Thursday, December 17, 2009

And the Winner of the 2009 Lie of the Year Contest IS....

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”
Adolf Hitler
German Chancellor, leader of the Nazi party,

"I believe that it is better to tell the truth than a lie. I believe it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe it is better to know than to be ignorant.”
Henry Louis Mencken
American humorous Journalist & Critic of American life


“People do not believe lies because they have to, but because they want to.”
Malcolm Muggeridge
British Journalist, Satarist, Spy,

1903 - 1990

Between December 9th and December 16th, one of my all-time favorite sites,, held open voting for their year in review "Lie of the Year" contest. This contest is a great look at both the issues that were important in 2009, and the people who were the faces of those issues. Those competing are so worthy, that picking just one is a terribly difficult decision. (I would have included Ben Bernanke, but oh well.....they didn't ask me.)

Politifact is one of the best fact checking sites on the web, a project of the St. Petersburg Times newspaper. A 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner, the purpose of the project, as stated on their web site, is "to help you find the truth in American Politics". Editors and reporters of the Times do the fact checking on "statements by members of Congress, the White House, lobbyists and interest groups" and then rate them on their truth-o-meter. Ratings on the Truth-O-Meter range from True through a spectrum of partially True all the way to False, and the ultimate bad rating and my personal favorite, because fact-checking American Politics just wouldn't be complete without it, for statements where a mere rating of false would be simply inadequate: "Pants on Fire". Politifact is adamantly non-partisan in their fact checking, so while readers may delight in seeing those who hold opposition figures accountable for their statements, readers should also be prepared to see statements made by figures they may endorse or support given equal scrutiny.

So, who are the candidates for the 2009 Lie of the Year award? (drum roll please!)

In no particular order

Joe Biden, for:
"When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft."
April 30, 2009,
the Today Show.
Rated Pants on Fire.

Barack Obama, for:
"Preventive care saves money."
September 9, 2009,
speech to a joint session of Congress.
Rated False

Joe Wilson, for:
"You lie!"
September 9, 2009
speech by Obama to a joint session of Congress,
(re health care reform would not insure illegal immigrants)
Rated False

Nita Lowey, for:
"An amendment to the House health reform bill puts new restrictions on women's access to abortion coverage in the private health insurance market even when they would pay premiums with their own money."
November 7, 2009,
speech from the House floor
Rated False

Sarah Palin, for:
"Seniors and the disabled will have to stand in front of Obama's 'death panel' so his beaurocrats can decide, based on a subjective judgement of their level of productivity in society, whether they are worthy of health care."
August 7, 2009,
message posted on Facebook.
Rated Pants on Fire

Glenn Beck, for:
"John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, has proposed forcing abortions and putting sterilants in the drinking water to control population." July 22, 2009
Fox News cable television, Glenn Beck program
Rated Pants on Fire

Orly Taitz, for:
"A birth certificate shows Barack Obama was born in Kenya."
August 2, 2009
lawsuit attachment
Rated Pants on Fire

Michele Bachmann, for:
"Page 92 of the House health care reform bill says specifically that people can't purchase private health insurance after a date certain."
October 30, 2009,
Fox News cable television interview
Rated Pants on Fire

So hard to choose, it is so very hard to choose.......

And the winner is..........?

Unfortunately, Politifact did not provide a date for announcing the winner, only that the results will come soon. While readers wait for the announcement, they can browse the Politifact web site which is conveniently organized with Truth-O-Meter findings by persons, rulings, subjects, Pants on Fire rulings, and Health Care. There is a file devoted exclusively to Barack Obama, as well as an Obameter, Joe Biden has his own file as well. Glenn Beck and Michael Moore have their own files as well. TheObameter, worth a look for those who want to determine for themselves if the President gave himself a fair grade for his first year, is divided into headings for All promises not yet rated, All promises in the works, All promises stalled, Broken promises, Obama compromises, and for any topic not covered in those headings, By subject. Politifact is tracking 500 Obama promises, a prodigious undertaking. The site also has sections on people, and pundits.

Staff writer and researcher Angie Drobnic Holan is the Politifact reporter posting the story and presumably also the results to the Politifact web page. Her bio on Politifact indicates she has worked for the St. Petersburg Times since 2005, and holds a Masters degree from Columbia University School of Journalism. She has previously been a researcher at the Tampa Tribune and a business reporter for the Mobile, Alabama Press-Register.

I hope she posts an announcement soon; the suspense is brutal! Well, maybe it is not quite such suspense, for those who are the candidates for this distinction; I imagine they'd be happy to wait indefinitely. One last point: according to Politifact, as regards a difference of opinion covered in a previous article here on Penigma, relating to the Stupak Amendment, let me acknowledge that Politifact supports the position espoused by Thoughts of Eternity, and not the position I expressed. I like to admit it when I'm wrong. Well, I don't exactly LIKE it, but I try to do it.


  1. To me, the Biden statement just seems dumb. It does not seem vindictive or manipulative.

    We all make dumb statements from time to time. (This is especially the case for those who contend that they never make dumb statements.) Joe Biden's dumb statements have the added entertainment value of being dumb in a peculiarly funny way.

    The Palin and Beck statements, on the other hand, are clearly manipulative. They hope other people are dumb enough to believe what they must know are outright lies. This is meant to obfuscate the overall political discussion and scare gullible people. This is dangerous behavior.

    (If Mr. Beck and Ms. Palin actually believe these statements themselves, my goodness, this country is in trouble for giving them celebrity status....)

  2. Hass wrote: "(If Mr. Beck and Ms. Palin actually believe these statements themselves, my goodness, this country is in trouble for giving them celebrity status....)"

    I can only reiterate that Muggeridge said it better than I could:
    “People do not believe lies because they have to, but because they want to.”

    Unfortunately, as paralleled in an off-blog conversation earlier today, people on both sides of the political spectrum seem to enjoy believing the worst possible kind of lies, without making any effort to seek out the truth, indeed making considerable effort to avoid the truth in some cases.

  3. I think "wanting" to believe lies also has a whole lot to do with cultural insularity, too. It creates a scenario where any "new" (which often means "innovative") idea is "weird" because it's not "normal."

    An awful lot of Americans at present fail to realize that wanting to retain things "as they are" is an indication of the political and economic (and cultural) recession of the last American decade.

    As the old saying goes, "If we want things to stay the same, they will have to change."

    Presidents Obama and Reagan--very different politicians--believe(d) that. In fact, when Reagan was in office, both the Democrats and the Republicans wanted change and innovation, just in different ways. That's fair enough, and it's healthy.

    Now, the Republicans dislike the president's ideas, which is fine. But they have no new ideas for innovation, no new plans, no nothing but wonderful thoughts of the past. They have no conception of this international, integrated world, and no idea how we fit into it. (Anyone who doesn't think this is an ever-changing, internation world to which we must adjust in order to retain our influence has severe problems, particularly at present.)

    We must retain American values (hard work, integrity, creativity) in order to spur innovation.

    Yet simply wanting to retain everything "as it is" is a bad idea. Just read world history books in order to see this (and, yes, we are a part of this world--not separate from it).

    Do the obfuscating, angry, insular, provincial conservatives think that we should use our time-honored values in order to innovate now? Let's hear their ideas! We could probably benefit from them, for goodness sake. Yet all we get from them are homages to past eras and statements about the horrible nature of taxes...and little else.

    However clunky the Democrats' plans can be, at least they aren't trying to keep the year 1956 or 1984 or whatever as the "American Stasis." They know that to do so would be ridiculous.

    Hey, I'm a guy who has a cell phone but hates it. I prefer pen and paper to a computer. But I've been around, folks, and at present many in the U.S. are following the classic path into "we want no change" territory, which is a classic indicator of regression. As traditional as I can be, I know this to be ridiculous madness.

    I'll take Biden's silly comments to Palin's dangerous stupidity any time, any day, any year.

  4. I think Hasslington has hit it on the head. The Republican party used to be the forefront of progressive thinking, but in recent years it has been hijacked by the conservative movement. Conservatives, in political science definitions, are those who oppose change and even advocate to regress back to a "more simple or basic time". The more extreme of them live in a fantasy world. I, for one, do not want to live in the 1950's, where there was a genuine fear of nuclear war, where bigotry was a national pastime, and where to be anything other than white, anglo-saxon protestant meant you were viewed with suspicion in the US. Sure, taxes were lower. That does not mean that the quality of life was higher. Fortunately, although we can't step into a time machine and go live in the 1950's, the conservative movement, given their chance, would change our laws to reflect those days... it was, in my opinion, the bad old days rather than the good ones.