Last week National Review’s Jonah Goldberg and Kevin Williamson were left to sort out one of the most inane and idiotic media “fact checker” efforts The Scrapbook has ever seen. And when you consider what has appeared in these pages regarding PolitiFact, that’s saying something (see, among other entries, Mark Hemingway’s “Lies, Damned Lies, and ‘Fact Checking’ ” from our December 19, 2011, issue).
It all started with this line from a Goldberg column: “As my National Review colleague Kevin Williamson notes, ‘Everybody wants to know what Scott Walker and Sarah Palin think about evolution, but almost nobody is asking what Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama think about homeopathy, acupuncture, aromatherapy and the like.’ Even though such remedies have been given elevated legitimacy under the Affordable Care Act.”
PolitiFact examined Goldberg’s contention that Obamacare has given “elevated legitimacy” to quackery and concluded that the statement was “half true.” Suffice to say, this conclusion is half-assed. Here are the facts, as even PolitiFact concedes: “Following a lobbying campaign by alternative-medicine practitioners, and assistance from then-Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, several provisions favorable to non-traditional forms of medicine were inserted into the health care law.”
PolitiFact goes on to note that Obamacare even provides millions in funding to these unproven and unscientific treatments, and that there’s a section of the law that is being interpreted as saying “as long as an alternative-medicine practitioner is fully licensed by a state, insurance companies must reimburse them just as they do medical doctors.” The Department of Health and Human Services later issued a guidance saying, “This provision does not require plans or issuers to accept all types of providers into a network,” which is being contested by “alternative” medicine providers, who would seem to have the text of the law on their side.
So where did Goldberg and Williamson go wrong? According to PolitiFact, “It’s important not to oversell the impact [of Obamacare on alternative medicine]. Most of the provisions in question are modest. . . . The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details, so we rate it half true.”
This is a classic tactic of PolitiFact, hiding behind irrelevant and extraneous context when determining the truth of a binary statement. Does PolitiFact think that mandating taxpayer funding of alternative medicine confers legitimacy or not? And should the law be paying for treatments that don’t heal people?
The truth of the matter is that Goldberg and Williamson’s point is a damning indictment of Obamacare, and rather than admit the law is deeply flawed, PolitiFact wants to leverage its Pulitizer Prize-winning institutional credibility to keep people from paying attention to this inconvenient fact. Otherwise, Americans might start to dislike the liberal health care law, lose respect for the party that passed it, and maybe even want to junk it. PolitiFact, after all, engaged in repeated and credulous defenses of Obama’s “if you like your insurance plan, you can keep your plan” promise. When millions of policies were inevitably canceled, PolitiFact was forced to do a 180 and concede it was the “Lie of the Year” to salvage its reputation.
It’s also telling that PolitiFact is uninterested in having the objects of their criticism defend themselves. Does PolitiFact not have a phone? The author of PolitiFact’s most recent disgrace sent Goldberg an email to a public account he rarely checks, and the sole attempt to contact Williamson was made by sending a tweet in his direction. PolitiFact is standing by its laughable “half true” rating but later conceded that attempts to contact Goldberg and Williamson “didn’t meet our standards.” However, since PolitiFact has no discernible standards to begin with, we suspect it isn’t too concerned when its reporters fail to live up to them.
How unconfident are Democrats in their own candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa? On the day before the election, the Democratic Sentorial Campaign Committee has a full-page ad on the homepage of the Des Moines Register, Iowa's largest and most influential newspaper. But there's no sign or mention of the party's Senate candidate, Bruce Braley.
Quinnipiac's final poll of the Iowa Senate race finds Democrat Bruce Braley and Republican Joni Ernst tied at 47 percent. The poll shows Braley closing the gap from Quinnipiac's previous poll in late October that showed him trailing Ernst by four points, 49 percent to 45 percent.
Tom Harkin, the longtime Democratic senator from Iowa who is retiring at the end of the term, spoke with the New York Times about the Hawkeye State's Senate race. Harkin seems to take it as a given that Republicans will gain control of the Senate, even as his fellow Iowa Democrat, Bruce Braley, is mired in a difficult campaign to succeed him.
Tom Harkin, the top Democrat in Iowa, tells ABC News that he has serious questions about where Hillary Clinton stands on the issues:
"But some Democrats still have their doubts," says ABC's Jonathan Karl. "Some progressives are a little uneasy with Hillary Clinton and is she going to be too hawkish on foreign policy, is she going to be too moderate on economic issues?"
Joni Ernst, the Republican Senate candidate from Iowa, is getting a boost from GOP super PAC American Crossroads. A new TV ad from the group contrasts Ernst's background as "a mother and a soldier" with that of her opponent, Democratic congressman Bruce Braley.
"Bruce Braley, trial lawyer and Washington politician, supports Obamacare and caught putting down Chuck Grassley to an out-of-state crowd," says the voiceover. Included in a clip of Braley criticizing Grassley, the Iowa Republican, as a "farmer who never went to law school."
Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst, a Republican, leads her Democratic opponent Bruce Braley by five points, according to a new poll from Republican polling firm Vox Populi. The survey of "active voters" (culled from registered voters who voted in the last two elections) in Iowa found 49 percent support or lean toward Ernst, while 44 percent support or lean toward Braley.
Nebraska senator Deb Fischer will travel next door to Iowa in support of a fellow female Republican running in a tough primary for U.S. Senate. According to a press release from ShePAC, a conservative women's group, Fischer will go to Des Moines later this month to campaign for Joni Ernst, who is running for the seat currently held by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin. Ernst is locked in a primary battle with four other Republican candidates, including leading candidate Mark Jacobs.
Marco Rubio, the Florida Republican, spoke Monday on the Senate floor about the reign of oppression in his parents' native Cuba and in Venezuela. Rubio gave the address after Iowa Democratic senator Tom Harkin gave a rosy evaluation of Cuba after a recent trip there. Drawing on the example of Castro's Cuba, Rubio draw comparisons to the Maduro government in Venezuela.
President Obama has some work to do if he wants congressional authority to bomb Syria. Already some of his liberal allies are questioning the evidence which is supposed to show that Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons on his own people.
Democratic senator Tom Harkin, who's retiring at the end of this term, had some blunt words for the Obama administration over the recent change to Obamacare. "This was the law. How can they change the law?"
Harkin is referring to Obama administration's decision to delay the employer mandate in Obamacare, even though it's part of the law, Obamacare, which Congress passed and the president signed into law.
Democratic representative Bruce Braley is running for the Iowa Senate seat being vacated by fellow Democrat Tom Harkin, but he might want to learn how the upper body functions first. In an interview on a local news station, Braley was asked about why the Senate has not passed a budget in nearly four years.
"How is that possible? One word," Braley replied. "The filibuster."