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USA TODAY: Crossfire Hurricane: Pull back curtain on FBI’s investigation of Donald Trump, Russia.

Remember the umbrage in March 2017 when the president said that he had been “wiretapped” before the election? Then-FBI Director James Comey testified he had had “no information” to support that idea, and he had “looked carefully inside the FBI.” Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said there was no surveillance, and as DNI he would have known about a court order on “something like this.” PolitiFact labeled the claim 100% false.

What a difference a year makes. Recent revelations of the extent of the anti-Trump surveillance activity have forced Trump critics to adopt a new narrative. Clapper now says spying on the campaign was actually a good thing. The New York Times took issue with the term “spying,” saying rather that it was simply an “investigation.” This dickering over terms is reminiscent of when former Attorney General Loretta Lynch insisted the “investigation” into Hillary Clinton’s home-brew email server be called a “matter.” . . .

The FBI and Justice Department could help matters at this point with radical transparency, releasing all the information about every aspect of what they dubbed Operation Crossfire Hurricane. But at every turn the DOJ has raised national security objections to revealing practically anything important. This is harmful to the DOJ and the country. The department leadership needs to understand that a considerable number of Americans believe that the DOJ itself has become a national security threat.

Besides, how could the FBI’s spying on the Trump campaign not have been for political purposes? We have FBI special agent Peter Strzok’s private texts to his paramour FBI lawyer Lisa Page reviewing an Aug. 15, 2016, meeting in then-deputy director Andrew McCabe’s office with top FBI officials, saying the government “can’t take (the) risk” that “Trump gets elected” and the Russia investigation was their “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency. If the Strzok-Page texts were not still heavily and strategically redacted we would know much more. And the fact remains that a major party candidate has never been subjected to such a bizarrely concocted and systematic official investigation during and after an election. Derailing this bastardized process and the Mueller investigation it spawned is not obstruction of justice, but obstruction of injustice.

Whoever came up with the Rolling Stones-inspired name “Crossfire Hurricane” for the horrendous spy operation had a strange sense of humor. But as we watch the truth gradually emerge, see the abuses of power laid bare, and entertain the prospect that the principle actors behind this wretched excess may be held criminally responsible, to quote the Stones, “it’s all right now, in fact it’s a gas.”

I remain unsatisfied.


You see how this works? PolitiFact’s main mission is to “fact check”–i.e., contest–anything that President Trump says. They know they have a credibility problem, since they have been convicted of liberal bias more times than anyone can count. So they seek to burnish their non-partisan credentials by adding a Democrat and a Republican to their team. The Democrat was the more or less insane hyper-partisan Alan Grayson, while the “Republican” was “a prominent…critic of U.S. President Donald Trump.” This is what PolitiFact calls objectivity: it employs both Democrat and “Republican” critics of Donald Trump.

Read the whole thing.

DENIAL, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG: Alan Grayson Gets Into Scuffle with Politico Reporter Asking Questions About Domestic Abuse.

RELATED? PolitiFact thought Alan Grayson could help its ‘trust’ and ‘credibility’ until Twitter chimed in.

PolitiFact announced it hired former politician Alan Grayson to critique its work in an effort to improve trust and credibility on Thursday… but that decision lasted about three seconds.

“It has become clear our choice of Alan Grayson did not meet that threshold to many,” PolitiFact executive director Aaron Sharockman tweeted on Thursday after the initial tweet that he was hired received an onslaught of criticism from respected media members.

Sharockman said Grayson was called “a short while ago and informed” that PolitiFact would cancel the agreement for him to write for the site. PolitiFact bills itself as “a fact-checking website that rates the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics.”

Grayson represented Florida’s Democratic-leaning 9th Congressional District from 2012 until he announced he would not seek re-election in 2016 because he eyed a Senate seat.

“A fact-checking outfit hiring Alan Grayson is like a church hiring Charlie Sheen to run their youth group,” National Review columnist Dan McLaughlin tweeted.

Politico’s Jake Sherman asked, “Is this a joke?”

No, but PolitiFact has become one.

THE TAMPA BAY BRANCH OF THE MINISTRY OF TRUTH: PolitiFact is the lie of the year, writes Don Surber.

Just think of them as Democrats with Truth-O-Meter clip art, and it all makes sense.

NOTE TO POLITIFACT:THIS IS A JOKE!  Turkey pardoned by Trump had multiple contacts with Russian officials.

FLASHBACK REMINDER: CNN’s Tapper: Obama has used Espionage Act more than all previous administrations.

THE GASLIGHTING GRAY LADY: Paul Krugman says Obama was ‘honest’ about healthcare, omits broken promise on keeping doctors.

When even Politifact gives Obama “the lie of the year” award, you know Paul Krugman has transformed the memory hole into a dumpster fire.

NYT: How the G.O.P. Sabotaged Obamacare.

Sold on a lie, authored and passed by Democrats, and designed to fail — ObamaCare’s failures are due to G.O.P. sabotage.


Here’s the part Guy was talking about:

The media template for covering the 115th Congress apparently goes like this: When Republicans fail to pass a bill, they’re doomed. But when they succeed, they’re also doomed. Thus the same media sages who said the House could never repeal ObamaCare are now saying that the replacement the House passed Thursday can’t pass the Senate.

It wouldn’t be so bothersome — the press is supposed to be hostile to politicians, or at least highly suspect of them — if the skepticism was directed at both parties.

However, ObamaCare’s rocky passage was presented as “historic victory” for Democrats generally, and even more uncritically as a huge win for Barack Obama specifically. And long before Politifact finally conceded that ObamaCare’s sales pitch was the “Lie of the Year,” they originally gave that “award” to the GOP for opposing it.

The AHCA, whatever its virtues or flaws, has received and will receive no such treatment — which is as it should be. But there might not be such an expensive wreck of an “affordability” act to try and fix today had the press applied the same critical eye to ObamaCare and its proponents in 2009-10.

FAKE NEWS: Former Obama Official Suggests ‘Opposing Viewpoints Button’ for Facebook.

Cass Sunstein, former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration, suggested that Facebook experiment with an “opposing viewpoints button” in the website’s newsfeed but cautioned against the company curating content based on policy positions.

“You could just click on it and you would get, for a certain amount of stuff that comes on your newsfeed, things that think differently from how you think – and it could make you very unhappy that you clicked the button because ‘why are they sending me this nonsense?’” he said during a discussion about his book, #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media, at the American Enterprise Institute.


And a smart algo might put challenging viewpoints into everyone’s feed, instead of using left-leaning Snopes or Politifact to tell people what the “real” news is.

INDEED: Enough With PolitiFact’s Opinion Journalism.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG? Google is wading into the battle against online fake news and adding a fact check to its search results.

The Californian tech giant announced on Friday that it is rolling out globally a feature in its search and news results that will assess the authenticity of information shown.

Google isn’t doing this fact-checking itself: Instead, it’s relying on respected independent fact-checking organisations like PolitiFact and Snopes to provide the info.

No bias there.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Sean Davis nails it:

DO NOT TRUST CONTENT FROM SUSAN RICE: In January, Susan Rice Assured NPR the Obama Admin Removed Chemical Weapons From Syria.

Related: PolitiFact Retracts ‘Mostly True’ Ruling That U.S. Removed ‘100 Percent’ of Syria’s Chemical Weapons. “Subsequent events have proved John Kerry wrong.” Don’t trust content from John Kerry, either . . .

ASTROTURF IS THE NEW GRASSROOTS: The Democrats’ Spontaneous Grassroots Response to Trump’s Speech is Ready.

Because nothing says spontaneous grassroots outrage like shared talking point tweets on Google Sheets.

So, let’s have some fun. They’ve been suggesting using the hashtag #JointAddress, so let’s add some tweets of our own. Here are a few suggestions:

Obama’s “if you like your plan” statement was awarded Lie of the Year by PolitiFact.

ACA = unfunded mandate. Hundreds of hours of unpaid extra work in small companies.

Trump’s repeal of EPA policies will give coal miners hope and jobs.

Trump’s election has massively increased media interest in reporting government overreach.

If you want the press to do its job, elect a white male Republican.

I know I can depend on the creativity of PJ readers. Make up your own, and post them in the comments — but tweet them first!


FACT-CHECK: Trump 4, Politifact 1.

WELL, TO BE FAIR, NANCY PELOSI AND GUN CONTROL GROUPS LIE A LOT: Nancy Pelosi and gun control groups claim that Neil Gorsuch sides with ‘felons over gun safety.’ “PolitiFact explains why this is unfounded, and I think that’s absolutely right.”

GEORGE SCOVILLE: “Fake News?” Media, Heal Thyself.

In December, PolitiFact awarded its “2016 Lie of the Year” award to “Fake news.” But mainstream press deserves plenty of blame. We can’t all be gullible rubes, after all. Why are American news consumers turning away from mainstream media? The answer is simple: contemporary reporting is awful.

According to George Mason University economist and political scientist Tim Groseclose, whose work has focused on measuring partisan bias in the press, news editors and reporters overwhelmingly skew left on the American political spectrum. To wit, the Center for Public Integrity found that, of the over $396,000 that members of the press gave in 2016 to the two major presidential campaigns, 96 percent of the funds went to Clinton.

Recent headlines claiming that malicious foreign actors “hacked” the 2016 election suggest that editors make deliberate choices to try to shape how we think about current events. Although federal officials have found no evidence of vote-tampering, the damage is already done: over 50 percent of Democrats in a recent YouGov poll think Russians hacked actual vote tallies to help Trump. This conspiracy theory rivals the belief that President Obama is a Kenyan Muslim.

Michael Cleply, a former New York Times reporter, wrote after the election that his editors often assigned stories to him with prepackaged narratives. His job was to gather facts and comments from sources to support the storyline. This is not “reporting.” It is little wonder that many people distrust mainstream media.


THIS WHOLE ANTI-“FAKE NEWS” CRUSADE IS GOING SWIMMINGLY: Facebook ‘fact checker’ who will arbitrate on ‘fake news’ is accused of defrauding website to pay for prostitutes – and its staff includes an escort-porn star and ‘Vice Vixen domme.’

That’s Snopes. And the other partners are even shadier! “The others include ABC News, the Associated Press and ‘fact-checking’ websites including” Ew.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Liberal fact-checkers are not the way to ensure a more informed public.

That’s certainly the case with PolitiFact, which pretends to be even-handed but has its own biases. In 2008 PolitiFact helped bless ObamaCare with a “true” rating for candidate Barack Obama’s claim that “if you like your health-care plan, you can keep it.” In 2009 the website demoted the remark to “half true,” adding the non-insight that ObamaCare would “surely change the current health system.” By 2013, as Americans lost their insurance, PolitiFact changed its judgment and called Mr. Obama’s line the “lie of the year.”

Tendentious PolitiFact ratings are a classic genre of bad journalism. When Texas libertarian Ron Paul said the U.S. federal income-tax rate was zero until 1913, PolitiFact called that “half true.” (We would have called that true.) Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb later said the same thing and notched a mark of “mostly true,” and maybe he earned extra points for being a Democrat.

Behind this is the conceit that political debates could be settled if ideologues (Republicans) would only accept what the liberal consensus defines as “facts,” as if worldview or interpretation are irrelevant. Facebook has long insisted that it is neutral about content, and earlier this year it denied reports that the platform censored conservative news. That’s looking less credible.

The company also says it will only target the “worst of the worst” fake news, which you would think a sophisticated algorithm could identify without an assist from PolitiFact. In any case, the standard is subjective and no one knows which employees will make that call.

All that’s needed to combat “fake news” is transparency and honesty. Facebook lacks the former and the press lacks the latter.

Getting those two into bed together isn’t going to produce any viable offspring.


Facebook is taking a major step to appease its mostly liberal post-election critics, who charged that disinformation that proliferated on its platform affected the election outcome (read: helped elect a candidate they oppose). . . .

The company’s leadership is presenting this as a kind of technical tweak that will simply out transparent scams. Facebook already enforces various content standards for its site; it could be that the new protocol will affect ostentatiously fabricated items—”Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump,” for example—and nothing else. That kind of limited system could run into difficulties—what to do about parody sites, for example?—but would probably not be fatal to Facebook’s mission of free and open communication and debate.

But conservatives are already raising concerns that the new regime will go far beyond its stated aims, and for good reason. In the wake of the election, Clinton supporters eager to blame ostensibly less enlightened people for her loss and media mandarins distressed about the collapse of their authority expanded the definition of “fake news” to include any content they found politically objectionable. The Washington Post published a hysterical report decrying the supposedly vast influence of fake news that relied on a now-discredited report that used broad and opaque criteria to dismiss partisan news sites as “Russian propaganda.” The anti-fake news crusade, in other words, has gathered momentum in part by exploiting all of the same human impulses that can make actual propaganda so potent in the first place—tribalism, hysteria, and, as the New Yorker‘s Adrian Chen put it, “weav[ing] together truth and disinformation.”

And then there is the fact that some of the fact-checkers Facebook has enlisted to help with its effort—most notably, PolitiFact—have a clear record of bias against conservative viewpoints, rating as “true” or “false” statements that are essentially expressions of opinion and then casually mixing their own predispositions with objective facts in a way that tends to subject the Right to greater scrutiny.

I don’t trust them.

WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN? Facebook now flags and down-ranks fake news with help from outside fact checkers.

“We’re not looking to get into the grey area of opinion,” Facebook’s VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri tells me. “What we are focusing on with this work is specifically the worst of the work — clear hoaxes that were shared intentionally, usually by spammers, for financial gain.”

And who is to be entrusted with sorting the real news from the fake?

“Snopes,, Politifact, ABC News, and AP.”

This should be fun.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. PolitiFact named ‘fake news’ as the lie of the year. Counterpoint: PolitiFact is part of the problem.

FACT-CHECKING THE “FACT-CHECKERS,” AGAIN: NRA says Clinton said something she said. Politifact says NRA claim ‘mostly false.’

Fiske argues that Clinton “focused her comments on voluntary buyback programs similar to those some U.S. communities have instituted for guns and the federal ‘cash-for-clunkers’ program.”

That’s demonstrably false. Clinton clearly said “the Australian example is worth considering.”

And that “Australian example” was an example of gun confiscation. It was not a voluntary program. Historian Varad Mehta wrote about the Australian program last year for the Federalist, breaking down exactly what it entailed.

“Australia outlawed semi-automatic rifles, certain categories of shotgun, and implemented strict licensing and registration requirements,” Mehta wrote. “The cornerstone of its new gun-control scheme, however, was a massive gun buyback program. The Australian government purchased 650,000 to one million guns with funds raised via a special tax.”

That buyback program was mandatory, Mehta wrote. One cannot claim to consider the Australian example and its effectiveness in removing guns without acknowledging that the reason it worked was that it was mandatory.

A Clinton spokesman told Politifact that the Democratic candidate “does not support national mandatory gun buyback programs, including those modeled after Australia’s program” and that she was only discussing voluntary buyback programs.

But the candidate absolutely discussed Australia’s program — which was a mandatory buyback program — and said it was “worth considering,” just as the NRA claimed.

Think of the “Fact Checkers” as Democratic Party narrative-control officers with bylines and you won’t go far wrong.

JUST THINK OF THEM AS DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVES WITH BYLINES, AND IT ALL MAKES SENSE. Conflict of Interest: PolitiFact and the Clinton Foundation Share Megadonor.

SHARING A MEGADONOR WITH HILLARY: Exclusive: Here’s The Clinton Foundation Conflict Of Interest That Politifact Hides.

THAT MEANS IT’S WORKING: Medicaid’s “Improper Payments” Needlessly Costing Taxpayers Billions.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the improper payment rate for Medicaid in 2016 will likely hit 11.5%, meaning more than one in ten dollars taxpayers spend on the program are spent wrongfully.

Improper payments have nearly doubled since 2013, undoubtedly driven by Obamacare’s massive expansion of Medicaid to able-bodied, childless, working-age adults that to date has been accepted by 31 states. The federal government’s total growth improper payments – which now top $136 billion – was driven almost entirely by Medicaid.

I’m so old, I remember when President Obama promised his signature law would practically pay for itself by eliminating “hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud.

That has to be worth at least a Pinocchio or two.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Clinton Is Making Her Trust Problem Worse.

Bloomberg’s left-leaning Al Hunt:

Her inadequate response to the conflicts of interest inherent in the Clinton Foundation,” the influential liberal columnist Jonathan Chait wrote last week in New York magazine, shows she “has not fully grasped the severity of her reputational problem.” He added, “If the Clinton Foundation is not leveraging the Clinton name, it has no purpose.”

At the same time, I spoke with a prominent Clinton insider, a person of integrity and high ethical standards. He said shutting the Clinton Foundation would hurt millions of people around the world and would be giving in to right-wing critics who will find something else to seize on.

I agree that right-wingers like Representative Jason Chaffetz, Senator Tom Cotton or former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — who seemed to grant himself a medical degree last week when he ludicrously diagnosed Clinton with health problems — will find something. Much of it will be phony.

That is no reason to give them ammunition. Politifact and Jonathan Chait are not part of what Clinton once famously called the “vast right wing conspiracy.”

It’s a safe prediction that Clinton will continue to hand out ammunition.

QUESTION ASKED: Can Hillary Clinton give a straight answer on emails?

Media fact-checkers have offered harsh reviews of Mrs Clinton’s response. The Washington Post gave it four “Pinocchios”, its lowest rating. Politifact labelled her statement “pants on fire”.

“Clinton is cherry-picking statements by Comey to preserve her narrative about the unusual setup of a private email server,” writes the Post’s Glenn Kessler. “This allows her to skate past the more disturbing findings of the FBI investigation.”

“Allowed to skate past” covers all of the Clintons’ shenanigans, legal and illegal, going back more than 30 years.




Trump consistency about being inconsistent seems almost calculated to destroy the accountability that comes with being interviewed. It has already managed to displace the usual policy wonkery and debate of issues with something showier and more grand. A Trump political rally seeks to focus collective emotions, not make reasoned cases for one set of policies over another. To borrow a page from the rhetoricians, Trump rejects logos (the appeal to reason) when making his pitch and goes directly to pathos (the appeal to emotion) as he strives to elicit tears, laughter, and ultimately agreement from his supporters.

In dismissing logic and consistency for pure emotion, Trump has created a powerful reality-distortion field in both politics and journalism. The field doesn’t actually permit Trump to “get away with” lying in interviews: If you query his supporters, most will concede their man’s many fibs. In their minds, though, the “truth” matters less than what’s in Trump’s heart. It’s not that truth and fact don’t matter to them—it’s that truth and facts don’t matter enough to affect whether you want to vote for him. In an environment in which political success is almost totally detached from information, the “truth-finding” interview is becoming one of the first casualties.

By rejecting the authority of the press to judge him, Trump has debilitated if not destroyed the power of the interview, befuddling a press corps that still believes it can bring him down with one more gotcha, one more “Pinocchio”, one more “Pants On Fire” from the fact-checkers. Trump is laughing at them now.

— “How Donald Trump Destroyed the Interview—A century-old political institution may have met its match,” Jack Shafer, the Politico, yesterday.

In 1993, novelist Michael Crichton riled the news business with a Wired magazine essay titled “Mediasaurus,” in which he prophesied the death of the mass media—specifically the New York Times and the commercial networks. “Vanished, without a trace,” he wrote.

The mediasaurs had about a decade to live, he wrote, before technological advances—”artificial intelligence agents roaming the databases, downloading stuff I am interested in, and assembling for me a front page”—swept them under. Shedding no tears, Crichton wrote that the shoddy mass media deserved its deadly fate.

“[T]he American media produce a product of very poor quality,” he lectured. “Its information is not reliable, it has too much chrome and glitz, its doors rattle, it breaks down almost immediately, and it’s sold without warranty. It’s flashy but it’s basically junk.”

* * * * * * * *

As we pass his prediction’s 15-year anniversary, I’ve got to declare advantage Crichton. Rot afflicts the newspaper industry, which is shedding staff, circulation, and revenues. It’s gotten so bad in newspaperville that some people want Google to buy the Times and run it as a charity! Evening news viewership continues to evaporate, and while the mass media aren’t going extinct tomorrow, Crichton’s original observations about the media future now ring more true than false. Ask any journalist.

“Michael Crichton, Vindicated — His 1993 prediction of mass-media extinction now looks on target,” Jack Shafer, Slate, May 29 2008.


Consider, after all, the last month in politics. Recently, news stories noted that a White House guest rapper, paroled on a pending felony charge, had his ankle bracelet go off. The White House deputy national security advisor and senior speechwriter Ben Rhodes bragged about how he more or less lied and perpetuated a con to ram through the Iran deal without Senate oversight. Former Obama speechwriters joked on television about writing the lie, “If you like your insurance, you can keep it.” Obama himself threatened to cut off federal funds to states that did not share his reinterpretation of the 1972 Title IX Amendments to include bathroom access of their choice for the transgendered. Meanwhile, the FBI weighs a federal felony indictment against Hillary Clinton, just as stories have resurfaced of Bill Clinton’s frequent and unescorted flights on convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein notorious “Lolita Express.” If that is a typical month in the life of the current administration and ongoing presidential campaign, then what exactly are the norms by which we can judge Trump as a renegade?  The proper critique of Trump is that he would not restore decorum to political discourse and behavior that long ago were debased.

“Why Republicans Will Vote For Trump,” Victor Davis Hanson, the Hoover Institute, Tuesday.

#CROOKEDHILLARY OR #LYINGHILLARY? EMBRACE THE POWER OF “AND!” Politifact: Hillary Clinton claim about Donald Trump paying no federal taxes ignores the years when he did. Hey, this stuff worked against Mitt Romney so it was worth a try.

FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF “WHAT IF THIS HAD BEEN BUSH,” PART XXXVIII: Charlie Rose and President’s Speechwriters Laugh About ObamaCare Lie:

CHARLIE ROSE: My point is do you have equal impact on serious speeches? Because it’s about style, use of language, etcetera?

JON LOVETT, FORMER OBAMA SPEECH WRITER: I really like, I was very — the joke speeches is the most fun part of this. But the things I’m the most proud of were the most serious speeches, I think. Health care, economic speeches.

JON FAVREAU, FORMER OBAMA SPEECH WRITER: Lovett wrote the line about “If you like your insurance, you can keep it.”

LOVETT: How dare you!


LOVETT: And you know what? It’s still true! No.

Obamacare was originally hatched at the start of 2007 by Favreau and Robert Gibbs, who would later go on to be Obama’s first press secretary, as a way to run to Hillary’s left. Or as Allahpundit wrote in 2013, “Even the transformation of American health care is but a subplot to Hopenchange image-making:”

Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, then an Illinois senator, was thinking about turning down an invitation to speak at a big health care conference sponsored by the progressive group Families USA [in January 2007], when two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, hit on an idea that would make him appear more prepared and committed than he actually was at the moment.

Why not just announce his intention to pass universal health care by the end of his first term?…

“We needed something to say,” recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. “I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.”…

The candidate jumped at it. He probably wasn’t going to get elected anyway, the team concluded. Why not go big?

Once in office, Obama was caught on video at least 35 times saying “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” arguably the biggest lie ever told by an American president; one that even the leftwing “Politifact” Website was forced to declare the “lie of the year” for 2013.

And these three are yucking it up this week, even as millions of Americans lost their healthcare plans.

Ben Rhodes, Obama’s fabulist Middle East guru recently bragged to the New York Times how easy it is to manipulate his party’s operatives with bylines because “The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

Neither do the people feeding them their material; Favreau was the speechwriter who put the dreaded phrase “Peace in our time” into the teleprompter of President Chamberlain’s second inaugural speech.

Incidentally, here’s Favreau, circa 2008, standing to the left of a photo of potentially the next president of the United States, as a friend offers her a beer.


MAKE INSANE CONSPIRACY THEORIES GREAT AGAIN! Donald Trump Thinks Ted Cruz’s Father Killed JFK, And In No Way Does That Make Him A Crazy Person.

Related: “PolitiFact’s facial recognition scan of Rafael Cruz hours too late to save campaign,” Twitchy notes. “As long as we’re taking conspiracy theories seriously, check out the timestamp on PolitiFact’s tweet, showing that it was posted after the first polls had closed in Indiana. Who knows how many votes could have been salvaged if this important information had been brought to light even a few hours earlier.”

Kudos though to Jake Tapper of CNN for taking the effort to debunk Trump’s smear a bit more seriously.

Flashback: My 2007 Tech Central Station interview with James Piereson on his must-read book, Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism. As I noted in the intro, Piereson argues “both that Kennedy was a victim of the Cold War, and that the repression of his killer’s ideology caused tremendous psychological damage to the collective health of the nation.”

Damage that is still ongoing, as yesterday’s conspiracy theory freakout by Trump illustrates, as America continues to slide back and to the left…back and to the left…


EVEN A BROKEN CLOCK IS RIGHT TWICE A DAY: Charles Koch has an oped in the Washington Post, “This is the One Issue Where Bernie Sanders is Right.

As he campaigns for the Democratic nomination for president, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) often sounds like he’s running as much against me as he is the other candidates. I have never met the senator, but I know from listening to him that we disagree on plenty when it comes to public policy. . . .

Democrats and Republicans have too often favored policies and regulations that pick winners and losers. This helps perpetuate a cycle of control, dependency, cronyism and poverty in the United States. These are complicated issues, but it’s not enough to say that government alone is to blame. Large portions of the business community have actively pushed for these policies. . . . 

Whenever we allow government to pick winners and losers, we impede progress and move further away from a society of mutual benefit. This pits individuals and groups against each other and corrupts the business community, which inevitably becomes less focused on creating value for customers. That’s why Koch Industries opposes all forms of corporate welfare — even those that benefit us. (The government’s ethanol mandate is a good example. We oppose that mandate, even though we are the fifth-largest ethanol producer in the United States.)

It may surprise the senator to learn that our framework in deciding whether to support or oppose a policy is not determined by its effect on our bottom line (or by which party sponsors the legislation), but by whether it will make people’s lives better or worse. . . .

Our criminal justice system, which is in dire need of reform, is another issue where the senator shares some of my concerns. Families and entire communities are being ripped apart by laws that unjustly destroy the lives of low-level and nonviolent offenders.

Today, if you’re poor and get caught possessing and selling pot, you could end up in jail. Your conviction will hold you back from many opportunities in life. However, if you are well-connected and have ample financial resources, the rules change dramatically. Where is the justice in that? . . .

At this point you may be asking yourself, “Is Charles Koch feeling the Bern?”


I applaud the senator for giving a voice to many Americans struggling to get ahead in a system too often stacked in favor of the haves, but I disagree with his desire to expand the federal government’s control over people’s lives. This is what built so many barriers to opportunity in the first place. . . .

I don’t expect to agree with every position a candidate holds, but all Americans deserve a president who, on balance, can demonstrate a commitment to a set of ideas and values that will lead to peace, civility and well-being rather than conflict, contempt and division. When such a candidate emerges, he or she will have my enthusiastic support.

I’ve always thought it was strange for Democrats to spend so much energy demonizing the Kochs who are, after all, libertarians who agree with the left on many social issues. Most of their non-profit spending goes to educational efforts aimed at enhancing individual liberty (which explains why they are the functional equivalent of Lucifer to liberals/progressives/totalitarians).

I guess the left needs to have its base hate someone specific who is really rich–their anti-Soros, if you will. Most of the other mega-wealthy Americans either try to stay out of the political spotlight, or they become supplicants to the political left (e.g., Bill Gates or Warren Buffett) in their attempt to ward off its ire. Just ask Chick-Fil-A, Hobby Lobby, Cracker Barrel, Whole Foods, Exxon, and many other businesses that have been the subject of negative publicity and boycotts (largely unsuccessful) after they dared to defy the political left. 

THEIR POLICIES DON’T BEAR DETAILED ANALYSIS: Sanders and Clinton Get Substantive. That’s Where They Go Wrong.

In previous debates, we got bogged down in the need for a new Glass-Steagall. Since the old Glass-Steagall hadn’t actually gone away, and no specific aspects of the theoretical new one were described, this had the ethereal, almost theological flavor of monks discussing how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. To put it in math-esque terms: The possible set of policies included in the phrase “new Glass-Steagall” was so large as to include nearly all possible outcomes, good and bad.

Last night, on the other hand, Clinton decided to stop mucking about with vague promises to bring Wall Street to heel. Instead, she claimed that she was a financial regulator of rare foresight and rarer steely will, hated and feared by the denizens of New York’s financial district. Presumably we are supposed to see that $675,000 she was paid by Goldman Sachs to make three speeches less as a warm gesture between close friends, than as the bags of gold left outside the city gates for the Visigoth king who is threatening to sack the place.

“But what I want people to know,” said Clinton, “is I went to Wall Street before the crash. I was the one saying you’re going to wreck the economy because of these shenanigans with mortgages. I called to end the carried interest loophole that hedge fund managers enjoy. I proposed changes in CEO compensation.”

Finally, specifics! And yet — this was a somewhat surprising claim. Those of us who were writing about financial regulation in 2007 do not recall Hillary Clinton as a fiery crusader against the financial industry. We remember her as being — like all New York senators — rather friendly to the place.

So I went looking for the support for this remarkable statement. Politifact rated a similar statement as true, based on some speeches she gave in 2007, and a plan she put forward in 2008. It is hard, however, to read this collection as a “warning that Wall Street is going to wreck the economy.” It would be more properly termed “Grousing about consumers who can’t afford their bubblicious subprime mortgages,” and vague remarks about transparency and oversight.

Well, Politifact.

ROGER SIMON ON LAST NIGHT’S DEBATE: The Democratic Candidates Do Their Best to Preserve ISIS:

But talk of passing the buck, Hillary, during the debate, accused Donald Trump of being ISIS’s best recruiter, specifically that they had already used him in a propaganda video.  That turned out not to be true.  You will be amazed to hear that Hillary lied.


A HILLARY DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF CANNOT STAND! Hillary Clinton: I Totally Oppose The Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement I Negotiated In 2012, even though “In her 2014 memoir, Hillary Clinton listed the negotiation of TPP as one of her key accomplishments as Sec. of State.”  As Twitchy asks, “Did TPP flip-flopper Hillary even READ her book before sending it to GOP candidates?”

The Washington Free Beacon video supercut rounds up 24 Times Hillary Clinton Championed the Trans-Pacific Partnership While Secretary of State:

Jack Tapper of CNN notes that the number is nearly double: “45 times Secretary Clinton pushed the trade bill she now opposes.”

And don’t get her started on NAFTA, either, which further demonstrates the paradox of Hillary’s campaign. It’s entirely based on the good time nostalgia of the 1990s, even though she has repudiated seemingly every aspect of her husband’s post-Reagan centrism that helped to create it, as part of her increasingly quixotic efforts to lock down her party’s radical socialist base.

Speaking of which, at Hot Air, Allahpundit writes, “the Hillarybot has decided that it’s in her interest to move left to protect herself against Sanders. Bad idea. Because not only will she irritate centrist Dems and Obama-worshipping liberals by crossing him on this, but hardly a single Sanders voter will reconsider her based on this position given how transparently politically calculated it is. As Gabe Malor says, ‘Clinton will get a 5 point bump from this. In the ‘not honest or trustworthy’ polls.’ In fact, if you were searching for a reason to watch next week’s debate, now you’ve got one: It should be high comedy watching Sanders feed Hillary tons of sh*t for her sudden pandering reversal on TPP. Can’t wait.”

Related: Plenty of room on Hillary’s server for a little Journolist-style action as well.

THE HILL: Democrats’ Benghazi panel talking point proven false.

Democrats claimed this week that the House’s special committee investigating the 2012 violence in Benghazi, Libya, was the longest inquiry of its kind, but fact-checkers on Friday proved them wrong.

In fact, there have been at least four special congressional committees charged with investigating various incidents that have run longer than the Benghazi panel, Politifact discovered.

The claim that the Benghazi committee had been in existence longer than any other special investigation committee was incorrectly reported by The Hill as well as The New York Times, ABC News and other media outlets.

The existence of the former committees pokes a hole in a frequent talking point for critics of the Select Committee on Benghazi, including the campaign of Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of State during the 2012 attack.

Honestly, at this point that’s the least of her problems. But yeah.


A CULTURE OF BOYS WITHOUT DADS:  Ken Blackwell and Roy Schwarzwalder have a compelling op-ed in TownHall today, discussing the elephant in the room that progressives don’t want to acknowledge:  the importance of fatherhood.

Fatherhood is in crisis all across the country. . . . Nationwide, only 17 percent of African-American children reach 17 in a family with their married biological parents. . . .Clearly, the solution is healthy marriage and strong families. As Jason L. Riley writes in the Wall Street Journal[], “In 2012 the poverty rate for all blacks was more than 28 percent, but for married black couples it was 8.4% and has been in the single digits for two decades. Just 8 percent of children raised by married couples live in poverty, compared with 40% of children raised by single mothers.

As one of us (Blackwell), wrote with Pat Fagan last year in The Washington Times[], “Marriage is the greatest ‘program’ to end poverty, child abuse, child sexual abuse, school dropout, college failure, health problems, drug problems, depression, out-of-wedlock births to teenagers, reduce abortions, increase homeownership and savings … We know that when you remove marriage as a factor, there is virtually no difference between whites and blacks on graduation, employment and staying out of jail.”

Exactly.  There is nothing as powerful for the welfare of children than an intact family.  But even if the parents do not wish to be (or remain) married, having the constant presence of both a loving mother and father is probably the single most important predictor of the trajectory of a child’s life.

Fathers matter tremendously, and if progressives such as President Obama really “cared” about the black community, they would emphasize this message over and over again.  Instead, when faced with the fact that 73 percent of black children are born out-of-wedlock (versus 29 percent for whites and 17 percent for Asians), we hear crickets, or worse, howls of indignation from progressives, such as a recent piece posted at ThinkProgress, which proclaimed, “there’s compelling evidence that number of black dads living apart from their kids stems from structural systems of inequality and poverty, not the unfounded assumption that African-American men somehow place less value on parenting.”   Or this wisdom from a Washington Post blogger:

If black boys pulled their pants up, then are they more likely to find a job or less likely to be racially profiled? If they just finished school, then could they avoid the cradle to prison pipeline? If African Americans detached from hip-hop culture, stopped having babies out of wedlock and kept their neighborhoods clean, then would racism and social inequality finally end in America?

These questions are beside the point.  Does anyone doubt that a young black man (or white, or any other race) who has a good father/male role model in his life will be more likely to find a job, finish school, and avoid having children out of wedlock or ending up in prison?  The cause of these ills isn’t racism; it’s a cultural divide that causes young black men (or white, or any other race) from the lower socio-economic class  to reject the cultural values of higher socio-economic classes, such as marriage, education and work.  So much of what progressives call “racism” today is, in fact, culturalism.  If we want to have an “honest discussion” about race, we need to start talking about culture.

ASHE SCHOW: Politifact strikes again.

The website claims that Fiorina laid off 30,000 Hewlett-Packard employees and said she wished she had laid them off faster.

Despite this being a completely untrue statement, Politifact rated it as “half true” because 30,000 people were indeed laid off from HP.

Of course, this is not how truth works. The person who purchased the Fiorina domain claimed that the 2016 presidential candidate was referring to the 30,000 laid-off employees when she said: “I would have done them all faster.” The Politifact researcher even acknowledges that this is not true — Fiorina was not referring to 30,000 people laid off when she said she would have “done them all faster.” And that means there is nothing true about the statement at all.

“Rather than musing that she should have laid off 30,000 people faster, the full article suggests she’s referring to a select group of high-ranking executives,” Politifact researcher Louis Jacobson wrote.

He’s referring to an article in Fortune Magazine from 2005 where Fiorina was talking about laying off a select group of high-ranking executives faster, not 30,000 employees:

“Fiorina does not agree, naturally, that there’s been a brain drain. In fact, she believes that one lesson she’s learned while running HP is that she should have moved more quickly in ejecting certain people,” Fortune’s Carol Loomis wrote. “Smartened up now, she says, ‘I would have done them all faster. Every person that I’ve asked to leave, whether it’s been clear publicly or not, I would have done faster.'”

But because the domain name mentioned 30,000 workers first, Politifact is okay making a Republican look bad.

And you don’t have to take my word for it — you can take Politifact researcher Louis Jacobson’s word.

In his ruling on the Fiorina statement, Jacobson wrote: “The claim is partially accurate, but takes some things out of context, so we rate it Half True.”

Now compare that reasoning to this one about Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her foundation’s charitable spending: “The claim contains some element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression, so we rate it Mostly False.”

It’s as if their “fact-checking” is more about protecting Democrats.

ISIS GATHERING ON MEXICAN BORDER?:  According to Judicial Watch, ISIS is operating a camp in Mexico, just a few miles from the El Paso border.  Judicial Watch contends:

During the course of a joint operation last week, Mexican Army and federal law enforcement officials discovered documents in Arabic and Urdu, as well as “plans” of Fort Bliss – the sprawling military installation that houses the US Army’s 1st Armored Division. Muslim prayer rugs were recovered with the documents during the operation. . . .

According to these same sources, “coyotes” engaged in human smuggling – and working for Juárez Cartel – help move ISIS terrorists through the desert and across the border between Santa Teresa and Sunland Park, New Mexico. To the east of El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, cartel-backed “coyotes” are also smuggling ISIS terrorists through the porous border between Acala and Fort Hancock, Texas. These specific areas were targeted for exploitation by ISIS because of their understaffed municipal and county police forces, and the relative safe-havens the areas provide for the unchecked large-scale drug smuggling that was already ongoing.

Mexican intelligence sources report that ISIS intends to exploit the railways and airport facilities in the vicinity of Santa Teresa, NM (a US port-of-entry). The sources also say that ISIS has “spotters” located in the East Potrillo Mountains of New Mexico (largely managed by the Bureau of Land Management) to assist with terrorist border crossing operations. ISIS is conducting reconnaissance of regional universities; the White Sands Missile Range; government facilities in Alamogordo, NM; Ft. Bliss; and the electrical power facilities near Anapra and Chaparral, NM.

Politifact rates Judicial Watch’s claim as false.  But then again, Politifact is dishonest and partisan, as has been noted here before.  When Judicial Watch was not willing to offer up the identity of its sources, telling Politifact it “would get them killed,” Politifact asked the Department of Homeland Security and FBI, which denied the claim.  Politifact then called the Mexican government, which “categorically” denied the claim.  And hey, who wouldn’t believe the Obama Administration (they never lie), or the Mexican government, whose President recently called Americans who oppose amnesty racist?

Move along.  Nothing to see here.  There’s no need to build a fence or anything– that would be racist.

At least Texas Governor Greg Abbott is doubling down on former Governor Rick Perry’s commitment of Texas National Guard troops for border security.

UPDATE:  An astute InstaP reader corresponded with the Politifact author, asking “Wouldn’t you agree that a lack of ‘on the record’ corroboration doesn’t determine whether a statement is false?,” to which the Politifact author, Gardner Selby, replied, “Our editors took the absence of on-the-record corroboration to indicate the claim was False.”

So apparently, according to Politifact, “false” doesn’t mean what most of us think it means– i.e., untrue. It means it cannot be corroborated by direct evidence. By this standard, the existence of God, extra-terrestrials and much of history is “false,” since it cannot be corroborated by anyone with first-hand knowledge, and not just “uncorroborated.”

I’m not taking any position on whether Judicial Watch’s sources are good ones or not (who knows?).  But I do see a material difference between calling something “false” versus “uncorroborated.”  Politifact thinks they are synonymous, which is interesting.

OBAMA’S NATIONAL SECURITY DREAM TEAM:  . . . is more like a nightmare.  Scott Johnson over at Powerline catalogs the top Obama security advisors, and reading it, one can’t help but feel like Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

It reminds me of a scrawny JV team (with DOD Secretary Ashton Carter as the only promising prospect), which is ironic, considering that President Obama referred to ISIS as an al Qaeda JV.

REMINDER: PolitiFact is dishonest and partisan.

JOURNALISM: PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year of 2014 falls apart only two months later. George Will should get a written apology. But he won’t, because the “fact checkers” at Politifact are hacks.

SEX, LIES, AND DEMOCRATIC POLS: PolitiFact Gives “Mostly False” To Mark Warner’s Claim That It’s Safer For Women Not To Be In College.

That’s actually completely false, but he’s a Dem so he only gets the “mostly false” rating. But perhaps I can use him in the next Reynolds Online University ad. . . .

POLITIFACT SAYS YES: Has President Obama ‘lost’ more Democratic seats in Congress than other modern presidents? The story looks worse if you add governorships and state legislatures. . . .

JOURNALISM: It’s Come To This: Politifact absolves Democrat who repeated…Politifact’s lie of the year.

WELL, THERE’S AN ELECTION COMING, SO OF COURSE THEY’RE LYING: PolitiFact: Democrats Are Recycling False Accusation That Republicans Support Tax Breaks for Companies That Ship Jobs Overseas.

IT’S REALLY LIKE SOMETHING FROM SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE: Josh Earnest has no idea why Obama didn’t pursue immigration reform in 2009, when he had the votes. “Even Politifact, which cannot bring itself to label virtually any of the president’s failed promises regarding immigration reform ‘broken,’ has singled out this one as a clear and unequivocal broken promise.”

THE HILL: Cruz: Obama should apologize for ObamaCare during State of the Union.

Well, Obama did get “Lie Of The Year” for his promise that people could keep their plans.

THEY LIED TO GET HIM ELECTED, NOW THEY’RE LYING TO COVER UP THEIR LIE: Pants On Fire: PolitiFact Tries To Hide That It Rated ‘True’ in 2008 Obamacare’s ‘Keep Your Health Plan’ Promise. You’ll see more of these rowbacks as the ObamaCare train wreck unfolds.

JAMES TARANTO: PolitiFact’s Forked Tongue: The site once vouched for its “lie of the year.”, the Tampa Bay Times’s “fact checking” operation, is out with its “Lie of the Year,” and it’s a doozy of dishonesty: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.’ ”

Just to show how fast the news can move, back in September this columnist tweeted: “If ‘I didn’t set a red line’ isn’t named ‘Lie of the Year,’ @PolitiFact is a state propaganda agency.” “I didn’t set a red line”–the reference was to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, in case you’ve forgotten–didn’t even make the top 10. Yet our September tweet proved to be mistaken: We cannot fault PolitiFact for the lie it chose instead.

Which isn’t to say PolitiFact doesn’t function as a state propaganda agency. For in the past–when it actually mattered, which is to say before ObamaCare became first a law and then a practical reality–PolitiFact vouched for Barack Obama’s Big Lie. . . .

Lots of people wrote opinion pieces endorsing ObamaCare, and some are still at it. Apart from the substance of the arguments, there’s nothing wrong with that. But selling opinion pieces by labeling them “fact checks” is fundamentally dishonest. In this case, it was in the service of the most massive consumer fraud in American history.

Indeed. If this sales job had been done by a private business, they’d all be broke and in jail.

OBAMA WINS POLITIFACT’S “LIE OF THE YEAR:” And meanwhile, its 2009 Lie Of The Year — “Death Panels” — turns out to be true. Of course, everyone who was paying attention knew all along that “Death Panels” was true, and “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” was a lie. Which raises a question: Who, exactly, is Politifact’s intended audience?

JAMES TARANTO: Quagmire At Home: Did Obama even have a war plan for Capitol Hill?

The committee vote shows that both parties are divided. As the Washington Post notes, two of the panel’s 10 Democrats, Connecticut’s Chris Murphy and New Mexico’s Tom Udall, voted “no.” Three Republicans voted “yes.” The Senate’s most junior member, Massachusetts Democrat Ed Markey (elected in June to fill the John Kerry vacancy), voted “present,” although his comments suggest he was leaning toward “no” owing to “my worry about a greater involvement in Syria.”

One is tempted to mock Markey for that old Obama gambit–“he vowed to make a decision by next week,” the Globe reports–yet one resists the temptation when one reads his rationale: “Asked why he didn’t just oppose the authorization, as did some of his colleagues who had similar concerns, he said, ‘A “no” vote would have indicated I had sufficient information on which to base the decision. Which I did not.’ ” Given the way this administration bullied through ObamaCare and other domestic legislation, it is easy to believe that concern is well-founded.

Committees are not necessarily representative of the Senate as a whole (except in terms of their partisan makeup), but if we assume for the sake of argument that this one is with respect to this question, Senate passage will be a very close-run matter. Seven “no” votes out of 17 amount to a hair over 41%, just enough to sustain a filibuster. Add in Markey to make it eight votes of 18, and you’re at 44%.

And that’s in the chamber the president’s party controls. . . .

Republicans also have reason to suspect that Obama’s decision to request congressional approval was an effort to put them on the spot–and his ludicrous denial yesterday that he “set a red line” or that his credibility is at stake reinforces that view.

The fierce watchdogs of the press, confronted with this brazen falsehood, show themselves once again to be Obama’s pet hamsters. Instead of giving a “pants on fire” rating,’s Jon Greenberg claims Obama was “reframing comments rather than denying them.” Greenberg can’t even say the statement is half true, so he withholds a rating altogether. Peter Baker of the New York Times has his own euphemisms, writing that Obama was “citing longstanding international norms” and “trying to break out of his isolation.” The funniest dodges come from Shawna Thomas of NBC News, who on Twitter calls Obama’s whopper “a definite change in tone” and an attempt “to unilaterally widen the circle of responsibility.”

That last one is priceless. Next time someone accuses you of trying to weasel out of a commitment, say you’re just trying to widen the circle of responsibility.

The press will abandon Obama last. Their loyalty is their honor.

WAPO FACT-CHECKER: Obama’s 40 Percent No-Background-Check Claim Isn’t True, But We’ll Suspend Judgment. And it’s all the NRA’s fault anyway.

Related item from Tom Maguire.

POLITIFACT: ‘Um…About Our Lie Of The Year — It’s The Literal Truth.’

POLITIFACT, WRONG? THERE’S A SHOCK. Mike Riggs: Dear Politifact: Your Analysis of Obama’s Drug War Record Is Factually Wrong.

JONATHAN ADLER: When “Fact-Checkers” Have Problems With Facts.

Media fact checkers not only have a problem characterizing matters upon which reasonable people can disagree as questions of “fact,” they also have problems with facts. So, for instance, ABC’s fact checkers labeled indisputably true statements about energy production on federal lands as “not quite true.” Romney claimed that oil and gas production on federal land is down, even if overall domestic production is up. His statement was true. If ABC had sought to provide critical context for Romney’s remarks, it could have noted that marginal changes in domestic oil production have relatively little effect on retail gasoline prices, or that there’s little any President can do to lower gasoline prices in the short-to-medium term (other than, say, playing with the strategic petroleum reserve). Such commentary would have provided voters with information they could use to assess the relevance of Romney’s claims. Instead, ABC claimed Romney’s literally true statements were “not quite true.”

Another example of fact checkers having trouble with facts can be found in Politifact’s commentary on whether it was fair for President Obama to criticize Mitt Romney for failing to say whether he supported the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. In making its assessment Politifact totally bungled its description of the Supreme Court’s decision in Ledbetter vs. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., and in the process perpetuated a false claim about the decision oft repeated in political debate (including by Lilly Ledbetter herself).

It’s as if they’re really just a Democratic spin operation run out of media offices or something. “The bottom line is that if we can’t trust fact checkers to get their own facts right, how can we trust them to judge anyone else’s?”

EVEN LEFT-LEANING POLITIFACT SCORES IT “TRUE:” Reince Priebus says Mitt Romney ‘gave away his father’s inheritance.’

IS “POLITIFACT” MORE LIKE POLITIFICTION? It’s clear that the various “fact-checking” sites have squandered their reputation as honest brokers through repetitive partisanship.

HEY, GUESS WHAT POLITIFACT CALLS TRUE? Wonder why the press hasn’t picked up on this story more?


FACTCHECKING THE FACTCHECKERS: GOP truth squad targets bias in national PolitiFact units.

Well, Politifact Tennessee’s light-bulb debut wasn’t exactly brilliant.

POLITIFACT SCORES IT “TRUE:” Over the last six months, President Barack Obama has golfed 10 times and held 106 fundraisers, but his jobs council has never met.

JIM TREACHER: There are actual facts, and then there are PolitiFacts.

MATTHEW HOY: GOP Pledge-O-Meter: Promise Kept. “I’ve got a journalism degree. I’ve got a Pulitzer Prize on my shelf. I know how to fill out forms. So, on April 12, for the first time since I was a wee little reporter at The Lompoc Record, I filed a FOIA with the Air Force.” Plus this:

But this is only a little bit about Speaker Boehner and his promise. This is more about Politifact, which continues to tout its 2009 Pulitzer three years later. If you look back at the genesis of Boehner’s promise in the Pelosi scandal… If you look back and see how that malfeasance was uncovered… If you want to verify it’s not happening again…

You file a FOIA.

You don’t leave it to some guy in his pajamas to do it for you. [Clarification: I’m actually wearing jeans and a T-shirt.]

PolitiFact has been pretty sad this election cycle.

THE “OUTRAGEOUS LOOPHOLE” that let Scott Walker “operate in lawless fashion”? Funny, when what you’re calling “lawless” is, well… a law.

“It’s offensive to say it’s a loophole. It’s a clear statute,” said Mike Wittenwyler, a Madison political law attorney. “If that’s a loophole, then the entire state statutes are a loophole.”

#POLITIFACTFAIL: “Although the heart of PolitiFact is the Truth-O-Meter, which they use to rate factual claims. author Louis Jacobson assigned no rating to the seemingly straightforward question of whether Obama ate dog.” That’s because they’d have to rate it “True,” and they don’t like to do that for things that might make Obama look bad. Plus this: “That this supposed Ministry of Truth is biased is not exactly news. A prior study by the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs found PolitiFact harbored a large bias against Republicans. But their double-standard is usually not so obvious and easily exposed.”

UPDATE: More on PolitiFact’s hackery:

The president ate dog when he lived in Indonesia, or at least there’s a passage in his book that says he did. It turns out, eating dog is not a common custom in Indonesia. You have to go out of your way to fetch a Scooby snack. A genuinely inquisitive media might whistle up a question or two to bring this question to heel.

This whole dog-eared story is a can of worms for Obama now. For PolitiFact, Barack Bites Dog represents a nasty dilemma: Rule “True” and confirm that POTUS ate Chow Chow Mein, rule “False” and suggest that he either embellished or didn’t even write his own book. Rule somewhere in between and you just muddy up the water bowl. So PolitiFact put its tail between its legs and didn’t chew on the Truth-O-Meter at all.

Politifact=Lapdog. Be careful guys. You don’t want to look too tasty . . . .

HARVARD LAWPROF EINER ELHAUGE EMAILS A LINK TO HIS PIECE IN THE NEW REPUBLIC: If Health Insurance Mandates Are Unconstitutional, Why Did the Founding Fathers Back Them? But I don’t find it as convincing has he does. He cites two “mandates” — the Militia Act of 1792 and a requirement that ship owners insure their seamen’s health.

The Militia Act argument doesn’t work at all. First, as Elhauge admits, it’s justifiable under the Militia Clause, not the Commerce Clause. The Militia Clause empowers Congress to provide for arming, training, and disciplining the militia, and the cash-strapped first Congress chose to “provide for” arming them by requiring adult males to own guns. This method of arming the miltia existed under the common law and, indeed, in Anglo-Saxon history going back at least as far as the seventh century, so it was hardly a stretch.

At any rate, Elhauge sets up something of a straw man here: “This precedent (like the others) disproves the challengers’ claim that the framers had some general unspoken understanding against purchase mandates.” I don’t think the Framers had so much a general unspoken understanding against purchase mandates, as a general — spoken — understanding that Congress’s powers should be “few and defined.”

As for the seamen, I’m not sure — but I seem to recall Charlie Black rooting that in the Admiralty power, and that would make sense, as the obligation of shipowners to provide “maintenance and cure” for their seamen was a part of Admiralty law and an obligation that also predated the Constitution. There is certainly no question that the Congress and the courts could do things under Admiralty that could not be done via the commerce power. But even under the commerce clause, it seems clear that seamen are already in commerce and so are the owners of the ships they sail on. This doesn’t apply at all to the health-insurance mandate, unless your argument is that everyone in America, just by living, is already in commerce, which of course removes any suggestion that Congress’s powers are limited. This, I believe, is what troubled the Justices at oral argument.

Anyway, read the whole thing and make up your own mind, but this does not seem to me to be nearly as strong an argument as Elhauge thinks it is.

UPDATE: Reader Andrew Simpson writes:

While I agree with you about the Admiralty grounds as the source of constitutional authority for Congress’s treatment of merchant seamen, there is a more fundamental flaw in Professor Elhauge’s analysis. You would think (well actually, you probably know better) that The New Republic would have exercised some editorial fact checking before they printed the claims made by Professor Elhauge. The fact that he does not provide a citation for the statutes he is referencing should have been a huge red flag for any competent editor.

The 1790 Act required ships of 150 or more tons belonging to US citizens to be equipped with a medicine chest. So, it did not require ship owners to “buy medical insurance for their seamen” as Professor Elhauge claims. You can find the Act here.

The 1798 Act did not require “seamen to buy hospital insurance for themselves” as Professor Elhauge claims. It taxed seamen, required ship owners to collect the tax, and then gave seamen access to medical programs that the tax funded. You can read that Act here.

Eugene Volokh fisked the 1798 Act claim pretty thoroughly here.

One last comment: Between Harvard Law graduate Obama’s knowledge of constitutional law and Harvard Law professor Elhauge’s poor legal research/analytical skills, I’m beginning to really doubt the value of a Harvard Law education.

Well, it’s advocacy, not scholarship, and presented as such. Meanwhile, Randy Barnett is also less than impressed with Elhauge’s argument.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Eugene Volokh emails to note that the Fisking above is by Dave Kopel, not by him.

MORE: Elhauge emails:

Some have suggested that federal medical insurance mandates are distinguishable because they reflect Congress’ power to enact maritime law rather than to regulate commerce. However, Article I of the Constitution has no maritime clause that gives Congress the power to enact maritime statutes. Instead, the early Supreme Court cases all held that Congress had power to enact maritime law because of the Commerce Clause, and that further stated that it was under this commerce clause power that Congress had enacted statutes that determined “the rights and duties of seamen” and “the limitations of the responsibility of shipowners.” The Lottawanna, 88 U.S. 558, 577 (1875); see also The Daniel Ball, 77 U.S. 557, 564 (1871)(the fact that waters are navigable means “it forms a continued highway for commerce, both with other States and with foreign countries, and is thus brought under the direct control of Congress in the exercise of its commercial power. That power authorizes all appropriate legislation for the protection or advancement of either interstate or foreign commerce …”); Gilman v. Philadelphia, 70 U.S. 713, 717 (1865); Providence & N.Y. S.S. Co. v. Hill Mfg. Co., 109 U.S. 578, 589 (1883).

Later cases held that, in addition to Congress’s power to enact maritime law under the commerce clause, Congress also had power to go beyond this to modify any judicial maritime common law, on the notion that such Congressional power is necessary and proper to regulate judge’s Article III power to decide maritime cases. See In re Garnett, 141 U.S. 1, 12, 14 (1891); Southern Pacific Co. v. Jensen, 244 U.S. 205, 214-215 (1917); Crowell v. Benson, 285 U.S. 22, 55 n.18 (1932). But these later cases do not alter the fact that the early federal maritime statutes were based on the Commerce Clause and that this commerce clause power was understood to be what allowed Congress to determine the duties of shipowners and seamen. Further, while these later cases allow Congress to also modify judicial maritime common law, that common law power was to adjudicate maritime disputes and thus do not seem to fit statutes that imposed affirmative regulatory duties to provide insurance, which has nothing to do with maritime common law. In any event, even if one thought these early federal insurance mandates could also be based on the necessary and proper clause, these early insurance mandates still show these laws were “proper” and thus rebut the challenger’s claim that the current insurance mandate fails the “proper” part of the necessary and proper clause.

I’m still not persuaded, because — as mentioned above — ships (and seamen?) are instrumentalities of commerce, and I don’t think you can translate this to ordinary citizens without violating the “non-infinity principle.”

STILL MORE: Einer Elhauge emails:

I have responded to Randy Barnett’s critique, and my analysis also rebuts your similar claim that the ships and seamen examples are different because they are in commerce. See Link.

Andrew Simpson claims the statutes did not provide what I stated. My claims have already been vetted and confirmed to be accurate by the independent PolitiFact, which quote the relevant provisions.

My response to the Volokh critique that my third example involved a tax rather than a mandate can be found at the end of this post.

Noted. I have to say, though, that the PolitFact rendering isn’t at all persuasive. But there’s a reason why PolitiFact’s brand has suffered. In this case, PolitiFact merely reiterates the statutes and says they sound like mandatory health insurance to it.

INSTAVISION: Catherine Crier Is Afraid That We Are Losing Our Democracy. She has a book out: Patriot Acts: What Americans Must Do to Save the Republic.

I have to say, I don’t agree with her at all about Citizens United, and I think that if you’re worried about corporate entanglement in politics you need to look at how thoroughly the corporate media have been in the tank for Democrats over the past several election cycles, from RatherGate to the latest PolitiFact scandal.

POLITI-SMACKED: Romney Campaign Demands Correction From PolitiFact On Women’s Job Loss Claim.

“I hope you will agree that this rating was inappropriate and that the piece does not reflect the journalistic standards to which your organization intends to hold itself. Please retract the piece and issue a correction as soon as possible,” Romney adviser Lanhee Chen wrote in a letter obtained by The Huffington Post.

Chen wrote to PolitiFact that their “analysis in this instance was so inadequate that the piece ended up being little more than Obama for Americaspin.”

PolitiFact is headed by Bill Adair, Washington Bureau Chief for the Tampa Bay Times, and the item in question was edited by by Martha M. Hamilton, a former reporter and editor at the Washington Post.

Chen’s letter is a detailed and lengthy take down of PolitiFact’s analysis. He said that PolitiFact has in the past given credit to President Reagan for jobs gained from the beginning of his presidency to the end, and so their judgment that it was inaccurate to measure job losses from Obama’s first month in office was inconsistent.

Chen also took issue with the context, cited by PolitiFact, that men had lost the majority of jobs cut in the economy in the year before Obama took office. Because of this, PolitiFact declared that the Romney claim was “misleading.”

But Chen wrote: “Why should it matter that men had already lost millions of jobs? Was it now women’s ‘turn’? Is this part of the President’s conception of ‘fairness’ that he talks about so frequently?”

And Chen went after the two “experts” cited by PolitiFact in their article, Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution and Betsey Stevenson of Princeton University.

“As you may or may not know, Gary Burtless has already donated twice to President Obama’s campaign this cycle,” Chen wrote. “Much more inexplicably, Bestey [sic] Stevenson, who you identify simply as ‘a business and public policy professor at Princeton University,’ was until recently the chief economist for Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis.”

That’s going to leave a mark. And don’t miss Ann Althouse’s PolitiFact takedown. PolitiFact has been a joke all along — more like a DNC spin operation than any sort of media watchdog. But this one — your number’s entirely accurate but we’re going to rate your comments as mostly false because they make Obama look bad — is just pathetic, even by PolitiFact’s low standards.

FROM POLITIFACT TO POLITISPIN? Romney campaign says 92.3% of the jobs lost under Obama were women’s jobs. Politifact says the number’s right, then scores him “mostly false.”

From the comments: “They’re too embarrassed to have a ‘true but damaging to our preferred candidate’ category.”

UPDATE: Reader Myk Zagorac writes:

Check out the grade they gave to Obama’s oil production claims here where they end with the bit “The suggestion of the ad, however, overstates the administration’s role in achieving these results. Much of the increase in production during under Obama has come from state and private lands that the president does not control.”. Yet they gave that claim a “mostly true” rating. How hypocritical!

Hacks. And another reader emails:

Not an unusual phenomenon lately. Take a look at what the did to Governor McDonnell. Half true after they say “he’s right on the numbers”

“McDonnell said Republican governors head seven out of 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates, providing proof that the GOP has a better record on jobs than Democrats.

He’s right on the numbers, but on shaky ground when he insists Republican stewardship has brought those results.”

It’s like they’re determined to make Democrats look good and Republicans look bad or something.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Prof. Stephen Clark writes: “Perhaps it should instead be called Politiflack.”


UPDATE: No cover from PolitiFact: Obama Twice Wrong On Supreme Court.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Stephen Presser: Obama should know better on Supreme Court’s role. Actually, I think he does.

MORE: John Fund: President Petulant. Key quote: “Obama’s inner community organizer seems to be winning out over the law professor.”

IF YOUR FACEBOOK FRIENDS HAVE BEEN SHARING THIS DUMB CHART, YOU MIGHT WANT TO PASS THIS ON: A bogus chart on Obama and the debt gets a new lease on life. I’ve noticed it reappearing lately. From the WaPo:

This chart, originally created by the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, is as phony as a three-dollar bill. Our friends at PolitiFact did a pretty thorough takedown of it in May, giving it their worst rating: “pants on fire.” They even caught the Pelosi people in a bad mathematical error, based on the fact that the Democrats calculated the numbers as if Obama took office a year later than he did.

But it still circulates. Note: If you’re passing this on, you can’t make fun of birthers. . . .

PUSHBACK: Lawmaker proposes measure to exempt Va. from incandescent light bulb phase-out. “Marshall is not alone in resisting the federal mandate to convert to CFLs and halogen lights, which also are more energy efficient than standard bulbs. Seven other states have legislation pending to deal with the issue, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, and a Texas law took effect this month stating that incandescent bulbs manufactured in the state are not subject to federal law or regulations.”

Plus, more criticism for PolitiFact Tennessee. Also here: “Calling Blackburn’s statement ‘mostly false’ is mostly false.”

Here’s a story on the phaseout. “$25 for a lightbulb? Yep. It may be hard to swallow, but the investment will pay off down the road.”

And although the phaseout is underway, it’s still not too late to stock up. Quite.

MORE ON the problems with PolitiFact.


Halogen bulbs are fine; we have several of them in fixtures in our apartment. We even have a few of the dreaded compact fluorescents, but only in the kitchen and one desk lamp. But we like traditional incandescents and have stockpiled enough of them to last the rest of our life.

The choice to purchase them is now gone, or will be, as even PolitiFact acknowledges, when “supplies run out.” By PolitiFact’s logic, people who think abortion should be outlawed are pro-choice because they would allow other choices (childbirth, adoption, avoiding pregnancy via abstinence or contraception).

Like PolitiFact, abortion opponents favor laws taking away choices they don’t think are worth having. You can agree or not, but that’s a matter of opinion, not fact.

Well said. And it’s not (quite) too late to stock up — until supplies run out.

I MENTIONED POLITIFACT TENNESSEE EARLIER, and reader Tony Lynch isn’t impressed:

Jeez- Tennessee Politifact agrees the light bulb most Americans currently use will not be available after existing supplies are sold out. Yet it rates Marsha Blackburn’s claim that the law reduces our choices “mostly false”!! Are they trying to compete with The Onion?

Yeah, they blew it on that one. The fact that you remain free to choose the bulbs the government approves of doesn’t make Blackburn’s statement that the government is taking away consumer choice by banning incandescent bulbs even a little bit false.

Meanwhile, you can still get ’em on Amazon, until they run out.

JUST OUT: PolitiFact Tennessee.

WHAT COULD GO WRONG? “The soaring national debt has reached a symbolic tipping point: It’s now as big as the entire U.S. economy.”

FLASHBACK: Video of Jack Lew, currently tapped to replace William Daley: We’re not adding to the debt. “Even Politifact couldn’t spin that one.”

JAMES TARANTO (HE’S BACK!) Bad-Faith Journalism. “Regardless of PolitiFact’s motives, by practicing a style of journalism that centers on baselessly impugning the motives of others, it has managed to earn distrust across the political spectrum.”

MONORAIL . . . MONORAIL . . . MONORAIL! “What about us brain-dead slobs?” “You’ll all be given cushy jobs!”

Related: PolitiFact Gets High-Speed Rail Facts in Florida Wrong.

MORE ON THAT 80% CLAIM: Hi, I’m Barack Obama, and I Just Make Stats Up Out of Nothing.

UPDATE: Reader Michael Harlow writes: “I dare PolitiFact to rate that one!”

MICKEY KAUS wants to kill off PolitiFact.

PROFESSOR JACOBSON: PolitiFact Has A Serious Problem, But I Repeat Myself.

TRUTH: Politifact: George Will was right on Wisconsin.

MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL: No, Rachel Maddow, Wisconsin is not running a budget surplus this year. “Our conclusion: Maddow and the others are wrong. There is, indeed, a projected deficit that required attention, and Walker and GOP lawmakers did not create it.”

It’s like the people at MSNBC just make stuff up.

POLITIFACT TO OBAMA: YOU LIE! “During his Super Bowl pregame interview with Bill O’Reilly, President Obama flatly declared that he has not raised taxes as president. PolitiFact flatly declares that statement to be false.”

JAMES TARANTO: “Death Panels” Revisited: How Sarah Palin helped defeat ObamaCare’s deceptive advertising. “Obama ran for office on opposition to the individual mandate, then made it the centerpiece of his signature legislative initiative. Perhaps this should have been ‘lie of the year.’ At, it wasn’t even a runner-up.”

That’s because PolitiFact has mostly been about PoliticalCover.

DON SURBER WONDERS IF PolitiFact will weigh in on Steve Cohen’s charges.

POLITIFACT: Score One Promise Kept In The House.

MORE FLAK FOR POLITIFACT over its big lie of the year. “Somehow when picking their lie of the year, Politifact settled on a minority party exaggeration with elements of truth—and managed to ignore the near-continuous stream of full-blooded whoppers coming from the folks actually running things.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: PolitiFact peddling “PolitiFiction.” “PolitiFact wants to define for everyone else what qualifies as a ‘fact,’ though in political debates the facts are often legitimately in dispute.”

POLITIFACT’S BIGGEST LIE: “PolitiFact exists largely as an attempt to deligitimize certain political opinions. We now know which political opinion most bothered the establishment in 2010. That is a valuable service to everyone.”

DON SURBER: “PolitiFact Lied.”

MARK HEMINGWAY: Just A Reminder: “Politifact” Is Often More Politics Than Facts.

MICHAEL SILENCE THINKS POLITIFACT is playing games with Obama’s promises. See the updates.

I can see both sides of this, but it certainly adds to the perception that Big Media folks are bending over backwards to cut him slack. Or, you know, just bending over . . . .