Archive | October, 2016

73. Candidate Lies

30 Oct
Political lies are very important, but this issue is complicated.  When a statement is made, it could be true.   If false, it could be a purposeful lie or a simple mistake without an agenda.  What if the person made an incorrect assertion, but it was based on false information from another party? What if the statement was only about a trivial matter, and true or false is not worth discussing. Is the history and affiliations of the speaker relevant to evaluating the current statement?  Was this a private statement or was it  meant for  the public?
Most people have a belief system, and will evaluate a statement based on their beliefs. For example, people who have known Hillary Clinton for many years, and based on their beliefs, think she rarely if ever lies, but being human she will occasionally make mistakes or exaggerations. I think she is very concerned about her reputation and is careful about her facts. People who just don’t like her will interpret much of what she says in a sinister way, when alternate good ways are ignored.  In judging lies, it is important to look at a person’s goals, orientations, and history.  A long reputation for telling the truth and a concern for accurate speech should be considered when judging any single statement.  And of course, a long reputation for incorrect speech, should be relevant.
A more objective approach is a rating such as one by Politifact.  Their method of rating “True”, “Mostly-True”, “Half-True” etc. is useful, but not always the final story.  We should be most interested in a category that I will call “significant lies”.  A significant lie is one in which an important fact is purposely changed to prove a point of concern for the liar.  For example, Trump said that the Iran Nuclear Deal accomplished nothing.  This statement is about an important fact, it was likely purposely changed, and it is related to the agenda of proving that Pres. Obama is a poor negotiator.  Significant lies have some bearing on presidential performance, whereas ordinary mistakes or exaggerations have no sinister intent and should not be of concern.  Hillary “recalled” that she once dodged bullets after exiting a plane. In fact, she was only very frightened of that possibility and her recollection was faulty, but not a significant lie.
Trump obviously tells many significant lies, but we often don’t know if he is actually lying, mistaken, guessing, hoping, just ignorant, senile, or lacks sleep. Saying that our military is very deficient is one such lie.  Generally, he does not seem to understand that Congress makes most major decisions, so a major goal for the president is to be able to convince them of things.
In the end, reliable evaluations such as “lies-versus-mistakes” are difficult and often impossible.  Intent is critical, but we can never know for certain what someone is thinking.  We can only: present examples of statements, make judgments, explain our logic, detail evidence, and draw a conclusion.  The reader, of course, will look at a speech and draw his own conclusions, based on his history and beliefs.

72. Trump: Real Lost Opportunities

22 Oct
Here are some observations on the current Presidential contest — that I think are under-emphasized or ignored.  Trump has overlooked some great opportunities to endear himself to American voters and could have led to his election.
1. He could have ignored reasonable criticisms instead of dwelling on revenge.
2. The Pope said build bridges, not walls.  He could have agreed but clarified that in this specific case we need a wall to protect our citizens.  In this way everyone is pleased.
3. He could have said that he would graciously concede if he lost the election.  That would have gained more votes.
4. He could have praised the Gold Star family and their brave son.  He could have recognized the war-time bravery of John McCain.
5. He could have chosen not to use demeaning names for his opponents. It is childish and self-defeating.
6. He could have been more gracious with Republican leaders and gained their support.  He would lose some voters, but probably gain more.  This is a factor that needs very fine tuning — perhaps beyond his capabilities.
7. He could have emphasized that issues should be dealt with peacefully and through analysis and negotiation; and NOT with violence.
8. He could have eliminated all the beauty characteristics of women, which are generally offensive to them.
More difficult but significant, he could have specifically proposed raised income-taxes for very rich people.  It appears that at one time he said this, but later changed his position. This would have brought in many new supporters, but he would have lost some base and some donors.
The eight points above are obvious to a wise politician and could have been done easily. What a difference that would have made.  Democrats are celebrating.
The mistakes are so serious that one wonders about the following factors that could have affected his judgment and mental functioning, which was often erratic.  He may have some level of Alzheimer’s disease.  He brags about needing little sleep, suggesting insomnia as a factor. There could be drug factors.  A very alert and clear head are necessary for the fine-tuning required for a presidential run.
 Likely, there is a long history of being catered to, because of his power and income.  Lies or bizarre ideas are ignored or even encouraged.  An ordinary person has experiences (rewards and punishments) that encourage speaking in a more truthful, constructive and congenial way.  He is very sensitive, and even reasonable criticisms are clearly upsetting.  Being “wrong” for him is just intolerable.
At one time he promised to be more “presidential”, but could not make the change.  Maybe he calculated loss-versus-gain wrong, or doing a lot of the “nice” things was simply not satisfying.

71. Tic Tacs Sink Trump

18 Oct
In his recent Access Hollywood “locker-room” video,  as he was getting off the bus,  he said:  “I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her.”  If this was only “talk” why would be be taking Tic Tac  breath mints.  Obviously he was preparing for action.
“Trumpies” argue that this was only talk and he never does anything to women  without permission.  They claim a conspiracy because all the women came forward  at one time and not when the assault happened.  But the fact is that no woman  wanted to be the first Trump attacker, because he is so vengeful and might bring a  lawsuit or destroy her life in another way.   But once the tape appeared and a couple of women came forward it became much safer and so many other abused women  joined in.
When I was in college, I had some friends that were “playboys” and very active  with women.  And at the age of 21 or so, we engaged in some nasty talk.  But  frankly, discussion never went as far as Trump did.  He actually described his attack methods. And consider that he was 59 years old at the time of this recent incident.  As of this writing, nine women have come forward with stories of inappropriate sexual behavior. Given all these facts, he cannot squirm out of this one.  There is a recording and a confirmation by Trump that the tape was valid.
Regarding Bill Clinton, there is absolutely no evidence that he assaulted, abused,  or harassed any women.  And remember that it is Hillary and not Bill who is  currently running for office.  It is clear that Hillary was upset by what Bill did, he  apologized many times, and she stayed with him.  And why not, he loved her, provided a good home, was a good father, and did very worthy things. Most  attractive, healthy, powerful and successful men have had “flirtations” outside of  marriage.  I would agree that it is not “right”, but it is commonplace, and does not  affect the judgment required for high office.
Hillary has shown great strength in dealing with all the abuse that Republican  leaders  and a biased Republican FBI director have leveled at her.  She will do a  good job as President,  while Trump could well create disasters for our country.

70. Rise of Trump

14 Oct
With Trump providing inspiration, I have been looking at the history of famous tyrants like: Stalin, Hitler, Saddam Hussein, etc.  Note, that I am NOT accusing Donald Trump of being like them or anyone else. The reader can draw his/her own conclusions.
This seems to be the pattern of tyrant development.
1.  They often come to power in troubled times.  Many low-income or jobless citizens are doing poorly and are frustrated.
2.  The potential tyrant makes speeches that appeal mostly to unsuccessful people, with poor education and a tendency  towards racism and scapegoating.  One tyrant used Jewish people for scapegoating.
3.  A political party is formed, consisting of those easily swayed by simple (often violent) solutions to complex problems.
4.  They often form militias: violent groups that will intimidate and assault rivals.  One tyrant called them storm troopers (or “brown shirts”).  They were established at first as guards for party meetings.
5.  Using intimidation, emotional speeches, violent solutions, scapegoating, etc. the party gets stronger, and eventually attracts a variety of people simply wanting to jump on the bandwagon.  When the party is big enough, it can win an election, and then the tyrant can really take power.
6.  All tyrants after election purge their adversaries in any of several ways:  special prosecutors , torture, assault, murder, jailing, firing, serious demotions, and endless investigations.
Does this history relate to Mr. Trump?  Do we need a tyrant to solve our problems?  In the end, tyrants are usually defeated, but often leave a nation in shambles.  (Please see my previous blogs for more information.)