The Fact-Checking Fallacy

The media is obsessed with subjecting the Republican National Convention speeches to “fact-checking,” which as everyone knows is a special kind of media report that contains completely helpful, accurate, objective, independent, non-partisan analyses of things candidates say, as opposed to the usual slanted reporting of things candidates say.

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Thursday Links

1. Obama did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, which in theory is a pretty big deal, illustrating the way modern technology allows a sitting president to cut through layers of separation and communicate directly with citizens all over the country (We have come a long way from the days when most people could only read about presidents in the newspaper). Perhaps predictably, though, Obama mostly answered easy questions or stuck to vague talking points about things like the Internet and NASA, ignoring harder questions about things like the TSA or lobbyists or his betrayal on medical marijuana or the American citizen killed in a drone strike.

2. How the Federal Reserve Accelerates the Robopocalypse. The Federal Reserve has been keeping interest rates ridiculously low for an unprecedented length of time. It’s supposed to help the economy, but I sometimes wonder what unintended consequences this might have down the line. Victor Wong argues that this is actually hurting employment by encouraging businesses to invest in robot labor. I’m not completely convinced, but it sounds plausible. I’m generally optimistic that labor freed by technology will always find something better to do, but I read an argument recently (h/t @interfluidity) that “this time it’s different” because we’re finally starting to run out of options for people on the lower half of the IQ spectrum (read the skeptical comments as well).

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Fuel Efficiency Standards and a Hyperactive Government

Yesterday Obama announced new fuel efficiency standards that “mandate an average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon” by 2025. This is the sort of arbitrary government intervention that hits all the libertarian buttons – distorting the market, deceiving consumers, enhancing the corrupt link between big businesses and big government – although I have to admit it’s likely that it won’t make things worse and may even make them better. However, the mandate does illustrate how the government is so hyperactively involved in so many things these days that an attempt to fix something with one hand may break something it’s already fixing with another hand.

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August Outlook For Divided Government

Earlier I explained why I’m not afraid of the fiscal cliff, which means I’m also not afraid of a gridlocked, partisan government making it happen. It actually looks like we have a good chance of getting the trifecta of divided government this November. There’s no guarantees that Obama will be re-elected and that Republicans will keep the House and reclaim the Senate, but it’s increasingly looking like the default and most likely option.

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Obama At The Movies

I heard there’s a new documentary about Obama that interviews a plethora of people from the President’s past and purports to present his putrid philosophy and the precarious possibilities for our posterity if his previous policies are permitted to persist for four more years.

The film, titled 2016: Obama’s America, is off to a successful start, expanding to a bunch of theaters and projected to come in at #8 for the weekend. In fact, it’s already the 17th-highest grossing documentary of all time, and with a healthy per-theater average and two solid pre-election months to go, it seems guaranteed to climb higher. Maybe it’ll even dethrone Fahrenheit 9/11 from the top of the All-Time Documentary list (though I always thought it was a stretch to call that thing a documentary).

It looks like there’s a lot of money to be made in criticizing Obama. Some news articles are saying the movie is a “surprise” hit. If anything, I’m surprised it took the anti-Obama capitalists this long to turn conservative opposition into such easy profits.

But is the movie any good?

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Monday Morning Cop

Yesterday morning, there was a shooting in New York City by the Empire State Building that left two dead and nine wounded. We quickly learned that one man killed a former co-worker and was then killed by police. Tim Cavanaugh at Reason speculated that some or all of the injured bystanders may have been shot by the cops, and the Associated Press is now suggesting the same thing:

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First, we had the fiscal cliff. Now we have the fiscal clifflet. Expectations about the fiscal cliff mean we’re already sliding down it. And it’s steeper than we thought. I call all of this fiscalcliffmongering: spreading hype that an economic apocalypse is going to happen if Congress doesn’t delay a bunch of tax hikes and spending cuts in January.

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Todd Akin and Performance-Enhancing Facts

I like Todd Akin. He’s been my Congressman for many years, and while, like most Republicans, he loves defense spending too much to be a genuine “small-government conservative,” he also hasn’t been afraid to buck his party on expansionary projects like No Child Left Behind. But I sure didn’t expect him to turn his Senate race into national news.

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