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Even in a Complex World, There Are Still Plenty of Facts That Can Be Checked

Mother Jones

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Over at the Corner, Patrick Brennan suggests that political journalists are lousy at fact checking, and debate moderators shouldn’t try to do it in real time. There’s a case to be made for this, but he sure picks a weird example:

Liberal Twitter was all a-huff about how the debate commissioner cites the unemployment rate as an area where the facts are up for debate — har har, they say, you know there literally is an official unemployment rate the government publishes, right?

Except anyone smart saying this is being remarkably coy: People of good faith and serious economic training debate about whether the “official” unemployment rate is a good representation of the unemployment rate all the time!

How absurd is it to complain about the commissioner’s statement here? Say Trump says something along the lines of “the real unemployment rate is much higher than the government tells you.”

This might well be true — although it all depends on what you mean by the real unemployment rate….The people braying for fact-checking in debates are thus asking for moderators to attempt, in real time, to adjudicate disputes that divide Ph.D. economists and of course, a whole range of other such disputes on which the respective experts — trade economists, classification experts, presidential historians, whatever — often don’t agree.

Brennan suggests this is all a high-minded argument about U3 vs. U6 and the declining labor force participation rate and so forth. Silly liberals! Who are they to say that the unemployment rate is a clear fact when even professional economists argue about it?

And, sure, fair point—if this is what Trump was talking about. He’s not. He’s said on multiple occasions that the unemployment rate is “really” 42 percent or 21 percent or 35 percent. The headline figure from the BLS (currently 4.9 percent) is a “hoax” and a “conspiracy.” In fact, it’s “one of the biggest hoaxes in politics.” This is presumably because Donald Trump doesn’t waste his time with anything other than the very best hoaxes.

This is not an academic argument about what unemployment “really” is. It’s idiocy. It’s a lie. It’s a shameless extension of Trump’s juvenile populism, and Brennan knows it. If he thinks debate moderators shouldn’t even push back on something this rank, he’s showing a contempt for the truth every bit as casual as Trump’s.


Even in a Complex World, There Are Still Plenty of Facts That Can Be Checked

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Donald Trump Is Broke

Mother Jones

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Today’s big news is the overall implosion of the Donald Trump campaign. He’s repeatedly melted down on the stump over the past month. He’s trailing Hillary Clinton by a mile in the latest polls. He fired his campaign manager this morning. His ego apparently doesn’t allow him to beg other people for money, so he’s barely done any fundraising at all. The fight to stop him at the Republican convention now has the support of nearly 400 delegates. With the election only 20 weeks away, he still has virtually no staff. He’s being hammered by negative advertising on TV and isn’t doing anything to fight back. (So far he’s run exactly zero ads.)

Except for the personal meltdown stuff, all of this is basically a money problem. Trump doesn’t have any. In fact, pretty much everything you need to know about Trump’s campaign—and his underlying business acumen, though that’s a story for another time—is captured in FEC form 3P. As you can see, it shows that Trump ended the month of May with $1.28 million on hand. That’s disastrous. It’s unbelievable. It’s less than a tenth of what he should have. It’s less than a well-run congressional campaign should have. It’s $40 million less than Hillary Clinton’s campaign has. It’s Donald Trump in a nutshell.

So will he just finance the campaign out of his own wallet? Not a chance. Bluster aside, he doesn’t have the ready cash to do it. And he wouldn’t even if he could. After all, this is the guy who eagerly transferred the five-figure salary of his longtime bodyguard to his campaign at the first opportunity. Do you really think he’s ready to blow $500 million on a nearly certain losing cause?


Donald Trump Is Broke

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Trump just wants to save the birds, you guys

Trump just wants to save the birds, you guys

By on May 26, 2016Share

Donald J. Trump is for the birds.

Speaking to oil and gas interests in Bismarck, N.D., on Thursday, the presumptive Republican nominee made clear his thoughts on two energy-policy cornerstones: renewable energy and our feathered friends.

Trump expressed disdain with the Department of Justice, which “filed a lawsuit against seven North Dakota oil companies for the death of 28 birds, while the administration fast-tracked wind projects that kill more than a million birds a year.”

“Far more than a million birds,” he clarified.

DOJ did file these charges in 2011. It has also targeted wind developers under the same legislation, the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

As for the million-bird figure, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the number is likely closer to 500,000. Which is a lot of birds — but for reference, oil and gas kill around the same amount, and the coal industry snuffs out close to 8 million birds annually.

The real estate developer has never been the biggest fan of wind farms:

Except when he’s talking to clean-energy advocates: “It’s an amazing thing when you think — you know, where they can, out of nowhere, out of the wind, they make energy,” he mused to an Iowa voter late last year.

The same line-straddling appeared in Trump’s remarks on solar.

“The problem with solar is it’s very expensive,” he said a month after the world reached several tipping points for competitive renewable energy.

“I know a lot about solar,” he said in a press conference earlier on Thursday. We’re still waiting to find out what he meant.

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Trump just wants to save the birds, you guys

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Trump goes full Trump on energy

Trump goes full Trump on energy

By on May 26, 2016Share

For all the hype surrounding Donald Trump’s energy policy speech in the oil town of Bismarck, N.D., there was, shall we say, a lot of hot air.

Here were some of his more memorable “thoughts” on energy, both from his press conference before the speech and from the speech itself.

On the Paris Agreement: “This agreement gives foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use right here in America … We’re going to cancel the Paris climate agreement and stop all payments of U.S. tax dollars to U.N. global warming programs. We’ve got big problems folks and can’t send our money all over the world.” Except Trump can’t actually cancel the Paris Agreement.

On real environmental issues: “From an environmental standpoint, my priorities are clean air and clean water.”  Protecting air and water will be a challenge without the Environmental Protection Agency.

On “phony” environmental issues: “A Trump administration will focus on real environmental challenges, not the phony ones we’ve been looking at.” And by “phony ones,” he means that whole climate change thing.

On Keystone XL: “I want the Keystone pipeline, but the people of the United States should be given a piece, a significant piece, of the profits. … I’m saying yes, we will absolutely approve it, I want it built, but I want a piece of the profits, because we’re making it possible for it to happen through eminent domain and other things.” Trump has a complicated relationship with eminent domain.

On the Clean Power Plan: “How stupid is that?”

On energy independence: “We will make so much money from energy that we will start to pay down our $19 trillion in debt and lower taxes and take care of our Social Security and Medicare.” There’s no such thing as energy independence. Enough said.

On his first 100 days: “We’re going to save the coal industry.”

On the death of coal: “The market forces are going to do whatever they do. All I’m going to do is free up the coal. … The market force is a beautiful force.” In fact, the free market is what’s killing coal.

On miners: “I asked a couple of [coal miners], “Why don’t you go into some other profession?” and they said, “We love going after coal.” Except when they’re suffering from black lung.

On fracking: “You [knock out fracking], and you’re going to be back in the Middle East.” What does happen if the U.S. bans fracking?

On solar: “I know a lot about solar. … I’ve gone solar on occasion.”

On wind power: “Wind is killing all of the eagles.” Trump has strong opinions on wind.

On renewable energy more broadly: “The problem with solar is it’s very expensive … Wind is very expensive … Despite that, I am into all types of energy.” That was true if we’re talking about, say, 1999. Wind and solar are getting cheaper all the time in 2016.

On fracking: “Hillary is going to ban fracking. … I will do the opposite.” Clinton might beg to differ.

On special interests: “I’m prepared to kick the special interests out of Washington DC.” He says, without irony, at a special-interest conference for the oil industry.


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Trump goes full Trump on energy

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Use an Old Sweater To Make Two New Wardrobe Pieces

Ugly sweaters are not a waste: Theyre an opportunity.

Consider this lowly knit mock turtleneck. It was buried in an old clothes bag in my closet, about to be sent off to the local thrift store, when I saw one of its dark green sleeve cuffs peeking over the top of the bag. For a split second I thought it was the edge of a boot sock, but when I found out that it wasnt, I decided to turn it into one. Except that it turned out to be more than a boot sockin a couple of hours, Id stitched that unloved sweater into a pair of boot socks and a cozy casual sweater skirt, too.

And I promise, it took very little stitching skills. The biggest challenge for me was being able to stitch in a straight line around the top hem of the skirt and around the edges of the boot socks to keep them from unraveling. Apart from that, if you can sew on a button, youre good to go!

Step 1: Cut off the arms

It really doesnt matter if you cut on one side of the hem or around the sweater shoulder. Since youll be cutting this part off anyway, just cut a clean line alongside it.

Step 2: Cut off the excess

Youll see that the top of the sweater arm is wider and curves outward a bit. All you need to do here is cut that curved bit off so that its even.

You can actually stop here, if you want to. For a simple boot cuff to wear on the inside of your boot, or a leg warmer to wear slouched over your short boots, this is really all you need.

Because this was so easy, though, I decided to take it a step further and add a little bit of embellishment a la turn-of-the-century Victorian boot fashion: buttons!

Step 3: Cut along the sleeve hem

Again, it doesnt matter if you cut on one side of the hem or the other; just make sure you keep it consistent.

Step 4: Hem the cut edges

This is where that awesome stitch-in-a-straight-line skill comes in. Find the two edges of the sleeve that have been cutand could potentially unraveland fold them in about half an inch and use a straight stitch to hold it in place. You could even iron the hem down beforehand to make it easier to stitch straight.

Step 5: Stitch on the buttons

I used six buttons on this one, but I have another boot sock that used 10it just depends on your style, and frankly, how many matching buttons you can find to evenly spread between both socks.

Step 6: Cut the button holes

To do this, I pinned the top and bottom of the sock together so that they wouldnt move, and then placed the button-free side over the buttons, cutting a very, very small hole above each and then working the button through it. It doesnt take much to make a button hole! Also, if youre worried about fraying at this point, you can add a dab of fabric glue to the edges of the buttonholesthis should keep it from unraveling any more and will give the buttonhole a better hold and shape.

Youre done! Show off your fashionable boot glory now or, like me, put them on with some slippers and whip yourself up a cozy sweater with the excess materials.

Step 1: Using the instructions above, cut off the sleeves and make boot socks!

Step 2: Trim the trunk

Again, I lay no claims to being any kind of a seamstress. To get the shape I wanted, I just turned the sweater trunk inside out, placed my favorite sweater skirt over the top of it and trimmed around the edges until it was the same shape, making sure the bottom hem of the sweater was the bottom hem of the skirt.

Step 3: Sew

Next, I stitched the edges where Id cut it all the way to the top, then folded over the top about an inch and a half. Inside this fold, I ran a length of elastic band, stitching one end to one of the side hem edges to keep it in place and then just stitched beneath the band all the way around. By not actually stitching through the elastic band, it allows the band to pull the skirt in around your waist without cinching up awkwardly.

And now, really, thats it! Boot socks, simple or buttoned, and a cozy sweater skirt from an outdated sweater. I think I need to dig through my husbands closet a little more and see if there are any other sweaters hes not using! Of course, Ill ask first

Kristin Hackler writes about the intersection of fashion, home and sustainability for eBay, one of her favoriteplaces tobuy or sell lightly worn clothing. Follow Kristin’s adventures on hereBay profile, oron her blog,Cardboard and Cloth.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Use an Old Sweater To Make Two New Wardrobe Pieces

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Watch President Obama Making Fun of Climate Deniers

Mother Jones

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President Obama is getting cheekier in speeches that mention climate change. Earlier this month, he berated climate deniers at a commencement speech at the University of California at Irvine, comparing their view to the idea that the moon is “made of cheese.”

And now, speaking before the League of Conservation Voters Wednesday night, Obama fully cemented his role as the “mocker-in-chief” of climate deniers, to use Politico’s words. Here’s one part of the speech:

It’s pretty rare that you encounter people who say that the problem of carbon pollution is not a problem. In most communities and workplaces, et cetera, when you talk to folks, they may not know how big a problem it is, they may not know exactly how it works, they may doubt that we can do something about it. But generally they don’t just say, ‘No I don’t believe anything scientists say.’ Except, where? asking the audience In Congress!

Obama also mocked the idea that climate change is a “liberal plot,” and much more, getting plenty of laughs from the crowd. You can watch part of the speech above.

Excerpt from – 

Watch President Obama Making Fun of Climate Deniers

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Santa Claus Points the Way to Our Robot-Filled Future

Mother Jones

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Dean Baker writes today that the Washington Post should be less worried. Their writers seem to think that eventually robots will take away all our jobs, but their editorial page is worried about bankrupting the country via spending on Social Security and Medicare. But you really can’t have both. If robots are beavering away producing everything we could possibly desire, then national bankruptcy is hardly a worry. Except, of course, for this:

There can of course be issues of distribution. If the one percent are able to write laws that allow them to claim everything the robots produce then they can make most of us very poor. But this is still a story of society of plenty. We can have all the food, shelter, health care, clean energy, etc. that we need; the robots can do it for us.

Yep. This is the issue. For all practical purposes, you can think of the elves in Santa’s workshop as a bunch of robots. As near as I can tell, they work for free, they’re insanely productive, and they produce as much stuff as Santa wants them to. So how is all this bounty distributed? Santa is smart enough to have figured out that capitalism won’t really work in a situation like this, so he’s adopted what’s basically a centrally-planned Marxist system: he decides who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, and then distributes gifts accordingly.

That might not quite work for our robot-filled future, but something like it will. Distribution, as John Stuart Mill pointed out more than a century ago, is really the most important question in economics. In the future, it will only get even more important.


Santa Claus Points the Way to Our Robot-Filled Future

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