Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dialogue, not Diatribe

Even though July 4th is over, we certainly don't stop being Americans with civic responsibilities on July 5th! Let's keep exploring the history and structure of the U.S. government together...

Ever listened to a political speech and thought the statistics sounded a little too simplistic?

One online resource designed to help with this problem was the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize in 2009. The website, www.PolitiFact.com, is described this way:

PolitiFact is a project of the St. Petersburg Times to help you find the truth in politics.

Every day, reporters and researchers from the Times examine statements by members of Congress, the president, cabinet secretaries, lobbyists, people who testify before Congress and anyone else who speaks up in Washington. We research their statements and then rate the accuracy on our Truth-O-Meter – True, Mostly True, Half True, Barely True and False. The most ridiculous falsehoods get our lowest rating, Pants on Fire.

We also rate the consistency of public officials on our Flip-O-Meter using three ratings: No Flip, Half Flip and Full Flop.

We created the Obameter to help you assess the Obama presidency. Our reporters have compiled a database of more than 500 individual promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign. We research and rate their status as No Action, Stalled or In the Works and then ultimately determine whether it earns a Promise Kept, Compromise or Promise Broken.

Although you shouldn't stop at one source -- someone needs to fact-check the fact-checkers, after all! -- this is a good place to start looking into the details that may not make it into a five-second sound byte.

It's easy to get frustrated if television politics are a monologue, so why not take this opportunity to make it a dialogue the whole family can share? You can do it!

Keep your eyes on my blog for periodic snippets of history and trivia about the workings of the U.S. government.

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