2008 debates – I am a sucker for sexy factchecking

John McCain mentioned in one presidential debate that Barack Obama wastefully earmarked $3 million for “an overhead projector” for Adler Planetarium. If you’re like me, you were probably thinking “What? Projectors don’t cost that much!” It’s true, the regular kind don’t, but an Adler’s Zeiss Mark VI projector does. I enjoyed reading the press release that the Adler put out in response.

12 comments for “2008 debates – I am a sucker for sexy factchecking

  1. 28Oct08 at 2:32

    My understanding from Chicagoans is that the planetarium didn’t even get the money anyway.

  2. 28Oct08 at 2:33

    … or I could have just read the article you linked to.

  3. 28Oct08 at 3:29

    Nice. Too bad most of the audience watching the debates will simply take him at his word and not bother to look it up or find out the truth. What a bad format for informing the public. Thank you for posting this!

  4. 28Oct08 at 3:44

    the whole pork barrel thing… isnt it our state representative’s job to get that damn good pork to feed our hungry states… we love it when we score a huge federal earmark for instate stuff..but then when other people do its called pork… (sort of like george carlin “stuff” argument…) admittedly XXXmillion for bridges that dont go anywhere is ridiculous…but everyone would be psyched if their local -insert-landmark got 3 million to replace a huge piece of infrastructure… no? ok shutting up now.

  5. 28Oct08 at 4:32

    Erin’s point I think is so important. The powers-that-be count on the fact that people won’t bother to check on those statements. It’s sad that so many of us are so lazy, or overwhelmed, whatever the reason behind it, but it is true (and I’m including myself there at times, this isn’t targeting everybody else). Even if the remark is later retracted, the damage is done, especially for folks who start out with some kind of presupposition or leaning one way or the other. It’s a darn dirty way of doing business but blast it is effective.

  6. kate
    28Oct08 at 4:55

    James: YES YES YES! I have been saying (well, muttering) this for weeks. (And it also explains why Senator McConnell, a Republican fighting for his seat in KY, is campaigning on what McCain would call pork.)

  7. PS
    28Oct08 at 5:50

    I don’t understand how anyone could be so anti-science. Science and science education are what drive innovation and technology. Our economy is in the crapper right now, and we’re going to need new ideas in industry to help us out of it. The people with these ideas are usually engineers and scientists. Places like planetariums inspire people to go into the sciences and take math classes to become computer scientists and engineers. I love science, and I don’t understand people who don’t.

    Don’t get me started on the whole bear SNP study.

  8. Heather
    29Oct08 at 6:43

    “Overhead” projector. . . I’ll refrain from swearing (for once). OMG. . . PS, James, and Erin all make excellent points. PS, though I don’t understand a whole lot of hard science, I appreciate what those in the science, engineering, mathematical and medical fields do, because someone has to do it, and if you’re good at it, well, go ahead and rock those logarithms (I think I spelled it wrong, sorry). Just too bad they didn’t get their equipment replaced. Holy crap. . . overhead projector. . . sheesh!

  9. 29Oct08 at 9:25

    What got me was that he actually made this “overhead projector” remark in TWO debates. He said it the first time – got corrected, criticized and generally lambasted for making the unfair remark, and then used it again in the next debate. If it was one time, you could give him the benefit of the doubt that someone had given him bad information. By using it again, though, he made it clear that he didn’t care about the accuracy of the information — he is counting on the effect it will have on people who don’t know the truth. Sad.

  10. Rodger Brayden
    29Oct08 at 10:22

    The point was not what kind of projector it was; the point was that it was (and still is, unless the request was withdrawn) an example of earmarks, which are a particular point of contention with McCain. $3 million here and $3 million there, and before you know it you’re talking real money, eh?

  11. 30Oct08 at 12:18

    Jessamyn Hello,

    All right with you? My name is Nelson Ferreira. I am a student of library science in Brazil, in the city of Formiga, state of Minas Gerais. I’m starting to study English and would like to establish contact with you. I also have a blog called the Biblio Focus. The address it is: http://www.bibliofocus.blogspot.com. As I am still starting to learn English, Portuguese and I typed in the translation of the page Gooogle. I hope we make contacts. Okay? A hug. Until more.

    Ps. Link on my blog translated by the translator of Google.

  12. fakeassrarian
    31Oct08 at 1:50

    I understand the need to minimize government waste during difficult times like these. And I’m glad to see that people are catching $400bazzillion bridges to no where and calling politicians on it.

    Spending on things like this though…it seems understandable. I have a friend who is a former employee and current consultant at the planetarium. He tells me that the situation is dire. The company who makes these ‘overhead projectors’ no longer makes the parts for their current model. It’s 40 years old and it needs repairs. They have to create homemade fix-its to keep the thing going. On top of that, the part of the projector that shows Pluto no longer works. So we’re short a planet already. Basically there is no ‘cheap’ way to keep the machine going. It needs to be replaced.

    In the meantime, Adler applied for government funding to the tune of $3million. The total cost of a new projector will be $10million and they’ve done the fundraising towards that end. Unfortunately, it seems unclear when, or if, they will be able to get the remaining money towards this major purchase.

    This isn’t an instance of a group looking for easy handouts for unnecessary crap. This is an institution of education that supports schools, researchers, and families from all over the world. They are well respected and have created great programs for families and academics alike to improve scientific understanding.

    Unlike the money that goes towards the building of homes for congressmen from the great state of Alaska, this would have been a legitimate expenditure.

    Sorry for the rant, I just thought people could benefit from the details.

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