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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Dec. 1-Dec. 7

This week, readers sent us comments on health care (no way!), Obama’s "gaffe" and the proper stance during the national anthem.

In the FactCheck Mailbag we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Assume the Position

Ok FactCheck.org, I happen to be cruising by your site and saw the article on the lunatics on the right whining about Obama’s hand not over his heart during a (supposed) national anthem event … or whatever ["What’s Wrong With This Picture?," Nov. 18].

Since you are "fact check", why oh why don’t you cover the topic of the FACT that hand over heart is NOT the appropriate stance during our national anthem? Is everyone in this country so … stupid they don’t know proper protocol of our anthem, our pledge, and the how-to’s of proper use of our flag?

Putting hand over heart is proper during the pledge but not during the anthem … yes yes your article pertains to the usual photoshop whining [BS] of the right, but it would have been nice if somewhere you had included this lil BIG FACT in these types of articles.

BJ Linz
Las Vegas, Nev.

FactCheck.org responds: The U.S. Code states that "all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart." The "should" means that this posture, while not a legal requirement, is in fact the recommended stance.


Health Care Pessimism

I don’t disagree that we need health care reform. With all the claims and counter claims, and politicians are not known for their honesty, how can anyone determine what will happen with health care reform as now being debated?

The thing that people don’t discuss is that the legislation that is passed into law will be turned over to the bureaucrats to regulate. To do so they will interpret the law. We’re not governed by laws, we are governed by regulation. What has the government excelled at? Continuing proliferation of regulations to justify the bureaucracy, expansion the bureaucracy, and a continually growing burden on the taxpayer.

The politicians who had a hand in this fiasco will cower behind the skirts of "unexpected outcomes" when it’s discovered that things were only made worse. Let’s hear some concrete winning programs the government has initiated and managed, then look to that model to craft a trillion dollar monstrosity.

But stop this current madness.

Neville Kenneth "Ken" Jantz
Cane Ridge, Tenn.


Gaffed Up

In your recent article about a video that distorts comments President Obama has made in order to portray him as a Muslim ["Truth on the Cutting Room Floor," Dec. 4], you fall into the same trap that others did with regard to one comment in particular.

"You’re absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith" is one of the things that Obama said. But when you listed the fuller version of that quote, you left off the question and background that led Obama to say that. And you claimed it was catagorized as a gaffe at the time (and then you quote the Washington Times, as though they’re an objective, neutral source!).

But it wasn’t a gaffe at all. Not in any way. It may have been inarticulately said, but it wasn’t a mistake — he said exactly what he intended to say. There had been rumors about Obama being a closet Muslim, and Obama was saying that McCain hadn’t furthered those smears about Obama’s "Muslim faith". It’d be like if there were untrue rumors of me being a closeted gay, and I said that someone hadn’t passed on rumors of my homosexuality, I would not have made a "gaffe." Had Obama written his comment, rather than spoken it, he would have put quotes around "my Muslim faith" to show that it was not an accurate description.

You do a disservice to your readers when you don’t provide full context.

Snopes.com understood the full context of this — I am quite unsure why you guys don’t.

Sue Runyon
Austin, Texas


Praise and Requests

I have found your evaluations both pro and con excellent. I only hope it isn’t just my own bias rearing its ugly head because I am in agreement with you.

I find it interesting that it is so easy to want to believe bad things about those we don’t like or disagree with. Sort of like "Don’t bother me with the facts."

William Dluehosh
Madera, Calif.

I wanted to tell you that during the election your website was one of my favorite, as I felt you were doing a great job at helping me distinguish between the many political lies and the truth. However, since President Obama has taken office I haven’t seen very many articles that fact check much of what he says or does. In fact, it seems like the overwhelming majority of your articles do nothing more than defend his policies. Understand, I’m no shill for the Republican Party. I believe both parties are failing the American people. I just would like to see you getting back to approaching things from a “middle-of-the-road” point of view as you did during the election.

Ben Trigsted
Newman Lake, Wash.


A Modest Proposal

Reading today’s mail bag [Nov. 24-Nov. 30], the thought occurred to me: It is a pretty well accepted fact that everyone in America is going to die eventually. So why spend any money on health care? Isn’t it futile? Just let nature take its course. Besides, they say it is better on the other side anyway.

Michael Monahan
Yakima, Wash.