There is no better quote to reference then your own, made from the source:Not the facts, just the data

Here is another post in my series of “Not the facts, just the data”. This post came after an argument I had with someone I care about. Make no mistake that this is not a rebutle but just a perspective on data vs. facts, and arguments vs. politics.

The biggest argument I stand being, from my point of view, is this: Do not trust or love politics, love your people, peers, country, and family.

Politicians on either side of the coin will use data for their agenda. If you get wrapped up in it, and start believing what you are *told*, through sound bites and ads, you will be misinformed 100% of the time. More information isn’t tantamount to a depth of information.

This is why I have learned not to trust politics, they bet on people not reading the full story (as wel only have so much time in the day) and try to create anger and conflict to make people mad enough to vote how they want. It feels like THAT is what has gotten worst over the years, not so much what is happening in the world, just the way its agenda is given to us. China does it by cutting off information, the US does it by overloading its people with one sided information.
The good news is that with the advent of the Internet it is now so easy to get the data and documents from the source, and fight back as a citizen saying “don’t use me for your agenda”. No need to go to the library and send letters requesting data that may take days or weeks; it is available now if you are willing to read it.
As my methods to get to the data evolve, I try and follow some procedures to navigate past the political propaganda.
First, If I find a “fact” that I am researching on any news site, I look for the citation for the “fact” so I know where it came from, and then look that fact up from it source to read it myself. If there is not citation, I start over. A citation does not make it data, it just helps you get a path to the source. Secondly, if I find the source I read it, if I cannot find the source I look for the source directly. At this stage in the evolution of my process I have deemed .gov sites and non-profit census bureaus as a final source. In some situation you can never be sure unless you count the numbers yourself, but I have found the most consistency at that level. Yes I know that even the government stats, non profits, and census bureaus can lie but if I can find some consitancy at that level I am pleased.
Lastly, how to spot a fact with skeletons in its closet that should trigger an investigation like the one above before having the debate.
Well, the main thing that triggers a fact check to me are statistics, and references to bill being voted on. Why? Well, over the years I have found that stats have a high potential to be screwed. Or example, what constitutes “1 year” – Fiscal year or calendar year etc. Another example is is the stats extrapolated from previous data or data that has already happened. Another read flag is the use of tag lines,  sound bits and general words like “taxes”, and “everyone”, and “higher” — higher then when and what for whom? Also, the reference to bills, are tough to believe from something like “he voted to….” After living in DC and working on capitol hill with you realize that both sides of the fence will quote the same document at different parts and come up with completely different conclusion. It is impossible for both are either to be entirely right, but both sides would never realize that they both *think* they are 100% right. As my readers and friends know by now, one of my big rules of thumb is: If experts disagree it is time to make your own decisions. A bill is written by many people with many agendas for their state. They are stiuffed, written and re-written over and over to try to get as much as they each want to get in it, and keep out as much as they don’t. They do this hours and hours everyday to come to a final document that is then voted on by all parties. It is very important to remember that time line, for no document has one message, and if it passed their is a big chance that both parties voted yes on it (unless there was a big split with few deciding votes). Point being, much could have gone into a document and so much more history to that document then any sound bite could articulate.
So, one of the bills that was brought as a point of contention was based on a sound bites saying “Obama voted on late term abortion”, and it was said that the bill was made to let mothers have the right to kill a baby after it is born alive. Well, personal, I did not know about that bill first hand, and that I promised to look it up. Speaking from my own perspectives I don’t like the sound of it, but I want the source and document first before my personal conclusions on that vote are spoken.
This is one of the actual bills voted on for Illinois referenced. It only took a few minutes to bring up. It was indeed named “Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act”, so that is a true data point.  As it turns out was voted on 44-7 (almost everyone agreed in both parties, that decided to attend). Also there were 5 present votes. What does a present vote mean?
 The “present” vote is in effect a “no” vote, but it is a “no” vote that sends a message. The “present” vote is used by lawmakers in situations where they agree with a bill in
spirit, however the current version of the bill is not good enough to vote “yes;”
The bill, in my first hand summary, would be this:  A bill for late term abortion *if* it will kill the mother to have the baby, but still says it is illegal otherwise. But please, do not take my word for it! Read it here:
So it is important for me to see just how complex a bill can be, in addition to how complex it is to create, finalize,vote on and pass, on it.
Another topic was immigration. Stats are the hardest data to really find concrete numbers. There isn’t a list of people that are counted ever. It is def not as easy to get to the bottom of as a document being references. Old census bureus that have been around and referenced over time by both parties is, to me, a better place to start than from a news site, network, or politician.
So here is census data from the Pew Foundation on immigration stats, highest in 2007, and leveled off down by a million the following years.
It is important to note that data usually doesn’t come with a “should”, “good”, “bad”, or “won’t” list of words around it. Why did it go up? That is as complex as why did it go down? And as you will see that once why is added to statistics rarely does a group of experts agree. There are so many variables, and that is where debates and politics I suppose have a place. But I would implore you all out there to start the debate after the data is presented, and be sure not to find yourself repeating an ad or politicians claim that a statistic is “up” or “down” until you read it for yourself from the source.
I think my new strategy will be to make sure that before I argue on big issues like this, especially in DC where the ads and politics are so ripe with contention, I will just say show me the document we are arguing over before getting involved. If we do, maybe the citizens of this country can take back their right to be informed, and to make decisions without political agenda being the force that drives them.

Let’s have cleaner debates with our neighbors: Not the facts, just the data.

I am not trying to get entrenched in the political back-and-forth going on. I actually do understand all of the he-said she-said going back-and-forth when it comes to peoples opinions. Opinions are each persons right to have, especially when it comes to social philosophy. Additionally, opinions are hard to “verify”; your beleifs are your prerogative.

However, it is amazing to me how non-opinion based information gets thrown AS opinion. It is even more distressing because it is so easy to find many statistic directly from the source, before they are muddied by political agenda, or distributed in off-the-cuff comments and hearsay.

So, I figured I could help…

The following are just the data & graphs of screen-shots taken from real census data (and yes the URL of where I got the data from is also noted next to each graph.) Feel free to browse the data yourself and make your own observations.

Debate the implications all your want – but below are not news reports or debate notes, they are charts taken from the actual data sources. All I ask, and hope to acheive, is that no matter what side your on, just remember not to include non-sensicle bullet points that just aren’t true and instead try to argue around your beliefs. Do not get caught up in baseless, inflated, skewed, or inaccurate depictions of history as it relates to hard cold metrics.

Important notes on data around first day of office dates

The first day in office for elected presidents is in late January following the election results, coming two months before in November.

George W’s First Day Obama’s First Day
 January 20, 2001  January 20, 2009

The stock market
The stock market shows the amount of money distributed in US corporation. The rich, and anyone investing in the rich wins when this graph goes up. Note 2007 and 2008 were shockingly bad, the worst downswing since the mid 80s. The good news everyone is it has only taken four years to get back from our bubble burst of 2001 which took eight. (You want this going up)


Unemployment Rate

This one is a often heavy argument point, but the data is all very easy to lookup. When a single percentage is called out it is hard to know its context. Those that scream and point fingers from he top of a mountain often end up implicating everyone – if those at the bottom of the mountain did a little research…. Again 2007 was the beginning of the frenzy. And if you remember there were many sad days and foreclosures making an “america is shutting down” environment. It was the intense swing from just a year before in 2006 that scared people the most. (You want this going down)

  2007-2009 was the sharpest upswing of unemployment we have seen over 30 years.


Here is another amazing story of how politicians program you to just repeat what they shout, programming you to have their debate. Again, the data is there to have your own debates and ones that aren’ skewed by anyone. Debt sucks, and gus, we have had it growing for a long time. And this rate back-and-forth argument is again a graph away. You can see the linear growth of date below. (You want this going down)


Personal Income

This is one that people don’t talk much about, because we like focusing on the negatives. BUT your incomes have been growing fairly steadily for a long time. We had a short blip of our first downward trajectory in 2008, actually the only one in recorded history of the US, but it corrected itself pretty quickly after 2009. (You want this going up)




I also found interesting that the following census data shows a steady increase in revenue and income in the US for decades.

Disposable Income per capita

This is also a great graph to be going up. Like the income graph we saw our first real blip ever in 2008, but for the most part we have consistently been getting a linear growth.


This one is a bit less cheerful, but t’s the reality. We had some great years as a country with revenue, but unfortunately the money stopped coming in in 2007 and we have all felt this graph at home.



Peace is the ultimate aligment of interests

The reason to promote peace, even in the face of threatening obstacles, is important to a democracy as it aligns interests of the people’s want for peace with the politicians interest for re-election, popularity, success and credibility.

If a powerful person does not promote peace and does not make it their primary platform with domestic and international policy the politician is put in a precarious position. Not to say any other platform chosen was not created with the intent to do their best to preserve the way of life of their populous, but all other platforms do not align interests over time if and when more obstacles present themselves.

If a person’s platform finds itself on the side of promoting a form of proactive defense or waging war then that person is put in a position in which their credibility is at stake if it is ever proven that peace could have been a better option. The need to prove that peace was not an option or is not a clear path  can easily become a new objective and from one compromise to another a person can invariably end up finding themselves trying  to prove that there is a need for force which may take either require more force or the framing of negative events to gain puplic cohesion. One decision is made after another and then the allowance of desctive act to prove the need for defese may be the only way to show the validity of ones position.

one thing leads to another and now in order to protct someone you need them to get hurt to allow you to protect them,…seems crazy  well look at glenn beck or rush limbagh who have already openly asked ofr destruction or failure to prive they are right. It is an example of misalignment..

Now if eeryone pushed diplomacy and peice the only way they go wrong is if something goes wrong, so in no way would they gain political postivity they must kee things safe. Safteyy and diplomacy align interst between community and leaders. it alwasy ends u p this way, is MLK or JFK remembered for violence who has been hitler, stalin, mcarthy. DOnt let hstory repreat itself and learn from past postivity, and diplomacy in teh face of negativity and violence has always been the corner stone of every philosphy, and histories ideal them all.  nothing wirth while is easy.



I heard about this site while listening to an interview on NPR. In this interview the host asked thier guest some questions as to why “they are so angry” at thier local senator. The guest replied that he is a liar and signed bills to allow a rediculous measure in an unwanted bill. She was irate at the situation, what was interesting is how the host then turned to a guest from Pilitifact who seemed to have researched the case and found taht many of the angry protesters points were driven by rumors as the references to documents they made were unsubstantiated. Now I am perfectly aware that Politifact is yet another level of abstraction from the “real truth” just like any other news agency.  What is interesting to me, after I browsed around thier site is the fact that they give you thier opinion and consolidate every reference and statement into linkable sources on the right hand gutter of the web page. It’s like having your own senate secratary gathering the facts for you so you can make your own informed descisions on a topic.

Fact-o-meter Ex.
Pants on Fire

They give a summary of statment or claims made by our politicatns and then exmine their refernces and sources and rate how true the statememnt is on a “truth -o-meter”.  Their meter varies from basic true or fals all the way down to “Pants on Fire” for those claims made that are not only exagerated but baseless.


They also show you links to all the references and sources they reveiwed so you can digg into the claims yourself and form your own opinion. The site definitely fills a need and will ecome popular enough so that our politicians are more careful when trying to exagerate claims just to gain the viewers attention. ALso a nice reference for Politifact is thier wininnging of the 2008 pulitzer for national reporting after only being luanched in 2007.

My capitol hill innauguration

Street Party
Street Party

It was truly amazing. I Was 2 blocks from the center of our nations capitol, the epicenter for our government, in a bar filled with a crowd cheering for their newly elected half black, half white, young, intelligent president who has promised there will be a “we”, and “we” will bring change.

I actually saw a man cry, I mean a grown ass man balling uncontrollably because the party he and his wife dedicated so much time to beat the odds and churned out a victory.
Most of the bar was filled with young politicians such as this. Those who came to drink after working in the senate and house office buildings down the street. It was like being in a bar in the heart of Boston during a World Series game. Imagine an environment were everyone in that bar has lived and worked directly on this election day-in and day-out. So much of their time was riding on this night.

Obama then gave a fantastically moving acceptance speech. I can get passionate about politics from time to time, but moved?! I have to admit I truly felt like I was part of something big! I was moved the most when listening to him describe the life of Ann Nixon, a centurion that has had the fortunate misfortune of living through so much change. Today she had so much of her history culminate to this single event today as she casted her vote. She has lived through so many ups and downs in our nation’s history. It painted an amazing picture of how the “yes we can” is more then a statement but that anything IS truly possible, for there is a “yes we have” already proven in our past.

As he spoke the crowd predominately between the ages of 21 and 35, who were unruly and boisterous and yes a little drunk only moments ago, fell completely silent and hung on every word of this historical speech.

Change was definitely in the air. I got text message from friends like “It is time for us to rise up and make a difference, sleep well friends”. I mean these messages were coming from folks that only two weeks ago vomited on my shoes at a club! It’s like every one around me stepped up there political and social game and decided to be more involved and take more responsibility for the welfare of our nation and the change machine.

After the speech I walked outside and the environment was even more amazing then expected. I heard horns blaring, cars overflowing with people hanging out their windows screaming “Barack, Barack, Barack!” The streets were flooded with people cheering, laughing, hugging and celebrating. Even more inspiring was that the crowd involved in this victory dance was truly and unquestionably composed of all races and classes; they were all celebrating together!

It all goes to show that one mans blind confidence in the ability of a nations people can be easily contagious and with that spread and acceptance of those ideals they become more and more possible. Ideals may be at times lofty, but as Gandhi said, “sometimes one man can make a difference”. It only takes one man to provoke change and from what I saw tonight change is on the way.