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Monday, August 18, 2008
AIM's Semantic Games
Topic: Accuracy in Media

Accuracy in Media loves to play semantic games -- witness its insistence that the CIA was not operating secret prisons, even though they were secret and people were imprisoned.

Now comes an Aug. 14 AIM Report by Jonathon Moseley that runs to the defense of AIM editor Cliff Kincaid over his claims that the Barack Obama-sponsored Global Poverty Act would cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars:

Obama’s Global Poverty Act is in fact a stunning and sweeping step toward socialism and one-world government. When we look beyond the seductive title, and read the actual contents, we discover that Obama and Biden are setting America up for imposition of a global tax, controlled by the United Nations. For the first time, the U.S. could be forced to adopt a global tax at the behest of an international body. The planned amount is 0.7% of America’s Gross National Product (GNP) or $65 billion per year, in addition to America’s current foreign aid budget.

Obama’s legislative record in this regard is so damaging that the left-wing blogosphere has gone into over-drive to muddy the waters. The left-wing “Media Matters” has gone on the attack, and others have taken up the chorus. When Senator Biden’s opponent for election, Christine O’Donnell, revealed Biden’s promotion of Obama’s Global Tax on Fox News, Media Matters attacked within minutes.

Rather than addressing the substance of Kincaid’s revelations, Obama’s defenders invent a straw man to knock down instead. Media Matters argues that S. 2433 does not directly impose any tax. But Kincaid never said that it did. As Kincaid revealed, S. 2433 is clearly intended to engineer, or lay the groundwork for, a global tax. Kincaid never suggested it would happen in a single step. Yet S. 2433 can have no other long-range purpose.

As Kincaid explained, the bill does not attach a dollar figure—and does not need to—because that is contained in the 2002 so-called “Monterrey Consensus,” which grew out of the 2000 Millennium Declaration, which is cited in the bill. Understanding this critical fact is a simple matter of reading the appropriate U.N. documents. The sponsors could count on the major media not to do so.

Yes, even though (as we've noted, along with Media Matters) the Global Poverty Act has no funding mechanism, doesn't commit the U.S. to a targeted level of spending, and doesn't give the United Nations the power to impose a tax on the U.S. -- and, thus, doesn't mandate what critics claim it does -- Moseley thinks it's a "straw man" to point this out.

Further, it's disingenous for Moseley to take refuge in the semantic that Kincaid "never said" that the act "directly impose any tax" since Kincaid has, for all intents and purposes, claimed that it does. From Kincaid's Feb. 12 column:

The legislation would commit the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of gross national product on foreign aid, which amounts to a phenomenal 13-year total of $845 billion over and above what the U.S. already spends. 

That's a pretty strong suggestion that the bill contains a funding mechanism, is it not? Moseley himself further muddies the waters by doing the exact same thing, referring in the very first paragraph of his article to "Barack Obama’s $65 billion-a-year 'Global Tax' proposal."

Moseley continues:

S. 2433 is clearly setting the stage for a global tax, by backing the U.S. into a corner. Once the U.S. commits through international diplomacy to the goal of contributing 0.7% of its GNP and the Congress enforces this goal through Obama’s legislation, the U.S is on the road to accepting the global tax to pay for it.

This is the critical point: S. 2433 mandates that the president actually implement these goals and not merely discuss them. A future president— possibly a liberal like Obama himself— would be obligated to actually “make it happen.” Obama’s bill does not just declare policy. It mandates actual implementation of the $65 billion-a-year “contribution” to foreign aid by the next president. If the U.S. has already agreed to this through Congress, the final step in international negotiations over implementation of a global tax will become difficult, if not impossible, to resist.

Like Kincaid, Moseley assumes that 1) current U.S. foreign aid would not count toward the U.N. goal, and 2) the only possible way for the U.S. meet the goal is through a "global tax" -- neither of whcih Moseley offers any non-speculative evidence to support.

Just as  the "Monterrey Consensus" that supposedly forces the U.S. to spend $845 billion mandates nothing -- indeed, it calls the 0.7% figure a "target," not a mandate -- the Global Poverty Act mandates nothing other than that the president "develop and implement a comprehensive strategy" on global poverty. After decades of ineffective U.N. leadership on world affairs, do Kincaid and Moseley suddenly think it has the absolute power to force the U.S. to strictly adhere to a "target"?

A target is not a mandate. Do Kincaid and Moseley understand the difference? Maybe not -- they also seem to think that the truth is a straw man.

Posted by Terry K. at 12:49 AM EDT

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