels, Black Helicopters, and U.S. complicity in 9/11.

This is not to say the Democrats have never lied; it's just that lying is not a way of life for them. Liberals may occasionally be naive and loose with facts, but their hearts are with the vast majority of people; conservatives are also loose with the facts, but their hearts are invariably with the wealthy and powerful -- just look at the results from their years in power: tax breaks for the rich, de-regulation of corporations and banks, a Supreme Court with a solid majority and a Chief Justice that invariably sides with the top of the economic spectrum. Given a choice between two types of flawed political positions, I'll go with the one whose instincts and sympathies are on the side of most of us.

1 comment:

  1. Obviously ridiculous, no sane person would endorse a bill like that.

    But, two quick things about why Republicans don't like voter turnout.

    I find it amusing when Republicans get upset about increasing voter turnout. For one, I find it amazing Republicans seemingly endorse a policy of limiting the percentage of the population that votes. And two, larger turnout would do very little for Democrats and would only effect the most narrow of races where it's almost a toss up to begin with. For example, Citrin et al (http://home.gwu.edu/~jsides/turnout.pdf) ran simulations and found increased turnout would only effect the closest of races and basically not change political dynamics at all. Nagel and McNulty ((http://www.jstor.org/pss/2945842)) found similar results, namely that the partisan outcomes were insignificant.

    On top of that, the seeming benefits accrued to the Democratic party are likely not even "real." In agreement with DeNardo's classic 1980 article (http://www.jstor.org/pss/1960636) the current belief that high turnout would help Democrats was likely true in the 2000s because they were the minority party. When you account for economic conditions the results of this partisan-gain to Democrats is even weaker.

    So, I don't even understand why Republicans care so much about this issue. It's unlikely to have an effect on anything but the closest of races, and that's even debatable. Ironically, since the partisan advantage is non-existant, Republicans could probably improve their standing among these voters if it voted for something to expand voter access since they would then look like "nice guys", so it might actually be an advantage for them to vote to expand access.

    But they apparently don't know any of this. Hm. Maybe they should be reading that good political science literature rather than trying to choke off it's funding (http://crookedtimber.org/2009/10/07/tom-coburn-doesnt-like-political-science/) - might help them out a bit!