December 20, 2011

"Human Conditions"

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It's always weird taking different arguments made by right-wingers about the value of humans lives and putting them side by side. Conservative legislators, especially in Southern and border states, were arguing that fertilized embryos and fetuses should be classified as human beings with full rights while simultaneously wondering how best to maintain agricultural policies that took thousands of immigrants without any rights at all and maintained sub-standard wages for all of them. I suppose you could call it unfair to propose hiring fetuses as farm laborers, but hey, Republican candidates right now think we should get rid of child labor laws. So it's time Baby Zygote #4453-A (nickname "To Be Named Later") earned his or her keep.

This week's strip also wraps up Some Guy With a Website for the year. New cartoons will return in January, while I take a break from the obviously grueling charge of drawing a crude illustration every seven days. Yeah.

But that said, as always, thank you all for reading. I do this because you enjoy it, and if we can all maintain the charade that this cartoon is doinging even the remotest sliver of something good in some indiscript way, then who am I to kill hope. Happy holidays, everyone.

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Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:45 AM

So don't link to them anymore

Steve Benen sums up the utter disgrace of PolitiFact, which this morning irreprably destroyed its credibility as a fact-checking organization by declaring that a major fact--that Republicans voted to end Medicare--wasn't true because they felt like it.

It's unnerving that we have to explain this again, but since PolitiFact appears to be struggling with the relevant details, let's set the record straight again.

Medicare is a single-payer health care system offering guaranteed benefits to seniors. The House Republican budget plan intended to privatize the existing system and replace it with something very different -- a voucher scheme. It would still be called "Medicare," but it wouldn't be Medicare.

It seems foolish to have to parse the meaning of the word "end," but if there's a program, and it's replaced with a different program, proponents brought an end to the original program. That's what the verb means.

When Stephen Colbert premiered The Colbert Report, his first show put the word "truthiness" into the American lexicon. That's pretty much what PolitiFact did today.

What I find most offensive about this is how blase PolitiFact, and I imagine many of the news outlets that turned to them as reliable fact-checkers, accepted this as, well, acceptable. As if purposefully lying to maintain that faux aura of "balance" is the cost of being legitimate in the news world.

There shouldn't even be an argument about this: news organizations aren't supposed to make up things, even if they "feel" like they should be true. You don't get to "lie just once." This isn't a thing that PolitiFact should ever be excused for. We're not talking about a reporter getting a fact wrong and a need for a later correction: PolitiFact has spent almost an entire year ignorantly deflecting the numerous explanations of how they twisted logic to merely be right about a thing that wasn't. Today they doubled down on that and it ended their credibility, permanently.

PolitiFact did one thing: report facts. They officially no longer do this. Instead of blogs endlessly talking about how they "should be asahamed of themselves" they should simply stop linking to PolitiFact because they are now useless at the one thing they claim to offer. Big media companies don't link to LiveJournals or The Weekly World News either.

It will be interesting to see in the upcoming months which blogs and new organizations actually stick to their principles and acknowledge PolitiFact's loss of reliablity by finding a better source of facts. I know I'm no one in this game, but at least I have the credibility to declare that I'll never use that site as a source ever again.

Update: A relevant quote from Paul Krugman. If he's right--and sadly it looks like he is--today marks the official start of the 2012 election, one in which any politician is simply allowed to lie if they think they can get away with it. I find myself feeling incredibly sad.

Posted by August J. Pollak at 9:19 AM