Thursday, September 20, 2007

Washington Post's FACT CHECKER

The Washington Post has a new feature called "FACT CHECKER." They tell us their mission is:
Our goal is to shed as much light as possible on controversial claims and counter-claims involving important national issues and the records of the various presidential candidates.
The first candidate they consider is Fred Thompson who said recently:
If you look back over our history, it will not take you long to realize that our people have shed more blood for other people's liberty than any other combination of nations in the history of the world -- Fred Thompson, stump speech in Iowa, September 6, 2007.
According to the Washington Post, "while heavy, U.S. military casualties are still relatively low in comparison to the military casualties of its World War II and World War I allies. In World War II alone, the Soviet Union suffered at least eight million military deaths, or ten times the number of U.S. deaths in all wars combined."

and

"Even if we exclude the Soviet Union from the calculation, U.S. military deaths in all wars combined remain lower than those of the British Commonwealth ("a combination of nations," in Thompson's phrase) in World War I and World War II. According to the Commonwealth War Graves commission, 1.7 million soldiers of the British commonwealth were killed in the two World Wars.

You can check the article for US casualties in each of the foreign wars starting with the Spanish-American War through to the Iraq War and Afghanistan which amount to 623,288.

The Post has a very amusing rating scale:

The Pinocchio Test

Thompson's jingoistic assertion cannot be supported by the facts, barring some very tortuous definition of the phrase "other people's liberty." We asked his campaign for factual support for the candidate's claim, but they have not so far responded. We therefore award Fred Thompson four Pinocchios. (About our rating scale.)

theteach

7 comments:

AnimeFreak40K said...

Man, that Fact Checker thing is full of Win and Awesome!

Where has this thing been all of my life?

the teach said...

Anime, it's brand new! FactCheck.org told me about it in my e-mail. Isn't it great! I'm going to check back to it periodically.

It just kills me that politicians (Fred Thompson in this case) can get away with statements that are so far from the truth!!! :)

AnimeFreak40K said...

Oh, I do not think that Fred Thompson is telling outright lies.

What I DO think, however, is that Fred Thompson's researchers, speechwriters, and the like pulled what information would prove his case and ignored everything else.

Of course when you ignore such information and data and/or start picking and choosign what numbers you want, you may as well be lying and making things up anyway.

Take a look at my post on this one: http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fact-checker/2007/09/mike_gravel_americans_are_gett_1.html#comments

I do nto think that even the FactCheckers are spot on in this case...even they are vulnerable to picking what numbers and such will prove thier cases and ignoring the rest. Of course, I also hope that this is the exception and not the rule...

we really do need someone out there actually checking the facts and getting past the hyperbole double-speek and all that other nonsense.

the teach said...

Anime, I don't think Thompson is outright lying either...he IS outright saying something that sounds good and he has no idea whether it's true or not and he doesn't care! Too many politicians say stuff and they have NO idea if it's true or not. But if we (everyday people, bloggers, etc.) call them on it they will stop throwing around these phrases.

Very impressive post on Mike Gravel - I want to say though, about kids who don't know capitals of the states, or the names of african countries...They don't teach kids today the way they taught years ago. No more facts, better to teach ideas, concepts. You can always look up a fact, esp. today with the internet. What use filling kids heads with bunches of facts. So we have to rewrite our tests to test the information kids are learning today...

Anonymous said...

You guys have to read carefully what the fact checker said. He said the Soviets - the people that crushed the life out of Eastern Europe, raped it for its resources for 60 years and got almost everyone there to spy on their neighbors - he says they were fighting for liberty.

That fact checker column was the dumbest thing I have ever seen. It made no sense at all.

the teach said...

And you, Anon, have to read more closely because the post says:

"Even if we exclude the Soviet Union from the calculation, U.S. military deaths in all wars combined remain lower than those of the British Commonwealth."

And how can you say the Soviet Union (in World War II) wasn't fighting for liberty just as the rest of the Allies were against a horrible tyrant and murderer, Adolf Hitler?

And you say:

That fact checker column was the dumbest thing I have ever seen. It made no sense at all.

It's real easy to call names from behind the veil of anonymity!

AnimeFreak40K said...

*Looks over posts. Blinks. Grins.*

Oh joy of JOYS!

*Cracks knuckles.*

It has been ever so long since I have had the fun and pleasure of delivering a virtual beat-down! I will enjoy this...my only complaint is that the post is too short and I cannot draw it out as much as I would like...oh, I do so love destroying idiots.

So, let’s get started shall we?

"You guys have to read carefully what the fact checker said."

Well, I would like to think that I had read over the entire article. I am not a history guru, or a fact finder, or the Researching genius...but I do know how to read. I also take pride in my ability to read something and comprehend what it is saying and, heaven forbid, analyze it from a neutral perspective to such a degree that I know what the writer was trying to state. In the case of the Fact Checker, they were attempting to establish that the United States has not, in fact, sacrificed the most troops and people in the fight for liberty. In your particular case, you are suggesting that I have not read over what the Fact Checker has offered on the particular article in question. I will gladly prove you wrong, not only in your assessment of my abilities to read and comprehend written text, but also in your assessment that Russia did not fight against tyranny.

“He said the … he says they were fighting for liberty.”

First order of business: Your quote has been edited and will be placed elsewhere for ease of read and comprehension. I hope you are able to follow along.

To say that the Russians were not fighting against tyranny during WWII is a false statement. The conflict between Russia and Germany in WWII began in 22 June 1941 when Germany crossed the border established in the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact thus beginning an invasion of Soviet Russia. I do not know what universe you come from, but the aggressive act of invading a soverign nation does, in fact, threaten that nation’s liberty. The fact that they were invaded alone establishes that they were fighting for their liberty. But I do not think that is good enough to make my point though…

According to Adolf Hitler’s autobiography. “Mein Kampf”, Germany needed more territory, and to facilitate that would require the conquering of Eastern Europe. He envisioned settling Germans as the Master Race in western Russia while most of the native Russians would be deported to Siberia and those that were not removed would be used as slave labor. Let me repeat that: SLAVE LABOR. I do not know what world you think you are existing in, but in the real world slavery, by it’s very definition, is an affront to liberty and freedom. Regardless of the nation in question, slavery is the antithesis to liberty.

I’m sorry, but that alone tells me that the Russians were fighting against tyranny. I do not know what you are smoking, but please, for the love of God, stop it!

“…the people that crushed the life out of Eastern Europe, raped it for its resources for 60 years and got almost everyone there to spy on their neighbors…”

Here is the rest of your quote…and this STILL does not make sense in context with the statements and suggestions from Fact Checker.

Russia did not become a soviet state until the end of 1917 (in November to be more precise). Germany did not invade Russia until 1941. Let’s now begin with some simple math, yes? 1941-1917=24. *Gasp!* Russia had only been a soviet state for 24 years at best! Last time I checked, 24 was less than 60. I could be wrong, but then again, I come from planet Earth. Oh, if you want to have some MORE fun with numbers, Russia did not become the Soviet Union until 1922…which would mean that the Soviet Union that you say “raped Eastern Europe for its resources for 60 years” was only in existence for 19 years.

Now, if you are confused with what I am trying to establish here, is that while the USSR’s tactics of control and government were dubious as far back as the 1930s, they had not become the Red Monster we knew and loathed until after WWII. So, speaking from the perspective of the conflict of WWII, the USSR was, in fact fighting for liberty and against tyranny…even if they were tyrannical themselves.

Oh…and by the way, the Cold War did not even begin until 1947, and it ended in 1991, a span of only 44 years. If you take into account that Stalin started his purging actions in the 30s, you get to add another 10 years, which gives you 50 some-odd years of their tyranny of their own people.

“That fact checker column was the dumbest thing I have ever seen. It made no sense at all.”

This statement makes absolutely no sense at all. Well…it does. Your opinion is that the Fact Checker article about who has paid a higher price for liberty and freedom (or Fact Checker in general) makes no sense and that it is stupid.

Interesting thing about this is that the plain facts, as they exist in written history, provide direct counters to your statements. That said, this fact alone conflicts with your misguided views and are therefore “wrong” or “stupid”.

I am going to have to disagree with your assessment that Fact Checker is dumb and makes no sense. Even if I do disagree with their assessments and where they gather some of their facts, I cannot disagree with the facts as they are written.

That said, I challenge you to dispute me. I can provide you with my research material, and I do, in fact, accept Wikipedia as a valid source.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_War
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Front_%28World_War_II%29

Until you can provide me with an intelligent rebuttal, I am going to have to tell you to sit down, shut up and return to planet Earth.