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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kevin Drum notes that Steve Benen is impressed at how unenthusiastic Republicans are about their presidential candidates 52% rate the field only fair or poor vs 46 % who rate it excellent or good.

Drum asks and speculates.

"But how unusual is this, really? Maybe someone with a vast collection of past polling data can weigh in on this, but I'm not sure that we're seeing anything all that out of the ordinary. "

I tried to comment with an iPad which semi ate my comment but allowed me to gmail it to myself. Google beats Apple and I beat on Drum below

Come on lots of polling data are available at for example that url/obama_fav.htm so and you can see that Obama has never been where Romney is with fav < unfav (see all throguh 2008). Same /C2.htm and see H Clinton generally fav > unfav and nothing much happening in 2008 same /k.htm see Kerry more undecided and not so popular but no particular dive during primaries. Overwhelming majority of Dems favorable ( rising from 53 fav 16 unfav Jan 8-9 04 to 82 fav 7 unfav Jan 29-30 04 in Newsweek poll). Dean not so liked ( and not the candidate) but rose fav 28 to fsv 42 in Jan 04 in usa today/gallup. Al Gore fav more than unfav in almost every poll in 00 one Fox after the election and 2 CBS. No swoon during primaries. Fa- unfav consistently positive and large in many many Gallup polls.

In contrast, Romney is fav-unfav= -18 and -14 in the past two polls ( 3rd newest a Fox with fav up). I find no other case of someone tanking in a January of a year which is a multiple of 4. Pollingreport doesn't go all the way back, but there was less polling back in olden days when we were early middle age.

In his next post he discusses McCain noting that Conservatives hated him during the primaries in 2008 and then presented him as the last hope for US Freedom during the general. This one is
www.pollingreport/l.htm search for McCain or
(I had to cut and paste the # as my Euro Keyboard writes it £. I will now go to twitter to add to #damnthiskeyboard thread).

Again nothing like this past month. McCain almost always polled with favorable well above unfavorable. I noticed no marked decline during the nuclear phase of the primaries and no marked recovery. He never came close to unfav-fav = 18% *and* he solidly lost the election.

Pollingreport doesn't go back very far. I'm not going to look at the sites of individual pollsters, let alone look for ink on paper. But I wouldn't be surprised if Romney is making polling history by winning a nomination with such high unfavorables.

I think very highly of Pearlstein and Drum, but they are talking about Michael Reagan as if he mattered at all. I'm sure he will campaign for Romney and I am sure it will make almost exactly zero difference. Romney's problem isn't that conservative opinion leaders (I mean Rush Limbaugh and Roger Ailes) don't like him. They will give their all for the party when he is nominated. His problem is that an immense huge giganticc plurality of registered voters dislike him. I doubt that anyone has ever been elected President after getting poll results like his.

This is mostly a statement about the relatively brief history of polling, I'm sure more people hated Lincoln, but you know, it is hard to win with 40% of the vote.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Freddster (noun): Fraudster who profits from conflict of interest at Freddie Mac (the knife).

Jesse Eisinger, pf ProPublica and Chris Arnold, of the public sector NPR News have the most interesting article about ruthless greedy uh socialism I guess at public sector Freddie Mac.

The idea is that Freddie Went long the interest payments on mortgages and not the principal repayments. This means the harder it is to refinance, the better for Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac also has huge regulatory power to decide how hard it is to refinance Freddie Mac insured loans. The conflict of interest is clear.

via Kevin Drum where commenter
Andrew Sprung wrote
"Could Einsinger and Arnold''s story have been prompted by an administration leak as a prelude to a recess appointment to replace DeMarco at FHFA?"

I hope so, or rather I wish I had any hope that it is so. But at least it is a hint that someone in the White House has decided to put pressure on DeMarco.
I also look forward to testimony by the Freddie Mac CEO Charles Haldeman who I expect will have considerable trouble recalling details (see HR Block)

Here is a summary of the conflict of interest from Eisenger and Arnold with human interest and Freddie Mac efforts to respond to the accusation deleted.

Those mortgages underpin securities that get divided into two basic categories.

One portion is backed mainly by principal, pays a low return, and was sold to investors who wanted a safe place to park their money. The other part, the inverse floater, is backed mainly by the interest payments on the mortgages ... . So this portion of the security can pay a much higher return, and this is what Freddie retained.

In 2010 and '11, Freddie purchased $3.4 billion worth of inverse floater portions — their value based mostly on interest payments on $19.5 billion in mortgage-backed securities, according to prospectuses for the deals.


It’s ... a big problem if people ... refinance their mortgages. That’s because a refi is a new loan; the borrower pays off the first loan early, stopping the interest payments. Since the security Freddie owns is backed mainly by those interest payments, Freddie loses.

Restricting credit for people who have done short sales isn’t the only way that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have tightened their lending criteria in the wake of the financial crisis, making it harder for borrowers to get housing loans.


just as it was escalating its inverse floater deals, it was also introducing new fees on borrowers, including those wanting to refinance. During Thanksgiving week in 2010, Freddie quietly announced that it was raising charges, called post-settlement delivery fees.

In a recent white paper on remedies for the stalled housing market, the Federal Reserve criticized Fannie and Freddie for the fees they have charged for refinancing. Such fees are “another possible reason for low rates of refinancing” and are “difficult to justify,” the Fed wrote.

A former Freddie employee, who spoke on condition he not be named, was even blunter: “Generally, it makes no sense whatsoever” for Freddie “to restrict refinancing” from expensive loans to ones borrowers can more easily pay, since the company remains on the hook if homeowners default.
Wow politifact has rated 4 claims by Mitch Daniels and didn't rate any as better than false ( one was worse - pants on fire).

Small sample but still an impressive record.
Simon Wren-Lewis writes that he is an anti-anti-Keynesian not a Keynesian.

I want to abolish the Keynesian school. Keynesian analysis should be part of the mainstream, and does not need to be embodied in a school of thought. However, for those that like schools of thought, I will replace it with a new one: the anti-Keynesian school of thought. It covers all those who attempt to dismiss Keynesian ideas like fiscal stimulus at the zero bound, or countercyclical fiscal policy in a monetary union, not through reasoned analysis, but by just labelling it Keynesian.

I comment

First he is right that there is an anti-Keynesian school of thought which rejects ideas because they are Keynesian (and without regard for the data).

However, there are Keynesians. People (some of whom are employed as economists) who think that the first think most contemporary macro-economists should do right now is re-read Keynes (except for the horrible suspicion that many many contemporary macroeconomists will have to read Keynes first before they can re-read him).

I am such a Keynesian. I think that Keynes is one of the very few most insightful commentators on the recent recession in spite of the disadvantage of having been dead for decades.

For example, let's go back to the early 80s. It is true that self proclaimed Keynesians had set great store on IS_LM-AD models with aggregate demand based on some sort of Phillips curve. Keynes specifically warned against doing this. Of course he didn't write "Phillips" as he wrote before Phillips, but his assrtion was clear enough that we can conclude that Keynesians in the 70s either forgot Keynes or decided that they had surpassed him.

Also there was some interest in the so called Lucas supply curve then. It is now agreed that the hypothesis that it was key to "Understanding Business Cycles" (Lucas is not just rejected by the data but was silly to begin with. But the observation that there could be a correlation between inflation and output due to price level perception errors even if the economy was at what Keynes called full employment was interesting. It was also interesting when Muth made that observation. It was even interesting when Keynes made that observation in "The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money" Chapter 20 section III paragraph 4

"(1) For a time at least, rising prices may delude entrepreneurs into increasing employment beyond the level which maximises their individual profits measured in terms of the product."

I am perfectly prepared to be convinced that you are not a Keynesian. In spite of our relative professional standing, I am not so convinced that you shouldn't be a Keynesian.

And now for something completely different.

Wren-Lewis also wrote

the label monetarist has many layers of meaning, from the very specific and policy related (money supply targeting) to the much more general and theoretical (money matters). These layers may be related, but they do not have to be.

Magari (if only) the range of meanings were that narrow.

I am a US born Italian resident non monetarist, but I dare suggest that monetarist has a third quite different meaning in the UK. It often is used to mean "somewhat like Margaret Thatcher" and is assumed to refer to hard core laissez faire and indifference to income inequality (or love of it). This conflation is not due to the Iron PM alone. Milton Friedman was a monetarist according to all three definitions and the word often indicates agreeing with Milton Friedman about a lot (uh oh my credentials as a non monetarist are in danger).

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Language:A Key Mechanism of Control

In this excellent essay Timothy Egan wrote

“Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”


Today, if you listen carefully to any Gingrich takedown, you’ll usually hear words from the control memo.

I've noticed this too. But what's with this old fashioned listening business. If I were computer literate, I would write a script which counted the number of times words listed in "Language:A Key Mechanism of Control" appear in transcripts of Gingrich's speech (especially when he isn't reading a prepared speech).

To be fair, the same script could count the frequency in speech by others. I never read the whole memo. I feel totally sure that Gingrich is still relying on it. The proof, one way or the other, is out there.

Has this been done (link please). If not do it (script and link pretty please with strawberries on top)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Matthew Yglesias goes over to the shades of grey side

I think. I haven't read the post. I just read a post on the post by Drum and flipped out.

Drum wrote

Matt Yglesias notes a tension in lefty thought today: the stuff we all support (better healthcare, more teachers, childcare, new infrastructure, etc.) is in the non-manufacturing sector, and yet we all cheer when President Obama calls for increased focus on manufacturing. So which do we want? More people working in manufacturing or more people working in service and construction industries? It's hard to have both, after all.

I support high employment in manufactuging. The reason is that I believe that people are paid more if they work in manufacturing than if they work in other sectors. These labor market rents are not considered by employers when deciding how many people to hire. The aim isn't just a sustainable trade balance but also "good jobs for good wages." The evidence supporting the hypothesis that high wage sectors provide better jobs (not just compensating differentials) to the same workers is overwhelming.

update: Is it still true ? Angus wonders. FRED failed me with an index of hourly compensation in manufacturing only from 1987 on. For what it's worth it doesn't show a trend of relative decline compared to overall non-farm, but 1987 was mostly post Reagan and, in particular, post a period of grossly over valued dollar and huge trade deficits.

Yes economists argued for decades that this can't be true and that our models show that people are paid (counting non pecuniary amenities) based on their ability. But believing in those models is like believing in Phlogiston. They don't fit the facts. If there are labor market rents, then the logic of propmoting manufacturing employment is clear. People get something for nothing if they switch from employment in services to employment in manufacturing -- well the data show they lose big if they move the other way. This happens when the shift can't possibly be a sign that the manufacturing employer learned that they weren't as able as they seemed, because it happens when whole plants are closed.

Two decades ago, there was an interesting academic debate on the topic. I claim it was settled. The people who were wrong (as usual) just changed the subject and ignored the data (as usual). Google scholar Larry Katz. In any case, you have to admit that we might want higher employment in one sector because of labor market rents. The argument that the market knows best requires the assumption that the labor market clears. That is that there is no unemployment. I promise you that this is clear.

" It's hard to have both, after all." Huh ?!?!? Have you noticed that the unemployment rate isn't exactly zero right now ? More generally that the employment/population ratio varies a lot and we might want it to be high. I will consider this to be just a slip (mostly). But one point is that, if the labor market doesn't clear, then we don't have any reason to think that we prefer employment to unemployment but don't prefer employment in one sector to employment in another. There are models in which one can prove that the government shouldn't favor one sector. They are models in which there is 0 unemployment. Relying on them is not a good idea.

On more narrow topics.

I don't think you can understand the widespread leftist and centrist support for infrastructure spending without considering the unemployment rate. Some might think that we should spend more on average over the next decades, but others think we should pull spending forward so that we spend more now and less in the future -- that the point of spending now is that we will have non falling down bridges then and won't have to spend then. Supporters of more infrastructure spending now and in the future can agree with supporters of more infrastructure now and less in the future about what to do now. But it just isn't true that Obama says he supports high government spending now and in the future.

Also the supporters of high spending on education and infrastructure don't argue that it is an substitute for manufacturing -- that our goal is to be able to recite Shakespeare we drive our foreign made cars down nice new highways. Rather it is that infrastructure and education are needed for high manufacturing productivity so that the effect will be that employment now in infrastructure and education will cause higher manufacturing employment in the future.

Finally (whew) there are sectors other than manufacturing, infrastucture, education and health care. For example FIRE. It is very easy to argue that we would be better off if fewere people worked in financial services (Yglesias argues this frequently). One might suspect that they are working away separating fools and their money, that is they would be out of a job and their clients would be better off if those clients decided to buy and hold the market portfolio instead of trying to beat the market and losing. This is definitely your view and Yglesias's view. But somehow you forget it when discussing sectors other than manufacturing. This was not a slip. This was contrarian BS.

Or how about real estate. And now that I mention it construction of housing. One might think we would be better off with smaller houses and more manufacturing, infrastructure education and health care. One might note that the current policy isn't neutral but involves huge subsidies for the mortgage interest deduction. One might be Matthew Yglesias proving that Matthew Yglesias wrote that post as a contrarian dweeb.

Or how about insurance ? Some people think we could get just as much health insurance with much lower employment and cost if we had single payer or a public option or Medicare buy in. The evidence for this view is overwhelming. One of those people is named Matthew Yglesias. But he forgot about the bloated private health insurance industry when aiming to channel his inner Kinsley and write some pointless contrarian BS.

He knows better. You know that your devastating critique is just one of many valid devastating critiques. His post was a provocation. That is, he is going over not to the dark side but to they many shades of grey side.
ResurgentRomney quotes Steve Singiser on ResurgentRomney ?

"The evidence lies, as it often does"

Friday, January 27, 2012

Mitt Romney LDS yes LSD no

Wolf Blitzer asking Romney to repeat the charge.

“I haven’t seen the ad, so I’m sorry, I don’t get to see all the TV ads,” Romney said. “Did he say that?”

The fact that Gingrich did say something like that is a bit awkward for Gingrich, and has been for quite a while. But there was plenty of awkward to go around: Turns out the ad Romney said he’s never heard of is running on the radio from his campaign — and Romney’s voice, in Spanish, is on the end saying he approved it.

This Time Mitt Romney said something which is true (I think I will devote this blog to reporting all of his non-lies -- plus other things as I want to blog freequently).

It depends on what the definition of "seen" is. He has heard the ad, but sticking to LDS and not LSD he hasn't seen it man. The problem is that, like Bill Clinton, he is too clever by half. His denial is technically true, but gives the impression of very deliberately misleading. It adds the insult of outsmarting Wolf to the injury of trying to mislead us.

In fact, his campaign's defense is that he made an honest mistake (better than a much too clever dodge).

“We’ve had about 85 web videos, radio ads, and TV spots that have been up and running which he has reviewed and approved,” Fehrnstrom told TPM. “He doesn’t recall every single one of them,

So Romney doesn't remember the claims he has made in public. According to Fehnstrom he has reckless disregard for the truth, not the sort of character flaw which would lead him to deny that his campaign made a claim in a TV ad without mentioning that it made the claim (which is substantially true) in a radio ad.

Fehrnstrom also mentions Politifact (see post below)

"Politifact looked at that ad, they looked at that specific claim, and they rated it mostly true.”" Here I agree with Politifact. Gingrich contrasted English with an un named "language of the Ghetto". Everyone infers that this other language is Spanish, but he didn't use the word. So the Romney campaign's claim is "mostly true" rather than just plain true, because they paraphrased (accurately I'm sure) rather than translating word for word.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


When is true not true ?

It isn't just private sector jobs growth. They also rate

"Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years." Mostly true. The post concludes

"Obama was correct when he said that "right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years." We think he may have overstated his administration’s role in achieving that, but not wildly so. We rate the claim Mostly True."

To summarize "Obama was correct ... Mostly True."

Huh ?!?

I also disagree with this one

“more Americans have lost their jobs under Barack Obama than any president in modern history”
The alleged fact check.

Romney’s claim is accurate if you count from every president’s first day in office to his final day
we arrive at a ruling of Mostly False."

Wow. Mostly false ? The claim as stated and quoted is accurate. But it doesn't mean what Romney wants to think it means. So an "accurate" statement is "mostly false."

Fact checkers should check facts.
The claim that Bill Adair doesn't blow goats is mostly true

He wrote this

In our first couple of years, we treated many of those claims very literally. If someone said jobs had gone up since a governor was in office, and we found the numbers backed it up, the statement earned a True.

About a year ago, we realized

what ? That the whole idea of fact checking is a mistake ? That true statements of fact aren't true ?

I e-mailed

I think very highly of Politifact. I congratulate you for the integrity it took to revise a very controversial half true rating for a claim of fact which you noted and note is accurate. I am not satisfied and will be one of God knows how many on all sides who object.

I think that if a claim of fact is true, it should be rated true. The supposed implicatoni or implied causal hypothesis is not your business.

You wrote "In our first couple of years, we treated many of those claims very literally." I read that as ""In our first couple of years, we fact checked." I think the post goes on to explain that you decided that fact checking wouldn't, by itself, eliminate the effectiveness of deceptive rhetoric on the political debate, you felt you could and should save the world, so you decided not to stick to fact checking.

OK but rename yourself "politifair" or "politicontraposthocergopropterhoc" or something. I like fact checking. You have decided that factual accuracy isn't the key issue. I liked Politifact exactly because of what it was for its first two years.

You agree that all of the quoted text is true. You couldn't decide if you should rate it half true or mostly true. You don't see how absurd your explanation is.

Also you discuss time pressure "20 minutes." You assume that you just couldn't get your fact check out an hour after the speech. What possible legitimate journalistic purpose is served by rushing so much ?

You note that you decided that the rating depended on context. I think this is a repudiation of fact checking and absolutely disagree. But before looking at the context, you had narrowed the options down to "half true" or "Mostly true". And you admit it. You decided that based on evidence which was, at the time, a forecast in your imaginations. How did you type the post without wondering whether to resign your position ? I ask for information.

Finally if the context is needed to make a quote complete enough to check, then the context must be quoted as part of the claim being checked. As it is, you put up a statement which, you agree, is 100% true but rate it mostly true, because of other text which you don't present as part of the claim of fact to be checked and do present as part of the claim of fact to be checked. Your position is that the quoted statement is true, but it is a misleading quote because necessary context was removed, by you.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What is the name of this crook?

Is it ok if someone reliably lies all the time ? Logically one can get the truth out of a reflexive liar by take a yes or no question Q and asking "If i were to ask you Q what would you say?"

I think journalists should try this with Romney. He lies more than I imagine possible even taking into account that he lies more than I imagine possible.

For example, he just broke down and admittedthat he pays about 15% of his income in taxes. I should have concluded that he doesn't pay about 15% of his income in taxes. Instead, I had to wait for the great Josh Marshall and Reuters (who are doing a great job lately) to explain to me that he probably pays much less by receiving incipome in tax paradises.

Mitt Romney should run for President of the Cayman islands where he pays his tiny taxes (don't tell him that they are a colony of the UK and don't elect their head of state -- Queen Elisabeth doesn't pay taxes at all).

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Pete Townshend and Paul Ryan - Behind Blue Eyes II

No one knows what it's like to be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes

No one knows what it's like to be hated
To be fated
To telling only lies

But my schemes
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be

I have vouchers only lonely
health care is purchased
it's never free

No one knows what it's like to cut these programs
Like I do
And I blame you

No one cuts back as hard on their seniors
None of your tax and dough
goes to you

But my dreams
They aren't as empty
As my conscience seems to be

I have vouchder only lonely
health care is purchased
it's never free

When my fist clenches, I am a tightwad
Before I spend it and have to tax.

If I smile tell me some bad news
Before I laugh and act like a fool

And if you swallow lies so evil
Put your welfare down the hole

But if you shiver I won't give you a blanket
Keep you warm let you wear my coat

No one knows what it's like to be the bad man
To be the sad man
Behind blue eyes
Top Ten Things Wrong with "Let's Provide the New York Times With a List of our Top Ten Lies"

The bad Kevin Drum who is a knee jerk defender of the MSM seems to have stolen the good Kevin Drum's password again. Drum beats Brisbane, but feels the need to introduce his endorsement of ohn Quiggin's proposal with a string of Obamanations.

Not in any particular order and I have no idea if I will get to 10.

1 OK this is the howler. Drum endorses Quiggin's proposal that the Times have a list of frequently lied about facts. To introduce this endorsement, he makes an absurd ridiculous attack on that which he is about to do. "Are we really as willing to allow the Times to be the supreme arbiter of truth as we think?" WHAT !!!!! The question is whether the Times should print something. Drum asserts that if we allow reporters to assert something, then we make them the supreme arbiters of truth. He makes many claims of fact in this post. Who made him the supreme arbiter of truth. I ask Drum (and demand an answer) "Do you assert that you, Kevin Drum, are the supreme arbiter of truth or do you admit that you made a totally bogus nonsensical argument ?" I see no third alternative. How the hell did Drum manage to decide that saying it is OK for someone to make a claim of fact is the same as declaring that person the supreme arbiter of truth ? OK really he didn't. But how the hell could a person as intelligent as Kevin Drum write such nonsense ? I am asking for information and actually almost hope that I might get an answer.

2. Setting up a straw man. Drum notes that many of Brisbane's critics were not thrilled when Politifact named the Democrats' claim that Republicans had voted to end Medicare the lie of the year. How can they disagree both with Brisbane and with Politifact ? Drum asserts that Brisbane's critics wrote that political reporters should report that a claim made by a public figure was the lie of the year. There is no other possible justification for his argument. I must have missed that critic of Brisbane. All the criticisms I recall stopped with the proposal that a claim be labeled false. None proposed that political beat reporters should evaluate relative falsehood of falsehoods (the "of the year" part). The comparison is obviously totally invalid.

3. But aside from the "of the year" part, there is also the "lie" part. The vast majority of Brisbane critics (among the dozens whose criticisms I read) argued that political reporters should report that false claims are false. Not all false claims are lies, there are also honest mistakes. To call a statement a lie, one has to make an inference about the beliefs of the person who made that statement. People often think they can do this without reasonable doubt (people are in prison for perjury). But I really don't recall any specific case of a Brisbane critic thinking that a beat political reporter should write that a statement is a lie and therefore state that it wasn't an honest mistake.

4. But aside from the "lie" and the "of the year" parts, some Brisbane critics (at least one him being me) don't think that beat reporters should even write that a claim made by a public figure is false. It is enough to report the documented facts in the public record which would be cited in an effort to prove that the claim is false. If the conclusion is obvious, it would be redundant for a beat political reporter to state it. if it is not obvious, it would be improper editorializing. Say on global warming, if a politician says that there is no consensus on the science, a reporter could look up the survey in which roughly 98.5% of people who have published in the peer reviewed climate literature are reported as saying they believe in anthropogenic global warming (a half assed effort to cite from memory as the preceding would clearly not be acceptable in serious journalism which this blog sure isn't). The reader might conclude that consensus means 100% so the reporter's claim of fact confirms the politicians claim. The reader might note that the reporter just reported the claim by (I don't know who but he or she better get the cite) that there was such a study and also assume that it was fudged.

To me the question asked by Brisbane is whether assertions of fact which meet New York Times standards of reliability (not 100% which is impossible but waaay over 99%) can be made in articles on politics even though they contradict claims made by prominent people.

I can see two sub questions. One is whether they can be reported if they are important enough (aside from evaluating the prominent person who made the contradicted claim) and realiable enough (also including the prominent person's claim as evidence against them) to be reoported in that article. I see no possible justification for deleting a claim from an article, because one learns a prominent person said something which contradicts it and even though the prominent person's claim does not substatially alter the balance of evidence. I am also sure that this would happen (except for the fact that beat political reporters do not report on facts relevant to the political debate except for what candidates and campaigns said and wrote, local color and a few quotes from normal people in the crowd -- the implausible part is that they would report on facts in the public record relevant to the policy debate not that they would delete those facts if reporting them proved a politician's claim false).

The second question is whether a claim of fact which is reliable (even counting the politicians word as some evidence against) should be considred relevant enough to report of it contradicts something the politician said. This is, I think, the real question. I think the answer is that of course it should be reported and it is shocking that Brisbane asked the question.

For the case of Mediscare, I would have no problem if politifact quoted the text of the House budget resolution which describes the voucher program which Republicans name "Medicare." I don't think any Democrats would mind a debate over whether that program is reformed Medicare as Republicans and Politifact argue or a fundamentally different program from Medicare which Republicans chose to name Medicare. I have no problem with reporting facts which tend to undermine the Democrats claim that Republicans voted to end Medicare, because a debate about whether the Republicans so called "Medicare" is or isn't Medicare is a useful debate about reality and proposed policy.

My problem with Politifact (and the part of Politifact that I just love and can't resist) is the pants on fire graphic. Politifact doesn't just report relevant facts. It draws colorful conclusions. I really enjoy that. Hell I skip the rest and just go to the pants on fire posts. But I don't propose that the Grey Lady turn into the orange, yellow and red flaming lady. I'm no sure that this is what anyone at all criticizing Brisbane advocated and I can remember no such advocacy. I think the comparison of what Brisbane's critics recommend and Politifacts pantsing people is a red, orange and yellow herring.

5. Ballance ( (c) Chris Cilizza)"I've sort of ignored the whole kerfuffle because the quality of the conversation on both sides was pretty willfully obtuse, " Drum is free to ignore whatever he wants, but he provides no support for his accusation. For one thing, the false symmetry suggests that there are significant numbers of people on both sides. One the Brisbane side I counted Brisbane and one of n commentors on his post. For another, Drum seems to argue one of three things 1) all contributions before Quiggins were pretty willfully obtuse 2) one should ignore interesting arguments because other people reach the same conclusions via pretty willfully obtuse arguments 3) MSM basher bashing is always right whether or not it has anything to do with reason logic or evidence. I choose box number 3. Look there is no need for Drum to explain why he hasn't already posted on a topic when posting on a topic. why did he go out of his way to insult someone or other ? Yes I know see answer three. Plus you did click "Obamanation" didn't you ?

6. And yet, if you insist on real-time fact checking being done in news stories, then you have to do exactly what John suggests. What is "real time" ? Drum sees a choice between instant fact checking and quoting without fact checking. He assumes that reporters just must report what candidates said yesterday whether or not they have time to check the facts. Clearly it would be intollerable for readers to not learn what candidates say in "real time." Also "real time" does not mean "in tomorrow's paper." It is computerspeek and has nothing to do with the times of the New York Times. Drum's rule is that it is better to be fast than accurate. I think I am being entirely fair.

7. An omission. Drum passed up a chance to repeat one of his best points. Brisbane argued that it will become harder for political reporters to check facts, because they will be spending almost all of their time on the bus. The assumption is that it is more important to report on a speech from the site (and not a video feed) and to report local color than it is to check claims of fact. As Drum has argued (linking to Chait) there is no justification for this in the age of digital communication. In fact, real time fact checking (really real time) is possible (bloggers do it) but only by people surfing the web.

8. "There's fairly broad agreement that quoting public figures saying something wrong about Subject X in a news story, and then correcting the record on Subject X only in a follow-up fact-checking piece, is a lousy practice. After all, everyone reads the A1 story, but very few people read the A17 fact check. The current system just doesn't work." What is this current system of which you speak ? I agree that would be no good, and I certainly agree that Brisbane asserted that it is the current system. But it isn't. There are page A17 fact checking pieces, but there are many repeatedly made false claims which are never checked in page A17 fact checking pieces. I suppose I should try to find 10 examples of false claims of some importance made with some frequency such that there is no such fact check. But no way will I do the work. The way to do it is to look at non MSM fact checkers noting things such as Al Gore never claimed he invented the internet and such like, then look for the MSM page A17 articles noting the same facts. In my heart, I am sure that many false claims are not corrected even on page A17. Brisbane suggests that there is ample fact checking, just not in the same article in which the claim is reported. I don't agree. He presented no evidence. You present no evidence. The very clearly implied assertion that there is a debate about the location but not the amount of fact checking is highly controversial and completely unsupported by evidence. To be fair, I admit that I didn't bother to do the huge amount of work to support the competing claim which I made based on my heart.

9. The repeated presentation of the Politifact pants on fire graphic strongly suggests that this is what Brisbane's critics demand. I can recall no basis at all for this insinuation. Yes this is objections 2, 3 and 4 warmed over. It is hard to get to 10.

10. Why the hell did you type 10 ? If you had typed 9, I would be done by now. If you had typed 8, I would still have a shred of dignity.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Johannas von Quiggin take note

Rick Santorum has no use for the Ivy League, or the economists produced therein. (He also expressed doubts about the Republican reliance on economists from the "Australian school." Likely he meant the "Austrian school,


Uh this isn't one of the three Republican hopefuls who are notoriously ignorant and gaffe prone.

I don't want to hear any whining about Howard or gloating over "Howard's End." He would look like a love child of Albert Einstein and Rosa Luxemburg in this crowd.