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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Kevin Drum is more excellent than usual in this very long summarizing the fact checking post BUSH LIES MORE THAN KERRY....FILM AT 11.....

If only this were a *mutal* admiration society.

Kevin Drum is brilliant in a very different way than Matthew Yglesias, pretty much what you would expect for a database expert vs a philosopher. Drum significantly adds to fact checking with a super simple numerical system for rating the severity of lies. He concludes that Bush lied roughly 1.96777... times as much as Kerry in the second debate.

I think he is still trying too hard to be fair to Bush. More exactly I think that, when reporting his opinion on the importance of lies, he is unwilling to decide that claims called lies by other fact checkers are true.

I am more partisan than Drum. After reading Drum's post, you might maybe be interested in my take. It's amazing how convincing Drum's scores are to me.

I rescore Bush

lie 2 "I remember sitting in the White House looking at those generals ..."

This is technically true. Bush is talking about a specific meeting *after* Shinsecki retired. It is obvious why no general dared tell him that they needed more troops, but Bush has managed (for once) to phrase a deceptive sentence so that it is technically true. Bush score down 6 points.

Bush lie 7 "We have a deficit because this country went into a recession... Secondly, we're at war...." ..."

I think that the brief recession in 2001 is a trivial factor in the 2004 deficit. The war is almost all Bush's war of choice hence his spending. Drum rates this as 2 on a scale of 3 of falseness. I give it a solid 3. Bush score up 2.

Bush lie 11. "I own a timber company". Kerry's claim was absolutely true and absolutely relevant to Bush's 900,000 small businesses lie. Bush tried to make it a joke to prevent a discussion which would have shown that he is totally dishonest. Bush's claim was absolutely false. I rate this as level 3 (max) false. The intent to deceive is there. The fact that he used a joke to distract viewers doesn't change that. Deceive up 1. Bush score up 3.

Bush lie 14 "He keeps talking about, 'Let the inspectors do their job.',... Duelfer report "
I rate this a 3 for atotally false claim. Duelfer did try to give a pro Bush spin by speculating about what Saddam Hussein would have done if the sanctions regime were ended. However "letting the inspectors do their job" definitely implies not letting up on their totally successful efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein.
I also rate intent to decieve a 3. Most viewers have not read even a thorough summary of the Duelfer report. Bush is trying to convince them that there was some evidence or speculation or something there which implied that sanctions plus inspections plus threat of war (Kerry's proposal) would not be enough to keep Saddam Husseing disarmed. It just aint so. I give this one a maximum lie score of 18. Bush score up 12.

Bush's last lie "global test". The claim is technically false because of the word "before" the intent to deceive is strong. I move this up to at least 9 = 3*3 so bush score up 3.

My final Bush score 134.

It's amazing how often I agree with Drum. Must be hero worship or something.

I rescore Kerry

Kerry "lie" 3 "And if we'd used smart diplomacy, we could have saved $200 billion and an invasion of Iraq." There is no claim here that the 200 billion has already been spent. Only that it will be and it could have been saved. I rate this as a dead on true statement total lie score 0. Kerry score down 2.

Kerry lie 5 "The president gave the top 1 percent of income-earners ..." I agree with Drum that this is a bad one. It is sad that even a nerdy guy like Kerry can't handle numbers or, more exactly, that his economics team which is excellent wiffed this one.

Kerry "lie" 7 "They've got sneak-and-peek searches that are allowed." This claim is technically true, although deliberately misleading so technical falseness down from 2 to 0! There is an intent to exaggerate so Kerry score down 4.

Kerry "lie" 8 "He put $139 billion of windfall profit..." It is obvious that this is a debatable claim. The standards of political debate are different from the standards of scholarly debate. I rate this claim as arguably true (argued in the study). Drum gives it a 1 on intent to deceive while claiming that Kerry's point is valid ?!? Kerry score down 4.

Also why didn't Bush get scored a lie for claiming, based on one study, that Kerry's proposals would cost 2.2 Trillion ? Seems to me to be exactly as arguably true as Kerry's claim. I mean not true but par for the course.

Kerry "lie" 9. "... Mr. President, just yesterday the Duelfer report told you and the whole world they [sanctions] worked." Note the past tense. Drum argues "Duelfer report ... he [Saddam Hussein] had the desire to restart WMD programs if sanctions had been lifted." Drum's claim does not in any way contradict Kerry's. A statement that sanctions worked is not contradicted by speculation that the removal of sanctions would imply a loss of their beneficial effect. An analogy. We have a patient with diabetes which is well controlled with insulin. Dr Bush says that using insulin is naive and dangerous and instead the patient should get an islet cell transplant (a daring and experimental approach which has not yet ever worked) Dr Kerry says Dr Duelfer's tests show that insulin worked. Dr Duelfer says insulin worked and it would be dangerous to stop it. Dr Drum thinks that Duelfer's concern that someone would stop giving insulin in the future contradicts Dr Kerry's claims about it's effectiveness in the past and present. Dr Waldmann (not licenced to practice medicine) is totally mystified by Dr Drum and driven to a pointless analogy.

Kerry score down 6.

Last Kerry lie. OK but why is Bush allowed a "I have a wetlands plan which I haven't told anyone about" when Kerry is not ? My Kerry score is 44. Also I think that 3 false claims worth a total of 24 were honest mistakes (leaving out "private sector" Shinseki "retired" not "sidelined" and tax cut for top 1% vs bottom 80%). This would leave 20 points of lies and distortions which seems honest compared to any politician and not just compared to Bush.

My ratio 134/44 is slightly over three not slightly under 2.

I may be more partisan that Drum, but on the specific points I honestly strongly feel that he is (mostly) too easy on Bush and has counted at least 3 true statements by Kerry as lies.

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