Factchecking FactCheck

FactCheck.org “fact checked” Day 3 at the Democratic Convention. They did terribly.

  1. PF: “The president repeated a frequent boast that the U.S. “doubled our production of clean energy” during his tenure. Monthly renewable energy production has gone up 40 percent.”

    Politifact:

    The White House said he was referring to wind, solar and geothermal, which are three types of renewable resources promoted in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Energy Information Administration confirmed that capacity had basically doubled between 2009 and 2012, accomplishing Obama’s goals. Renewable resource advocates also agreed that the Recovery Act contributed to that growth.

  2. PF: “Vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine falsely referred to economist Mark Zandi as “John McCain’s chief economic adviser during the ’08 race,” in touting an estimate of job loss under Donald Trump’s proposals. In fact, Zandi is a Democrat.”

    Wall Street Journal, July 13, 2007:

    Sen. John McCain released a list of his advisory committee of economists Thursday. The list includes some well-known business economists.

    Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com, is one of the most widely quoted economists in news articles. In an interview, he said he became involved with the campaign over a year ago through Kevin Hassett, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and adviser to Mr. McCain in 2000. Though a registered Democrat, Mr. Zandi calls himself “eclectic … I’ve done work for both Democrats and Republicans.” On whether his advisory position would compromise the advice he gives clients, he said a possible conflict had yet to arise. If it did, he would recuse himself. Asked whether his employer, Moody’s Corp., had a policy on employees participating in campaigns, Mr. Zandi said, “I don’t know. I guess I’d better find out.”

  3. PF: “Obama said deficits have “come down” under his administration. That’s true, but they are expected to rise again soon under his proposed budget.”

    Sigh

  4. PF: “Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta falsely claimed that Trump “says he gets his foreign policy experience from … running the Miss Universe pageant.” Trump didn’t say that was his foreign policy experience.”

    USA Today:

    Donald Trump says he understands Russia, and in an interview Thursday, he offered a glimpse of where his expertise derives from.

    “I know Russia well. I had a major event in Russia two or three years ago, Miss Universe contest, which was a big, big, incredible event. An incredible success,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier Thursday night.

  5. PF: “Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid claimed that the GOP ticket wanted to “gamble” Social Security “in the stock market.” But Trump’s campaign has called for making no changes to Social Security.”

    Trump. The American We Deserve:

    The solution to the Great Social Security crisis couldn’t be more obvious: Allow every American to dedicate some portion of their payroll taxes to a personal Social Security account that they could own and invest in stocks and bonds. Federal guidelines would make sure that your money is diversified, that it is invested in sound mutual funds or bond funds, and not in emu ranches. The national savings rate would soar and billions of dollars would be cycled from savings, to productive assets, to retirement money. And unlike the previous system, the assets in this retirement account could be left to one’s heirs, used to start a business, or anything else one desires.

    Privatization would be good for all of us. Directing Social Security funds into personal accounts invested in real assets would swell national savings, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into jobs and the economy. These investments would boost national investment, productivity, wages, and future economic growth.

  6. PF: “Kaine claimed that Trump said he “wants to abandon” our NATO allies. Trump has said that he doesn’t want the U.S. to leave NATO, but has suggested he would not automatically defend NATO allies that do not pay their share of defense costs.”

    Does Politifact not understand how treaties work? NATO is not a protection racket, and we can’t just demand other countries pay for our services.

Hillary

She’s grown on me.

I was pretty lukewarm on her, initially. I wanted her to face a challenge in the primaries, which she definitely did. But the Benghazi hearing where she stomped on the little GOP witch-hunters is what started me coming ’round. The way she handled herself during the primaries was impressive, too. No, she’s not a natural politician. But she’s tough as hell, and smart, and I think she’s generally on the right side of things.

The sub-zero quality of her opponent helps, too.

The Earth is Not Moving!

In case you’d like some non-political lunacy in your day…

We live in a yin-yang world of duality where everything and its opposite exist together in perfect proportions like male/female, good/evil, hot/cold, knowledge/ignorance, inhale/exhale, dark/light, day/night and of course, sun and moon. Half our lives (the daytime) are ruled by the sun and half our lives (the nighttime) are ruled by the moon. When you look up at the sun and the moon they are in perfect proportion to one another as exemplified during an eclipse. But thanks to a total eclipse of the mind these nihilistic cosmologists have indoctrinated world-wide generations of people to believe Earth itself and all the planets revolve around the sun. That the sun is much larger and farther away, the moon is much smaller and closer, and it’s simply our coincidental perspective here on Earth that makes them appear the same size. They have convinced us that the very Earth on which we stand is spinning beneath our feet. So next time you’re wondering why it’s so difficult to awaken your friends and family to the Atlantean conspiratorial matrix, consider how deep the establishment indoctrination really is, and how easy it is to convince people that up is down and down is up.

There are hundreds of comments below it, where dozens of amateur and professional physicists pop in to point out how geocentrism was thoroughly discredited hundreds of years ago. Each one is dismissed with the same stack of conspiracy theories and pseudoscience – Fake moon landing! Coriolis effect has never been proved! It’s the aether! Copernican propaganda!

Good times.

Nope, not even during the DNC.

On the day after Hillary Clinton officially became the first woman to receive a major party nomination for US President, our pals over at Talking Points Memo have fifteen stories about Trump and two about Clinton. One of those two Clinton stories is about how Trump “raises the stakes” for “fans and skeptics” of Clinton. The other is a story about how newspapers today are catching flack for not featuring Clinton’s historic achievement on the front page – which TPM also does not. Heh. Irony.

None here, either. I assume nobody comes here for news.

Context

I find the safety obsession with self-driving cars to be amusing. Safety is the easy part. I’m sure they’ll be able to make cars which drive themselves on highways and have as good or better safety records as humans in similar driving conditions. Programming them to not hit things and to avoid being hit by things is, I would guess, the simplest challenge right now.

I disagree.

Here’s the scenario that convinces me otherwise:

You’re driving on a residential street. It just happens that there’s a birthday party in one of the houses ahead on the right. You can see a “HAPPY BIRTHDAY” banner in the front window. Cars are parked along the street, on both sides, in front of the house. Kids are playing with a ball in the front lawn.

Most human drivers will see the kids playing in the yard and will, at least a little, raise their guard. Kids, ball, street – balls have a tendency to go into streets. Maybe you slow down a bit, maybe not. But you’re probably going to start paying close attention.

You keep driving. And now you’re in front of the house driving between two rows of parked cars, slowed down a bit because it’s narrow, plus, kids.

Suddenly, a ball appears from between two cars immediately ahead on your right, bounces once, then exits between two cars on the left. What do you do? You slow way down, or even stop, because you already know that:

  1. there are kids playing in front of that house
  2. with a ball
  3. that ball just bounced across the street in front of you
  4. kids follow balls

At 30mph, you need 45 feet to stop (not counting human reaction time, which adds another 45 feet). 45 feet is about three car lengths. I hope you had already slowed down a bit. If you didn’t, you will never be able to stop in time.

In this scenario, knowing about kids and balls is what gets you to slow down enough to be able to stop in time. It’s not enough to react when the ball appears. You have to actually understand the situation and prepare yourself for the worst. Dumb sensors can’t do that. It takes some amount of intelligence. Would the computer in a self-driving car know how to identify “kids playing with a ball on a lawn”? Not today. In ten years? Maybe. With matter-of-life-or-death reliably? I wouldn’t bet my life on it. Maybe in twenty years? But until they can, self-driving cars will have to be limited to driving impractically slow except on restricted-access highways.

We’re So Vain

Love songs have always dominated the pop charts, and the current era is no exception. But today, the singer’s object of affection is very often that stunning someone they see in the mirror.

A new study reports self-regard, self-promotion, and plain old bragging are far more prominent in pop music than they were a quarter-century ago.

Putin Up With Trump

There is something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of circumstantial evidence for a financial relationship between Trump and Putin or a non-tacit alliance between the two men. Even if you draw no adverse conclusions, Trump’s financial empire is heavily leveraged and has a deep reliance on capital infusions from oligarchs and other sources of wealth aligned with Putin. That’s simply not something that can be waved off or ignored.