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Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post, will from time to time fact check claims made by politicians for the truthfulness.   In his fact checking, he uses a rating scale for untruthfulness or exaggeration which ranges from one to four Pinocchios, with one Pinocchio representing "some shading of the facts" to four Pinocchios representing "whoppers."  

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

Most of the time the statements that are fact checked are given at least one Pinnochio.    However, every once and a while, a statement is given The Geppetto Checkmark which means:

Statements and claims that contain “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” will be recognized with our prized Geppetto checkmark."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

In today's paper, Kessler gave the rare Geppetto checkmark to a statement made by President Obama on March 25, 2015 about the Affordable Care Act, an Act which has been vilified by the Republicans (Just how many times have they tried to repeal it--I've lost count).

The President's Statement was as follows:

It’s a major reason why we’ve seen 50,000 fewer preventable patient deaths in hospitals.  
https://www.whitehouse.gov/...

Kessler then goes on to fact check this statement, noting

This number jumped out at us during the president’s recent speech hailing his health-care law. Could 50,000 people have not died in hospitals because of the Affordable Care Act?

That seemed rather extraordinary, even given the size of the United States.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

Kessler then discusses a study by HHS which reviewed over 30,000 medical records to look at the number of patient problems during hospitalization.  

The study looked at the impact of the Partnership for Patients, a $460-million program funded by the health law which ties together 3,800 hospitals in 27 “health engagement” networks, with the goal of reducing ten categories of “patient harms,” such as adverse drug events, pressure ulcers and catheter-associated urinary tract infections. The networks work together to identify possible solutions to common problems and then circulate those ideas among the various hospitals, with the goal of reducing preventable hospital-acquired conditions (HACs) by 40 percent and 30-day hospital readmissions by 20 percent
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

While Kessler does indicate that he does have a "minor quibble" with the wording of the President's statement, he does find that the

the president’s claim appears worthy of the elusive Geppetto Checkmark.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

Because of the courage of the President and the Democrats in Congress in passing the ACA, approximately 50,000 Americans are alive today who wouldn't be otherwise.

Nevertheless, I don't expect that the Republican Party and Fox News will let the facts get in the way of their argument about how bad "Obamacare" is for America.  And so I fully expect that we will continue to hear calls to repeal Obamacare in the 2016 election, no matter what the facts show.    Hopefully, they will not be successful because the ACA is having a positive impact on the lives of people in this country.  

Discuss

Like many Democrats in Maryland, I was absolutely shocked on election night when the early results were showing Republican candidate Larry Hogan leading Democratic candidate Anthony Brown.  And I was even more shocked when Hogan actually won.

Surely this shouldn't have happened in Maryland, a blue state, where Democrats have a 2:1 advantage in voter registrations.  After all, this is a state where efforts to strengthen gun laws were successful and which repealed the death penalty.  

Many people here suspected that Hogan won because the Democrats stayed home.  It turns out that they were right. According to a recent poll by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland, Marylanders who were either not registered to vote or did not vote in the 2014 general elections would have vote for Brown (46%) over Hogan (35%).  

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

This stands in sharp contrast to the actual election results of Hogan (51%) to Brown (47%).  

In the election, Brown, Governor O'Malley's Lt. Governor, was the pick of the Democratic Party establishment.  And it was largely assumed that he would win.  However, many people I talked to just weren't that enthusiastic about Brown.  While they indicated that they would vote for him in the General Election, they really wished Heather Mizeur, a progressive candidate who was underfunded and not taken seriously by the mainstream media, had won the primary.

That many Democratic voters in Maryland would have preferred someone else to Brown  was confirmed by the poll results.   The Washington Post poll found that 37% of Democrats were dissatisfied with their choice of candidates, with 14% indicating that they were very dissatisfied.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

In an article discussing the poll results, writers John Wagner and Scott Clement of The Washington Post state:  

To reclaim the governorship in 2018, Democrats will need a candidate with a crisper message who is more capable of motivating the party’s base, analysts and strategists say.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

I only hope the Maryland Democratic Party establishment is listening.  Or the voters in Maryland may once again elect Larry Hogan over the Democratic candidate in 2018.   And it is the next Governor that will oversee restricting in Maryland, a state with a 6-2 Democratic Congressional Delegation and a legislature with a large Democratic majority.  

Discuss

Channel KOB in Albuquerque is reporting that a 3 year old child shot both his pregnant mother and his father when he reached for an iPod in his mother's purse and instead grabbed a gun.  The shot first hit the father and then the bullet exited the father's hip, striking the mother.  The couple's two year old child was also nearby.  

According to the father, Justin Reynolds:

"It was like if I was to get up shake your hand and sat back down. That's how fast it happened, "said Reynolds." All of a sudden we heard a gun go off and the next minute I realized my girlfriend was bleeding. Then I sat down and realized I was shot too."
http://www.kob.com/...

The mother is still in the hospital in stable condition.  

Fortunately, this situation is being taken seriously by the authorities.

Both children were placed on a 48 hour hold with CYFD [Children, Youth and Families Department].  

APD [Albuquerque Police Department] says the case will be forwarded to the DA's office and pending charges of felony criminal negligence will be reviewed on both parents.

I continue to be amazed at the number of people who will keep a deadly weapon within reach of their children.   Tragedies like this are entirely avoidable.  
Discuss

Here is a version of the State of the Union speech that you won't hear from President Obama:

"My fellow Americans.  With Republican control of the Senate added to Republican control of the House, the State of the Union is about to get worse.

The American People are in for two years of the Republican Congress passing bills that are not in the best interest of the country.  Things like repealing the Affordable Care Act, more tax cuts for the wealthy, and cuts to Social Security.  And the only thing that will stop these truly bad ideas from becoming law is that I hold the power to veto legislation.

But please consider that as bad as things are right now because of Republican control of Congress, things could get a lot worse in 2016.  If the American people once again buy the snake oil that the Republican Party is selling and elect a Republican to the White House, there will be no one to stop the Republicans from putting into place the types of bad policies that caused the recession.  

Please remember that the Republican Party has never met a tax cut that they didn't like, and is only interested in balancing the budget by cutting spending that helps low and middle income Americans.    

And if a Republican President with a Republican Senate nominates one or more conservative Supreme Court Justices which will give the conservative justices a majority, you  can only image the types of horrible decisions that will be coming from the Court on issues like gay marriage, abortion and government regulation of business.  

So please pay attention.  And make sure that you vote in 2016.  The only reason why we are in this situation now is because many people stayed home in 2014 and 2010."

Discuss

If you checked FiveThirtyEight right before the election, you would have seen that their final prediction was that Lt. Governor Anthony Brown, the Democrat, would win the Maryland Governor's race by 9.7%.  Instead, Brown lost by five percentage points.  

In an article today, Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight admitted

Our forecast wasn’t even close.
http://fivethirtyeight.com/...

So what explains such a huge error by a website that so accurately predicted the outcome of the Presidential Race n 2012.  Enten has an explanation:

Our gubernatorial model relies on polls, and polls alone, and the most reliable public pollsters stopped surveying the race a month before Election Day. The final surveys from The Baltimore Sun and Washington Post, taken between Oct. 2 and Oct. 8, had Brown ahead by an average of 8 percentage points.
http://fivethirtyeight.com/...

FiveThirtyEight does however indicate that there were internal polls taken by the Republicans or Hogan's campaign but these polls were not used by FiveThirtyEight due the unreliability of internal polls.  

So the only polls that they used in their model were polls that were old and did not reflect the actual state of the Governor's race right before the election.

Before Tuesday night, I did not think that Brown could lose.  I saw the Washington Post poll and thought that Brown was on his way to a decent sized victory.  After all, this was Maryland, a blue state.  

I suspect that if Hogan's internal polls showed that Brown could lose that the Brown campaign's internal polls showed the same thing.  But this message did not get out to the grassroots.  Yes, I got the e-mails from the Democratic Party inviting me to rallies and asking for volunteers and donations but I get these every election.  And there was no indication that this election was any different from the other elections where the Democrats won by a decent margin.  And like other progressives, I really didn't see the need to volunteer for a candidate picked by the Democratic establishment who did not particularly impress me.  

The article in FiveThirtyEight gave me something to think about.

Brown was a 94 percent favorite. . . .  94 percent favorites are supposed to lose sometimes (6 percent of the time, to be exact). Hogan’s chance of winning was roughly equivalent to the chance No. 14 seed Mercer had of beating No. 3 seed Duke in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament this past March. Underdogs can win.
http://fivethirtyeight.com/...

94% is not 100%.  Just because things look good for the Democrats doesn't mean that they will win--even in a blue state like Maryland.  

And there is the possibility of movement in races where one candidate appears way ahead of the other a few weeks before the election.  And it is important to look at the age of the polls and not just the findings and the reliability of the polls.

Hopefully, the media in Maryland will learn from this and will poll more frequently in the future.  But if they don't, I won't be complacent again.  

Discuss

I live in Maryland.  It is a very blue state.  Democratic voter registrations far outnumber Republican voter registrations.  In recent years, the Maryland legislature has repealed the death penalty and strengthened gun control.  And when Maryland voters had the chance to vote on same sex marriage, they voted in favor of same sex marriage.

And even though we had an election for Governor coming up, I knew that Anthony Brown, the Democratic candidate, was going to win.  After all, if you looked at the polls, not a single poll showed Brown losing.  In fact, some polls had Brown winning by double digits.  And the Maryland Governor's race was not on anyone's radar screen as a race to watch.

Yes, Brown was a weak candidate.  And not anyone I knew was very enthusiastic about him.  But this was Maryland, and there was no way that Brown could lose.

Until he did.

Last night, the citizens of Maryland, elected Larry Hogan, the Republican candidate, by a margin of 52 to 47%.  

And what did I do to help keep the Governorship of Maryland in Democratic hands.

I voted for Brown.  And that was it.  Unlike the Presidential race of 2012, I did not knock on a single door for Brown.  

Brown was the candidate picked by the Democratic establishment. And while I liked his running mate Ken Ulman, I wasn't very impressed by Brown.  I had other things going on in my life that were taking up my time.  And since Brown was going to win anyway with or without my help, I thought that it was okay to sit this one out.

That was a mistake.  And it is a mistake that I will be paying for over the next four years.

But it is a mistake that I won't repeat in 2018.  No matter how good things look for whoever is the Democratic nominee for Governor, I will be out there trying to get him or her elected.  Because I want to help make sure that the Governorship of Maryland returns to Democratic hands.  

Discuss

I am sure you have seen the polls.  And if you believe them, things are not looking good for the Democratic Party in November.  It is looking more likely than not that we will have a Republican Senate joining the Republican House.

But polls can be wrong.  And I am going to tell you how you can prove that they are wrong this year.

If you look at the polls, you will see that they are polls of likely voters.  They are based on the assumption that certain people are likely to vote and certain people are not.

And the way to prove these polls wrong is to make sure that we increase the turnout among unlikely voters.  Because many of the key races are close, an increase in the voter turnout of unlikely Democratic voters could change the outcome of at least some of these races.

And if you live in one of the states with a close race, I would bet that you know some unlikely voters.  They are your friends, neighbors, and relatives.  People who tend to support the Democratic candidate but who aren't particularly enthusiastic about the race this year and believe that their vote won't make a difference anyway.  They are the people who are disgusted with the way things are in Washington.  They are the people who are too busy working so that they can put food on the table.  They are the people who run their children from activity to activity and don't seem to have much time for themselves.

During the next few weeks, please try to have a conversation with all of the unlikely voters you know.  Tell them why the November election is important.  Tell them why you support the Democratic candidate.  And see if you can get their support for the Democratic candidate.  And once you do, explain how every vote matters (as an example Bush v. Gore).  And if you live in a state that allows early voting, tell them when and where they can early vote.  And then get their commitment to actually vote.  

And then you need to follow up.  Call them and remind them to vote a few days before the election.  And then call them on Election Day and make sure that they did.

Because if we can get these unlikely Democratic voters to the polls, we will actually be able to prove the polls wrong.  

Discuss

According to Derek Willis of The Upshot of The New York Times :

The parade of politicians on the Sunday morning talk shows veers to the right, not the left.

Conservative members of the current Congress have appeared more often on the network talk shows than their liberal counterparts. Senators and representatives from the conservative end of the ideological spectrum have made 57 percent of the appearances, compared with 42 percent for liberals, according to an Upshot analysis of data collected by American University.

http://www.nytimes.com/...

Furthermore, Willis notes that 56% of the appearances by former members of Congress are by conservatives.  

Although Willis does note that the frequency of appearances by some conservative elected officials, such as John McCain, explains the difference, I believe that this does not justify the lack of balance.  There are many other liberal members of Congress (such as Elizabeth Warren) who could be asked to appear more frequently to give the programs more balance.  

It appears to me that the Republican spin that the media has a liberal bias has been successful as the people who book guests on the programs have either consciously or unconsciously scheduled more Republicans to avoid this bias.  

I hope this article will be read by members of the media and that they will make a better effort to create more balance on their programs.  

Discuss

If you listen to the media, we will be facing a Republican Senate in addition to a Republican House in November.  This is not, however, a foregone conclusion.  In fact, according to Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post, the Democrats have a 51% chance of keeping control of the Senate.

Democrats are now (very slightly) favored to hold the Senate majority on Nov. 4, according to Election Lab, The Post's statistical model of the 2014 midterm elections.

Election Lab puts Democrats' chances of retaining their majority at 51 percent — a huge change from even a few months ago, when the model predicted that Republicans had a better than 80 percent chance of winning the six seats they need to take control.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

Cillizza points to changes in the polling for Colorado and Iowa along with the changes to the Kansas Senate race to explain why the Election Lab model has moved in the Democrats' direction.  He also notes that the models used by the The New York Times and Nate Silver have also moved in the Democrats' direction.  (You can read Lefty Coaster's Diary about Nate Silver at http://www.dailykos.com/...).

It therefore appears that the Democrats have a fighting chance of holding the Senate this year.  

One thing is clear--we have a lot of work to do.  

Discuss

There have been many diaries on this site about the tragic story of a nine year old girl who accidentally killed her instructor when she was learning to shooting an Uzi.

So I have to ask--why isn't it illegal for children to use guns.

After all, society places all sorts of restrictions on children because children don't have the maturity and judgment of adults.  Children need to be a certain age in order to be able to drive an automobile  Children can't drink alcohol and they can't serve in the military.  Children have to be a certain age in order to get married.  They cannot legally consent to having sexual relations unless they are a certain age.  And they can't go into an R rated movie without a parent or a guardian.  In many states, including mine, you cannot leave a child under a certain age home alone.  

So why is it that they are legally allowed to use a gun, a dangerous weapon that can be intentionally or accidentally used to cause the death of another human being?  Why hasn't the government set a mandatory minimum age for firing a gun?

I think that this type of legislation is long overdue.  

I am sure that any rational person would agree that there is an age below which someone should not be allowed to fire a gun. I can't imagine even the most committed "second amendment rights" supporters would believe that someone should allow a baby to fire a gun.   So the question becomes at what age someone has the maturity and the judgment to handle a gun (with proper training and supervision).  

I would like to see legislation introduced that would ban the use of guns by anyone younger than a certain age.

And then we should let the NRA and the Second Amendment folks argue why it is okay to put a deadly weapon in the hands of a five year old.  

And this will let the American people see just how far out of the mainstream the NRA and  the other "Second Amendment" groups are.

And maybe, just maybe, we will be able to get some laws passed that will save some other child from the experience that the nine year old with the Uzi had this week.  

Discuss

Last year, Maryland passed an assault weapons ban.  

Maryland’s law, passed five months after the mass shooting in an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., made the possession or sale of an assault weapon or a magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition a misdemeanor in Maryland.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

You would think that any rational supporter of gun rights would draw the line at assault weapons.   However, gun rights advocates challenged the law, arguing that assault weapons are protected.   Judge Blake rejected this argument, noting:  

Upon review of all the parties’ evidence, the court seriously doubts that the banned assault long guns are commonly possessed for lawful purposes, particularly self-defense in the home, which is at the core of the Second Amendment right,” U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake wrote. . . .

“As for their claims that assault weapons are well-suited for self-defense, the plaintiffs proffer no evidence beyond their desire to possess assault weapons for self-defense in the home that they are in fact commonly used, or possessed, for that purpose,” she wrote.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

By making this argument in opposition to the assault weapons ban, it appears to me that the arguments of the gun rights advocates are pure creative thinking on their part, and are divorced from reality.  The Washington Post noted:

Law enforcement officers who testified in the case could not identify a single time that a Maryland resident used an assault weapon for self-defense.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

This decision is not the end of the challenge to the Maryland assault weapons ban.  

Today on its Facebook page Maryland Shall Issue posted, " we are disappointed to report that the District Court of Maryland has found the AWB (assault weapons ban) provision of SB 281 constitutional.  We will, of course, be appealing the decision."
http://www.wbal.com/...

Stay tuned.  I have a feeling this one will ultimately be headed to the Supreme Court.  

Discuss

I have to ask the question given their actions.

It seems that the GOP does not respect the decisions of the American people.  The American people voted for President Obama twice.  By voting for President Obama, the American people were putting their trust in his judgment.  

Twice the GOP offered alternatives to President Obama.  And twice the American people rejected these candidates (and therefore the views of the GOP).  

However, rather than respecting the decision of the American people, the House GOP has done everything possible to stand in the way of the President.  And now they are suing him for taking a reasonable action that is well within his authority.

And if it was up to some members of the GOP, they would actually attempt overturn the will of the American people by moving to impeach the President.

Clearly with their actions they don't respect the decisions of the American people.

And the GOP is trying to gain an advantage by limiting the opportunities for people to vote by enacting voter ID requirements and limiting early voting.

And don't even get me started on Bush v. Gore.

So I have to ask given their actions, why does the GOP hate democracy so much?

I can respect the will of the American people.  And sometimes it means that I might not like the outcome.  But the best thing about our democratic system is that if you don't like the candidate who won the election, you have an opportunity to vote them out in the next election.

The GOP will have the opportunity to nominate another Presidential candidate in 2016.   And this means that they will have the opportunity to try to convince the American people to vote for that candidate rather than the nominee of the Democratic Party.

And if the GOP truly believed in democracy, this is what they would do, rather than suing the President.  

Discuss
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