Various thoughts from news stories over the past few days. I've written about them elsewhere, but a) some need a bit more perspective, and b) I have to continue getting them out of my system so that my head doesn't explode.
For starters, it can't be said often enough or loudly enough -- because such things have to be refuted as strongly as possible so that they can't take root -- the Trump transition team lied in its press release last week when they said that this was "one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history." Lied. No dancing around the term. Lied. Not opinion, but factually lied. This was NOT EVEN CLOSE to "one of the biggest Electoral College victories in history."
Just a few reminders for perspective --
FDR beat Alf Landon 523-6
LBJ beat Barry Goldwater 486-52
Ronald Reagan beat Walter Mondale 525-15
Donald Trump, on the other hand, sneaked by Hillary Clinton 306-232. This means that he squeaked past the requirement of needing 270 electoral votes by only a mere 36.
In fact in the two most recent elections, Barack Obama -- who of course Trump for years tried to falsely and egregiously claim wasn't a legitimate president -- won the presidency each time by an even bigger margin than Trump. For that matter, Obama's margin of victory in the Electoral College was not only bigger both times, significantly bigger his first race --
Barack Obama beat John McCain 365-173
Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney 332-206
But let's add even more perspective to how big a lie this was. One of the closest popular votes in U.S. history, was JFK against Richard Nixon. In the Electoral College that year, Kennedy won by a margin of 84 electoral votes, 303-219. By comparison, Trump won by 10 fewer electoral votes, 74. (And, just to remind you, FDR beat Landon by 417 electoral votes. And LBJ topped Goldwater by 434.)
So, in reality, checking FACTS -- real-life numbers carved in stone -- Donald Trump's victory was ACTUALLY in the lower third of the *closest* victories in history. And add to that...it must also and always be remembered that he also lost the popular vote by 2.8 million -- a total which is still going up.
I'm past the concept of gall. But at least writing this lie in the Trump press release it shows their desperation. And as much as they do grossly lie to the point of almost normalcy, lies always should be pointed out. Always and loudly. And having them dismissed as, "Yes, we know they lie, what else is new?" is no dismissal, but the largest reason why the lies must always be pointed so, so they aren't normalized. But abhorred.
Otherwise, we get to the point as I wrote the other day where, among many other results the PPP Polling organization showed, 39% of Trump voters believe the stock market went down during the Obama Administration, when in FACT, it went up 12,000 points.
Furthermore, lazy laissez-faire attitudes get us to the point where Trump spokesman Kellyanne Conway can try to flim-flam the public by trying to explain that Trump -- while being President of the United States -- will be able to exec produce his TV show, The New Celebrity Apprentice, in his "spare time" (!!)...to which she added that no one complains when a president golfs.
Forgetting the massive conflicts of interest aside if a president executive-produced a TV show on network television -- a president doesn't actually have "spare time." He's running THE COUNTRY. When a president plays golf or vacations, it's part of the necessary and critical act of relaxation that all humans need, most especially someone in a massively stressful job like President of the United States. Yet even then, when golfing or on vacation, a president usually still doing essential business. On the other hand...executive producing a television show IS A JOB!!!
Now, to be clear, I don't believe for a second that Trump would actually be executive-producing a TV show, just lending his name and collecting a paycheck -- which is pretty much Standard Operating Procedure for Trump in so many of his businesses. But I also believe that we should hold Trump and his administration's words to the test of truth, so when they say something they should be held accountable.
I have two hopes that concern Kellyanne Conway and her flim-flammable pronouncements. The first is that she starts acting like the office of President of the United is actually serious, difficult and deeply important, because flacking her way around situations with international ramifications can lead to disaster. And the other is that Saturday Night Live stop making her a comic figure of sympathy in their sketches. The hopeful news is that this past weekend, they actually did just that, and were still able to find big humor in her. So, with one "hope" out of the way, that only leaves one....
Unfortunately, we're still stuck with the man who will become President of the United States. And in his latest interview, he told "Fox News" that when it came to daily Intelligence briefings -- "I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day.”
Actually, the fact hat Trump seems to think that nothing in the world changes overnight shows more blatantly than anything the clear reason why he does need the daily briefings.
On the other hand, I think we're being a bit unfair to Trump when he's criticized for only getting one, single Intelligence briefing a week. After all, that's only from the United States. For all we know, he's getting a lot more from Russia.
Which brings us to the news that the CIA has reached the conclusion that Russia manipulated the U.S. presidential election to get Trump elected. And brief leaders of Congress in secret during the campaign...but Republicans led by Mitch McConnell (R-KY) chose to dismiss the news and do nothing about it, choosing party over country.
Happily, top bipartisan members of the Senate and House, including those who lead the Homeland Security committee and Intelligence committee have said that they want investigations, so there's hope.
On the other hand, we have word that Trump's leading choice to be Secretary of State is a man who has zero diplomatic experience, but is a former Exxon oil president with ties so strong to Russia and Putin that he's received their highest foreign civilian medal.
And Trump is nominating people to head cabinet posts who are on record as opposing the core functions of those very departments. And putting more former military generals in charge of civilian leadership positions than you'd normally expect to see in a skybox at the Army-Navy football game.
And then there's Trump telling a crowd on Friday that his riling up his supporters about having his political opponent Hillary Clinton arrest was nothing more than a pure lie for political purposes, the textbook definition of sheer demagoguery. As the mob again started shouting their anger-filled chant, "Lock her up, lock her up," whose flames Trump kept fanning to a peak throughout the campaign, he now tossed it aside. No. Forget it," he responded, "That plays great before the election. Now, we don't care, right?" Actually, we care very much about every single word that comes out of the mouth of the man who is to be the next president of the United States, but even more so does the entire world, which reacts to everything to says, Tweets or has his staff explain after-the-fact. Even the mountain of unrelenting congenital and sociopathic lies.
And we haven't even gotten deep into the concept of conflict of interest. And on and on and on. And Trump isn't even president yet...
That's why God created the concept of vigilance.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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