Malarkey keeps piling up

Time to ramp up the Malarkey Meter for one more round of truth-testing and lie-detecting, based on the campaign claims and attacks filling your mailboxes and airwaves this year.

The claim: Voting for the new half-cent tax for schools in Seminole County "will LOWER the current sales tax to 6.5% from 7%." This claim from "Thumbs Up for Seminole Schools" is one of my favorite pieces of bald-faced baloney — largely because it's so obvious tax hikes don't lead to lower taxes. The tax rate in Seminole is set to go from 7 percent to 6 next year. A yes vote on this will hike that up to 6.5. A yes vote won't "lower" anything. There may be value to this campaign in general — but there's little value to this claim.

The rating: Major Malarkey.

The claim: Alex Sink supported the stimulus plan, which did "nothing" to stop unemployment, with the total jobs saved or created totaling "none." That's according to the Republican Party of Florida. And it's bunk. Sink did support the stimulus. And you can certainly debate its overall effect. But you can't say no jobs were saved. In fact, another mailer from conservatives bashing Crist for supporting the same stimulus package said it "created or saved only 34,966 jobs" in Florida. That may be fewer jobs than desired. But it's still 34,966 more than "none."

The rating: Major Malarkey.

The claim: Democrat Suzanne Kosmas voted for $1.2 trillion in new spending during her first 50 days in office. So goes the claim on Republican Sandy Adams' corresponding attack site, And it's accurate. It was only two votes — the stimulus bill and the annual budget. But they add up to the amount claimed.

The rating: Total truth.

The claim: Sandy Adams wants to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education and "take away your right to vote for U.S. Senators by repealing the 17th Amendment." That's according to two of the claims Suzanne Kosmas has posted on her Adams attack site, And she's right. Adams has discussed both things multiple times, including during a forum before the primary and during a call-in radio show.

The rating: Total truth.

The claim: Suzanne Kosmas is no moderate. She's a Nancy Pelosi "liberal Democrat." This is one of Adams' favorite claims. But it's a stretch. The widely respected National Journal described Kosmas one of the 10 most moderate members of the entire U.S. House. Kosmas sided with Republicans on everything from estate taxes to opposing high-profile pork in Democratic districts. said she voted with John Boehner 58 percent of the time. Kosmas is certainly more liberal than most Republicans. But anyone trying to portray her as a flaming lefty is being disingenuous.

The rating: Fast and loose, bordering on Major Malarkey.

The claim: Dan Webster "will cut your Social Security by over $1,000 a year." So says Alan Grayson, referring to an August forum when Webster said he wanted to "roll back cost of living adjustments" to 2007 levels. After a major hubbub arose, Webster said people misunderstood him — that he was referring to government salaries, not Social Security. Now, you can debate his sincerity. But the bottom line is Webster has repeatedly said he never meant to cut Social Security payments — and, more important, has vowed not to.

The rating: Fast and loose.

The claim: Only liberals are supporting the fair-districting amendments, Nos. 5 and 6. So goes the argument from Republican incumbents sitting in safe, gerrymandered districts. Here's reality: Both parties are self-serving hypocrites when it comes to gerrymandering. Both do it when they have power and whine about it when they don't. But true fans of good government have decried it all along. In fact, back in 1993, this very newspaper described the Democrats' version of gerrymandering as "a spectacle of self-serving politicians protecting their turf or carving out congressional districts where they could win." The politicians and parties may be inconsistent. But many of those supporting fair districts are not.

The rating: Major Malarkey.

The claim: The Sentinel said Marco Rubio is "brimming with ideas…" So said a Rubio mailer. You should always pay extra attention to quotes followed by ellipses … because the rest of the sentence that was cut out said "… though he has tacked too hard to the right in this campaign." Still, the paper did say the first part — and gave Rubio its endorsement.

The rating: Totally true … but incomplete.

Scott Maxwell, who's officially retiring the Malarkey Meter for Campaign 2010 … in part, because Mrs. Names said she wants to start using it around the house, can be reached at or 407-420-6141.

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