Saturday, February 4, 2017

Why the Bowling Green Massacre is So Important.

In an interview with Chris Matthews, KellyAnne Conway, speaking on behalf of the  White House mentioned that the new immigration/Muslim ban was essential, because two refugees who turned out to be terrorists planned the Bowling Green Massacre.  Why Chris Matthews didn't ask her to clarify is beyond me and worth an entire post in and of itself, but there it was, a representative of the President of the United States, justifying a highly questionable and likely illegal ban with a fictional terror attack.  This would be mind numbing if we weren't already numbed by the fact that earlier in the week she had coined the Orwellian phrase "alternative facts".  At least the NBC News employee in that case called her out.  But this is a problem with this White House.  They traffic in what some call alternative facts and we simply call them lies.

Now the idea of a lying politician is a tried and true stereotype.  No one expects them to be fully honest.  But the idea is that they lie to you to get elected.  They say things like how much they will cut taxes, create jobs, etc.  But when in office and they fall short, their supporters often let it pass and their detractors make hay out of it and the pundits try to explain it away.  It is often difficult to catch a politician in a real lie because of that.  Some however do carry weight.  When George H.W. Bush said, "Read my lips, No New Taxes" and later raised taxes it was not a statement he didn't mean to keep, he just couldn't.  Same with Barrack Obama's "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor".  In both cases they truly did not expect the roll out of their policies to take such a different turn.  Maybe they should have, but that is for another story.  However with the current administration the lies are not about what they will accomplish.  (In fact the President has worked hard to try and keep a lot of the promises he made) It is lies about objective facts that are easily checked.  This is what is dangerous about what they are doing.

On the day after the inauguration, Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary, gave a statement to the press and took no questions.  That statement was that President Trump had the largest inauguration crowd ever and punctuated with the final PERIOD.  This is simply not true regardless of how you count the numbers.  But there he was saying it after the President said it and news outlets pointed out the difference between 2009 and 2017.  (2009 was much bigger).  It should be noted that around the country, when Spicer was saying this, millions of mostly women were marching in opposition to the the new President's policies and attitude toward woman.  It was a deflection of sorts but it also showed the pettiness of the man who sits in what until last week was the most respected and powerful office in the world.  We knew President Trump was obsessed with his crowds leading up to the event when he tweeted about dress shops running out of dresses in DC (also not true) and other indications.  What was amazing was that right after taking over the @POTUS twitter account he posted an inaugural picture of the crowds.  They happen to be Obama's.  

While we can certain laugh at a man who is overly concerned about how big things related to him are there are certainly policy implications that we must be careful of, beyond simply not being able to trust him.  It was clear from the beginning that Trump had lost the popular vote by a stunning margin of almost 3 million votes.  The President, because of a right wing lunatic blogger, thinks that there were 3 million votes cast illegally.  There is zero evidence of this.  Again Sean Spicer tried to quote a study, did it badly, and the author had to correct him.  But now the President wants to spend millions to hunt down these dreaded 3 million voters who he says didn't vote for him.  This is insanity and could lead to legal voters being taken off voter rolls.  (It is time to note that some of the President's closest advisors and family are registered in two states which was one of the issues the President raised).  It is also fair to note that the only person who got caught voting illegally by voting more than once was a Trump voter.

These lies set a tone of distrust and sends us all scrambling for fact checkers every time the President speaks.  From the mundane to the serious he has told lie after lie of things that are not only easily checked but are so outrageous when you see them in print you can't believe what you are reading.

But here is the thing, the President has now demonized the referees of truth in our culture that they lack trust too.  The media has been a favorite foil for the President and he points out every time they get something wrong.  And the media does, sometimes to scoop the other or sometimes based on personal bias.  For example, many outlets first reported the recent attack on the mosque in Quebec was done by a man who had an Arabic name.  Turned out to be false.  So for the President that shows they are never right and Trump's supporters believe him.  They also believe websites that Trump has embraced.  Websites like the one formerly led by his chief strategist which is a comfort zone for While Supremacy and the work of Alex Jones, a man who believes that the Sandy Hook attack (a real massacre)  was faked and the children involved are still alive.  He also posted stories of a child sex ring run by Hillary Clinton and John Podesta being run out of a Pizza place in DC, which led to a man coming and throwing shots there.

Bowling Green should be the last straw, it was a lie of either ignorance and repeating a story heard from a crazy blogger.  Conway has said that it was covered up.  Or it was the willful act of a deranged White House trying to justify a horrible policy with a fake crisis.  Either way Conway should have forfeited her job as a spokeperson for the President.  I am glad that CNN has said "no thanks" when she was offered to be on their air this weekend.

I don't expect my President to be always truthful with me.  Politics would require him or her to bend the truth on how successful a policy is or will be.  National security keeps a leader from revealing everything and cover stories have a place in explaining to the public parts of things when the whole is not ready for everyone to hear.  I get that.  But I expect a White House to speak in a voice of reality.  This one has not done so.  It is truly frightening because if the President of the United States is so easily rendered into the persona of someone having to tell everyone how great he is and that any set backs are the result of sabotage or conspiracy then he is not fit to govern.  Which is truly a problem, but if he is surrounded by people who buy into his little cult and encourage this behavior, we are at the brink of some serious problems.  Bowling Green is a massacre, it may be the end of reality.    

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