Blaise Pascal, PenseĆ© 347: “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this. All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.”

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fact Checking the Convention Speeches

Washington Post Glenn Kessler highlighted some of the most misleading statements in Obama's and Biden's convention speeches. The most blatant lie of the night was Obama's claim to cut deficits by $4 trillion over an unspecified number of years by not spending money he doesn't have. On a much smaller scale, I too plan to save $10 million dollars over the next few years by not spending money I don't have. I think my wife will be very proud of me. If I get ambitious, I may save to a billion.

See the Washington Post fact check article at this link: Fact Checking Obama's and Biden's Speeches

Kessler fails to pick up on the biggest distortion in Obama's or Biden's speeches, which is the implication that a tax on the rich can solve the problem of a $16 trillion debt. Neither party is confronting the logic so persuasively laid out by the Bowles-Simpson task force that taxes must go up and spending down.

Now, turning Kessler loose on Romney, he picks up on some whoppers, like the idea that the price of gasoline doubled under Obama--even my failing memory goes back to $3.5 per gallon gas four years ago--or that he raised taxes on the middle class, which Obama hasn't done and claims he will not do in the future. I don't see some of Romney's statements to be as misleading as Kessler, particularly when Romney claims that the economy "does not provide the jobs needed for 23 million people and for half the kids graduating from college." Kessler sees this as implying that they cannot find jobs at all. I don't see that. Romney claim is that 23 million people can't find the job they need--which are full-time jobs.

Romney has a plan to create 12 million jobs. Great. Who can dispute it if he says so. I have a plan to make $12 million dollars in the next year. If Mitt tells me his plan. I'll tell him mine. (Try this on your spouse tonight, and see if you get a round of convention magnitude applause. I'll let you know how I make out with mine.)

See the Washington Post fact check on Romney's acceptance speech at this link: Fact Checking Romney's Acceptance Speech

Paul Ryan's mistake--I suspect some of his staff got into trouble over this one--suggesting Obama was somehow responsible for the closing of the GM plant in Ryan's home town, which Obama said would remain open for a hundred years. Well, it was dumb for Obama to say that, but he had nothing to do with shutting up the plant, which happened before he took office.

The Republican claim that Obama said government ought to get the credit for building businesses rather than the people who had built them is a distortion of what Obama said, but that's a subject for a blog by itself. (The Republican construction of Obama's statement reminds me of the first political campaign I paid attention to, LBJ v. Goldwater. Goldwater said, "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!" I still think that's a snappy line, and true. But it was used like a rope to hang Goldwater in a campaign in which LBJ promised we'd never get more deeply involved in Vietnam.

See the Washington Post fact check on Ryan's acceptance speech at this link:
Fact Checking Paul Ryan's Speech

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