Monday, December 5, 2016

Refute Trump's lies with force and alacrity

Samuel Johnson
     George Berkeley was an Irish cleric — the Bishop of Cloyne — and philosopher. His 1709 "An Essay toward a New Theory of Vision" promoted "immaterialism," the idea that physical objects do not actually exist but are merely perceived. The world isn't all houses and stones, just light and color.
     I mention this as part of my broad-minded attempt to give Donald Trump and his supporters the benefit of the doubt. The idea that there is no reality, no facts, that all is subjective perception was not invented by them, though they certainly have seized the Berkeley viewpoint in what is already being called our "post-fact world."
     Last week, Scottie Nell Hughes, a CNN contributor and Trump supporter, phoned a Washington, D.C., public radio station that was discussing Trump's baseless claim that millions of illegal votes were cast in the last election. Hughes argued that these deliberate fabrications were not "lies," but merely differing views. She said:
     “I hear half the media saying that these are lies, but on the other hand, there are many people that go, 'No, it’s true.' And so one thing that has been interesting this entire campaign season to watch is that people that say facts are facts, they’re not really facts. Everybody has a way of interpreting them to be the truth or not truth. There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts. "
     How to reply? I could point out that this is patently false and give an illustration: millions of children believe in Santa Claus, yet that does not will him into physical being.
     But Trumpian thinking — and remember, his logic is not about perceiving reality, but obscuring it — dismisses this as just another opinion, and one from the mainstream media at that. (His whole lying media schtick is not based on any media lies, but on a kill-the-messenger attempt to shut up those pointing out that the emperor has no clothes.)

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  1. God bless Samuel Johnson and the wisdom in his quotes which Neil has frequently shared in his blog and columns. If only he could be with us today to help take down our president-elect and his lame cast of supporters. For example: Last night on "60 Minutes" I had to listen to Paul Ryan smirk and make excuse after excuse for the lies Trump has tweeted recently, specifically the "millions who voted illegally" on election night whopper.

    As Neil and other responsible journalists continue emphatically reminding us, we simply cannot allow this disregard of the facts to go unchallenged, because once it becomes accepted behavior there is no turning back. Which is another step toward the end of the America we know and love.


    1. Seemed to me that Ryan was very smooth, even ingratiating, the velvet glove not quite hiding the steel fist within. In a way, more dangerous than Trump.

      But Johnson's refutation, emphatic and strong as it is, is ultimately unconvincing in these days when even a 3rd grader knows that a seemingly solid rock contains atoms made up of infinitesimal particles whirling at vast distances around each other.

      A linguist on NPR explained how attempting to refute Trump by trying to negate his idiotic statements reinforces the connection in our brains of the very relation we're trying to deny. Better to frame the argument positively before trying to tell the world that Trump has got it all wrong. The linguist also pointed out the power of Trump's name, insisting that were just 2 letters changed, his success could not have happened: Donald TWIMP wouldn't have stood a chance of being taken seriously in any of his endeavors, much less be elected President of the United States. I move that we address his majesty as Twimp from now on.


    2. Ryan tried to be smooth, but what choice did he have. His attempt at smoothing things over neither surprised nor impressed me.


  2. Reince Preibus was doing the same with the illegal immigration lie cover up, on Face the Nation, Sun. morn.

  3. Nothing really new about Trump. "Demagogue. A leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims to gain power."

    Hitler gained power by claiming Germans lost the Great War because Jews stabbed them in the back. No evidence, but centuries of religious and cultural bias made that unimportant to German voters.

    Creon of Athens, the first demagogue in recorded history wrote the book. Said only he, a strong leader unafraid to impose harsh penalties on enemies, and willing to use his intuition rather than learning, could save the state. The Athenians eventually rejected him, but only after much damage was done.

    Tom Evans

  4. Playing partisan politics, kill this program, save that program, is a dummies game. There is a bigger picture. The NASA Earth Science program in part duplicates work being done by the National Weather Service (NWS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). All have scientist that monitor climate change, and make forecasts. There are rivalries among these agencies where scientist are battling each other for funding. In my opinion government needs to be streamlined, the NASA climate scientists should be integrated into NOAA's operation. NOAA has tidal gauges, and satellites that have monitored the sea rise for decades, and scientist making forecasts based on the data they gather. No one should be calling for the end of this type of basic research. It can be done a little more efficiently, with much more transparency.

  5. Possibly true, but Trump's candidate for the EPA has made his mark as a climate change denier. He's probably not interested much in transparency.

    It seems we must more than ever rely on a free and unintimidated press. As Napoleon put it, "Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than 1000 bayonets" Of course, he took care of that problem by shutting down papers he didn't like, an action we can only hope Mr. Trump will not find within his powers.


  6. Where can the record of the lies be kept in a meaningful place? A place with a complete record of the lies and proof/evidence they are lies? Something that can be referred to, again and again. Like a book in the old days.

    A psychotic person imagines things. They're addressed in his/her case history. A criminal denies his/her crimes. The evidence is presented.


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