Friday, October 05, 2012

NO F.A.I.R. Anne Sorock* of Legal Insurrection:
The “fact-check” segment has replaced the unbiased network farce as a way to pull for candidates without seeming to. It’s an attempt to regain the lost respect by cloaking bias by calling it fact. Do a google search for “fact check debate” and you’ll see all the news outlets in line with the same message: Politico, Huffington Post, ABC, Salon…. Quite amazing message pull-through, really.
Yeah, it's amazing fact-checkers would come to similar conclusions. Maybe these guys got a mistaken idea of what fact-checking is from their 9/11 glory days, when "fact-check your ass" meant "the internet is a great marketing opportunity for niche vendors of bullshit."

UPDATE. Originally had the author as William Jacobson -- thanks, commenter D. Johnston, for fact-checking my ass.

137 comments:

  1. KatWillow10:19 AM

    Yes, Facts, truth, common sense... they all pull liberal.

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  2. Halloween_Jack10:33 AM

    Shorter wingnut blogosphere: OUR GUY WON SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP LALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

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  3. synykyl10:46 AM

    Instead of whining about fact checkers, why not try sticking a little closer to the truth? Sure, actual honesty is out of the question, but they could at least try to fake it.

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  4. I find this comment somehow very telling. As if this Jacobson fellow can't possibly imagine a way a number of different actors could come to a consensus without them all reading off of the same script.

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  5. GregMc11:14 AM

    The very idea that there should be a separate class of people called "fact checkers" is the very worst idea since the invention of ideas. Join me, please, in the time travelthing . . . . It's 44BC: did Caesar really say anything intelligible to Brutus? Was he, perhaps, under the impression that Brutus was being stabbed, tu? . . . . It's 7 December 1941: was the US really "in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific."

    In my day, you rotten 00ers, we called the people who confronted such issues "journalists" or "fucking normal humans who were alive at the time".

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  6. montag211:17 AM

    Ah, there's no question that fact-checkers can display bias. There have been numerous instances of the failure to, especially, look at information in context, resulting in a declaration that it's something that it's not.

    That said, when there's general agreement that a certain Rmoney, leading contender for the leveraged buyout of the White House, lied his ass off in front of fifty million people not once, but dozens of times, in about as many minutes, we're not talking shades of meaning here. We're talkin' Joe Isuzu-class fibbing.

    What dismays Jacobson is that it's a conservative Republican subjected to this scrutiny. Why, conservatives are honorable! Decent! Upstanding citizens! Pure of heart! Always want the best for the general public! Dedicated to public service! Regular Boy Scouts!

    It's all a conspiracy to deny Republican conservatives their rightful place in public life, Jacobson would have you believe.

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  7. Leeds man11:20 AM

    Wingnut tactics in a nutshell:

    If anticipating an accusation of lying, call the other guy a liar first.
    If caught lying, double down and/or change the subject.

    I've been racking my brains for anything else in my own exchanges with 'em, but that's about it.

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  8. GregMc11:22 AM

    I don't believe you.

    Win!

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  9. whetstone11:26 AM

    It speaks to Mitten's tax-plan logic during the debates, which was something like: "Yes, physicists say Mitt will die if he jumps off this cliff. But Mitt says he would not jump if he was going to die. And he is not dead. So who is to say Mitt will die? Suck it, factcheckers."

    I believe this is a rare example of pre-post-hoc reasoning, or to use its technical term, bullshit.

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  10. chuckling11:34 AM

    Perhaps as on of the independent voters who remains undecided in this contest, I can help shed a little light on the fact-check phenomena of which you speak.


    Unfortunately, the pertinent fact is that both candidates are country club Republicans who can, if elected , be counted on to do whatever necessary to make their country club brethren happy, which mostly consists of rigging the system to make them more wealthy with less need to actually be good at anything. The latter is an important point as the country club ages and fortunes must inevitably be turned over to retard grand sons. That's why Obama publicly agreed with just about everything Romney said.


    Anyway, the main difference between Obama and Romney is that they have to fool different constituencies which they despise, and which would despise the "real" Obama or Romney. Obama has to fool the earnest liberal who cares about his or her fellow citizens. Romney has to fool the sociopathic morons that hate anyone the least bit different. More to the point, the people Obama has to fool like facts. The people Romney has to fool hate facts. Thus, we get the apparent disconnect on the merits of fact checking.


    Ha ha, and if you think I was harsh on Obama's crash and burn and spew foul smelling odor over half the world, you should check out Kevin Baker at Harper's blog:


    "Maybe he really is a secret Muslim terrorist from Kenya.I mean, think about it. He runs for president as a populist, soaking up all the liberal energy for change in the country. Once in power, he surrounds himself with failed conservative advisers, and squanders most of his mandate. Then, just as it looks as if he will still be able to defeat his clueless Republican opponent, he turns in the worst performance any presidential candidate has ever given in a general-election debate, tanking the race and turning the country over to a party of fanatical Ayn Rand acolytes and warmongers.Homeland’s Abu Nazir never dreamed up anything this diabolical.I know, it’s not very funny. Neither was Barack Obama’s noneffort last night. Nor am I joking about his performance being the worst in the history of presidential debates. In fact, it was the worst debate by any candidate in either the presidentialor the vice-presidential debates. And I include Dan Quayle’s performance in 1988, and that poor, befuddled admiral who was running with Ross Perot."Sad thing is, I think we're both going too easy on Obama's performance. Of course I only watched about 45 seconds of it, but it was that horrific. Plus my wife, who is not at all like me in these matters, was severely pissed at Obama. When he fails someone like her, he truly and egregiously fails.

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  11. Doesn't he have mustard to fact-check?

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  12. Indeed. There's been a lot of well-deserved criticism of the "fact-checking" trend - the widespread Broderism, the fact that they're only necessary because journalists aren't willing to call anything a "lie" anymore. But boy, you get a fabulist like Romney on stage, and suddenly people are glad that there's a whole class of journalists ready to dive into the bullshit.


    Note, by the way, that Col. Mustard isn't defending Romney's bullshit. He just hates the fact that people can smell it.

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  13. Journalists? Checking facts? All by themselves?


    Sir, what far-off time period are you from?

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  14. You know, Sorock (it's not Jacobsen writing this post - F.Y.I.) never actually tries to defend Romney. She's deeply upset that anyone would call Romney a "liar," but not because he's really honest - it's the very notion that one would check the veracity of his statements that's offensive. How dare you not take his on-their-face inaccurate statements as fact?


    But no, no defense of Romney. A lot of attacks on Obama's people for calling out the lies (which is "propaganda," at least when a Democrat does it) and lines from Sarah Palin, that bastion of honesty.


    Most of all, she seems upset that anyone would respond to Romney's statements. Damn it, don't they know that hitting back is against the rules?

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  15. Just the day after posting this the author of the article "fact-checked" the jobs report - leaving us to wonder whether it's the fact-checking that's the issue or whether, as usual, conclusions which seem to favor liberal positions necessarily indict those who reach such conclusions, regardless of what methodology has been used to reach said conclusions.

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  16. "The facts all agree I'm an asshole, therefore the facts must be wrong." stick with that message, sir, and you'll go far!

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  17. Damn it, don't they know that hitting back is against the rules?

    Hard to imagine how the goopers could ever get an idea like that.
    ~

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  18. trizzlor12:28 PM

    oh christ, did you see the Weekly Standard piece they linked to as an example of Fact Checker bias? Here's a taste: "An Associated Press “fact check” actually upbraided Ryan for quoting Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment. Supposedly, Ryan didn’t understand the rhetorical context. What that has to do with facts went unexplained." Indeed, what the hell could context ever do with the factual meaning of a quote? You've got the truncated quote - that's a fact, and the context - that's some other fact, Honest Paul Ryan chooses the facts he needs; what more would you have him do "Fact Checkers"?!

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  19. DocAmazing12:50 PM

    The Republicans are getting post-modern. Next we will be hearing from them about text and context, and the absurdity of attempts at objectivity. After that, yams in the kiester. It's a direct progression.

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  20. I think that, in all seriousness, what pisses me off the most is the bizarre "half true" proposition. For example I believe that something which was classified as "half false" was Obama's true statement of the number of jobs created during his term, which was represented as only partially true, or partially false, because he failed to somehow subtract that from the number of jobs lost under Bush. The "fact checking" of Romney's amazing statement that he couldn't be cutting 5 trillion because he wouldn't do something like that since it conflicts with his other stated goal of bringing down the deficit was just even weirder. You literally could not parse the sentence which ended with the words "was true."


    aimai

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  21. Leeds man12:53 PM

    Chuck, you really should go over to Ian's place. Lots of kindred spirits there.

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  22. So why are you undecided? Even if they are both nearly the same the implications of that are that on some metric they are slightly different. Your choices are perfectly straightforward: vote or don't. Choose between two different candidates whose policy positions don't wholly reflect your own or don't bother. But why pretend to be undecided? Do you not know what your own policy preferences are? Do you not know that there are some (to you small) differences between the candidates? What strange notion of ego makes you trumpet your inability to make your own choice? Do you think it makes you sound more judicious? Because to me you just sound like an absolute fool.

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  23. mortimer1:20 PM

    If movie posters were fact-checked:

    Blurb: "You'll think Eat the Gladiator is the greatest movie ever made... go see it!" NY Times

    Original Context: "If you love mindless right-wing dreck, you'll think Eat the Gladiator is the greatest movie ever made. On the other hand, if you want to keep a few brain cells functioning, for the love of Christ don't go see it!"

    Fact-check by Glenn Kessler: Even if words were taken out of context by ommitting other words, the reviewer did indeed write those words, so the poster is correct, de facto. When it comes to words, evidence of absence is not absence of evidence.

    Market Researcher Anne Sorock: I loved Eat the Gladiator. The movie poster told the truth. Biased fact-checkers shouldn't... wait a minnit.

    P.S. For extra fun, be sure to read Anne's parody bio.

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  24. chuckling1:45 PM

    Why am I undecided? Well, you have to consider my goals. In a more perfect world, as a progressive, I would vote for a candidate that shares my progressive views. But since there is no such candidate, since both candidates want to implement the country club Republican agenda, I feel that my best option is to vote against the candidate that would be most effective at implementing Republican policies.


    I'm just not sure who would be more effective, Romney or Obama, at implementing anti-progressive Republican policies. Oh sure, conventional wisdom suggests that the nominal Republican candidate would be more effective, but that's not necessarily the case. In his first four years, Obama has been deadly effective at implementing the worst Republican policies. If we could somehow throw out the Iraq War debacle (we all wish), we would see that from a progressive perspective, Obama has been a worse president than Bush. It's close enough to be arguable anyway.


    So although Romney sure seems like the worse choice, a fair possibility exists that the democrats in congress would largely thwart his worst excesses. But if Obama is re-elected, the democrats and Republicans can join together and make all the worst of George W. Bush's wet dreams come true.


    Hence the dilemma.

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  25. Halloween_Jack1:47 PM


    Nor am I joking about his performance being the worst in the history of presidential debates.



    You, and he, are dancing on the grave of someone who's coughed a couple of times in your earshot. It's ludicrous.

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  26. chuckling1:48 PM

    Sorry Bub, I never follow links from strangers.

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  27. Ya Addicting Info was talking about that today - CNN is trying to out faux faux news - Obama claimed job growth last 30 months (true) but they went ahead and fact checked him for 45 months - tallying in the huge losses under Bush.

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  28. eohippus1:59 PM

    Ah, well then. A principled progressive who just can't see the difference between the two candidates. I suggest you take your list of complaints and write them down on a big sheet of paper. Next, fold that paper until it's all sharp corners and then shove it up your ass.

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  29. Leeds man2:01 PM

    Whaddaya mean strangers? We've cyberknown each other for years! Anyway, Roy has a link there too. It wasn't meant as a brush-off, by the way. Just something I thought might interest you.

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  30. tigrismus2:09 PM

    Give conservative bloggers credit, they write what they know...

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  31. chuckling2:11 PM

    Sorry. True. But don't be offended. I never follow Roy's links either. And if I were around a lot of kindred spirits, I'd probably just start disagreeing with them and end up writing in Major Major for President. Where would that leave Roseanne?

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  32. KatWillow2:31 PM

    Even Noam Chomsky said he'd vote Obama in a swing state. Obama is the lesser evil, and in this case the greater evil is terrifying.

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  33. KatWillow2:35 PM

    "And then the scales fell from my eyes!" a character in a Mika Walteri (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mika_Waltari) book used to say, over and over. The most scales fell from my eyes during the BP BlowOut in our Gulf. I simply could not believe, STILL can't believe, that Obama didn't ask for -and receive- help from the entire World in cleaning it up, and throw the people responsible into the Hague- forever.

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  34. Obama gave a bad performance but did it ever occur to you that someone as good as Obama at debating and strategy/tactics might have done that for a good reason? The Democrats now have an absolute wealth of material they can use (and have already started using) in commercials that show Romney flip flopping mere days rather than weeks or months apart - THey now have tons of lies told on stage in a presidential debate that allow them to say - see if you can't trust him to tell you the truth here why would you in the oval office.

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  35. The Dark Avenger3:12 PM

    Yeah, but does he have a cool avatar like chucking does, huh, huh, huh?

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  36. JennOfArk3:51 PM

    Excuse me, but...that "worst debate performance" in history stuff is just patent bullshit.


    I understand that all the talking heads are calling it for Rmoney because he was hyperkinetic, while Obama seemed to be sleepwalking. But in point of fact, Obama actually answered questions and answered them truthfully and in detail. So he wasn't as peppy as Rmoney. Big deal. I'd wager that many of those watching weren't all that taken with Rmoney's glib, fast-talking salesman routine. It's not as if he came off more sincere or honest than the president, because he didn't - he just seemed more energetic, perhaps the result of having tried caffeine for the first time in his life, maybe because a new super-charged battery pack had been installed, or whatever.


    Here's what Obama accomplished with that "worst debate performance" in history: he got Rmoney to own his plan to voucherize Medicare. True, Rmoney never out and out said "I'm going to voucherize Medicare, but that just added to the general impression of lying, fast-talking salesman he created throughout. He was forced to say "my plan won't change anything for anyone over the age of 55, and if you think everyone under 55 didn't notice that, think again. Second - he forced Rmoney to change positions yet again on taxes, on his budget priorities, etc. I often fall into the trap of assuming that other people are rational human beings, but in point of fact many of them are, and they must have noticed, as I did, that whenever Rmoney's budget assumptions were called into question, he wasn't able to elaborate on why Obama was wrong; he just reverted to repeating what he'd already said. Those of us who are rational recognize that as a hallmark of someone who's not being fully honest, because people who are fully honest can explain their agendas and don't have to fall back on repeating the same talking points over and over again. He might as well have said, "because I SAID SO, that's why!" and rational people don't accept that as a real answer. Third, if there's one thing we know, it's that the more people see of Mitt Romney, the less they like him. Giving him free rein to lie his ass off for an hour and a half perhaps should not be seen as a losing strategy in that context - trading a one or two day news cycle for more opportunities to relentlessly pound him for the next month maybe isn't all that bad of a trade-off. The lies Rmoney told Wednesday night are already coming back to haunt him, and I wouldn't be surprised to see ghosts of the debate past show up in the next two and give him a severe bitch-slapping.


    So yes, not Obama's best performance by a long shot, but not "the sky is falling!" either. Perspective, people. Get some.

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  37. synykyl4:13 PM

    ... But in point of fact, Obama actually answered questions and answered them truthfully and in detail ...

    That was precisely his problem. The truth is for losers ;-)

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  38. synykyl4:17 PM

    So far I like Disqus, but I can't shake the feeling that it is somehow responsible for Obama's debate performance.

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  39. John D.4:32 PM

    And reality. Don't forget reality.

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  40. aimai4:38 PM

    I'm not going to argue the "close enough to be arguable" debate with you because you have descended into straight up gobblydegook. If Obama was implementing the worst republican policies ever why on earth would the republicans be running romney against him? Why did the republicans--the actual bought and paid for republicans--block his every legislative move in the first four years? Your hall of mirrors and wilderness of monkeys shtick is so overwrought you can't even manage to keep your dark conspiracies straight. Under all scenarios you envision the Republicans win--they win every time. So why vote at all? Its obvious that you are either not going to vote, or posing as not voting because you feel it adds interest and style to your internet role of angry curmudgeon with insight. But I don't want you to think that I am concerned about who you vote for. I just despise you for being such a fucking poseur. There are actual leftists and actual democrats who work hard at every level of the political struggle. I respect them. I've got nothing but contempt for you and your endless masturbatory hand wringing (to mix my metaphors) about who is good enough to advance the cause of Chuckling.


    aimai

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  41. In a more perfect world, as a progressive, I would vote for a candidate that shares my progressive views. But since there is no such candidate, since both candidates


    C'mon. Jill Stein and Peta Lindsay exist. If you're so dedicated to the Both Sides Are The Same fiction, at least work up the courage to vote third party.

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  42. I thought about that too, but I'm wary of believing it since it's exactly the kind of eleven-dimensional chess grandmaster story that's just apologia for Obama crumpling under opposition.

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  43. bilejones6:36 PM

    And then there's this

    http://minx.cc/?post=333534

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  44. satch6:47 PM

    Aimai: Since the "likes" in this joint are now anonymous, allow me to put a name to this one.

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  45. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard7:12 PM

    Meanwhile, they'll still accuse liberals of "moral relativism".

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  46. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard7:16 PM

    Nuh-uh, that's not a blank column!

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  47. Leeds man7:17 PM

    If Obama was implementing the worst republican policies ever why on earth would the republicans be running romney against him?

    Gee, I don't know. Because he's a Democrat? There are rumours of a power struggle between the two parties, pretty much independent of silly notions like "policies".

    I think Chuckling is genuinely disgusted by what is being done to, and by, his country. That doesn't surprise me, even though I am definitely a lesser-evil type. What surprises me is the potency of the vitriol aimed at folk like him. It's almost as though he's a proxy for your conscience.

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  48. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard7:20 PM

    She's deeply upset that anyone would call Romney a "liar," but not
    because he's really honest - it's the very notion that one would check
    the veracity of his statements that's offensive. How dare you not take
    his on-their-face inaccurate statements as fact?
    He is an aristocrat, after all- the peasants shouldn't be allowed to question him.

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  49. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard7:22 PM

    If movie posters were fact-checked: "Plan 9 From Outer Space"? There is no indication that there were, actually, eight previous plans.

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  50. Big_Bad_Bald_Bastard7:30 PM

    If we could somehow throw out the Iraq War debacle (we all wish), we
    would see that from a progressive perspective, Obama has been a worse
    president than Bush. It's close enough to be arguable anyway.
    That's one goddamn big "if" , an "if" so goddamn big that a million dead bodies stretched along it wouldn't reach from one end of the "i" to the other.

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  51. tigrismus8:58 PM

    EW.

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  52. Leeds, you know I love ya, but come ON... the whole "Obamney is just the same as Rombama" thing is not only head bangingly tedious, it's demonstrably wrong. You think President Romney would have signed Lilly Ledbetter (assuming a Pug congress would even have put it up)? Bailed out the auto industry? Passed the ACA (yeah, yeah... I know, it wasn't single payer (sob!), but we can get there)? Repealed DADT? Stopped the deportation of the children of undocumented immigrants? Signed Dodd-Frank (sure, under Obama, D-F isn't all it could be, but under Romney, both Dodd and Frank would have been taken out and flogged)? I don't know about Aimai, but MY conscience is just fine, thanks.

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  53. Leeds man10:36 PM

    Satch, you're preaching to the converted, sort of. I just don't get the level of outrage leveled at prog dissenters. It's weird. I understand the nay-sayers more than I understand the people whose strategy I agree with. Making lame excuses for drone strikes gets less attention (and no accusations of tediousness AFAIK) than the slightest objection to them. Fucking weird.

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  54. I'm not saying there's nothing to criticize Obama for... but saying that there's NO DIFFERENCE between Obama and Romney, they're equally bad? That's what I don't get...

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  55. calling all toasters12:18 AM

    You know how she first found out these "fact checkers" are all biased? NONE OF THEM saw the guy in Clint Eastwood's chair.

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  56. MBouffant12:56 AM

    That's always a direct progression, from anything.

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  57. Cardinal O' Connedher8:48 AM

    Somewhere in downtown Duluth, a Catholic factchecker is preparing to baptize Mitt Romney into the Catholic Church after Mitt dies from not jumping off a cliff.

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  58. zencomix8:53 AM

    Where have you gone, Joe Wilson, Fox Nation turns it's lonely eyes to you....woo, woo, woo

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  59. zencomix9:07 AM

    Don't throw your vote away on Major Major. Vote for the Colonel Cathcart/Colonel Korn ticket!

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  60. zencomix9:13 AM

    I know you don't follow links, but the Disqus wouldn't add the image to my comment. Do you need to "register with Disqus" in order to gain access to that function?

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  61. M. Krebs10:16 AM

    What surprises me is the potency of the vitriol aimed at folk like him. It's almost as though he's a proxy for your conscience.


    It's just the sheer tediousness of it. We've all heard it a thousand times, and I'd wager that most of us are somewhat sympathetic. Yes, Obama's a huge disappointment. I get it. Plus, in chuckling's case, it's just trolling.

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  62. John D.11:22 AM

    Chuckling, I'm probably more sympathetic to your point of view than anybody else posting here, but your reason behind possibly voting for Rmoney seems to me to be a little outdated. I mean, this:

    "So although Romney sure seems like the worse choice, a fair possibility
    exists that the democrats in congress would largely thwart his worst
    excesses."


    I've heard this sort of thing before, and it likely would have made sense in more normal political times, but as you've surely noticed, these are not normal political times. I think it's finally gotten to the point where the corporatists leading the Democratic Party have little-to-no wriggle room left when it comes to attracting votes as well as pleasing their real base, i.e. their rich sponsors. That's what Obama's horribly inept performance in the opening debate was all about. He can't bullshit the way that, say, Clinton could because the 1% would react negatively. It's a mark of how far standards have deteriorated even since Clinton's tenure as President that the corporate Dems can't even be allowed to murmur comforting lies to the suckers, er, voters, all the while planning to do the GOP's dirty work for them once safely elected, for fear of upsetting the Big Money Boyz.

    You think the Dems will actually stand up to Rmoney, however quietly and timidly, even for the basest and most self-serving of reasons, if he lies his way into the White House? Really? I didn't notice them standing up to Bush all that much when he was busy with the work of destroying the country and the world. If anything, they bent over backwards to render him all the assistance they possibly could, and I don't see it going any better if Mr. Burns becomes Prez.

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  63. DocAmazing12:01 PM

    What we need is a latter-day Richard Nixon delivering his "Fact Checkers" speech.

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  64. Leeds man3:40 PM

    I see it like this. We each have our own line, across which we will not even vote for the lesser evil. For you, me, Aimai, and most folk here, that line hasn't been crossed. For others, it either has or nearly has. I can understand calling them tedious, or trolls, but I don't get the venom, or deliberate 'purist'-poking of the kind you can see at TBogg's place. The craziest wingnuts don't get that treatment.

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  65. Halloween_Jack4:11 PM

    But there's nothing in her bio that indicates that it's a parody... oh, well-played, mi amigo viejo.

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  66. Substance McGravitas5:42 PM

    All in all, not a stretch to find that those who support Obama would
    react negatively to a leader who exudes strength and principle.


    All must support Roof-Pooping-Dog Master.

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  67. redoubt7:12 PM

    Facts, truth, common sense, demographics--the Four Horsemen of the conservative apocalypse.

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  68. redoubt7:17 PM

    All must support Roof-Pooping-Dog Master.

    That's going to leave a mess in the GOP Yoga Studio.

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  69. chuckling7:30 PM

    No, I think Major Major Major would make close to an ideal president, being in when he's out and out when he's in. Unfortunately, he can never be President Major Major for the same reason he can never be Colonel Major Major. It just wouldn't be right.

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  70. chuckling7:36 PM

    I think the vitriol come from people who have to some extent tossed whatever morality they once may have had out the window. For example, they used to think it was wrong to mass murder children, to specifically target them at weddings and funerals. Now they have to tell themselves they're okay with murdered children. So they lash out and anyone who reminds them of what they used to be. Sad, really. But understandable.

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  71. chuckling7:38 PM

    I just despise you for being such a fucking poseur.


    I feel a great deal of sympathy for you.

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  72. chuckling7:52 PM

    Actually, the question is whether to vote or not to vote or to vote for Rosanne or the like. I would never actually vote for an ass like Romney. But in some realities, not voting for Obama is the same as voting for Romney. Of course I don't live in a swing state so it truly does not matter how I vote.

    It just strikes me as absurd that anyone cares what a clownish fictional character on the internets claims to think. Whether poor chuckling gets in line with the collective or continues to think independently matters not at all in the real world and should not matter to anyone in the virtual. As someone who usually enjoys absurdity, I get a lot of laughs from the grim partisan hackery my whimsical musings inspire. But I don't really enjoy it as much as normal in this case. Seeing certain Alicublog commenters acting just like the winguts Roy skewers is not pleasant. But it is often funny. And very illustrative of human nature. The story where those who think they are so much better than everyone are exposed as being just like those they consider so inferior, or maybe even inferior to them, will always be a classic.

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  73. JennOfArk8:14 PM

    Oh please - now you're claiming that children have been "specifically targeted" for mass murder? As offensive as it is to claim that others have "tossed whatever morality they once may have had out the window," the claim that children have been specifically targeted for mass murder is worse.


    I think I can speak for everyone who posts here when I say no one likes the drone program. And I can probably speak for most, though obviously not all, when I say that even though no one likes it, most like even less full-scale invasions in which hundreds of thousands of children are murdered.


    While I've never been one to cite 9/11 to excuse all sins, the fact remains that it happened and there needed to be some kind of response to both punish those who were responsible and take out as many of their like-minded compatriots as possible. Bush chose to do that by invading a country that had nothing to do with the attack; Obama has pursued a policy of targeting those associated with the attackers rather than an entire nation that wasn't involved. An unfortunate by-product of that decision is that innocents who associate with associates of the attackers have ended up in the crossfire. While that is regrettable, it's a damn sight better than willy-nilly wholesale slaughter across entire nations of tens or hundreds of thousands who were never associated in ANY way with any of those responsible. As much as I hate murdered children, at least under the policy this president has followed there are orders of magnitude fewer of them and they only have ended up in the crossfire as a result of the actions or associations of their parents. If their parents loved their children more than they loved being or associating with terrorists, the kids would still be alive. Sucks, but it's not as if "murdered children" are the goal. I could say the same about all the kids burned by David Koresh at Waco, and blame their deaths on law enforcement rather than the lunatic who burned them to death...but it still wouldn't be the fault of law enforcement that they died. The blame would still lie with David Koresh and their parents for putting the kids into a deadly situation and refusing to remove them from it.


    I guess I just want to know...if full-scale wars aren't the way to fight terrorists, as I think we all agree they are not, and drone attacks aren't acceptable either, what's your solution? Just to shrug and say, "oh well, since they're hiding out in Pakistan we need to just let it go"? I'd really like to know how you would propose dealing with them.

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  74. chuckling8:18 PM

    I'd really like to know how you would propose dealing with them.


    As a police matter, duh.

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  75. JennOfArk8:20 PM

    And how exactly do the police bring them to justice when they're hiding out in a country that won't capture them and hand them over, or allow anyone in to capture them?

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  76. chuckling8:35 PM

    I'm curious. Are you aware that your long post above is a nice, very concise recap of the neocon worldview?


    But to your second question, there are mountains of evidence that the military "solution" is what creates the terrorists. It's a virtuous circle in an Orwellian kinda way. Wanna break the circle? Gotta go back to the old constitutional rule of law strategy as opposed to the murder spree strategy that just ain't working. That, and stop invading other countries, overthrowing their governments, murdering their children, etc. That's the progressive view and it's supported by very strong intellectual arguments and real world examples.

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  77. M. Krebs8:45 PM

    Fuck you too, chuckles.

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  78. Leeds man8:54 PM

    Now they have to tell themselves they're okay with murdered children.

    We've been doing that for centuries, with a lot of the weight being carried now by Halliburton, Bechtel, the IMF, Big Pharma, cigarette ads in the Third World, PCs, etc ad nauseam, with our implicit (at least) consent. Maybe drones are your final straw, but unless you live off the grid and grow your own food, I think your moralizing should be toned down a bit.

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  79. M. Krebs8:57 PM

    Let us all relish this perfect post by chuckling, cracker-jack journalist and all around genius:


    I think the vitriol come from people who have to some extent tossed whatever morality they once may have had out the window. For example, they used to think it was wrong to mass murder children, to specifically target them at weddings and funerals. Now they have to tell themselves they're okay with murdered children. So they lash out and anyone who reminds them of what they used to be. Sad, really. But understandable.



    So, chuckles, how about defecating in some other comment section from now on?

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  80. M. Krebs8:59 PM

    Let us all relish this perfect post by chuckling, cracker-jack Journalist and all around genius:


    I think the vitriol come from people who have to some extent tossed whatever morality they once may have had out the window. For example, they used to think it was wrong to mass murder children, to specifically target them at weddings and funerals. Now they have to tell themselves they're okay with murdered children. So they lash out and anyone who reminds them of what they used to be. Sad, really. But understandable.


    So, chuckles, how about defecating in some other comment section from now on?

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  81. M. Krebs9:03 PM

    That was me, M. Krebs.


    Fuck Disqus.

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  82. M. Krebs9:06 PM

    trex, are you the trex. If so, glad to see you.

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  83. JennOfArk9:07 PM

    So in point of fact, your position is "do nothing."


    Thanks for answering the question.

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  84. M. Krebs9:10 PM

    Amazing indeed.

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  85. M. Krebs9:12 PM

    Would that have a different meaning if it were Roof-Pooping Dog-Master?

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  86. chuckling9:18 PM

    We've been doing that for centuries...


    Yes, but I think the difference is that in the past these crimes were mostly being committed by people we opposed, such as Reagan, or had no vested interest in, such as Clinton. But we (progressives, for lack of a better term) put serious emotional investment in Obama. Thus when he turns out to be just another child killing monster, we are more likely to make excuses we would never make for a Republican or blue dog Democrat. And it's human nature to lash out at those who remind us of our hypocrisy.


    As to moralizing, you posed the question about the vitriol. I'm just offering an answer that I think makes sense. I could use numerous other examples, but the calculated mass murder of children is the most black and white. If we can't take a stand, if we can't moralize about murdering children, what can we moralize about? I'm against it no matter who does it. Same with tax cuts for the wealthy. Same with letting bankers steal people's homes. Same with torture, indefinite detention without even a pretense of a trial, etc. ad nauseum.


    And I see you've developed a theory that drones somehow drove me over the edge. Not at all. I was in Nicaragua in the early stage of the contra war. That's where my worldview on these matters was formed. I've seen no reason to change since.

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  87. chuckling9:21 PM

    Umm no, my position is to prosecute criminals. I was quite clear about that.

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  88. M. Krebs9:23 PM

    It just strikes me as absurd that anyone cares what a clownish fictional character on the internets claims to think.


    That's the thing, chuckles. No one does. No one cares what you think about anything. But sometimes people object to insults from despicable assholes claiming to be clownish fictional characters on the internets. It's only natural.

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  89. chuckling9:26 PM

    I don't recognize JennOfArk as a regular commenter, so maybe she is a neocon troll. But I suspect it more likely that she's unwittingly parroting folk like Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld and Cheny and that's just another sad example of what Obama's done to the progressive movement.

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  90. Leeds man9:26 PM

    Yes, but I think the difference is that in the past these crimes were mostly being committed by people we opposed

    They have been, and are, committed by all of us. The drones and massacred villagers are just less easy to ignore.

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  91. M. Krebs9:28 PM

    I was in Nicaragua in the early stage of the contra war.



    OMG! You're James Woods!

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  92. Leeds man9:32 PM

    I was thinking Bruce Cockburn, until I remembered he was in Guatemala.

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  93. Leeds man9:44 PM

    Nicaragua would be Nick Nolte.

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  94. Leeds man9:47 PM

    By the way Chuck, my two Canadian cents; you've earned your vitriol for the day.

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  95. JennOfArk10:25 PM

    So, your position is to prosecute in absentia, since they're hiding out in places where the local government isn't willing to apprehend them and we aren't being allowed in to apprehend them. My bad - I'm sure a conviction in absentia that has no chance of ever being imposed is quite a burden and deterrent.


    And FWIW, I've been posting here for years under my actual name, Jennifer - but as you might imagine, common first names are already taken by others on Disqus. So much for your neocon troll theory, which besides is discredited by the fact that the neocons would never opt for fewer casualties if they could engineer a way to inflict more.

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  96. M. Krebs10:29 PM

    My bad. El Salvador would be James Woods.

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  97. I want to hire this comment to star in my movie and replace it with my chiropractor after it dies.

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  98. Tiny Tyrant6:22 AM

    the word count of comments starts to outweigh the original post more often and the earnestness of the comment's content increases closer to an election. fact... in my opinion.

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  99. chuckling12:47 PM

    Point is, I suspect many of those keyboard killers might feel differently if they were actually wearing the spattered brains of the children, and others, whose lives they so glibly trade for "lesser evils". Maybe not, but you'll never know until you actually see people die in a terrorist attack. A sight which I have seen. Or at least visit the aftermath, a thing which I have done on more than one occasion. Maybe you'd get off on it, many do, but I found it very unpleasant and the political justifications made by the perpetrators (Reagan, Bin Laden) monstrously immoral.


    If I'm gonna be James Woods, though, I'd be more like the one from True Believer.

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  100. Leeds man3:08 PM

    Maybe you'd get off on it

    Just for the record, no. You're right though - more people should be aware of the impact their explicit or implicit support for policies has. Here's a 10 year old story of a situation that has gotten worse since then. No brains splattered, but kids sick or dying. How's your conscience on that one?

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  101. I still remember just how vicious people were at the liberals who criticized Obama's health care plan, even coming up with the term "firebaggers" to describe them. This was in spite of the fact that these were mostly people who agreed that single-payer health care was the best option. My own pet theory is that it's not even a matter of the echo chamber created by the Internet and countless media enclaves, but the fact that the dysfunction of our "one and a half" party system and the skewing of our entire political discourse toward a strictly center-right/far-right spectrum has forced us all to perceive politics as a game of personal loyalties rather than one of putting forward candidates who reflect our actual positions (and honestly I think this is as true for liberals as it is for a growing number of conservatives).


    Anyway, I've also been converted - not so much by Obama, but by the sobering thought of being a gay man in a country that would be run by a party that's two steps away from making the revival of sodomy laws a mainstream position. No matter which of the two I vote for Pakistani villages are going to be destroyed in drone attacks, but only one candidate would dismantle my country's safety net and hand over the country to deranged theocrats.

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  102. Just the day after posting this the author of the article "fact-checked" the jobs report - leaving us to wonder whether it's the fact-checking that's the issue or whether, as usual, conclusions which seem to favor liberal positions necessarily indict those who reach such conclusions, regardless of what methodology has been used to reach said conclusions.

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  103. chuckling10:26 AM

    Sorry. True. But don't be offended. I never follow Roy's links either. And if I were around a lot of kindred spirits, I'd probably just start disagreeing with them and end up writing in Major Major for President. Where would that leave Roseanne?

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  104. whetstone10:26 AM

    It speaks to Mitten's tax-plan logic during the debates, which was something like: "Yes, physicists say Mitt will die if he jumps off this cliff. But Mitt says he would not jump if he was going to die. And he is not dead. So who is to say Mitt will die? Suck it, factcheckers."

    I believe this is a rare example of pre-post-hoc reasoning, or to use its technical term, bullshit.

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  105. mortimer10:26 AM

    If movie posters were fact-checked:

    Blurb: "You'll think Eat the Gladiator is the greatest movie ever made... go see it!" NY Times

    Original Context: "If you love mindless right-wing dreck, you'll think Eat the Gladiator is the greatest movie ever made. On the other hand, if you want to keep a few brain cells functioning, for the love of Christ don't go see it!"

    Fact-check by Glenn Kessler: Even if words were taken out of context by ommitting other words, the reviewer did indeed write those words, so the poster is correct, de facto. When it comes to words, evidence of absence is not absence of evidence.

    Market Researcher Anne Sorock: I loved Eat the Gladiator. The movie poster told the truth. Biased fact-checkers shouldn't... wait a minnit.

    P.S. For extra fun, be sure to read Anne's parody bio.

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  106. montag210:26 AM

    Ah, there's no question that fact-checkers can display bias. There have been numerous instances of the failure to, especially, look at information in context, resulting in a declaration that it's something that it's not.

    That said, when there's general agreement that a certain Rmoney, leading contender for the leveraged buyout of the White House, lied his ass off in front of fifty million people not once, but dozens of times, in about as many minutes, we're not talking shades of meaning here. We're talkin' Joe Isuzu-class fibbing.

    What dismays Jacobson is that it's a conservative Republican subjected to this scrutiny. Why, conservatives are honorable! Decent! Upstanding citizens! Pure of heart! Always want the best for the general public! Dedicated to public service! Regular Boy Scouts!

    It's all a conspiracy to deny Republican conservatives their rightful place in public life, Jacobson would have you believe.

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  107. chuckling10:26 AM

    Why am I undecided? Well, you have to consider my goals. In a more perfect world, as a progressive, I would vote for a candidate that shares my progressive views. But since there is no such candidate, since both candidates want to implement the country club Republican agenda, I feel that my best option is to vote against the candidate that would be most effective at implementing Republican policies.


    I'm just not sure who would be more effective, Romney or Obama, at implementing anti-progressive Republican policies. Oh sure, conventional wisdom suggests that the nominal Republican candidate would be more effective, but that's not necessarily the case. In his first four years, Obama has been deadly effective at implementing the worst Republican policies. If we could somehow throw out the Iraq War debacle (we all wish), we would see that from a progressive perspective, Obama has been a worse president than Bush. It's close enough to be arguable anyway.


    So although Romney sure seems like the worse choice, a fair possibility exists that the democrats in congress would largely thwart his worst excesses. But if Obama is re-elected, the democrats and Republicans can join together and make all the worst of George W. Bush's wet dreams come true.


    Hence the dilemma.

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  108. I think that, in all seriousness, what pisses me off the most is the bizarre "half true" proposition. For example I believe that something which was classified as "half false" was Obama's true statement of the number of jobs created during his term, which was represented as only partially true, or partially false, because he failed to somehow subtract that from the number of jobs lost under Bush. The "fact checking" of Romney's amazing statement that he couldn't be cutting 5 trillion because he wouldn't do something like that since it conflicts with his other stated goal of bringing down the deficit was just even weirder. You literally could not parse the sentence which ended with the words "was true."


    aimai

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  109. tigrismus10:26 AM

    Give conservative bloggers credit, they write what they know...

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  110. DocAmazing10:26 AM

    The Republicans are getting post-modern. Next we will be hearing from them about text and context, and the absurdity of attempts at objectivity. After that, yams in the kiester. It's a direct progression.

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  111. eohippus10:26 AM

    Ah, well then. A principled progressive who just can't see the difference between the two candidates. I suggest you take your list of complaints and write them down on a big sheet of paper. Next, fold that paper until it's all sharp corners and then shove it up your ass.

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  112. Obama gave a bad performance but did it ever occur to you that someone as good as Obama at debating and strategy/tactics might have done that for a good reason? The Democrats now have an absolute wealth of material they can use (and have already started using) in commercials that show Romney flip flopping mere days rather than weeks or months apart - THey now have tons of lies told on stage in a presidential debate that allow them to say - see if you can't trust him to tell you the truth here why would you in the oval office.

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  113. KatWillow10:26 AM

    Yes, Facts, truth, common sense... they all pull liberal.

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  114. JennOfArk10:27 AM

    Excuse me, but...that "worst debate performance" in history stuff is just patent bullshit.


    I understand that all the talking heads are calling it for Rmoney because he was hyperkinetic, while Obama seemed to be sleepwalking. But in point of fact, Obama actually answered questions and answered them truthfully and in detail. So he wasn't as peppy as Rmoney. Big deal. I'd wager that many of those watching weren't all that taken with Rmoney's glib, fast-talking salesman routine. It's not as if he came off more sincere or honest than the president, because he didn't - he just seemed more energetic, perhaps the result of having tried caffeine for the first time in his life, maybe because a new super-charged battery pack had been installed, or whatever.


    Here's what Obama accomplished with that "worst debate performance" in history: he got Rmoney to own his plan to voucherize Medicare. True, Rmoney never out and out said "I'm going to voucherize Medicare," but that just added to the general impression of lying, fast-talking salesman he created throughout. He was forced to say "my plan won't change anything for anyone over the age of 55," and if you think everyone under 55 didn't notice that, think again. Second - he forced Rmoney to change positions yet again on taxes, on his budget priorities, etc. I often fall into the trap of assuming that other people are rational human beings, but in point of fact many of them are, and they must have noticed, as I did, that whenever Rmoney's budget assumptions were called into question, he wasn't able to elaborate on why Obama was wrong; he just reverted to repeating what he'd already said. Those of us who are rational recognize that as a hallmark of someone who's not being fully honest, because people who are fully honest can explain their agendas and don't have to fall back on repeating the same talking points over and over again. He might as well have said, "because I SAID SO, that's why!" and rational people don't accept that as a real answer. Third, if there's one thing we know, it's that the more people see of Mitt Romney, the less they like him. Giving him free rein to lie his ass off for an hour and a half perhaps should not be seen as a losing strategy in that context - trading a one or two day news cycle for more opportunities to relentlessly pound him for the next month maybe isn't all that bad of a trade-off. The lies Rmoney told Wednesday night are already coming back to haunt him, and I wouldn't be surprised to see ghosts of the debate past show up in the next two and give him a severe bitch-slapping.


    So yes, not Obama's best performance by a long shot, but not "the sky is falling!" either. Perspective, people. Get some.

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  115. KatWillow10:27 AM

    Even Noam Chomsky said he'd vote Obama in a swing state. Obama is the lesser evil, and in this case the greater evil is terrifying.

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  116. The Dark Avenger10:27 AM

    Yeah, but does he have a cool avatar like chucking does, huh, huh, huh?

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  117. bourbaki10:27 AM

    I find this comment somehow very telling. As if this Jacobson fellow Sorock lassie(?) can't possibly imagine a way a number of different actors could come to a consensus without them all reading off of the same script.

    P.S. Self-correcting blog-o-sphere FTW!

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  118. KatWillow10:27 AM

    "And then the scales fell from my eyes!" a character in a Mika Walteri (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mika_Waltari) book used to say, over and over. The most scales fell from my eyes during the BP BlowOut in our Gulf. I simply could not believe, STILL can't believe, that Obama didn't ask for -and receive- help from the entire World in cleaning it up, and throw the people responsible into the Hague- forever.

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  119. Leeds man10:27 AM

    Whaddaya mean strangers? We've cyberknown each other for years! Anyway, Roy has a link there too. It wasn't meant as a brush-off, by the way. Just something I thought might interest you.

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  120. chuckling10:27 AM

    Sorry Bub, I never follow links from strangers.

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  121. Ya Addicting Info was talking about that today - CNN is trying to out faux faux news - Obama claimed job growth last 30 months (true) but they went ahead and fact checked him for 45 months - tallying in the huge losses under Bush.

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  122. Leeds man10:27 AM

    Chuck, you really should go over to Ian's place. Lots of kindred spirits there.

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  123. Halloween_Jack10:27 AM


    Nor am I joking about his performance being the worst in the history of presidential debates.



    You, and he, are dancing on the grave of someone who's coughed a couple of times in your earshot. It's ludicrous.

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  124. So why are you undecided? Even if they are both nearly the same the implications of that are that on some metric they are slightly different. Your choices are perfectly straightforward: vote or don't. Choose between two different candidates whose policy positions don't wholly reflect your own or don't bother. But why pretend to be undecided? Do you not know what your own policy preferences are? Do you not know that there are some (to you small) differences between the candidates? What strange notion of ego makes you trumpet your inability to make your own choice? Do you think it makes you sound more judicious? Because to me you just sound like an absolute fool.

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  125. chuckling10:27 AM

    Perhaps as on of the independent voters who remains undecided in this contest, I can help shed a little light on the fact-check phenomena of which you speak.


    Unfortunately, the pertinent fact is that both candidates are country club Republicans who can, if elected , be counted on to do whatever necessary to make their country club brethren happy, which mostly consists of rigging the system to make them more wealthy with less need to actually be good at anything. The latter is an important point as the country club ages and fortunes must inevitably be turned over to retard grand sons. That's why Obama publicly agreed with just about everything Romney said.


    Anyway, the main difference between Obama and Romney is that they have to fool different constituencies which they despise, and which would despise the "real" Obama or Romney. Obama has to fool the earnest liberal who cares about his or her fellow citizens. Romney has to fool the sociopathic morons that hate anyone the least bit different. More to the point, the people Obama has to fool like facts. The people Romney has to fool hate facts. Thus, we get the apparent disconnect on the merits of fact checking.


    Ha ha, and if you think I was harsh on Obama's crash and burn and spew foul smelling odor over half the world, you should check out Kevin Baker at Harper's blog:


    "Maybe he really is a secret Muslim terrorist from Kenya.I mean, think about it. He runs for president as a populist, soaking up all the liberal energy for change in the country. Once in power, he surrounds himself with failed conservative advisers, and squanders most of his mandate. Then, just as it looks as if he will still be able to defeat his clueless Republican opponent, he turns in the worst performance any presidential candidate has ever given in a general-election debate, tanking the race and turning the country over to a party of fanatical Ayn Rand acolytes and warmongers.Homeland’s Abu Nazir never dreamed up anything this diabolical.I know, it’s not very funny. Neither was Barack Obama’s noneffort last night. Nor am I joking about his performance being the worst in the history of presidential debates. In fact, it was the worst debate by any candidate in either the presidentialor the vice-presidential debates. And I include Dan Quayle’s performance in 1988, and that poor, befuddled admiral who was running with Ross Perot."Sad thing is, I think we're both going too easy on Obama's performance. Of course I only watched about 45 seconds of it, but it was that horrific. Plus my wife, who is not at all like me in these matters, was severely pissed at Obama. When he fails someone like her, he truly and egregiously fails.

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  126. Indeed. There's been a lot of well-deserved criticism of the "fact-checking" trend - the widespread Broderism, the fact that they're only necessary because journalists aren't willing to call anything a "lie" anymore. But boy, you get a fabulist like Romney on stage, and suddenly people are glad that there's a whole class of journalists ready to dive into the bullshit.


    Note, by the way, that Col. Mustard isn't defending Romney's bullshit. He just hates the fact that people can smell it.

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  127. trizzlor10:27 AM

    oh christ, did you see the Weekly Standard piece they linked to as an example of Fact Checker bias? Here's a taste: "An Associated Press “fact check” actually upbraided Ryan for quoting Obama’s “You didn’t build that” comment. Supposedly, Ryan didn’t understand the rhetorical context. What that has to do with facts went unexplained." Indeed, what the hell could context ever do with the factual meaning of a quote? You've got the truncated quote - that's a fact, and the context - that's some other fact, Honest Paul Ryan chooses the facts he needs; what more would you have him do "Fact Checkers"?!

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  128. You know, Sorock (it's not Jacobsen writing this post - F.Y.I.) never actually tries to defend Romney. She's deeply upset that anyone would call Romney a "liar," but not because he's really honest - it's the very notion that one would check the veracity of his statements that's offensive. How dare you not take his on-their-face inaccurate statements as fact?


    But no, no defense of Romney. A lot of attacks on Obama's people for calling out the lies (which is "propaganda," at least when a Democrat does it) and lines from Sarah Palin, that bastion of honesty.


    Most of all, she seems upset that anyone would respond to Romney's statements. Damn it, don't they know that hitting back is against the rules?

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  129. Damn it, don't they know that hitting back is against the rules?

    Hard to imagine how the goopers could ever get an idea like that.
    ~

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  130. "The facts all agree I'm an asshole, therefore the facts must be wrong." stick with that message, sir, and you'll go far!

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  131. GregMc10:27 AM

    The very idea that there should be a separate class of people called "fact checkers" is the very worst idea since the invention of ideas. Join me, please, in the time travelthing . . . . It's 44BC: did Caesar really say anything intelligible to Brutus? Was he, perhaps, under the impression that Brutus was being stabbed, tu? . . . . It's 7 December 1941: was the US really "in conversation with its government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific."

    In my day, you rotten 00ers, we called the people who confronted such issues "journalists" or "fucking normal humans who were alive at the time".

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  132. Journalists? Checking facts? All by themselves?


    Sir, what far-off time period are you from?

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  133. Doesn't he have mustard to fact-check?

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  134. Leeds man10:27 AM

    Wingnut tactics in a nutshell:

    If anticipating an accusation of lying, call the other guy a liar first.
    If caught lying, double down and/or change the subject.

    I've been racking my brains for anything else in my own exchanges with 'em, but that's about it.

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  135. GregMc10:27 AM

    I don't believe you.

    Win!

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  136. synykyl10:27 AM

    Instead of whining about fact checkers, why not try sticking a little closer to the truth? Sure, actual honesty is out of the question, but they could at least try to fake it.

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  137. Halloween_Jack10:27 AM

    Shorter wingnut blogosphere: OUR GUY WON SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP LALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

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