Monday, August 13, 2012

Episode 8: The Blackout Part I: Tragedy Porn


This episode brings up some interesting “facts.” Without further ado, they are checked here.

Sloan Sabith has the debt ceiling right. The debt ceiling really only allows us to pay for programs that are already law. It gets raised fairly often. And by that I mean, as of May of 2011, it had been raised 74 times since 1962. I’m not great at math, but I’m pretty sure that’s about 3 times every 2 years. If we did not raise it, the law would say we would not pay our bills. That is what people tend to call “default.” Not raising the debt ceiling, and possibly the existence of one, can be construed as unconstitutional. The 14th Amendment states, “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.” Therefore, the constitution provides for the payment of debts no matter how large, so long as they are debts created by the action of law. Any debate over raising the debt ceiling, if made necessary by debt created legally, should only question how much to raise it.

The white board showed a list of news items that would be trumped by Casey Anthony and Anthony Weiner. I would like to address a few of those. The idea that the AFL-CIO had soured on Obama is floated.  That’s a vague misrepresentation of what was going on at the time. Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO president, had announced their “political independence on May 20th. Not exactly a no-confidence vote.

We all know that the news about jobs at the time was bleak, as it still is, but the statement that the War on Drugs is a failure is more interesting. This is truly a question of how you choose to look at the statistics, and, sometimes, where you get them. It is shocking how few people arrested for drug law offenses this year have actually been incarcerated for them.

The insinuation that the Senate obstructed the confirmation of Obama appointees at a record pace is probably based on this report by the Alliance for Justice. The Alliance for Justice is a progressive organization generously funded by organizations like the Open Society Institute (a George Soros joint) and the Service Employees International Union. So it is highly biased in its analysis even if the numbers are accurate.

As far as the NSA informant is concerned, he’s a fictional character but he brings up some interesting information for viewers and characters alike. The National Security Administration definitely does wire taps and it is very hard to really pin down their scope.

Welcome back to dishing out pseudo-facts, Mr. Sorkin. I was a little disappointed by the factual nature of last week’s show.

Brian William Waddell is a foodie, beer geek, and author. His numerous blog posts range from food to politics. He also has a book of poetry, Fractured Prose, available here, and is ready to publish his second poetic endeavor.

6 comments:

  1. I didn't find anything overtly unfactual outside of artistic license. The real crime of this show is how they only report one side of the story. I is disappointing to have to juxtapose how good this show is against the MSNBC type nature of its news.

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  2. I have to admit that every time I read this blog, it's Will McAvoy's voice reading it in my head.

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  3. "The Alliance for Justice is a progressive organization generously funded by organizations like the Open Society Institute (a George Soros joint) and the Service Employees International Union. So it is highly biased in its analysis even if the numbers are accurate."

    Just want to bring up some food for thought even if I admittedly know little about this specific topic. A point in the show is that even news from a biased source can be factual. To say that the numbers are accurate, and then soften the blow of it by saying it's from a biased source is not really fact checking. What, based on the numbers used, should the analysis state?

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  4. Jesse,
    I said "if the numbers are accurate." A study from a biased source should rarely be trusted because their methodology skews the results throughout the study. Any report that suggests a President should "nominate judges who will counterbalance the conservative views of the Constitution" is undoubtedly biased. The basic complaint at the time was that Republicans were using parliamentary procedure to avoid confirming judicial appointments. In my understanding, it's fairly standard practice when the Senate is only held by a slim majority. Both sides whine when it happens to their appointees.

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  5. Wow! I’m glad I read this. I would’ve never caught these intriguing subtleties. My Dish coworker was talking about the interesting way the episode brought up the debt ceiling, but I didn’t know much about it until reading this. I’m going to have to go back and watch it again, along with the previous episodes now that I have more of an understanding. Luckily, they are all still tucked away on my DVR, since I have the Hopper DVR with such a large recording space that I never have to delete a thing. I’m definitely checking back here next week too!

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  6. Looking back on the bit about the NSA, and knowing what we do today, I think it's safe to say Sorkin got it at least partially right.

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