July 22, 2012

Jack Kelly Sunday

In this week's column, the P-G's Jack Kelly goes after President Obama's honesty.

I don't think Jack Kelly has any room to comment on this particular subject.  Anyone remember his incredibly dishonest attack on Van Jones in 2009?  How many lies were found in there?  Know what happened to that column?  It got pulled and scrubbed from the P-G website a few days later.

This is the guy currently lecturing us on presidential honesty.

Be that as it may, let's take a look at what he actually says, avoiding his obvious lack of credibility on the subject.

He begins:
Our first president was so revered for his integrity that most believed that even as a child, George Washington could not tell a lie.
What an interesting way to start a column on telling the truth!  Obviously, it's a reference to the "cherry tree" story part of George Washington's biography - a story that as far back as 1911, was acknowledged to have no supporting evidence outside of the assertion of the man, Parson Weems, making it.  Yet with near endless repetition, the story's "established" as fact.

Interesting thing to keep in mind when reading Jack's assertions about Obama's credibility.

Next paragraph:
Can our current president tell the truth? Former Amb. Fred Eckert has filled a 188-page book, "That's a Crock, Barack," with "untrue, duplicitous, arrogant and delusional" things Barack Obama has said.
But who's this Fred Eckert?

According to this review at, he's:
...a prototypical unsung hero of the conservative movement. Eckert paid his political dues in upstate New York in 1968, organizing local Republican support for the presidential candidacy of Richard Nixon, standing in opposition to the native New York liberal GOP hero, Nelson Rockefeller. This baptism of fire led Mr. Eckert to a series of increasingly responsible positions in New York municipal, county, and state government, most notably as a state senator for ten years, 1972-82. Eckert, a staunch conservative, who endorsed the Reagan presidential effort as early as 1975, served as U.S. Ambassador to Fiji from 1982-84. He then won a seat in the 99th Congress, serving as a Republican and representing a district based in Rochester, New York. He finished his calling in public life, serving as a second U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Agency for Food and Agriculture during 1987-88.
Not really a detached observer, then is he?  Perhaps just labeling him, as Jack does, as merely a "former ambassador" leaves out some important information.  This is what's known as a lie of omission, my friends.

Oh, and according to that same review, the book's actually 183 pages, not 188. So, if that's true, I guess we caught Jack in another lie that discredits his entire column, huh?

Geez, this is easy.  Back to Jack:
A few caveats. Often when we say something that isn't true, we aren't lying, because we think it is true. We are ignorant or careless or both, but we aren't trying to deceive.

When a politician says one thing while seeking office, but does the opposite in office, that isn't exactly a lie. Sometimes a new president learns stuff that causes him to alter stances he took during the campaign. This could be why Mr. Obama reneged on his pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Closing the prison may have been delayed, but did Obama renege on his pledge to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay?

No.  When he signed HR 1473 in April of 2011, he wrote:
Today I have signed into law H.R. 1473, the "Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011".

Section 1112 of the Act bars the use of funds for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the United States, and section 1113 bars the use of funds for the remainder of fiscal year 2011 to transfer detainees to the custody or effective control of foreign countries unless specified conditions are met. Section 1112 represents the continuation of a dangerous and unprecedented challenge to critical executive branch authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees, based on the facts and the circumstances of each case and our national security interests. The prosecution of terrorists in Federal court is a powerful tool in our efforts to protect the Nation and must be among the options available to us. Any attempt to deprive the executive branch of that tool undermines our Nation's counterterrorism efforts and has the potential to harm our national security.
So it was the Congress that stopped the closing of the prison by barring the use of funds to transfer anyone out of there.  A paragraph or so later, he wrote:
Despite my continued strong objection to these provisions, I have signed this Act because of the importance of avoiding a lapse in appropriations for the Federal Government, including our military activities, for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.

Nevertheless, my Administration will work with the Congress to seek repeal of these restrictions, will seek to mitigate their effects, and will oppose any attempt to extend or expand them in the future.
Categorizing this as "reneging" is simply a lie, Jack.

But let's take a look at some of the things Jack says are actual lies.  For example, Jack ends his list with this debunked factoid:
"If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor," he said. Post-Obamacare, 83 percent of physicians are considering quitting medicine, according to a survey by the Doctor Patient Medical Association.
Politifact looked at the survey and found out some very interesting things.

For example, it's not a poll and that, in itself, undermines the scientific credibility of its "findings."  Add on to that the fact that the survey was done by the Doctor Patient Medical Association Foundation - a group founded to oppose the health care law. Who did they send the survey to? Did the respondents know about the group when they received the survey?  Did they agree with the group's politics before starting the survey?  Then there's the return rate:
The survey was conducted by fax and online from April 18 to May 22, 2012. Of 16,227 faxes that were successfully delivered to doctors’ offices, 699, or 4.3 percent, submitted responses.
4.3% responses?  And then the methodology of the survey questions themselves:
the question actually does not mention the law. In fact, none of the two dozen questions in the poll mentions anything about it.

Instead, the question asks about "current changes," which could include not just the law, but many other factors, such as changes driven by insurance companies and hospital systems. There’s no way of knowing what specifically the respondents were referring to.
So it's a mistake to assume that all those physicians would leave their profession because of "Obamacare."

Presenting it all as if it is, is another huge lie, Jack.  You should know that.

And I didn't even get to any of the hard stuff.


Unknown said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this! I have been troubled by Mr. Kelly's persistent truth-bending for a long time. I finally decided to either find someone who is bringing wider public attention to his unproffessional behavior or start doing it myself. Looks like I'm going to be regular visitor here.

Have you had any interaction with the PG Editorial Page editors? It would seem to me either a.) the PG editorial board is a pack of right-wing nuts who want to maintain the aura of editorial integrity and has hired Kelly to do dirty work for them or, far more likely, b.) Mr. Kelly has corporate backing and the editors are stuck letting egregious errors pass so long as they promote a conservative Republican political agenda. Maybe I'm too old fashioned, but it seems to me that just because an article appears on an opinion page doesn't mean the author is entitled to his own version of the facts.

Unknown said...

In haste, I forgot a 3rd possibility that puts a better spin on the PG editorial board. Funding and staff cuts have forced them to forego the kind of editorial control old guys like me have come to expect of newspapers? There are other less seemly possibilities, but I won't even go there.