Monday, April 23, 2012

You Know

I really wasn't in any sort of political mood today. My thoughts were largely consumed with plowing through the latest Guillermo del Toro novel which nicely combines vampires and a post apocalyptic setting. Shoot, if he had thrown in some zombies and time travel, it would have all my favorite subjects. But I felt the need to check in with Facebook Nation and see what my peeps near and far had to say. There, I found this:

Seven hells, where to start with this. We'll just go in order:

Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. assertion #1"Liberals got women the right to vote." 
Facts: The 19th amendment to the constitution was introduced by James R. Mann (R) IL. It was passed by a House that was controlled by the Republican Party (302 Republican members, 131 Democrat.) Further, in the Senate the Republican votes were 36 yea, 8 nay (81% in favor) and the Democrat votes were 20 yea and 17 nay (54% in favor.) 

But surely his other comments are correct, right?

Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. assertion #2 "Liberals got African Americans the right to vote." 
Facts: The 40th Congress, which was controlled by Republicans, passed the 15th amendment. Nearly all the Democrats voted against it.

Why stop now? Let's keep going....

Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. assertion #3 "Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty." 
Facts: While the legislation was passed by a Democrat controlled House and Senate, 81 (of 96 voting) House Republicans and 16 (of 21 voting) Republican Senators voted in favor of the legislation. Generally, this is what one calls bi-partisan support. But even if you don't want to credit the Conservatives with passing the legislation, they clearly didn't block it.

Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. assertion #4 "Liberals ended segregation." 
Facts: Close. Actually, not close at all. The 13th amendment (emancipation for slaves) only received 4 Democrat votes. The 14th amendment (giving newly emancipated blacks civil rights) received ZERO Democrat votes. 

Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. assertion #5 "Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act,"
Facts: While this did receive support from both sides of the aisle, it was in no way passed by one party alone. Without the support it received from the Republicans, it would have failed. In terms of percentages, 61% of House Dems and 69% of Senate Dems voted in favor of the Civil Rights act while 80% of Republican House members and 82% of Republican Senate members voted in favor. 

Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. assertion #6 "[Liberals passed] the Voting Rights Act."
Facts: Seriously, this is like shooting fish in a barrel. In the Senate, 73% of the Democrats voted in favor, 94% of the Republicans voted in favor. In the House, 78% of the Democrats voted in favor, 82% of the Republicans voted in favor. 

Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. assertion #7 "Liberals created Medicare."
Facts: This was driven by Democrats but received the votes of over half the House Republicans and 43% of Senate Republicans. Again, all it takes these days to call something bi-partisan is one person to cross over to the other side. It may not have had all the Conservatives on board, but it certainly was not opposed uniformally by the party. 

Clean air and water were both a series of legislation which, at this point, I am too lazy to research. I'm going to give Mr. O'Donnell a gimme on this one. We'll assume he's right. But just for fun, do you know which President proposed and implemented the Environmental Protection Agency? That would be Richard Nixon.

Lawrence continues with, "What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things, every one."

Except, as we can see from the actual votes, that isn't true at all. So what we have here is one of two things. He is either 1) completely ignorant or 2) willfully misleading the American public, neither of which sits particularly well with me because pssst, hey Lawrence, you're supposed to be a Journalist. One would hope that would mean you are neither ignorant of history nor a liar. 

And your point is Katie? My point is one I am constantly driving home to my kids - no matter what the source, view facts and opinions with a hefty dose of scepticism. Especially if the narrative is heavily one-sided, because almost everything has at least two sides to it. That and when you learn about "yellow journalism" in history class, it is not nearly as past tense as many people would have you believe.


  1. Good point to hit home. I would also note that 99.9% of the political posts/graphs/statistics whatever you call those things on fb are complete crap and not worthy of a second glance.

  2. Well researched and acerbically written. Points to the conservative side of the blogging aisle!

    I hope you're posting this for view on the fbn. xoxo

  3. My fact checking was not well received. It was implied that I, and all other conservatives, were bat shit crazy. Just repping for the truth here - I don't like falsehoods from either side of the aisle.

  4. Just a note - it said liberals, and conservatives, not members of the democratic or republican party. As much as people do forget, there are liberals and conservatives in each of those political affiliations, and for both parties, the "party lines" have changed and shifted over the years. Republicans in 1860 were the crazy liberals of the time. Regardless, I'm with you, I hate these unresearched, simplistic political posts.

  5. Ahh, oops my bad...he does (improperly) call out the Republican party in the first line.