Ann/otations 3

"Be still thralls, for I am about to speak."
Another installment in our attempt to explicate the unique logic, caustic prose, and insightful analysis of Republican performance artist Ann Coulter, gleaned from her "Seriously, I didn't write this in 15 minutes before heading out to a 5-Star Manhattan bistro" columns published weekly in Human Events. In this week's episode, Ms. Coulter must debunk a viral Facebook post by reminding us that all Democrats are liars, even if they work for the Wall St. Journal. 

 Figures Don’t Lie: Democrats Do

If you follow the rightwing blogosphere with any regularity, you soon realize that wingnuts believe the word Democrat is wholly synonymous with “liar”—all the time, no exceptions, throughout all of human history (indeed, as understanding the historical malleability of political positions and parties is brain-hurting, wingnuts find it much easier to project a Manichean struggle of leftist D’s and righty R’s all the way back  through history to when Jesus first tamed the dinosaurs.  Thus did the Son of God come to earth to cut our taxes, only to be betrayed by Judas (D-Galilee) who wanted to earmark a Museum of Roman Sex Toys for his home district). 

Coulter herself can take much credit for this branding, having incorporated the words “Demonic,” “Guilty,” “Godless,” “Treason,” and “Slander” into her book titles (her upcoming book, Scumfuck Rapists, is reportedly out for copy-editing).  Now you know this is a joke, and Coulter most certainly knows this is all in well-paying fun.  But after a decade of reading this dross, Coulter’s fans have gradually lost all ability to discern pandering hyperbole, and now take it as a matter of faith that any Democrat—even the local dog catcher—is a treasonous minion of Satan.  Coulter’s title reminds us of this fundamental premise: all Democrats are liars.   

(1). It's been breaking news all over MSNBC, liberal blogs, newspapers and even The Wall Street Journal: "Federal spending under Obama at historic lows ... It's clear that Obama has been the most fiscally moderate president we've had in 60 years."

There is apparently a new story and/or study demonstrating that President Obama has, contrary to wingnut dogma, actually worked to reduce the rate of Federal spending over his first term.  I will now find that study and read it so we might know what has Ms. Coulter in an ersatz lather this week.  Hold on, please.

As it turns out, Ms. Coulter’s need to rally the troops here stems from a threat more pressing than a mere MSNBC story.  There is apparently a Facebook posting that has gone viral demonstrating in fairly easy to understand terms that Obama is in fact NOT burning $1000 bills in the Rose Garden and wafting the smoke over to Maryland in the hope of causing a few spontaneous abortions.    

(2) There's even a chart!

Yes, there is.  Coulter’s no idiot, and she knows that a clear, concise graphic might actually have an impact, even with those loyal readers who look up to Ms. Coulter for instruction as to what not to believe.  Even worse, the legions of terrified elderly that comprise a significant segment of Coulter’s readership could actually have grandsons or granddaughters who, in theory, might send this chart to Gammy as an email attachment.  So the entire idea of a “chart” must be dismissed, which Ms. Coulter executes here through the sarcastic use of an exclamation point.  Crucially, Coulter herself does not reproduce said chart in her own article, even as she mocks it, realizing that even a fleeting glance at this graphic might sow a seed of doubt in the field of dimwits she has so carefully cultivated over the years.   

Here, for point of reference, is the viral posting (with chart!) that Ms. Coulter cannot allow her readers to see.

On the left side, an IBM punch-card passes through the Romnoid sprocket assembly and replicates a standard statement about Obama spending Federal money like a drunken socialist sailor.   On the right, meanwhile, is the potentially damaging chart that demonstrates this statement is more wish than fact.  In this comparison of the growth in Federal spending under the past five Presidents, please note that Obama’s rate of growth is actually the lowest (1.4), followed by Clinton (3.2 and 3.9).  Adding insult to injury, the really big Federal spender here is Reagan in his first term (8.7), although Coulter would no doubt justify that spending spree as it helped put a boot up the former Soviet Union’s economically unstable buttocks. 

Now remember, Ms. Coulter’s readers have not seen this chart—ideally, their only access to this information will be the frame provided below by Ms Coulter herself.   They have seen, however, a statement claiming Obama has actually slowed down the growth of Federal spending to an historic low.  This sets Ms. Coulter up for a very humorous “gag:” 

(3) I'll pause here to give you a moment to mop up the coffee on your keyboard. Good? OK, moving on ...

The above is a writer’s strategy for implying a kind of “spit-take,” that classic of stage and screen wherein a character is so surprised at receiving outrageous and/or shocking information that he “spits” out his beverage.  Jerry Lewis was very good at this gag, and Jon Stewart uses it quite often on The Daily Show, typically in “quotation marks.” Crucially, Coulter implies here that her readers will do a “spit-take,” not because they might be surprised to see that the growth of Federal spending has been very low under Obama; but rather, because they will be shocked that anyone would dare offer evidence contradicting something they feel so passionately to be true.   

(4) This shocker led to around-the-clock smirk fests on MSNBC.

I need to go boom-boom.
A note on style: Looking at this sentence, writer to writer, I would have suggested going with this subtle change: “This shocker led to AN around-the-clock smirk FEST on MSNBC.”  Identifying a singular “fest” would imply more unity of ideological action on the part of the MSNBC smirk team rather than fleeting, intermittent fests of smirk scattered across the schedule.  For example, if Fox suddenly found a video of Joe Biden kicking a retired Army mine-sniffing dog, I would write, “This has led to an around-the-clock outrage orgasm at Fox” and not, “This has led to around-the-clock outrage orgasms at Fox.”  The individual orgasms various Fox hosts might have at the sight of Biden kicking an old Army dog are not nearly as vivid or damning as the collective orgasm one might attribute to an entire organization, from Ailes all the way down to the interns charged with escorting Brian Kilmeade to the potty during commercial breaks. 

(5) As with all bogus social science from the left, liberals hide the numbers and proclaim: It's "science"! This is black and white, inarguable, and why do Republicans refuse to believe facts?

Ms. Coulter has some tricky maneuvering to do here.  She might simply dismiss all “social science” as “bogus,” but as we’ll see, she needs to invoke a conservative economist later in the piece, so very carefully she specifies that only social science from the LEFT is bogus (a big surprise, I know).  The portion in italics (hers, not mine), however, allows her embattled readership to rehearse previous traumatic exchanges they’ve had with friends, neighbors, and family who have dared challenge their conservative belief system by appeals to “science” and “fact.”   “But Dad, why is God no longer making us with wisdom teeth?”  “Aren’t the Bush tax cuts the single biggest hole in the deficit?”  “Sorry Grandma, but most folks think the GM bailout worked out pretty well.”  Stung by these frequent invocations of troublesome “facts,” wingnuts need Ms. Coulter’s reassurance here that she understands their italicized pain, that she knows what it’s like to have annoying liberals make reference to books, charts, and experts rather than feelings, fears, and intuition. 

(6)  Ed Schultz claimed the chart exposed "the big myth" about Obama's spending: "This chart -- the truth -- very clearly shows the truth undoubtedly." And the truth was, the "growth in spending under President Obama is the slowest out of the last five presidents."

Note that Schultz also said that the "part of the chart representing President Obama's term includes a stimulus package, too." As we shall see, that is a big, fat lie.

Wisely, Ms. Coulter diverts here from Marketwatch, The Wall St. Journal, and the other media sources that reported this story to focus exclusively on MSNBC.  This is because, for Coulter’s readers, anything that appears on MSNBC is false.  Tit-for-tatters might say, well isn’t that just the same way liberals feel about Fox?  Don’t liberals assume everything on Fox is propaganda?  For the most part, yes.  However, even I am willing to entertain the possibility that Steve Doocy really does find a Fox and Friends recipe for “whiskey-infused hush puppies” genuinely delicious.  If, on the other hand, Mika Brzezinski commented that the traffic in New York had been really bad that morning, Coulter’s readers would have no choice but to read this as a veiled socialist demand for more Federal money supporting public transit.

(7) Schultz's guest, Reuters columnist David Cay Johnston confirmed: "And clearly, Obama has been incredibly tight-fisted as a president."

Everybody's keyboard OK?

See note #3.

(8)  On her show, Rachel Maddow proclaimed: "Factually speaking, spending has leveled off under President Obama. Spending is not skyrocketing under President Obama. Spending is flattening out under President Obama."

In response, three writers from "The Daily Show" said, "We'll never top that line," and quit.

As an out lesbian with a Ph.D. from Berkeley, Maddow might appear to be the sine qua non of conservative pants-shitting.  They don’t like her, that’s true—but the real dig here is at The Daily Show. 

One of the things I’ve discovered in recent tussling with righties in the blogosphere is that they really, really hate The Daily Show.  They think Jon Stewart is nothing less than the new Joseph Goebbels—not content to simply smear the right and promote the godless liberal agenda—but also possessed of a singular vision to one day censor Limbaugh, Hannity, Coulter, and others by banning them from the airwaves.  They believe this whole-heartedly, even though the prospect of Stewart advancing from basic-cable satirist to  extra-Constitutional Minister of Information is remote at best.  Given this odd paranoia, the right has several strategies for dismissing Stewart, most often focused on the following claims:
1.     He’s an idiot.
2.     He’s a puppet for the Obama administration
3.     He’s a narcissist who laughs at his own jokes.
4.     His show actually has very bad ratings.
     a). only a handful of liberals watch TDS.
     b)  this insignificant handful of liberals is nevertheless
                 “destroying” America.

I think this anger stems, in large part, from the fact that there are no funny conservatives.  The nearest equivalent to Stewart on the right would probably be Dennis Miller (who famously became a conservative after seeing a few lefty cranks violate “Godwin’s Law,” and yet seems to have no problem with his new frat house calling Obama the “Gay--Muslim—Socialist—Affirmative Action—Hitler” (just for point of record, none of these labels are actually insulting until, once again, we get to Hitler, but they are all most certainly inaccurate). 

Typically when righties whine about there being no good conservative satire on television, they proceed from the fatal misconception that “comedy” targeting the powerless or the historically disadvantaged might actually be funny.  Saying, as Letterman did recently, that “Mitt Romney pulled a groin muscle hiking to the top of his cash” is funny because it evokes a Scrooge McDuck wholly oblivious to the deprivations of everyday life facing everyday duckmericans.  On the other hand, saying that Sandra Fluke is a “slut,” as Rush Limbaugh famously did, is only funny if you are an asshole.  On one conservative comment thread attacking The Daily Show, I actually saw someone complaining that Stewart was making more George Zimmerman jokes than Trayvon Martin jokes, that he wasn’t being “balanced” in his satire, believing apparently that an unarmed teenager who got shot and killed for minding his own business and going to the local 7-11 was somehow getting a “free ride” at the hands of the lamestream media.  I invite you to imagine just how hilarious such riffing on Martin's hoodie and THC levels might be. 

(9)  Inasmuch as this is obviously preposterous, I checked with John Lott, one of the nation's premier economists and author of the magnificent new book with Grover Norquist: "Debacle: Obama's War on Jobs and Growth and What We Can Do Now to Regain Our Future." (I'm reviewing it soon, but you should start without me.)

Remember, only “social science” from the left is “bogus,” thus allowing Ms. Coulter to consult with John Lott, an economist who is not only “premier,” but also a co-author with Grover Norquist (which just as quickly puts this “premier” status in doubt—in fact, a quick Net search reveals that “premier” economist Lott is actually best known for his books on gun fetishism, which I guess is a little like being a “premier” surgeon famous for promoting the swinger lifestyle).    

Raise taxes and I'll Tea Party you. 
Lott’s co-author, Norquist, you might recall, is the GOP puppet-master who, at the age of 12, had a vision that taxes are in all cases a bad thing, much like a mandatory bedtime, and must be resisted whenever and wherever possible, presumably even in the face of an intergalactic attack on earth (“Let the free market decide how to repel the Zalacticons!”).  In a darkly comic sort of way, Norquist’s ability to compel almost every single conservative lawmaker to sign his ‘tweener” anti-tax pledge is somewhat hilarious, much like having a CDC director out there still fighting the war on “cooties” and forcing everyone to sign her picture of David Cassidy.  But like that episode of The Twilight Zone where everyone has to do what little telekinetic Billy Mumy tells them to, the real world impact of Norquist’s pre-adolescent dream has not been so funny (Samantha Bee's demolition of Norquist on Comrade Stewart's TDS is well worth the time, if you somehow missed it).

Should we listen to Lott?  Consider the title of his book: Obama’s “War on Jobs and Growth.”  Again, Coulter and her ilk can’t simply disagree about policy, but must instead see every political opponent as engaged in nothing less than insurrection, evil, and active sabotage.  Lott and Norquist invite us to imagine Obama in an “Economic War Room,” pushing around Monopoly pieces on one of those WWII-style table maps, laughing maniacally as his “war on jobs” sweeps across the nation (if Obama has declared a “war on jobs,” it would appear he’s not doing a very good job himself given that the nation has experienced almost two straight years of job growth—perhaps a seance with Saul Alinsky is in order). 

Given this title, we must come to one of the following conclusions about Lott:
1.     He is another wingnut idiot.
2.     He was actually once a respected economist, but having grown tired of the pay afforded to respected economists, has decided to throw his lot in with Norquist and the other vultures preying on the lunatic fringe of the GOP.

I’ll let you decide which is worse.

(10).  It turns out Rex Nutting, author of the phony Marketwatch chart, attributes all spending during Obama's entire first year, up to Oct. 1, to President Bush.

That's not a joke.

Here we get into some admittedly complicated definitional matters about whose budget takes effect when, and no doubt both sides are engaged in a little fudgery to push their talking points.  Coulter, for example, wants Obama to take on the debt of all the TARP money appropriated by Bush, since Obama had the temerity to actually spend the second installment of these funds rather than simply issue a yacht-storage rebate back to the top 1%.

Here I will defer to a generally objective judge, the folks over at PolitiFact.  No doubt most righties will argue that PolitiFact, in its attempt to deal in facts not feelings, is in the tank for the Left—but we should remember that no less a Stalinist than Rachel Maddow herself has refused to use PolitiFact as a source anymore because of their conservative bias.

Here is PolitiFact’s finding on the matter:

Using raw dollars, Obama did oversee the lowest annual increases in spending of any president in 60 years.

Using inflation-adjusted dollars, Obama had the second-lowest increase -- in fact, he actually presided over a decrease once inflation is taken into account.

Bottom line: The Facebook post’s claim that government spending under Obama is "slower than at any time in nearly 60 years" is very close to accurate.

I’d go on from here, but let’s face it, we’re both getting bored.  Plus, it’s much more fun to cut Coulter off just as she’s about to present her damning evidence via John “Guns are freakin’ awesome” Lott—data that Politifact has just refuted.   

See you next time if either of us can still stand it.

Popular Posts