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Fresh off determining that Donald Trump has rocketed past the 8,000-lie mark, the Washington Post's fact-check column took a break from its more-than-fulltime job of tracking the prevaricator in chief and looked for someone, anyone, who also is less than truthful, because writing about nothing but Trump can of course make you crazy. Fact Checker Glenn Kessler turned his keen eye to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, because hey, the kids are pretty big on her, aren't they? And darned if he didn't find a statement to fact-check! Except the one area where Kessler did find a shading of the truth was hardly worth a full column, and the thing Kessler proclaimed "off the rails" and worthy of THREE PANDAS ON FIRE PINOCCHIOS was quite frankly not a "lie" at all, but a matter of opinion. So let's all take a quick who checks the fact checkers thing here, or as they say in Latin, twee custodians pissed-off custard.


Here's the AOC statement Kessler addresses, from an interview with Ta-Nehisi Coates about the morality of vast wealth disparities:

I think it's wrong that a vast majority of the country doesn't make a living wage, I think it's wrong that you can work 100 hours and not feed your kids. I think it's wrong that corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, essentially experience a wealth transfer from the public, for paying people less than a minimum wage.

Kessler breaks up the statement into its three main parts and determines that the first part, about the "vast majority" of Americans not being able to make a living wage, is an exaggeration -- we won't get into the weeds on this, but he notes Ocasio-Cortez's office sent him an article from the Post itself about a United Way study that found around 43 percent of American households "don't earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone," and hey, that's less than half.

Kessler also notes the very definition of "living wage" is an inexact concept, pointing out that it's determined by a lot of variables like region and cost of living, and concludes that yeah, a lot of Americans don't make a living wage. But since it's not a "vast majority," Ocasio Cortez pulled a stretcher there.

The numbers are high, but not enough to justify the use of "majority." Ocasio-Cortez would have been fine if she had said "more than a third" or even "almost half." Instead, she said "a vast majority."

The next chunk of the statement, says Kessler, is actually completely true, and if anything, Ocasio-Cortez could have thumped on it harder:

"I think it's wrong that you can work 100 hours and not feed your kids."

Ocasio-Cortez is on the mark — and even undersold the number. "A single-mother with two children earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour needs to work 135 hours per week, nearly the equivalent of working 24 hours per day for 6 days, to earn a living wage," according to [an MIT living wage] calculator.

Then Kessler brings out the big rhetorical guns for the final sentence, because how dare the crazy socialist point out that Amazon and Walmart are subsidized by the gummint to keep their wages (and hence their prices) low-low-low?

"I think it's wrong that corporations like Walmart and Amazon can get paid by the government, essentially experience a wealth transfer from the public, for paying people less than a minimum wage."

Here's where Ocasio-Cortez starts to go off the rails. Both Walmart and Amazon do pay more than the minimum wage. (Disclosure: Jeffrey P. Bezos, Amazon's chief executive, owns The Washington Post.)

Walmart and Amazon both pay more than the minimum wage, Kessler notes, without also pointing out that both companies only raised their starting wages after lots and lots of pressure from the Fight For $15 folks, and don't even get us STARTED on Walmart's cute trick in January when it trumpeted its very limited Tax Cut Bonuses -- the same day it closed a bunch of Sam's Club stores.

Kessler says AOC's office "did not address her flub on the minimum wage" -- but he also doesn't note that she'd have been on far more solid ground had she said the companies don't pay a living wage, which seems more to the point. BUT SHE DIDN'T SAY LIVING SHE SAID MINIMUM. And if a slip of the tongue isn't worth 7 pants-on-fire, we don't know what is!

Princeton history PhD candidate and general socialist troublemaker David Walsh offers a very detailed debunking of Kessler's argument, pointing to articles explaining Amazon's $15/hour minimum wage came at the cost of other benefits, meaning a lot of employees will actually face a net income cut, and more broadly, that Amazon and Walmart both remain vigorously anti-union.

Not to mention the persistent problem of wage theft by big employers -- like Amazon! And Walmart! And fast food joints! -- who get away with making people work off the books, often resulting in sub-minimum real wages.

Then Kessler really goes off the rails on the topic of "wealth transfer." AOC is simply pointing out a thing people have known for years: Walmart and other big employers keep their prices low by paying the least they can get away with, and workers who want healthcare (or even to feed their kids) often end up on Medicaid, or CHIP for their kids, or even food stamps, at least until Republicans can slash social spending even more. For chrissakes, let's not let Kessler forget the annual WALMART EMPLOYEES THANKSGIVING CANNED FOOD DRIVE, or Sherrod Brown's bill to make corporate freeloaders pay the costs of outsourcing employee health care and retirement to the public.

Here's Kessler's "proof" there's no wealth transfer from the public to the corporations:

Economic theory generally assumes all costs and benefits of labor-related taxes and benefits are borne by labor — i.e., the worker, not the employer. So wages would be largely unaffected if taxes went up or public assistance went up. And the worker would still get paid the same, even if they had to carry the burden of new taxes or received enhanced benefits.

Just hold the fuck on here, people all over the Twitters pointed out. We're sorry, but "We have all come to accept that workers and taxpayers will bear the costs of low prices for the sake of big corporate profit" is not really a disproof of the idea that wealth is being transferred. In fact, it's kind of an example of wealth transfer to the rich, "economic theory" or no.

Also too, the paper Kessler links to is a 2005 piece by Jason Furman called "Wal-Mart: A Progressive Success Story," which makes the dubious argument that sure, Walmart and other big box retailers keep their prices low through sub-living wage employee pay, and OK, taxpayers may shoulder the costs of healthcare and other assistance to poverty-wage workers, whose children also have poor health and shitty schools and overall reduced prospects in life. But they can also buy really cheap beach chairs, so it all works out in the end! Hell, as Walsh points out, Barbara Ehrenreich dismantled the notion of Walmart as a "progressive" ANYTHING not long after the article originally ran.

Also too, since when are the economic conclusions of a pre-Great Recession economics paper a "fact," excuse us very much?

Grrr. Again, see the David Walsh thread for a much more detailed argument on Kessler's "fact check," because yeesh, talk about sloppy work. We'll just borrow one last observation from Mr. Walsh about the Big Picture of Kessler's approach, not simply in this one article, but in the overall business of picking nits "evenhandedly":

The problem with this kind of "fact-checking" -- and this is a problem that the mainstream media has across the board -- is that it is literally incapable of distinguishing between demagogic lies like Trump's and broad critiques of existing social systems like AOC's.

Well sure, Dave, but a lot of people think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a demagogic liar too, so really, it all balances out, doesn't it?

[WaPo / Slate / David Walsh on Twitter]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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Once upon a time... about ten years ago, a group of entirely ridiculous men burst onto the scene wearing stupid hats and telling men that wearing stupid hats and telling men that walking up to women in bars and insulting ("negging") them would get them laid. This did not last long, as women also had televisions and computers and were completely aware of these tricks as well, so when some ass came up to us in a bar and said "Hey, nice nails, are they real?" we would laugh and laugh and loudly announce "Oh my god, this guy just tried to neg me! Can you believe that shit? HEY EVERYONE, THIS GUY JUST TRIED TO NEG ME!" and then refer to him as "Mystery" the whole night.

Most of the men who tried that shit only did so a few times before realizing that it wasn't going to work, and thus moved on to other things. Perhaps things that did not involve furry hats and coming off as a huge creep. We may never know, because I would assume that those who tried it are now extremely embarrassed and would never, ever admit to this to us.

Still, there were a few men willing to eat that shit up, as well as some grifters willing to take advantage of that. Said grifters tended to be extremely misogynistic and seemed more like they were teaching men how to be as despised by women as they were than teaching them how to actually be liked by women.

Some of them, like Roosh V, a creepy weirdo who actually does live in his mom's basement, actively encouraged men to rape women who were intoxicated to the point of being obviously unable to consent.

However, even that branch of the PUA tree is wilting away. Many "self-help" style PUA forums like Nextasf and RSDnation are shutting down or have already shut down. In March, Chateau Heartiste, a batshit crazy PUA turned White Nationalist/Alt-Right blog was shut down by Wordpress. This week, rape advocate Roosh V (whom you may recall once called yours truly a "Wonkette typist/clown face, would not bang") announced that he was renouncing his PUA ways and devoting himself to Jesus. He explained to the forum he manages that he would no longer be allowing anyone to discuss premarital "fornication."

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'Baby Geniuses' star Jon Voight took to Twitter early this morning to proclaim his undying love for Donald Trump, probably because there is no one left in his life who will listen to him talk about this, or anything else, in person. In this video rant, Voight encouraged members of the Republican Party, whom he apparently thinks are the only real citizens of the United States, to stand by Donald Trump and "acknowledge the truth" that he is the best President since Abraham Lincoln.


Part ONE:

People of the Republican Party, I know you will agree with me when I say our president has our utmost respect and our love. This job is not easy. For he's battling the left and their absurd words of destruction. I've said this once and I'll say this again. That our nation has been built on the solid ground from our forefathers, and there is a moral code of duty that has been passed on from President Lincoln. I'm here today to acknowledge the truth, and I'm here today to tell you my fellow Americans that our country…

Oh no, not our absurd words of destruction!

Part DEUX:

is stronger, safer, and with more jobs because our President has made his every move correct. Don't be fooled by the political left, because we are the people of this nation that is witnessing triumph. So let us stand with our president. Let us stand up for this truth, that President Trump is the greatest president since President Lincoln.

Does Jon Voight not know there have been... other presidents? Can he name them? Because really, it does not sound like it. Does he also not know that a very big chunk of the Republican Party actually does not care very much for Abraham Lincoln? Namely those defenders of Confederate statues that Trump called "very fine people?" Also, did he intentionally diss their beloved Ronald Reagan?

Who can know? Who can even tell what he is trying to say or why he is trying to say it. He doesn't appear to have tweeted much since 2016, so I'm guessing whoever's job it was to keep him from tanking his career quit. Either that... or after filming the seventh season of Ray Donovan, he found out it's going to be canceled or his character is getting killed off or something and he is now free to be a jackass? I don't know, I haven't watched the show, although my parents are very into it and mad that I haven't watched it. Literally all I know about it is that it has something to do with Boston, because they keep mentioning that to me like it's a selling point.

It seems useless at this point to note that the people who scream their faces off about how bad it is for Hollywood celebs to support liberal causes, and how they should keep their politics to themselves, etc. etc. make a way bigger deal than normal people do whenever a Big Time Hollywood Celebrity like Jon Voight or, uh, Scott Baio, supports their cause. Mostly because they're the only ones who have elected a reality TV star and the star of Bedtime for Bonzo (who by the way, also once practically ruined a perfectly good Bette Davis movie with his bad acting. Which is not to say that Dark Victory is not fantastic and probably the best thing to watch if you want to sob your face off, but he was very bad in it.) to run the country.

But we might as well do that anyway, because it actually never stops being funny.

[Jon Voight Twitter]

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