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Saturday, October 06, 2012

 

Fact checking the fact checkers.


Fact-checking is evolving from a newspaper dominated activity to a favorite sport on the Internet. After all, all it takes is a computer and a search engine. One of the most popular activities is fact-checking the fact-checkers in the media. I thought I would give it a go after reading the fact-checkers at FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, a blatantly Liberal organization.  This should not surprise anyone since higher ed lists so far Left that Columbia Professor Nicholas De Genova only made news on the Right when he proclaimed
"The only true heroes are those who find ways that help defeat the U.S. military. I personally would like to see a million Mogadishus."


I was searching for information on the Obama administration’s interest in higher gasoline prices. I had just posted a comment on my blog about the ultra-high prices of gasoline in California (taken from DRUDGE) and wanted to create a few links to prove my point. One of the top Google links was to the FactCheck.org analysis which ties itself in knots to convince us that Obama does not want higher gasoline prices.

Here’s an example from FactCheck:
“Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have repeatedly lifted several quotes out of context to allege that President Barack Obama and his administration actually wanted to drive up the price of gasoline, and have succeeded.”
Asked if $4 per gallon gas prices will help drive consumers to alternative energy sources Obama is quoted as saying: “I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment. The fact that this is such a shock to American pocketbooks is not a good thing. But if we take some steps right now to help people make the adjustment, first of all by putting more money into their pockets, but also by encouraging the market to adapt to these new circumstances more quickly, particularly US automakers, then I think ultimately, we can come out of this stronger and have a more efficient energy policy than we do right now.”
The “fact-checkers” at FactCheck respond:
 “It’s true that given the opportunity, Obama did not dismiss the notion outright that higher gasoline prices might be a good idea to create incentives for people to switch to alternative energy sources. But the context of the question was that gasoline had risen to $4 per gallon. The rapid rise in the price of gasoline was, he said, “such a shock to American pocketbooks” and “not a good thing,” and that he would have preferred that they had risen more gradually. That’s different from advocating for gradually higher gasoline prices in the future.”
 
No.  It's.  Not.  You see what they have done here? They first admit that Obama only had a problem with the rate at which gas prices reached $4, but refuse to acknowledge the fact that Obama wants higher gas prices to drive the American people away from using gasoline. After all, the effect of raising prices is to reduce demand. That’s also the rationale behind the high tax on cigarettes. It does not take a super-genius to conclude that Obama would like to see higher gasoline prices in the future. In fact, only someone committed to defending Obama at this point would come to the conclusion Robert Farley and Eugene Kiely (the FactCheck “fact checkers”) came to.  Obama simply stated that it would be a good thing for gas prices to rise, but he would have preferred a "gradual" rise.  What "gradual" means is left to the imagination.  

Next we come to the claim frequently made that the Obama administration would like gasoline prices go even higher, to the price of gas in Europe which is $9 -$10 per gallon. Here we have Dr. Steven Chu making the argument that gasoline prices at that level are designed to
“coax consumers into buying more-efficient cars and living in neighborhoods closer to work.”
 
Coax?  Let's see, fill the gas tank or buy food; what a dilemma!
 
Farley and Kiely come to the Obama/Chu defense in three ways:
  • First, Chu made the statement before he became Secretary of Energy but denied that was his goal before a Congressional panel after he became Energy Secretary.
  • Second, the original comment was made in the context of raising gas taxes.
  • Third, Federal gas taxes have not increased.
Each of these attempts to deny the obvious are transparently phony.
 
  • First, are we to assume that Chu was hired by Obama despite his interest in hiking gas prices to make alternative energy more competitive? After all, this is the guy who shoveled $90 billion out the door on failed projects such as Solyndra. The administration can't admit to the public that it wants gas prices to rise, it simply implements policies that cause them to rise and then deny responsibility.  The energy policies of the Obama administration are perfectly congruent with Chu’s original – pre-appointment desire to see gas at $10 (or higher if necessary). For evidence, see the administration’s shutting down exploration and drilling on public land, and the EPA’s interest in ending fracking on “environmental” grounds. The Obama administration wants to transform the energy Americans use from fossil fuels to wind, solar and “alternative” sources. Simple economics requires higher fossil fuel prices in order to make these “alternative” fuels more competitive.
 
  • Second, the context was the desire to see gas prices rise. Period. You don’t interview Dr. Chu for his views on tax policy. If market forces don’t raise gas prices, the government can raise prices at its pleasure by raising taxes. See the example of local, state and federal taxes in New York City on a pack of cigarettes ($4.35 State tax, $1.50 city tax and $1.00 federal tax = $6.85 in taxes per pack). One of the tools may be raising taxes but the focus was to raise gas prices. If the desired objective could be reached by other means, the objective remains the same.
 
  • Third, the fact that gas taxes have not increased even as gas prices have more than doubled is not an argument against the underlying policy, it’s simply a snarky way of trying to cover up for a policy that is clear and consistent.
This is a typical example of the media and its acolytes basically lying about facts to promote their agenda.
 
But it is fun.  There are more of us than there are of them and their hold on the public’s mind, while still powerful, is slipping fast.


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Comments:
Hi, I am glad your eyes have been opened to the bias of the fact checkers. Too often, as you have noticed, the Fact checkers are providing cover instead of investigating the truth.

I run WeCheck, http://wecheck.org , a new kind of fact checking site that uses Wikipedia-like editing to allow people with diverse political interests to collaborate to create unbiased fact checking pages - the more people who participate, the less bias.

You can check the site at http://wecheck.org. You may be particularly interested in the FactCheck Watch section. I have made a page for the gasoline claim -- feel free to add information and sources

http://wecheck.org/wiki/Does_President_Obama_want_higher_gas_prices

If you like the site I would be very grateful if you could blog about it.
 
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