The Watering Hole, Saturday, December 29, 2012: Ignore That E-Mail

I happen to be a fan of They are a non-partisan site dedicated to checking facts in political discussions and reporting the results no matter who it helps or hurts. For example, many of us on the Left have pointed out that the reason Social Security should be off the table during debt ceiling and budget talks is because it is not contributing a penny to the federal deficit. FactCheck looked into that and you know what? It turns out that is not entirely true. And with the problem getting a little worse each year (the payroll tax “holiday” isn’t helping the long term prospects of Social Security, even if it is putting about twenty bucks or so a week in your pocket today), it was wrong of Sen Dick Durbin (D-IL) to repeat the claim last month. So while I may not like what I hear from them sometimes, being the good Liberal that I am, I let facts change my mind. So I no longer say Social Security is not contributing to the deficit or debt, because right now it is.

One of the things FactCheck does (and does well) is check the facts in all those viral e-mails you get, usually accusing President Obama of doing something unprecedented, or illegal, or, I don’t know, black. There usually isn’t a lot of truth in those e-mails. Yes, Barack Obama is the President of the United States, but that’s usually where the truth ends in those e-mails. In their year-end summary, reviewed many of the viral e-mails of the past year that didn’t pass, shall we say, the smell test.

Whether it’s the truth about how much of our national debt can be blamed solely on Obama (both sides have been wrong on this one), did Obama give stimulus money to Chinese contractors to build bridges in the U.S. (no, he didn’t), does Mitt Romney’s son Tagg (he’s the tall, thin, dark-haired one) own voting machines in Ohio (no, he doesn’t), or did the IRS pay billions in tax refunds to workers who are in the U.S. illegally (okay, that one turned out to be true), Fact digs in and uncovers the truth.

For those interested in the truth (which makes being right easier), I recommend If you know of any fact-checking sites with as much or more reliability, I’d like to hear what they are. Because, being the good Liberal that I am, I like Facts. You should, too. Life can be so much easier to deal with when viewed through the prism of Truth, as opposed to that of Ideology.

This is our daily open thread. Feel free to discuss, some other fact-checking websites, or any other subject you wish. It’s a free country. And that’s a fact. At least I hope it still is.

129 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Saturday, December 29, 2012: Ignore That E-Mail

  1. OK. I have to differ with on Social Security adding to the debt. The payroll tax ‘holiday’ isn’t given to workers because of Social Security, it is simply a fair way to distribute a tax cut proportionally to workers, with a cutoff at the Social Security cap of about $106,700 per year. It is merely the vehicle by which the cut is calculated and delivered. That is why it is fair for the general fund to replace the 2% reduction to the Social Security Administration. It was meant as a stimulus for the economy, passed by Congress, of course.

    When Social Security begins to pay out more in benefits than it takes in, it does not add to the deficit either, If Social Security needs $100 billion dollars in 2013 to cover all costs, it redeems $100 billion in Treasury Bills of the roughly $2.7 trillion in surplus currently in the account. Therefore the US Treasury then ‘owes’ Social Security $100 billion less than the previous year, and even if they have to then sell $100 billion more in other treasuries to other US creditors, the US debt is not higher, it is merely shifted to other creditors. Only when

    The Federal Reserve has been taking advantage of the extremely low interest rates to replace higher interest bonds it holds that have been maturing with longer term bonds with the low rates currently available. It’s called ‘Operation Twist’. This is a different strategy from the program called ‘Quantitative Easing’, which is basically printing additional money into circulation. This doesn’t really cost the member banks of the Federal Reserve any money either, because after the member banks are paid a dividend on their deposits, all surplus profit made by the Federal Reserve are paid to the US Treasury.

    • If I ever remember what my train of thought was at ‘Only when…’, I’ll add it in a comment. I had to get breakfast before UP came on, and got in a hurry.

    • OK, I think I meant to say something like this:

      Only when Social Security exhausts the surplus, could the claim be made that it could increase the debt, and only if Congress votes to subsidize it to keep benefits from dropping. As of now, Social Security can pay full benefits until 2033 to 2037, depending on whose numbers are used. After that time, it can continue to pay 75% to 87% of promised benefits, again, depending on whose numbers you use. If a means could be found to restore better paying jobs in the country, those estimates could be extended further into the future. The current trend of falling incomes for the majority, with more and more income going to the few at the top, is primarily responsible for the shortfall. That is why the cap on FICA should be increased and the income exclusions for passive investment be eliminated.

  2. Today’s UP, while exploring one of the most important and relevant topics, is clearly showing that four guests are too many. When a guest is on a screen and not in studio, two in-studio guests should be subtracted from the panel, so each guest gets an adequate amount of time to speak.

      • She may be a really good writer, and she’s certainly knowledgeable, but she would be the fourth guest I would cut from the panel.

      • Obviously you’ve never seen SE Cupp because she is definitely #1 when it comes to talking over everybody. And the difference is she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

  3. Chris’s analogy of the ‘secrets’ of the oil extraction industry eventually becoming the methods of all the companies, reminds me of the innovation in racing. Patents aren’t allowed in racing regulations, so the best teams have to stay one step ahead of the others to remain at the top technologically. Because the ‘secrets’ can only be small ones, by the sporting regulations of each series, overall differences in competition are small also. In business, such a system would benefit the consumer most.

    • Just because the Theory of Evolution didn’t exist when the Constitution was written did not mean that our Founding Fathers intended us to live in the ignorance of Biblical thinking forever. They allowed for the Constitution to be amended because they were smart enough to know that over time, people learn things about the Universe that they didn’t know before. Between the time of the Revolution and the writing of the Constitution, the planet Uranus was discovered (1781). The only reason the authors of the Declaration (Jefferson didn’t write it alone) referred to a “Creator” was because the Theory of Evolution hadn’t been formulated yet. Otherwise, I’m sure that famous phrasing would have been worded differently, perhaps as something like “All men are born equal with inherent inalienable rights…”

      • It’s interesting to me that not a one of society’s common ‘worship’ words — including Creator, God, Jesus, or Christ, or their roots — appear anywhere in the constitution. The root “religio” appears twice, once in Article VI, Clause 3: “… no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States” and, of course, in the First Amendment which specifically disallows any law that might serve the concept of “establishment of religion”.

        Maybe it’s just me, but I have to wonder if Judge Moore has ever even read the thing, much less understood anything at all about what it really says and the basis which ubderlies and defines?

    • We’re not going by the rules because we don’t think the rules matter anymore.

      The Fundies think because they re-elected him, it validates his position on the Ten Commandments Rock. All it proved is that they will vote religion over principle and law.

    • That is a stunning word salad. Basically, humans are barely better than animals, and any attempt to improve on that situation is wrong and against god’s plan.

      It appears that the judge only achieved anything he’s done in life in order to have power over the animals…er, humans.


    • It’s legit, but not actually the Hell’s Angels. It’s a group of vets called the Patriot Guard and they’re affiliated with the American Legion. They started the group to do the same thing at funerals for our war dead.

    • Westboro was going to picket Lisa Lampanelli’s comedy show. She offered to pay $1,000 to every gay who showed up to counter them. Gave away $20,000.

    • Brownback said the [tax cuts] legislation “will create tens of thousands of new jobs and help make Kansas the best place in America to start and grow a small business.”

      Yeah, but it will also make Kansas a horrible place to live. If it weren’t for the economic slavery the Conservatives have managed to impose on most of us, I’m sure the citizens of Kansas would move out of that state in protest. And that’s one of the problems with Capitalism – the false belief that people have so much economic freedom that they can just up and move to another part of the country if they don’t like something about where they live.

      • “And that’s one of the problems with Capitalism – the false belief that people have so much economic freedom that they can just up and move to another part of the country if they don’t like something about where they live.”

        Well, isn’t that just what the Oakies did during the Dustbowl days of the Great Depression? Isn’t that what Romney proposed in his “self deportation” plan? In other words, if the “job creators” make conditions so miserable no one wants to live there anymore, folks can, have, and will just pack up and leave.

    • Kansas must be one of those states that doesn’t require a balanced budget. I wonder if the GOP-controlled government there would pass such a requirement now? Actually, I don’t have to wonder, since we all know Republicans love to spend money they don’t have so they have an excuse to “cut spending” when the Democrats take control. If i had the time to research it, I’d look into how many times Sam Brownback voted in the US Senate to spend money we didn’t have on unfunded things like war and prescription drug plans.

    • The House, already in conservative hands, has 50 new members, many of them tea party Republicans, some of whom have gone so far as to voice support for legislation to authorize state and local law enforcement to arrest federal officials attempting to implement the Affordable Care Act.

      Oh, I’d love to see them pass that law. Then you’d see their state and local police flinch at trying to arrest Feds, who can just keep bringing in more and more agents until they can trump anything the locals try to pull.

      • It would certainly be interesting to see how the local police will enforce such a stupid law. Federal law trumps state law. Then again, these are tea baggers writing these laws and one can never accuse them of reading and understanding the Constitution of the United States.

        • They aren’t required to read or understand the Constitution, only to take an oath to support and defend it. I wish there was some enforceable and workable way to make all legislators, at all levels of government (including federal) take some kind of test on the Constitution when they apply to run for office. The results should be publicized weeks before the election so that voters know how well-informed on the Constitution the people they are considering are. But I have no idea who should develop the test or administer it, or whether it should be changed every year so that no one can memorize the right answers from the previous year. Just my humble opinion. πŸ™‚

    • I can’t help but question whether the Koch brothers ancestors supported Hitler and Nazi Germany. Anyone know if there is a family connection? I know that there is connection between Hitler and the Bush family.

  4. This next bowl game is liable to be fun to watch. it’s Syracuse vs. West Virginia in Yankee Stadium, and it’s almost blizzard conditions there.

  5. In case you missed it:
    Watch Bernie Sanders take substitute host TJ Holmes to the woodshed on the false equivalence of why both sides shouldn’t have to give something equal to get a deal.

    • What truly disgusts me about this whole gun ownership for personal protection thing is that even if it was an intruder intent on burglarizing the home (which, at that point, would have been the only crime of which the intruder was guilty), that is not a capital offense. So why is a private citizen allowed to execute them?

      I’m not in the least bit knowledgeable about the Law, but it sounds to me like Stand Your Ground laws (and I don’t know if that state has one) give a private citizen the authority to deprive someone else of his life without due process of law. Wouldn’t that make them unconstitutional? I mean, if the Constitution says the government can’t do something to a private citizen without due process of law, does that mean YOU can? BTW, the Constitution does not specify that the government is the one not allowed to deprive people of due process, just that no one shall be denied it. So it stands to reason that no state can empower a citizen to supersede the Constitution.

      • No jury would convict you and most police won’t charge you if you shoot someone who has broken into your home.

        Shooting someone outside your home is an entirely different matter with many different consequences.

        • I may be nitpicking, but where is the line between “inside” and “outside” your home? If you perceive the person to be “breaking in” and they are still on the other side of the door, doesn’t that count as them being outside? And I say “perceive” because the girl very likely had a key and was letting herself in, so it wasn’t an intruder breaking in.

          I am leaning (heavily) toward agreeing that once the intruder is inside your home, even if they haven;t actually threatened you in any way, that you may have the legal right to kill them. But I believe in there being a very limited list of legal excuses to kill another human being. And believing something isn’t good enough. You have to be right about what you “believe” is happening. Otherwise, you could make up a story after the fact and get away with murder.

          • Well, that is my point — Shooting INside the home: justified virtually all the time.

            Shooting OUTside the home, or even entering the home: LOTS of questions and legal issues. My advice – yanno – if you’re planning on doing this sort of thing – is shoot them outside then drag them into your house. Much fewer legal hassles.


  6. Dashcam video of the Russian airplane that jumped the runway and landed on a road. The most amazing thing is that whoever is driving the car didn’t yell “Oh shitsky!” Or whatever…

    • You have to realize that the ‘Aerospace Industries Association’ are the corporations who reap the same kind of waste, fraud, and abuse money that the military industrial complex gorges itself with, and have every reason to fearmonger in order to keep their government teat from drying up.

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