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Monday, November 03, 2008

Ballance at AP

Calvinball version. Calvin Woodward draws a ballanced conclusion "Each in his own way, John McCain and Barack Obama have produced enduring myths, amplified by their running mates and supporters."

Odd I thought the McCain campaign lied constantly (their myths don't necessarily endure) while the Obama campaign was relatively honest.

Lets fact check Calvin

Obama saddled McCain with a bum rap when he accused the Republican of wanting a 100-year war in Iraq back in the spring.

OK kids what punctuation marks are used in that sentence ? I count 1 period and no 0 (Zero) quotation marks. Now when one is accusing someone (Obama) of making a deceptive paraphrase of a quotation ("maybe a hundred") doesn't one normally use a direct quote of the allegedly deceptive paraphrase ?

Not if you are playing Calvinball. I think the myth is that Obama "accused the Republican of wanting a 100-years of war" (see how quotation marks work). That would be a crazy accusation, since obviously McCain wants victory not war. Also Calvin might have mentioned that McCain has never described a period of war which would be unacceptably long but has always dodged the question to escape into the could cuckoo land in which Iraq is South Korea (and Calvin Woodward is an honest journalist).

Obama accused McCain of wanting to privatize Social Security, which he doesn't. Now he accuses McCain of wanting to privatize "part" of Social Security, which he does, as one option that younger workers could choose.

Note the only quote the word that makes Calvin consider the statement true. Also "wants" is difference from "declared his willingness to vote for in 2005." (same goes for Joe the plumber who is free to believe that Obama is lying).


"We have to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much," McCain says, again and again.

That's a seriously inflated figure cited by McCain for the value of U.S. oil imports from countries hostile to America. In fact, the government says the U.S. spent less than half that sum on crude oil and refined petroleum projects from foreign sources last year, and most were from friendly countries such as Canada, Mexico and Britain.

Obama upped the stakes when he used the figure, boiling the vast web of oil and debt transactions down to two countries: "Nothing is more important than us no longer borrowing $700 billion or more from China and sending it to Saudi Arabia," he said. "It's mortgaging our children's future."

OK kids which phrase is found in McCain's claim that isn't found in Obama's ? Yep you got it "a year". Obama sure didn't up the stakes when he changed $ 700 billion a year to various countries to "$ 700 billion" with no reference to the flow being repeated year after year.

What is US debt to the PRC ? "It is estimated that China holds over $900bn in a mix of US bonds." looks like Obama rounded down to be safe (although it could just be that the Telegraph has a left wing bias).

Did Calvin cut the quote to make it true while claiming it was false ? Does Calvin have a reading comprehension problem ? It doesn't matter. He works for the AP.

McCain's health plan is distorted, in turn, by Obama.

"Your health care benefits will get taxed for the first time in history," Obama warns voters in attacking it. He often leads voters to think that's the full story. Hardly.

Well here is a quote. Too bad the quoted claim is absolutely true. Calvin's assertino taht Obama distorts McCain's claim is supported by the unsupported allegation that Obama leads people to think something which he didn't say.

_$4 billion: "John, you want to give oil companies another $4 billion" in tax breaks, Obama told McCain in a debate.

In fact, McCain supports a cut in income taxes for all corporations, and doesn't single out any one industry for that benefit.

That is to say that, in fact, what Obama said is completely true. Also I don't think that US voters who overwhelmingly support higher taxes for corporations would be pleased that McCain promises tax cuts for non oil companies.

_$2,500: That's how much Obama says his health care plan will bring down costs for a family of four.

This is what's called a "forecast". Forecasts have to be made if we are to make decisions. One can challenge a forecast if one knows something. Calvin chooses, instead, to assert in so many words that all forecasts are myths. To him all are equally bogus so he can contribute nothing to serious debate.


_$882 billion: "Senator McCain would pay for part of his plan by making drastic cuts in Medicare _ $882 billion worth," Obama said. Obama ads claim McCain would cut benefits by 22 percent.

McCain's plan proposes neither. He wants to save money the same way Obama wants to _ by making programs such as Medicare more efficient.

Obama's claim misrepresents what a McCain adviser said in a Wall Street Journal story and adds distorted analysis from a partisan think tank to come up with something that goes against what McCain says he would do _ protect promised benefits from being cut.

OK here we have a quote of Obama, but we don't have the quote of Holtz-Eakin (or the name for that matter). When claiming that a paraphrase is a distortion, one normally quotes the allegedly distorted statement. In this case it wouldn't work, because Obama is right. Note that there would have to be major cuts in benefits paid even if administrative costs were reduced to zero (given how low they are).

Calvin makes an absolutely false claim when he says "McCain's plan proposes neither. He wants to save money the same way Obama wants to _ by making programs such as Medicare more efficient." Obama is not stone ignorant about the US health care financing system so he doesn't imagine that he will find inefficiencies in programs like Medicare which is highly efficient. Rather he thinks that the gross inefficiency of private insurers will not be able to survive competition with a medicare like program. I admit that long term he wants to evaluate the effectiveness of procedures and this will save medicare money too. Also he certainly hopes to save medicare money by promoting preventive care.

Huge cuts with no change in benefits ? No Obama is not hallucinating.

It is as if Woodward had said "Obama wants to draw blood by sticking a hypodermic needle into a vein. McCain wants to get some blood the same way Obama does -- by squeezing it out of a stone." But, of course, Woodward is a journalist so he can't be expected to know that administrative expenses aren't just the same in all parts of the US health care financing non system.

OK the score so far is that Calvin Woodward accuses the Obama campaign of spreading 7 myths. He generally supports his claims by not quoting Obama or by assuming that if he doesn't know something it isn't true.

I'd rate him 0 out of 7. Your mileage may vary.

1 comment:

Michael Drake said...

"He generally supports his claims by not quoting Obama or by assuming that if he doesn't know something it isn't true."

On the upside, this is a very efficient technique. Imagine how much he saves in research costs.