March 25, 2010

Spotting the Spin in the Fact Check

Justin Katz

Perhaps you've noticed the newspaper fad, in recent months, of printing "fact checks" that purport to offer readers a balanced and objective assessment of the spin surrounding various issues. I stopped bothering with them after the first couple, when it occurred to me that the articles are mainly useful for bloggers still interested in spotting media bias. In a recent example concerning the healthcare legislation, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar strives to explain how both sides are spinning the issue. The problem is that his fact checking of the opposition doesn't really present actual myths or the facts that debunk them.

The first "myth," for example is that "Obama has put the nation on a slippery slope toward socialism." The "fact" is that the nation has been on that slope for a while and still has farther to go until it reaches bottom. I don't know of anybody, on the right, who disagrees, so it appears that Alonso-Zaldivar has debunked a strawman.

When he gets to the question of abortion, it's not at all clear that the reporter has done any research about the actual arguments being made:

You will be forced to pay for other people's abortions.

Only if you join a health insurance plan that covers abortion. In that case, the costs of paying for abortions would be spread over all the enrollees in the plan—no differently from how other medical procedures are handled, except a policyholder would have to write a separate check for it.

Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University, said people who don't want to pay for abortion could simply pick a plan that doesn't offer it.

There would definitely be a demand for such plans, and not just from people with moral objections. Single men and older women would have no reason to pay an extra premium for abortion coverage.

The point isn't that the government will force us to join healthcare programs that offer abortion. The point is that the government will be subsidizing, with our money, the premiums of people who do.

However one feels about abortion or healthcare or socialism, it remains necessary to adjust for the medium through which one acquires news. Spin is chronic and addictive.

Except on Anchor Rising, of course, where all of our facts and conclusions are entirely objective.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

>>>The point is that the government will be subsidizing, with our money, the premiums of people who do.

As it is, as it has always many ways. When something is legal and the law of the land, the government cannot, in general, legislate against it.

Since health insurance and health care have been both deductible and otherwise subsidized for decades with TAX MONEY, you can surely construe that everyone pays for it with their tax money.

You are also responsible when a 2000 lb bomb paid for with your tax money (you cannot opt out) blowing up Afghan women and children.

We stand together or we stand apart. I am morally and ethically opposed to hundreds of things that the various governments (local, fed, state) do with my money. Does that mean I get to choose?

Of course not! We are a republic, not a "we each choose from a menu which covers everything" society.

My tax money is used to cover a lot of costs that non-profit churches get away with - right? Churches get breaks or complete exceptions to normal Real Estate taxes and many other taxes, which means I am paying, like it or not, for them. Last time I looked, folks going to church drive over roads just like I do, so therefore should be responsible for the wear and tear they cause getting to church. If the church catches on fire, my local dept. will put it out, if someone has a heart attack there, my EMS (taxpayer funded) will save them.

Sure, that is only one example, but the fact remains you are once again using the blinders of your "faith" to look at one issue, while failing to comment on the others - such as why my tax money is going to a church which supports folks that molest deaf children.

Righteous indignation? Yes, that pisses me off that the lowest of the low are excused by the likes of you, while trying to make sure that others cannot follow their LEGAL medical choices.
Should it?

Posted by: Stuart at March 25, 2010 12:55 PM

The first "myth," for example is that "Obama has put the nation on a slippery slope toward socialism."

Everytime I hear reference to a myth, I think of all of the popular delusions I have had to live through. One just came to mind, this one is from the 80's. "Programmed children" and "de-programmers".

I had to resort to Wikipedia to recall the "facts" on that one. The newspapers were reporting that 3-4 million children had been kidnapped by "religious cults" and "programmed" to accept unquestioning obedience to the cult. Parents were hiring "de-programmers" to violently kidnap the children back and "de-program" them. I can recall the "de-programmers" being interviewed on televison, they were always big husky guys who tended to sport "Fu Manchu" moustaches.

I wonder whatever happened to those 3-4 million children, surely they could not all have been "de-programmed". Is it possible that they have become Obama's "core supporters". Perhaps it was just the times, that is about the same time Newsweek was carrying cover stories about "500,000 armed militia" preparing for violent overthrow of the government. Perhaps they had been "programmed".

If we could accept "de-programmers", surely "Global Warming" is a day at the beach.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 25, 2010 12:57 PM

The far right bought millions of guns and billion of rounds of ammo in preparation for their revolution against Obama......true!

So far, only a very few have been used - like by the Holocaust shooter and the cop killers in NY and other nuts.

The fact that people exaggerate does not both me - but the fact that some believe it does.

Here's another one for Justin - since Sex is for procreation only, why should health insurance pay for old guys to get boners so they can enjoy more recreational sex? Why should federal dollars go to breast reduction when jugs weigh over 8 lbs apiece (true)? - what if I, a taxpayer and red blooded American, like big boobs as God made them?

Fact is, you could probably construe that hundreds of billions of dollars health care went to thing you might not approve of - like extending the life of a vegetative 95 year old, etc. etc.

Where, though, is the thoughtful outrage about all those things?

Should you pay for obese people to get their stomachs stapled? After all, isn't gluttony and sloth a sin?

We could go on for pages. Please prove to us that you are not focusing on talking points which are ingrained and are actually thinking things through. Tell us 5 other examples of medical procedures you are fighting against being done with your tax money.

Posted by: Stuart at March 25, 2010 3:02 PM

Since this is my newly found right (to prevent my tax dollars from contributing to anything I personally disagree with), how do I opt out of subsidizing militarism and empire? Or is this some special right that applies only to those who want the government to interfere with a woman's health insurance?

Posted by: Russ at March 25, 2010 4:16 PM

In early 1970s the State of Hawaii leaped with two feet first into health care "reform" and has about 40 years under its belt guiding reformed health care to the total state population.

It's no wonder State of Hawaii leads the nation in providing almost universal health care to the total state population about 98% total population insured and the other 2% is not turned away from doctor's offices, clinics or hospitals but also covered by a state health plan where a sliding scale is use based on ability to reimburse the state.

The Hawaii prepaid health care law is a national trailblazer, first in the nation and in basic form required business to provide health insurance to employees 20 or more hours a week.

Hawaii is exempted from other federal laws related to its prepaid health care law.

In some instances the Hawaii law provides higher health care and services than the recently enacted "Obamacare" bill. Hawaii's Congressional delegation has made sure this new federal legislation would not pre-empt Hawaii's health care laws.

Since I moved from RI to Hawaii and changed my health care insurance, dental and prescription drug plans to Hawaii at same level or higher level with lower co-pays my monthly insurance rates have dropped $100 a month verses the rates I paid in RI.

A very nice editorial in the Honolulu Advertiser; "Nation can learn from Isle health law" can be found at this link:

If it works in Hawaii for the last 35 plus years than why can't it work in the 49 other states using the same national insurance companies especially when insurance rates are lowered?

Posted by: Ken at March 25, 2010 4:16 PM

Sorry, Russ, no dice!
Unless your talking point has to do with enslaving women - or is repeated regularly on Fox News - it can't be valid.

The ONLY thing that matters is for every sperm and egg to be cajoled into becoming a newborn. After that, let 'em rot (according to GOP health care policy, social welfare policies and war policies - in which case they make good cannon fodder to protect oil)

Posted by: Stuart at March 25, 2010 4:23 PM

Just as silly as '200,000 trafficked sex slaves in the United States', a number that Bush used to funnel massive amounts of federal money into unaccountable 'faith-based initiatives' (read: churches) to run 'safe houses' that don't have tenants.

The number was revised down below 15,000, and even those numbers aren't supported by evidence on the ground. If there were 15,000 sex trafficking victims in the USA, about 50 would be in Rhode Island, out of about 1000 sex workers. In reality, only one arrest in 1200 yields a trafficking conviction. I know things get hazy down here in the fraction-of-a-fraction, but the -real- number might be as low as... Less than one sex trafficking victim in RI at any given time, which jives well with the cases (or lack thereof) we've had to-date.

Posted by: mangeek at March 25, 2010 4:44 PM


I have mentioned it often before, the "sex trafficking" numbers remind me of the "White Slavery" mania of the early 20th Century. Back then, the "numbers" were just as extreme as they were recently, and equally impossible to verify.

Of course, after the "White Slavery" epidemic we solved the matter for all time with the "Mann Act" making "Human Trafficking" a federal crime. In all that time, I think there have been about 40 prosecutions. Mostly, white groupies and black entertainers. I think the most famous was Jerry Lee Lewis who had "married" his 13 year old cousin.

Here is a list of other "human traffickers" prosecuted:
Tony Alamo
Chuck Berry
Charlie Chaplin
Finis Dake
Rex Ingram
Jack Johnson
Charles Manson
William I. Thomas
Frank Lloyd Wright

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 25, 2010 5:11 PM

More lies from the left. The shooting incidents have all been traced to far Leftist kooks or Islamic terrorists.

No member of the Conservative movement has been involved any of these except as a victim.

It's hilarious to see how a lying Statist portrays normal, lawful activity as some wild-eyed threat. There is a hysterical thread on Democratic Underground today about the Leftist moonbats rushing out and buying guns. I highly recommend it if you can prevent your eyes from bleeding. I particularly liked the one who said he was anti-gun because if he had one he would use it.

Posted by: BobN at March 25, 2010 8:55 PM

"There is a hysterical thread on Democratic Underground today about the Leftist moonbats rushing out and buying guns."

Wow! Next thing you know, they'll be vigorously advocating for the Second Amendment. Small steps, BobN ...

Posted by: Monique at March 25, 2010 11:25 PM

There comes a time in the career of a big time political Bullbleeper when a good number of folks just STOP paying attention. That time is near for OBumer and the useful idiots. Folks are thinking about jobs, the huge debt which will yoke their kids, why does my light haired blue eyed son go to the back of the AA line, and NOT about "who else can we give free stuff to".
While I am not sure the GOP can hold itself together long enough to take back the House and Senate in November, they will even the odds, and the libbies will scream in such a way thereafter that their true nature will be revealed. That may be all it takes.
Speaking of spin, our Genaral Assembly genius bunch has added page after page of MANDATES (go look) to the health insurance providers, yet they are the first to point the finger at those demon companies for raising rates to cover them. Will being required to take "pre existing conditions LOWER RATES? Wham, bash, smash! hit 'em again. What a set up. You know, the libbies say, this healthtax is no different than "car" insurance. Can you buy "car" insurance TODAY for an accident you had last WEEK? Only in libby la la land.

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Posted by: Yetta Cundiff at May 16, 2011 6:25 PM
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