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May 06, 2010


I will grant Brendan's point that the Examiner tried to answer a factual claim with a Pew opinion poll of the public. That's weak evidence.

However, the Examiner also included a second reason to reject Obama claim to have created 2 million jobs*:
A recent National Association for Business Economics survey shows a majority of business economists think it didn't create jobs.

Is it valid to debunk an economics claim by showing that other economists have a contrary opinion? Well, in Brendan's post right below this one, he debunked a claim that tax rate cuts can increase tax dollars collected by showing that some economists at the Congressional Budget Office have a contrary opinion. If that debunking method is valid for Brendan, it's valid for the Examiner.

*The unmentioned existence of a 2nd proof is another reminder that Media Matters is not fully reliable. Their assertions should always be checked back to the original sources.

David -- they did post the whole quote. It's important to check your assertions back to the original sources! My point was simply that it's funny Hemingway cited the poll as evidence of any kind; the public's view of the matter is irrelevant.

Touche, Brendan.

On reflection, I think Media Matters and Brendan were wrong to call it a "factual claim." It's a fact that tax revenue increased by some specific amount after Reagan cut the tax rates. It's a judgment that Reagan's tax rate cut was the cause of increase in tax revenue. Causality cannot be definitively proved.

Similarly, it's a fact that the unemployment rate rose to 10% after Obama and the Dems took various economy-related actions. It's a judgment that the Dems' economic policy was the cause of the loss of jobs.

If we were discussing a factual matter, the public's opinion would be irrelevant. However, when discussing a judgment, an expert's view may have more value, but the public's judgment isn't automatically worthless IMHO.

Of course its not worthless, because if you can spin public opinion you can influence election outcomes.

And, if there is a negative opinion on the economy it reinforces a tendency for the economy to remain sluggish as it engenders more conservative attitudes toward hiring new employees or toward spending for investment or for consumption.

So the perception matters in a few "real" ways.

The list of myths from Snopes is interesting, but Salon's interpretation is wrong. Salon found a greater number of different myths and of false myths about Obama than about Bush in Snopes and concluded:
"Our right wing now contains a lot more liars, and a lot more folks who spread lies out of gullibility or wishfulness, than our left wing."

This is wrong, because:

-- the number of "folks who spread lies" depends on how many people spread false rumors, not the total number of distinct rumors.

-- Snopes doesn't include all myths. In particular, they don't include any variations of the widespread "truther" myth: the Jews knew about 9/11 in advance or Bush knew about 9/11 in advance or even Bush helped plan for 9/11.

Other popular Bush myths not in Snopes include:
-- Bush would have attacked Iraq no matter what.
-- Bush was a fascist
-- Bush uniquely undermined civil liberties

Salon also asserts that this list proves something about which party is more apt to use "insults, threats, and acts of violence." As far as I can see, there are no threats or acts of violence in these rumors. There are plenty of insults on both sides.

It was nasty to falsely accuse Bush of being provably the lowest IQ Presdident of all time. It was even nastier to accuse him of intentionally letting the 9/11 attack take place. However, I'll agree with Salon to that degree that the nastiest rumor out there was about Obama -- namely that he's the anti-Christ.

Salon evidently assumed that those spreading malicious rumors about Obama are right wing. In fact, 15% of Democrats are birthers according to a new ABC poll. http://abcnews.go.com/PollingUnit/poll-half-birthers-call-suspicion-approve-obama/story?id=10576748&page=2

By comparison, 31% of Republicans are birthers, so this myth is considerably more prevalent among Reps. Still, it's striking just how many Dems hold this view.

David, there are Democrats who are right wing (Zell Miller, Congressman Boren of Oklahoma, etc.).

daniel, how do you define right wing, and why do you think the two people you mentioned should be classified as such?

"daniel, how do you define right wing,..."

as synonymous with conservative.

"...and why do you think the two people you mentioned should be classified as such?"

Because of their voting records and public statements. Anyway, you seemed to miss the larger point I was trying to get across (that contrary to what you seem to believe, there are Democrats who are right wingers).

daniel, when I think of right wing or conservative, I think of a collection of positions, including
1. Pro-life
2. Favors shrinking the size of government
3. Favors lower taxes
4. Favors a muscular foreign policy

I don't know much about Boren. AFAIK Zell Miller takes the conservative position on #4 and takes the liberal position on #1, #2, and #3.

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