Oh yeah: SOMEBODY’S pants are burning
When you self-anoint yourself as a referee, you’re required to play fair and by the rules. Which Politifact doesn’t. Let’s start with this gem [emphasis added]:
The Truth-O-Meter Says:
Harry Reid says anonymous source told him Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years
Outside commentators, including liberals, have slammed Reid as well. The New York Times’ Frank Bruni called Reid’s charges part of an “unbecoming, corrosive game.” “Spew first and sweat the details later, or never,” Bruni wrote. “Speak loosely and carry a stick-thin collection of backup materials, or none at all. That’s the M.O. of the moment, familiar from the past but in particularly galling and profuse flower of late.”
Many readers asked us to put Reid’s claim to the Truth-O-Meter. We conclude that Reid, despite repeating the claim on at least two occasions, has not produced any solid evidence it is true.
Harry Reid said that he was told by a Bain “insider” that Mitt Romney did not pay any taxes for ten years.
Now, what “fact” is there to check in this? Where is the commonly-agreed upon definition of “truth” and “fact” that have formed the core of Western thought for over 2,500 years?
Good question, since this lies at the heart of the question, and bears greatly on what is to come.
Fact checking with a holy mien
First, look at that emphasized phrase “Outside commentators, including liberals, have slammed Reid as well.”
The IDEA is to establish Truth-O-Meter’s credibility in what is to come. Except that this is the [extremely, as in "duh"] classical fallacy “Appeal to Authority.” The Skeptic’s Dictionary tells us:
The irrelevant appeal to authority is a type of genetic fallacy, attempting to judge a belief by its origin rather than by the arguments for and against the belief. If the belief originated with an authoritative person, then the belief is held to be true. However, even authoritative persons can hold false beliefs.
Appeals to authority do not become relevant when instead of a single authority one cites several experts who believe something is true. If the authorities are speaking outside of their field of expertise or the subject is controversial, piling up long lists of supporters does not make the appeal any more relevant. On any given controversial matter there are likely to be equally competent experts on different sides of the issue. If a controversial claim could be established as true because it is supported by experts, then contradictory beliefs would be true, which is absurd. The truth or falsity, reasonableness or unreasonableness, of a belief must stand independently of those who accept or reject the belief.
In this case, the notion that “liberals” are among “outside commentators” is almost as laughable as the initial thrust of the statement: “outside commentators” have said that what Harry Reid said is false. WHO are these “outside commentators”? (Appeal to Authority) Why, some are even “liberals”! Ah, well that says nothing, EXCEPT that PolitiFact is already attempting to prove that its judgment (which has not yet been rendered) is, of course, backed up by “outside commentators” and even (GASP) “liberals”!
This is how the “right” interprets “liberal”
The notion is also imputed (by context and implication) that “The New York Times’ Frank Bruni” is both an expert and an authority.
On the facts.
What ARE the facts?
Harry Reid said that he was told by a Bain insider that Mitt Romney didn’t pay taxes for ten years.
Now, WHO is an authority on what Harry Reid was told, other than Harry Reid?
Conversely, let’s look at the VALID instances of Appeal to Authority (as a NON-fallacy) [ibid.]:
Finally, it should be noted that it is not irrelevant to cite an authority to support a claim one is not competent to judge. However, in such cases the authority must be speaking in his or her own field of expertise and the claim should be one that other experts in the field do not generally consider to be controversial.
Is Harry Reid a competent authority to know what he was told?
Is it controversial that Harry Reid knows what he was told? (And, conversely, is there some question as to Senator Reid’s memory? Mental competence? HEARING?)
Thus have the “facts” been exhausted.
But let’s take it further. Do we really suppose that the Democratic Senate Majority Leader didn’t know what the backlash against his statement would be? Does Reid have a long history of lying and making stuff up?
And no, GOP haters, he doesn’t. The same cannot be said of GOP counterpart Mitch McConnell, who has been caught in many a factual denial. I am not talking about exaggeration or distortion or the political white lies that all politicians MUST tell, since they have to represent swine such as we — NO: I’m talking about the personal integrity of one of the most prominent p0liticians in the United States.
Stewart can be an ass. It’s what he’s paid to do.
Not so much with a group with “fact” in its name
On the other hand, what Frank Bruni, The Huffington Post (also cited at the top to “weight” the “Solomonic” bullshit PolitiFact is about to spew as “credible) and other “commentators” have to say is DEMONSTRABLY and PRIMA FACIE irrelevant to what Harry Reid was told. They have NO way of knowing, nor do they have any way of determining that it is NOT exactly what Senator Reid said to be true.
Fact: Harry Reid said that a Bain “insider” (in a position to know) told him that Mitt Romney had not paid taxes for ten years. Or, rather, that there were ten years for which Mitt Romney had not paid any federal income taxes. Let’s be precise.
[And, ask yourself this: Is Harry Reid, as a Mormon, as a United States Senator, in a good position to have received such privileged information?]
Thus, the only way in which such an allegation can be refuted is BY MITT ROMNEY RELEASING HIS TAX RETURNS.
Where are the tax returns, Mitt?
Instead, PolitiFact even gives COVER to the lying weasels:
Romney and his allies pushed back hard against the accusation, saying it was not only substantively incorrect but also ethically out of bounds.
Really? Is Mitt Romney a teller of truth? (I suggest you read Steve Benen’s 300-part series on Mitt’s documented lies.)
So, to claim that Reid’s ALLEGATION (his statement was factual, his allegation is neither true nor false until proven so) is “substantively incorrect” would require that Mr. Romney PRODUCE those tax returns (as his father did, another sore point with Mitt and the PolitiFact vermin).
But PolitiFact reproduces this ABSURD refutation AS IF IT WERE FACTUAL.
(I’ll get to “ethically out of bounds” in a minute.)
PolitiFact’s crack research team
agonized for milliseconds over this report
WHERE are the vaunted fact-checkers here? To compliantly offer rebuttal without fact-checking the rebuttal itself is professional malfeasance if not misfeasance.
Ladies and germs, what we got here is a “fact checking” outfit that doesn’t fucking know what a FACT IS.
And THAT is intensely shameful, which is why I called them “vermin.” In this instance not an ad hominem, but a precise description of an outfit with a public trust, claiming to (and accepting awards for) adjudge FACTS in the public sphere. To dem0nstrably fail at COMPETENCE 101 in this regard is the very definition of “vermin,” in the metaphoric sense. No insult to actual vermin is intended or implied. Morally, plague rats occupy a higher niche than these.
And that brings us to “ethically out of bounds.”
“Harry Reid really has to put up or shut up,” Romney said following a speech in North Las Vegas, Nev., according to CBS News. Romney added, “Let me also say, categorically, I have paid taxes every year — and a lot of taxes. So Harry is simply wrong. And that is why I am so anxious for him to give us the names of the people who put this forward. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to hear the names are people from the White House or the Obama campaign.”
Again, this is reproduced uncritically, WITHOUT fact checking, because only ONE action can prove whether Harry Reid was right or wrong.
Harry Reid is a liar who must “put up or shut up,” because he can’t be trusted, but Mitt Romney says, “trust me.” Is there something a wee bit amiss in this, when PolitiFact says “Harry Reid, you have not PROVEN your allegation,” and then reprints uncritically Romney saying “trust me”? Double standard much?
Inside the top secret PolitiFact laboratories – how it’s done.
The ONLY person who can “put up or shut up” is Mitt Romney HIMSELF, who merely ALLEGES (even more creepily than ANYTHING Harry Reid might have said, given the most uncharitable interpretation) that he “paid taxes every year — and a lot of taxes.”
He MEANS either “federal income taxes” or else he is lying, but note the careful parsing. And he knows that HE is the only one who can disprove the allegation, but PRETENDS that Harry Reid has to release Mitt Romney’s taxes, which is not merely an absurdity, but a conscious lie, which is not — the last time I checked — considered “ethical” by any religious group or school of moral philosophy on the face of the Earth.
But PolitiFact does not hold Mitt Romney’s transparent lie, distortion and absurd assertion to ANY FACTUAL OR ETHICAL STANDARD WHATSOEVER.
Vermin begins to sound too Pollyanna-esque a term for the lazy weasels at PolitiFact and their insane pronouncement:
Reid has said Romney paid no taxes for 10 years. It was no slip of the tongue. He repeated the claim on at least two more occasions, at one point saying that “the word is out” when in fact it was only Reid who put that “word” out.
Reid has produced no evidence to back up his claim other than attribution to a shadowy anonymous source. Romney has denied the claim, and tax experts back him up, saying that the nature of Romney’s investments in Bain make it highly unlikely* he would have been able to avoid paying taxes altogether — especially for 10 years.
Reid has made an extreme claim with nothing solid to back it up. Pants on Fire!
[* And what was the name of that fallacy again?]
Really? Where is the notion that Harry Reid doesn’t have a right to say what he’s said, oh First Amendment Protected Vermin? And how is it that you hold a Senator to a journalistic standard? And how, if you could somehow wriggle past that one, is it that YOU, PolitiFact don’t hold yourselves to the same standard that you adjudge Harry Reid ought to live up to?
This is the replay of the Dan Rather incident, in which it was NEVER proven that the supposed document was an outright forgery, and it WAS proven that George W. Bush was guilty of EXACTLY what the report accused him of in his pulling strings to get out of Vietnam, and into the Texas Air Guard, then “transferred” to Alabama and thence Massachusetts and did not fulfill his terms of service, nor, in one case, ever bother to show up.
But George W. Bush was given a pass and Dan Rather was shown the door at CBS, as the other “journalists” in America were all too happy to pile onto Dan Rather (a competitor) but not do their fucking jobs vis a vis Mr. Bush’s claims of “military service,” a self-serving mob attack that served the nation not at all.
The opposite, in fact.
The only issue is Mitt’s taxes, whether Harry Reid was right or wrong. Unless Mitt releases those taxes, NO EXPERT IN THE UNIVERSE can adjudge whether Mr. Reid’s allegations are true or false, and anyone with half a working brain who’s not completely besotted by Goebbelsesque “Big Lie” of the GOP/Faux Nooz/talk radio propaganda echo machine can understand that.
But it’s the classic bait and switch and the vermin at PolitiFact haven’t just fallen for it, they’re on their knees, osculating either the posterior or anterior of Rove/Romney’s campaign machine.
More protein in the front though, PolitiFact. Just sayin.
And, if this imbecilic and EVIL attempt to win another election by deception, deflection and an UTTER DISREGARD FOR THE TRUTH, then P0litiFact ought to get at least an “assist,” for their compliant, pliant, supine and submissive “tsk tsk”ing in today’s PolitiFact fiction.
Fool me once, shame on you. F00l me twice, shame on you. Shame on you, P0litiFact, who do not even know what “facts” are, but will say anything in the furtherance of lies.
Oh, and happy 67th Hiroshima Day, or whatever it is that you say. At Buck’s Rock in Connecticut, they’re making origami cranes.