Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Can you trust anyone?

Fact-checking is a good thing, right?

Here Factcheck.org calls President Obama a liar (again!). Oh, they use the word whopper so as not to use the political press's bĂȘte noire and oh so rude lie. But a synonym, no matter how cutely colloquial, still has to answer for the small matter of its meaning.

Here's the gist of Factcheck.org's report:

President Obama claimed that Republican leaders are pushing to make "privatizing Social Security a key part of their legislative agenda".

...

Few if any Republicans now in Congress have ever pushed for total "privatization"....

Only one Republican "leader" is currently pushing publicly for Bush-style private accounts, as part of an overall budget plan. He is Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the senior GOP member of the House Budget Committee. His plan currently has only 13 cosponsors, none of them in the GOP House leadership.
First, there's the little bit of goal-post moving in "total privatization." Republicans seldom advertise their desired end state, but it's clear from their arguments in favor of private accounts that they fully expect the social insurance of Social Security to wither away, leaving our descendants again free to achieve elder penury.

In any case, Obama didn't say 'total'. But that's minor.

No one who has covered politics in Washington for forty years, as the Factcheck writer has, could possibly have missed Republican hostility to Social Security, especially in the past twenty years. But even if he had, a very small amount of googling yields the 2008 Republican Party platform, complete with this on p. 19:
We believe the solution should give workers control over, and a fair return on, their contributions. No changes in the system should adversely affect any current or near-retiree. Comprehensive reform should include the opportunity to freely choose to create your own personal investment accounts which are distinct from and supplemental to the overall Social Security system.
While they don't use the word private, they're clearly talking about private accounts, not social insurance. It would be a foolish and glib quibble for Factcheck to claim that private accounts are not privatization. That's the standard Republican framing, but it's nonsense and should never convince a fact-checker.

Still, it's just a party platform. Who gives a damn about those? It's a document for the national conventioneers who aren't sociable enough to get invited to parties to fight over and feel good about hammering rightward.

Right? There are still no Congressional leaders who advocate privatization, right?

I only had to look at one, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-orange pekoe):
Republicans, led by Rep. Paul Ryan, have proposed a better budget solution that curbs spending, creates jobs, cuts taxes, and controls the debt. [emphasis in original]
Whoops! By Factcheck's own estimation, Ryan is proposing Social Security privatization, and Boehner is visibly and audibly supporting his budget proposal. Choosing sponsorship of a bill as sole criterion of support in an election year is too obviously wrong-headed to be merely naive. It's either lazy or dishonest.

Obama's "whopper" turns out to be much more accurate than Factcheck's analysis. What's a citizen to do?

Never turn off your bullshit detector. Bullshit is the characteristic of our media age.

So, why can you believe me?

Credibility is earned, not given. Read what I post. Evaluate my evidence. Check my facts. Over time, I'll either gain your credence or not.

That's the point. Exact a penalty from the credibility of those who bullshit you. Brooks Jackson may have a big media pedigree, but he didn't treat Obama fairly here, and he didn't hold Republicans to account. Why would you believe his next "fact" check? I won't.

1 comment:

Poderoso Coreano said...

all politician act as well as him.
The policy es cheating people to rule.