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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mau Mauing the Fact Checker

The Washington Post Fact Check Michael Dobbs provides a useful index by candidate. Assuming this was an guide to allegedly false claims by candidates, I clicked on Clinton. Oddly most of the cases are checking others' accusations against Clinton.

Oddly, in the first three cases I checked, Clinton gets the same number of Pinocchios as her accusers. This appears to be Dobbs way of not making a call. It also means that he is regularly accusing Clinton of lying, because she as over all front runner is being attacked a lot (and also because she is named Clinton).

I was struck by the title of one of the articles "Fact Checking the Fact Checker" which is what I like to think I'm doing. The second paragraph begins "Some commenters could not see what all the fuss is about and said the Fact Checker was shilling for Hillary Clinton,"

In contrast, I was outraged at the prominent inclusion of Clinton in the headline and illustration of the latest (November 8th) fact check on statements by Richardson and Kucinic. The article itself included Clinton in an embarrassing discussion of UFOs by quoting some flake speculating with no evidence. I quote Dobbs writing something which has no place in a fact checking column "rightly or wrongly."

I think it is clear that Dobbs has been mau maued.

I quote from the first comment on a post on Joe Biden claiming he negotiated START with Leonid Brezhnev "Gee, give the guy a break. After 36 years in the Senate, numerous treaties and bills and resolutions, a guy can get a little confused. Heck even Russians don't remember Kosygin. Two Pinnos is way too harsh.

Talk about inflating your resume!!??!! Two words: Hillary Clinton. ..."

and another

"It really confuses me that this great man has not the attention he deserves. He is the most knowledgeable among both the Democratic and Republican candidates. During the last debate I lost count of how many times I heard the words "Joe's right".

My view of the race:

One candidate refuses to release HER records that prove her experience (or lack there of)."

I think the Hillary haters have gotten to Dobbs.

His latest absurd completely unfounded slur makes sense only if he is worried about being called a shill for Clinton. He should stop worrying. No matter how unfair he is to her, he will be called a shill for Clinton.

Now I will examine 2 of the fact checks (a discussion of the one which actually interests me on Iraqi civilian casualties will be posted above).

2. Fact Checking the Fact Checker is the most interesting article for this blog post. In the end Dobbs awards Clinton one Pinocchio. The odd thing is that he doesn't quote one false claim of fact that she made. Instead he responds to criticisms of Dobbs and concludes that Clinton is sortof a semi liar.

What a dweeb.

This fact check refers to an earlier article which quotes one claim made by Clinton
"# As Clinton has pointed out, her rivals have no problem taking money from the people who pay the lobbyists, and give them their "marching orders." (ABC News debate, August 19, 2007.)" Note that Dobbs makes the claim his own (so why didn't he award himself at least one Pinocchio ?!?). Also note that the claim is undeniably true.

On the substance of the issue, he concludes that "The truest comment about campaign finance probably came from Obama when he acknowledged that he was swimming in "the same muddy water" as the other candidates." How this differs from Clinton's claim is not explained.

Dobbs gives Obama an Pinocchio too go figure.

The first comment on this post notes that he accuses only Democrats, because uhm well it's not clear why.

Dobbs was criticized by commenters and he responded OK OK I agree I cast unreasonable aspersions on Edwards and Obama's honesty Hillary Clinton is dishonest.

I certainly don't understand why he calls Clinton a semi liar for saying something which he repeated in his own voice, but does not make the same accusation against Michael Dobbs. He clearly has a double standard. Something is dishonest if said by Clinton but not if written by Dobbs.

2. Hillary gets 2 Pinocchios for this one. Dobbs quotes her as saying

Well actually, Tim, the Archives is moving as rapidly as the Archives moves. There's about 20 million pieces of paper there...I think that, you know, the Archives will continue to move as rapidly as its circumstances and processes demand."

Dobbs does not claim that any of these claims is false. He notes that the processes include review by the former President or a representative (note the singular) who is, in this case, Bruce Lindsey who is not a National Archives employee (nor did Clinton suggest that he is).

According to Dobbs said processes were slowed by President Bush : "Because of cumbersome declassification procedures introduced by President Bush, there are now huge delays in processing Freedom of Information requests at all presidential libraries, including the Clinton and Bush I libraries."

The substantive argument is

A Clinton campaign spokesman, Jay Carson, said the former president had "consistently been an advocate for releasing his presidential records as quickly as possible" and had opposed the Bush administration order that placed new restrictions on their release.

There is, however, nothing in Executive Order 13233 that obliges a former president, or his representative, to go through the records one by one. If former President Clinton is so opposed to the Bush administration order, he could simply instruct Lindsey to approve the documents wholesale.

So the problem is that Bill Clinton is applying the new procedures just like all other former Presidents. Note also that Bill Clinton is not, technically, Hillary Clinton. Dobbs does not contest the claim that only one single person is authorized to go through the records.

Blanton [ director of the National Security Archive, a non-profit group that monitors declassification procedures] praised former President Clinton for releasing "more historically valuable documents and more secret documents than all previous presidents put together." He said across-the-board declassification orders during the Clinton administration and new restrictions on declassification under Bush had overwhelmed the system.

So when the question is whether the most open President ever is abusing secrecy, Senator Clinton, who argues otherwise without making any false claim, is accused of dishonesty.

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