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Sunday, August 19, 2007

A funny McMahon--Tom, not Ed

by folkbum

When a bunch of us lefty bloggers offered as a parody of Charlie Sykes's heavily promoted 50 Rules book, called "50+ Things You Won't Hear on Talk Radio," the righties said we were all just jealous of Sykes's success. (Just one example.) That's certainly not true for me--I like my soul too much to surrender it the way Charlie has--and I feel pretty confident it's not true for the others, either.

That's funny to me, because now the righties are going on and on about it. Jessica McBride offers responses to all 84 items, as does humorist Tom McMahon, as a kind of "rebuttal" to our list. (We lefties divided up the work. Probably just our collectivist nature.) I want to focus on McMahon, here; many of his rebuttals are cute one-liners or non-sequitirs, but he offers a few that are just plain false, and I feel those need to be addressed.

Our "thing" number 31 is that "Tax cuts don't increase revenue." That tux cuts always increase revenue is an item of faith among most economic conservatives, so McMahon repsonds, "Except when they do." The problem is, he's wrong. See here, which has historical data; here, which is funny; or especially here, which has pretty pictures.

At number 39, we listed, "No Democrat was ever caught fondling a FEMA director and saying, 'You are doing a heckofa job Brownie.' " McMahon invokes the Clenis™ with, "But a Democrat was caught committing perjury with that famous blue dress." This raises a couple of issues. The first is that McMahon ignores that FEMA under Clinton FEMA was a model of efficiency. The ruination of FEMA is, in many ways, the poster child for why anti-government conservatives should not be put in charge of the government. They believe the government cannot work, and then screw things up so that, you know, the government stops working.

More importantly, there's another falsehood here. Bill Clinton was never convicted of perjury. He was called in contempt of court for being misleading, and admitted as much when he gave up his license to practice law, but even then he probably could not have been convicted of perjury. When the judge defines "sexual relations" such that what Clinton and Lewinksy did was not necessarily included, it's not perjury to say there were no sexual relations.

McMahon's answers to our numbers 22 and 38 have some similar issues. For 22 we write, "Saddam Hussein was not behind 9/11," to which McMahon responds, "And Adolf Hitler was not behind Pearl Harbor either." Our 38 is, "Iraq was not a breeding ground for Al Qaeda terrorists until the United States invaded," which leads McMahon to quip, "And there weren't any Nazis in Germany until the United States invaded on D-Day."

We can handle the second one first, since, among other things, the US hit the beaches of France on D-Day, not Germany, and the statement is patently false on its face (unlike what we wrote for 38, which is absolutely true).

The first statement is a little more insidious, though, and it's not an unfamiliar argument for those of us who have opposed this war from the start. We do say, sometimes in exaggeration and sometimes in all seriousness, that Bush's invading Iraq would have been like FDR's invading, oh, say, Tanzania after Pearl Harbor. But McMahon and his ilk try to draw an ahistorical parallel. Saddam Hussein was not to al Qaeda as Hitler was to Japan. Hitler's Germany was an ally of Japan, and had declared war against us. In addition, Hitler was engaged in a hot war with our allies. When we became engaged in World War II, we engaged Japan, who had attacked us, and Germany, who had declared war against us and bombed our allies.

Saddam's Iraq had not declared war on us (at least, no more than Saddam's castrated machismo could produce) and was not attacking our allies. Iraq was not an ally of al Qaeda, and Saddam didn't like Osama bin Laden's secular terror agenda. This is not to say that Saddam was not an evil man, and did not deserve to be removed from power. But when the US declared war against Hitler's Germany in WWII (which was, in fact, the last time we officially declared war on anyone), we did so because Germany was as equal a threat to us and our allies as Japan. Iraq was not then (but certainly is now) that kind of threat.

That's just three falsehoods. There are more, but, you know what? I'm going to leave the rest up to the cooperative spirit of the internets, let our collectivist nature keep knocking down the lies of the right--something you won't hear on talk radio.

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