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February 22, 2011


Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts. Last week President Obama stated in his press conference and repeated the next day in an interview that his proposed budget doesn't spend any more money than we're taking in. Brendan very charitably characterizes that as "spin." A more apt description would be a barefaced lie. Spin is "We're focused like a laser beam on the economy." A conscious misstatement of a fact is a lie. (Similarly, "If you like your health insurance, you can keep your health insurance" wasn't spin, it was a plain misrepresentation.)

Obama seems to justify his arithmetic by ignoring the interest the Federal Government will have to pay on its massive debt, most of which debt will have been incurred under the Obama Administration itself. Abraham Lincoln apocryphally is said to have asked, "If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?" Lincoln said the answer was not five but four, because calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. (It appears Lincoln's reference was actually to a calf.) Calling the interest on the debt not a part of the budget doesn't make it not a part of the budget.

And treating the President's false statement as merely spin is itself spin.

RE: Props for givng props to Palin, although her point seemed obvious to many of us from the beginning so I am not sure if it's really "back-pedaling" as much as "explaining a metaphor".

RE: "The claim that Obama repeatedly has apologized for the United States is not borne out by the facts"

If I understand the logic of this piece, it is a "fact" Obama wasn't apologizing because either he didn't use the word "apology" or in the writer's opinion, Obama didn't sound apologetic on the items he cites.


"Fact-checker" Glenn Kessler asserts that Obama didn't apologize because Obama didn't "use a word at all similar to 'apologize'" -- because "nothing akin to the word 'apology' is ever used by Obama."

However, the word apology or something similar is not required for a statement to constitute an apology. Look at Def. 1 for the word "apology":
1. a written or spoken expression of one's regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another

E.g., Obama said,

America "has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive" toward Europe.

That comment expresses regret, remorse and sorrow for the US's (alleged) behavior toward Europe. Thus, the President was indeed apologizing for America. Most of the other Obama quotes in that article also expressed regret for words or actions by the US. By definition, those Obama quotes are accurately described as apologizing for America.

Kessler also argues that Bush, like Obama, also apologized for American slavery. At most, that would prove that Bush also apologized for America. It wouldn't prove that Obama didn't apologize for America.

If Kessler's implicit argument is that Obama didn't apologize for America any more than Bush did, then Kessler ought to have compared a comprehensive list of what the two Presidents said. Finding one statement in common certainly doesn't prove that their entire foreign speech contents were identical.

It's sad to see Kessler (and WaPo) spinning like this, particularly when acting in the role of a supposedly unbiased "fact-checker".

Contra the Monkey Cage, there is an obvious relationship between union membership and state budget deficits. One simply needs to look at a given state over time.

E.g., California didn't allow state workers' unions before Jerry Brown's first Governorship, Deficits before then were minimal or non-existant. I suspect most other states with unionized workers also had far smaller deficits before the state workers were unionized. BTW the same is true in my locality of Menlo Park, CA, and, I suspect, in many localities. throughout the country.

Perhaps I'm missing something, but I don't understand why George Stephanopoulos linked Michelle Bachman and Lady Bachman in that headline, nor why Brendan thought it was worth posting. Bachman never mentioned Lady Gaga, except to respond to a question by saying that she knows little about Lady Gaga.

Stephanopoulos was a high-level Democratic operative. He's now hosting a supposedly non-partisan TV show. This seems to me analogous to Karl Rove or Ann Coulter hosting GMA.

Bachman made salient points about government spending, the deficit, the complexity of the income tax code. etc. So, why is Stephanopoulos's headline about Lady Gaga? I suspect that this is an attempt by a Democratic partisan to belittle or smear Bachman by linking her to this entertainer, even though there's no actual connection.

Props to Brendan for emphasizing that borrowing large amounts of money to go to a top college may be a poor financial decision.

David Weigel advances a couple of reasons for the prevalence of birtherism. One he leaves out is distrust of the media. In particular, a belief among conservatives that the media tilts liberal.

I apologize for the typo in the comment above. The early reference to "Lady Bachman" should be "Lady Gaga."

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