PolitiFact Wins the “Protagoras” Award

In this post, I look at the third PolitiFact pants-on-fire assertion vs. Donald Trump.

Donald Trump

White nationalist protesters in Charlottesville “had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit.”

— PolitiFact National on Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Disclosure: This subject involves neo-Nazis and other thugs. Please be aware that I thoroughly detest Nazis. In my opinion, Nazism is one of the two most discredited movements in history, Communism being the other one. WW II took the lives of approximately 50 million people. It was pure evil. Furthermore, having read Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago and Jung Chang’s Wild Swans, and being aware of Pol Pott’s ravages in Cambodia in the 70s and ‘80s and the current madness in North Korea, I put Communism right up there with them. Also, as further evidence of my attitude towards neo-Nazis, I point to my second published book, A Thousand Suns, where Rulon Hurt and particularly his wife, Yohaba, successfully dispatch gangs of Nazi villains both in the U.S. and Europe.

My Opinion

Because of my complete revulsion at the horrors of Nazism, I absolutely don’t ever want to be viewed as someone who is soft on neo-Nazis. But Nazism isn’t the point here. The point is whether President Trump lied about the permits. He didn’t. And I’m reasonably certain that PolitiFact knows that.

And again, I see PolitiFact trivializing a very important situation. The protests around Charlottesville encompassed issues of free speech, political correctness, thuggery, racism, and journalism ethics. Instead, PolitiFact turned it into another clumsy attempt to mock President Trump.

PolitiFact writes:

During the contentious Trump Tower question-and-answer session about protests in Charlottesville, Va., President Donald Trump said that the Unite the Right marchers had a permit to demonstrate, but that counter-protesters did not.

Here’s a portion of Trump’s extensive comments about Charlottesville during the session with reporters:

“There were people in that rally. I looked the night before. If you look, they were people protesting very quietly the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee. I am sure in that group there were some bad ones. The following day, it looked like they had some rough, bad people, neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them. But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest and very legally protest.

Because I don’t know if you know, they had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit. So I only tell you this. There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country, a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country.”


My Opinion Continued

After writing the above, PolitiFact then presents a copy of the permit obtained by Walt Heinecke on behalf of counter-protestors. PolitiFact concludes: “The existence of the city permit issued to Heinecke flatly debunks Trump’s assertion that the counter-protesters lacked a permit — assuming you understand Trump to mean that counter-protesters had no permit for Saturday’s march.”

What???? Yes, yes, the counter protestors had a permit. BUT IT WAS FOR A DIFFERENT LOCATION. The Unite the Right demonstrators had a permit for Emancipation Park. The counter protestors had a permit for McGuffey and Justice parks. The violence began and was primarily centered at Emancipation Park where one side had a permit and the other side didn’t. President Trump told the truth.

This is not complicated.

Here is the problem with the PolitiFact argument.

  1. In his statement, quoted by PolitiFact above, President Trump clearly states that he’s talking about ‘the following day’ when he is referring to the permits and the violence.
  2. On ‘the following day’, the violence began and primarily occurred at Emancipation Park. At that park, only one side had a permit – the Unite the Right side. The counter protestors had permits for McGuffey and Justice parks, both far enough away to not even be in the picture below of Emancipation Park.
  3. According to the Washington Post, the violence at Emancipation Park began when several dozen armed counter-protestors lined up to block a group of armed Unite the Right marchers who were attempting to enter Emancipation Park. At the place where the violence erupted, only Unite the Right marchers had a permit.
  4. The counter protestors had a right, as did any citizen, to be at Emancipation Park, but not a permit to do so.
  5. Elements of both sides were armed. The counter-protestors blocked the path of marchers intending to enter Emancipation Park for the rally. The Washington Post reports:

“The rally on Saturday was scheduled to go from noon to 5 p.m., but by 8 a.m., the park was already beginning to fill. Rally goers arrived in contingents, waving nationalist banners and chanting slogans. Many carried shields and clubs. A large number also carried pistols or long guns.

Counter-protesters had also gathered early. Members of anti-fascist groups yelled at the rally goers. Many of them also carried sticks and shields. They were joined by local residents, members of church groups, civil rights leaders and onlookers….

A few minutes before 11 a.m., a swelling group of white nationalists carrying large shields and long wooden clubs approached the [Emancipation] park on Market Street. About two dozen counterprotesters formed a line across the street, blocking their path. With a roar, the marchers charged through the line, swinging sticks, punching and spraying chemicals.

Counterprotesters fought back, also swinging sticks, punching and spraying chemicals. Others threw balloons filled with paint or ink at the white nationalists. Everywhere, it seemed violence was exploding. The police did not move to break up the fights.” Washington Post

Emancipation Park


Conclusion: One side had a permit to be at Emancipation Park where the violence was centered, the other side did not.

At the end of its explanation, PolitiFact writes that the “White House” said that President Trump was talking about the violence the night before at the University of Virginia. Which, of course, contradicts what President Trump said in the PolitiFact quote above, where he clearly states he was talking about ‘the following day,’ In any case, if PolitiFact wants to label the White House as having its pants-on-fire about this, then that’s their prerogative, but President Trump was clearly accurate about his claim that only one side had a permit at the scene of the violence on Saturday – the following day. Why are we even discussing this? It’s ridiculous.

My ruling: This is only my third look at PolitiFact’s claims about statements by President Trump. At some point, and maybe I’ve reached that point already, I’m going to start wondering about PolitiFact’s motives. Are they holding themselves to the strictest journalistic ethics or are they allowing their partisan opinions to influence their judgment? At any rate, I’ve completed three of the twenty-one PolitiFact statements. Eighteen more to go.

For this ridiculous attempt to label President Trump a liar, I award PolitiFact the “Protagoras” award – Protagoras being one of the very first of the professional, Greek sophists in 5th century B.C. Wikipedia states: He (Protagoras) also is believed to have created a major controversy during ancient times through his statement that, “Man is the measure of all things”, interpreted by Plato to mean that there is no absolute truth, but that which individuals deem to be the truth.”

In my next post, I’ll tackle the fourth pants-on-fire statement PolitiFact attributes to President Trump:

Donald Trump:

“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!”

— PolitiFact National on Thursday, August 17th, 2017



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PolitiFact Wins the Mr. Magoo Award

in this post I tackle the second on my list of PolitiFact “Pants-on-Fire” statements by President Trump.

Disclosure: I disagree with President Trump on the elimination of the estate tax. I believe the tax doesn’t have to be eliminated to protect small businesses and farmers from excessive taxation. To quote Winston Churchill, estate taxes are “a certain corrective against the development of a race of idle rich”. And I believe that the ‘idle rich’ cause as many problems in a society as the idle poor.

PolitiFact Writes

Donald Trump

Ending the estate tax would “protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer.”

— PolitiFact National on Thursday, September 28th, 2017

Here is My Opinion

In its efforts to peg President Trump a shameless liar, PolitiFact does a very good job of explaining why the “Death Tax” should be kept. In fact, PolitiFact’s position won my vote on that score.

But the question before us is not whether the estate tax is good or bad, but whether President Trump lied when he said that ending the estate tax would “protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer.”

This is only the second PolitiFact claim than I’ve examined, but I’m already seeing a trend. PolitiFact doesn’t like Donald Trump, consequently, whenever he opens his mouth, they’re immediately charging the matador’s cape with their eyes closed, and consequently are missing their target completely.

The PolitiFact argument in a nutshell: According to the Tax Policy Center (an organization that claims to be nonpartisan but is generally thought to have a liberal bias – especially by the WSJ https://www.wsj.com/articles/tax-policy-center-propaganda-1506889612 ) only 5,460 estates will likely have to pay estate taxes in 2017. And of those only 80 or so could be considered small businesses or farmers. Eighty small businesses and farmers is quite a ways from the millions that President Trump claimed he was protecting. Therefore, according to PolitiFact, President Trump’s statement is ridiculous and deserves a pants on fire ruling.

I’m sorry PolitiFact: despite your facts, which I have no reason to dispute, ending the estate tax really does protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer. And I’m surprised you don’t see it.

Let’s supposes that instead of talking about the estate tax, President Trump had been talking about toughening up the gun laws in Chicago, a city with a population of 2.7 million. If President Trump had said that toughening the gun laws would protect millions of people in Chicago, would PolitiFact have disagreed? Would PolitiFact argue that since only 762 people were killed by guns in Chicago in 2016, it is ridiculous to claim millions would be protected by the new law in 2017?

Or perhaps, if after the new law was passed and gun deaths dropped to, let’s say, 700, would PolitiFact then claim that only 62 people had been protected? I assume so. Because this is essentially the argument PolitiFact is using against President Trump on the estate tax. PolitiFact would have said that President Trump was an audacious liar and only 62 people had actually been protected by the new gun laws, just as only 80 small businesses and farmers are being ‘protected’ by the repeal of the estate tax.

Why is it that I can clearly see President Trump’s point and PolitiFact can’t? President Trump is saying that there are millions of small businesses and American farmers who now will forever be protected from the estate tax. Is it salesmanship? Yes. Is it putting the best window dressing on a bad law? Yes. Is it a lie? No. I’m not even sure it qualifies as an exaggeration.

True, most small businesses or farmers will never be big enough to qualify for the estate tax. But they’ll all wish they were. I suspect the vast majority of small businesses are earnestly striving to be worth the $5.49 million required to be subject to the estate tax. But, most will never make it. But, nevertheless, with the tax eliminated, they will forever be protected from ever having that problem.

President Trump’s wording of his message is called putting the best spin on a situation. This is hardly a reason to call him a liar.

My ruling: I used to have a professor in college (Boise State University – Rulon Hurt’s alma mater! Go Broncos!) who was fond of saying, “Every way of seeing the world is a way of not seeing the world.” In this case, PolitiFact seems to have a blindspot about President Trump, and neither PolitiFact’s principles, review committee, or followers seem able to open their eyes to that fact. Unfortunately, this blindspot is not serving PolitiFact well if they want to be known as an objective, reasonable, and nonpartisan purveyor of truth.

For this ‘pants on fire’ claim about President Trump, PolitiFact earns the “Mr. Magoo” award.

For those not familiar with Mr. Magoo, Wikipedia states: Quincy Magoo (or simply Mr. Magoo) is a cartoon character created at the UPA animation studio in 1949. Voiced by Jim Backus, Quincy Magoo is a wealthy, short-statured retiree who gets into a series of comical situations as a result of his extreme near-sightedness, compounded by his stubborn refusal to admit the problem.

In my next post, I’ll tackle the third pants-on-fire statement PolitiFact attributes to President Trump:

Donald Trump

White nationalist protesters in Charlottesville “had a permit. The other group didn’t have a permit.”

— PolitiFact National on Thursday, August 17th, 2017


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The Backspace Key and Selling Books

I’ve maintained for years that the greatest invention of the last forty years is not the internet but, rather, the backspace key. The backspace key is what enables tens-of-thousands of writers like me to churn out thousands of books every year that no one has ever heard of. All it takes to write a book now is perseverance and a dogged stubbornness in the beauty of the wonderful words you are typing.

Imagine what it was like to write a book before the invention of the backspace key and the ‘save’ button. There was white-out for typing mistakes and carbon paper for making duplicate pages on the typewriter. Oh, the horror! So far, in just these first two paragraphs, I have used the backspace key 17 times. I read once that in Jack London’s original manuscript for his amazing semi-autobiography ‘Martin Eden’ – hundreds of pages long – there were only a few cross-outs. He wrote the entire book with hardly a backward glance. He is my hero.

In any case, I’ve decided to throw my efforts into beefing up the sales of my existing books, i.e., EINSTEIN’S TRUNK and A THOUSAND SUNS. To that end, I will be spending more time on social media – this website and my Facebook page. I’m also soliciting ideas from any-and-all on how to market my book. My two books have been published by Cedar Fort, a very good publisher out of Utah, but due to the changing dynamics of the book market, authors must now do a lot of their own marketing.

Best regards,


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Just Finished ‘Redfish’

I just finished writing the third book in the Rulon Hurt series. It’s titled ‘Redfish’. For those not familiar with Idaho, Redfish Lake is in the Sawtooth mountains of Idaho. It is incredibly beautiful. Surrounded by jagged mountain peaks. An hour or so from Sun Valley. In the book ‘Redfish’, Rulon has an argument with Yohaba and insists on giving the codename ‘Redfish’ to the mission they are on. Naturally, I can’t say anymore without giving away the plot.

I actually kicked around another title for the book – ‘Rulon’s Ilk’. I thought that sounded very ‘John Le Carre-ish’, and seemed to fit the book, but ‘Redfish’ sounds more traditional, and, perhaps, therefore more acceptable to agents and publishers.

So now begins the work of finding an agent and a publisher for the book. It begins with crafting a Query letter and hoping to inflame the curiosity of some lucky agent. Wish me luck.

Best regards,


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A Tale of Two Cities

The old classics. Are they still worth reading? As an author and a reader, I consider myself a fairly well-read person, but came to the sad realization some months ago that I have neglected many of the classics. Further, a lot of my recent reading has been devoted to thrillers written by NYT bestselling authors that turned out to be very badly written. So, hungry for good writing after having been disappointed by a succession of bland and trite thrillers, I downloaded Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities. What a treat! – though in the case of Dickens, a hard-earned one.

Published in 1859, A Tale of Two Cities is set in London and Paris during the time of the French Revolution. It is the story about the brutality and injustice of life in those days – the brutality of the rich and aristocratic towards the poor and disadvantaged, and, in the case of Paris, how the ignorant downtrodden rose up with the guillotine and the smug fervor of Maoist peasants against their former royalist masters.

I’ll be honest: for the first two thirds of the book, I struggled. The archaic language and intricate sentence structure was too hard a nut to crack for my brain used to the pabulum I’d been reading lately. At one point, I even set the book down. But eventually I came back to it and found the reading much easier. And that is when I began to appreciate what a great writer Dickens was. The writing was ingenious. The sentiments sublime. The insights into those terrible times completely convincing. What a wonderful experience to read a book by a truly great writer. Here it is, 154 years since its first publication as 31 weekly installments in Dickens’s own literary periodical called All the Year Round, and I am still gripped by the nobleness of Charles Darnay and the Christ-like sacrifice of Sydney Carton. Further, the book appealed to my nobler instincts. I felt a better person for having read it.

Just for kicks, I went to Amazon and Goodreads to see how A Tale of Two Cities was rated by my fellow readers. On Amazon it was rated 4.2 and on Goodreads, the ratings for the various editions generally hovered below 4.0. I am embarrassed to note that my book, A Thousand Suns, was rated higher on both websites. Ha! Clearly, thriller writers are judged by a different standard. So, let me state this loud and clear: Thank you everyone who loved my book and rated it so highly, but please read A Tale of Two Cities. You won’t be disappointed.

Zurich – June 21, 2013

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Goodreads Giveaway Winners

The A Thousand Suns giveway has ended with almost 600 avid readers participating. The free copies of ATS have already been mailed to the lucky winners. Thanks all for taking part. Here are the winners:

Kim Mcalpine and Melitta Cross from Canada, and Becci Boersema, Molly Grosbauer, and Kylie Tagg from the U.S. Congratulations.


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‘A Thousand Suns’ Giveaway on Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Thousand Suns by Jim Haberkorn

A Thousand Suns

by Jim Haberkorn

Giveaway ends May 31, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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How One Popular Book Blogger Does Book Reviews

Shauna Wheelwright is the popular book reviewer blogging from: http://ilovetoreadandreviewbooks.blogspot.ch/ Over the next few days, she will be publishing a review of A Thousand Suns. I asked her about the process she goes through when reviewing books. Here is her reply.

From Shauna:
There is no right or wrong way to review a book…
Here is just what I do—
First, and foremost I must choose a book to review. I work in a bookstore and see what new books come in and choose a lot of those. I watch for “blog tours” and sign up for many of those. I also love it when authors contact me to review their books and I choose a lot of them that way—sometimes I get a little overwhelmed with request and have to say “not right now” along the way.

Second, I read the book. I choose to read every word often including the front and back of the book, the jacket flaps, the acknowledgments, the introduction, etc. I want to be able to stand by the book and not have any surprise words or scenes show up that I didn’t preview—this takes time.

Third, I have a high standard for what I read and for what I put on my blog. If I find the book has questionable material I will not post a review of it. That way you know that the books I post are safe to read…all of them!

Fourth, I write a positive review. If a book meets my standards it will be a good book and therefore it will be easy to find good things to say about it. Sometimes I will include a book description, a book excerpt, and/or quotes from other people and what they are saying about the book.

Fifth, I like to add a sidebar banner with a link to the review post. This gives the book more time on my main page in addition to the one time post. If a banner is not included, such as a blog tour banner, I create one myself.

Sixth, I try to find a blog or Facebook page that the author has and link it to their name on the blog post. This allows my readers to also find these author sites.

Seventh, I like to add author bios and pictures and sometimes I will add a “tens list” of some fun facts about the author.

Eighth, I am always open to book giveaways. I like to use the rafflecopter form and will include “likes” to author sites as entry requirements.

Finally, in addition to posting my review on my blog, I post reviews on Pinterest, GoodReads, LDSPublisher, DeseretBook, Amazon, Barnes&Nobel, The Book Depository, Twitter, and my Facebook page.
And that is the effort I put into each one of my reviews—
I am Shauna and I Love to Read and Review Books 🙂

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What I wished I’d known before my first book got published – by Stephanie Connelley Worlton

From Jim: Stephanie Connelly Worlton is the author of two excellent books, Hope’s Journey and Everything You Need to Know about Girls Camp: The Essential Planning Guide for Leaders – both available from Amazon and other book resellers. In the post below, Stephanie shares what she’s learned on her epic journey to become a published author. To get to know Stephanie better, check out her Kreating Krazy website at: http://stephanieworlton.blogspot.ch/

Now here’s Stephanie,
I’m going to admit a secret (and I suspect there are many new authors who share the same experience) – When I dove into the publishing business I was undoubtedly naïve. There it is, simple, yet so common. I suppose like many of my peers, I had this illusion of world tours, marketing stampedes, and huge royalty checks. I thought all I had to do was write my masterpiece, get a contract, and then everything else would fall into place. It was only a matter of time before Hollywood would be banging down my door for movie rights….

And then reality hit.

In all fairness, I know there are aspiring authors who’ve spent years researching the craft as well as the business and are in a much more informed place than I was when I sent off my first manuscript. In hindsight I probably should’ve done a little more homework. Nonetheless, most authors I meet seem to have been in my same boat, wishing they’d known just a few basic things before their first book came to life.

As they say, there is no better teacher than experience, and I hope that my experience will be a great teacher to someone. Here are the top five things I wished I’d known BEFORE my first book launched:

Writing is the easy part. – When you’re up to your eyeballs in developing characters, advancing your plot, and then editing and re-editing, it’s hard to believe that the real work hasn’t yet started. The biggest misconception I had as a newbie author was that my job was simply to write the book and the publisher’s job was to do everything else. Makes logical sense, right? A writer writes, a publisher publishes… but what about everything else? Lucky for me, my publishing company has a great editing staff and an amazing team of cover designers. Because of them, the final product comes out beautiful, with no stress on my part. But then the work starts. Marketing, networking, getting reviews, scheduling book signings, coordinating blog tours, interacting with fans (not really work, but it does take some time), and more marketing.

Marketing is mostly the responsibility of the author. – No, I’m not kidding. Doesn’t the publisher employ a publicist/marketing agent? Yes. Isn’t his/her job to market your book as their title implies? No. The job of a marketing agent is to help an author market their book, not do it for them. They support you and try to keep you on track, they encourage signings and help set them up with the book stores, but ultimately selling your book is your responsibility. There are many ways to market a book, but in today’s high-tech digital world, it shouldn’t be surprising that the most effective tools are internet based. Every author should have a website and/or blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. They should also take advantage of other networking tools like Google+, LinkedIn, and even Pintrist. They should make sure their author information is up to date on book sites such as Goodreads, Amazon, BarnesandNoble, and any other site that might carry or recommend your book.

Have a webpage/blog and a following BEFORE your book launches. ¬– Timing really is everything and it’s never too early to start building an audience and creating your brand. It takes months and sometimes even years for a book to grow from manuscript to finished project. Don’t sit idly by waiting for that surreal date when your book finally becomes real! In fact, you don’t really need to have a contract or even a finished manuscript before you start building your brand. If you’re serious about writing, start sharing your talents via a blog or other method. Don’t be shy about talking about what you are working on and occasionally share tidbits of your work(s) in progress. Start following other authors and book bloggers and develop a relationship with them.

Other authors are your best friends. – There’s a weird dynamic in the publishing world that seems almost contradictory in most business models: your competition isn’t really your competition. They are in fact, your biggest cheerleaders, marketing supporters, and promotional helps. Develop a network with other authors. Support them. Encourage them. Consider joining a writing group or an author’s guild. Interact with them online and, if geographically possible, attend writer’s conferences.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your book. – Seriously. Talk about your book. Not in that annoying, every word that comes out of your mouth is about your book kind of way, but in appropriate settings at appropriate times. You know your book and its contents better than anyone else, so when you stumble upon the opportunity to say something about it, do. Don’t be embarrassed or overly humble. Most people want to know… and many of them are so thrilled to be friends with a “pseudo-celebrity” that if you’re excited about your project, they will be too.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the amazing publishing community. Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege to get to know many fabulous authors and I consider it an honor to be numbered amongst their friends. I’m so thankful for the help and advice they’ve shared with me and I hope as I tuck more titles and experience under my belt, that I can be an asset to others as they have been to me.

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