Patterico's Pontifications


PolitiFact’s Biggest Lie

Filed under: General — Karl @ 4:38 pm

[Posted by Karl]

The easy joke is that PolitiFact naming “government takeover of health care” as the 2010 Lie of the Year is PolitiFact’s biggest lie. I do not think that is true, for reasons which will become apparent below. However, there is plenty wrong with PolitiFact’s claim: (more…)

“World Public Opinion” Proves It is Ignorant About Significant Facts

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 1:06 pm

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

It’s really kind of a tedious thing.  Every week or so, liberals come up with another allegedly scientific study declaring that conservatives are stupid, misinformed, psychologically abnormal or something.  Today, it comes from an organization I never heard of before, called World Public Opinion.  This study is being touted by the spectacularly misinformed TPM as proof that Fox News leaves viewers misinformed.

But the hilarious part is that the authors of the study themselves are misinformed.  For instance, their first question is this “is it your impression that most economists who have studied it estimate that the stimulus legislation: A) created or saved several million jobs, B) saved or created a few jobs, or C) caused job losses.”  The first option is marked as correct.

Now first, that is an ambiguous question.  Do they mean net or gross?  In other words, do they mean the number of jobs “saved or created” numbered in the millions with or without it being offset by the number of jobs lost?  Because it is self-evidently true we have lost more jobs than we have gained.

But here’s the funny part.  Scroll down to the part where they allegedly prove what is the correct answer and read closely.  They offer two pieces of proof of their claim that the first answer is correct.  First they say:

“[The] CBO concluded that for the third quarter of 2010, ARRA had “increased the number of full time-equivalent jobs by 2.0 to 5.2 million compared to what those amounts would have been otherwise.”

But there are two problems with that.  First, um, we are going to trust the government to estimate the success of the government on this?  Really?

Second, that utterly fails to relate to the question, which is whether a majority of economists who studied the question believe this to be the case.

They do a little better with their second piece of evidence:

“Since 2003, the Wall Street Journal has maintained a panel of 55-60 economists which it questions regularly, in an effort to move beyond anecdotal reporting of expert opinion… In March 2010 the panel was asked more broadly about the effect of the ARRA on growth. Seventy-five percent said it was a net positive.”

Which is better, but again doesn’t prove the assertion.  First, once again, there is no evidence that this represents the majority of economists.  Second, there is no evidence they studied the issue—they could just be shooting their mouths off, or maybe even just trusting the CBO.  Third, growth is not the same as creating (or, barf, saving) jobs.  And fourth even then all they said was it was a “net positive” which lines up with answer B, not answer A, which they marked as correct.

They don’t fare any better with the next question: “Is it your impression that among economists who have estimated the effect of the health care reform law on the federal budget deficit over the next ten years: a) more think it will not increase the deficit, b) views are evenly divided, and c) more think it will increase the deficit.”  Allegedly A is the correct answer.

And once again, they go to the CBO, which everyone knows was manipulated by being required to make assumptions, like that Congress would not pass laws (like the Doc Fix) it ultimately did pass, stating that:

In March 2010 CBO released an estimate of how the then-pending health care legislation would affect the deficit if passed. CBO calculated that the net effect through 2019 would be to reduce the deficit by $124 billion (this figure excludes the education provisions that were also part of the legislation). Beyond 2019, the CBO estimated that the Affordable Care Act would reduce the deficit by roughly 0.5% of GDP.

But not only does that suffer from the same problem of having nothing to do with the opinion of economists who study it, but it’s also contradicted by later reports.  For instance in August of this year, the Washington Times wrote:

The [CBO’s] latest projections suggest that the net increase in the deficit attributable to the federal health care law will exceed a quarter-trillion dollars over the next decade.

And meanwhile they don’t even bother to quote the WSJ (why not?), but instead quote from Medicare Trustees:

Regarding Medicare’s contribution to the overall budget deficit, the 2010 annual report of the Boards of Trustees of the Medicare trust funds stated that “The financial status of the HI (Hospital Insurance) trust fund is substantially improved by the lower expenditures and additional tax revenues instituted by the Affordable Care Act. These changes are estimated to postpone the exhaustion of HI trust fund assets from 2017 under the prior law to 2029 under current law and to 2028 under the alternative scenario” (a model that made harsher assumptions). The trustees assessed that overall, “The Affordable Care Act improves the financial outlook for Medicare substantially,” although “the effects of some of the new law’s provisions on Medicare are not known at this time.”

Which not only doesn’t support their assertion in any way, shape or form, but if anything tends to undercut their claims.  If Medicare is in better financial shape does that suggest a reduction in spending?  It seems to me that the more well-funded a federal program is, the less likely we are to see deficit reduction.  Indeed an increase in spending necessarily results in an increase in the deficit unless it is offset by cuts somewhere else.

What this study is, is really a political paper pretending to be a scientific paper.  Which shouldn’t be surprising given the list of supporters they have.  Its funny how the same people keep turning up.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

Sockpuppet Friday–The Barack the Barbarian Edition!

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 9:00 am

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

As usual, you are positively encouraged to engage in sock puppetry 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, alot.

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


And I am going to try something new on this thread.  This literally might not work physically, or you all might decide this stinks as an idea.  Using one of those polling widgets, I have nominated imho the five best sock puppet comments from the last sockpuppet friday.  So vote for what you think is the best.

What is the funniest sockpuppet comment from last friday? free polls

Also, please note that there were some worthy comments that were too long to put in this poll.  And none of the nominees are mine, because that would be cheesy to nominate myself.

And is there a prize? Yes, there is. Respect. So there you go.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

The Princess is in Another Castle

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:42 am

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

For a little light Friday entertainment, we get to see this faux trailer for a gritty reboot of a classic Nintendo franchise (warning: NSFW):

Hat tip: Ace. And I have to say, that was really impressively done. The only downside? Now I wish I could play that game, that doesn’t exist.

And of course that reminded me of a similarly-themed bit on Robot Chicken:[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

I Won’t Call This a “War on Christmas”..

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 6:03 am

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

But at the very least its political correctness is annoying as hell.  First, we have these Lexis ads on TV constantly.  Here’s a print version along the same lines:

That is ripped from their website.  The TV ad says something like “No one has ever wished for a smaller holiday gift.”

First, I do find these Lexus commercials annoying as heck, just because of the sheer extravagance of it.  And most of the time, it is a husband buying a car for his wife, which means that the husband is not consulting her on anything; he is picking out the car for her, and everything about it, down the color.  Is that the idea of marriage? You make that kind of massive life decision for her, and expect her to be happy with what you picked out?  I imagine this appeals to the men who always order for their wives at restaurants.

By contrast, after I proposed to my wife and she said yes, I took her  to the jewelry store and we picked out the ring together.  I figured she would hopefully be wearing that for the rest of her life, so she better like it.

Second, you know what?  When you are married, and every gift comes out of the sweat on both of your brows.  So, yes, actually there is often a wish for a smaller Christmas gift.  A few years ago money was tight and I gave my wife a copy of her favorite movie on DVD, Serena Sabrina (the recent version with Harrison Ford).  No, I don’t get what she loves about this movie, but I know she loves it.  And this was how the conversation went:

Wife: Aw, that is so sweet.

Me: And I only spent $5 on it.

Wife:  AW!!!

Yes, she was positively happy that I gave her a nice, thoughtful gift without putting us in the poor house.  This is how real couples approach gift giving.

But, third, then what really made me annoyed enough to comment was that line.  “Holiday gift.”  Gee, what holiday are we talking about?  Which is the one that drives the vast majority of purchases at this time of year?  Indeed, what holiday is the reason why many retailers like Target and Walmart can keep their doors open at all?  Why, its Christmas, right?

No, I don’t think they are waging war on Christmas or anything like that.  I think they have become so politically correct that I am actually offended.  So let me get this straight, Lexus.  You want me to spend my hard earned money and buy my wife one of your cars as a Christmas gift?  Then why don’t you at least do me the courtesy of referring to this holiday by name?  If you want my Christmas money, then ask for it by name.  And if you call it Holiday money, I will be much less “in the spirit.”

Oh, and the term holiday is not as secular as many people think, anyway.  It means literally “holy day.”

Of course that doesn’t quite match the stupidity of this story:

A politically correct West Village YMCA has fired Ol’ St. Nick in favor of Frosty.

Kids who once thrilled at sitting on Santa’s lap at the 14th Street McBurney YMCA’s wildly popular annual holiday luncheon will now suffer the icy embrace of a talking snowman and his sidekick, an anonymous penguin, at today’s event.

Forget about bringing a list or checking it twice — Frosty doesn’t take gift requests, and doesn’t care if you’re naughty or nice….

“It wasn’t replacing; it was transitioning,” said John Rappaport, executive director of the McBurney YMCA. “We realized that change is sometimes good, and that Frosty is a great winter character who would appeal to a broader number of kids.”

The decision to ditch Father Christmas came down from McBurney branch administration, not the Y’s Chicago headquarters.

Yes, God forbid the Young Men’s Christian Association should have a symbol kind of, sort of* associated with Christianity.


* What I mean is that while Santa Claus is literally Christian in origin, these days lots of non-Christians celebrate Christmas and children of many faiths believe in him, including ones who are otherwise being raised as atheists.  So maybe have come to think of him as a secular figure.

Update: Apropos, I am going to attempt to post video of a man discussing an Atheist Christmas coloring book:

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

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