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Clay Bennett | Chattanooga Times Free Press

Don Wright | Palm Beach Post

Saturday's letters: PolitiFact 'Lie of the Year' misses the mark

PolitiFact's choice for Lie of the Year is surprising because the Republican-dominated House of Representatives did vote to end Medicare "as we know it." The changes they voted for would have completely changed Medicare for everyone under 55 years of age and likely would have forced many people out of the system.

The most accurate description of that vote and the Democratic claim would have been "mostly true" or, perhaps, "somewhat distorted." It is a partially erroneous statement, but far from the Lie of the Year.

I suspect you are bending over too far backwards in order to be perceived by Republicans to be fair. Sadly, that tactic will not work as they are now free to distort your intent and push for more Medicare destruction.

Ian MacFarlane, St. Petersburg

Lie of the Century

And the Lie of the Century goes to PolitiFact for naming as the 2011 Lie of the Year the claim by Democrats that the Paul Ryan plan was a Republican vote to end Medicare.

Medicare is currently a single-payer system. No amount of pretzel logic by PolitiFact can deny that the Ryan plan for those under 55 would provide something far different that cannot conceivably be called Medicare as that plan is currently defined. So, for those under 55, Republicans most certainly voted to end Medicare and instead provide a different program of vouchers and multiple payers.

PolitiFact's massaging of the facts is indefensible. With the 2011 Lie of the Year it has lost any shred of credibility.

Republicans have not even denied that the Ryan plan ends Medicare. In fact, Rep. Paul Ryan's explanation was that Medicare cannot survive in its present form and must be replaced.

Charles Stewart, New Port Richey

Vouchers mean the end

I have lost all respect for PolitiFact and the Times. While some of the Democratic ads exaggerate a little, it is not an outright lie as PolitiFact claims.

The Ryan plan would change Medicare profoundly for future seniors. I do not want a "voucher" to be used with a private insurer. I have dealt with private insurers all my life and they do not care if I live or die. It's all about the almighty dollar.

I have always felt it is a shame that we are the only Western country that does not provide universal health coverage. Health care is not a commodity like shoes or cars. It is a human right and should be available to all people.

Your article said that Rep. Paul Ryan might compromise and offer both the private plan and the traditional Medicare plan to future seniors. I advise my fellow future seniors to opt for the traditional plan.

Frank Harrison, Brandon

Word games

According to PolitiFact, if Democrats had said that Republicans had voted to end Medicare "as we know it" or that Republicans had voted to end Medicare as a program that directly covers medical expenses, their statement would have been accurate.

However, last April PolitiFact acknowledged that "the Republican proposal will end the aspect of Medicare that directly covers specific services such as hospital coverage." Get wise, PolitiFact. This is the ultimate exercise in futilely parsing words to make (a factually incorrect) point.

Christopher C. Miller, St. Petersburg

Happy with Medicare

I couldn't believe it when I saw that "Republicans voted to end Medicare" was chosen by PolitiFact as the lie of the year.

What do you call it when people younger than 55 will no longer have Medicare as we know it, but a voucher to purchase health insurance?

Paul Ryan and the Republicans still want to end Medicare, just down the road. Even our Republican friends who are over 65 like being covered by Medicare. I turned 65 this year, and life certainly has gotten much easier for me since I am on Medicare.

Marilyn Wirth, Largo

Who's writing this stuff?

Your Lie of the Year most certainly is the Lie of the Year! When did Michele Bachmann join the staff of the Times?

Richard Hover, Dunedin

Tossing a bone

PolitiFact has tossed a rare bone to conservatives. The timing of its Lie of the Year is notable given the unflattering story about PolitiFact in the Weekly Standard earlier this month.

Gary Harrington, St. Petersburg

Passing along GOP spin

The Lie of the Year is that PolitiFact is a neutral arbiter of what is true and what isn't.

Last April, the Republican House of Representatives voted for the so-called Ryan plan. That plan would, as Naftali Bendavid wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "pretty much phase out Medicare."

In any normal use of English, the Ryan plan would get rid of Medicare. PolitiFact has discredited itself and is just passing on right-wing spin.

Dallas Dunlap, Brooksville

Loss of credibility

This appalling decision by PolitiFact devalues the entire enterprise. Even if one were to accept the flawed premise that there are two ways to look at the issue, that would only justify an inaccurate rating given by PolitiFact on this issue. To choose as "Lie of the Year" (the showcase event) an issue that can perfectly be seen (and is) by many rational people as not a lie at all is an intentional attempt by the entire enterprise to create a false equivalency that allows your newspaper to say, "Well, both sides hate us, so we must be doing something right." Not only is this ridiculous phrase a nonsensical one, it does not apply in this case at all.

PolitiFact has ceased to be, not because anyone will boycott it, but because the very credibility in which it traffics is gone. Right-wingers will continue to hate it because it constantly calls them out on their dishonesty. Centrists and liberals will never know if PolitiFact is being honest, if it's creating yet another false equivalency in order to appear more palatable to right-wingers, or even if it's now pandering to liberals to make up for the 2011 Lie of the Year fiasco.

Daniel Vergara, Palm Harbor

Source for balanced news

I rely on PolitiFact for balanced news. Even though I'm a Democrat, I know better than to accept everything I hear as being factual.

Not only do you get it right 99 percent of the time, you're unbiased to the core. That's hard to say about any journalist these days.

I appreciate PolitiFact, and kudos for such a balanced article on the Lie of the Year.

Dave Schmidt, Mason City, Iowa

FAMU hazing

Culture of violence

The story of hazing at FAMU is horrifying. Let us be clear: We are talking about an educational institution knowing about and condoning a peer culture in which students willingly participated in either beating other students or in being beaten. We are talking beatings that inflict physical injury, possibly permanent injury and that may result in death. Currently the band is being investigated, but probably all student associations need to be scrutinized.

The faculty, staff, parents and alumni of FAMU must accept responsibility for the part they have played in supporting this culture of violence. Every adult who has heard a rumor and done nothing, every adult who has known an injured student and not rendered aid, every adult who themselves participated in hazing and permitted others to become perpetrators and victims in the name of "tradition," every adult associated with FAMU who believed hazing was an acceptable student ritual or "business as usual," every adult who failed to do enough to stop hazing — all have contributed to creating an institution that is irretrievably broken.

FAMU should immediately go into a stand-down in which the entire university community looks clearly and deeply at this culture of violence.

Karen Putney, Tampa

Found, after 30 cold years | Dec. 21

Value of anthropology

The article by Ben Montgomery is quite informative and well-written. It describes USF professor Erin Kimmerle's work in identification of Peggy Sue Houser's remains through forensic sciences. Please send a copy to Rick Scott so the governor can learn just what anthropologists do.

Sharon Russell, Tampa

USF Poly leader ousted | Dec. 21

Sounds like a vacation

USF president Judy Genshaft did the right thing by removing Marshall Goodman, the chancellor of USF Polytechnic.

But the critical question is not why she waited so long. Instead, it is why is his sweetheart deal such a far cry from being a punishment? While on leave, Goodman will be paid his $254,000 annual salary. After that, he will be allowed to return to campus as a faculty member with a salary of $150,000. Sounds more like a yearlong vacation. The whole deal is outrageous. She should have fired him outright.

Jerry Underwood, Valrico

Campaign 2012

Parents should take control

At a Rick Santorum town hall meeting in Iowa, one question was how the government could block sales of video games and movies that contain sex and violence. This from people who say the government is too involved in their lives now.

Where is the free-market philosophy of the GOP? If parents don't stop buying the games and giving money to their children without knowing what they are buying or watching, the makers of the games and movies will continue. They are just following the free market, supply and demand.

R.J. Spencer, Clearwater


Cuts will end up costing

Just a few weeks before Christmas, Gov. Rick Scott released his budget proposing another drastic reduction in funding for the Medicaid waiver that provides medically necessary services to vulnerable people with developmental disabilities. Then, he had his director of the Agency for Persons with Disabilities announce that substantial cuts to consumers' services will begin in January in the area from Tampa Bay to Fort Myers. If Gov. Scrooge has his way, up to 67 percent of Floridians with developmental disabilities will have their essential services cut.

Even in this tough economy, Scott and most legislators lack the courage to cut even a little of the $300 million the state gives out each year to "double dippers." On the other hand, it doesn't take any courage at all for them to cut funds for vulnerable people. Less than half of the funding for Medicaid waiver services is state money. The remainder is federal matching funds.

Medicaid waiver services are the cheapest long-term care. Underfunding waiver services to people with developmental disabilities will ultimately force these vulnerable people into more costly long-term care settings.

Carol Novak, Clearwater

TV Times

Format is an improvement

Please ignore the flurry of frustrated complaints about the new TV guide. The new format is a great improvement over the old one. The old format was tedious and frustrating, especially for cable stations. I think the new TV Times is very well organized.

Yes the type is tiny, but if my 62-year-old eyes can make it out, I doubt it's really a problem for anyone younger. And yes, the format is large, but I defy anyone to make it fit onto a smaller page. Just fold it in half.

Kathleen East, Spring Hill

Much easier

I am very happy with the new version of the TV Times. When I switched to the Times from the Tribune a couple years back, the only thing I missed was the TV section. Theirs was very easy to read and the Times version was very difficult. The new version has everything on the same page. Everyone will get used to this. For me it is much easier.

Nancy Magin, Tampa

More convenience

The new TV Times is fantastic. Instead of having to turn many pages to see what's on at 8 p.m., it's all listed in one convenient column on a single page.

Elliot Keller, Sun City Center

Saturday's letters: PolitiFact 'Lie of the Year' misses the mark 12/23/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 23, 2011 10:53am]
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