Thursday, August 30, 2012

fact checking

I was talking with a friend recently about "non-biased, objective fact-checkers." My point I was trying to make to her was that in most journalistic circles, it appears that "non-biased" just means "centrist," but those are not the same thing. The facts are not always directly in between the Democratic and Republican parties.

"Objective," meanwhile, doesn't mean anything at all: nobody is objective and nobody can be objective, but everybody believes they are objective.

What I told her I prefer are wonky policy types who are more concerned with dealing with the evidence conscientiously than with being accused of being liberal or conservative. Perhaps that's just a fancy way of saying "non-biased, objective fact-checkers," but I feel like what Ezra Klein does is different than what Politifact or NBC News' in-house fact-checker does.

Here's a really interesting example of that from Ezra. Ezra attempts to make a circumspect post on the truths, lies, and misleading points in Paul Ryan's speech, but fails to find enough compelling true points to finish the post. In my opinion, most people who call themselves "fact-checkers" would have either added some questionable points to the "true" section to maintain "balance," or alternatively would have deleted the whole thing and just not said anything. Ezra posts anyway and shows his work, since his inability to complete such a post is a very important insight into Ryan's speech.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Romney's running mate

Did the Romney campaign really telegraph their choice before he made the official pick? That seems exceedingly silly to me. Are people supposed to get super jazzed over Paul Ryan? If he really does pick Ryan, my suspicion is a bunch of Beltway morons told him everyone would be ecstatic over this, when the truth is that probably fewer than 10% of voters know who the hell this guy is.

And let's be honest, the ones who do know him, know him as either nasal-voiced snoozefest or a faux-serious economic charlatan.

My record of predicting running mates is admittedly atrocious, but I would have put money on Marco Rubio.

I'll give Romney this, for what it's worth: Paul Ryan isn't Sarah Palin, and will never be Sarah Palin. This might make for one seriously boring ticket, but he's unquestionably a better choice than the one John McCain made.

Interestingly, a debate between Paul Ryan and Barack Obama on budgets, in a non-campaign setting, could actually be intensely interesting. Both of them are gifted at civil, polite, detail-oriented debates, and are of similar temperament if dramatically divergent political perspectives. We'll get no such thing in this campaign, though.

calling foul

Interesting development here in the preseason. An important detail: the usual refs are locked out due to contract negotiations between the officials' union and the NFL. These "replacement officials" are, in fact, scabs being double-teamed by the union whose picket lines they're crossing and the players, who are themselves unionized. Without having watched the games, it's hard to say whether it's true that these refs were "clueless" or were just being judged ungenerously by a hostile audience.

Frankly, I'm not sure it matters, either. Union workers may or may not be better or more qualified or more diligent than non-union workers, but that isn't the point of supporting unions or the reason to despise scabs. Unions should be supported because the alternative is to hand all power over wages and workplace conditions to the bosses. We've had that situation before, and it wasn't pretty.

Sadly, these are also the circumstances under which the NFL is hiring its first female referee. It's sad that Shannon Easton has to cross a picket line to break through this glass ceiling.