Thursday, December 29, 2011

January Artist: The Jelly Jam

The obvious choice for January Artist leading off 2012, given the December release of a new album and my rabid fandom of their music, is The Jelly Jam.

The Jelly Jam is an under-the-radar supergroup featuring guitarist/vocalist Ty Tabor of King's X, bassist John Myung of Dream Theater and Rod Morgenstein of the Dixie Dregs, Steve Morse Band and Winger.

The band plays commercial rock with insanely technical yet subtle twists (the tune "Feeling" serves as an excellent example).  Kind of like nutritious vitamins that taste like candy.  I decided to try allowing the music to play when people visit.  Complain to the proprietor (me) if you don't like that feature.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bill Adair: You who criticize us are in an echo chamber chamber chamber chamber

Crossposted from PolitFact Bias.

PolitiFact editor Bill Adair served up some delicious irony with his recent defense of PolitiFact's 2011 "Lie of the Year" selection.

That selection was Democrats' claim that Republicans voted to end Medicare.  Liberals and progressives far and wide have condemned the selection, and we at PolitiFact Bias share a degree of sympathy with offended liberals since there is some (not much) truth in the claim.

The deluge of port side criticism has prompted yet another one of PolitiFact's nearly content-free rebuttals under the headline "Fact-checking in the Echo Chamber Nation."

Adair seems blissfully unaware that he's inside the echo chamber.

At a Republican campaign rally a few years ago, I asked one of the attendees how he got his news. "I listen to Rush and read NewsMax," he said. "And to make sure I'm getting a balanced view, I watch Fox." My liberal friends get their information from distinctly different sources — Huffington Post, Daily Kos and Rachel Maddow. To make sure they get a balanced view, they click Facebook links — from their liberal friends.
Adair just told us that he's positioned within an echo chamber oriented left.  He hears opinions from the right when he's out reporting. But to hear what the left is saying he can just hang out with his friends.  A truly centrist Bill Adair may be expected to have discussions with a conservative friend to draw from in writing his story.

This is life in our echo chamber nation. We protect ourselves from opinions we don't like and seek reinforcement from like-minded allies.
Bear in mind Adair just finished hinting that his list of friends is predominantly (if not exclusively) liberal.

If Adair isn't in the echo chamber shoulder-to-shoulder with those he criticizes, then it's more akin to a liberal echo chamber duplex with one common living area.

The paradox of the Internet age is that never before have we had access to more ideas and different thoughts. And yet, many of us retreat into comfy parlors where everyone agrees and the other side is always wrong. Each side can manufacture its truths and get the chorus to sing along. PolitiFact had its latest brush with the Echo Chamber Nation this week. We gave our Lie of the Year to the Democrats' claim that the Republicans "voted to end Medicare." That set off a firestorm in the liberal blogosphere, with many saying that claim was not actually wrong. We've received about 1,500 e-mails about our choice and only a few agreed with us.
Adair borrows a page from President Obama's book of rhetorical tricks.  Sure, "many of us" insist on surrounding ourselves with like-minded opinions.  But Adair's problematic audience response probably comes more from those who expose themselves to contrary opinion yet do not have the ability and/or inclination to sift through the clash of ideas to figure out what's wrong or right from either side.

And blame falls on PolitiFact on this point.  PolitiFact often fails to make a clear case in favor of its decisions, and its 2011 "Lie of the Year" is another good example. Observe Adair's method of treating substantial criticisms in response to the "Lie of the Year" selection:
Some of the response has been substantive and thoughtful. The critics said we ignored the long-term effects of Rep. Paul Ryan's plan and that we were wrong to consider his privatized approach to be Medicare. In their view, that is an end to Medicare. We've read the critiques and see nothing that changes our findings. We stand by our story and our conclusion that the claim was the most significant falsehood of 2011. We made no judgments on the merits of the Ryan plan; we just said that the characterization by the Democrats was false.
You just can't blame the outraged liberals for finding this type of response unsatisfactory.  Adair appears to admit that they have a point.  And then tells them with no reason why--unless it's sufficient to claim non-specific support from Annenberg Fact Check or the Washington Post fact checker--that there's no reason to change the ruling.

We got other silly comments from readers who declared we were "a tool" of the Republicans, Fox News and the Koch brothers. Their reaction is typical these days. To paraphrase George W. Bush, you're either with us, or against us. In reality, fact-checking is growing and thriving because people who live outside the partisan bubbles want help sorting out the truth. PolitiFact now has nine state sites run by news organizations around the country that employ more than 30 full-time journalists for fact-checking. We've inspired many copycat sites around the nation and roughly a dozen in other countries.
Adair says the extremist reactions are "typical."  And in almost the next breath he claims that fact checking is thriving because of the people living outside the partisan bubbles.  The atypical ones account for PolitiFact's success?   Why, if that's the case, did PolitiFact not receive greater email support for its "Lie of the Year" selection?  Is it that hard for Adair to see the writing on the wall from within his echo chamber?

On the whole, Adair's defense is elitist and defensive. The PolitiFact staff is enlightened, thank you very much.  If you don't like their "Lie of the Year" selection then there are plenty of potential readers who live outside the echo chamber.  And it would be nice if a few of those readers would send in some supportive emails (hint, hint).

It seems Adair doesn't know his audience.  


One more area where PolitiFact needs to clean up its act:

Some of our critics wrongly attributed our choice to our readers' poll and said we were swayed by a lobbying campaign by Ryan. But our editors made the choice and the poll was not a factor.
Um--how do we know the poll was not a factor?  Because Adair says so?

Free advice for Adair:  If you want to be able to claim with confidence that the poll plays no role in the editors' selection then keep the editors ignorant of the poll numbers until they're finished making their choice.  And if you do it that way then you can write your defense like this:
Some of our critics wrongly attributed our choice to our readers' poll and said we were swayed by a lobbying campaign by Ryan. But we shield the editors from the poll data to ensure that it will not affect our decision.
Doesn't that sound a lot better?  More convincing? 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mother Jones with the bird's eye lowdown on PolitiFact

A Mother Jones story about PolitiFact's shocking selection for its 2011 "Lie of the Year" award works at cross purposes with itself.
Fact-checking, as a genre, probably shouldn't exist. It does largely because of one of the weirder conventions of mainstream journalism, which is to give equal weight to competing claims regardless of whether or not they actually deserve it. Determining the truth or falsity of a given claim is of a lower priority than actually meeting a deadline.
The so-called weird convention arose because journalists recognized that they weren't likely to possess sufficient expertise to accurately decide between two competing views, especially when those competing views came from experts in a given field of study. 

As the story continues with its predictable panning of PolitiFact's 2011 Lie of the Year selection, writer Adam Serwer bears out the difficulty journalists have with accurately determining the facts (bold emphasis added):
Previously, PolitiFact's system for deciding the "Lie of the Year" was through popular vote, which in all honestly [sic] seems like a strange way to decide something like this. Nevertheless, while in 2009 and 2010 the lies of the year reflected choices made by readers, as Steve Benen points out, this year PolitFact decided to go with the third-place choice.
PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" selections always came from a committee of editors, not from the results of the readers votes.  Surwer is correct, at least, about the dubiousness of granting the award based on the votes of readers.  But PolitiFact doesn't do it that way.  The readers vote, no doubt, for entertainment purposes and to give PolitiFact more stuff to write about relating to its annual award.  It's a natural, really.  People tend to have opinions about annual awards ranging from the Emmys to the Miss Universe pageant.  And the popular media exploit that interest to draw readers by letting the readers vote on who they think should have won.

Surwer ought to have stopped himself to double check after supposing that PolitiFact operates akin to "American Idol."

Mother Jones has had a day or two to generate a correction to Surwer's story.  Nothing yet as I move to hit the "publish" button.

Dec. 22, 2011:  Added "[sic]" in first Mother Jones quotation, added "ought to have" in next to last paragraph.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

PolitiFact picks surprise winner for its 2011 "Lie of the Year" award

The claim that Republicans voted to end Medicare receives PolitiFact's Lie of the Year for 2011.

I'm calling it a surprise, given my effort to handicap the selection back in early December.

I reasoned that PolitiFact would have some impulse to choose a "lie" from the Democrats to help preserve the impression of nonpartisanship, and I discounted statements likely to harm President Obama in the coming election.

Unfortunately, I did a poor job of distinguishing between the result of a poll for readers and PolitiFact's selection for Lie of the Year.  PolitiFact doesn't publish the ordering of its 10 finalists.  It simply announces the winner.

I chose Debbie Wasserman Schultz as the likely winner for Democrats, and I chose the eventual winner to vie with Schultz's statement.  And there was an interesting wrinkle in PolitiFact's reasoning:
As we were concluding our reporting for our Lie of the Year story last week, Ryan announced that he was altering his plan and would retain an option for people to stay in traditional Medicare if they want.

His announcement of a bipartisan effort with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., changes the dynamic in the polarized debate and could increase the likelihood that Congress adopts his approach.
Matt Miller, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, wrote that Ryan "has plausibly inoculated his party against a full-frontal Mediscare campaign. Or at least he gives Republicans a credible rebuttal to neutralize it."

But Ryan's latest tactic doesn't affect our decision on Lie of the Year. The statements made about his original plan were clearly inaccurate, they were repeated by many Democrats and they perpetuated a 60-year tactic in using false claims to scare seniors.
Ryan's "latest tactic" (intriguing choice of words, that) decreases the chance that PolitiFact's selection will affect the coming election.  That aspect of the outcome matches the thinking I used in handicapping the selection.

PolitiFact surprises, however, by choosing an item that many on the political left continue to regard as a perfectly true claim.  And that claim, like the two LOTY winners that preceded it, does have a little more truth to it than PolitiFact's  rating might suggest.  PolitiFact, after all, has never revealed an objective criterion for ruling a statement "Pants on Fire."

The decision is likely to decrease public trust in PolitiFact's findings, particularly for PolitiFact's most devoted fans.

As for the reader vote, there was only one surprise:  that the statement PolitiFact editors chose as their winner finished as high as it did.  I was correct that only one statement from a Democrat finished in the top five.

Dec. 22, 2011:  Corrected link in final paragraph.  Hat tip to Jeff Dyberg for catching the broken link.

Monday, December 19, 2011

PolitiFlub: "the deciding vote"

Usually I find myself highlighting PolitiFact's inconsistencies.  This item highlights a PolitiFact consistency, albeit it's consistent error.

A fresh story from PolitiFact rates Democrat Tim Kaine "False" for his claim that Republican George Allen cast the deciding vote in favor of the Bush tax cuts.  PolitiFact, as it has in the past when Republicans make such claims of Democrats, argues that it simply cannot be the deciding vote unless it breaks a tie in somewhat the same sense as the vice president breaks a tie in Senate voting.

I'm completely sympathetic to the counter argument of the Kaine campaign:
(I)f Allen had voted against the 2003 tax cuts, they would have failed by a 51-49 Senate vote.
Exactly!  And people understand this type of campaign advertisement in that sense.

In this case, at least, PolitiFact applies its misguided principles consistently.  Ineptitude squeezes out bias as the root of the problem.


This PolitiFact item from October 2010 appears to complete the set of items dealing with claims about "the deciding vote."  Kaine joins three Republicans in getting a raw deal on his claim, and joins Scott Bruun in getting a "False" rating for his claim.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Center for Freedom and Prosperity Video: Myths about the New Deal

Hurray! Another video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity, this time featuring lovely-yet-traitor-to-her-gender Michelle Fields:

Another good video (might be a tad misleading with some of the quotations), but a note to Michelle Fields: Two weeks of voice lessons might be some of the best money you ever spend. Speak up, girl! Let your voice be heard!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Grading PolitiFact: Newt Gingrich and space mirrors

Words matter -- We pay close attention to the specific wording of a claim. Is it a precise statement? Does it contain mitigating words or phrases?
--Principles of PolitiFact and the Truth-O-Meter

I thought about doing a comparison piece instead of a "Grading PolitiFact" evaluation of this next item.  I decided to do the normal evaluation, but we'll be doing a comparison to PolitiFact's check of a chain email about the Obama administration's Cass Sunstein.

The issue:

clipped from

For comparison:

clipped from

The fact checkers:

Louis Jacobson: writer, researcher
Martha Hamilton: editor

Robert Farley and Bill Adair filled the corresponding roles for the Sunstein item.


Before examining the text of PolitiFact's fact check, let's take a moment to look at the initial presentation of the two items we're comparing.

The top portions seem very comparable.  Gingrich is said to have "suggested" something and Sunstein is said to have "advocated" something.

The middle portions differ.  In Brooks' case, the headline material stick with the narrow description of Brooks, claim, paraphrasing "has suggested" with "once proposed."  The nearby "Truth-O-Meter tells readers what to think of Brooks' claim ("True").  PolitiFact handles the chain email differently.  Instead of paraphrasing the material just above, PolitiFact includes its assessment in the statement.  And we get the "Half True" graphic.  The "then thought better of it" part ends up justifying a rating other than "True."

Now let's follow PolitiFact's little tale about Brooks and Gingrich--both conservatives, so there's something for everyone to like on both sides of the partisan divide.

Brooks cites negatively what he considered half-baked ideas by Gingrich. "For example, he has called for ‘a massive new program to build a permanent lunar colony to exploit the moon’s resources.’ He has suggested that ‘a mirror system in space could provide the light equivalent of many full moons so that there would be no need for nighttime lighting of the highways.’"
The space-mirror system seemed so outlandish that we felt compelled to check whether Gingrich really suggested it.
So that's the issue: Did Gingrich suggest the space mirror system Brooks mentions?

In the item we're using for comparison, PolitiFact was checking the claim (quoting PolitiFact) that "President Barack Obama's nominee to be the administration's regulatory czar once advocated a "Fairness Doctrine" of sorts for the Internet, one that would require partisan sites to link to sites with opposing viewpoints."

PolitiFact did not receive a response from Brooks asking for the source of his claim.  PolitiFact surmised the source was Andrew Ferguson in the New York Times magazine.  But Ferguson's account only hints at the notion that the space mirrors were Gingrich's suggestion.  As PolitiFact presented it:
Here’s a portion of what Ferguson wrote:

"Gingrich’s first book, Window of Opportunity: A Blueprint for the Future, came out in 1984 and contained the seeds of much of what was to follow. Beneath its cover image — a flag-draped eagle inexplicably threatening the space shuttle— the backbencher Gingrich was identified as chairman of the congressional Space Caucus, a position that inspired a series of ‘space cadet’ jokes that took years to die. Window of Opportunity was co-written by Gingrich’s second wife, Marianne, and a science-fiction writer called David Drake.  ...

"In Window of Opportunity, Gingrich introduced himself as a futurist, a role he has played off and on throughout his career. There are problems inherent in futurism, most of them involving the future, which the futurist is obliged to predict (it’s his job) and which seldom cooperates as he would hope. Gingrich has called some and missed some. In 1984, he saw more clearly than most that computers would touch every aspect of commercial and private life, but nobody any longer wants to build ‘a large array of mirrors [that] could affect the earth’s climate,’ warming it up so farmers could extend the growing season."

Because the quotes from Brooks and Ferguson are slightly different, we wanted to look directly at the book ourselves before making our judgment.
It isn't that what Brooks and Ferguson wrote is simply "slightly different."  That's fairly normal with a paraphrase.  The problem that invites deeper investigation is the uncertainty as to whether Gingrich advocated a system of space mirrors.  So it apparently comes down to the book.

In the book, Gingrich proposes (among many other ideas) "five simple steps to a bold future" in space, most unusually a lottery in which randomly selected taxpayers would win a spot on a space shuttle flight. But the floating mirror idea isn’t on this list. Instead, it’s included in Gingrich's recap of a June 1979, NASA-sponsored new concepts symposium in Woods Hole, Mass., "where 30 experts brainstormed a range of pioneering options for NASA worthy of Lewis and Clark."
Just in case the paragraph above obscures PolitiFact's findings, they did not find Gingrich mentioning mirrors when he gave recommendations.  They found the mirrors mentioned when he presented some ideas from a NASA-sponsored brainstorming session. 

Where's the advocacy?

PolitiFact (bold emphasis added):
Here’s how Gingrich summarized the idea:

"The climate group at the Woods Hole conference suggested that a large array of mirrors could affect the earth’s climate by increasing the amount of sunlight received by particular areas, citing recent feasibility studies exploring the possibilities of preventing frosts in Florida or enabling farmers in high altitudes to plant their wheat earlier.

"A mirror system in space could provide the light equivalent of many full moons so that there would be no need for nighttime lighting of the highways. Ambient light covering entire areas could reduce the current danger of criminals lurking in the darkness. Mirrors could be arranged to light given metropolitan areas only during particular periods, so there would be darkness late at night for sleeping."

Brooks’ portrayal glosses over the fact that Gingrich was primarily reciting proposals made by participants at a NASA-sponsored forum. Still, Gingrich cited them approvingly.
I have Gingrich's book before me as I write.  The relevant passage occurs in Chapter 2:  "Americans and the Greatest Frontier."  PolitiFact's reporting about the book is perfectly accurate and complete, except I can't figure out the justification for the claim "Gingrich cited them approvingly." Clearly Gingrich found the ideas coming out of the brainstorm session exciting.  That's reason enough to put them in a book.  But can we justify an equivalency between that and specific advocacy of the space mirror idea?

Where's the advocacy?  PolitiFact admits that Gingrich was "primarily" citing the proposals of others.  We get no objective evidence of the type of advocacy Brooks suggests.

Still, we didn’t want to stop with a look at whether Brooks framed the issue fairly. We also wanted to know whether this was ever a mainstream idea -- and whether it’s technologically feasible.
These issues are irrelevant to whether Brooks' claim is true.  They are relevant to Brooks' apparent underlying argument that Gingrich's supposed suggestion of putting mirrors in space is crazy.

Of course, that kind of sidesteps the concept of a brainstorming session (come up with ideas regardless of merit) and ignores the prestige, if any, of the participants at NASA's symposium.  Apparently the space mirror idea came from climate scientists.  Some people have suggested space mirrors could help alleviate problems associated with global climate change.

PolitiFact's story acknowledges the global warming connection through the testimony of one science expert, though it concludes with a kicker quotation from another supposedly neutral expert:
Raymond S. Bradley, a geoscientist at the University of Massachusetts, put it simply: "This is not a mainstream idea. It is one of the dumbest ideas I have heard of."
Bradley doesn't sound like the sort of person who would fit in well at a brainstorming session.

But all this window dressing aside, where's the advocacy?

Our ruling
Gingrich co-wrote his book more than a quarter century ago, and since he doesn’t appear to have reiterated the call for floating mirrors in recent years, we can safely assume the idea is no longer at the top of his policy agenda. But did cite the idea approvingly in his book, so we rate Brooks’ statement True.
Funny.  The gracious snarkmeisters at PolitiFact can assume the idea is "no longer at the top of Gingrich's policy agenda."  This after their story failed to turn up any evidence that the idea had ever been anywhere on Gingrich's policy agenda.

We reach the end of PolitiFact's analysis without any solid evidence that Gingrich ever advocated the idea of placing giant mirrors in space for any reason at all, yet David Brooks warrants a "True" rating?

No, I haven't forgotten the comparison to Cass Sunstein:
Yes, Sunstein acknowledges this was an idea he once threw out there — albeit, in his words, "tentatively." But he now thinks it's a bad idea. So the chain e-mail/article is correct that Sunstein once suggested it. But contrary to the headline, it's a position he no longer holds, as he has since said strongly and repeatedly. Once true. No longer. That leaves us at Half True.
Readers may notice a discordant thread in the above conclusion.  PolitiFact's own headline material does not match in substance the World Net Daily headline associated with the story about Sunstein.  The fact check was of the chain email.  While PolitiFact did not provide a copy of the email, it's at least clear that the claim PolitiFact highlighted in its headline material is a true claim.  The entire justification for dropping the chain email claim apparently comes from the World Net Daily headline.  Applying that standard to PolitiFact, their story fact checking the claim about Sunstein is "Half True."

PolitiFact provided no evidence that Gingrich had advocated a system of space mirrors.

PolitiFact found that Sunstein definitely had advocated a type of fairness doctrine for the Internet.

Gingrich did not write to withdraw his space mirror proposal as Sunstein did with his Internet fairness doctrine, but the most obvious explanation for that comes from the fact that Gingrich didn't advocate putting up space mirrors in the first place.

Yet the claim about Gingrich received a "True" rating ("The statement is accurate and there’s nothing significant missing.") while the claim about Sunstein received a rating of "Half True" ("The statement is partially accurate but leaves out important details or takes things out of context.")

It isn't relevant that Gingrich never specifically advocated the idea right through to the present day?


The grades:

Louis Jacobson:  F
Martha Hamilton:  F

Robert Farley and Bill Adair receive honorary failing grades for the bait-and-switch technique they used to justify the "Half True" rating on the Sunstein claim.  People in glass houses ...

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The meta-savviness of Brendan Nyhan

Political scientist Brendan Nyhan is back--not that he ever went away--with another of his patented faux-objective assessments of the U.S. media's relationship with its audience.

Nyhan's fundamental trouble remains his difficulty in assessing the aquarium habitat while always swimming in the tank with the rest of the fish.

His pet issue in his story is the tendency of news reports to continue to use "he said/she said" accounts of political disputes:
The first obligation of journalists is to the truth. As such, it is important that reporters set the record straight when ads like these are misleading their audience. The problem, however, is that many national reporters—and the state reporters who increasingly emulate them—have been sucked in by the cult of the savvy. For these journalists, producing meta-level analysis of the effectiveness of deception as a campaign tactic is more important than correcting the factual record for readers.
I, for one, do not see why Jay Rosen's description of the journalistic "cult of savvy" would be incompatible with the solution Nyhan recommends:
A better approach would be for reporters to characterize the accuracy of ads in their own voice and to invoke non-partisan experts like PolitiFact. In some cases, it may even be possible to find credible sources on the side of the candidate airing the misleading ad who are willing to state the truth.
So journalists will let readers in on their supposedly specialized knowledge regarding the truth of political claims.  And then what?  The cult of savvy will proceed to meditate on the effects its findings should have on the reader, no doubt abundantly citing Nyhan's flawed research in the process.  Both steps leave ample room for the cult of savvy to direct the journalistic approach.  Glenn Greenwald, for example, pointed out the tendency at PolitiFact to use expert sources from both sides of an issue. The main difference with the traditional he said/she said approach is that PolitiFact not infrequently ends up making an arbitrary decision as to which expert opinion carries the day.

If the journalists taking that step are both expert and not ideologically biased, then fine.  But who buys either proposition?

Apparently the meta-savvy Brendan Nyhan buys it, as he refers to PolitiFact as "non-partisan experts."

Give me a break.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Say what?

The blog I share with Jeff Dyberg has a Google profile page:

"PolitiFact has not filled out their profile yet."

As interesting as it might be to let PolitiFact fill out our profile page, if it ever gets filled out we'll probably do it ourselves.

December Artist: The Grip Weeds

Thanks to a timely new Christmas album, the Grip Weeds return to the sidebar at Sublime Bloviations.

If you like the Beatles or the Who or just the late 60s/early 70s rock sound then check them out to the right.

No video from the Christmas album yet, so here's an older one for the song "Don't You Believe It."

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Grading PolitiFact (Florida): Rick Scott and "the law of the land"

Context matters -- We examine the claim in the full context, the comments made before and after it, the question that prompted it, and the point the person was trying to make
--Principles of PolitiFact and the Truth-O-Meter

PolitiFact's reader vote for "Lie of the Year" is underway. Because of many cases like the one we're about to examine, I submitted the above principle of the "Truth-O-Meter" as my write-in suggestion for "Lie of the Year" for 2011.  Go here to add your write-in vote to mine.

The issue:

(clipped from

The fact checkers:

Becky Bowers:  writer, researcher
Aaron Sharockman:  editor


PolitiFact does provide the relevant context of Gov. Scott's remarks.  Let's go there right away:
Randy Schultz, the paper's editorial page editor, noted that Florida had not worked to implement Obama's health care law, then asked: "Will you implement the law if the Supreme Court upholds all or part of it?"

Scott replied: "If it's the law of the land, we'll be ready."

Post editorial writer Rhonda Swan commented that the state has rejected millions in federal grants designed to help the state prepare. So, she asked, how would the governor pay for implementation?

"It's my job, if it's the law of the country, to be ready when it's the law," Scott said. "... When it's the law of the land, we'll implement the law."

"Where will you find the money?" Swan asked.

"It'll be part of our budget," Scott said.

Swan continued to press, finally asking: "Why not take the money that the federal government is offering now so you can be prepared?"

"Because it's not the law of the land," Scott said. "I don't believe it'll ever become the law of the land."
The fact check starts out lost and never finds its way.  It is apparently assumed throughout the story that Scott believes that no part of the PPACA stands as the law of the land regardless of the implementation dates specified in the law.  That is, until PolitiFact stumbles over the likely answer and promptly moves on to other things (bold emphasis added):
(D)oes the governor really mean to argue that he's turning away money to prepare for provisions of the law to go into effect because they haven't yet gone into effect?

Randy Barnett, a Georgetown law professor involved in the Supreme Court challenge to the health care law, offered another interpretation of Scott's statement.

The governor took an oath to support the Constitution. So he might take the stance that the law, "though properly enacted, is contrary to the Constitution and therefore not a valid and binding law," Barnett said.
The answer to the question in bold seems like an abundant and obvious "yes."  Yet PolitiFact can't seem to get the story to deal with the most obvious meaning of Scott's statement.

When PolitiFact gets around to its "Truth-O-Meter" rating of "False," we finally see a hint of the reasoning PolitiFact may have used--but only a hint (bold emphasis added):
The Governor's Office argues the law's not "the law of the land," because several significant provisions haven't yet taken effect. But that misses the point. It's telling that the governor has resisted implementing all parts of the law, not just those slated to take effect later or that have raised constitutional questions.
Scott can argue it's not a good idea, but it's incorrect for him to claim it's not the law. We rate his statement False.
Scott has a good argument that provisions that have yet to take effect are not the law of the land.  If a mandatory seat belt law is passed in 2010 but goes into effect in 2013 I am not violating any law today by not wearing my seat belt.  The law has not taken effect and it is accurate to say that it is not the law of the land in 2011 that I must wear the safety belt.

And though this seems very clearly analogous to Scott's meaning, PolitiFact refuses to see it, even to the point of huffing that Scott "misses the point."  With all due respect to PolitiFact, Scott's allowed to determine his own point.

And then there's this interesting nugget (bold emphasis added):
It's telling that the governor has resisted implementing all parts of the law, not just those slated to take effect later or that have raised constitutional questions.
Like what?

No, seriously:  Like what?

PolitiFact offers no example.

Read the timeline for implementation of the PPACA and try to figure out what aspects of the law Florida must comply with now.  The timeline appears to include no mandatory requirements for the state government of Florida.

I located one aspect of the law that Florida actively resists, a fixed medical loss ratio for insurance companies including Medicaid, but that resistance has not consisted of a simple refusal to implement the law but rather negotiation with federal agencies regarding a phasing in of the requirements.

With no example of Florida blowing off the federal law, the PolitiFact story features a great big hole.  The thin rationale for ignoring Scott's likely meaning could pass for nothing, leaving us with a perfectly reasonable way to understand Scott's meaning:  Florida will only comply with the law when it must.  And that only happens when the PPACA, as Scott put it, is the law of the land.

PolitiFact offers no reasonable evidence to support finding Scott's statement "False" yet finds it "False" anyway.

The grades:

Becky Bowers:  F
Aaron Sharockman:  F

Handicapping PolitiFact's "Lie of the Year" (Updated x2)

It's that time of year again.  PolitiFact has released its finalists for the non-coveted "Lie of the Year" award.

Congressional Republicans have introduced dozens of bills on social issues and other topics, but "zero on job creation."
I give this one no shot at winning.  It's just not going to resonate with PolitiFact's readers, first because liberals may well think it true and second because it was a type of Facebook spam.  It would be the equivalent of giving the award to a chain email.
The stimulus created "zero jobs." 
This is a fine choice to finish in the top five.  Liberals pretty much have to believe that the stimulus worked or else admit that their signature policy in response to the "Great Recession" was a flop.  Attacking the claim that the stimulus created zero jobs helps serve that purpose.  And it's easy to ignore the fact that the claim was very probably referring to net jobs.  Claims like this one, juxtaposed with White House claims about the ARRA, help point out the emptiness of the administration's claims.  Who cares how many jobs it creates if the overall result if a net loss in jobs?  That reflects a failed policy.
President Obama "went around the world and apologized for America."
This claim by Mitt Romney also has a great chance to finish in the top five, especially if liberals regard Romney as a likely bet to win the nomination as the Republican presidential candidate. This "Pants on Fire" rating is notable because one of the experts PolitiFact consulted on the story flat out supported Romney.
Says the vaccine to prevent HPV can cause mental retardation.
Though liberals have a thing for Michele Bachmann, this statement has no chance of winning unless it is perceived as a key reason why Bachmann had no staying power in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.  I don't see it that way, but then again I'm no liberal.
Scientists are "questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. … (It is) more and more being put into question."
Global warming remains a hot-button issue with liberals, so Rick Perry's statement about global warming has an excellent shot at ending in the top five.
"What I have done -- and this is unprecedented ... is I've said to each agency ... 'look at regulations that are already on the books and if they don't make sense, let's get rid of them.'"
This claim seems like tossing a bone to conservatives.  Obama is to some extent to conservatives as Bush was to liberals, or as Bachmann is today--the easy target.  But who really thinks this faux pas was significant regardless of how much precedent accompanied Obama's review policy?  I certainly don't.  Don't look for this one to receive many votes.  It occurs as a finalist to symbolize PolitiFact's fairness.
By advocating new requirements for voters to show ID cards at the polls, Republicans "want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws."
Debbie Wasserman Schultz actually does fill the Bachmann role for the Democratic Party.  She's rapidly forging her own legend of rhetorical excess.  And since this one's a doozy it does stand a decent chance of hitting the top five.  Conservatives will vote for this partly based on Wasserman Schultz's overall history and figure she's deserving.  Democrats can feel comfortable throwing her overboard because they can condemn her rhetoric without making their policies look bad.
"Seniors will have to find $12,500 for health care because Republicans voted to end Medicare."
This claim also has a good shot at hit at hitting the top five for some of the same reasons cited for Wasserman Schultz's contender status.  On the downside for PolitiFact, Republicans can make it an election issue and potentially move votes.
Abortion services are "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does."
Senator Jon Kyle's statement on abortion is about as important as Obama's "unprecedented" review policy, but Kyl could do well in the voting depending on how much liberals perceive abortion a a lightning-rod issue this election season.  But I'll be surprised if this one ranks in the top five either among PolitiFact editors or among PolitiFact's readers.
"I didn't raise taxes once."
This one's true in the Clintonesque sense!  Obama raised taxes more than once and so can truthfully claim that he did not raise taxes (just) once.  This statement is likely to vie with Wasserman Schultz's to serve as the lone liberal representative in the final top five.  Journalists may resent Obama's implicit challenge to their willingness to call him on a statement like this one.
These predictions are just for fun, representing my sense of how the results will turn out.  Readers should not make bets based on this information as though it is gambling advice.

It's occurred to me that Obama can't win.

Even though his statement about not raising taxes at all is about as baloniful as anything, making Obama the winner of a "lie of the year" award would serve as campaign fodder in next year's election.  A nearly perfect way for PolitiFact to distance itself from a growing reputation for ideological bias in its rulings?  Yes--but can they tolerate the political cost to the Obama campaign?

I don't see it happening.  Surprise me, PolitiFact.

Wasserman Schultz is the way to go if you don't want to pick a third straight conservative.

Update 2:

I missed adding one significant Democratic Party claim to the list.  With this update I'm also trying to fix the problem with the unusual font size and appearance.