01/31/14

The State of the Union is Mendacity

By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media

While it is clear that President Obama can successfully deliver a State of the Union speech (SOTU), especially with a teleprompter, does it matter whether or not he is telling the American people the truth, or being hypocritical? Or have politics and political reporting become so cynical, that all that matters is style and partisanship? The media that allow this to happen are complicit in these lies, because, as in the Obama administration itself, there is no accountability for them. ABC News purportedly claimed to be “fact-checking” Obama’s statements, yet sometimes they still gave him a “mostly fact” label at the top and then, in the little text—which fewer people are going to read—explained why what he said is cherry-picked, to say the least.

Obama’s State of the Union address has drawn mixed reviews. “Virtually every item in the president’s speech had been heard before and introduced with greater passion and urgency in the past,” commented Jonathan S. Tobin for Commentary Magazine.

Tobin took Obama to task for his foreign policy claims on Iran and Syria: “On foreign policy, his strongest words were delivered in a threat to veto new economic sanctions on Iran that he thinks will upset his diplomatic outreach to the Islamist regime. His drive for détente with Iran—bolstered by false claims about inspections and Iran destroying its uranium stockpile—seems to fire him up but his chutzpah in proclaiming Syria—where he endured total humiliation in 2013—as a triumph for his policies shows just how shockingly removed from reality this administration has become.”

The speech may have been a rehashing of old narratives, but what is so stunning is that his media backers simply ignore his distortions and obfuscations, and re-direct public attention to other issues, such as whether or not he lived up to his leaked narrative of defiantly announcing plans to govern by fiat, and just work around Congress.

Others were full of praise for the speech. “Given the hand-wringing and rancor of the past decade, this was a fresh breeze,” wrote Joe Klein for Time magazine. “It informed the rest of the speech: we’re doing ok, but there are things—not monster things, simple things—that we can do to make this a jollier place.” Dismissing concerns about health care and the deficit, Paul Krugman wrote in The New York Times that “Anyway, the point is that despite his low poll numbers, time is on Obama’s side, and he knows it.” As for Politico, one of their stories focuses on the political subtexts that the speech provided Democrats looking to win the elections in 2014, including how to sell Obamacare to the public.

The opening moments of Obama’s speech included several lies and distortions. For example, he bragged about the lowest unemployment rate in five years as a positive development. But in reality, the only reason the number is low is because so many people have dropped out of the work force. Even ABC News labeled this a “Fact, with a big caveat.” The labor participation rate is actually the lowest since 1978. And according to The Wall Street Journal’s MarketWatch, the real unemployment rate is closer to 15%. And last November, a census worker said that he had been told by higher-ups to make up information that would improve the unemployment rate just before the 2012 election, adding further suspicion to the administration’s figures.

Obama claimed that our energy production is the highest ever, and our foreign oil imports are the lowest. The deception in that case is that this occurred in spite of his policies, not because of them. It is part technology, and partly a result of what is being done on private land. His administration has, in fact, made it much more difficult to drill and has refused to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline. “The rise in domestic oil production, to the point where the U.S. uses more domestic than foreign oil, is mostly due to improved drilling technology, not government policy,” concludes CBS News.

One statement that should elicit an outburst from every American is Obama’s claim that “our deficits [have been] cut by more than half…” “By the time fiscal year 2009 was finished, the actual deficit turned out to be over $1.4 trillion—the highest in U.S. history. And deficits remained over $1 trillion for the next three fiscal years,” notes USA Today. “The deficit for fiscal year 2013 (which ended Sept. 30) fell to $680 billion. That’s indeed less than half the 2009 figure, but it’s still higher than any full-year deficit for any previous president.” That means the current deficit even exceeds President George W. Bush’s largest deficit, hardly a cause for celebration.

Regarding Iran, the President said that “it is American diplomacy, backed by pressure, that has halted the progress of Iran’s nuclear program—and rolled back parts of that program—for the very first time in a decade.” This came the day before the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified that “These technical advancements strengthen our assessment that Iran has the scientific, technical, and industrial capacity to eventually produce nuclear weapons. This makes the central issue its political will to do so” (emphasis added). Even Politico reported that the “political will” of Iran’s leaders is the primary obstacle to Iran creating nuclear weapons, a far cry from Obama’s “halted progress.”

“And although Iran is required to shut down its advanced centrifuges, it doesn’t have to get rid of any of them” during the deal, reports Politico. “In addition, Iran can build an unlimited number of less sophisticated centrifuges even while the temporary deal is in place.”

When it comes to Obamacare, once again, the administration is throwing sand in people’s eyes by stating false, misleading and unknowable statistics. For example, Obama said that “More than nine million Americans have signed up for private health insurance or Medicaid coverage—nine million.” According to USA Today, “The 9 million figure includes three groups: 2.1 million Americans who have chosen insurance plans on the federal or state marketplaces, 3.9 million who were determined eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and an estimated 3.1 million young adults under age 26 who joined their parents’ plans as a result of the Affordable Care Act’s requirements.” Yet, millions of Americans signing up for Medicaid or CHIP may have been, in part, the result of renewals. And how many of those not eligible for government programs who signed up on the exchanges lost their private insurance because of so-called Obamacare “reforms” in the first place? The Wall Street Journal estimated that to be quite a high number.

One more item. The President said in his speech that “It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a ‘Mad Men’ episode.” He was referring to a previous, but long discredited claim he had just repeated that “they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014, it’s an embarrassment. A woman deserves equal pay for equal work.”

Ed Morrissey of the popular website Hot Air has an excellent rebuttal, citing studies, and a leading feminist who point out the flaws in that statement. Those figures are not comparing apples to apples.

A McClatchy article cited by Morrissey points out that the 77-cent figure comparison is for “all workers regardless of what jobs they hold—not one worker in one particular job compared with another worker in the same job.” Yet when they asked the White House the following day why women working at the White House make only 91 cents for every dollar men make who work there, the White House answer, according to McClatchy, was that “it should be measured by how it pays men and women in the same jobs, but not the kind of broad brush that compares overall male and female pay.” In other words, “Don’t judge us by the standards that we are judging others.” Hypocrisy. Mendacity.

The problem for Obama is that numerous news organizations, including ones that support him most of the time, produce SOTU fact-checks. And in some cases, they universally point to lie after lie, though they rarely call them that.

For example, USA Today, the Associated Press and The Washington Post all agree that the Obamacare numbers were frankly just not true. ABC News apparently missed the nine-million-person mistake. The news media don’t outright call these examples lies, but what are they if not lies?

Maybe the answer can be found in a new column by historian and political commentator Victor Davis Hanson: “Without notions of objective truth there can never be lies, just competing narratives and discourses. Stories that supposedly serve the noble majority are true; those that supposedly don’t become lies—the facts are irrelevant.”

So who cares if Obama is lying, if he is serving the noble majority?

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and can be contacted at [email protected]. View the complete archives from Roger Aronoff.

01/31/14

The Council Has Spoken!! This Weeks’ Watcher’s Council Results – 01/31/14

The Watcher’s Council

“The biggest thing we could do to mess that up would be if the House passed an amnesty bill…” – Ted Cruz

Alea iacta est… the Council has spoken, the votes have been cast and we have the results for this week’s Watcher’s Council match-up.

The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living – Marcus Tulius Cicero

It matters not how a man dies, but how he lives – Samuel Johnson

To the living we owe respect, but to the dead we owe only the truth – Voltaire

This week’s winner, Joshuapundit’s Obama’s Loving Requiem For A Prominent Communist – And Mine, is an obituary. Singer Pete Seeger passed away this week and President Obama saw fit to issue a handsome and fulsome (and revealing) tribute out of the White House. Since I knew a bit about whom Pete Seeger was and about his career, I thought I’d write one of my own. Here’s a slice:

The mask is coming off, even if it never covered much to begin with.

Pete Seeger is dead today, at 94. And this is what our Dear Leader had to say about it:

“Once called “America’s tuning fork,” Pete Seeger believed deeply in the power of song. But more importantly, he believed in the power of community – to stand up for what’s right, speak out against what’s wrong, and move this country closer to the America he knew we could be. Over the years, Pete used his voice – and his hammer – to strike blows for worker’s rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along. For reminding us where we come from and showing us where we need to go, we will always be grateful to Pete Seeger. Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Pete’s family and all those who loved him.”

Now, aside from being someone who made quite a contribution to American music, Pete Seeger was also a hard core communist and apologist for Stalin during the time when ‘Uncle Joe’ murdered over 100 million people. The forced collectivization, the murder of political opponents, the show trials, the forced famine in the Ukraine that murdered at least 3 million people, the gulags…none of it mattered at all to Pete Seeger, that ‘champion of justice and freedom’.

By his own admission, he was a red diaper baby, someone who was brought into the party by his parents and raised under what the Comintern called Party Discipline. That meant you followed the orders of the Kremlin, no questions asked. And that’s exactly what Pete Seeger did. He claimed that he ‘drifted out of the party in the 1950′s’, but he never once lifted his voice to oppose Soviet tyranny until the game was almost over, in 1982 when he made statements in favor of Poland’s Solidarity movement.

After the 1939 Hitler-Stalin pact, there were some commies who woke up to what that meant and left the Party. But not Pete Seeger! Whatever Hitler was doing to the Jews was no never mind to him. As a member of the Almanac singers (later called the Weavers) with a fellow party member, Woody Guthrie, he totally followed the Moscow line, calling for America to stay out of WWII…here’s a sample lyric: “Franklin D., listen to me,/You ain’t a-gonna send me ’cross the sea.”

He and his fellow Party members lobbied aggressively against aid to Britain, American re-armament and against FDR’s selective service act, which passed in 1940 by one vote. If it hadn’t, things would have been very different after Pearl Harbor. The Almanac’s 78 recording, Songs for John Doe was so subversive even Eleanor Roosevelt, a fan of the group, denounced it.

That changed abruptly in June, 1940, when Hitler invaded Russia. Then, Seeger and his friends started singing a brand new tune, urging America to get into the war and save Stalin’s posterior. In a true 1984-style example of revisionism, Seeger and his pals had all the available copies of Songs for John Doe recalled and destroyed…although enough copies remained in a few people’s hands so that we can see exactly how hypocritical, radical and anti-American these people were.

After the war, Seeger remained active in shilling for Stalin and his successors. He was one of the leaders calling for clemency for the Rosenbergs, the spies who gave Stalin the atom bomb. Yes, the great world peace advocate had no problem with a homicidal maniac and mass murderer like Stalin getting the bomb.

In 1945, Seeger put together something called People’s Songs, Inc, an organization designed to “create, promote and distribute songs of labor and the American People.”

Here’s what the California Senate fact finding committee had to say about it:

“People’s Songs is a vital Communist front … one which has spawned a horde of lesser fronts in the fields of music, stage entertainment, choral singing, folk dancing, recording, radio transcriptions and similar fields. It especially is important to Communist proselytizing and propaganda work because of its emphasis on appeal to youth, and because of its organization and technique to provide entertainment for organizations and groups as a smooth opening wedge for Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist propaganda.”

Seeger was actually subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1955, but refused to answer questions about his communist past and eventually refused to answer subpoenas. He was actually tried and convicted of contempt of Congress, but his conviction was overturned over a technicality.

Along with his commendable support for civil rights for blacks in America, Seeger continued to be a shill for the Soviets and ultra-Left causes throughout the years.

He was a big advocate of unilateral disarmament by the West, including the Soviet’s phony International Peace Petition. In spite of his image as a champion of freedom, he had nothing to say about the Soviet repression of democratic revolutions in Hungary in 1956, or in Czechoslovakia in 1968. And of course, he was a supporter of Fidel Castro and his executioner, Che Guevara.

He was predictably against the Vietnam War, but had nothing to say about the North Vietnamese gulags and fascist repression after the war, or Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge’s Killing Fields in Cambodia.
He opposed President Reagan’s rearmament of the West after the Carter years, and was huge advocate of he Nuclear Freeze Movement of the 1980s, a Soviet-sponsored initiative that would have frozen Soviet nuclear and military superiority in place and stopped Reagan from defeating the Evil Empire.

Much more at the link.

In our non-Council category, the winner was Kevin Williamson/NRO for Great Caesar’s Ghost, submitted by Joshuapundit. Written the day of President Obama’s SOTU snoozefest, it takes apart the entire institution with wit and savage precision. Do read it.

Okay, here are this week’s full results:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

See you next week! Don’t forget to tune in on Monday AM for this week’s Watcher’s Forum, as the Council and their invited special guests take apart one of the provocative issues of the day with short takes and weigh in… don’t you dare miss it. And don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter… ’cause we’re cool like that!