Republicans in Congress

Watch before you read.

I’m sure all politicians careen between saying what they believe and spouting whatever crap will get them elected. But it seems like* Republicans have adopted a universal strategy of popular deceit, and if they speak truth it’s only by coincidence. Here’s the pattern I’ve seen:

  • Toss out a slew of outrageous lies.
  • Watch for one to capture the public’s imagination.
  • Turn it into jargon (“death panel”) that sticks in voters’ heads.
  • Step back from the lie when it’s debunked, and craft a milder (still dishonest) version. But keep the original jargon.
  • Repeat as necessary. Debunkers eventually move on to tackle some new lie, leaving the last version in place and the jargon established.

Republicans sound like they’re conducting a giant experiment in saying whatever they can get away with, and I suspect they’re surprised as any of us by some of the results. That’s probably too harsh, though. What’s worse is that a good chunk of them might believe the stuff they say. That’s the difference between, for instance, Glenn Beck and Michele Bachmann. Either way, the country loses.

Take a closer look at the comments described in the video.

* It’s been pointed out that people might interpret this bit of hyperbole literally. To be clear, I do not believe that all Republicans are liars, or that the average Republican citizen lies more frequently than the average Democrat — merely that the abundance of deception from many leading Republican politicians made it seem so (you know, as when people say something along the lines of “It seems like no one says ‘thank you’ anymore,” without meaning it absolutely literally). I’m a bit surprised I need to clarify my use of this common expression, but I’ll admit it was needlessly inflammatory, and I do apologize to those Republicans who have not uttered lie after lie after lie in an attempt to bring down Obama by any means necessary, including the deliberate deception of their constituency.

If you want to heckle the president during his address to the nation

I’m referring to Addison Graves Wilson — or Joe Wilson, as he prefers to be called. At Obama’s September 9 address to a joint session of Congress, Joe yelled, “You lie!”

Joe later explained, “Illegal aliens could get the benefits, they could get the subsidies.” Politifact has shown this itself to be a lie.

If you want to suggest smacking around your wife doesn’t truly count as assault, and neither does killing homosexuals

Watch this clip of Louie Gohmert. At the 1:00 mark he starts in with outright lies:

I’ve dealt with this sort of analysis in a prior post. Check it out for a complete debunking. For now just note what Louie said about LGBT hate crime victims in 2007, “There were only 242 crimes where there was actually some — truly an assault.”

He’s referring to these figures. Here’s how you get his number:

  • Ignore anti-gay murders. These are listed in his source, just two columns over from the 242 number, but he doesn’t mention them. So killing gays doesn’t count.
  • Ignore anything the FBI calls simple assault. Simple assault simply doesn’t count as assault to him. The FBI give an example of simple assault:

A married couple was arguing about financial problems. The husband slapped his wife and left the house. The wife followed him, and they continued their argument. The police responded to a call by a neighbor. The wife told them that her husband slapped her. The police arrested the husband for domestic violence.

So, to Louie Gohmert, smacking around your wife doesn’t truly count as assault.

Does he believe what he’s suggesting? I hope he’s just an incompetent legislator making a special effort to air false statements that he hasn’t confirmed but believes because they suit his bias and agenda. Yes, that would be giving him the benefit of the doubt.

If you want to warn foreign governments not to trust the United States

In 2009, on a trip to China (which owns $700 billion in US Treasury bonds), Mark Kirk told Chinese officials not to believe budget numbers released by the US government. Why? In order to build their trust in us.

Black is white. War is peace. Disbelief is…trust.

If you want to refute scientific research by quoting Biblical prophecy

John Shimkus quotes Genesis and Matthew to prove we don’t have worry about humankind destroying the earth. I guess all the fuss about nuclear war was no big deal, either.

If you think wives should be submissive to their husbands

Michele Bachmann is low-hanging fruit on the crazy tree, and this is one of her milder statements. Apparently she’s let her husband dictate her career, even entered fields she hated, because “the Lord says, Be submissive — wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.” (1:37 into the clip).

Michele’s statements are so consistently jaw-dropping that she’s had to make them part of her electoral appeal. For a long time, my favorite was her belief that swine flu only rages during Democratic administrations (not that there’s a link, mind you, she’s just sayin’…) — even though the other outbreak she mentions was under Ford, not Carter.

But she’s topped that with her plan for bringing down Obama’s health care plan:

What we have to do today is make a covenant, to slit our wrists, be blood brothers on this thing. This will not pass. We will do whatever it takes to make sure this doesn’t pass.

First, though, make sure your health insurance covers slit wrists (and can you add your blood brother as a family member?).

If you want to pass laws to establish the Bible as the Word of God for all Americans

Randy Forbes wants to place the Lincoln-Obama Bible on permanent display upon the Lincoln table at the Capitol Visitor Center. He introduced a resolution with a long list of WHEREASs, one of which was:

Whereas the Holy Bible is God’s Word

Randy must not know the First Amendment prohibits Congress from establishing a state religion. Randy’s shown his incompetence in other ways, too. He once opposed expanding hate crime protections to gays and lesbians by saying this of the Perez Hilton/Carrie Prejean Miss USA ruckus:

Had [Hilton] done what he said he would do and stormed that stage and pulled that tiara off [Prejean’s] head and [inflicted] bodily harm when he did it, there would not have been one ounce of protection under this piece of legislation for that young girl.

As Right Wing Watch points out, the opposite is true:

Under the current hates crimes law, violent crimes targeting someone because of their real or perceived religion are already covered and carry enhanced penalties, whereas violent crimes targeting real or perceived “sexual orientation” are not…

Still, you can’t expect a Congressman to be an expert on everything. It’s not like Randy is a is a former ranking member of the Judiciary Crime Subcommittee. Except, you know, he is.

If you want to scare women with a false link between abortion and breast cancer

Retired Congressman Bill Sali repeatedly asserted that women who have abortions are more likely to get breast cancer. There’s no evidence to support this. Here’s someone impervious to scientific evidence that runs counter to his political beliefs. Or is he an ambitious politician willing to say anything his voting bloc wants to hear? I wish I could see into the heads of these people. Either way, they turn truth and fact into roadkill on the political highway.

One more thing — while in office, Bill fretted mightily over a Muslim elected to Congress and a Hindu chaplain chosen to offer the opening prayer one day in the Senate. “You know, the Lord can cause the rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike,” Bill said. He’s afraid the Hindu prayer “creates problems for the longevity of this country.”

If you think stiffer penalties for violent attacks on gays are a threat to your freedom

Yep, Louie Gohmert again. He does have a thing about the gays.

Even though the bill ends with this clause:

Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by, the Constitution.

Religious expression is protected. Actually, any sort of speech previously protected by the First Amendment will remain protected. Did you know Gohmert used to be an appeals court judge?

By the way, what he says around 0:45 in the video? About the legislation duplicating laws that exist in every one of the 45 states in the union? He’s wrong. And not just about how many states there are.

If you think same-sex marriage is a purely socialist concept

Steve King said this on a WorldNetDaily radio show.

If there’s a push for a socialist society, a society where the foundations of individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown together, living collectively off of one pot of resources earned by everyone. That is, this is one of the goals they have to go to is same-sex marriage because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to their goal. They want public affirmation. They want access to public funds and resources. Eventually all those resources will be pooled because that’s the direction we’re going. And not only is it a radical social idea, it is a purely socialist concept in the final analysis. [emphasis added]

Steve King also was the only vote in all of Congress to oppose a plaque commemorating the role of slaves in the construction of the Capitol Building. He did it to protect our Judeo-Christian heritage. But don’t let your head explode yet. Wait for this quote from his press release:

Last night I opposed yet another bill to erect another monument to slavery…

Yet ANOTHER bill? For ANOTHER monument? My God, Marilyn, what do these people WANT?

If you need someone to call Michelle Obama uppity

In 2008, Georgia representative Lynn Westmoreland was commenting on…oh, just listen to the audio.

And then watch this.

If Obama’s election sends you looking for a great white hope to save the GOP

Lynn Jenkins, from Kansas.

If you want to push your political agenda by exploiting the fears of senior citizens

You know where this is headed.

I love her directness. No meek statement from Ginnie. She’s not worried about seniors dying from neglect or waiting in long lines. No, she’s all about them being put to death. By the government! It takes a special kind of courage to come out against that sort of thing.

…veterans

I can’t say it any better than this:

Representative Stephen Buyer(R-ID) knows that by the middle of next week, the skeptical seniors will realize that they are on a single payer government run Medicare and the “kill granny” scare tactic was a hoax, so he is prepared to use the third bullet in this debacle by going after the veterans. Representative Buyer sent out a letter stating that “Major veterans’ organizations are speaking out against several provisions within the proposed House version of the national health care reform plan that could adversely affect veterans and their families.” Congressman Joe Sestak (D-PA), retired United States navy rear admiral and the highest former ranking military officer serving in Congress said “Section 202 prohibits the Health Care reform bill to affect VA benefits and their dependents.” Congressman Sestak went onto say that 265,000 veterans and their dependents that were above the $34,000 threshold limit ,were removed from the rolls of the VA in 2003 , without much fanfare from the republicans but Obama’s new budget will restore many of those same veterans and their dependents back into the system. As of today, 500,000 veterans and their dependents have been removed.

Seriously, pushing your agenda by trying deceive senior citizens — and now veterans? Can Republicans go any lower?

…and parents of disabled children

In September, Trent Franks offered this warning about the Democrats’ healthcare reform bill to parents of disabled kids:

We run into one reality: the rationing of care because you have to decrease the costs. There is always, always rationing and restrictions, which fall on the most weak.

Trent is right about the problem but wrong about the bill. There’s rationing already, done by health insurance companies that deny claims, terminate coverage, and refuse to insure those with pre-existing conditions. The reform bill tries to address those issues. “I’ll never vote for government-run healthcare,” Franks has said elsewhere. But “government-run healthcare” is one of those scary, dishonest bits of Republican jargon. The bill doesn’t put the healthcare system under government control, or put treatment decisions in the hands of government bureaucrats.

It’s hard to cast Trent as a bad guy in this debate. He was born with a cleft palate, and his late brother had Down Syndrome. He has every reason to take a deep and sincere interest in how disabled kids will fare under reform. But that makes him all the more dangerous when he distorts the truth.

Trent portrays himself as a defender of moral values, but that doesn’t prevent him from entering half-truths into the public record. In his opposition to extending hate crime protections to gays and lesbians, he spoke of the “Philadelphia 11″:

Eleven individuals were jailed and faced $90,000 in fines and 47 years in prison for simply speaking the Gospel openly and publicly.

Well, no. Trent doesn’t mention that police intervened when the eleven individuals tried to disrupt a publicly-permitted event and were charged with disorderly conduct after they ignored police orders to disperse for the sake of public safety. And ultimately none of them were tried under Pennsylvania’s hate crime statute, because these laws simply do not criminalize speech. Trent says none of that.

And by the way, existing hate crime legislation protects Christians (and other religious believers). Does his principled opposition include this protection, or was he moved to speak only when the gays got involved?

In this post I’ve only listed comments by US representatives. If you want to include state officials, the world gets even crazier.

You almost expect this sort of lunacy at the lower levels of government. But everything else in the post came from our representatives in Congress. The Republican party today has little interest in developing constructive policy. Its reps would rather spend their energy offering up ridiculous claims to see if they can ride a wave of deceit back into power. Hopefully, they’ll just catch a riptide and get pulled further out to sea.

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