Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

The lying game

It's become almost axiomatic that politicians lie, but what I absolutely fail to understand is why we not only cast our votes for proven liars, but give them a pass when they're caught at it.

For the best example of this, we have to look no further than our President-elect.  I'm probably going to be accused of being partisan, here, but I don't care.  Donald Trump's record of telling outright lies goes back far before the election, and honestly, has nothing to do with whether he's a Republican or Democrat.  Here's a sample of the complete, egregious untruths he was guilty of before the citizenry of the United States chose him as their next president:
  • He stated that "violent crime is higher than it ever has been before," when in fact violent crime peaked in 1991 and has been declining ever since.  In the U.S. you are half as likely to be a victim of violent crime as you were in 1991.
  • He claimed that global warming was "a hoax created by the Chinese," and then when Hillary Clinton called him on it in a debate, said, and I quote, "I did not say that" despite the fact that the tweet was still in his Twitter feed.
  • In an interview, he called pregnancy an "inconvenience," and then later lied and said he'd never said that.
  • He denied using the words "pigs," "slobs," and "dogs" to describe women, and said "no one has more respect for women than I do," when in fact he did use those words, more than once.
  • He claimed that the U.S. jobless rate was 42%, and didn't back down when he was challenged.  It's actually 5%.
  • He was asked, under oath, if he had ever associated with people associated with organized crime, and responded, "No.  Not that I know of."  Two years before that, he was interviewed by journalist Timothy O'Brien, and was asked about his connection to Danny Sullivan, who has ties to the Philadelphia mob, and he bragged about it. "They were tough guys," Trump said. "In fact, they say that Dan Sullivan was the guy that killed Jimmy Hoffa.  I don't know if you ever heard that."  (And in fact, Trump threw a New Year's Eve party last week and invited Gambino family "business associate" Joey "No-Socks" Cinque.  Cinque runs a sham business called the "American Academy of Hospitality Sciences" -- which bestowed a five-star award on Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, and at the New Year's Eve party gave Trump a "lifetime achievement award.")
Had enough?  I haven't even considered the campaign promises he's broken already -- and we're still almost two weeks from the inauguration, for fuck's sake:
  • Trump fired up his audiences before the election by pledging to jail Hillary Clinton -- "Lock her up!" was chanted at most of his rallies.  After the election, he said, and I quote: "That plays great before the election -- now we don't care, right?"
  • This past summer, Trump proposed stopping illegal immigration by building a wall along the U.S./Mexico border.  "I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively," Trump said.  "I will build a great, great wall on our southern border.  And I will have Mexico pay for that wall."  Just two days ago, he announced that he was going to ask Congress to fund the building of the wall, at an estimated cost of $10 billion to taxpayers.  Confronted about this apparent breaking of a campaign promise, Trump (of course) responded by tweeting about it.  "The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!"
  • Another of his big campaign promises was to "drain the swamp" -- by which he meant removing the corrupting influence of lobbyists, big money, corporations, and Wall Street from the government.  His cabinet picks include billionaires who donated to the Trump campaign, the former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, and a hedge fund manager from Goldman-Sachs.
And almost no one who voted for him is objecting to this bill of goods they were sold.  I don't care how much I supported someone -- if a candidate I voted for blatantly broke campaign promises before they'd even taken office, I would be pissed.

On the other hand, the one thing you hear his followers yelping about is his following through on his promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare" -- something that is now appearing to be a near-certainty.  Sarah Kliff interviewed Trump voters and asked them about how the repeal was going to affect them, and uniformly they said it was going to be terrible.  When she asked them why they had supported Trump, given his unequivocal position on the subject, their responses can be summarized by what one woman told Kliff:  "I guess I thought that, you know, he would not do this, he would not take health insurance away knowing it would affect so many people's lives.  I mean, what are you to do then if you cannot pay for insurance?"

So wait just a minute here.  He lies outright, makes campaign promises and breaks them before he's even been inaugurated, but then he actually does something he promised he's gonna do, and that's what you object to?

Okay, look, I'm not saying other politicians haven't been guilty of hypocrisy, or haven't waffled, evaded, or lied outright:

But you know what?  "He does it too!" is not a defense. It's absolutely baffling why we, as citizens, accept such behavior, and more importantly, keep voting these same clowns in.  You hear people complain all the time about how corrupt politicians are, how awful Congress is, how you can't trust any of 'em -- and yet, overwhelmingly, incumbents were voted back in.  In 2016 90% of Senate races went to the incumbent, and 97% of House races -- even though Congress's overall approval rating was 13%.

Can someone please, please explain this to me?

But as far as Trump goes, I can say it no other way: he is a compulsive liar, a con man, who will say anything or do anything to get what he wants.  He is also dangerously impulsive, and already -- again, before taking office -- has endangered our role on the world stage and inflamed tensions with China, Russia, and the Middle East with his incessant loose-cannon tweeting.  We are all going to have to live through what all this will cause, and try as hard as we can to do damage control.  But I'm wondering when the Trump voters are going to realize that he has never had any intent to follow through on anything other than impulse.

To put it succinctly: you've been had.

1 comment:

  1. I think It's the rawest form of anti-intellectualism. The educational system has churned out so many people that spit on logic there are enough of them to elect a person that they don't trust. They don't even care, as long as they are entertained.

    I'm afraid you will have to look elsewhere for logic; neither Trump nor his supporters want anything to do with it. Ditto ethics.