Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Half-Truths, Harsh Rhetoric, and Other Things

You know the old saying. If you tell a lie enough times, people will begin to accept it as fact, and it becomes harder to dispel. Tennyson reminds us that "a lie that is half a truth / is ever the blackest of lies." There've been a lot of lies and half-truths bandied about in the aftermath of Katrina. In response to criticism of the Bush Adminstration's response to poverty (the aftermath of the storm having re-revealed the issues of poverty that still plague America), many on the Right have brought out a rather insidious lie in order to cover Bush's backside. I'll admit that some of the criticism has a tendency to descend into irrationality and over-the-top rhetoric ("Bush doesn't care about black people"; Bush= Bull Connor, etc), but conservatives have fudged the numbers in an attempt to make it seem as if poverty has decreased under Bush.

Consider this statement from Bill O'Reilly:

The facts are halfway through. The poverty under Bush is down 1 percent. That's the fact and the only accurate measuring stick. You wanna know why, Larry? Because of 9-11, that's why. That's the only accurate measuring stick. When Clinton took office, he was coming off a Bush the Elder recession. So he came into a situation that he turned around, and things got better poverty-wise, but it took him time. It took him time. So, halfway through his eight years, he was at -- what's the numbers? -- 13.7, OK, 13.7. Bush comes in, he gets hit on 9-11, which wipes out, wobbles the economy. All right? Halfway through, he's at 12.7. Larry, you can use statistics to do and prove anything. You've gotta get a fair measure. We gave you the fairest measure -- halfway through both terms, both men had to deal with circumstances. Clinton, a Bush the Elder recession; Bush, 9-11 attack.

Hat tip: Media Matters

The fact is, poverty went down under Clinton. When Clinton took office in 1993, poverty was at 15.1 percent. When he left office, it was 11.3 percent. Under Bush poverty has increased, rising to 11.7 in 2001, and every year thereafter, with the rate at 12.7 in 2004. The fact is, it's the trend that matters. Surely 9/11 played a part in worsening the recession that was already in place, but Bush cannot take credit for growth that his predecessor presided over.

Again, thanks to Media Matters.

All this being said, it still doesn't justify Rep. Charles Rangel comparing Bush to Bull Connor. That's just uncalled for. Sadly, it seems he has somewhat of a history with over-the-top hyperbole.

I'm going to post more on this later, but Michael Brown is a disgrace. His insistence on blaming the government's failures on Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco is absurd. Stop retending you're the victim, please.

My sympathy for Cindy Sheehan has nearly worn out. I will not attack her personally, but the fact that she was smiling while getting arrested only helps to confirm that she has been so consumed by grief, that she has passed beyond grief, into hysteria, and then into media-hyped madness. She, like many of the antiwar types that support her, is unappeasable.

Apparently, the counter-protest didn't help much, either.

One last thing: Was it really a good idea for the House Dems to boycott the Katrina investigation committe? I understand that its partisan, and that Dems won't have equal authority with Republicans, but what good does it do not to show up at all? Rep. Gen Taylor showed up, and took Mike Brown to task, as did Rep. William Jefferson. It just doesn't seem wise.

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