Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pay attention, or we'll be fooled again ...

Who was it Who said "we won't get fooled again"?


Sorry, indulging myself in the tiniest bit of Abbott and Costello like shtick, but I think we do need to pay attention to the stories coming from the right and the left (or in this case from the left about the right). Joe Nocera at the NYTimes has (I believe it's)yet another good explanation of both what conservatives are saying about and the reality of Freddie and Fannie's role in the financial meltdown. Nocera concentrates on the particular people who generated what he calls "The Big Lie", detailing how they spun it and how conservatives and Republican politicians including presidential candidates have rushed to repeat it. Nocera does pause to mention that Freddie and Fannie did get involved with sub-prime mortgages, but on the back side of the bell curve of the market. Which is to say Nocera does not let Freddie and Fannie off the hook, but he points out they were not driving the market for bad loans. By contrast, the big lie lets Wall Street off the hook, the crisis was the fault of the government.

Along the way Nocera has some killer links, like this one (admittedly from a Media Matters related website, but go ahead and produce data that proves their statements wrong). I might quietly point out that putting those kind of links in a column (like Frank Rich used to do) allows those of us who are curious to evaluate what the columnist considers to be back up sources, which is exactly what Jack Kelly of the PG doesn't do (yes, I will almost undoubtedly comment on tomorrow's column).

I also want to note the latest (surprise) Paul Krugman column where he points out that, in his particular example, Mitt Romney is being allowed to lie outrageously about Barack Obama. Now, thinking back to Bill Clinton, conservatives certainly lied outrageously about him. I think of the very tragic Vince Foster thing being spun into a claim that Democratic operatives actually killed him. Mind you, Clinton managed to provide enough actual dirt with his personal behavior to enable the Republicans to impeach him (but not convict him in the impeachment process, the language of which process is always confusing and hurts my head). But I do wonder if some (or maybe all) Republican politicians think they can be extra nasty to Obama because Obama is black. In particular I think of the phrase Rush Limbaugh uses to as a get out of jail free card for his responsibility in repeating whatever lie: "Just sayin'". Just sayin' that Obama wants to redistribute money so that everyone has the same amount, says Mitt Romney. Just sayin' that Obama is going to put free enterprise on trial, Romney opines in an interview.

Obama as President has been moderate to the point of alienating many of his supporters. Which is fine, he did not make campaign promises written in stone and/or blood, and besides, at least one of his promises was to reach out to the the other side. But what Krugman (and I) objects to is not that Obama broke his promises to be more aggressively liberal or even that the Republicans are lying about what kind of President Obama is, he (and I) objects to the media not screaming about how huge these Republican lies are. Of course, Obama himself has only recently began to push back ever so slightly (despite what my conservative friends might say). If Obama were a bit more like Clinton (by which I guess I might mean simultaneously thin skinned and tough) and responded as quickly as possible to any Republican attack, the media might be more inclined to fact check everybody, and grudgingly admit the truth gap between the two sides.

But it is a shame that mostly the mainstream media only repeats Republican attacks without any examination. Of course there are liberal blogs (such as the Huffington Post, Daily Kos, 2 Political Junkies and my own blog), but you the reader have to be a bit careful since we bloggers don't necessarily feel the need to try to be "fair and balanced", or even acknowledge there might be another point of view besides our own.

Speaking of not necessarily balanced, Gail Collins has another funny (not to say snarky) column today in the NYTimes, largely a summation of a moderately exciting political week. Yes, she slips another reference to Mitts' dog on the roof of the car (and I still laugh every single time). This time, she managed to find a recent Romney response to the story "“Uh — love my dog. That’s all I got for you,” Romney responded.".

Gail Collins knows what's important.

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