President Pathological: Donald Trump Dominates PolitiFact’s 2018 Lie of the Year Readers’ Poll

If there is one thing that thrills Donald Trump more than anything else, it’s being “Number One” at whatever he is being judged for. So he will undoubtedly be writhing in ecstasy when he hears that the readers of PolitiFact have, once again, singled him out for tribute as America’s most unconstrained liar, even if he isn’t really very good at it.

Donald Trump

PolitiFact’s editors’ choice for Lie of the Year was the “Online Smear Machine” that viciously maligned the Parkland students who survived the shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. The story of the conspiracy theorists who invented horrific tales of “crisis actors” was surely worthy of being featured as the year’s worst lie. PolitiFact noted that:

“The students and the country were about to learn a hard lesson about participating in democracy in 2018. That you don’t have to be a politician to be on the receiving end of the internet’s worst hoaxes. That the lies don’t vanish after being debunked. That the same hoaxes will spread again after the next attack.”

However, the site’s readers had a somewhat different take. They clearly saw Trump as the undisputed fountain of untruths that he is now world renowned for. And this isn’t the first time Trump has been “honored” in this manner. He previously won the 2017 Lie of the Year award for repeatedly calling Russia’s election interference a “hoax.” He got an honorable mention of sorts in 2016’s Lie of the Year, “Fake News,” because he was such a frequent contributor to the fakery. And in 2015 Trump won his first Lie of the Year award for “The campaign misstatements of Donald Trump.” They were so numerous the fact-checkers couldn’t settle on a single lie.

However, in PolitiFact’s 2018 Readers Poll, Trump’s lies dominated the contest by taking five of the top ten spots. Here are those five flagrant and deliberate lies that Trump is even now continuing to disseminate:

  • “The Democrats want to invite caravan after caravan of illegal aliens into our country. And they want to sign them up for free health care, free welfare, free education, and for the right to vote.” – Donald Trump on Oct. 26, 2018, at a rally – False
  • A “horrible law” requires that children be separated from their parents “once they cross the Border into the U.S.” – Donald Trump on May 28, 2018, in a tweet – False
  • Saudi Arabia has ordered $450 billion, “$110 billion of which is a military order,” producing “over a million jobs.” – Donald Trump on Oct. 20, 2018, to reporters – Pants on Fire
  • “Democrats let him (cop killer Luis Bracamontes) into our country,” and “Democrats let him stay.” – Donald Trump on Oct. 31, 2018, in a tweet – Pants on Fire
  • “U.S. Steel just announced that they are building six new steel mills.” – Donald Trump on July 31, 2018, at a rally – False

Plus, two others on the list are closely related to Trump and express views that he also holds:

  • “The Russian state has never interfered … into internal American affairs including election process.” – Vladimir Putin on July 16, 2018, in a press conference – Pants on Fire
  • “The deficit … is coming down, and it’s coming down rapidly.” – Larry Kudlow on June 29, 2018. in an interview – Pants on Fire

In addition to those, PolitiFact also posted Trump’s Top Ten Falsehoods of 2018. They included some of those chosen in the Readers’ Poll above, plus these flaming whoppers:

  • Says 3,000 people “did not die” in two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico.
  • People “went out in their boats to watch” Hurricane Harvey.
  • “California wildfires are being magnified & made so much worse by the bad environmental laws which aren’t allowing massive amounts of readily available water to be properly utilized. It is being diverted into the Pacific Ocean.”
  • “In many places, like California, the same person votes many times. You probably heard about that. They always like to say ‘oh that’s a conspiracy theory.’ Not a conspiracy theory, folks. Millions and millions of people.”
  • “The ice caps were going to melt, they were going to be gone by now, but now they’re setting records, so okay, they’re at a record level.”
  • “U.S. Steel just announced that they are building six new steel mills.”
  • Saudi Arabia has ordered $450 billion from the United States, “$110 billion of which is a military order,” producing “over a million jobs.”

The volume and frequency of Trump’s dishonest blathering is not exactly breaking news. The Washington Post has documented more 6,400 instances of his lying since his inauguration in January 2017. But it’s useful to have this compendium of his compulsive aversion to the truth for history’s sake. Plus, it gives him something to brag about since he’s to addle-brained to realize that this isn’t complimentary recognition. It won’t be long before he tweets “Take that Fake News. I’m #1 on PolitiFact.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump’s Lie-Riddled ‘Medicare-for-All’ Op-Ed in USA Today is Obliterated By Fact-Checkers

Not content with the 280 characters that Twitter gives him to dissemble incoherently every day, Donald Trump put crayon to paper for an Op-Ed in USA Today – or more likely, his minders wrote it for him. In his defense, it’s hard to squeeze more lies into the finite confines of a tweet than he has already done. So having the luxury of nearly 5,000 characters to lie within must have given him a sense of freedom.

Donald Trump

The subject of the editorial was Medicare-for-All and, needless to say, Trump is against it, just as he is against anything that actually helps people more than corporations. The lede for his falsehood-laden tirade says that “The Democrats want to outlaw private health care plans, taking away freedom to choose plans while letting anyone cross our border. We must win this.” But while Trump’s opposition comes as no surprise, the rapid fire velocity of his blatant untruths was a little shocking, even for him. And that didn’t go unnoticed by the rest of the press that values honesty and factual reporting. Just a few of the media fact-checkers that weighed in on Trump’s bucket of bullpucky included these:

  • The Washington Post: Fact-checking President Trump’s USA Today op-ed on ‘Medicare-for-All. Nearly every line of President Trump’s USA Today op-ed contained a false or misleading statement.
  • Vox Media: Trump’s USA Today op-ed on Medicare is an absurd tissue of lies
  • Newsweek: Chuck Schumer Fact Checks Trump’s USA Today Op-Ed with More Than a Dozen Corrections
  • Huffington Post: Wildly Inaccurate Trump Op-Ed On Health Care Receives Swift Backlash
  • NBC News: USA Today criticized for printing Trump op-ed despite inaccuracies
  • NPR: FACT CHECK: Trump’s False Claims On ‘Medicare For All’
  • Los Angeles Times: Trump’s USA Today op-ed on Medicare is full of lies — but does anyone really believe he wrote it himself?
  • PolitiFact: Fact-checking Donald Trump’s op-ed against Medicare for All in USA Today

The analyses from these actual journalists covered many of the same blatant lies that Trump espoused in his vanity rant. They included his charge that a single-payer system would eliminate private health care. It would not. Private plans are available for those who can afford more in every country that currently offers universal coverage. Trump also complained that Medicare-for-All would cost $32 trillion, but he failed to mention that the current system costs $34 trillion, so we would save $2 trillion.

Trump also reminded readers that he promised to protect coverage for patients with pre-existing conditions. However, his proposals actually eliminate that benefit. So then he sought to claim that under his programs premiums have been declining. In fact, they declined as a result of ObamaCare, but rose after Trump’s sabotage of it was implemented.

Trump tried to foist the lie that ObamaCare cut Medicare by $800 billion. The truth is that it moved that money from Medicare to ObamaCare, and then provided more benefits with the same funding. Also Trump claimed that Medicare-for-All would outlaw private plans, end of choice for seniors, and prevent people from seeing the doctor of their choice. None of that is true. Especially the last item because, without physician networks people could go to any doctor they want.

Then Trump segued completely away from health care to lob some unrelated and unprovoked insults at Democrats. He began by fuming that “the centrist Democratic Party is dead. The new Democrats are radical socialists who want to model America’s economy after Venezuela.” Which is, of course, total nonsensical babbling from a deranged mind. He railed at “Democrats’ absolute commitment to end enforcement of our immigration laws, and charged that “Today’s Democratic Party is for open-borders socialism.” Which he must have picked up from one of his white supremacist buddies like Tucker Carlson of Fox News.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Finally, Trump projected the Republican agenda to “slash budgets for seniors’ Medicare and Social Security” onto Democrats, who have always fought to preserve and improve those programs. Even now the Republican Congress is proposing severe cuts due to funding shortfalls caused by Trump’s tax cuts for the rich. That’s just another of the parade of lies that our Pathological-Liar-in-Chief is spewing in a never ending effort to break his own records for lies-per-minute. And on this matter alone Trump can actually claim to be winning.

Trump is a ‘Very Stable Genius’ Who Mindlessly Repeats What He Just Saw on Fox and Friends

The questions about Donald Trump’s apparent psychological decline are rapidly becoming more than partisan speculation. And the person most responsible for affirming the President’s mental infirmity just happens to be Donald Trump. The more he talks about his own cerebral frailty, the more feeble he appears to be.

Fox News Trump

On Saturday morning Trump thought it was necessary to defend himself against the allegations that have been made by politicians, pundits, and mental health professionals. But his comments were a pathetic mess of ego and delusion. He tweeted that:

It is notable that these tweets were posted less than ten minutes after a segment on this subject was aired on Fox and Friends. This is a pattern that is repeated frequently by Trump who obviously watches the program religiously, despite saying that he doesn’t have time for television. The message in the tweets is one that should be of concern to all Americans.

First of all, the investigation into his involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election has not been proven to be a hoax. Quite the contrary. There have already been four indictments with two guilty pleas. The rest of what has been uncovered by the special counsel, Robert Mueller, is still under wraps. And PolitiFact awarded Trump it’s Lie of the Year for repeatedly making this statement about the matter being a hoax.

Secondly, no one has ever recognized Trump’s two greatest assets as his “mental stability” or “being, like, really smart.” And if he wants to make that claim himself he probably shouldn’t sound so much like a “Valley Girl.” (fer sure). His true assets were actually having been born into a wealthy family and having the shameless lack of character that permits him to lie, cheat, and steal to get what he wants.

His boasts about education are a lame attempt to cling to some alleged glory from half a century ago. And it’s all the more irrelevant since he refuses to release his college transcripts. Also, Trump has never been a successful businessman. He would be far richer if he had just invested his inheritance in an S&P 500 indexed mutual fund. With at least four bankruptcies, he can hardly lay claim to any business prowess. And like his college claims, Trump refuses to release his tax returns to validate his alleged success in business.

Finally, Trump’s self-exalting assertions about his sanity and brilliance are downright surreal. When was the last time you heard “a very stable genius” say he was a very stable genius? Smart people are the last people to say that they are smart. Trump’s bragging is actually a sort of certification of his ignorance and instability. And he elaborated on that theme in brief remarks to reporters at Camp David when a reporter asked “This morning you were tweeting about your mental state. Why did you feel the need to tweet about that this morning?”

Whereupon Trump regurgitated his tedious refrain about having been an “excellent student” and becoming a successful businessman and TV star. Then he drifted off into a diatribe against Fire and Fury author, Michael Wolff, and his former top White House aide, Sloppy Steve Bannon. Watch this video and see for yourself if he ever approaches a coherent answer to the question regarding his mental state:

Remember, the question was “Why did you feel the need to tweet about [your mental state] this morning?” The answer was aimless blather about his perception of his own awesomeness and his perceived enemies. That isn’t the response of someone who is either stable or a genius. If anything, Trump’s response this morning affirms the broadly held assessment that he is unfit for the office he holds. His inability to maintain a focus on the topic is a symptom of cognitive dysfunction. It’s a cry for help that everyone – from his family to his Republican peers – is ignoring. And the peril this represents to the nation, and the world, cannot be overstated.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

PolitiFact 2017 Lie of the Year: Trump Calling Russia’s Election Interference a ‘Hoax’

PolitiFact has just announced the winner of their annual “Lie of the Year” honors. It must have have been an excruciating task to whittle down the contenders from the plethora of brazen, purposeful truth manglers. They could have just given up and called 2017 “The Year of the Lie.”

Donald Trump

Nevertheless, PolitiFact persevered and came up with a worthy recipient. Donald Trump’s near inability to ever say anything truthful was bound to score a victory one way or another. The rest of the political liars stood little chance against someone who is certifiably pathological. The Washington Post has documented more than 1,600 lies told by this record-breaking prevaricator.

In 2015 Trump won his first Lie of the Year award for “The campaign misstatements of Donald Trump.” They were so numerous the fact-checkers couldn’t settle on a single lie. He didn’t take that well and, in a typically lame Trump tantrum, he responded on Fox News. Trump even got an honorable mention of sorts in 2016’s Lie of the year, “Fake News,” because he was such a frequent contributor to the fakery. However, this year PolitiFact managed to narrow down Trump’s gushing geyser of bullshit to one lie that is particularly significant in terms of its bald-faced dishonesty and its potential for severe harm: “Russian election interference is a ‘made-up story‘.” They began their analysis by saying that:

“A mountain of evidence points to a single fact: Russia meddled in the U.S. presidential election of 2016.

“In both classified and public reports, U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered actions to interfere with the election. Those actions included the cyber-theft of private data, the placement of propaganda against particular candidates, and an overall effort to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process.”

Achieving this “honor” may be consolation to Trump after not being chosen as Time Magazines’s Person of the Year. PolitiFact noted that virtually every assessment of Russia’s activities concluded that Vladimir Putin and Company did interfere with the U.S. election in a multitude of ways. It was not a partisan observation. Republicans and Democrats alike recognized that Russia was deeply involved in election hacking and propaganda. And as PolitiFact put it, “After all this, one man keeps saying it didn’t even happen.” Indeed, Trump stood alone in denying the obvious and defending his pals in the Kremlin.

“This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story,” Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt. “It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.” And he tried desperately to shift the blame elsewhere, including to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, China, or some fat guy in a New Jersey basement. Anyone but Vlad. In fact, Trump explicitly let Putin off the hook because the Russian dictator assured him that he didn’t do it. And Trump believes Putin over his own American intelligence agencies.

PolitiFact spent little time addressing whether or not Trump colluded with Russia to impact the outcome of the election. But it’s hard to separate the two. Especially when every utterance by Trump supports the Russian version events. What’s more, Trump and his associates repeatedly denied any encounters with Russians during the campaign and after. However, they later had to admit that many of them had many meetings that they all somehow forgot for some reason. There can’t be that many blatant misstatements by that many people without there being some intent to hide something.

And just to top off this Christmas tree with a distinctly Trumpian ornament, the President tweeted about this very issue this morning:

He is still calling the Russia investigations fake news. And despite the indictments (and two guilty pleas) of four of his accomplices (so far), he stubbornly asserts that the investigations are a waste of time and money. Then he shifts from that to his desperate denials of sexual misconduct and crimes. This may be his first bid for 2018 Lie of the Year. And he’s off to great start by claiming that he doesn’t know, or never met, any of his victims. The only problem with that is that one of his accusers was a contestant on The Apprentice. Another participated in his beauty pageant. And another was placed at the scene of his abuse by his own witness.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

PolitiFact may have to exempt Trump from any future recognition in this competition. No one else can possibly challenge such an accomplished liar and skilled reality distortion machine. Perhaps they should rename the whole affair “The Donald Trump Lie of the Year Awards” and let some other sham merchants have a chance to win.

Wannabe Dictator Trump Proposes Unconstitutional Senate Investigation of the Media

One of the first things that aspiring tyrants do after assuming power is to suppress and/or control the media. That’s a difficult task in a country that has explicitly protected a free press in its Constitution. But that isn’t stopping Donald Trump from trying anyway.

Donald Trump Tyrant Dictator

In his latest Twitter tantrum, Trump has taken another step toward the monarchy that he so fervently desires to lead. He has escalated his relentless (and unsuccessful) smear campaign against what he refers to as “fake” news, but is actually any news that isn’t fawning adulation. On Thursday morning he tweeted this disturbingly fascist proposition:

There are several easy answers to Trump’s frightful question. To begin with, “so much of our news” is not fake. Trump doesn’t bother to offer any proof of his allegation because he doesn’t have any. The media may get things wrong from time to time, but “made up” news is rare and dealt with harshly. Unlike what happens when Trump himself makes things up. He refuses to issue corrections or apologies and, more often than not, repeats the lies after he already knows they are lies. The Washington Post has documented more than 1,100 false or misleading claims since his inauguration. That’s almost five lies per day.

More importantly, what Trump is suggesting is blatantly unconstitutional. He is directing another independent government body to investigate the independent media. The Constitution prohibits Congress from “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” A White House sponsored Senate investigation based on news content is an unambiguous breach of the First Amendment.

Another reason the Senate Intelligence Committee isn’t looking into fake news is that it’s the Intelligence Committee. It has no jurisdiction in that area. Trump’s proposal is a clear effort to deflect the Committee, and the nation, from an entirely different investigation. Already under way is the probe into Trump’s electoral collusion with Russia and related financial corruption. Trump’s obviously afraid of what they’ll discover and is anxious to divert attention away from it.

Another reason Senate Intel isn’t looking into fake news is that it would likely turn up more evidence of fakery by Fox News than by any other media organization. The Republicans in charge of the Committee are aware of this and thus reluctant to pursue it. Fox News has been found to have lied far more often than any of their peers. PolitiFact scored their coverage as “Mostly False, False” or “Pants on Fire” sixty percent of the time. That compares to forty-one percent for MSNBC, and only twenty-seven percent for CNN. So Trump’s favorite network would suffer the most damage from such an investigation were it constitutionally permitted.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Trump’s obsession with portraying the media as fake is driven by fear. He’s afraid of reports that correctly describe his ignorance and incompetence. He’s afraid of being caught in bed with the Russians (literally and figuratively). He desperately wants to change the subject and poison the minds of news consumers. And he’s willing to subvert the Constitution in order to assuage his fears and achieve his goals. That’s what dictators do. And Trump has been behaving like a manic tyrant throughout his brief residence in the White House. And for most of his adult life for that matter.

It’s Official: Fox ‘News’ Is Not News And is Allowed to Lie, Says UK Communications Agency

The mission of Fox News from its inception was to advance the agenda of America’s conservatives and the Republican Party. That could not have been more obvious due to its founding by ultra-rightist Rupert Murdoch and GOP media strategist Roger Ailes. The network has spent the last twenty years defaming liberals and Democrats while vigorously supporting right-wing politicians and policies.

Fox News Lies

Much of what Fox News produced brazenly ignored the standards of professional journalism. They aired overtly biased “news” stories that were filled with misrepresentations and outright lies. PolitiFact has rated sixty percent of their their work as “Mostly False,” “False,” or “Pants on Fire.” The other cable news networks don’t even come close to that dubious achievement. This shameful record may have contributed to Fox News being yanked from British television for what they said was lack of viewers.

Now Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch is trying to acquire the remaining portion of Sky Broadcasting (a European network) that he doesn’t already own. The U.K. has some stringent requirements for approving media deals that will impact the independence of the nation’s journalism. They also review any deal that could put too much power into the hands of a single outlet. On those grounds their Office of Communications (OFCOM) has been investigating Murdoch and his 21st Century Fox corporation.

Unfortunately for Murdoch, concerns about Fox News are stalling, and might kill, the approval process. The network is awash in scandals involving presenters and executives engaging in sexual harassment and related misconduct. They fired their now-deceased CEO Roger Ailes, their top star Bill O’Reilly, host Eric Bolling, among others. That doesn’t look good to the regulatory body considering the acquisition.

And that’s not all. Fox News is also being scrutinized for its reporting and its chumminess with Donald Trump and his administration. Talking Points Memo writes that:

“British authorities have increased scrutiny of the impending deal following several complaints raising concerns that the Fox News parent company is not fit to own Sky News. That scrutiny followed several resignations at Fox News over allegations of sexual harassment, as well as a lawsuit alleging that the network worked with the Trump administration to push a conspiracy theory about a murdered Democratic National Committee staffer.”

The characterization of the personnel matters as “resignations” is overly generous. These slimeballs did not leave voluntarily. But their terminations were also not likely due to Fox having a moral awakening. In fact, it was more likely a self-serving attempt to appease the U.K. regulators by trying to show that they were correcting their problems.

However, the most troubling conclusions coming out of OFCOM’s review were related directly to the editorial content of Fox News. In an ironic twist wherein the agency was actually defending approval, they offered an odd justification for why Fox’s misreporting should not stand in the way:

“In dismissing complaints about certain claims made on Fox News shows, Ofcom determined that ‘Hannity,’ ‘Tucker Carlson Tonight,’ and ‘Fox and Friends’ are not news programs and therefore do not have a ‘due accuracy requirement.'”

To be clear, the agency is making a judgment call that those programs do not qualify as “news.” Consequently, they have no obligation to report factually or even to tell the truth. Anyone who has watched for more than a couple of minutes already knows that those shows have abandoned fact-checking and honesty. And now their flagrantly unethical standards may actually help the company’s acquisition bid. But they would have to accept the argument that they are allowed to lie because they aren’t really news. So far, Fox News has not complained about this characterization of their programming. What does that tell you?

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

BREAKING: Donald Trump Says Something That’s Actually True – Hurricane Irma Will Be ‘Not Good’

The frequency with which Donald Trump has been caught lying has broken all records for political chicanery. And in the world of politics, that’s saying something. The Washington Post has documented more than a thousand Trump falsehoods just since Inauguration Day. PolitiFact records sixty-nine percent of his statements as being “Mostly False,” “False,” or “Pants on Fire.” Consequently, another disgorged dishonesty isn’t really news anymore. But when he says something that’s true – even accidentally – Stop the Presses!

Donald Trump

Wednesday morning is one of those rare occasions when Trump uttered something with some semblance of truth buried in it. That’s if you could decipher the inarticulate word salad he tosses around. In response to reporters questions about the approaching Hurricane Irma, Trump managed to squeeze out this brutal mangling of the English language (video below):

“The fact that there’s a new and seems to be record-breaking hurricane heading right towards Florida and Puerto Rico and other places. We’ll see what happens. We’ll know in a very short period of time. But it looks like it could be something that will be not good. Believe me. Not good.”

Well, the residents of “Other Places” better be on high alert. Because “something that will be not good” is headed their way. Apparently it’s very different than the catastrophic weather that pummeled Texas recently. When visiting the victims there Trump described it in positive terms saying that “It’s been a wonderful thing.”

However, the “not goodness” of Hurricane Irma may just be another example of the left-wing media fake news. At least according to Rush Limbaugh. He floated his theory yesterday that the the press focus on Irma was really just part of a devious plot. The purpose of the plotters was to help markets sell more bottled water and other supplies. It’s Limbaugh’s confirmation of the notorious cabal between Democrats and the convenience store lobby. What’s more, Limbaugh also claims that warnings about Irma advance the “hoax” of climate change:

“You can accomplish a lot just by creating fear and panic. You don’t need a hurricane to hit anywhere. All you need is to create the fear and panic accompanied by talk that climate change is causing hurricanes to become more frequent and bigger and more dangerous, and you create the panic, and it’s mission accomplished, agenda advanced.”

Since Limbaugh, a resident of South Florida, isn’t buying the fake news reports about Irma, he might want to consider a day at the golf course. He surely doesn’t need to prepare for that phony storm the media is trying to sell. Maybe he could even plan to meet Trump at the President’s mansion on the island of St. Martin. Which is, or is not, in the direct path of Irma, depending on whether you believe Limbaugh or some nerdy scientists.

Trump has yet to embrace Limbaugh’s conspiracy theory. But that may just be because he’s too busy manufacturing his own. The White House reported today that the President will go to North Dakota to deliver remarks about his (still non-existent) tax reform initiative. He tweeted the announcement of his trip saying that “We are the highest taxed nation in the world.” And with that, he added another notch to his belt of outright lies. We are not even close to the top. But at least he got the thing about Hurricane Irma being “not good” right. Even if he did sound like choleric two-year old.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Donald Trump Just Made the Best Friggin’ Argument for NOT Building the Border Wall

Donald Trump’s agenda so far has been a complete bust. The so-called master negotiator has failed to kill ObamaCare. He’s made no progress on tax reform. His budget has never advanced beyond the imaginary. He hasn’t even proposed a jobs bill or any infrastructure legislation. Hillary Clinton hasn’t been locked up. After seven months, everything he campaigned on is still in limbo, if that.

Donald Trump

That goes for his most recognizable campaign chant as well. Trump’s promise to “build the wall” along the border, that Mexico would pay for, is still an unrealized, unrealistic fantasy. Especially the part about Mexico paying for it. Even Trump is now conceding that American taxpayers would have to front for his vanity wall. And on top of the billions that we now have to devote to the victims of Hurricane Harvey, that becomes even more unlikely.

However, the best argument against building the wall may have come from Trump himself. During a recent press conference, Trump drifted off into campaign mode to brag about his achievements with immigration and border issues. Naturally he focused on the evils of our neighbor to the south as a crime-ridden haven for drug trafficking. All of which he used to justify going forward with the wall. But then he said this (video below):

“The wall is needed from the standpoint of security. The wall is needed from the standpoint of drugs. Tremendous, the drug scourge, what’s coming through the areas that we’re talking about. As you know, I have General Kelly here. We stopped traffic coming through, 78 percent. It’s going to be, I think, 81 percent this quarter, which is a record.

“In other administrations if they stopped it just a little bit, like 1 or 2 or 3 percent, they considered that a great thing. Well, we’re up to almost 80%, we’ll soon be over 80%.”

So Trump is asserting that without any new funds or personnel or legislation, he has already nearly eliminated illegal border crossings. That’s quite an success story. In fact, it makes the very notion of an expensive, questionably effective wall obsolete. Why spend billions of dollars on a problem that is already pretty much solved? The remaining percentage of the problem (in the teens) should be manageable with the same methods that produced these results.

If Trump’s boasting about these numbers is true, the wall would provide little benefit. Particularly since it was never a very good idea. Most undocumented residents did not scurry across the desert into the U.S. They came through border checkpoints with valid visas. And the major drug cartels ship their inventories primarily by sea and air. Neither of which would be impeded by a wall. So Trump has provided the best possible justification for ditching the wall project entirely.

By declaring victory and moving on, Trump could actually see a rise in his dismal approval ratings. The American people are staunchly opposed to the wall. And that opposition has only grown in recent years. According to a new poll by Fox News, the wall was supported by fifty percent in November of 2015. That went down to forty-one percent in September of 2016. And it now sits at only thirty-nine percent approval. The trend is crystal clear.

So the only conceivable reason to proceed with the wall would be to satisfy Trump’s gargantuan ego. Unfortunately, that’s generally the only reason he does anything. But in this case, the reasoning laid out above has a small problem. Trump’s contention that his inept and unproductive administration reduced border crossings by eighty percent is verifiably false. PolitiFact researched the claim and tried to run it through a variety of scenarios to get it to work. They all failed.

Trump has tried to peddle this falsehood on prior occasions, and it wasn’t true than either. So what we are left with is Trump’s lie about cutting illegal immigration. Which, ironically, serves to to make a lie of his insistence on the need for a border wall. It’s an usual three dimensional lie that only an accomplished liar like Trump could pull off.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

In the Wake of Terror in Barcelona, Trump Repeats 6 Month Old Pants on Fire Lie

Thursday afternoon the world was stunned by another terrorist attack on innocent civilians. This one took place on a popular street in the heart of Barcelona, Spain. Authorities are still investigating the circumstances and possible suspects. At this time there appear to be twelve fatalities and dozens more injured.

Donald Trump

Compounding this tragedy is the callousness of America’s pathologically dishonest president, Donald Trump. Shortly after the news broke, Trump rushed to the situation room – scratch that – to his cell phone to comment on Twitter:

This tweet was posted without the slightest bit of irony in recognition of the events of the past week. It took him only a couple of hours to publicly declare this unfolding incident a terror attack. Contrast that with the two days it took for him to condemn the white supremacist perpetrators of terrorism in Charlottesville. Does he care more about the victims in Spain than does about those in the United States? Or do white terrorists get a pass from Trump? And what about his insistence that “Before I make a statement, I need the facts. So I don’t want to rush into a statement.” That was his excuse for not speaking out sooner about the murder of Heather Heyer. But today facts seem to have gone out of favor in this White House.

To make matters worse, Trump’s cell phone fingers were still twitchy. Only forty-five minutes later he posted another tweet:

Trump is offering good advice by encouraging people to study. He ought to take that advice himself. Because the incident he’s alluding to never happened. It concerns a hoax that General Pershing had dissuaded Muslim opponents in the Philippines by executing them and burying their bodies with dead pigs. This is a lie that Trump has told before. In fact, in February of 2016 he was awarded one of his many “Pants-on-Fire” ratings from PolitiFact. At that time PolitiFact consulted actual historians and concluded that the incident Trump describe never took place:

“Of the eight historians we checked with, all were at least skeptical that what Trump said actually happened, and some expressed disbelief even more forcefully than that. The only evidence of something approximating what Trump said stems from one letter documenting a different scenario written by a veteran more than a half century after the fact.

“Perhaps more important, the historians took issue with Trump’s suggestion that the tactic — if it was even used at all — actually worked to end tensions, noting that unrest persisted for years. In all, Trump’s claim is ridiculous, so we rate it Pants on Fire.”

This is typical of Trump’s deliberate perversion of the truth to suit his own propaganda needs. He seems to have no shame in repeating falsehoods that have been unambiguously debunked by experts. The only thing he cares about is the promotion of his own interests. He is very likely only exploiting the tragedy in Spain to distract from the mess he created here at home. And if keeping his glassy-eyed disciples neck deep in lies is the result, that’s their tough luck. Remember, he loves the poorly educated, and this is one reason why.

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

Conservatives Really Do Hate Facts – Study Shows ‘Striking’ Partisan Divide On Fact-Checkers

The rancorous tirades thrown by Donald Trump about “fake news” have had a profound impact on the public’s perception of the media. Prior to his entry into politics, the press was already regarded suspiciously in certain quarters. But Trump has escalated that to a visceral hostility that has even led to violence.

Donald Trump

This animosity toward the media extends to what is supposed to be the most neutral and independent sector of journalism. Fact-checking entities exist to to review statements by public figures for accuracy. Of course, like any other analytical exercise they can be mistaken or slanted by political bias. However, the most prominent fact-checking sites have generally proven to be – let’s say – fair and balanced. And that’s precisely what outrages right-wingers who dispute their findings.

A new study was just completed by The Reporters’ Lab at Duke University. They analyzed hundreds of references to fact-checkers by critics from both liberal and conservative perspectives. What they found was that conservatives were overwhelming antagonistic toward fact-checking and took every opportunity to disparage it. Liberals, on the other hand, demonstrated that they were not afraid of being fact-checked. The study’s findings revealed that:

“Beyond the use of Pinocchios and Pants on Fire ratings to win the daily skirmishes, fact-checkers have seen anecdotal evidence that conservatives and liberals have different views. Some of the harshest criticism of fact-checking has come from conservative media outlets that say the sites have a liberal bias. By contrast, liberal publications have often seemed more positive about fact-checking – or at least less critical.” […]

“The partisan divide was striking: 86 percent of the negative references appeared on conservative sites, while only 14 percent appeared on liberal sites. By contrast, almost 85 percent of the positive statements came from liberal sites, while 15 percent came from conservative sites.”

This perceptual difference is emblematic of the right’s aversion to truth-telling in the Era of Trump. Our president has imbued his base with a robotic tendency to spurn anything observed in the “mainstream” media as fakery. As a result, the characterization of fact-checking by conservatives is most often dismissed as the product of liberal bias. Never mind the documentary evidence supplied by the fact-checkers to support their analyses.

These views aren’t especially surprising considering that they are fully in sync with the diatribes spouted by Trump. Our president has shown repeatedly that he is unconcerned with dispensing known falsehoods, even after he has been corrected. This is, after all, the administration that invented the notion of “alternative facts.” It is also the administration whose chief White House strategist is former Breitbart News boss, Stephen Bannon. A few years ago Bannon’s website giddily declared that the “Era of Media Fact Checkers Intimidating Republicans Is Over.” In another article they ranted that “When Not Outright Lying, Fact-Checkers Make Fools of Themselves.”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

It is that attitude that permits Republicans and other conservatives to casually dismiss fact-checkers. The documentation provided by these specialized journalists never sink into the heads of tunnel-blind wingnuts. And that, the study notes, can have “serious consequences for the nation’s fact-checkers.” It demeans the credibility of impartial observers attempting to bring some legitimacy to otherwise partisan arguments. And it obscures the very nature of the truth. But that’s very likely the purpose of the attacks from the right. When their entire agenda is riddled with lies, truth is anathema and fact-checkers are the enemy.