Monday, October 20th, 2014

Mailbag: 'You’re a loser, aren't you?'

Ox blood lilies bloom near an Austin mailbox.
Ox blood lilies bloom near an Austin mailbox.

Emails reacting to fact checks have flowed as Rick Perry’s presidential campaign evolves. We share some here, edited for length and style.

Several readers aired skepticism of our fact check of a claim by Arne Duncan, the U.S. secretary of education, that Texas school class sizes had surged under Rick Perry’s governorship.

"The state statistics have to be wrong, maybe as an average that is correct but if you were to look at the population centers or compare class size based on the surrounding tax base the numbers would likely tell a different story. So many people are moving to Texas that we just don't have enough capacity in many school districts."

And: "A more useful gauge than average class size might be the number of classes exceeding the maximum 22 students/teacher ratio. It is quite conceivable that richer districts have lower ratios, while more, poorer districts are exceeding the limit, but that the average, state-wide, remains the same."

Others didn’t cotton to our check of the White House press secretary’s comment about Rick Perry wanting Texas to secede from the United States.

"I find a lot of fault with your writing on Rick Perry's comments about secession. I find that your interpretation is far too kind to him. ‘Kind’ is probably not the right word. Leaving out the context of his remarks gives a false impression. In my opinion, he brought the idea up in an extreme form of demagoguery... and to even suggest that it's a possible option (and in one case he presented it with historically inaccurate statements regarding the conditions under which Texas joined the Union), is to open the wounds of the Civil War and to fan the fires of Confederate fantasists.

"That is, it is red meat to white supremacists and it should be reviled and repudiated. To say ‘there's no reason to secede’ (or something like that) is a rhetorical tack as you know, and to ignore that fact in your parsing of his comments is to put a spin on what he said that is far too generous."

Some readers gaped at our check of Perry’s campaign-trail declaration that his boyhood hometown in West Texas has no ZIP code: "Why would anyone waste time, effort, money, etc. on such as Paint Creek ZIP code? Anyone with half a brain in a functioning state knows that all politicians lie, at all times and everywhere. It is congenital to the species and how they keep their jobs since over 90 percent of them have no useful skills. The time, money, and effort spent on this little bit of drivel could be better spent on the important lies they throw out to the public every day."

"Calling Perry's humorous but descriptive phrase ‘It doesn't even have a ZIP code’ as ‘Mostly False’ is the most ludicrous example of literalism I have ever seen! It makes the Fundamentalists' view of the Bible seen even generous in their interpretation of the meaning of words found therein. Anyone with a modicum of common sense ... realizes that the USPS subdivided the entire country into ZIP codes and what Perry was conveying in his choice of words was the small size of the community in which he was raised."

"Perry says so many things that need to be tested with the Truth-O-Meter, you didn't need to to waste a column on this one."

Another: "This needs to be a take-back article... To pick up on a joke about a ZIP code, you really had to dig deep, didn't you? You're a loser, aren't you?"

Locate a statement we should check?

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