Patterico's Pontifications

8/26/2011

Slow Liberal Blogger Calls Fox News Liars… For Correctly Reporting on a Presidential Proclamation

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 2:21 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

I try not to pay too much attention to Ken Ashford.  Indeed, he won’t even get the benefit of a link out of this, but this stupidity is something to behold.  The following is the entirety of a post at his stupid little blog:

Fox News Makes Stuff Up, Part 294

Fox News says:

President Obama has declared Aug. 26 — which marks the 91st anniversary of the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote — to be “Women’s Equality Day.”

Wrong.  Congress decided that August 26th is Women’s Equality Day.  In 1971. Obama is merely following in the path of past presidents.

Now first, let’s say for the sake of argument that they got it wrong.  What of it?  Does this make him look bad?  There are very few people seething in anger that women are allowed to vote now, but I suppose the left thinks that the right is ready to repeal that amendment.  (Rolls eyes.)  But when two of the leading Republican Presidential contenders are women, its really hard to argue that mainstream conservatives want to run women out of political life.

But in fact if you go to the White House’s website, you see the whole thing.  It is styled as a “Presidential Proclamation–Women’s Equality Day.”  And it goes on as you would expect these things to go, until it says:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim August 26, 2011, as Women’s Equality Day.

So here is the President purporting to “proclaim” it is Women’s Equality Day.  And if you go to Webster’s dictionary online and take a look at definition 1a for the word “proclaim” here is what it says:

to declare publicly, typically insistently, proudly, or defiantly and in either speech or writing

(emphasis added.)  And it would hardly surprise you to learn that if you switch over to their thesaurus, they list “declare” to be a synonym of “proclaim.”

So in fact he is angry at Fox news for saying that the President did something that the President himself purported to do, and I am willing to bet that every president has purported to do for decades.  Because in the end a declaration or a proclamation, can be nothing more than officially saying something.  Of course proclamations can (potentially) have important legal effects, the Emancipation Proclamation springing to mind, but many proclamations are just words—an example of the president using the bully pulpit.  The President is not, by the language of this proclamation, purporting to command us to do anything, just saying non-coercively, “hey, let’s celebrate this thing.”

And right on for Obama doing that in this case.  We should all celebrate the important milestone represented by the Nineteenth Amendment.

But it is really remarkable that what is basically a puff piece on a presidential proclamation becomes some kind of slander in the fever swamps of the left.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Did an Editor of a Major Newspaper Threaten to “Crush” Rick Perry?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 1:00 pm

Via Hot Air Headlines, a fellow named Douglas MacKinnon says:

With exactly that mission in mind, an editor of a major newspaper told me: “We plan to declare war on Rick Perry and do all in our power to crush him.”

There you have it. No pretense of integrity, professionalism or of unbiased news-gathering. This particular newspaper plans to use its very considerable resources to destroy the Perry campaign before it gains momentum. Period.

This is a very serious allegation. While it is easy to believe that a Big Media editor might say something like that to someone s/he trusted, it seems to me that if this quote is accurate, we should be told who the editor is. Or, at the very least, shouldn’t Mr. MacKinnon explain why he is not telling us?

Steve Benen Fails Logic, Statistics

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:07 pm

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Hey everyone, it’s time to play “stupid or lying,” when you try to figure out whether a liberal is intentionally misleading you or is actually too stupid to understand what he read.

The set up is this.  In Florida, the Governor is Rick Scott who is a Republican.  Yeah, are you shocked that Benen is about to denounce a Republican?  Anyway, Scott argued that welfare recipients were more likely to do drugs and therefore proposed that welfare recipients should be drug tested before they receive benefits.  This is how it works.  If you apply you are told you must, at your own expense, obtain a drug test.  If you pass then the state reimburses you for the cost of the test; if you fail, then you lose both the cost of the test and your welfare benefits for a year.

So Benen writes triumphantly:

How’s that working out? Not well.

Since the state began testing welfare applicants for drugs in July, about 2 percent have tested positive, preliminary data shows.

Ninety-six percent proved to be drug free — leaving the state on the hook to reimburse the cost of their tests.

As part of the Scott administration policy, those applying for benefits have to pay a $30 out-of-pocket fee to pay for the drug test. If they pass, Florida reimburses them.

And while the state saves some money by not making benefits available to those 2% who fail the test, Florida is forced to reimburse everyone else, plus pay for staff and administrative costs for the drug-testing program, plus pay the legal fees associated with the likely court challenge.

This really wasn’t a great idea.

But let’s break that down.  First, he implies but doesn’t say that 2 percent is a low number.  But is it?  Just how many people do illegal drugs in the first place?  Some wag once said that there is no such thing as an accurate sex survey; I would say the same thing about drugs.

But there is a bigger problem, there.  That group is a self-selected sample.  This number shows how many people currently on drugs who chose to apply for welfare knowing that they were going to be tested for drugs—and likely will have to bear the costs of the test itself.  Look, drug users are probably not the brightest bunch as a group, but is it fair to assume that maybe 9 out of every 10 drug users are not that dumb?

Indeed the article he quotes from makes exactly the same error Benen makes:

More than once, Scott has said publicly that people on welfare use drugs at a higher rate than the general population. The 2 percent test fail rate seen by DCF, however, does not bear that out.

According to the 2009 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, performed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, 8.7 percent of the population nationally over age 12 uses illicit drugs. The rate was 6.3 percent for those ages 26 and up.

A 2008 study by the Office of National Drug Control Policy also showed that 8.13 percent of Floridians age 12 and up use illegal drugs.

[ACLU spokesman Derek] Newton said that’s proof the drug-testing program is based on a stereotype, not hard facts.

Except of course as I just showed that is faulty statistics due to selection bias (not to mention that I don’t trust surveys to gauge drug use).  But the extra interesting thing is that the preliminary data actually suggests that Scott might be right.  Consider this.  At one point in the article says:

Having begun the drug testing in mid-July, the state Department of Children and Families is still tabulating the results. But at least 1,000 welfare applicants took the drug tests through mid-August, according to the department, which expects at least 1,500 applicants to take the tests monthly.

You catch that?  They had 500 applicants less than they would expect in most months.  Indeed throughout the article they assume that there will be between 1,000 and 1,500 applicants.  For instance they write that

[a]ssuming that 1,000 to 1,500 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe about $28,800-$43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who test drug-free.

But that is directly contradicted by the last quoted passage.  The last passage stated that the department “expects at least 1,500 applicants to take the tests monthly.” (emphasis added)  So according to the state DCF, they expected more than 1,500 applicants, and therefore the number of applicants was below normal.  And even if the 1,000-1,500 range is accurate that still puts the 1,000 applicants they did get on the low end of the normal range.

Now this is just one month and thus you are nowhere near establishing a trend but isn’t it funny that the very first month of testing we see a dip in the number of applicants?  And if the next eleven months has only 1,000 applicants per month what would that imply about Scott’s argument?

Benen goes on to imply, but not quite say, that it costs more to

reimburse everyone else, plus pay for staff and administrative costs for the drug-testing program, plus pay the legal fees associated with the likely court challenge.

The funny thing is that the article he is quoting from makes it pretty clear that some of those costs are known to be lower.  Let me quote to you the parts he doesn’t want his readers to read:

Ninety-six percent proved to be drug free — leaving the state on the hook to reimburse the cost of their tests.

The initiative may save the state a few dollars anyway, bearing out one of Gov. Rick Scott’s arguments for implementing it….

Cost of the tests averages about $30. Assuming that 1,000 to 1,500 applicants take the test every month, the state will owe about $28,800-$43,200 monthly in reimbursements to those who test drug-free.

That compares with roughly $32,200-$48,200 the state may save on one month’s worth of rejected applicants.

Now that does still leave the issues of 1) administrative costs and 2) litigation expenses.  And it’s funny that liberals never worried about litigation expenses when passing laws like Obamacare, but I suppose they figure that since lawyers overwhelmingly support the Democratic Party, then litigation should not be considered a bug but a feature for their proposals.  But snide comments aside, the truth is that Benen and the article he quotes from don’t offer the slightest estimate of either figure.  And of course if this results in reduced drug use—either because potential recipients clean up in order to obtain benefits, or because they don’t have enough money to buy the stuff—then that will result in savings in police departments, prisons, child protective services (because they don’t have to take yet another child from a drug-addicted parent) and so on.  And of course it would be difficult, if not impossible, to tabulate those savings.  With all of these unknowns and with the program only having been in place for a month and a half, Benen is ready to declare it a failure.  That is, at best, grossly premature.

So back to the original question.  Is he lying to you, or is he just too stupid to understand what he wrote?  I am going with lying, given the selectivity of his quotations of his source.  But aren’t liberals supposed to be the people who question authority, who are inquisitive, etc.?  Take for instance this smug passage from a Deepak Chopra column:

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“Climate models will have to be revised;” Once Again Climate Science Makes Major Mistakes

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 11:56 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

You see, it turns out that cosmic rays have a significant influence on cloud formation and cloud formation has a significant influence on global temperatures.

And none of the current climate models took any of that into account.  Seriously, read the whole thing over at Pajamas Media.

And then ask yourself this: are you confident that they didn’t miss anything else?

They should not be allowed to screw up our economy and to take away our freedoms without solid evidentiary support for their claims.  And they are not even close to achieving that, here.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Sockpuppet Friday—The Divine Intervention Edition!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:59 am

[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

As usual, you are positively encouraged to engage in sockpuppetry in this thread. The usual rules apply.

Please, be sure to switch back to your regular handle when commenting on other threads. I have made that mistake myself.

And remember: the worst sin you can commit on this thread is not being funny.

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And for this bit of Friday Frivolity, we get this bit from an Islamofascist website: apparently the Earthquake was divine punishment by Allah for something or other.  I think the most amazing thing about this piece is that it was written after it became known how weak the quake was.  Via the Daily Caller:

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