Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Facebook Mailbag: Complaints, compliments from all over

Readers have been busy recently commenting at PolitiFact's Facebook page.
Readers have been busy recently commenting at PolitiFact's Facebook page.

We’ve fact-checked topics all over the world these past few weeks. And when we do, our faithful readers have been all over the map, always weighing in with their own comments about our work.

Here’s a roundup of comments by Facebook users on some of our recent items, edited for style and length. To read all of our comments, and to post comments yourself, check out our Facebook page (and be sure to "Like" us, too).

Chain email says child upbraided Barack Obama in "clapping" demonstration about gun violence

A reader tipped us off to one of the more bizarre chain emails we’ve seen recently. It claimed that President Barack Obama told a room of students, "Children, every time I clap my hands together, a child in America dies from gun violence." A child then told Obama he could solve the problem easily -- by not clapping any more. It wasn’t a real exchange; as far as we can tell, the concept stemmed from an anti-poverty ad dating back to the mid 2000s. Naturally, it got a Pants on Fire! Here's what some Facebook readers said:

• Pants hilariously on fire. Old joke. but a good one.

• Wait, do you mean to tell me that chain emails on the Internet can't be trusted?!? Well, I for one am SHOCKED! TO THE NEWSROOM!

• PolitiFact has too much time on their hands.

• 7 people I know posted that today. Now I know who on my friends list know how to use Google.

• Unfortunately, and it's sad, too, that something like this actually does have to be posted, because there are people who are believing that email. Hence, why PolitiFact had to post this. I received the forwarded email from myself from someone who was trying to convince me just how bad Obama is. It's all a part of the dumbing down of America.

A look back at James Clapper's testimony, one year later

March 12 marked one year since Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told a congressional panel that the United States did not "wittingly" collect data on Americans. Since then, much information has come out to the contrary, and Clapper has been forced to admit his testimony was misleading. National security issues sometimes make unusual bedfellows between Republicans and Democrats. That was reflected in some of the comments we received.

• What's the big deal? I don't want to act like I don't think it's wrong, it's just that, according to all the leaks, they're doing a lot LESS than I thought they were. I had always assumed every text and email I sent was sniffed by at least the NSA, if not other government agencies. Basically, I never did or said anything online I wouldn't do or say in the faux privacy of a restaurant booth. I assumed everyone else did the same.

• Still waiting for his perjury charge (and will be til I die)...

• It occurred to me that if he'd known his stuff, he could have invoked "deliberate ambiguity" and simply said "Congressman, since I must answer your question truthfully I will decline to do so -- we should not let our enemies know on television where we stand, so that they either over- or underestimate us. Either mistake is bad for them and good for us." Such an answer would have been both smart policy, not to mention ethical.

• "Deliberate ambiguity" is always interpreted rightly as being "yes." Israel uses it with regard to possession of nuclear weapons, but everyone knows otherwise.

Ted Cruz says Barack Obama is first president "who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore"

Republicans from across the country gathered this month in the D.C. area for CPAC, the annual confab for conservatives. One of the most highly anticipated speakers was Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, the tea party freshman who wasted no time going after Obama. Among other things, Cruz said the president was the first executive "who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore." We talked to historians and experts on both sides of the aisle who said otherwise. Cruz earned a False. Here’s what people had to say.

• Past presidents are the past. What matters is now.

• Yeah but we’re missing the point. It still doesn't make it right. Separation of powers is VERY IMPORTANT.

• Hmm, so we want to equate the need of all those up to Truman, who were dealing with the worst wars in our history, and Nixon who in theory was trying to slow crippling inflation, Reagan was digging out of an economic funk AND was trying to break the communists, and Bush who was dealing with the worst terrorist attack in the country's history, with a guy who failed to unite as promised? Cruz was wrong, no doubt, but the circumstances are laughable when compared.

• Let's also not lose sight of the fact that Congress, historically, has used the power of the purse strings on occasion to make it difficult to impossible to enforce certain laws, causing the president to have to pick and choose which laws get enforced. In fact, I've heard that argument used in the justification for the historic (both before and during Obama's presidency) lack of prosecution of people who failed a background check to purchase firearms.

Barack Obama says Medicaid expansion has brought health care to 7 million who never had access before

As the health care law nears the March 31 enrollment deadline for 2014, the White House has encouraged Democrats to embrace the law. For his part, Obama has tried to tout positives in the enrollment, including new Medicaid signups. But he pushed a little too hard when he said "close to 7 million Americans … have access to health care for the first time because of Medicaid expansion." The official White House number is actually 6.3 million, but we knocked him harder because a big chunk of those people likely had health care before. We gave him a False:

• Wow, I guess Obama didn't learn anything from getting PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" award in 2013 for his health care lies.

• There will be more. Many people are refusing to get insurance. They eventually will when they bump into the penalty fines for not having insurance.

• He was definitely wrong on how he counted, but seeing as how 1.1 to 2.6 million DID get it as result of expansion shouldn't this be no more that a mostly false rating.

• Wow, a politician exaggerated a positive claim!! People who didn't want him in office search for the bad news in the good news. Each side twists the "facts" to suit its own agenda.

John Boehner says more people are uninsured since Obamacare took effect

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, not only claimed more Americans are uninsured since Obamacare took effect, he doubled down when a reporter gave him a chance to clarify his statements. But Boehner’s math is off. We went through the numbers and rated the claim False. Readers passed along their thoughts on Facebook.

• Oh, this would've been good to have in a discussion earlier this morning. ... Someone made that claim and I didn't have any info on it. Thanks!

• It's kinda hard to keep up with all the changes and distortions from the White House. How many paid and have the new health care now? Oh that's right. They don't know.

• I don't even know how he could possibly think fewer people have health insurance. Even if a percentage of those with health insurance lost coverage, wayyy more people that had none have qualified for new coverage. Logic it out, Boehner. Come on.

Rob Portman says average U.S. family is earning $4,000 less than five years ago

Both parties are talking about the stagnant wages of average Americans heading into the 2014 elections. During a weekly Republican address, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the average family is "now bringing home $4,000 less than they did just five years ago." It’s a bit of a cherry-picked time period, but it’s accurate nonetheless. We rated it True.

• Since money doesn't just vanish, where is the money going?

• The identically same work I did in 1990 pays exactly the same hourly wage today. (I know this because I've had to return to it in my "golden years" to survive.) Yet, over these years, taxes and the prices of goods and services have continued to rise. My car insurance is renewed every 6 months and is now $40 more than it was just 2 years ago.

• When big recessions hit, wages always go down. That's when employers take advantage of the situation and hire the desperate at desperation wages. You can read all about it in DUH Magazine, folks.

A couple Facebook users offered words of praise for our work generally.

• I went to Fry's to purchase one of those meters, but they don't carry them. All they had were meters that measured volts, ohms, and amps, whatever they are. Oh well.

• I would like to thank PolitiFact for tackling some of the internet misinformation. There seems to be an extreme propaganda campaign on the Internet. The copious amount of misinformation is getting scary because so many people, even some usually sane and intelligent people, are swallowing it. You are a credible resource and sometimes when confronted with your decision, it does make a difference.

That said, here’s a word of caution:

• Never read the comments, never read the comments, never read the comments....... anyone remember the 'never get out of the boat' scene in Apocalypse Now' ? That's how I feel when I read the comments on these stories.