Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Obama's vacation observation, Mitch McConnell's millions: PolitiFact Oregon Roundup

President Barack Obama golfs at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, on Aug. 9, 2014.
President Barack Obama golfs at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on the island of Martha's Vineyard, on Aug. 9, 2014.

Millions of Americans may be on vacation much of this month, but that doesn’t mean professional fact-checkers will be joining them.

Today’s PolitiFact Oregon Roundup is proof of that. Why? Because we’re including a claim made by President Barack Obama that touches on – what else? – vacations.

So rather than give away the ending, let’s just get going.

1. Maybe if he’d called it ‘recess,’ instead

President Obama recently dinged Congress for going on "vacation" at precisely the time, he said, when important decisions need to be made.

PolitiFact National’s check – made at the same time the president was about to take a week’s worth of vacation – found that Obama was stretching the terminology. Even a recess, it found, isn’t a no-work vacation. Obama ended up with the same rating awarded last week to Texas Gov. Rick Perry for saying essentially the same thing about congressional vacations – Mostly False.

2. A truly dire statistic

Amid ongoing protests in Ferguson, Mo., Fox News pundit Juan Williams said that the No. 1 cause of death for black men 15-34 years old in this country is murder.

As dispiriting as that claim is, numbers from the Centers for Disease Control back it up. "Out of all causes of death, homicide claimed about 40 percent of black lives between 15 and 34 years," the check found. "This was significantly higher than the national average for males of that age group, and all other racial groups." Williams’ claim was rated True.

3. McConnell and his millions

In Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell. One of her recent ads asks, "What can happen in 30 years? A senator can become a multi-millionaire in public office."

The fact found that most of the wealth McConnell has accumulated during his tenure in office came from his marriage and money his wife received after her mother died. Because the statement contained an element of truth but ignored critical facts, Lundergan received a Mostly False for her efforts.

4. No troops left behind – except for 10,000 or so

Unsettling images of the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State last week had many people searching for answers. Martha Raddatz, ABC’s chief of global affairs, took a look back, saying of the Obama administration, "They wanted 10,000 troops to remain in Iraq – not combat troops, but military advisers, special operations forces, to watch the counterterrorism effort." Was she right?

PunditFact’s check showed that for a period, at least, the administration did envision leaving 10,000 troops in Iraq past the declared Dec. 31, 2011 pullout of forces. The number dropped to 5,000 before negotiations stalled. Nonetheless, her claim was rated Mostly True.

5. First he cuts, then he invests

A prior PolitiFact Wisconsin check declared as True the claim that Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, had enacted the biggest cuts to education in state history. They cranked up their Truth-O-Meter again recently, when Walker’s re-election campaign ran an ad saying he has "invested over $100 million in worker training."

"The governor has directed more than $100 million into a variety of new worker training programs," the story concluded. "But his statement needs clarification in that he also cut general aid to technical colleges, some of which is used for worker training." Walker walked away with a rating of Mostly True.

Today’s Roundup, we trust, shows that when it comes to vacations, PolitiFact isn’t taking one. Way too many claims to keep checking.

Thoughts on these five pieces? Something we should be looking into but aren’t? Let us know and let’s get the conversation started.