Have Fact Checkers Become Obsolete?

The NY Times has come out with an analysis of Trump’s early days in the White House that “verifies” a hundred or so lies he’s told as president.  I’m glad they did it and that they plan to continue to uncover Trump’s lies.  I believe it will be useful over time, but at the moment I don’t care much.

I’m interested in what could make Trump supporters jump ship and a log of Trump lies isn’t likely to do it.  Yes, polls do show that the percent of Americans who think Trump is not honest has jumped from 53% to 60% since the election and maybe the revelations of fact checkers helped with that.  But my sense is many of his backers don’t believe exactly what he says anyway.

They just think it works because it has so far.  Trump has maintained the image of a winner.  Yes, he’s a vulgar bully, but he’s their vulgar bully, their battering ram against the powers that be.  And don’t bother to point out that rather than draining the swamp he’s added alligators of his own.  Their minds are made up and you are not going to confuse them with facts.

At this point you either believe most of what Trump says is B. S. or you believe his B. S. about fake news and all the rest, OR you think of his B. S. as a host of cunning maneuvers to win yet again, and since he’s gotten this far you’ll keep the faith until the end.

There is a nihilism in many Trump voters in that they think, what the hell, the same ‘ol  same ‘ol isn’t going to work for me and at least with Trump we get to watch those in power fidget and get frustrated and angry like we are.   As rocker Kid Rock observed months ago, “if the businessman doesn’t work out we’ll put someone else in.”

So, while I’m impressed by the “truth” project of the Times, it’s greatest value may come after Trump falls, falls in a way that chips off all but his most fanatic fans, falls because it is hard not to notice how badly he has mucked things up.

It has been commonly noted that we have reached an age of post truth, post fact politics.  If facts don’t matter, fact checkers can’t matter much.

Hopefully, some day they will again.


P. S. –  Thinking of the fact checkers I recall the “book people” in the dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451.  In a world of complete conformity and apparently completely fireproof, the work of the firemen is to burn books not fight fires.  Books because they have the propensity to prompt questions and in turn nonconformity.  In reaction a group of rebels form in the woods and each memorizes a book to hopefully be passed on until some better future time.  For us it will be a time when a degree of shared political reality can be reestablished.

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HEALTH CARE: The Republicans are so Shakespearian

To be “hoist with one’s own petard,” is Shakespeare’s way of saying “To be undone by one’s own schemes.”  It fits the Republican attempts to come up with a replacement for Obamacare.   It makes me so happy.  Probably not in the long run, but for the moment.

It is a wonderful illustration of how different it is to actually try to create something as opposed to trashing something else.   All I’ve heard for seven years is how bad Obamacare is and how they would repeal and replace it.   Well, mostly repeal, they didn’t get around to figuring out what to replace it with.  It was easy to seem like they knew how do to it, until they actually got the chance, much to their surprise I’d say.

But that was their big promise, so they stuck themselves in the butt with it.

Obamacare needs a lot of fixing, but both House and Senate Republican plans don’t fix much of anything except give back more money to the rich and, more important for the moment, they don’t satisfy enough party Congressmen to get anything passed.

That’s because the Republican party has come to stand for little more than grabbing power and holding on tight.  Of course, there are exceptions.  Ohio governor John Kasich being one, but so few as not to matter in the whole picture.   I think the Republican party lost its identity during the G. W. Bush years and all they could salvage was to become the Un-Obama party.  Anyone willing to trash Obama was welcome.  Donald Trump come on down (Do you recall how the other Republican contenders vilified him in the primaries?  They seem unable to.)

Agreeing on doing something concrete is a whole different story as I learned in my 20s when joining an amazing group of high school students who had started their own school, dissatisfied with the public schools.  I was one of the designated teachers, but the school was truly free in that I couldn’t demand anything of students.  I could only try to persuade them.   It was frustrating but taught me much about humans working together.

The relevance here is that the kids and teachers at this school could all agree on the many things wrong with public schools, but when it came to agreeing on what we would do and how we would operate each day, we could not agree on much.

And that is the Republican managed Congress right now.   To call it “controlled” is an overstatement.  The party, once known for its discipline as compared with the Democrat’s comparable anarchy, can’t even control itself.

Maybe the Republican inability to pass a replacement plan will lead to the two parties actually making some improvements in Obamacare.   It would actually make both parties look better.  Stranger things have happened.

Like Donald Trump became president.

The Donald Can’t be Beat: He must Self-Destruct

As long time readers likely know I don’t love the Dems, but am a Dem by default because I, for the most part, despise the Republican Party,  increasingly so since they made a pact with the devil in his earthly form of Donald Jerk Trump.   What gets me about the Dems, though, is how they keep talking about needing to improve their message after losing to Trump…………

Trump won because his message was a fantasy that expressed the frustration and anger among many at what they see as the loss of the America they’ve known….. Like pounding a pillow in a Gestalt Therapy session, Trump is a vehicle to express their resentments.   Also, he promised the moon and everyone started imagining an abundance of cheese sandwiches coming their way.

It is not that the Republicans had a real message that beat the Dems.   The problem is many Americans believe in the possibility of simple solutions that will fix our complex problems…..or at least improve their lives.   And our boy king, as I like to think of him, has a treasure trove of simple solutions.

Or along the lines of the fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes,”  for our political stalemate to really change the basic Trump fan (which you do know is short for fanatic, right?) has to come to see he is naked as a jay bird.

What concerns me is it’s unclear how many of those fans have absorbed so much of the cool aid as to leave them permanently blind.

We’ll have to wait and see.

The Shootings Yesterday: A New Political Low

I sit here not knowing what to say.   Sad to say, I can understand the guy who decided on a simple solution to solving our political problems:   Shoot everybody you don’t like.   It is so simple and so attractive in this age of gyrating complexity and dwindling shared truths.   It is a way to become a hero in your own mind.   And you know you are going to get the nation’s full attention.   So, in a way you win the celebrity game even though you won’t likely be around to see it.

To me the Beatles captured the feeling:  “Happiness is a warm gun.”

It is a moment when all of your frustrations, resentments and pain can find a moment of glee.   Instead of being small and impotent on the national stage, you become all powerful.   Finally you can make others pay for your misery.

But if you have a bit of sanity left think of this.   Your trying to kill Republicans, some on the other side, as unhappy as you, will try to kill Democrats.  And the killing will go back and forth endlessly like the Hatfields and McCoys.  Like the Israelis and Palestinians.  Like the Sunni and the Shia.

How is this going to make things better for anyone?   Please think about it.


P. S. – I’m happy the Republicans and Democrats in Congress our playing a game tonight.  I wonder if they’ll put it on television.   Just seeing them playing together might help us better come to our senses.

 

 

A Day Even More Bizzarre than Usual on the Trump Watch

I would describe a majority of people who tweet as twits, not you my loyal readers of course, but the likes of many who have nothing useful to say.   Take Donald Trump for example.

Today, after another terrorist attack in Great Britain,  our pretend president managed to reduce even further our once rock solid relationship with Britain with tweets attacking the Mayor of London, who happens to be a Muslim and well respected in London if not in the White House.  I  won’t bother to go into it other than to say Trump took his words out of context and then used them to attack the mayor.   Can you imagine how we would have felt if a British leader would have responded to 9/11 in similar fashion?

But one making-a-mess-of-things apparently isn’t a good day’s work for the Trumpster.   He also launched some tweets regarding the Supreme Court and the “travel ban” it is considering on appeal.  This is a case Trump should win given recognized presidential powers, but not when he argues, as he tweeted this morning, that the justice department should have stuck with the original language which has been struck down because it is religion specific, i.e. it is aimed at Muslim travelers.

These tweets have spawned a number of groans from administration supporters, including none other than the husband of Kellyanne Conway, conservative lawyer George who tweeted:  “These tweets may make some [people] feel better, but they certainly won’t help [the Solicitor General] get 5 votes in [the Supreme Court], which is what actually matters. Sad.”

To recap, the husband of Trump’s queen truth twister, Kellyanne, is lamenting the president’s action and mocking him by using one of Trump’s favorite words “sad.”  This from a guy who was well in the running for a high level job in the administration until he withdrew last week.   Are we looking at a defector in the making?

George says he’s still a supporter, but one wonders how much more he can take.  Also, I wonder what sort of domestic chats are in store for the couple.

So, Trump weakens further our relationship with the Brits and makes it a tougher road for his Solicitor General to win in the Supreme Court.  A good day if one is a self-destructive sort.

Hopefully former FBI director James Comey will add further momentum to the downhill spiral when testifying at the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday.  (I heard today from a Trump mouthpiece that he will not try to stop the testimony).


P. S. – For those want more details, here is a link to an article discussing the tweets of Trump and Conway.

Awaiting A Climate Agreement Proclamation by Our Boy King

Despite some self-loathing, I have to admit I am awaiting for king Don to tell us this afternoon his final decision on the Obama spawned Paris climate accords.   The loathing is an admission I’m hooked on cable news, my excuse for paying attention to what is likely another Trump publicity stunt.

Anybody else who I can imagine being president would have already decided this prior to that G7 meeting last week, and they would have had some sense what it was all about.   The decision would be made by now.  But not our little king.  It may have been the first he really learned something about it.   After all he has had so much else to learn and learning doesn’t seem his thing.  He is still working on the concept of a government of checks and balances.

Whatever.  Dragging this out and turning it into a show awaiting his “yes” or “no” is his style, a la The Apprentice.   What bugs me most is how the cable channels act like this is momentous, breaking news coming up.  They hype everything he does, often with repeated criticisms, but he still gets the attention he craves.  Of course, it is for ratings, like most of what they do (Does broccoli cause cancer?  Tune in at 11:00.).  It’s a vicious circle started decades ago when news departments became a part of the entertainment divisions of the three major network.  That meant they had to pay their weight like all other programs.

So what big news might Trump make this afternoon?   There seems a sort of consensus among the talking heads that our “leader” has decided to pull out of the climate accords.  That consensus is enough to make me think, he won’t pull out, not today.  Where’s the sizzle in that?

Not to mention just an avalanche of criticism for the decision.  He doesn’t need more of that with the albatross of the Russian investigation hanging heavily.  On the other hand he does like to feed some red meat to his base at times, and he has long promised to pull out of the agreement (of course, he has let a lot of promises elapse or be put on hold, such as moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem).

I think somehow Trump will delay a final decision and, since like me he watches a lot of cable news, he might have decided over the last couple of hours to take the advice of James Baker, one of the sagest of Republicans who suggested the following on cable this morning:

He suggested Trump turn the matter over to the Senate for its approval as a treaty, not a mere agreement.   What Baker didn’t say was that this would take Trump off the hook while appearing presidential in the process, even though it is my guess it is a hot potato that Republican senators won’t want to catch.

Most important to Trump is that the blame would be shifted to the Senate if the measure would not pass, leaving him blameless to his base.   One of Trump’s primary values is to remain ever blameless.

If the president didn’t happen to see that program, I don’t know what kind of dodge he will come up with today.   I just hope he doesn’t announce a withdrawal because then I’ll lose a bet I made with a friend.