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Lie-orama

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We have never experienced a Presidential campaign with more fact-checking than what we are seeing during the current cycle.  The well-timed release of a popular new book by Janine Driver entitled, You Can’t Lie to Me might be one of the reasons why this is happening.  Fact-checking websites such as PolitiFact and FactCheck have been overflowing with reports of exaggerations, half-truths and flat-out lies by the candidates and their surrogates.

PolitiFact’s roots at the Tampa Bay Times made it particularly well-situated to expose the false claims made during speeches at the Republican Convention.  One good example was the “Pants on Fire” rating given to a remark by South Dakota Senator John Thune, who claimed that the Obama administration proposed banning farm kids from doing basic chores.

Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech drew instant criticism from a number of news outlets.  I quickly felt vindicated for my last posting, which asserted that Romney made a mistake by selecting Ryan, rather than Ohio Senator Rob Portman, as his running mate.  FactCheck provided this breakdown of the misrepresentations in Ryan’s speech:

Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech at the Republican convention contained several false claims and misleading statements.  Delegates cheered as the vice presidential nominee:

  • Accused President Obama’s health care law of funneling money away from Medicare “at the expense of the elderly.”  In fact, Medicare’s chief actuary says the law “substantially improves” the system’s finances, and Ryan himself has embraced the same savings.
  • Accused Obama of doing “exactly nothing” about recommendations of a bipartisan deficit commission — which Ryan himself helped scuttle.
  • Claimed the American people were “cut out” of stimulus spending.  Actually, more than a quarter of all stimulus dollars went for tax relief for workers.
  • Faulted Obama for failing to deliver a 2008 campaign promise to keep a Wisconsin plant open.  It closed less than a month before Obama took office.
  • Blamed Obama for the loss of a AAA credit rating for the U.S.  Actually, Standard & Poor’s blamed the downgrade on the uncompromising stands of both Republicans and Democrats.

If the widespread criticism of the veracity of Ryan’s speech had not been bad enough, Runner’s World saw fit to bust Ryan for making a false claim that he once ran a marathon in less than three hours.  In reality, it took him just over four hours.

At the conclusion of FoxNewsapalooza, the Media Matters website posted an analysis of how Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech was a smorgasbord of falsehoods concocted by bloviators from the right-wing media.

Glenn Kessler, who writes The Fact Checker blog for The Washington Post, suggested that the Left has been overreacting to the rhetoric from the Republican Convention:

Ultimately, convention speeches are about making the argument for your team.  We should fully expect politicians to make their case using facts and figures that either tilt positive about their accomplishment – or negative about their opponents.  As the fact-checking business has blossomed in the news media, it has been increasingly hard for politicians to get away with such truth-shading without someone noticing.

Both political parties will stretch the truth if they believe it will advance their political interests.  It’s been a rough campaign so far, but the GOP convention that just ended was strictly in the mainstream for such party celebrations.

As the Democratic Convention approaches, a good deal of attention has been focused on PolitiFact’s Obameter, which measures how well Obama has delivered on his campaign promises.  PolitiFact’s most recent status report offered this analysis:

Our scorecard shows Obama kept 37 percent of his promises.  He brought the war in Iraq to a close and finally achieved the Democratic dream of a universal health care program.  When the United States had Osama bin Laden in its sights, Obama issued the order to kill.

Sixteen percent are rated Broken, often because they hit a brick wall in Congress.  Global warming legislation passed the House but died in the Senate.  He didn’t even push for comprehensive immigration reform.  His program to help homeowners facing foreclosure didn’t even meet its own benchmarks. (PolitiFact rates campaign promises based on outcomes, not intentions.)

With four months left in Obama’s term, PolitiFact has rated Obama’s remaining promises Compromise (14 percent), Stalled (10 percent) or In the Works (22 percent).

One of the Obama campaign’s negative ads concerning Romney’s economic record as Governor of Massachusetts drew some criticism from FactCheck:

The ad claims that Romney raised taxes on the middle class.  It’s true that Romney imposed a number of fees, but none of them targeted middle-income persons.  Also, Romney proposed cutting the state income tax three times – a measure that would have resulted in tax cuts for all taxpayers – but he was rebuffed every time by the state’s Democratic Legislature.

I suspect that the Obama campaign has a secret plan in the works to avoid the scrutiny of fact-checkers during their convention.  Their plan to have John Kerry speak is actually part of a plot to cause the fact-checkers to fall asleep.  Once “Operation Snoozeboat” is complete, the speakers who follow Kerry will be able to make the wildest claims imaginable – and get away with it!



 

Let The Games Begin!

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August 25, 2008

It seems ironic to be saying this upon the closing of the Summer Olympics.  The Democratic and Republican Conventions run through back-to-back weeks, with Labor Day Weekend in the middle.  As the Democratic Party’s show begins, there is a healthy bit of attention focused on those disgruntled supporters of Hillary Clinton and how they plan to entertain us for the next week.  Of course, nearly all of them are women.  Their rallying call is to decry the sexually-harassing coverage of Hillary’s candidacy.  (The bulk of it was provided by the right-wing media, such as: Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.)  I saw one of Hillary’s die-hard  supporters on one of the news-related talk shows last week.  Her point that Obama “can’t close the deal” was a flashback to the Primary season rhetoric, exhibiting some sexual double-entendre, usually indicative of the commentator’s own sexual issues.  As I pondered this, I began to wonder whether some of these outraged women might have experienced some workplace-related gender harassment or bias, themselves.  Taking action on their own behalf to assert such a claim before the EEOC or in court, could result in retaliatory discharge from employment.  Although actionable, such illegal employer conduct is conveniently facilitated during a recession with a poor job market.  I began to wonder to what extent Hillary Clinton became a hero for those women with workplace-related gender bias experiences and to what extent that issue had become an emotional motivator in the Democratic nomination race.

It appears as though Obama may have a way to win the support of some of these voters.  Perhaps by acknowledging that this was indeed a close nomination race, with an obvious element of sexist harassment directed against Hillary Clinton from certain quarters and that we can understand the indignation of those people who fought so hard in the Clinton campaign.  Accordingly, some pro-active remedial steps could be taken by Barack as the nominee.  I began to envision Obama healing this rift in the party with his acceptance speech:

We all saw how Hillary Clinton was sexually harassed and degraded by some in the right-wing media such as the Fox News, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh during the Primaries.  By the way:  What is Rush Limbaugh doing — sexually harassing someone, when he’s sitting there with that long, tube-like, golden microphone up against his mouth?  We need to ask a psychologist to explain that golden, phallic microphone up against Rush Limbaugh’s mouth.  Did you ever see that thing?  He’s talking on the public airwaves.  The use of those airwaves is licensed by the FCC.  That’s why people can’t say curse words on the public airwaves like they can on cable.  If people can’t say curse words on the airwaves, then they shouldn’t be able to sexually harass female politicians or political spouses, especially during election campaigns.  This is why, if elected President, I will introduce my Presidential Initiative for Gender Harassment Sanctions – or:  PIGHS.  If someone starts up with the kind of nasty talk we heard from Rush Limbaugh about Hillary Clinton or even Elizabeth Edwards, the FCC will fine any broadcast radio station or TV station airing this offensive conduct.

I wouldn’t expect this strategy to win over every disgruntled Clinton supporter for the Obama – Biden ticket, although it could have an effect.  There is always the possibility that some of those vocal, anti-Obama, pro-Clinton die-hards might just close the curtain of the voting booth, realize that no one else is looking  …  and vote for Obama – Biden.

In the mean time, we have the real Democratic Convention ahead of us  … with some entertaining fights and at least two interesting speeches.  The McCain camp is promising some good “attack” ads for the commercial breaks.  The Olympics may be over … but the most important games that will control our society’s well-being for the next four years are going on right now.  Don’t let yourself get “played”.