"Facts ARE Stubborn Things," or, "Being On Your 'A-is-A' Game"

Jmaurone's picture
Submitted by Jmaurone on Fri, 2009-08-07 17:53

I am all in favor of exposing the Obama administration for the socialist/fascist agenda that it is, but I do not approve of alarmist methods or distortions. That said, everything this administration has done so far has been so mired in double-speak and weasel-words; it's not easy to call "bullshit!" outright. (In Rand's words, it takes some "philosophical detection.") That's because politicians know how to cover their tracks and dupe the average American Idol voter with feel-good slogans and vague notions ("Surely they couldn't meant THAT!"). So this next bit of info, well, you're going to have to work out yourself.

(originally published at Noboma)

Glenn Beck ran a story about the "Cash for Clunkers" program that claimed "don't try this at home, kids...". Why? Because it involved logging onto the cars. gov site, where, once the user hit "submit," the government claims it "owns" your computer and files during the length of the visit. Beck IS known as an alarmist, and ran with the implications.
Watch the video, then continue reading:

Ok, now that you're caught up, read the "rebuttal" from Snopes.com, which claims this "false".

Read it? Good. Let's recap the rebuttal:
Snopes claims that this is "false," that Beck was spreading rumors. Yet, they acknowledge that the disclaimer on the CARS website WAS misleading and poorly written, with the following statement:
This application provides access to the DOT CARS system. When logged on to the CARS system, your computer is considered a federal computer system and it is property of the United States Government. Any or all uses of this system and all files on this system may be intercepted, monitored, recorded, copied, audited, inspected, and disclosed to authorized CARS, DOT, and law enforcement personnel, as well as authorized officials of other agencies, both domestic and foreign.

This statement appeared prior to August third, and Snopes goes on to explain that
...the statement in question was actually tied to the 'Submit Transaction' function for the Dealer Support portion of the web site and related only to a login page for entry to the Enterprise Services Center (ESC) web site at esc.gov, which is used by automobile dealers (not consumers.) [Emphasis mine] who have been authorized and registered to participate in the CARS program. That statement did not apply to consumers who might use the site to obtain benefits from the CARS program; it was something consumers would never encounter in the ordinary use of the web site, and it was not something they had to agree to to claim benefits from the CARS program.

Now, Beck mentions that this is a dealer issue, yet "cautioned" (more like "scared") people watching into not clicking on the site, insisting that Obama would be reading your porn and using your credit cards. (Did Beck really say that, or am I spreading rumors now? If you watched the video, you'd know.)
And yet...Snopes does acknowledge the poorly worded terms of service via the EFF
(Electronic Frontier Foundation). From the EFF's article "What Glenn Beck Gets Right and Wrong":
Clicking "continue" on a poorly worded Terms of Service on a government site will not give the government the ability to "tap into your system... any time they want." The seizure of the personal and private information stored on your computer through a one-sided click-through terms of service is not “conscionable” as lawyers say, and would not be enforceable even if the cars.gov website was capable of doing it, which we seriously doubt. Moreover, the law has long forbidden the government from requiring you to give up unrelated constitutional rights (here the 4th Amendment right to be free from search and seizure) as a condition of receiving discretionary government benefits like participation in the Cars for Clunkers program.

The EFF article chastises the Beck piece as well regarding the scope of the matter, particularly the claim by Fox anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle:
They are jumping right inside you, seizing all of your personal and private information, and absolutely legal, Glenn, they can do it... They can continue to track you, basically forever, once they've tapped into your system, the government of course has, like, malware systems, and tracking cookies, and they can tap in any time they want.

My conclusion? The EFF article Title ("What Glenn Beck Gets Right and Wrong") is just a microcosm of the challenges that the opponents, nay ENEMIES of Obama will face for the rest of his term, having to fight "weasel-words." Notice that Beck was not WRONG per se, just "wrong" about the terms being dangerous to the consumers and their computers. He was right in principle, wrong on specifics. Responsible reporting would have followed up the claim with a response from the CARS.gov (as far as you can trust them.) There would be no unsubstantiated claims (though speculation is not off-limits.) But Beck STILL could have drawn out legitimate arguments, that even if the program does not hurt consumer computers in the short run, the very idea of a government program like this hurts in the long run. He could have focused on the FACT that the subjection of a car dealership to government control is a symptom of Fascism. I suspect the emphasis here on scaring the consumer, ignoring the implications for the dealers (and not just by Beck, but by Snopes.com), is a symptom of the "consumer culture" that treats creators and providers as "servants of the greater good."

(How many times already have we heard apologies for "poorly-worded" statements and claims? Sotomayor has apologized for her "Wise Latina" remarks, yet is supposedly "not racist...". Geitner faces no recriminations for his own tax evasion...many more examples, but the question is, are these just examples of mere incompetency, a la the famous "Bushisms," or are they convenient excuses anytime the administration gets called out on something that they are trying to "railroad" through? If the former, then it will make all those Leftists who attacked Bush's intelligence eat their words on just how "articulate" this administration was supposed to be...and as many claimed, will make Obama, in the end, nothing more than another Carter.)

That would be preferable to the alternative. But lest I be painted an alarmist myself, I will bring myself back to the theme here: as the White House snitching campaign rightly states, facts ARE stubborn things. Only, let's not let them own the moral high ground; let's fight this administration based on FACTS, not disinformation. It is tempting to fight dirty, but that's harmful to ourselves in the end, and will only create cynicism among those on the fence who might have been sympathetic. (And we really don't want to attract those who WANT to fight via dishonesty.) The Obama administration is already capitalizing on the "disinformation" angle; with the recent "call" for citizens to report "fishy conversation" about the Obama health care plan. They are COUNTING on the likes of Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly to play to the rumor mill, so they can say "GOTCHA! That's not what we said!!! See! The Republicans are fighting dirty!!!!) Meanwhile, they can continue with their agenda, because the particulars were challenged, not the principles.

Moral of the story: Being an honest opponent means not spreading disinformation and alarmism, while the administration continues to hide behind doublespeak. NOT for the benefit of the opponent, but for our own, because we are NOT lying to our enemies, but our potential allies. The enemies of Obama have to be on their "A-game." A-is-non-A for the Obamanation, but it is for us, because the more people like Beck get it "right but not right," the more it hurts our chances to expose the real issues. We need to fight Obama not on the concretes, but on the principles; THAT is how we will expose his double-speak. All the deception on the "issues" will continue to be obfuscated, unless we stick to, and highlight, the underlying principles of the individual. Don't be caught in argument with bad information based on the emotionalism of people like Beck; do your homework, get the REAL facts, know your REAL allies, and fight the REAL enemy.


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No Creedence Clearwater Revival here...

Jmaurone's picture

Just muddy waters...

Thanks, Jeff. No, I'm not giving HIM credence (to clear that up.)* I meant that they are SALIVATING at the chance to make the opposition look bad (my speculation is that they're setting up the opposition to do just that.) And I wish the other part DID go without saying. Unfortunately, as I've stated over and over again, Machiavelli rules. Sad

(But I am not a Republican, either; standard caveat applies.)

On the same page, sort of.

Jeff Perren's picture

Joe,

Sorry if I was unclear. I didn't mean to suggest that you were defending him. But you seemed to be giving him some credence, as if his taking "the Republicans" to task for espousing half-truths had some merit (i.e. that this is what they are doing).

I agree that one should always do one's best to have all the relevant the facts and present them well, never to exaggerate or distort, or argue in any way that would give the opponents of freedom any 'ammunition' with which to cudgel us. But that sort of goes without saying, doesn't it?

My point was that, no matter what you do, creatures like Pearlstein are going to lie about 'the right'.

I'm pretty sure we're on the same page here. Mea culpa for any confusion generated by writing in haste.

Jeff, you lost ME...I'm not

Jmaurone's picture

Jeff, you lost ME...I'm not defending him, all I meant was that the left is looking to show-up the right as being purveyors of disinformation and that we can't afford to give them that advantage. Let us call THEM out for their lies instead.

Huh?

Jeff Perren's picture

You lost me. Because Steven Pearlstein of WaPo, one of the most consistent apologists for "everything Obama, all the time" says in a column that Republicans are "misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well," it's therefore true? Or something we have to re-double our efforts to avoid?

Progressives like Pearlstein are engaged in pure projection. They will lie about your position, no matter how carefully you craft it. Getting your facts perfect is no guard whatsoever against the distortions that such people engage in daily.

Man, talk about poisoning the well...

[Update]"While holding themselves out as paragons of fiscal rectitude, Republicans grandstand against just about every idea to reduce the amount of health care people consume or the prices paid to health-care providers -- the only two ways I can think of to credibly bring health spending under control. "

Coming from Pearlstein I can well imagine that he can't think of any other way to bring down costs. This is the mentality of Progressives. So far gone that the very idea of a free market continually lowering real costs is simply inconceivable. So, of course, his only method for reducing demand or lowering prices is by Federal diktat. But that doesn't constitute a government takeover of health care, oh no. Pure fascist fantasy. Typical.

And then there's this...

Jmaurone's picture

And then there's this: "Republicans Propagating Falsehoods in Attacks on Health-Care Reform"

"The recent attacks by Republican leaders and their ideological fellow-travelers on the effort to reform the health-care system have been so misleading, so disingenuous, that they could only spring from a cynical effort to gain partisan political advantage. By poisoning the political well, they've given up any pretense of being the loyal opposition. They've become political terrorists, willing to say or do anything to prevent the country from reaching a consensus on one of its most serious domestic problems."

Which goes to prove my point that we need to be on our "A" game.

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