It has become my quest to honor the title of this blog by simply revealing the bullshit perpetrated by the Right Wing Fart Machine. My Twitter feeds are full of RW bullshit, and I’m getting sick of it going without a response. I will take a bunch of these concepts and reveal the truth behind the bullshit. The concentration will be on the bullshit moreso than the people peddling it.
Case in point; Andrew Breitbart (again) is trying to push his Pigford lies and trying to smear the teachers in Wisconsin who are trying to keep their right to bargain with their employer. (Just as an aside, I am NOT going to help this asshole’s cause by providing links. If you want to find him, Google the exact quotes.)
I’ll start with the union busting in Wisconsin. His blog contains two interesting items on this.
Over the weekend, on Twitter and all over his blog, he kept pushing this idea that the doctors who were giving out “doctor’s notes” were somehow violating some unstated “ethical rules” in doing so. (He’s not alone, Michelle Malkin and pretty much everyone at Fox News was doing the same.)
The very concept is absurd.
All that is contained in a “doctor’s note” is a statement that you felt less than well and saw a physician. If I go to the doctor, what happens? I tell him/her my symptoms, how I feel, perhaps my temperature is taken and that’s it. A note will not, and (by law) can not include a medical evaluation or an assessment of your health condition. It’s just an acknowledgement that a physician saw you. Obviously, if the doctor gives you a note, the doctor saw you.
Breitbart even put up a video on his blog, in which he received a doctor’s note. The doctor providing the note asked him his name and his employer, and asked him if he felt sick, if he’d called in sick to work, and if that was the reason he’d called in sick to work. Then Breitbart signed it.
I’m telling you, folks; folks on the right simply do not understand irony.
There simply is no “scandal” here. I guess you could make a case that people who aren’t sick shouldn’t tell a doctor they are to get out of going to work, but that’s between them and their employers, and it’s a private matter. But it doesn’t even become an issue on any level until the note is actually used, anyway. Breitbart was making this an issue even before teachers had even gone back to work; before they could possibly used the note. How do we know that most of the teachers there didn’t take a doctor’s note as something of a souvenir of their protest?
Breitbart has a note; why doesn’t he take it to the AMA and see what they have to say about it?
Their first questions will be;
“Did you tell the doctor you were sick?”
“Did you sign the form?”
“Would you have been subject to disciplinary action/firing without the note?”
“In a world in which people are being kept alive by artificial means, and where some people are actually fighting to return the power of making medical decisions to bureaucrats from for-profit insurance companies, do you think we really give a shit about doctor’s notes for teachers?”
Then there is the creep on Breitbart’s web site who wrote an article entitled “Union Fails Pension Math: Part Time-Teacher Set to Earn More in Retirement than She Did While Employed.” In it, he regales us with the tale of his mother, who is apparently breaking the Wisconsin treasury with her obscene demands.
The first thing I thought when I saw the title was “No shit, Sherlock,” but the text of the article is amazing. Here’s a clue, wingnuts; it’s called compound INTEREST. Check out the cluelessness in this article:
My mother worked as a public employee when she was a teacher’s aide in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. She was employed by the state for five years, from 1981-1986. However, she worked only part-time, so was never credited for a full year of employment by the state for each year she worked. Instead, she received only partial credit each year. Fortunately for her, Wisconsin and two other states (Minnesota and South Dakota) allow for full vesting for public teachers after only three years of employment. Using a deduction for her part-time status, Wisconsin determined her creditable service amounted to 3.07 years. Had she worked three weeks less during her last year, she would be entitled to nothing. As luck would have it, she fully vested, and is entitled to receive a monthly check from the state of Wisconsin for the rest of her life.
Like millions of fellow baby boomers, she turns 55 this year. And in Wisconsin, one can elect to draw benefits at age 55. If she retires this year and elects to take her pension, she would receive a check, once a month, for $230. She receives this check for the rest of her life, and, if she predeceases my father, he is entitled to cash the check for the rest of his life.
A meager $230 a month may not sound like much—until you consider the salary she earned when she was employed, and how long she will likely draw her pension. The average life expectancy for women in the United States is roughly 78 years. Assuming my mother has an average life span, she will collect 276 separate checks from the state of Wisconsin for her five years of part-time service. These checks, without adjusting for inflation, amount to $63,480. Of course, in reality, the checks are adjusted upward annually for inflation, so her accumulated payout will be well north of $63,480.
To put things into perspective, consider the salary she drew when she was actually employed. In her final year, she made $7,650. Wisconsin’s pension formula averages the highest three years’ salary, which for her amounted to $7,072 and $6,191. Over the course of her career as a salaried part-time teacher’s aide, she made approximately $35,000.
Thus, for five years of part time service in which she was paid a cumulative total of less than $35,000, she will collect nearly twice that if she has an average life span. She will be paid more money to be retired than she was ever paid by the state of Wisconsin when she was actually employed.
What he fails to understand is basic math. For five years of part-time employment, both she and the state of Wisconsin contributed to that pension account, and the money she contributed and left there has been accumulating all of this time. Just for shits and giggles, let’s say she and the state contributed $2400 per year or $12,000, and it earned a meager 6% for the 25 years since she stopped working (interest rates in 1986 were actually much higher than that). Guess how much money that is? $33,502. At $230 per month, it would take 145 months, or 12 years, to just break even.
But wait; there’s more. She’s still earning interest on that money, so if she continues to make 6%, she won’t break even WITH HER CONTRIBUTION for at least 26 years. You see, at that interest rate, being paid $230 per month will only knock about $710 off the principle that first year.
Oh, and if she opts to NOT take the pension yet, and waits until 65, the number is well over $60,000. Say her benefit rises to $500 per month (it probably doesn’t); it would take almost 17 years to break even. In other words, she has to live to beyond 81 or 82 just to break even on the money she contributed to the pension fund.
These folks are so blinded by their ideology, they can’t deal with basic facts. Isn’t math fun?
Okay, that’s enough with the teachers. I’ve proven these creeps liars on two main assertions so far. On Pigford, these little assholes simply cannot tell the truth.
The latest article on one of Breitbart’s blogs (you can tell by the sheer volume that he wishes he’d stuck with The Huffington Post”), asks the musical question:
Is Dr. John Boyd, President of the National Black Farmers Association, even a Doctor?
This one is a pip.
The post was written by Lee Stranahan. Lee doesn’t seem to be a horrible guy. He seems to be very close to Breitbart, but he actually seems to aspire to being an actual journalist on some level. Unfortunately, his idea of journalism at the moment seems to be to make an assumption, and then post only those “facts” that support your point of view, disregarding all other facts.
In reality, the article offers no actual facts that support any sort of conclusion implied by the title, or a number of extremely snarky statements he makes about Dr. John Boyd. I know I refer to some folks as idiots and I give them names like Caribou Barbie. But I only do so with powerful people, and I always prove their idiocy.
Dr. Boyd has been referred to as “Dr.” for several years, but as far as I can tell, he’s never attempted to insinuate that he went to college for a decade and wrote a dissertation or anything like that. I looked and looked, and found little more than Stranahan found, and I have more resources than he has. In other words, at first, I did not find enough to be able to prove where Dr. Boyd received his “doctorate,” only that he apparently has an “honorary” one.
And in the grand scheme of things, who gives a shit, anyway? He’s the leader of a group of black farmers, and he led the way on bringing the Pigford suit. Is it necessary that he have a doctorate to do so? Of course not. It has no bearing on what he does. In fact, he's considered so competent that Virginia Governors Kaine and O'Donnell have counted upon him to counsel them on agriculture affairs.
Besides, you’d be surprised at how many people call themselves “Dr.” based on an honorary doctorate; it’s not a dealbreaker. In fact, both Presidents Bush have one and Barbara Bush has one. Bill Clinton has one. Tim Allen has one. Bill Cosby apparently collects them; by some estimates he has over 100 of them. Ronald Reagan had more than 20, and even Nancy Reagan has one. In other words, based on the fact that an awful lot of Honorary Doctorates are floating around out there, it would seem that the burden of proof is on the reporter to somehow prove someone in Dr. Boyd’s position doesn’t have one.
Here is a section from Stranahan's post on the Breitbart blog. I’ll leave the links, so you can check them yourself. I’m going to break these into pieces to show you just how dishonest this article is.
Hours of research show many contradictions in the way Boyd refers to himself but so far, I’ve found no evidence whatsoever that Boyd ever received any degree, either earned or honorary, much less any doctorate.
We’ll stop there first. Perhaps Stranahan doesn’t understand the concept of a “contradiction.” The fact that sometimes someone is referred to as “Dr.” and sometimes he is not is not in itself a “contradiction.” One of my best friends is both a priest and has a doctorate from Georgetown; the fact that he doesn’t make those attending Mass refer to him as “Dr.” is not a contradiction.
Then there’s the whole “burden of proof” concept.
The burden of proof for any reporter is to prove that what he says in his article is true. It is not true to say that there is "no evidence whatsoever" that Boyd has no degree. In fact, everything in his article actually serves as evidence that he received an honorary degree. Let me show you.
In testimony before the House of Representatives in 2008, he refers to himself as Dr. John Boyd .
But Boyd’s bio from Gale Contemporary Black Biography says the hollowing.
Education: Attended Southside Community College, 1983, and Clemson Univ., 1984-85.
So, we have him speaking before Congress, taking an oath and calling himself “Dr. John Boyd.” That’s evidence that he has the title. His bio calls him “Dr.” That is evidence that he has the title. The fact that he cites his actual education level in his bio is evidence that he’s not trying to lie or obfuscate, which actually lends credence to the notion that he has the title. I’m not sure I trust anyone who cites Wikileaks as an authoritative source on anything. And the fact that his bio on the Huffington Post doesn’t mention it is simply proof that he doesn’t use it in all cases. Inconsistency is not proof of anything.
Let's continue, because he offers more evidence, even though he's too ignorant to realize it.
Boyd’s own personal page refers to him as Dr. but there’s no mention of a doctorate of any kind on his biography page on the same site, despite a long list of his accomplishments. One of those listed accomplishments is that he was”vetted by President Obama’s transition team as a candidate for Secretary of Agriculture“.
When Anderson Cooper 360 brought in John Boyd to call Steve King a racist for questioning the numbers in Pigford, Cooper referred to him as Dr. three times. CNN describes the segment as…
“Rep. Steve King and Dr. John Boyd face off over proposed settlements for black farmers and whether fraud is a problem.”
This video report says that Boyd has a PhD in Agricultural Economics.
Ok, so what do we have so far? We have actual journalists like Anderson Cooper, referring to him as “Dr.” And we have a reporter for Iowa Public Radio referring to him as having a Ph.D. That Stranahan/Breitbart don’t consider that evidence says a lot about their lack of standards. Of course it’s evidence. You may not believe it, but it is evidence. That his personal page doesn’t list it is not evidence of anything. Journalism 101 tells us that a lack of proof cannot serve as proof of anything.
Then comes an outright lie. Look at how he quotes a Washington Post article; this is important.
Maybe one degree that I can’t find any record of isn’t enough — let’s make it two! The Washington Post, in an article on Boyd, says he “didn’t attend college but has received two honorary degrees “
First, let’s note the snark in the above. He can’t find evidence of one degree, because his Google Scholar skills simply aren’t all that great, therefore it must not exist.
But here’s the galling part of this. Click on the link to that Washington Post article, and note that, on the first page, he introduces himself as “John Boyd.” The reporter later (page 3 of the article) explains his status as a doctor. Here’s the actual quote, in its entirety:
"Dr. John Boyd," Chris Ray replied to Boyd, who didn't attend college but has received two honorary degrees for his work on behalf of black farmers.
That’s a pretty significant difference, don’t you think? The reporter (an actual journalist) investigated Dr. Boyd, talked to his friends and others, and found out that Boyd didn’t go to college, but received honorary degrees for his work helping black farmers. Since this is from a reporter with a degree, who is working on a reputable newspaper, who has an editor and a fact checker, the onus is on Stranahan to prove otherwise. And since many people, including people named Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama, often have multiple honorary degrees from different colleges and universities, it is the burden of the reporter to prove that Dr. Boyd does not have one. While Stranahan thinks the mention of two degrees makes it more likely that Boyd is lying somehow, the fact is, it makes it less likely. All those reporters provide evidence that he has one.
Now, what he keeps telling me on my Twitter feed is that he’s just asking the question. Sorry, but journalism is supposed to answer questions. What the hell use is a news medium that simply smears people by asking questions for which they have no answers? If I wrote a story with the headline, “Is Andrew Breitbart actually a pedophile?” and all I did was quote other sources calling him a pedophile, that wouldn’t be responsible, would it? Of course it wouldn’t. And I wouldn’t do it. I admit, I was tempted to put it in the subject line, but that would make me as bad as he is.
And let me make one thing clear, folks; the Internet is a great research tool. But it is NOT complete; not even close. In fact, to those who do research via the Net now, let me tell you; there is probably a lot less of certain types of information online now than there was 10 years ago. Google does not contain the length and breadth of all available knowledge in the world. If you think you can know everything there is to know because you can Google it, you’re a sap, and you’re just embarrassing yourself. I have a number of paid information databases that I use with my work (my real work), and I can tell you; even after spending hundreds of dollars per month, I would never even attempt to suggest that I have access to everything. I do not. No one does. Well, perhaps the NSA, but I don’t know.
I’m sick of the lies and the obfuscation by these people. Obviously, Breitbart and his flunkies don’t give a shit about telling the truth, and they don’t understand basic journalism. One would think that, after O’Keefe was caught with his dick out, and then he was embarrassed by the revelation that he lied about Shirley Sherrod, he would be more careful. But he’s not, because his sick followers pay him money to have him lie to them. He and the rest of the Right Wing Fart Machine are going to see their lies exposed, and a lot of people will see it.
If they doubt I can do it, all I can say is, health insurance reform passed, didn’t it?
UPDATE: I found the name of one of the schools from which Dr. Boyd received an honorary doctorate. But it doesn't matter. They smeared a man, and made insinutations based on no evidence. That's the point.