"It's just wrong. It's wrong in so many ways, it's hard to begin."
That is MIT economist speak for, "Liar, liar, pants on fire." The MIT economist in question is John Riley. And what he's calling bull-pucky on is the fact that Republican leaders like Sen. Mitch McConnell and Congressman John Boehner have cited his study in order to make the claim that President Obama's cap-and-trade global warming plan would cost American families an extra $3,100 a year in energy costs.
Dr. Riley told house Republicans they were not reading his study right, that they in fact were flat wrong about it. He told them that back in March. It's April now, and Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who I usually enjoy ignoring, apparently did not get that particular memo.
She has written an editorial in the Minneapolis Star Tribune saying, "According to an analysis by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the average American household could expect its yearly energy bill to increase by $3,128 per year."
No. Pants on fire. The MIT guy says no. That's not what the study says. Not true. You can't say that. Well, now the Star Tribune will have to run a correction. Very embarrassing. Kind of like when The Washington Post columnist George Will asserted in the The Washington Post that Arctic Sea ice has not declined significantly in the past 30 years.
That happens to be totally demonstrably false. And The Post has yet to issue an official correction for the column, but they did publish four different articles debunking Mr. Will's global warming hoo-ha.
Do you want more? Extra-right wing Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma skipped traditional media to dispense his demonstrably phony claims via YouTube this week:
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R-OK): You know, I can't believe what we heard today. Here we are in Afghanistan right now. We have our men and women in uniform in harm's way, and we hear an announcement we're cutting, and I would say gutting, our military. I've never seen a budget like this.
We're spending so much money that the Obama budget has increased welfare, in all the time we're doing this, increasing all these welfares to unconscionable high. The only thing in the budget that's being cut is military.
Military - being cut. It's unconscionable and unprecedented for the funding of troops in the field in an ongoing war to be cut. The awkward thing here is that Obama and Secretary Gates are proposing an increase in military spending. It was $513 billion in Bush's last year in office. $513 billion. Obama and Gates want it to be $534 billion.
I don't want to blow your mind or do totally complex math on the Internet machine or anything, but 534 is a bigger number than 513. But you know, it's not just old Sen. Inhofe who is making this mistake. The Gates budget proposal keeps getting described as if it represents some massive cut to the Pentagon, which arguably is true, if by the word cut, you actually mean the total opposite of the actual meaning of the word "cut."
An op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal repeated that same nonsense with the screaming headline "Obama and Gates Gut the Military." For extra crazy points, authors Tom Donnelly and Gary Schmidt quote a Civil War general to bolster their argument. They quote Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, known to Civil War buffs as an impressive cavalry leader, known to all of America as one of the founders of the Ku Klux Klan. Classy.
I feel like fact-checking politicians is a full-time job and it is a very fun one. But, does it sort of feel like there is just more made up stuff in the daily back-and-forth of political news right now than usual?
If we are invested both as citizens and as members of the media in good arguments winning, in policies following argument, and argument being rigorous and the right argument winning, and factual errors being things that you have to correct. How do you fight a political argument for the good of the country, when the facts don't matter, when they don't get corrected?
Because even if the fight within the editorial board at The Washington Post was about the persnickety correctness of George Will's statement, the fact is he gave the implication that sea ice is growing and sea ice is shrinking.
Michele Bachmann just flat-out lied. James Inhofe, The Wall Street Journal, flat-out lying about there being defense cuts when it's actually growing. I mean, when it's just not true what the basis of the other side's arguments are, how do you then reasonably and responsibly fight an argument?