[FRIAM] Fwd: Winds of Change
sasmyth at swcp.com
Sun Jan 8 14:40:34 EST 2012
At the risk of an infinite regression, how credible is FactCheck.org ?
I am anecdotally familiar with the Annenberg Foundation and it's agenda
in supporting good journalism and am inclined to want to believe they
are shooting straight. I spent a week as a guest of the Annenberg
School for Communications and Journalism a while back and was generally
impressed with their level of professionalism. I'm trusting that Tom
Johnson might be able to tell us a lot more?
Their arguments against this particular chain letter as outlined by
Brooks Jackson, the Director of FactCheck (or presented by him but
apparently researched by his staff?) seem relatively convincing (though
I didn't follow any of the references). He seems to acknowledge there
is something to *some* of the claims in the chain letter but mostly
seems to be denying/debunking the validity of the claims. He also
refers to the "anonymous sender" when the mailing Doug forwarded
attributes the suggestions to Warren Buffet, anything but an anonymous
or obscure source.
Doug says he checked Snopes.com but what I find is that only two of the
claims in the letter have been attributed to Buffet by Snopes and one
attribution was determined to be *mostly* false. Buffet *is* credited
with recommending that all members of Congress be ineligible for
re-election when there is a deficit. I don't imagine (personal
speculation) that Buffet necessarily meant this literally but was using
it as a hyperbolic suggestion to make a point or set a tone about fiscal
responsibility in Congress. The other claim Snopes looked into but
found *mostly false* was that members of Congress are not held to the
same laws as the rest of the population. The "partly true" aspect is
rather key in some sense but not as sweeping as the letter suggests.
Snopes also states clearly that the bulk of the text cannot be
attributed to Buffet as the letter implies.
Overall, I'd say the letter itself is *very* disengenious. The Snopes
analysis of it is accurate but does seem to leave room to assume they
validated it if one doesn't read carefully, and the Annenburg/FactCheck
analysis is also accurate but seems to be biased *against* it in tone.
In particular, I was left worried by the way FactCheck glossed over the
point about Members of Congress being held to the same laws as the
* "Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose." But as we've
explained before <http://factcheck.org/2010/01/lawmaker-loopholes/>,
the idea that Congress has exempted itself from many of its own laws
is also somewhat out of date. A law enacted in 1995
13 civil rights, labor, and workplace safety and health laws to
Congress, removing the basis for earlier criticisms. It's true that
members of Congress retain a degree of immunity from arrest or
prosecution, but changing that require an amendment to the
which grants that immunity in Article I, Section 6. (The authors of
the Constitution didn't want any president to try what King Charles
I of England had done in 1642 --- sending troops to arrest his
in Parliament.) The message is confused, at first mentioning earlier
constitutional amendments, but then describing the proposal as an
"act," which refers to legislation.
This analysis does not acknowledge that the remaining immunity to arrest
and prosecution is still rather questionable and the argument about
Charles 1 in 1642 is at best a good reminder of the possible abuses of
executive power. I don't know how many examples there are of members
of Congress avoiding arrest and prosecution abusively... I'm sure that
has been compiled *somewhere*! I believe that in our own state we have
a few politicians who have evaded or delayed the consequences of some
pretty bad activities under some variant of this immunity. It also
glosses over the point that it *did* take the 1995 law to ensure that
the Congress was NOT immune to the array of laws that it apparently had
been avoiding/ignoring previously?
As an anecdotal experiment/quest, I'd like to ask this list of 300 or
more (500?) if they have *ever* received a chain letter that *wasn't*
duplicitous at some level? I know we've all received chain letters
whose central message we might *agree with* but I've *never*, on closer
inspection found them to be accurate and complete. I've *always* found
them to be scattered with misleading rhetoric (at best) and outright
lies at worst. I wonder if others on this list have examples which are
My guess is that when trying to spread an honest and accurate message,
one is not inclined to resort to explicit chain-letter formulations but
rather allows the message to sink in and be analyzed on it's own merit
without the unction to magically/quickly infect the infosphere overnight
with it's message.
If this letter incites you in any way, please resend it to your entire
address book and attribute it to having come from some high authority...
perhaps you were handed this on stone tablets provided by god, or maybe
golden plates burned for you by some chap with wings named Moroni. If
you do this, you will start the internet ringing with reflected messages
from all your first, second, third order connections. In fact, if it
works I guarantee you you will get a copy of this from Kevin Bacon
himself as well as the long lost Ghost of Paul Erdos!
> Great Catch, Robert. I am afraid my finger was hovering over the send
> button. Gawd I have such naïve fingers. I did wonder, though, about
> the pension claim. And also, I am not so keen on term limits, unless
> lobbyists also have them. Nick
> *From:*friam-bounces at redfish.com [mailto:friam-bounces at redfish.com]
> *On Behalf Of *Robert J. Cordingley
> *Sent:* Saturday, January 07, 2012 8:09 PM
> *To:* The Friday Morning Applied Complexity Coffee Group
> *Subject:* Re: [FRIAM] Fwd: Winds of Change
> You might want to check this out first:
> Robert C
> On 1/7/12 5:01 PM, Douglas Roberts wrote:
> I don't think I've ever done a chain letter before, but I thought this
> one was worth making an exception.
> On the other hand, I have so little respect for the voters of this
> country who allowed us to get into our current state.
> But still...
> Winds of Change....
> Warren Buffet is asking each addressee to forward this email to a
> minimum of twenty people on their address list; in turn ask each of
> those to do likewise.
> FRIAM Applied Complexity Group listserv
> Meets Fridays 9a-11:30 at cafe at St. John's College
> lectures, archives, unsubscribe, maps at http://www.friam.org
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