Fact Checking

It is harder than people think to know a “fact.” It has become fashionable lately to couch opinion attacks in the guise of fact checking. An egregious example is an AP check of a Newt Gingrich statement. The the Associated Press literally does not know the meaning of the word fact.

The incident came when Newt promised to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. AP "fact checked" this, saying that others had made this promise and it didn't happen. (I understand this is not "new" news. I use it only as illustration) This may be a good argument, but it is NOT and can never be a "fact check" because it is analyzing a hypothetical situation that would take place in the future. There just CANNOT be any "facts" about future events.

People like me like facts. I like to quote John Adams who said. "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." Or even more practical from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts." But facts are not what they used to be. The latter quote illustrates that. It is likely that Moynihan did not say that, or at least he did not originate it.

I was a nerdy kid. I used to read the "World Almanac" and then I would dazzle/baffle/bore my friends with my ersatz erudition. Knowing lots of facts was seen as a sign of intelligence back in the halcyon days of my youth. In the intervening time, however, I have noticed that facts change. Some change is unsurprising. Populations grow and cities change. The facts of these things are ephemeral by nature. But I have seen lots of hard realities change. I used to know a lot about dinosaurs. Many of those facts are now wrong, as are many things I learned about biology, ecology and even physics. Textbooks full of "facts" written in the 1950s are now obsolete and these were supposed to be the hardest of all hard facts, the product of our proud science. Our current "facts" are unlikely to do age any better.

The fact about facts is that they often come with an expiration date and they do not travel well. Brazilians credit Santos Dumont with inventing the airplane in 1906. An airport in Rio is named after him. Americans know the Wright Brothers did it three years earlier. Both things can be "facts" because the fact about facts is that they are usually not facts, but rather constructs that most people in a particular time and place agree should be true. Worse yet, what makes a "fact guy" like me profoundly dejected is that we are leaving the "age of facts" and entering or reentering an age when what we know is more fluid and open to interpretation.

Facts as we know them today cannot exist is a mostly illiterate society and did not really exist at all until the invention of the printing press. Let me be clear. I am not saying that truth did not exist, but facts, in the sense of a checkable specific requires writing. Without something in writing, you have to depend on human memory, which is notoriously mutable. Even when people are trying to tell the whole truth, they will get "facts" wrong. Worse yet, human memory changes in response to changing conditions and requirement. Memory is not like a book or a movie. It is not stored in your brain as a file. Instead, you have to recreate memory each time you want to use it. Past events, present conditions and future aspiration mix, so your memory of things past isn't only about those things past.

This is why oral history - as history - is not worth the paper it is printed on and also why oral history tends to seem more logical than the real thing and makes a better story. Especially if it has passed through many minds and maybe many generations, the stories have been rationalized and coordinated with prevailing cultural norms. Legends are always more entertaining than the facts.

Thanks to Internet and greater diversity of our populations, we are reentering the age of legend, as opposed to fact. We left the age of legend - at least in the West - when Gutenberg's invention became widespread. But if printing created the concept of fact, how can the much more widespread use of the equivalent of the printed word destroy it?

The Internet "printed word" is not the same thing as a word on paper. The Internet word is mutable and often anonymous. A printed word on paper has a source that you can find. There is a publisher, who you can trust ... or not. Whether or not you trust the source, you can judge it. Furthermore, there are a limited number of publishers. Finally, your book will not change if the author changes his mind. This is not true of other sources.

George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have changed aspects of "Star Wars" or the Indiana Jones films to fit in better with their later films or with changing societal mores. I saw "Return of the Jedi," formerly Star Wars #3 now #6 in the eponymous Saga. I remember the original with the ghost of Darth Vader. He was an old, bald guy. Now he is the young long-haired actor who played Darth Vader in the prequels. Lucas claims he had the whole idea thirty or forty years ago and he altered the historical record to support his claim. (The "first" three are really crappy, BTW, and I can well understand why Lucas feels the need to support them any way he can.)

You really cannot tell for sure what they have done if you have no comparison. I rely on my imperfect memory. Others have the concrete "proof" of the picture on the screen. (Ironically, this is exactly what the dystopian totalitarian state did in George Orwell's 1984. Ingsoc (English Socialism in newspeak) theorized that all knowledge belonged in collective mind of the Party and they have had right to change history as they change their collective mind. "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future." Winston's (the main character) job was to systematically alter the past to fit the current needs of the party. But in those days, he had to physically destroy paper.)

Of course, you still can check in some cases. For example, on a recent episode of "Glee" (which Chrissy likes, not me) I noticed that when they sang "I feel Pretty" from West Side Story, they sang that "I feel pretty and witty and BRIGHT." In the original, Maria feels "Pretty and witty and GAY." The word didn't mean homosexual back then. Modern writers feel the need to go with the PC meaning rather than the dictionary.

On the other hand, I have a copy of the "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" that my mother gave to my father before I was born. When I look at those yellowed pages, I am morally certain that nobody has altered a word to make it fit in better with current prejudices.

Most of what the Internet has done to spread information is good, although my own results are mixed. I feel a little less smart today because of it. My encyclopedic knowledge used to be admired. Now my son just tells me that I have "wiki-intelligence" which he can duplicate or surpass on his computer. He is right. But I do worry about matters of fact.

Sometimes on the Internet, I find things that are just wrong. It is especially true when somebody asks a question and then chooses the "best answer". Sometimes my old books, written and printed closer to the fact in question, tell me a different thing. The Internet makes difficult or almost impossible the formerly reliable, if painstaking, process and analyzing texts. Not only cannot you find the physical source, you often cannot tell where the source comes from and have no way of even guessing whether it has been altered.

I studied historiography many years ago. Those who know what that is, know that it is not history. It is the study of the creation of history. In one of my seminars, we studied Polybius and not only traced back to his sources but also looked forward to historians who used Polybius as a source, sometimes w/o even knowing it. It was a truly fascinating few months and it made an impression on me that lasted (so far) a lifetime. I learned that the weight of sources is less important than their lineage. Some of the most elegant narratives are just not based on reliable sources and it doesn't matter how popular they are or how logical they sound. They are wrong. If you find the weak link in the source, you don't have to argue anymore about details. All those analysis that depend on the source are wrong too. Of course, nobody will really believe you if the story is good. The legends are more fun.

Somebody might even "fact check" you using one of those weak link sources.

Posted by Christine & John at December 18, 2011 8:46 AM
Comments
Comment #333203

This is nothing new. Print sources can be manipulated and doctored as well. I recall an image of Stalin walking with one of his subordinates along a river. That subordinate was later condemned in a purge and the image was then doctored to pretend that he had never existed.

Posted by: Warped Reality at December 18, 2011 3:17 PM
Comment #333205

Warped

Agree - as the 1984 story with Wilson illustrates.

The difference is that you have to doctor the source in paper and get rid of earlier versions.

As I mentioned in the post, I used to study historiography. It was always fun to check sources. We can still do that with Internet sources, but there are lots of people adding in bogus sources.

BTW - I remember a picture of Mao on the long march. Each year fewer people were in the background. One difference is that with today’s technology you can put people in easier, as with the new Darth Vader. I used to enjoy looking at old films etc to see the changes. Now I cannot be sure.

Posted by: C&J at December 18, 2011 3:24 PM
Comment #333207
The difference is that you have to doctor the source in paper and get rid of earlier versions.

The same is true with the internet. There are many organizations that regularly store caches of websites. The most prominent of these is www.archive.org. No matter how hard one tries, the truth will always exist in some contradictory source that still exists. I remember an important scene from Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master and Margarita. The Master burns a manuscript he has written; later at a critical moment Woland gives the same manuscript back to the Master. The Master cannot believe what has happened. Woland replies, “Didn’t you know that manuscripts don’t burn?”

We can still do that with Internet sources, but there are lots of people adding in bogus sources.
There are also lots of bogus books out there. The thing that is different today is that the cost of entry is now much lower. In the past, only someone with lots of money or power could afford to manipulate the past, nowadays nearly everyone can. I actually think it’s much better this way because it forces people to be a lot more skeptical about what they read.

BTW, 1984’s protagonist is Winston Smith, not Wilson.

Posted by: Warped Reality at December 18, 2011 3:52 PM
Comment #333210

Warped

Good points.

Thanks for the Winston correction. I will fix it in the original (i.e. alter the source to make myself seem smarter than I was).

It also indicates the need for even a great intellect like me to check sources :).

Posted by: C&J at December 18, 2011 5:37 PM
Comment #333235

Why go through all this Orwell-flavored rigamarole, when you can just look at the original article?

Is it true that America moving its embassy to Jerusalem would be a negative signal to the Arabs and Palestinians, above and beyond the continued existence and American recognition of Israel? That’s the first question you could ask. Second question you could ask is whether or not a 1995 law pushing that move has been in existence for all that time. Third you could ask is whether the move so ordered has been “routinely suspended” by Presidential authority. The fourth is why the three Presidents affected by that law has suspended that move.

It’s sort of a self-reinforcing theory. Nobody would suspend a move like that just because. Only the great controversy caused by that move would make it so politically radioactive that even Bush wouldn’t allow it to go through.

If that is all correct, then we have to ask what’s so Orwellian about what the AP said? Perhaps being factually correct about the concern isn’t enough, and the author wants a certain level of political correctness, inconvenient truths that are not said so that a political agenda may move forward.

The person you’re posting the opinion of is likely a supporter of Israel’s eventual dominance over all its ancestral land, or at least somebody who’s loathe to tell the right wing in Israel that they’re nuts, and that their policies are needlessly provocative, even unjust.

This is what counts for fact-checking on the right, all too often: the political objective comes first. Your author wants to minimize the potential effects of such a move, so as to convince people like you to support such policies that you would not otherwise rationally support.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 19, 2011 8:08 AM
Comment #333237

C&J,

“I remember the original with the ghost of Darth Vader. He was an old, bald guy. Now he is the young long-haired actor who played Darth Vader in the prequels. Lucas claims he had the whole idea thirty or forty years ago and he altered the historical record to support his claim. (The “first” three are really crappy, BTW, and I can well understand why Lucas feels the need to support them any way he can.)”

The technology displayed in the first three Star Wars movies had never been done before, and was cutting edge for it’s time. The same could be said for the second three “prequels”. They were all made as Saturday afternoon matinees, and as in virtually all of the films of that genre, you are asked to suspend belief, much as we are asked to suspend belief when listening to talk radio, or reading some of the posts here at WB, and be taken away on an adventure.

I find it curious that you use fiction (1984, Star Wars, etc.), as an example of how “facts” change.

You mention Gutenberg as a point of reference for leaving the “Age of legend” yet what were the “facts” of Gutenberg’s time?
I would suggest that the facts as we know them from before that time were merely interpretations of some one’s opinion of the facts. The history of a war, for instance, is written from the point of the victor. How much credence can be placed with those “facts”?

BTW, please watch the movie “Galaxy Quest” to understand my opinion of the term “historical document”.

As far as the “facts” of the Internet are concerned, if we use Google as a search for facts, we are bombarded with reams of opinion pages, that change every nanosecond.

And, good luck with that.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 19, 2011 11:29 AM
Comment #333238

C&J,

BTW, wasn’t it Franklin that said;

“Believe none of what you hear and half of what you read.”

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 19, 2011 11:44 AM
Comment #333240

What a web we weave C&J. Using the WSJ as a source anymore is the same as using Faux, worthless most of the time, when facts are the issue. If you ask me this hatchet job by the WSJ is just the start of a misinformation campaign by Murdoch and Ailes to discredit legitimate fact check sites such as media matters.

Below is the link to the story they are criticizing. I don’t find it to be as lacking in logic and veracity as they claim in their opinion piece they lead with “The Associated Press literally doesn’t know the meaning of the word “fact.”

http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/story/2011-12-08/gingrich-bachmann-israel-embassy/51745362/1

Posted by: j2t2 at December 19, 2011 1:03 PM
Comment #333241

Jack,

Perhaps the word “Fact”, like socialism, and self-esteem, is evolving to mean something entirely different than it’s original meaning.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 19, 2011 1:15 PM
Comment #333245

Stephen and J2t2

It doesn’t matter if Newt et al are lying. You could say they are lying and argue that. But there can be no fact about anything that has not yet happened.

The article is headlined “Fact Check”. The headline is wrong by definition.

BTW - J2t2 - it was one of your questions about facts, asking me my prediction that Republicans would do better than Obama, that got me thinking about facts and how there could be no facts about a future event.

Re WSJ - the test of any media outlet is how well their news and predictions comport with (sorry to use the word) facts, or let’s say outcomes. WSJ is a reliable source because you can independently check their stuff and it tends to comport with events.

Rocky

I think the concept of fact is indeed evolving into a more mendacious and less rigorous form. People are using the concept “fact” in front of opinion and trying to use it to stop other debate.

In the case of the article, Newt was not factually wrong.

Posted by: C&J at December 19, 2011 2:37 PM
Comment #333246


IMO, Gingrich was lying through his teeth. Bachmann was probably telling the truth.

I agree with the author, saying that Gingrich would not move the embassy is not fact.

I also agree with the author, it is extremely unlikely that Gingrich would move the embassy.

I agree with the author, saying that what Gingrich will do based on what other presidents have done is not a fact, but only the most likely outcome.

Likewise, the AP article’s scenario of the ramifications of moving the embassy is the most likely outcome rather than fact.

As for the dirty tar sands oil, I can’t see how building a pipeline to Texas will have a significant impact on the Middle East oil. Building a pipeline to the east coast and the west coast for the purpose of exporting to Asia and Europe could have some impact, keeping in mind that oil will be more expensive and have less demand. The U.S. military has already said it has no use for that oil.

Posted by: jlw at December 19, 2011 2:42 PM
Comment #333247

jlw

It doesn’t matter if you agree or even if he is lying. You cannot have a fact about a future event. The problem is with the “Fact Check” headline.

It is sort of like the SciFi movie where they arrested people BEFORE they committed crimes.

Posted by: C&J at December 19, 2011 2:55 PM
Comment #333249
the test of any media outlet is how well their news and predictions comport with (sorry to use the word) facts, or let’s say outcomes. WSJ is a reliable source because you can independently check their stuff and it tends to comport with events.

The thrust of the AP story is the same promise made by Bachmann and Gingrich has been made for the past 20 years. Simply stating facts surrounding the promise. The writer never said it wouldn’t be kept this time just said it may not be kept this time around based upon history that can be fact checked. A rather timely warning to those that would vote for these two based upon this promise.

On the other hand we have Murdoch’s WSJ. The quality you remember from the good old days has been replaced with Murdock style propaganda C&J. Using a once reliable source after the source has been bought out by a person whose credentials have proven to be non-existent is illogical.

Then there is the WSJ article itself. As you say “It doesn’t comport with events” as it is just a hatchet job on another news source. The writers opinion that the AP’s writer opinion is wrong is rather nonsensical IMHO, when the WSJ writer is arguing about “fact checks” because it was used in the headline, IMHO. The WSJ write didn’t even mention Bachmann for crying out loud. Although the once proud WSJ may have been an excellent source of reliable information at one time those days are now gone C&J.

Speaking of laughable sources of information here is one for you.

http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/12/colbert-mocks-fox-news-over-obama-romney-graphics-flub.php

Posted by: j2t2 at December 19, 2011 4:02 PM
Comment #333252

J2t2

I object to the “fact check” headline. You cannot have facts about things that could not happen yet.

We could, however, fact check Obama. How many of his promises have not been kept? That is now in the realm of fact.


Posted by: C&J at December 19, 2011 6:07 PM
Comment #333255

C&J. And technically you are correct. The hardline could be considered misleading when one reads that what the writer actually said was “may not be” and explained why.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 19, 2011 7:56 PM
Comment #333257

j2t2

I feel that there is too many times attempts to “fact check” opinions we don’t like. It is a kind of dirty trick that allows the “checker” to claim moral or intellectual high ground he doesn’t deserve.

Imagine if we “fact check” Obama. He claims he is outraged by Wall Street and will work to reform it in a second term. His behavior in his first term indicates he won’t do that. So do you think it would be correct to headline:

Fact Check: Obama will do little or nothing to reform Wall Street, despite his assurances?

This is an opinion, not a fact.

I have seen “fact checks” in many other areas of opinion. Maybe I am holding a line that has been breached or fighting the lost battle. But I think we need to keep the line between fact and opinion brighter.

I have no trouble with people expressing opinion. Presumably they will base opinion on facts and experience. But the opinion drawn from fact and experience is not itself a fact.

I would also add a point about spin. I enjoy spinning opinion. That is why I write for this column clearly labeled. When I spin, I know how to juxtaposition words and phrases to make them seem connected when they may not be. If you call me on it, I can obfuscate. I have created plausible deny-ability. This is what spinners do. This is what you and I do here. It is our game.

AP is not supposed to spin. They claim to be unbiased. When they use something like “fact check”, ordinary slobs like me are supposed to be able to trust their integrity.

Posted by: C&J at December 19, 2011 8:19 PM
Comment #333269

C&J, Perhaps I am just suspicious of Murdoch’s intentions when the WSJ calls AP for a head line that says “Fact Check: Israel Embassy Promise May Be Empty.”. Yes fact check is technically the wrong phrase. It would be nice to think the intentions of the WSJ and Tartano were honorable. That they were looking to uphold higher journalistic standards. It’s just the fact that Murdoch has such low standards for his business that I suspect the real motive here.

As far as us regular slobs are concerned isn’t the real issue more the mis-use of intent as Taranto put it “The trouble here is that there isn’t a fact to check. Gingrich’s statement is one of intent, not fact”. Or as you say “BTW - J2t2 - it was one of your questions about facts, asking me my prediction that Republicans would do better than Obama, that got me thinking about facts and how there could be no facts about a future event.”

Perhaps the headline should have read “Statement check: Israel Embassy Promise May Be Empty.” or some such wording that would keep fact check for facts. Of course intent check comes to mind as does BS checking, empty promise check or politician is talking check although most of those don’t fit in a headline. Spin check or propaganda check? Who knows it may be the word/phrase of 2012.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 19, 2011 9:05 PM
Comment #333272

The military has no need of the Keystone oil, because Obama has managed a payback to his supporters by making the military use bio-fuels at $16.00 a gallon:

“This is going to help the Defense Department weather looming budget cuts, for sure. Teaming up with the Department of Agriculture (which has a cheery Rotary Club ring to it), the Navy has purchased 450,000 gallons of biofuel for about $16 a gallon, or about 4 times the price of its standard marine fuel, JP-5, which has been going for under $4 a gallon.

You won’t be surprised to learn that a member of Obama’s presidential transition team, T. J. Glauthier, is a “strategic advisor” at Solazyme, the California company that is selling a portion of the biofuel to the Navy. Glauthier worked – shock, shock – on the energy-sector portion of the 2009 stimulus bill.

The Navy sale isn’t Solazyme’s first trip to the public trough, of course. The company got a $21.8 million grant from the 2009 stimulus package.”

http://hotair.com/archives/2011/12/11/navy-buys-biofuel-for-16-a-gallon/

Posted by: Phil at December 19, 2011 10:00 PM
Comment #333282

Here is a good one: Obama has said he was signing an executive order protecting the rights of women. In the 3 pages of comments by both men and women, there is not one single comment defending Obama. Most believe Obama is losing the women vote and is pandering to women. He has to be one of the most dispicable men who ever resided at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He is a whore when it comes to politicking.

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.36250fd7ea7d7c41d8cfe510d0060488.1c1&show_article=1#idc-cover

Posted by: Frank at December 19, 2011 11:33 PM
Comment #333283

Phil-
You know, one warning sign you might see that a source may be questionable is that it calls itself hot air.

Let’s start with Keystone oil. Is it cheap? Not really. By it’s nature, it’s oil that needs more expensive extraction methods, that produces more expensive to clean up toxic waste, that requires more expensive refinement, both because it’s heavier and more sour. Bringing the Pipeline down to Houston won’t make the gas any cheaper, and we will be far from the only customers getting it. It’s no more a solution to the energy problem than
ANWR oil.

Now, the Defense department is trying something out with biofuels and renewables, something you turn your nose up at. Yes, it’s more expensive to produce but I don’t think it’s strategically wise to rely on one energy source, whose increase in expense or decrease in availability might pose a risk to our ability to fight.

As for these budget cuts? Mister, the conservatives on the far right were the ones who pushed not only the budget cuts, but the penalties to entitlement and defense spending. If you folks had just stuck with things like they were, you wouldn’t be dealing with this problem. This was meant to encourage you, by the way, to compromise with us. Instead, you’re trying to weasel out.

As for 450,000 gallons of biofuel? In 2007, the Navy used 1.63 BILLION gallons of fuel. That’s a drop in the bucket. The likely purpose is experimental, and experiments don’t have the economies of scale or of experience that well established infrastructures do.

But Keystone Oil? That actually can’t get much cheaper. It’s not economical in comparison to drilling better stuff, unless gas prices are high. When prices dropped in the aftermath of 4Q 2008, it actually put a serious dent in their ability to operate.

Of course, you don’t get devastating, commerce-reducing staring-into-the-abyss recessions everyday, so the likelihood, pipeline or no, is that Canadian Tar Sands oil will remain expensive.

The thing about renewables, is that you don’t have to depend upon a conveniently placed geological formation to give you the energy you need. They can also be engineered to where they take in carbon dioxide while they store it up to make the fuel. Your fuel source becomes a carbon sink, not just a Carbon source.

C&J-
This is a pointless argument about semantics. Maybe they shouldn’t have called it a fact-check. Big whoop. Are they wrong? No. Your source attacks them as if they are wrong, and is itself hardly the model of objectivity.

You’re looking to declare yourselves victims, so you can deny more inconvenient facts. Your candidate’s mouths are writing checks their bodies will never be in a rational position to cash. But to cover for that, your people are attacking those who question them, or show them up as blustery blowhards.

This is part of why your party is in such dire straits nowadays, why it no longer even has the sense not to knock itself silly resisting a tax cut for most of the voters. The elitist biases are showing, and your party is too busy trying to explain this away as a good thing to notice that it’s not.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 19, 2011 11:43 PM
Comment #333298

j2t2

I doubt that Murdock reaches down to little articles about blogging. I also know lots of journalists. They are not as noble as they like to be portrayed in their own media, but they tend to be irascible about having their story lines dictated in any detail.

Owners and editors, of course, set general lines of policy. But that story in WSJ is probably not worth their attention. Besides, it is (excuse the term) factually correct, as we both admit.

Murdock’s tabloid troubles are a different genre. Tabloid types do not require a lot of encouragement to be tabloidish.

I don’t think Murdock is a paragon of virtue in any way at all. But owners of media have never been.

Conservatives have the idea that the liberal media is a kind of conspiracy. It is not. There is simply a culture of shared ideas among many liberal journalists and organizations that believes and promulgates liberal ideas. For the first time in a long time, we have a conservative counter-culture in the media. Liberals have the same sorts of paranoia as conservatives when they see others who don’t agree. It is just that liberals have become accustomed to having media as allies and so when they lose that they get extra angry.

Stephen

Re Keystone - Your judgement about whether or not it is cheap is beside the point. So is Obama’s. In this respect, it is none of your or Obama’s business. If it is not cheap enough to be profitable, it will not be done or if it is done the “fools” who do it will lose money.

You are entitled to make an environmental argument. That is valid, although I think not convincing. But neither you, nor the government has the information available to make economic choices for people looking to invest their own money.

Re “fact check” - You can try to trivialize the use of the word fact. It is another step in making our debates less meaningful.

If we declare something to be a “fact” was are removing it from debate. If we question, we are getting into a real fight.

Is it a fact that Obama is a liar? Some people say he is?

But let’s agree here that we will only call facts those things that have stood up rigorous checking in the past and are likely to continue to do so. And let’s agree that we can call nothing facts that have not yet happened.

And the AP IS INDEED wrong. They gave up being right in the title.

Posted by: C&J at December 20, 2011 6:20 AM
Comment #333301

C&J, the AP is technically wrong but not wrong in a Breitbart kind of way.Big difference. This is just a minor headline thing not a major doctoring video kind of thing. Stephen has a point.

BTW I referred to the WSJ piece as a hatchet job not factually correct as you suggest.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 20, 2011 8:19 AM
Comment #333306

Stehen, you just don’t get it, do you:

“Let’s start with Keystone oil. Is it cheap? Not really. By it’s nature, it’s oil that needs more expensive extraction methods, that produces more expensive to clean up toxic waste, that requires more expensive refinement, both because it’s heavier and more sour. Bringing the Pipeline down to Houston won’t make the gas any cheaper, and we will be far from the only customers getting it. It’s no more a solution to the energy problem than
ANWR oil.”

You come on here rattling off your facts and figures on clean oil, dirty oil, sweet oil, and sour oil; who gives a crap? The only thing the American people hear is Obama has shut down oil production in the Gulf, and blocked the Keystone Pipeline, resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs and cutting our dependency on Middle-East oil. The last excuse from the left was, if we start drilling now, it will take 10 years to see the benefits. That was 15 years ago. If I am given a chance to pay X amount of dollars for oil from the Middle-East or the same X dollars for oil from Canada; guess what, I will take Canada. The left has argued that if we drill for oil, it will only last a few years, and yet the Canada oil is expected to last 40 years. It all boils down to one excuse after another; to shut down the flow of oil in America. I have to attribute this to the left’s hatred for America and a desire to see us fail.

Nothing that SD says makes any sense at all.

Posted by: Phil at December 20, 2011 10:53 AM
Comment #333307

Phil,

“The only thing the American people hear is Obama has shut down oil production in the Gulf…”

Yeah, the American people have heard that a lot, and except for the fact that it’s pure bullshit you might have a point.

http://www.factcheck.org/2011/03/is-obama-to-blame-for-4-gasoline/

Dispite what the “American Thinker” (now that’s an oxymoron, with the accent on the moron) says, this is merely an attempt by the right to massage the “facts” in order to fit the narrative they wish to produce.

American oil companies pumped more oil out of the Gulf in 2010 than they ever had before. Obama slowed the permit process, as wel he should have, but didn’t shut down existing wells.
It was estimated before the BP spill that production in the Gulf for 2011 would be less than that of 2010.


Jack,

This is what happens when we allow the meaning of words to change. Some one repeats his opinion often enough, and soon that opinion becomes fact. It doesn’t matter that it’s just plain wrong. The opinion is the truth.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 20, 2011 11:46 AM
Comment #333317

RM, thanks for the link, but it seems Factcheck bases it’s facts on the comments of an oil executive; you remember, one of those evil oil executives that the left loves to bash.

Secondly, I wonder what impact working Americans, instead of unemployed Americans, would have had on the price of oil. Millions of Americans out of work means millions of gallons of as not pumped, and millions of gallons of diesel not used by trucks to haul products to Americans who can’t afford to buy them. Perhaps millions of gallons of home heating oil not sold to Americans who have cut their thermostats back because they can’t afford to heat their houses.

Factcheck said in many cases, both sides are correct, based on the spin. So your factcheck don’t really prove anything. As usual, the left never wants to look at the big picture; but no matter. When people see the price of fuel going up, and Obama saysd no to the pipeline; he gets the blame…now that is a factcheck we can all live with. When the pipefitters union and welders cannot get work because Obama is blocking the pipeline, who do you think they will blame? Even he union leadership understands this…

Your braindead president should have opened up Keystone, but in his ignorance and desire to please his environmental base (of which GW is way down on the list of concerns with Americans), he gives Republicans ammunition. One commentator said Obama’s goal was to soak re-election funds from the oil people and the environmental people for another year. If he made a decision, he would cut off at leas half of his funds. So it’s all about re-election.

Posted by: Phil at December 20, 2011 1:31 PM
Comment #333319

Phil,

Despite all of your spin and hyperbole to the contrary the fact still remains, Obama did not shut down oil production in the Gulf of Mexico.
This was your statement in comment 333306, just over an hour ago;

“The only thing the American people hear is Obama has shut down oil production in the Gulf…”

That statement is a lie. It wasn’t true then, it wasn’t true last year, it isn’t true now, and it won’t be true tommorrow.
If you go out to the street corner gesticulate wildly and yell it at the top of your lungs at passing motorists, it still won’t be true.

The production of oil in the Gulf goes on, and is down only 2% from 2010, and that is a fact you are choosing to ignore.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 20, 2011 2:18 PM
Comment #333325

Phil-
Oil is a mix of hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons can be found in chains and rings. The bigger the molecule, the higher the boiling and melting points, in general. Light crude contains smaller molecules, of the kind we tend to rely upon when we refine oil into gasoline, diesel, kerosene, and jet fuel.

They distill the oil into various parts, and use catalysts to crack the molecules to create more of the lighter fractions when they’re not there it great enough proportion naturally.

Tar Sands oil doesn’t get called Tar Sands oil for nothing. It’s what they call Bitumen. Bitumen isn’t that far from Asphalt, which is that solid stuff you drive your car on. You have to essentially melt the stuff to extract it, rather than have it flow freely as regular crude does.

Oil, when graded, is judged by two things, among others: it’s mixture of light and heavy fractions, and it’s relative purity. If you want the cheapest oil to refine, you would pick light, sweet crude, because that would mean less energy was necessary to break up or crack that oil into the lighter fractions that we mix together to create gasoline, diesel, and other kinds of fuel.

The fact that you have to essentially melt the bitumen out of the tar sands is bad enough. If you want an idea of what kind of oil recovery is best, your best kind is the kind that flows by itself when you tap the oil field. The next best is the kind you have to pump up, and after that, you have the kind you recover by pumping other substances in to get it out.

And then you have the rocks and soils you have to melt crap out of. Either you’re strip mining it, or extracting it in situ, but either way, the heavy nature of the crude means you have to bake it out of those soils one way or another.

Which do you think is less expensive?

But of course, then you have to get it to refineries and not only break it up into the lighter fractions that are needed for fuel, you need to actually purify it, because Hydrogen sulfide is poisonous and corrosive, and nobody’s going to ship that crap anywhere like it comes out of the ground.

Do you think they didn’t know about tar sands earlier on? I was reading about it when I was a kid. They knew. Gas was simply too cheap to justify such an expensive way of getting oil.

They knew. They knew it would cost an arm and a leg to produce, and at the time, they didn’t think it a justified cost. Problem is, new oil finds that are easy to get at are getting rarer, more expensive, and with Wall Street hiking the cost of a barrel sky-high, cost is no longer as much of a concern.

It’s a sign of the times, a sign of the limitation of that kind of resource, and your kind of energy regulation. You want to pretend that it will all be fine if we just let the oil companies do whatever they want however they want it.

It won’t be. Oil is a steadily diminishing resource, inherently finite. Renewable fuels might help to get us past that, but your side is intent on preserving the bottom line of the rich and powerful few who sponsor their campaigns.

We need something better than that.

I have to attribute this to the left’s hatred for America and a desire to see us fail.

Unfortunately, you do, in order to distract people from just how lousy your energy policy is, and how short-sighted. I could reiterate that I have no such desires, but those who understand what I write know it’s not true, and those who deliberately misunderstand it in the name of overbearing rhetoric… Well, they’re not going to admit they’re wrong.

We need to graduate from found energy to gathered energy, because the energy we can just dig up or pump up is becoming scarcer by the day, and our technology is getting better and better able to substitute more responsible alternatives for it.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 20, 2011 4:04 PM
Comment #333336

RM, it doesn’t matter if the production is he same or not and as far as Stephen’s chemistry lesson; that doesn’t matter either. It’s the perception of what he did that will cause people to vote for or against Obama. He cut his own throat when he shut down oil production in the Gulf, to the point where the drilling rigs were sent to the coast of Africa. The Keystone Pipeline was another mistake on Obama’s part. He should have immediatly authorized the pipeline, but to please his base, he said no. This is the only thing the voters will know and he Republicans will campaign on both issues. It’s amazing how outraged the left is that lies may be promoted by the righ, but you have no problem with the recent lies of Pelosi and Axlerod, even today. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.And Stephen, for all your pseudo-scholarly bullshit, nobody cares. You are farting into the wind. get out of your little bubble and go out into the streets and Walmart and ask people what they think about the high cost of oil. I dare you, and don’t coach them; just ask them what they think. I guarantee none will say anything about clean or dirty, sweet or sour oil. You guys are a joke and I’m glad you only represent 20% of the country.

Posted by: Phil at December 20, 2011 5:44 PM
Comment #333342

Phil,

“He cut his own throat when he shut down oil production in the Gulf…”

While I know this will be a complete waste of my time, I just have to say it.

Ben Franklin said;

“We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

Now, you stated to Adrienne;

“You either can’t read or you’re ignorant.”

Perhaps I should ask the same question of you, or will the Franklin quote cover it?

Maybe this will help;

http://www.rhlschool.com/reading.htm

Obama did not shut down oil production in the Gulf.

If you are not capable of understanding that simple fact we’re done.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 20, 2011 6:40 PM
Comment #333343


Phil, you could write a similar epitaph for the tea party which, in case you haven’t noticed, is far less popular than Obama.

What the people know is that the more they hear from the Republicans the more popular an unpopular president is becoming.

No subject will come close to competing with the economy in the upcoming elections. The pipeline and off shore drilling will not be high priorities but fairness may be.

The people did and still do blame Bush for the collapse. They blamed Obama for not fixing the economy immediately. They are finally realizing that there were no quick fixes for the economy and as it slowly improves, so to does Obama’s popularity.

The Republican presidential campaign and the payroll tax hike battle is doing serious damage to the Republican party right now and you can be assured that the Democrats will constantly remind the people of it, throughout the time from now until the election. Do you really think the people will understand why the pipeline is a higher priority for tax cutting Republicans than a tax break for the middle class? Could you imagine Republicans using the pipeline to hold up the extension of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy.

The right wing rhetoric has been nowhere near as effective as you believe and would have us believe. It had an impact for a while, but once the whitewash began to thin, people began to see right through it.

Defending the wealthy and the Military Industrial Complex while attacking the middle class and their programs is not quite what the people had in mind.

Letting the Bush tax cuts expire while cutting spending across the board would have been acceptable to the majority. Republicans couldn’t bring themselves to do it and they have lost the advantage they could have had.

Obama wants to destroy America vs Obama is trying, Republicans are denying?

Posted by: jlw at December 20, 2011 6:47 PM
Comment #333356

Phil-
The fart in the wind is your viewpoint, not mine. The ignorance that some people might have about how oil of whatever kind gets to their gas station as gasoline doesn’t change the facts of what has to be done in order to make that gallon of gas.

You can bluff and bluster, but it doesn’t change the fact that the substance I hang my opinion on will have more influence over the way events turn out than any of your rhetoric will, or anybody else’s for that matter.

You know, he didn’t shut down oil production in the Gulf. He increased it. He did, however put a moratorium on new drilling until officials got a good handle on what the risky and safe operations were out there.

This, after the worst oil spill in American history. Somehow you forget to consider that doing nothing in the wake of that God-Forsaken oil spill would have been the decision that would have cut Obama’s throat.

Republicans want to play the jobs card, but the real numbers seem to indicate just a few thousand jobs at best. Using numbers like theirs, one person working the same job for two years would be counted twice.

And after the pipeline’s built, the jobs go away. Obama’s created far more than several thousand jobs with policies that did a lot better for the environment. We don’t have to engage in such environmentally atrocious economic activity to stimulate the economy. Obama will probably save more jobs by raising the CAFE standards, bringing efficiency that improves our competitiveness with foreign carmakers, reduces fuel costs, and increase economic activity by making the scarcity of energy less of a factor weighing against growth and activity.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at December 20, 2011 9:47 PM
Comment #333363

I guess we will see in Nov. 2012, won’t we?

Posted by: Phil at December 20, 2011 11:10 PM
Comment #351825

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