Sunday, December 28, 2014

"Big Lie" Theory, "They Don't Care About Truth" Examples: 2012

EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS: 2012 and earlier "Big Lie" Theory, "They Don't Care About Truth"
"[I am addressing] an enormous myth that circulates in our media culture; namely, the idea that conservatives are uniquely anti-science and progressives are uniquely pro-science. … It is certainly true that some conservatives embrace anti-scientific beliefs, most notably on evolution and climate change. But some progressives also adhere to a set of dangerous anti-scientific beliefs. … the destructive anti-vaccine movement has a long association with the progressive left. … Scientists see water fluoridation, which particularly benefits the poor, as a major public health triumph. But not progressive activists in Portland, Oregon, who fought to prevent the fluoridation of their city’s water supply. Mainstream progressive environmental groups such as Greenpeace and the Union of Concerned Scientists also oppose genetic modification, despite its tremendous life-saving potential in areas such as preventing vitamin A deficiency … Despite the fact that thousands of deaths in the U.S. are attributable to the pollution produced by burning fossil fuels each year, progressives oppose energy policies that could reduce our dependency on coal and oil. Progressives historically have been anti-nuclear power, and today, they are opposed to natural gas, a much cleaner fossil fuel. Instead, they embrace wind and solar, neither of which are currently capable of meeting the world’s growing energy demand."
-- Columnist Alex B. Berezow, December 28, 2012.

Comment: Isn't it a hasty generalization to argue that, if somebody rejects a scientific theory, they therefore reject science as a whole? Does disputing one scientific theory support declaring that someone is stupid or that they don't care about truth?

Must every tragic mass shooting bring out the shrill ignorance of "gun control" advocates? The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available. If gun control zealots had any respect for facts, they would have discovered this long ago, because there have been too many factual studies over the years to leave any serious doubt about gun control laws being not merely futile but counterproductive.
-- Pundit Thomas Sowell, December 18, 2012.

Comment: Sowell is using the term "zealots" to mean "extremists", and is suggesting they don't care about facts.

"A March Gallup poll found that Republicans were much less likely than Democrats or independents to say that they worried about global warming. Only 16 percent of Republicans said that they worried a great deal about it, while 42 percent of Democrats and 31 percent of independents did. This as the National Climatic Data Center reported that “the January-November period was the warmest first 11 months of any year on record for the contiguous United States, and for the entire year, 2012 will most likely surpass the current record (1998, 54.3°F) as the warmest year for the nation.” Surely some of this is because of party isolationism and extremism and what David Frum, the conservative columnist, called the “conservative entertainment complex.” But there is also willful ignorance at play in some quarters, and Republicans mustn’t simply brush it aside. They must beat it back."
-- Columnist Charles Blow, December 7, 2012.

Comment: Blow is indulging in "extremism" rhetoric. "Willful ignorance" amounts to accusing people of not caring about facts. Is this a fair appraisal of people who disagree with the claims of global warming and climate change?

"According to a June Gallup report, most Republicans (58 percent) believed that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. Most Democrats and independents did not agree. This anti-intellectualism is antediluvian. No wonder a 2009 Pew Research Center report found that only 6 percent of scientists identified as Republican and 9 percent identified as conservative. Furthermore, a 2005 study found that just 11 percent of college professors identified as Republican and 15 percent identified as conservative. Some argue that this simply represents a liberal bias in academia. But just as strong a case could be made that people who absorb facts easily don’t suffer fools gladly."
-- Columnist Charles Blow, December 7, 2012.

Comment: Blow is appealing to polling data to argue that Republicans are "anti-intellectual", which amounts to caricaturing them as "stupid" or perhaps as not caring about facts. Blow also considers a causal connection between political affiliation and scientific occupation, though isn't this a case of false causation?

BIDEN: "They’re -- they’re closer to being able to get enough fissile material to put in a weapon if they had a weapon."
RADDATZ: "You are acting a little bit like they don’t want one."
BIDEN: "Oh, I didn’t say -- no, I’m not saying that. But facts matter, Martha. You’re a foreign policy expert. Facts matter. All this loose talk about them, “All they have to do is get to enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a weapon,” not true. Not true.They are more -- and if we ever have to take action, unlike when we took office, we will have the world behind us, and that matters. That matters."
-- Vice President Joe Biden, October 11, 2012, during the vice presidential debate in Danville, KY, between Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

Comment: Again, this is name-calling. Biden is suggesting that Ryan's concerns about Iran are based on the rejection of facts, but they're not. Rather, there's a legitimate disagreement here about what constitutes the "point of no return" in Iran's nuclear weapons program. At the risk of oversimplifying, Ryan is saying that once Iran has uranium enriched to 90%, their weapons program is impossible to turn back. Biden is saying that the point of no return is at a later stage, once the 90% enriched uranium has been crafted into an actual weapon. (Ryan, I assume, would object that weaponizing enriched uranium is technically much easier than producing enriched uranium.) This is a complicated technical argument, so it's a derisive caricature for Biden to portray the debate as one side (his own) believing that "facts matter" and the other side (Ryan's) saying that they don't.

As we left the Oval Office, executive editor Eric Bates told Obama that he had asked his six-year-old if there was anything she wanted him to say to the president. After a thoughtful pause, she said, "Tell him: You can do it." Obama grinned. "That's the only advice I need," he said. "I do very well, by the way, in that demographic. Ages six to 12? I'm a killer." "Thought about lowering the voting age?" Bates joked. "You know, kids have good instincts," Obama offered. "They look at the other guy and say, 'Well, that's a bullshitter, I can tell.'"
-- President Barack Obama, October 11, 2012, during interview with Douglas Brinkley for Rolling Stone Magazine.

Comment: If Obama believes Romney has engaged in distortions, misrepresentations, and exaggerations, then he should just say so and defend that claim. There's no need for him to refer to Romney with profanity, implying that Romney cares nothing about the truth. Plus, given that Obama has also engaged in distortions, misrepresentations, and exaggerations, would Obama apply the same profanity to himself? Probably not. Finally, do kids really have good instincts? Isn't much of the point of kids' education teaching them things that they don't know instinctively, things that they need to know if they're going to thrive and prosper (or at least avoid drinking cleaning fluids?)?

ROMNEY: "I will not reduce the share paid by high-income individuals. I know that you and your running mate keep saying that, and I know it’s a popular thing to say with a lot of people, but it’s just not the case. Look, I’ve got five boys. I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true, but just keep on repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it. But that is not the case, all right? I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans."
-- GOP presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA), October 3, 2012, during the first presidential debate between Romney and President Barack Obama.

Comment: Romney sounds like he's accusing Obama's campaign of engaging in the "big lie" tactic. (He also sounds like he's accusing his sons of using it, too!)

BROWN: I'm Sherrod Brown and I approved this message.
NARRATOR: Josh Mandel, he's become the candidate of the big lie.
TEXT: "the candidate of the big lie" The Columbus Dispatch column 8/19/12
-- Portion of ad released September 7, 2012, by the reelection campaign of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), criticizing his opponent, Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R). The ad refers to an August 19, 2012, column by Joe Hallett, senior editor at The Columbus Dispatch.

Comment: Brown is reiterating the "big lie" accusation made by Hallet.

"[GOP vice presidential candidate Rep.] Paul Ryan [R-WI] and I have something in common. He, like I, exaggerated his marathon PR as well, recently boasting to conservative talk-radio host Hugh Hewitt of a "two hour and 50-something" clocking over 26.2 miles. … Then, ahem, the good folks at Runner's World did a little digging and, eh, ahem, uh -- well, Ryan's time was, ahem, eh, uh -- 4:01:25.  … There is no possible explanation for a four-hour marathoner claming [sic] he's a three-hour marathoner. None. Zero. Nilch. … I can tell you -- with 100% certainty -- that when Paul Ryan says (more or less), "Oops, simple mistake," he is full of it. ... This is a flat-out, straight-up, no-holds-barred lie. ... But when it comes to Wisconsin's favorite son, a lie -- in this case about a marathon time --isn't such an isolated occurrence. In case you missed the Republican convention, Ryan's speech was an unambiguous ode to mistruth. Among other dandies, he ripped the president for ignoring the Simpson-Bowles commission recommendations -- even though Ryan voted against its final report; claimed the American people were "cut out" of stimulus spending when, actually, more than a quarter of all stimulus dollars went for tax relief for workers. On and on and on and on."
-- Author Jeff Pearlman, September 5, 2012.

"But I am telling you, the claim that President Obama weakened welfare reform’s work requirement is just not true. But they keep on running ads claiming it. You want to know why? Their campaign pollster said, “We are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Now, finally I can say: That is true. I -- I -- I couldn’t have said it better myself."
-- Former President Bill Clinton, September 5, 2012, addressing the Democratic National Convention.

Comment: First, this is the "big lie" caricature, claiming that your opponent "doesn't care about the truth". Second, the pollster Clinton refers to is Neil Newhouse, who actually said, "These fact-checkers come to those ads with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs. We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." Newhouse may have been guilty of ad hominem reasoning in this comment, but he wasn't saying that facts don't matter. As such, Clinton is misrepresenting what Newhouse said. If the distortion of Obama's position on welfare reform is proof that Republicans don't care at all about truth, do distortions coming from Democrats prove that they don't care at all about truth?

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: President Obama really felt that it was personally important to him to make sure that his personal view, that Jerusalem is and always will remain the capital of Israel was reflected in the platform. And this was directly the result of his personal view. And, you know, something amending the platform during the convention, because it was the president's priority, demonstrates yet again that he always has had Israel's back and always will....
ANDERSON COOPER: I've just got to go to the panel with this. I mean, Debbie Wasserman Schultz said it wasn't a change of language. There was no discord that we saw. And it was a 2/3 vote. … I mean, that's just -- that's an alternate universe. … Let me point out again, this is the same person who last week or two weeks ago attacking the Romney campaign, saying that it is the candidate who sets the platform, who designs and writes the platform. It wasn't true what she was saying two weeks ago, but now isn't it fair? If she claimed that about the Republican platform to claim that about the Democratic Party platform?...
VAN JONES: Right. I think that's right. Here's the thing -- I think there is a problem here. Obviously, there's some discord about something here, that people were "yay", "no", the confusion. It was handled badly beginning end, and now, we're going to pay a price for that I think as Democrats....
COOPER: I just think for me, a reality standpoint, you can defend it as the head of the DNC, but to say flat out there was no discord is just not true.
-- September 5, 2012, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper in panel discussion with former Special Advisor to the White House Van Jones and other guests after interview with Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).

Comment: The discussion concerns two things: First, a proposal to change that language of the Democratic Party platform by voice-vote on the floor of the convention to did not pass uncontested (and, though the change was made, it perhaps didn't receive the 2/3 vote required). Cooper is challenging Wasserman Schultz's assertion that there was no discord or controversy to the vote and the change to the platform. Second, Wasserman Schultz had earlier (while engaging in "broader truth" rhetoric) dismissed GOP presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney's (R-MA) attempts to distance himself from his party's platform. Cooper is challenging Wasserman Schultz regarding whether President Barack Obama can distance himself from the Democratic Party platform.

"They lied, Debbie "Blabbermouth" Schultz went out there and lied specifically twice, even after being caught, which she's been doing regularly on CNN. Wherever they get her to go, she lies. And no matter how much evidence is shown to her she just keeps lying because, get the message out. Just get the lie out. Joseph Goebbels, just keep lying, just tell the lie."
-- Radio pundit Rush Limbaugh, September 5, 2012.

SHEPARD SMITH: [Israel's] ambassador to the United States today called out the chairwoman to the Democratic National Committtee and categorically denied that he ever said Republican policies were bad for Israel. … Earlier today Ambassador Oren issued a statement denying that he had ever called Republican policies harmful for Israel … Debbie Wasserman Schultz is with us. He says he didn't say that.
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): And I didn't say he said that. And, unfortunately, that comment was reported by a conservative newspaper. It’s not surprising that they would deliberately misquote me. What I always say is that unfortunately the Republicans have made Israel a political football, which is dangerous for Israel. And Ambassador Oren has said that we can’t ever suggest that there is any daylight between the two parties on Israel because there isn’t. And that that’s harmful to Israel. That’s what I said, and that is accurate.
-- Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), September 4, 2012, during interview with Fox News anchor Shepard Smith.

This was in reference to what Wasserman Schultz said earlier:
"We have a "Mitt's VS Facts" document, which addresses a lot of the typical baloney that is spewed by Republicans. And, let me just close by telling you this, and sharing this with you: We know -- and I have heard no less than Ambassador Michael Oren say this -- that what the Republicans are doing is dangerous for Israel. They're undermining Israel's security by suggesting that the United States and Israel don't have anything other than a unique and close and special relationship."
-- Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), September 3, 2012.

Comment: Wasserman Schultz clearly did make the statement she was accused of making, a blatant contradiction. More, she attempts to dismiss the revelation by using ad hominem reasoning -- "reported by a conservative newspaper" -- which is irrelevant. The political affiliation of the newspaper doesn't determine whether or not what they said is true. And it looks like their report was true, given that their report included audio of her saying that Oren had told her Republicans were harming Israel.

"[Lehman] scorned the Republicans’ contention that the laws are designed to combat voter fraud. “It’s like Hitler said, if you’re going to tell a lie, tell a big lie, and if you tell it often enough and say it in a loud enough voice, some people are going to believe you”."
-- Pat Lehman, dean of the Democratic Party delegation from Kansas to the Democratic National Convention, reported September 4, 2012.

JOHN BURTON: You said that they aren't telling the truth.
INTERVIEWER: They are not.
BURTON: They're not telling the truth. And if you're not telling the truth, you're lying. And I said Joseph Goebbels concept was "the big lie", if you tell it enough, people will think it's the truth.
INTERVIEWER: Do you agree with that?
NANCY PELOSI: That is -- especially if you have endless -- what I agree with is if you endless money you can try to sell any misrepresentation to the American people. And this is -- really, undermines our democracy. But again, in other words, you saw the factual misrepresentations in the Ryan speech. You saw what -- Romney as the man who would be president, get up there and say what he said about Medicare, he either doesn't know the facts -- that's the most benign thing I can say -- or he doesn't care the facts, but what he said was not true.
-- Interview with former Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), September 3, 2012.

Comment: Burton is incorrect that "if you're not telling the truth, you're lying". Sometimes when people aren't telling the truth, it's because they're mistaken (as Pelosi points out). Burton is making the "big lie" accusation. Pelosi is asked whether she agrees with the accusation, but demurs, saying it's only one of two possible explanations for Romney's remarks.

INTERVIEWER: What do you think of the way the Republicans have been framing this debate, and you point out the lies they say, they don't accept the facts as truth. What do you think of that?
JOHN BURTON: Well, they're willing to say that they lie and they don't care if people think they lie as long as you lie. Joseph Goebbels. The big lie, you keep repeating it -- first of all, you got Republicans who truly believe the Earth is flat, so I don't know exactly what, you know, what's gonna do, but -- I think, that when people figure out that these people say they do not care about the truth, and they will lie, and they don't care if they lie because it doesn't matter if they lie, we want them to believe our lie, that's very cynical, very dangerous. … That was Goebbels, the big lie. They said they don't care about facts. They're gonna lie. So, I mean, that's, you know, I mean that's not pejorative to them, they probably wear it as a compliment.
INTERVIEWER: Are the Democrats ever guilty of that, of embellishing or taking things out --
BURTON: Embellishing and lying are two different things -- you tell me anybody running for office -- except me, when I ran -- that didn't embellish. OK?
INTERVIEWER: That's true. Or taking something out of context, or --
BURTON: Well, yeah, but, I mean, what Paul Ryan said was a bald-faced lie, to all the American people, and he doesn't care that it was a lie, because it doesn't matter, because it sounds good. "Obama closed this plant." Jesus, what happened? He closed the plant. I mean, if you lie about something -- it just -- I don't know, if you have to ask that question, you're just in the wrong business.
-- Interview with chair of the California Democratic Party John Burton, September 3, 2012.

Comment: I assume Burton is referring to GOP pollster Neil Newhouse (and taking Newhouse's remarks out of context), as did President Bill Clinton days later in his address to the Democratic National Convention.

"The latest big lie the from Obama's Truth Team is Mitt Romney wants to raise taxes on Americans while Obama wants to cut taxes. That's the latest big lie. … They're trying to make this thing stick, folks, by calling Romney "Romney Hood." … And, of course, the Democrats don't care about the truth. They care about the illusion that they can carry forward."
-- Radio pundit Rush Limbaugh, August 7, 2012.

Comment: So, when Republicans say false things about Democrats, does that prove that they "don't care about the truth" and endorse the "big lie" theory?

"Today, Team Romney abandoned the pretense of caring about honesty altogether.
Mitt Romney's aides explained with unusual political bluntness today why they are spending heavily -- and ignoring media criticism -- to air an add accusing President Barack Obama of "gutting" the work requirement for welfare, a marginal political issue since the mid-1990s that Romney pushed back to center stage. "Our most effective ad is our welfare ad," a top television advertising strategist for Romney, Ashley O'Connor, said at a forum Tuesday hosted by ABCNews and Yahoo! News. "It's new information."
The claims are "new," of course, because the Romney campaign made them up. Sure, it's "new information," in the same way it would be "new information" if Obama said Mitt Romney sold heroin to children -- when one invents a lie, its "newness" is self-evident. Romney pollster Neil Newhouse added, "[W]e're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers." … It's important to realize there is no modern precedent for a presidential candidate rejecting the premise that facts matter. Mitt Romney is trying something no one has ever seen -- he's deemed the truth to be an inconvenient nuisance, which Romney will ignore, without shame, to advance his ambitions for vast power. If you don't find that frightening, you're not paying close enough attention. … Forget parties and ideologies, put aside agendas and values, and just consider what Team Romney is saying: they can lie with impunity and they don't give a damn who disapproves. So long as it leads to more power in Romney's hands, anything goes. Romney is, in effect, issuing something of a dare -- he will ignore facts, thumb his nose at reality, and taunt truths with a childish question: What are you going to do about it?"
-- Columnist Steve Benen, August 28, 2012.

Comment: Benen is referring to Romney's criticism of Obama for allegedly removing the work requirement from the welfare reform act passed in 1996, which Benen and others believe is blatantly untrue. When Democrats make criticisms that others believe are blatantly untrue -- such as that Romney's Medicare reform would take benefits away from current seniors -- is that proof that Democrats have chosen to ignore facts and don't care about honesty?

REPORTER: You said that the GOP's trying to turn back -- to the days of Jim Crow -- about the voter ID laws?
WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: I didn't -- that's not what I said.
-- Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), March 20, 2012.

This was in reference to what Wasserman Schultz said months earlier:
"If you go back to the year 2000, when we had an obvious disaster and saw that our voting process needed refinement -- and we did that in the America Votes Act, and made sure that we could iron out those kinks -- now you have the Republicans, who want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws, and literally -- and very transparently -- block access to the polls to voters who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates. And it's nothing short of that blatant."
-- Democratic National Committee chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), June 5, 2011, in an interview with Roland Martin.

No comments: