Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Mailbag, the sequel

Mail piles up, the old-fashioned way (AP photo).
Mail piles up, the old-fashioned way (AP photo).

We emptied some of our mailbag last week, saving reader blasts touching on obesity, Barack Obama and Ron Paul until now. They're edited for length and style below.

Death by obesity

State Rep. Rob Eissler drew a Pants on Fire when he said in May that obesity kills 34 children an hour. He misstated an outdated statistic that refers to adult deaths. And according to the latest federal data, about 13 adults die every hour due to obesity-related disease — not 34.

"Thanks for highlighting the obesity issue in Austin. How can Eissler support obesity and health issues and at the same time vote to drastically cut public school funding?"

"I very much enjoyed your column today on child obesity. You well portrayed a merry-go-round of battling statistics and ever-changing parameters used by the zealots all up and down the line."

Gas prices and Obama

In April, Michael Williams, then running for the 2012 Republican U.S. Senate nomination, blamed the White House for gas prices, which he said they have increase by $2 since President Barack Obama took office. We rated that Half True: Gas costs more per gallon than it did when Obama took office, but key factors driving gas prices are beyond a president’s control.

Readers thought we cut Obama too much slack.

"Obama has had nothing to do with the drilling moratorium in the Gulf, the cap and trade legislation threat, the health care debacle, the derogation of all rich people and business, the exploding national debt and the resultant 20 percent loss of value you and I have experienced in the U.S. dollar since he has been in office. Nice try at another attempt to prop up a president that does not attempt to unite and represent all the people of the United States. If Obama is really that good of a president, why do you guys feel the need to defend him so much? Not all your readers succumb to your bunny paths."

"A reporter should not go to the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota to determine the implications about gasoline prices. Last year, foreign oil imports increased over 37 million barrels from the year before. This shows that Obama’s energy policy is not working."

"The Obama administration's increased regulation and delays for drilling on public lands, as well as offshore, has contributed to the higher price of crude. Just the perception that the United States is willing to buy oil from Brazil but not allow drilling here has impact on prices. If we were clear that we will do everything, utilize all forms of energy, it would change that perception."

Ron Paul on unemployment

During the first pre-2012 GOP presidential debate in South Carolina last month, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, said people vote with their bellies. "Whether they’re hungry or not or have jobs and need things, that’s why people vote," he said. "And we’re in big trouble. Prices are going up, unemployment is continuing to go up." We rated that Half True: Prices have gone up, but as of May, unemployment had dropped for four of the last five months.

"Ron Paul has said repeatedly that the unemployment percentage used in the statistics you yourself have cited are incorrect. Those statistics aren't taking a lot of things into account.  For example, the 8.8 percent aren't taking into account the many people who are retiring instead of trying to look for jobs, or those who have gone back into education."

"I shouldn't expect journalists to understand math, but you are completely wrong when you say that unemployment isn't going up. The headline rate the government publishes excludes most unemployed persons. But, of course, since you're a journalist, you wouldn't do enough reading to understand that."

"Do you really believe that unemployment has gone down? If you are using official government statistics, do you really believe them to be an honest representation of the facts?"