Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Daily Republican Theater

A small sampling of current Republican lies talking points spin lies.

One of the most frustrating things about being a progressive in America is that we not only have to fight to get a fair hearing in the media we also have to battle the disinformation pushed by the Right.

Politics would be a lot more useful to the citizens of this country if there was a legitimate discussion about the pros and cons of policy proposals. Unfortunately, the Right doesn’t seem to want that discussion. I can’t really blame them since their policies have been shown to be faulty. All they seem to be left with are lies about the proposals offered by the Democrats.

The debate over the stimulus bill offers several examples of those Republican lies. Here are three outright lies that have been pushed by Republicans in the last few days.

Pelosi’s Mouse

Republicans proved long ago that they don’t care about the environment. You want to put an oil well in the middle of a national park? Sure, go for it. You say you want to rip the top off a mountain and dump the residue in a stream? Sure, go for it.

While they have no problem polluting the environment, they scream like hell when someone suggests cleaning it up.

They also hate anything to do with San Francisco. Don’t ask, it’s a cultural thing.

Put those two together and it is no surprise they jumped all over the possibility of some of the stimulus bill being spent for wetlands restoration in the Bay area. They not only ridiculed the idea of spending for such a worthwhile endeavor, they tried to spin it as an earmark by Nancy Pelosi.

As usual, it was all a bunch of bull.

The Washington Times headlined a story with, “Pelosi’s mouse slated for $30M slice of cheese.”

Conservative media outlets, blogs, and, yes, even Republican representatives pushed this story.

Unfortunately, for them, it is a flat out lie.

In the first place, the wetland project highlighted by opponents is not a project to save a mouse. The project is intended to restore a wetland that the mouse shares with numerous other species.Ryan Grim took a look at this issue in an article on

The problem for stimulus critics is that the package has no earmarks, leaving little to ridicule.

But the money has to be spent somewhere, so House Republicans went looking for embarrassing projects that could be funded by the stimulus. “Appropriations Committee Republicans have been asking federal agencies exactly how the pots of money in the bill will be spent – since much of the spending isn’t explicitly spelled out in the legislation,” wrote Michael Steel, an aide to Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), in an e-mail to reporters.

“One response? Thirty million dollars for wetland restoration in the San Francisco Bay Area – including work to protect the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse,” he said.

The Washington Times and conservative blogs picked up the charge and ran with it. “Pelosi’s mouse slated for $30M slice of cheese,” headlined the Times.

Steel’s argument is that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had previously supported protection of the mouse. “So can Speaker Pelosi explain exactly how we will improve the American economy by helping the adorable little fellow pictured below?”

One simple answer: workers would be paid to restore wetlands, and the restored wetlands then have an economic benefit in terms of filtering water, slowing run-off and improving the health of fisheries.

On Thursday, Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) took to the House floor to make a different point: the money for the restoration isn’t actually in the bill.

“There are no earmarks in this bill. There is no earmark for rats in San Francisco. There is money that goes to the EPA and the Department of the Interior for cleanup of wetlands and maintaining of wetlands and apparently this is on a list of ready-to-go projects but it, like many others, must compete within the departments for that money. It is not a specific earmark within the bill,” he said. “That trivializes this bill.”

Steel isn’t backing down. “The bottom line remains the same: if the bill passes, taxpayers will spend $30 million to protect a rodent in San Francisco. That will not help struggling American families, and it will not help our economy create or preserve jobs,” he told the Huffington Post.

But Pelosi’s office says even this broader claim isn’t true. Spokesman Drew Hammill tells the Plum Line’s Greg Sargent, “There are no federal wetland restoration projects in line to get funded in San Francisco… The idea that $30 million will be spent to save mice is a total fabrication.”

Have we heard the last of this false claim? I doubt it.

Harry Reid’s High-speed train

Another item listed in the stimulus bill aroused Republican ire. The claim in this case is that Harry Reid snuck an earmark in there for a high speed train from LA to Las Vegas. House Minority Leader John “Boner” Boehner (R-OH) inveighed against this atrocious earmark on the floor of the House.

“Tell me spending $50 million for some salt marsh mouse in San Francisco is going to help a struggling auto worker in Ohio? Tell me how spending $8 billion in this bill to have a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is going to help the construction worker in my district. ”

Ignoring the fact that the $30 million for the non-existent wetland project has become $50 million for a mouse, the applicable quote here is about the $8 billion for a high-speed rail line.

First, let’s take a look at the idea of spending money on these projects. Both would create jobs. Both would be useful. Both would bring long-term benefits to the areas affected. What is not to like? They sound like perfect projects for a stimulus bill.

Having a debate about the worthiness of these projects would be a great idea, if we had time to spend on that debate and if either project was real. Unfortunately, the Republicans aren’t interested in a real debate. The high-speed rail line from LA to Las Vegas is as imaginary as the $30 ($50?) million dollars for the mouse.

Here is a map from the Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration that shows approved HSR connectors.


I don’t see a line running into Nevada from any direction. Matt Yglesias noticed the same thing. I’ve copied the money quote from that article, but it is well worth reading the whole thing.

Long story short, John Boehner doesn’t know what he’s talking about and his position on this issue would imperil both short term jobs for Ohioans and an opportunity to substantially improve Ohio’s long-run capacity for economic growth.

Government Spending / Government Jobs

One of the worst offenders in this whole Republican spin effort is Michael Steele, the new RNC Chair.

“Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created a job.”

“You’ve got to look at what’s going to create sustainable jobs. What this administration is talking about is making work. It is creating work.”

Do these quotes even need to be debunked? Leaving out the CCC and other Great Depression era programs still leaves NASA, the US Post Office, all public teachers, local road crews, and on and on.

The second quote is as nonsensical as the first. What is a stimulus bill that is intended to create jobs supposed to do but create w
ork? Sometimes all I can do is hold my head and moan after hearing these idiots expound on serious issues.

How idiotic is the new head of the RNC? Or is it that he thinks the public is that stupid?

Andrew Sullivan has been particularly harsh with the Republican Party lately.

…The GOP has passed what amounts to a spending and tax-cutting and borrowing stimulus package every year since George W. Bush came to office. They have added tens of trillions to future liabilities and they turned a surplus into a trillion dollar deficit – all in a time of growth. They then pick the one moment when demand is collapsing in an alarming spiral to argue that fiscal conservatism is non-negotiable. I mean: seriously.

The bad faith and refusal to be accountable for their own conduct for the last eight years is simply inescapable. There is no reason for the GOP to have done what they have done for the last eight years and to say what they are saying now except pure, cynical partisanship, and a desire to wound and damage the new presidency. The rest is transparent cant.

The GOP is not interested in the long term fiscal health of this country. Their reckless stewardship over the last eight years proves that. They are not interested in helping this new president, who has done everything he can to create a civil atmosphere, to use this moment to prevent the worst in the short term and move to improve matters in the long term. Instead, they spin.

In another post on his blog Sullivan had this to say:

A Republican party that added more than $30 trillion to the future debt in a time of boom has no credible answer but raw partisanship for opposing $800 billion in the swiftest downturn in employment since the Great Depression. That’s the bottom line. The party that campaigned for eight years on the principle that “deficits don’t matter” has no good faith standing to oppose a measure that provides the minimum to ensure some kind of bottom in the looming depression. To take their fiscal conservatism seriously at this point and in this crisis is to engage in some kind of instant amnesia.

The video below is one of the few times Michael Steele, the new head of the Republican Party, has told the truth since he became head of the RNC.


  1. Steve M

    The Washington Post actually used the fake high-speed rail item as the lead of their absurd story this morning.  Bob Somerby took that piece to the woodshed in inimitable fashion.

    For those among you who dislike earmarks, by the way, this episode really highlights the absurdity.  There is no difference between Congress earmarking money to save an endangered mouse and the EPA spending money to save an endangered mouse – except that someone has to spend their lobbyists to the Executive Branch instead of the Legislative Branch.  Same money gets spent either way.  And you can drop all the earmarks you want for purely political reasons, but you’re on notice, the other side (with the media’s help) is just going to make stuff up anyway.  You can always say “hey, 1% of that appropriation MIGHT get spent on some project in Harry Reid’s state.”

  2. HappyinVT

    the media will take what a politician says as gospel.  If anyone bothered to read the bill, it’s long but if you’re going to do a story on it you should read it, they would be able to tell a truth versus a lie.  But, it’s much better to stoke the fires of anti-environment, anti-pork, anti-liberalism than to actually give a truthful accounting of what is in the bill.

    As an aside, my sympathies go out to Sen. Brown.  Not only did his mother die this week, but he had to leave the wake to fly back to cast the deciding vote.

  3. DeniseVelez

    for the Rethugs is a joke.  

    Not even what he has to say – but the fact that the Republicans think we the people are stupid enuff to listen to a Republican just cause they picked a “black” one has me rolling on the floor laughing.  

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