From Nobel laureate Paul Krugman's February 4 New York Times column:
So why the sudden ubiquity of deficit scare stories? It isn't being driven by any actual news. It has been obvious for at least a year that the U.S. government would face an extended period of large deficits, and projections of those deficits haven't changed much since last summer. Yet the drumbeat of dire fiscal warnings has grown vastly louder.
To me - and I'm not alone in this - the sudden outbreak of deficit hysteria brings back memories of the groupthink that took hold during the run-up to the Iraq war. Now, as then, dubious allegations, not backed by hard evidence, are being reported as if they have been established beyond a shadow of a doubt. Now, as then, much of the political and media establishments have bought into the notion that we must take drastic action quickly, even though there hasn't been any new information to justify this sudden urgency. Now, as then, those who challenge the prevailing narrative, no matter how strong their case and no matter how solid their background, are being marginalized.
And fear-mongering on the deficit may end up doing as much harm as the fear-mongering on weapons of mass destruction.
Let's talk for a moment about budget reality. Contrary to what you often hear, the large deficit the federal government is running right now isn't the result of runaway spending growth. Instead, well more than half of the deficit was caused by the ongoing economic crisis, which has led to a plunge in tax receipts, required federal bailouts of financial institutions, and been met - appropriately - with temporary measures to stimulate growth and support employment.
The point is that running big deficits in the face of the worst economic slump since the 1930s is actually the right thing to do. If anything, deficits should be bigger than they are because the government should be doing more than it is to create jobs.
Why, then, all the hysteria? The answer is politics.
The main difference between last summer, when we were mostly (and appropriately) taking deficits in stride, and the current sense of panic is that deficit fear-mongering has become a key part of Republican political strategy, doing double duty: it damages President Obama's image even as it cripples his policy agenda. And if the hypocrisy is breathtaking - politicians who voted for budget-busting tax cuts posing as apostles of fiscal rectitude, politicians demonizing attempts to rein in Medicare costs one day (death panels!), then denouncing excessive government spending the next - well, what else is new?
The trouble, however, is that it's apparently hard for many people to tell the difference between cynical posturing and serious economic argument. And that is having tragic consequences.
For the fact is that thanks to deficit hysteria, Washington now has its priorities all wrong: all the talk is about how to shave a few billion dollars off government spending, while there's hardly any willingness to tackle mass unemployment. Policy is headed in the wrong direction - and millions of Americans will pay the price.
From Fox News Radio reporter Todd Starnes' Twitter account:
From Joseph Farah's February 5 WorldNetDaily column:
Here's a sneak peak at what I will be talking about in my keynote address to the first National Tea Party Convention in Nashville tonight. I wish you could all be there, but it's a sellout:
I have a dream.
My dream is that IF Barack Obama even seeks re-election as president in 2012, he won't be able to go to any city, any town, any hamlet in America without seeing signs that ask, "Where's the birth certificate?"
It's a simple question.
The rest of the media think it's ridiculous, which makes me certain it's one of the most important questions we can be asking. It really hits the target. Polls now show 33 percent of Californians either believe Obama was born outside the country or have doubts about his alleged Hawaiian birth. Nationwide it's closer to 50 percent. Even significant numbers of Democrats have doubts.
But the media and the politicians keep pretending it's all been settled.
I say if it's been settled, show us the birth certificate.
It's an old trick really. It was actually codified by a Marxist Columbia University professor and his research assistant in an article in The Nation May 2, 1966 -- when Barack Obama was only 4 years old. (Or at least we think he was about 4 years old. Without that birth certificate, we just don't really know.) The professor of social work was Richard A. Cloward, and his research assistant was Frances Fox Piven. What they authored became known as "the Cloward-Piven Strategy of Orchestrated Crisis."
Today, Obama is still employing the Cloward-Piven strategy, but not as a community organizer. Today he is the Community Organizer in Chief.
He's still creating crises as a means of empowerment.
Think about it: With Obama, everything is a crisis -- carbon dioxide levels, the banking industry, the automobile industry, the health-care system and especially the economy.
He's going to fix them all, he promises.
By turning make-believe crises into real crises.
The goal remains the same as when it was first outlined in 1966. It is, as the Marxists of the 1960s and early 1970s explained, to "heighten the contradictions of capitalism," bring the system to its knees and, ultimately, collapse.
Do I exaggerate?
I don't think so.
It's the only paradigm that makes sense given the policies of the Obama administration and the Democratic Congress. They are following a deliberate course to destroy the American free-enterprise system, your freedom and the American way of life.
After all, the God of the Christians and Jews says: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
That's His first commandment. And His second doesn't make Him any easier to swallow: Don't worship idols.
That's pretty much what the U.S. government has become for many Americans.
And God says: "Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me."
You see, it's kind of a mutual aversion situation.
Here is what NR's Greg Pollowitz wrote Thursday, following the news that a conservative blogger had been hit by a car in Washington, D.C. [emphasis added]:
Jim Treacher, a very funny blogger for Tucker Carlson's new Daily Caller website, was involved in a hit-and-run car accident yesterday — involving the Secret Service.
But it turns out the Secret Service had nothing to do with accident, and there's no evidence it was a "hit-and-run." But other than that, Pollowitz nailed it.
It's true that a conservative blogger, who writes under name Jim Treacher, immediately claimed he'd been hit by a Secret Service SUV. (Which, of course, lit a fire under the conspiratorial, right-wing blogosphere.) But in fact, he was not hit by a Secret Service vehicle. The claim, according to "federal law enforcement officials," was baseless. (The driver reportedly worked for the State Dept.)
As for the "hit-and-run," the Daily Caller reported that after the accident, an agent in the SUV phoned the Daily Caller office to inform them that an employee had been injured. How is that possibly a "hit-and-run" when someone in the car stops at the accident scene to make sure the victim's friends are notified?
But back to NRO. When is Pollowitz going to post a correction after he falsely claimed the Secret Service had been involved in a "hit-and-run" accident?
UPDATED: And how about the Daily Caller itself, which allowed its blogger to publish the allegation on its site that he'd been hit by the Secret Service, which was not true. The Daily Caller then posted a long, detailed account of the accident, suggesting a government conspiracy to cover up the crime. Yet in that accusatory article, the Daily Caller left out the fact that its employee originally, and eroneously, accused the Secret Service of running him over, and did it on the Daily Caller site. That fact was conveniently flushed down the memory hole.
UPDATED: Trust me, I'm not trying to pick on a pedestrian who got hit by an SUV and broke his knee, and I'm certainly not defending the driver. Plus, I'm not trying to make it a partisan thing. But it was the conservative blogger, and his online supporters, like Glenn Reynolds, who immediately claimed that the Secret Service had run the blogger over, and/or it was a "hit-and-run" accident. I have no special insight into the unfortunate incident, but neither did conservatives who aired the incendiary, and false, claim against the Secret Service. But I don't see anyone on the right bothering to apologize for trafficking those claims.
Though sadly, the lack of right-wing accountability does not surprise me.
UPDATED: Treacher's pal Matt Welch at Reason unloads on the handling of the accident. But interestingly, Welch ignores the fact that the original claim -- that the Secret Service had clipped Treacher in a "hit-and-run"-- turned out to be completely false. Welch bemoans the (government) "lies" being told about the accident, but he ignores perhaps the biggest two of all.
From the February 5 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
From Pruden's February 5 column in The Washington Times, titled, "There's nothing gay about this mission":
There's really not very much gay about war, as anybody who has seen a battlefield up close and personal will tell you. The nation's Army and Navy are organized for a simple ultimate mission, to kill people and break things.
You might think war is endless gaiety, like Mardi Gras, from this week's coverage of Senate Armed Services Committee hearings about whether to repeal the law enabling homosexuals to serve in the armed forces so long as nobody asks and they don't tell.
The military services have always discriminated against a lot of people in choosing who they want for the grim tasks and brutal duties of war. Congress and the courts have always granted the services wide latitude. The old, the halt, the lame, the one-legged man and even the man with flat feet are not allowed to serve, either. It would never have occurred to the generations who won America's wars to question such common sense. Now we have pregnant sailors and routinely send mothers of small children off to do the work of men, so why not oblige men who look upon other men with lust?
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified they were ready to welcome "open" gays into the ranks just as soon as Congress says it's OK, but neither man wanted to talk much about why many of their military colleagues think this would not be a good idea. More than a thousand retired generals and admirals, no longer at the mercy of the president or the bureaucracy, have signed a letter saying so.
Adm. Mullen wanted to talk mostly about how he's not like the homophobes who resist introducing confusion and uncertainty into the ranks. Navies once took small boys aboard ship as cabin boys to make life pleasant for the officers, and that seemed to work out all right. So what's the big deal?
From the Fox Nation (accessed on February 3):
At least eighty advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Here are his February 4 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
LIMBAUGH: They're all trying to get Sarah Palin to denounce me just as she did Rahm, and if she doesn't do it, she's a hypocrite, they're saying. She knows that I do this kind of -- Sarah Palin is a lifelong listener of this program. I have never told you people this. It was in our Sarah Palin interview in the Limbaugh Letter, but one of the years I'm out at the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, a guy comes up to me and says, "My daughter is a huge fan. Would you sign a book for me?" And it was a copy of my book and it was to Sarah Palin. Long before she was governor of Alaska.
So, and I've had a couple of chats with her, one on the air here and one for the Limbaugh Letter, the most widely read political newsletter in the country. So they're trying to goad her into denouncing me like they did Emanuel, but she knows that all I'm doing is quoting Emanuel and highlighting that it's these people who say this kind of stuff.
Approximately four hours later: Palin spokesperson responds to Greg Sargent's questions about Limbuagh's comments and says that "crude and demeaning name calling at the expense of others is disrespectful":
Palin believes Limbaugh's repeated use of the word "retard" yesterday was "crude and demeaning," her spokesperson emails.
In the wake of Palin's demand that Rahm Emanuel be fired for calling a bunch of liberal activists "f-king retards," a bunch of people have been asking how she'd react to Limbaugh's tirade on the air yesterday.
"Our political correct society is acting like some giant insult's taken place by calling a bunch of people who are retards, retards," Rush said, adding that Rahm's meeting yesterday with advocates for the mentally handicapped was a "retard summit at the White House."
I asked Palin spokesperson Meghan Stapleton for comment on Rush's rant, and she emailed me this:
"Governor Palin believes crude and demeaning name calling at the expense of others is disrespectful."