We have written before about the theory of the “big lie” and how it was used effectvely by the Nazis and many other groups of the totalitarian stripe, but our own Republicans are like liars on steriods. No situation is too big or too small to be distorted, lied about, or condemned without any type of empiric investigation being made. What I will call the Muffin Meme was too petty to even warrant investigation, but it got one. It exists on pure homspun fantasy and vitriol.
The Muffin Meme began with a five day conference held in 2009 at the Hilton Hotel in Washington, which was attended by a large group of people from the Department of Justice. 534 people to be precise. The Department of Justice’s Inspector General recently wrote a report which claimed, nine times, that the Justice Department, in an extreme example of bureaucratic profligacy, had paid $16.80 for 250 muffins for its attendees at this conference. The Washington Post got hold of it and published it without any journalistic checking into facts. Then Bill O’Reilly made a stink about the $16 muffins for at least a week and a half on his television show.
Here are the facts. Before the meeting, the Department of Justice and the Washington Hilton agreed upon an amount of money to be spent on “…food, beverages, staff services, and function space, including a 450-seat ball-room and and more than a dozen workshop and breakout rooms for each of the five days of the conference.” This clarification came from Gina Talamona, Office of Public Affairs Deputy Director for the Department of Justice.
A portion of the total charge, $39,360, was specifically allotted for breakfasts and snacks for the five day conference with 534 attendees. That included a 20% surcharge the hotel charges for food served to conferences. It was agreed upon in advance and was non negotiable. If you break down the total, it amounts to $7872 per day for food and service charge. If you further divide that by the 534 people who were served this food, you get $14.74 per person per day for a small breakfast and snacks. This happens to exceed Department of Justice guidelines by 2 cents per participant per day. As an individual do you think you could do any better in a hotel in a city like Washington DC or New York? I know I couldn’t. Breakfast in a hotel where we stayed in Baltimore in the 90s cost more than that. So the vast “overspending” on food that the Republican croakers are whining was the enormous sum of $50.34 for the entire conference (two cents for each participant per day), and it was the best that they could get. My God! A real world shaker. And a perfect example of just how petty the Republicans can be in their attempts to libel our federal government and to avoid doing anything substantial to help the 99% of Americans who aren’t rich contributors.
That certainly justifies the Republican proposals to cut assistance to people who cannot buy fuel oil to get through the winter and decimation of the social programs which keep us alive and well. I think at some point in their lives, not to mention on the points they have on their heads, the Republicans and their fellow travelers, the teabaggers, must have been smacked by a frozen flounder or two. I really don’t like to think that the US gene pool produced such cruel, ignorant, and mendacious individuals through natural selection. I like to think that people evolve not devolve, but in this case I may have to simply accept devolution as a fact. Do you think they cover this in Genesis?
Please follow this link to a blog called Daily Kos for more information: Abbreviated Pundit Round-up. You have to go down a little way, to the paragraph which begins “Patrick Paxton looks into the most critical story of our time: did the Defense (sic) Department actually pay $16 each for some muffins. Answer: No.”
I promise it won’t turn you blue or change you from a teabagger to a progressive. You might even enjoy what you see there unless you are one of those malefic souls who hold conservative views and seem to be incapable of enjoying anything or minding their own business and letting the rest of us think as we choose to think and enjoy what we choose to enjoy. So ends the most petty and pointless mad hatter tea party of the month.
Lawrence O’Donnell also covered this issue on his blog, The Last Word, at So, About Those $16 Muffins?