Tag Archives: political lies

86. Common Current Conceptions Corrected

23 Jan

When I watch the news talk shows and listen to commentators, there is a great effort to understand Trump’s ideals, Putin’s motivation, Hillary’s loss, etc. in terms of abstract political and historical principles. I think the obvious basic interpretations are often lost in a sea of overly-complex irrelevant theories. Here are some specifics:

1. Trump has no lofty ideals. If you listen carefully to what he says, you can see that his overwhelming interest is in making himself feel good and he is not embarrassed to talk about it. He wants adoration, flattery, winning, and hero worship. He constantly compares himself to others, putting them down, and lifting himself up. Of secondary interest is the promotion of his own financial interests and to a lesser extent the success of his extremely wealthy friends. Like all Republicans, his financial plans involve making rich people richer and the rest of us will receive a few token benefits. He will try to give the impression of saving jobs, like bribing Carrier Corp. to keep 800 workers in the U.S., ignoring the millions already gone and in the process of leaving. His motto “America First” really means hero Trump first.

2. Why does Trump paint a terrible (carnage) picture of the current USA? Most news people ignore or don’t understand the obvious. If everything is wonderful at the beginning of his term, how can he show any accomplishments? Four years from now he wants to say what a great job he did, so the beginning must be a low point. In all likelihood he will re-write history to tell his version of events. He hates the fact that the offiial unemployment rate is now 4.7%. His press secretary tries to hide this fact by quoting anecdotes and non-standard numbers. Even more absurd, he says that the numbers do not matter, stories tell the whole thing.

3. What does Putin really want? If you listen to what he says, it is obvious that his main goal is to restore the “Soviet Union” of Russia, Poland, Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic States, and others; a total of 15 republics. Like Trump, he wants to be the hero by making Russia great again. He works on achieving this goal by overt aggressive actions like annexing Crimea, and also covert actions like cyber attacks. He is influencing Trump for his ends, through flattery, release of hacked embarrassing emails, and perhaps even blackmail (unsubstantiated).

4. Why does Trump support Russia? See the discussion above. The clearest factors are flattery (saying Trump is brilliant) and refuting Russian election hacking, which calls into question the validity of his election.  The following are other possibilities: business marketing considerations, financial help through loans, and blackmail.

5. There are a lot of theories as to why Hillary Clinton lost the election. Most news people want to focus on one cause, and critics of the one-cause idea are probably right. People that search for causes (such as scientists and doctors) know that complicated conditions often have multiple causes. But I have yet to hear anyone say that it was a combination of small factors that led to her loss. Briefly (see previous blogs) these include: Russian hacking, FBI director Comey electioneering, suppression of voters, numerous unjustified congressional investigations, and bogus Internet “news” sites (which may have been created by Russians). I could add that Hillary was a good candidate, not a great one, but I voted for her and most important, she would have done a great job as president.

6. It disturbs me that certain misconceptions are repeated over and over, without correction or even argument. For example, Joe Scarborough just said that President Obama did nothing in response to Syria crossing the chemical- weapon red-line. Obama was reluctant to further participate in the hopeless Syrian conflict and bombing would kill many civilians. He asked Congress for approval of U.S. bombing and (as he suspected) they rejected that. Secretary of State Kerry urged Syria to dispose of the chemical weapons. Shortly thereafter, Russia volunteered to take charge of the weapon disposal. The problem was solved and everyone benefited. How can anyone complain about Obama’s thoughtful and cautious resolution to this difficult problem. Just like the ridiculous Benghazi political issues, detractors have distorted the red-line incident and used it for an attack. Republicans even used the red-line issue to attack Hillary Clinton, who held no governmental office at the time and only gave opinions as a friend.

7. Kellyanne Conway said in effect: ignore what Trump says and look instead “at what’s in his heart”. Others have said in many variations, that we need to ignore the words. Personally, I would prefer a president that truthfully says what is in his heart. When Trump gives orders to the military, should they obey the orders or have an abstract discussion for a while on what he really means. “You said attack the enemy landing on our shores, but in your heart you really meant be kind to the them, maybe?”

8. Hillary Clinton is often blamed by Republicans for everything negative that took place in the last 30 years. Do I really have to say that major national decisions are made by presidents and Congress and not by first-ladies, individual Senators, or Secretaries of State.

9. A common misconception is that simplifying tax code and reducing taxation categories will benefit ordinary citizens. Just the opposite is true: it only helps very rich people. For the non-rich working man/woman, tax code is already simple. By removing all of the details applicable to the very rich, you make it easier for them to take unfair advantage and reduce their tax payment. If you actually read the tax proposals written by Trump and Republicans in general, you will see that all of them benefit the rich. And if rich people pay less tax, then the rest of us will pay more and/or have decreased benefits.

10. ExPres. Obama did not lie about “ObamaCare.” This legislation is very complicated and new systems almost always have unforeseen problems. To think that an honorable person like Barack Obama purposely lied to the public is absurd. Unanticipated problems led to some mistakes in some small areas representing about one-half of one percent of the U.S. population. Obama has always recognized that there would be problems, and that these could be corrected by Congress. But the Republican Congress put forth nothing that could help.

I could add many more “corrections”, but these I think, are most important.

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.

37. Careful Voting

30 Jan

In several previous blogs I discussed serious political problems. In a democracy, the only way to solve such problems is to vote the offending officials and/or party out of office. In my previous Blog, 36, I promised to deal with ways to improve voting in my next blog.

It should be obvious that simply listening to what a politician promises is not sufficient for judging his/her effectiveness in office.  Listen and think carefully about what is said, but also consider:

1. Examine the history of the candidate and the party. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Try to find objective and impartial information.

2. Search the voting record for important legislation. Fortunately, we now have the wonderful internet to help us find this and other information.

3. You can find transcripts of speeches and other types of documentation. Anything stated without real evidence is suspect. Learn how to verify assertions.

4. One of the most important documents to look for are proposed budgets. You will find that the budgets will tell you what class of people will supported and who will be neglected. You must look at the written budget. Politicians have been known to tell lies about budgets that are inconsistent with what they actually stated in writing. Reading a written budget can be very informative as to actual plans.

5. If you are concerned with one political party, you must see what the other party is saying about the same issues. This is so obvious, that examples are not necessary. You must be aware of all arguments related to a policy.

6. Be aware of subtle innuendoes: sly remarks stated without evidence. A current example is all the innuendo about the citizenship of a candidate who was born in Canada.

7. Be aware of political assertions that will manipulate you by creating fear. Governmental actions must be based on facts and careful assessments, not on impulsive reactions to fear. Repeating over and over descriptions of minor acts of terrorism creates unnesesary fears. Currently, in the USA, deaths due to “terrorists” are very much fewer than those caused by common criminals and deranged people. Real, serious threats exist in the world, but exaggeration does not help to deal with them. Sometimes a rapid response is not possible or effective.

8. A past president or other official may not be responsible for events taking place while he/she is in office. This is a very difficult issue, which often leads to incorrect interpretations. A common example is that a president does not make any major laws, that is the role of Congress.

9. I have noticed many blatant and obvious lies. I recall commentators altering critical words just presented in a political video a few minutes before. If a commentator makes a lot of these malicious alterations, then he/she is not to be trusted. A common example is: a candidate may say that he wants to raise taxes for rich people, but lower them for all others. The commentator says the he advocates raising taxes (period) — not the “whole” truth.

10. Examine the logic of a politicians arguments. For example, a rich candidate cannot be bought by others, true, but he/she may already have undesirable intentions. How did he become so rich? Did he act morally and ethically, or just profitably. Does an ability to make a personal fortune, translate to the extreme complexities of running a nation.

11. Regarding national policies, it is OK to look at how other nations have dealt with the same situations. Why not, we are great, but not perfect. In any endeavor, it is important to learn and adapt. Many people and nations have failed because of rigid and unadaptive thinking.

12. What are the goals of a candidate? An abstraction like “let’s make our nation great again” really says nothing. Will it be great for all the people or just certain categories of people?

Finally, I am fully aware of the fact that very bright people already know all this, and others will find these principles to be tedious, boring, and/or a waste of time. My only hope is that a few of you may dig a little deeper into the really important process of voting effectively. It is the only way to solve some of our most serious national problems.