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The Big Lie

October 22nd, 2009 · No Comments · Economics, Politics

The Big Lie. We know what that is…the concept, that is. It is not a new concept. It is the idea that if you tell a big enough lie and tell it often enough people will begin to believe it.

But it has been revived in the last 30 years.The idea that, for example, you can cut taxes drastically and make government work better and be more solvent at the same time. That was Reagan’s idea, via economists like Arthur Laffer and Milton Friedman. Of course it did turn out to be voodoo economics. But the cycles were long and the political atmosphere was dense, like the economic savvy of the American people. Also, Reagan was charismatic by Presidential standards. He was charismatic like Kennedy, as no other President had been since Kennedy.

We had economic complications that Paul Volcker had a great part in working out, but Reagan got credit for the recovery, so that made it even more difficult. At that time we still had a very heavily spending…or so it seemed…congress under Tip O’Neill, who seemed like an old city pol, a big spender. That image stuck to the Democrats, making the idea of tax cuts to be followed (though they were not) by spending cuts much more palatable. So big tax cuts continued and lack of revenue continued until the economy and the treasury collapsed under the pressures of a tight economy and the weight of the huge debt itself.

That was one Big Lie. That you can have huge tax cuts, needed social services, Medicare, Social Security, a strong, sound military (plus two wars) and anything else you want on a beer budget.

So what kind of politician are we talking about who would tell the big lie? We have a description by a government agency of someone who is or was a master of the Big Lie. Here is what this agency said: “His primary rules were: never allow the public to cool off; never admit a fault or a wrong; never concede that there may be some good in your enemy; never leave room for alternatives; never accept blame; concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong; people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one; and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe.”

Who does that sound like? Richard Nixon? Or maybe it could be George W. Bush. Bill Clinton. Doesn’t sound like Gerry Ford to me. Or Reagan. Nor does it sound like Jimmy Carter. How about Bush the first? Lyndon Johnson? How about Dick Cheney? Sounds about right for him.

Actually the government agency was the OSS and the description was from a report on the character of Adolph Hitler, the originator of the term “big lie.”

But it could have been an American politician, couldn’t it? We’ve heard a lot of lies in recent years. Would that description fit Rush Limbaugh? Would it fit Dick Cheney or George W. Bush? How about Mitch McConnell or John Boehner? Every day in the House of Representatives, another Neocon who wants to make a name for himself or herself–a Peter King or a Joe Wilson or a Michelle Bachmann–some typically racist homophobe gets up and makes a speech filled with about 20 lies, from “government takeover” of health care to “death panels” for senior citizens.

Fox News Channel has made a faux news channel on the principle of the Big Lie. That “people will believe a big lie sooner than a little one, and if you repeat it frequently enough people will sooner or later believe.” Of course–not everyone will fall for it. Besides, no one is fooled by Fox News any longer. Once the President and the White House made the observation that Fox News is basically faux news, the other media no longer felt obliged to refer to them politely as a competitor news organization.

The fact that Fox is perpetually misstating White House positions and Democratic legislation, airing commentators who refer to the President as a dictator, a Communist or a Fascist–nonsensical name calling–has caused other news organizations to admit that Fox does not report the way that a legitimate news organization should. No one challenges the statement any longer that Fox is fake news.After you tell twenty or thirty lies and a dozen or more are obvious, not many people believe you are a serious news organization any longer. Serious news organizations, like CNN, fire obvious liars and fools…like Glenn Beck. Fox encourages and hires them. Of course, this is the premise of the Fox News sponsored “tea parties.” Fox is the Republicans’ own media organization, the one they use to defend big corporations. It is all about the money.

This is really where the Big Lie comes in. Two organizations are trying to create a kind of modern incarnation of the old Nazi S.A. We should take a quick and accurate look at what that meant. The S.S. was what we now call the “Gestapo.” They were different. They came after the Nazis were in power and they were the secret police with the power to arrest, beat, torture or shoot citizens at will.

The S.A., run by Ernst Roehm, was an early feature of the Nazi party, before they came to power, started by Hitler as a private army in 1921. The Nazis used physical force and violence early to intimidate those whom they could not persuade. In the turbulent days of early post-World War I Germany, it was not unusual for the Nazis or the Communists to have some muscle at their meetings or others’ meetings. The S.A. was a brutal, despicable group of derelicts, thugs and degenerates whose mission was to disrupt the political meetings of Hitler’s political opponents. Later, when Hitler assumed power they would conduct unchallenged attacks on Jewish shops and businesses.

Fox News cannot simply broadcast The Big Lie on the air. So the tea party rants, while not violent, enable the Republicans to create chaos where common sense and rationality would succeed. For Fox to rant on air like a political demagogue would not only remove the last vestiges of objectivity but perhaps it would be sufficient to draw the ire of the FCC, who knows? A media outlet is not a political party and should be licensed to serve the people, not one Party. Anyway, Fox News is about as close to being a political arm of the Republicans as you can get.

On the other hand, Fox apparently can endlessly report on the fabricated campaign against the evils of health care reform by the tea baggers. They have encouraged citizens to attend the protest “tea parties” and repeatedly broadcast their schedules.

But there is a bigger, more all encompassing Big Lie. It is actually the same one that has been used for years by all kinds of Neoconservative groups for different purposes. But the lie is the same: “We, the opponents of…(insert your favorite public issue) health care reform, bans on cigarette smoking, clean air, more energy options–it almost doesn’t matter what the issue–want to help you, the ‘hard-working American family’ fight this oppressive government, that wants to keep you down by (offering you reliable, affordable health care, or work in a smoke-free office or dine-out at a smoke free restaurant, afford gasoline for your car, or have renewable energy alternatives to gasoline.)” Pick the issue. It is always the same. Big government is trying to destroy you. And, oh yes, let’s cut taxes on the rich. (The Koch Family.)

Take net neutrality. When AT&T, Comcast and others literally give six, eight or ten million dollars to lobbyists every year–apiece. They want to set up two-tier Internet. Here’s how the lobbyists will frame it. As a battle between big old corporations (AT&T) and smaller corporations in the same business. They will put government on the side opposite to them. But that is not what is happening. AT&T is against you, the average Internet user. They want to set up a system whereby they can offer, and charge, businesses for higher speed service and leave you behind waiting to sign on or get a page to download. Why? Because they can make more money. And so that they can make you a second class citizen who has to pay the tab to move up to first class. But they are wrong. Everyone can and should have access to the best Internet available.

It isn’t just Fox News. Let’s take the organizers of the tea parties. Who are they? Well, Americans for Prosperity is a so called “think-tank.” It started as Citizens for a Sound Economy but internal problems caused a split. When it reorganized as Americans for Prosperity, it was headed by Nancy Pfotenhauer, a sometime economist, and former lobbyist for Koch Industries, the largest privately held oil company. Koch industries had been indicted on 97 counts of illegally dumping tons and tons of benzene, a carcinogen, from its refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. It was fined a total of $352 million. While Pfotenhaure was their lobbyist, they donated $800,000 to George W. Bush’s presidential campaign. Bush’s Justice Department dropped most of the charges and Koch paid minimal fines for making false statements on documents.

So the Americans for Prosperity leader saved the Koch brothers $352 million, which means that someone else…namely, you…had to pick up the tab for cleaning up their mess. That’s what Americans for Prosperity does. And Nancy Pfotenhauer and her connections–both her first husband and her second husband are lobbyists–are involved in health care lobbying. Nancy Pfotenhauer publicly takes great credit for her part in helping defeat health care for Americans in 1993. One would assume as a result of her hard work that she takes pride in a million bankruptcies a year caused by health care emergencies and 45,000 dead Americans every year from lack of health insurance.

So this is the same Nancy Pfotenhauer who fought to stop health care before, who threw hundreds of millions of dollars of oil-company bills onto your back, who fought to keep smoking in the workplace and in public establishments, and who had something to do with the campaign for John McCain and Sarah Palin to be President and Vice President. She was now the leader of a group that says it wants to save you from a formerly lowly paid, African-American, ghetto organizing, state senator and community organizer, who after becoming President somehow transformed himself into a megalomaniac, a Fascist, Communist (?) dictator. He wants to forcibly make you take….health care! Not just any health care. He wants to force you to have low-cost public health care…exactly the same as those other Fascist, Communist countries…Canada, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal.

But wait…the original tea parties were actually scheduled as tax day tea parties, right? They were in some kind of supposedly spontaneous response to Rick Santelli’s (CNBC) rant about the government’s helping people get out from under mortgage foreclosures. Which really did not seem that spontaneous, as a hundred or so websites appeared magically overnight. The rant by Santelli, might have been a little premature as it turned out, because many knowledgeable people in government later said it perhaps should have been extended because it was helping a serious problem for those in trouble with their mortgages. It might even have helped better than the Wall Street bailout to help jump-start the economy again.The problem with tax protests was that the only people with their taxes being raised were…Nancy Photenhauer and the Koch Family. So they were not happy. But if the Koch Family didn’t like having to pay a fine for putting cancerous materials into the air and water supply, they were probably unhappy when President Obama said that they, and

    not

citizens under $250,000 would lose their Bush tax deductions after 2010.

But that didn’t stop the Tax Day Tea Partiers. They continued to say, with the support of the Koch family, owners of the richest privately-owned oil company in the country, that citizens were being somehow disenfranchised. by…having their taxes cut? And they were told and indeed screamed and shouted about it, that they were suffering big-government oppression. Apparently from being offered affordable health care that cannot be taken away. And of course, living under mismanagement of the economy.

Let’s just take a look at that last one. “Mismanagement” of the economy. After taking over an economy in January of 2009, where the previous administration had conducted two wars that were begun but never resolved, an economy that lost 7 million jobs in two years, that left us $11 trillion in debt, that gave us the worst year of economic collapse, a near total economic melt-down, and a $700 billion bail-out with no restrictions. So, after a virtual black mail of the Congress and President Bush by Wall Street….then Obama came in and mismanaged the economy? It is also interesting to note that the tea parties started on tax day, April 15th! Three months into his Administration! There were no new taxes or even any discussion of new taxes. There were tax bonuses to senior citizens. And tax cuts in the Stimulus for those earning under $250,000. But no tax increases.

Does anyone see the big picture, the Big Lie? There were no tax increases on the people marching in the tea parties. Only on the rich who increased their wealth enormously, some of whom–surprise–sponsored the tea parties. Of course it would have an effect on the Koch family and its $4.00 per gallon gasoline and Wall Street with it’s multi-billion-dollar bail out bonuses, and the CEOs of health care companies who averaged $14 million in annual salaries. Still, on April 15th no one knew what the health care reform bills would be because they were not even out of the committees in the House or the Senate! So all the hue and cry about “government despotism” was preposterous. It turned out that all the shouting and disrupting were part of a larger plan to disrupt health care town halls.

But Americans for Prosperity were not the only marchers. Another group involved was FreedomWorks. They have been organized by Richard Armey, a former Right Wing Republican congressman from Texas. His organization, FreedomWorks, is also a spinoff from Citizens for a Sound Economy. So these organizations are all spawned by the likes of the arch-conservative Koch Family Foundation and the Scaife Foundation, the William Mellon Scaife organization that attacked Clinton relentlessly from the time they learned that he would be a formidable opponent and an excellent President, both of which he was.

So what are the “thoughts” of the FreedomWorks boys? That the current Obama Administration ideas are “faddish.” Democracy by and for the people. Armey thinks this is a fad. It will never catch on.  According to Armey, the only reason the Democrats won is that the Republicans were demoralized after Bush. Probably because of all the lack of fiscal discipline…all the spending. Armey, as the number two man in the House in those days was involved in doling out perks to lobbyists and Republican House members with both hands. In fact, at one point, when asked by a reporter if he wasn’t disillusioned by all the Republican spending, he just smiled and said, “To the victor go the spoils.”

So apparently, if we were to take him seriously, which of course you would need the IQ of a cantaloupe to do, we would guess that he now feels that we should cut taxes…which is FreedomWorks policy because it is the Koch Boys policy…they don’t like paying all those taxes on the income from the big energy company that daddy left them. We also know that his group is against Social Security. So apparently we should cut Social Security, cut Medicare and Medicaid, but keep the big contracts to pharmaceutical companies even though it is costing American citizens huge amounts more than they should be paying. Because the Republicans and Armey saw to it that there would be no negotiations on prices.

FreedomWorks and Armey’s big lies are simply off-the wall. Supposedly, we are over-taxed and government is oppressively involved in our lives. (But not in the Koch family’s life. They got off by paying off George W. Bush $800,000 rather than paying $532,000,000 in fines.) And Armey says that the People have “buyer’s remorse” after electing Barack Obama. Well, the fact is that even after the worst racist attacks on him personally, the most egregious lies about his and the Democrats’ health care proposals, and the worst lies about a populist President since the Right Wing attacked Franklin Delano Roosevelt,and the worst jobs picture, thanks to Armey’s friends, since 1930, his popularity just went down…to 57%.  Some polls do say that his approval rating has dropped, but most will not take the time to tell you that this was a 4% drop from exclusively Republican voters.

Another Big Lie is the way Armey quotes Reagan: “Good policy makes good politics.” Well, no one could argue with that. But typically the Republicans want you to blindly accept the premise that they do, in fact, offer good policy. You decide. Here is their policy: Create legislation that sends jobs overseas to cut labor costs. Vote and lobby against the Employees Free Choice Act to make it easier for unions to organize for decent wages and job protections. By the way they don’t try to modify it to make it acceptable to the Right Wing corporate lobbyists. Just stonewalled it. That’s their policy, and we know because that’s what they’ve done. FreedomWorks would still like to privatize Social Security. It almost goes without saying that they want to cut the Stimulus, cut taxes on the rich and on the Koch Family in particular and they want to leave health care just the way it is.

FreedomWorks, Armey says, will succeed because they are a “big tent” group.  This is more of the Big Lie. All of their positions appeal to only two really noticeable groups: disgruntled, poorly educated Northern and Western blue-collar workers and Southern Right Wing religious fundamentalists. Selling the idea that an African-American Liberal President is encouraging a “frightening” growth in the power of the state is preposterous. Especially coming from a Right Wing group, the Neoconservative Republicans, who continue to support a private army of  over 14,000 men who were paid by Dick Cheney through government contracts, and run by dangerous Right Wing radicals…pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-middle class, mercenary soldiers and religious fanatics. Talk about “frightening.”

Of course the biggest lie is the one we started with. It is the one that got Ronald Reagan elected and the dream of the wealthy American. It is to have a wonderful society that keeps me secure, that gives me good roads, good hospitals, good cities and good recreation– but costs me next to nothing. It is the idea that Armey wants to perpetuate, the real conviction, which is understandable–if you own an oil company–that you don’t need the government. Cut the government to nothing. Let each person make it on his own, with that extra two or three thousand dollars that each of us would get back in cash to us by only funding the military (half our taxes goes to the military) and the interest payments on the debt the Republicans ran up, which is after entitlements the next largest amount.

So if you did want good interstate highways, air traffic controllers and Homeland Security, the FBI, NSA and CIA that’s a little bit more. Then lets say that we only had the most basic of poverty-level funds for the elderly if they are both poor and sick. If not sick, Armey would say, you should work or should have saved the roughly $400,000 you would need to retire moderately replacing Social Security, and therefore be able to live at a permanent address with food. But, if you pay $20,000 in taxes, you would get back probably at least $6,000. But I would would watch the meat you eat and smell the milk before you drink it and be sure not to have that $6,000 eaten up in by prostate cancer or a mastectomy for your wife. Those things can eat you up, especially if you have one first and then they cancel your policy before she has her problem.

The Big Lie as it is pushed by Americans for Prosperity and by FreedomWorks is that we need to restrain government expansion. Should we cut back all the things that Armey voted for when he was part of the biggest expansion of government spending in the history of the country? Should we cut back what he and his pals spent, while borrowing all that money, including the money for tax cuts for the rich. What about the money for big expansions in prescription drugs but no price concessions from the drug companies and the money it cost to wage war in Iraq and Afghanistan? Many sensible people may find what the Republicans did in the last 8 years more frightening than the stimulus which has put about 750,000 people to work and is slowly but surely building more jobs. The Koch Family, not Armey, not Nancy Pfotenhauer… don’t you worry about them. They have jobs trying to get you to abandon your dreams.

Americans’ dreams are pretty moderate compared to those who inherited an oil company. Many Americans, most Americans, simply want good health care that they cannot lose, the ability to buy a home without Wall Street hucksters bidding up the price. They want to be able to send the kids to reasonably good schools, maybe to college, and later in life have help with retirement through the money they have paid into Social Security for a lifetime. Where is that money, by the way? Well, right now, since Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill salvaged Social Security, that money… a surplus every single year…has been spent. Much of it went to pay off Arab sheiks and the Chinese government in interest on the debt the Republicans rang up.

FreedomWorks and Armey have their own agenda. It has noting to do with free spending by Democrats. Armey was a big spender. And today, the current number two Republican in the House, the little weasel Eric Kantor was a big spender until the Democrats came in. Now he wants to cut spending…on…guess whom? The middle class and the lower middle class. On unemployment insurance (money that we pay in) and Medicare doctors’ reimbursements.

Armey says that “life is a sacred gift from the lord god almighty and it is the duty of the state to protect it.” Well, that would sound a lot better if he were concerned with life after birth, not merely before birth. Armey says that Ronald Reagan was the greatest President of his lifetime. He wasn’t. Not even close. Returning to Reagan era values is just that…setting the clock back to start a failed…and as it turned out, disastrous…economic system. That would be the single biggest way to perpetuate The Big Lie.

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