Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 21, 2009

FIRST HAM, THEN A DOOR.... There's nothing wrong with the administration's conservative detractors looking for misguided stimulus expenditures. The White House has said the money would be spent wisely, and if far-right activists want to watch the administration like a hawk, making sure there's a legitimate explanation for every penny, fine.

But could they at least get their facts straight before throwing a fit?

Earlier, we talked about the right's claim that the administration used $1.19 million of taxpayer funds to buy just two pounds of ham. In the real world where the grown-ups live, the Department of Agriculture actually spent $1.19 million of taxpayer funds to buy 760,000 pounds of ham -- that's 380 tons -- to be distributed to local organizations that assist low-income Americans through food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens.

Also yesterday, Drudge said $1.4 million in recovery funds went to "repair a door" at Dyess Air Force Base's "bldg 5112." Fox News' Glenn Beck was outraged, and said this is proof that "they're just peeing your money away."

"Wow, what happened to that door?" Beck asked. "That's a lot of repairing, you know. Can we buy a new one, and cheaper?"

Wouldn't you know it, that's completely wrong.

[U]nder the "View all project descriptions" link on the page to which the Drudge Report linked, Recovery.gov actually states that the government awarded AFCO Technologies nearly $1.2 million to replace gas mains on the base, and $246,100 to repair doors in Building 5112. A Department of Defense document listing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects in Texas states that the doors that were repaired in Building 5112 are "hangar doors."

Moreover, a May 5 press release from the Dyess Air Force Base stated that the money awarded for the gas main project "may have saved eight jobs" and that the base could "now possibly hire two more employees."

So, once again, all of the relevant details of the claim are either demonstrably false or wildly misleading.

Better conservatives, please.

Steve Benen 11:20 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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they aren't conservatives; conservatives care about facts. they are right-wing propagandists.

Posted by: howard on July 21, 2009 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

So, once again, all of the relevant details of the claim are either demonstrably false or wildly misleading. Better conservatives, please.

You seem to think that it matters to these people that their claims be true or not wildly misleading. I think you need to re-examine that view.

Posted by: Ugh on July 21, 2009 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

I don't know what you would call them, beyond 'cretinous imbeciles'. Due diligence is beyond their abilities. They get up each and every morning searching for something to get outraged about, and they aren't very picky, either, and credulous to a fault.

Posted by: c4logic on July 21, 2009 at 11:31 AM | PERMALINK

Better conservatives, please.

Better at what? They're very, very good at the one thing that matters: controlling the terms of the debate. If the Big Lie is what it takes, then by all means there's going to be a Big Lie every day. (In fact, that may turn out to be precisely the strategy.)

Posted by: Steve M. on July 21, 2009 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK


I love you man, but you really have to stop this. This baseline assumption that you seem to take with every post that conservatives are just mistaking the facts rather than being purposefully dishonest is becoming tiresome. They aren't making mistakes. Maybe they know the truth or maybe they don't but the evidence is that they simply don't care either way. They make these statements because they believe it helps their agenda and, more often than not, it works. Contrary to your tone, they will likely suffer no real penalty for any of this and they will continue to influence public opinion toward their framing, no matter how unbelievably dishonest they are. Wake up, seriously.

Posted by: brent on July 21, 2009 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

What Brent said.

Posted by: Obama / Steelers / etc on July 21, 2009 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

I think Becky is back on the juice!!!

(recovered alcoholic my foot!!!)

Posted by: annjell on July 21, 2009 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

They make these statements because they believe it helps their agenda and, more often than not, it works.

Seriously. This is a feature, not a bug. Hoping that conservative are suddenly going to gain enlightenment and play fair is useless.

Posted by: Run Up The Score on July 21, 2009 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

If they were "better" they wouldn't be conservatives. I agree with the posts above. You're making a big mistake assuming any level of honesty on the part of these people.

Posted by: FitterDon on July 21, 2009 at 12:06 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, 'the right' does not and can not claim anything. It is an abstraction. Individuals make claims and their claims do not become representative of a political faction on your say so.

Given that all you really need to be a political blogger is a)have an interest in politics and b)own a computer is not very surprising that they are of a variable quality. It is not interesting to note that some of them produce work that features intellectual and moral failings.

Neither it is interesting, nor creditable, to gather the weakest amongst these and assert that they are THE voice of their respective ideology .

If you're going to claim(and this is you claiming, Steve. Not 'the left') that the failings of individual conservatives are indicative of more general failings then you surely must make at least a token effort at actually substantiating the claim.

Posted by: teqzilla on July 21, 2009 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe these newborn fiscal hawks should turn their investigative skills towards finding out where the billions of dollars of unaccounted funds for Iraq and Afghanistan went.

Posted by: 2Manchu on July 21, 2009 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to say it but I think Brent is spot on.

Pointing out their mistakes is just a starting point. Republican dissembling needs to draw more than a correction, it should cost them something. Let's ask ourselves: What Would Rove Do?

Why not make lies like this the anchor point for an attack? "These lies further illustrate how Republicans' failed ideology is unable to deal with basic facts. The most basic truths, plainly written for all to see, need to be distorted in order for Republicans to make any argument whatsoever. How can we trust their statements on Health Care, the economic recovery, and everything else when they lie about something so simple as this?"

Posted by: poliwog on July 21, 2009 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Take a cue from the opposition. Start asking why the GOP hates American farmers and our men and women in the USAF.

Posted by: Mike on July 21, 2009 at 12:14 PM | PERMALINK

"they aren't conservatives; conservatives care about facts. they are right-wing propagandists. --howard"

Exactly. Trying to make sense of these guys is a losing game. You'll just get your mind twisted into a pretzel because logic has nothing to do with it. And while you're doing that, they'll spew more propaganda.

What Beck and others does is severely damaging to the fabric of the country; which is of course their aim -- they can't stand the country as it is. And if you don't agree with them down the line, they can't stand you.

The only way I can see to defeat these guys is to do what Benen and so many others do: refute their false statements daily. Hopefully, over time, a significant portion of the country will come to see them as they are. Not confused, not misguided, but quite serious, intentional propagandists.

Posted by: beep52 on July 21, 2009 at 12:15 PM | PERMALINK

LOL -- don't take cues from the opposition: they're losers.

Take a lesson from a winner, who responded to an attack not unlike the lunatic charge that the Obama administration spent zillions to buy... two hams????

"These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don't resent attacks, and my family doesn't resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I had left him behind on the Aleutian Islands and had sent a destroyer back to find him - at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars- his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since.... I think I have a right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog."

Posted by: theAmericanist on July 21, 2009 at 12:19 PM | PERMALINK

teqzilla, give us a frickin' break: name 10 honest conservatives who play a prominent role in today's discourse. i'll give you all the time you need, because you're going to need a lot of it.

for evidence, just pick up an issue of the weekly standard, the national review, or the wall street journal editorial page: they are all filled with lunacy and propaganda, with so little actual conservative thought as to be clearly an accident when it appears.

Posted by: howard on July 21, 2009 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

Neither it is interesting, nor creditable, to gather the weakest amongst these and assert that they are THE voice of their respective ideology .
Drudge and Glenn Beck as "weakest among these" then denying their representativeness.

Anyone with an opinion, a computer, and an internet connection can comment at Washington Monthly. I'll reserve judgment until the NRC chair, and the Minority Leaders of both houses of Congress repudiate the two of them, and conservative publications cease to get any information from them before I take your meager word for it.
Thanks for playing, though!

Posted by: kenga on July 21, 2009 at 12:23 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah, I'm going to go back to not reading about politics again. It's just too infuriating. Look at Glenn Reynolds' take on the ham story:


The guy obviously knows from the start that the story is bullshit, but decides to basically promote it anyway. Then later when - surprise surprise - it's revealed to be bullshit, he publishes that information and then five seconds later, he suggests that what this whole affair teaches us is that the Obama administration is corrupt. Fuck that guy. He should go die in a fire and I should go do something that doesn't raise my blood pressure for no reason.

Posted by: Anon on July 21, 2009 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

"teqzilla, give us a frickin' break: name 10 honest conservatives who play a prominent role in today's discourse. i'll give you all the time you need, because you're going to need a lot of it. "

You've got to be kidding, Howard. Ever watch a Sunday morning news show. You'd think the GOP was still in charge of all three branches of government. These clowns have forfeited their right to have a say in managing this country for a long time. Give US a break, dude.

Posted by: FitterDon on July 21, 2009 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Better conservatives, please.

We have better conservatives; they're called Democrats. What we really need are better liberals.

Posted by: doubtful on July 21, 2009 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Unless I am mistaken there is a growing trend among liberal-leaning bloggers and broadcasters to fight back against right wing propaganda with a Joe Friday, "nothing but the facts ma'm" approach. I just watched Rachel Maddow eviserate Pat Buchanan with a point by point rebuttal of Buchannan's insane claim that America "was basically built by white folks." She did it using nothing more than the historical record. Al Franken constantly reduces Bill O'Reilly to a sputtering ad hominem rage with the precision of his courtroom-like presentations of why O'Reilly is big fat liar. The best that O'Reilly can do in reply is to say: "Shut up, Shut up, you had your 30 minutes...!!!" And on and on it goes. I think all of us know that most right wing rhetoric is nothing more than vague, airy abstractions ("freedom, liberty, socialism, secular progressive, Angry Left, Far Left, Radical Left...") where sloganeering and labeling substitute for real arguement and the facts. For liberals, to call a right winger a fascist has its own momentary emotional appeal, but it also leaves you feeling empty. Conservatives, on the other hand, seem perfectly content to label the president and everything he does as "socialist" and then call it a day. My guess, is that over time even inattentive American public will begin to notice the difference.

Posted by: Ted Frier on July 21, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

It's the Big Lie technique. Even after every single one of these tall tales is debunked, there will still be the suspicion that our money is being frivolously thrown away by those eeeeevil libruls.
That's what they want; facts don't come into it.

Posted by: thalarctos on July 21, 2009 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

These aren't 'conservatives;' it's debatable when the last real conservative was seen in US politics.

The very definition of 'conservative' implies that, well, you want to conserve something. The current right wing, on the other hand, sees nothing wrong w/destroying the US economy and world standing, and decimating the largest middle class in world history.

What we have now are right-wing extremists. I suspect that the last Republican President who could be honestly called 'conservative' was Ford- a competent, middle-of-the-road, midwestern conservative. He wasn't interested in breaking things, his much-lampooned clumsiness aside (ironically, he was probably the best athlete of our Presidents, having played football at Michigan). Reagan, Bush I + II, and the current crop in Congress, though, seem far less interested in conserving anything as much as they are in destroying anything on which they can get their grubby, and money-grubbing, little hands.


Posted by: Zorro on July 21, 2009 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

FitterDon, you misunderstand: my point is that what you see on the sunday talk shows are right-wing propagandists, that there aren't 10 honest conservatives in public discourse.

for further detail, read zorro at 1:52!

Posted by: howard on July 21, 2009 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

But this post is like explaining to the public that reads that the victim hung by the lynch mob was actually innocent...IT'S A LITTLE FUCKING LATE!

Shame there is not someone to debunk Beck's lies as he spews them...but that's kind of like throwing balls to dunk the clown isn't it? Naw...much more serious.

btw...when is Obama going to replace the USAs. How are we to ever de-Bushify the gov when Obama and Holder won't even take the first step??

Posted by: bjobotts on July 21, 2009 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Conservatives are liars and traitors. Period.

Posted by: Mike on July 21, 2009 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

We are the most prosperous nation on the face of the earth. The stakes are high for those making big money (including the ruling class). These guys are playing for keeps and the means justify the ends in their minds. It will only end when the majority of Americans wise up and vote these delusional idiots out of office and refuse to watch Fox News and listen to talk radio. It could take many years and the war on public schools isn't helping.

Posted by: Always Hopeful on July 21, 2009 at 8:55 PM | PERMALINK

If the roles were reversed and this were Democrats running with crazy shit, they'd be shamed into dropping their source by about the second time it was revealed as crazy shit. I mean, it has happened, and I've seen the Democrat or democratic supporter in question apologize and suggest that he/she should have done the basic research that resulted in his/her stupid enabling of a bullshit story to grow legs.

Not the Republicans. Matt Drudge is regarded as a more credible source than ever (by his nutty readership) because he's "digging for secrets and exposing corruption". Notice the word "lying" doesn't appear in there anywhere. Ditto Limbaugh - these are his salad days, he could probably even get laid by a Republican chick, they think he's such a leader.

In a just world, the heads of Republicans all over the U.S. would suddenly explode, like that guy in "Scanners".

Posted by: Mark on July 21, 2009 at 9:27 PM | PERMALINK

I just don't understand how it is that someone credible can't stand up and debunk this crappola. Will nobody call bullshit on this bunch? What is it going to take?

Posted by: Thisby on July 21, 2009 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK
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