Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Mailbag: ‘If your uncle had large mammary glands, he'd be your aunt!’

Mailbox in sunshine, Texas trail, November 2011 (W. Gardner Selby photo).
Mailbox in sunshine, Texas trail, November 2011 (W. Gardner Selby photo).

Shaking out our mailbag, we found objections to our ratings of statements by a Texan running for the U.S. Senate, the wife of Gov. Rick Perry and a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

Speaking to the Mostly True rating of a claim by Republican Ted Cruz that a fellow U.S. Senate candidate, David Dewhurst, had ducked debates: You "were way off the mark in your assessment of Cruz’s claims. When I was caught ‘skipping’ classes in high school I don't think anyone would have bought the defense that I said I wasn't going to be there so I wasn't really ‘skipping.’ You all are over thinking too many of these so called PolitiFact checks."

Others bridled at our Half True rating of Mitt Romney’s claim that Texas unemployment has been dire during Perry's governorship. Romney wrote in an email blast that more than 1 million Texans are out of work and the state’s unemployment rate has doubled on Perry’s watch, reaching its highest level in nearly 25 years. Also, Romney said, the Texas rate is higher than the rates in 27 states and has escalated faster than the national rate during Barack Obama’s presidency. Each of these charges has a basis, we concluded, but Romney’s overall message feeds the misimpression that Perry has guided the state’s economy into a ditch. Also, we said, it’s unreasonable to blame, or credit, a state’s governor for changes in unemployment rates.

A reader recoiled: "Y’all must be suffering from overthinking. Every one of Romney’s statements were true. Regardless of whether a governor can or cannot affect unemployment rates – and I dispute your claim that they can’t – since Perry keeps claiming credit for job creation in Texas, he should in a likewise manner claim the facts that support that claim. Of course that’s the part that Perry doesn’t talk about. Romney was just making sure that Perry’s chickens were coming home to roost where they belong.... I would have to call your conclusions ‘PolitiFiction.’" The reader added: "I would say y’all get it right most of the time but you missed on this one."

Another: "The Romney (email) is 100 percent True. You simply find it unpersuasive and/or
irrelevant. To assign a ‘Half True’ rating … is... wait for it... untruthful."

A Washington State reader said our analysis "reminds me of what my father used to tell me when I was a kid and I tried to change the facts to make his answer wrong: ‘If your uncle had large mammary glands, he'd be your aunt!’"

One more critique: "If I were to say that there were ‘X’ many highway accidents in Massachusetts during Romney's tenure, would you grade my statement as Half True because Romney wasn't actively running people off the road? How then can we cite ANY statistic about a state if you put an additional demand that the only true statements allowed are ones over which a governor has complete control? Please stick to the facts when you make your grades."

A couple readers bridled at our Mostly True rating of Anita Perry’s claim that her son, Griffin, had to resign his private-sector job "because of federal regulations that Washington has put on us." Maybe Griffin Perry could have volunteered for his father’s campaign and kept his job; we found it more reasonable to conclude that that a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule hastened his departure.

"Never in your article did you acknowledge that the very fact that there is leeway in how the regulations might be applied is reason enough to support her claim. Just to reiterate, the simple and undeniable (and un-denied, in fact) fact that there is a real risk to her son’s former employer that would arise from his participation in fundraising clearly supports her comments as completely true, irrespective of whether he could participate in a limited way in other campaign activities, or whether one attorney thinks that there may be some wiggle room under the regulations. That’s kind of the point of criticisms like Anita’s.

"Federal regulations are not simply problematic, oftentimes, because of what they clearly prohibit, but also because they very often create such an uncertain atmosphere. This is particularly true with SEC regulations. And both reasons are reason enough to support his resignation. I’m disappointed in your thoroughness, or perhaps your approach, on this one."

Another: "Griffin Perry didn't lose his job because of the SEC regulation, the SEC regulation forced him to choose between his job and volunteering in his dad's campaign. It's a little more complicated because it appears that he didn't know about the rule or its full ramifications, but it's not like the regulation swooped out of nowhere on some innocent bystander. Griffin Perry deliberately took actions that were beyond the scope of his job that caused a conflict. That's not the reasonable interpretation of what Anita Perry said."

A little honey flowed too.

"I greatly appreciate your efforts. I truly hope you will be able to continue your work and, even better, to expand it." Another: "I am so proud to have you as our watchdog here in Austin. You do a great job."

Keep ‘em coming, please, and join us on Facebook and Twitter, would you?