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January 23, 2017

Lying Liars and the Lies They Tell

What I learned in grade school, junior high, and high school is that if a person lies about the small things, they will lie about everything and they cannot be trusted with anything.

Trump has decided to lie. And he lies about the stupidest, smallest, least significant things possible. It makes no sense. If he is going to lie about things we can look out our proverbial window and see the truth of, then what will he do when something big and important comes along?

I accept he won the Presidency. I don't completely understand it, and I'm still shaking my head over the Electoral College's first chance to live up to and perform its duty as mandated in the Constitution yet refusing to do it, but I accept the results.

I cannot, however, accept the lies. I was always taught that lying is bad. Granted, we all lie every day... you know, those little white lies that everyone uses. How are you? Fine (but you're really not fine at all; you're sick, you're mentally exhausted, you're on your last nerve). Did I wake you? No (it's 3:30 am, and you were having that awesome dream where 1980's Adrienne Barbeau is throwing sandwich pickles at your bare feet, of course you were asleep).

If you voted for Trump because of religion, the lying must really gall you. I mean, most religions directly or indirectly say that lying is sinful. And yet he does it about everything. Even the most easily researched topics and least complicated areas. Why?

When I was younger, what I discovered was that the people around me that lied regularly and often usually lied at the biggest, most important times. If the teacher found out something, that person would lie to the teacher's face, accusing others or shifting blame. In one case, that person accused me and it took getting a half-dozen friends who knew I was elsewhere to get involved to shift the blame back where it belonged. In another case, someone I generally trusted, but played fast and loose with the truth, stole something of value from me that I never got back. The same person actually used a teacher's confusion over who we were to steal my higher grade in a class we both had with that teacher (still an acceptable grade, but lower than I earned; and, yes, this also points out the age and infirmity of that teacher who couldn't tell two similarly-sized, blond boys apart in his classroom).

If Donald Trump wants to lie about something as simple as the size of the gathering for his inauguration, what does he gain by it? I mean, it takes about 10 seconds to make a Google search and see pictures from a dozen or more inaugurations, and see at a glance that fewer went to his than to many others. So why state it was the largest ever? What does he get by doing that?

One person may have the answer. This was tweeted by Anna Rescouet-Paz:
Tweet posted by Anna Rescouet-Paz, January 21, 2017
That makes a lot of sense. This liar wants to set up the ability to lie again and again. He wants to make lying so regular, that those who listen to him will not know or, and this is the key part, question the lies he speaks. He wants to keep his base distrustful and aggressive toward everyone else. He wants to further divide the nation.

And he may succeed. Because the people who want to hear this are coming from an emotional place. They are emotionally invested in Trump and in his lies, and they do not want to hear or accept facts that run counter to that emotion. They believe that foreigners are bad, are going to kill them, and are taking their jobs, even when there is no evidence to prove it. They believe that other races are out to get them somehow, even as the fact of being employed by, or working with, other races has never been an issue for them. They believe that Trump can bring back jobs even though those jobs have been gone for 20 years and are never coming back, but new jobs for which they could retrain are already here.

I can't help but wonder what Trump and his administration will say if and when something big happens. What if we have another attack on our soil? Can we trust that anything said by him will be true? What if Russia pushes toward global expansion and world war? Will Trump tell us truly, or let the Russians do what they plan? What about North Korea and Kim Jong Crazy? He claims to have missiles now that can reach America... will Trump tell us if that is the case, and what will he say if he does?

To counter lies and misinformation, I get my news from a variety of sites. I read a little right, a little left, and a lot of foreign press (who, generally, don't have a dog in the fight). I try to find the consistent facts and I believe that the truth is somewhere in the middle. But I know I'm also fairly uncommon in my quest for truth and facts from news. I fear for the Average American who listens to his or her echo chamber and simply reinforces the emotional truth they already believe in, facts and evidence be damned.

I fear where this president could lead the nation, even while I cautiously hope he has an epiphany and realizes how big and important the job he just undertook will be. I hope I'm wrong about him, but history shows that lying liars usually just keep telling bigger and bigger lies until they are stopped.

Trump is the Man

I want this known: the legal process of electing a President has concluded. The Electoral college voted and, right or wrong, good or bad, it has chosen Trump as the winner with more than 270 electoral votes. I completely accept this. And, therefore, I completely accept Trump as our legally sworn-in President.

However, I disagree with nearly all of his platform as President. I think his plans, such as they are, will take the country backward in some cases and will actively harm the nation in others.

I absolutely do not agree with the whole "build a wall" plan. First, the Mexicans I know personally are hardworking, energetic people who want the American dream and go after it with gusto. They work hard, often 2, 3, 4 jobs at a time. They are willing to take on some pretty shitty jobs just to get work and make money, jobs that the average American sees as beneath them to work. Mexicans open businesses. They employ others. They have a strong work ethic, most I know are strongly religious, and most are strongly pro-family, and they are a tight-nit group. Just the sort of people you want immigrating to your country.

What we should be doing, rather than building a wall, is increasing talks and relations with Mexico. Getting more of them to immigrate legally. Looking for skilled workers, like programmers, managers, and builders, and entrepreneurs who want to open businesses and welcoming them in with open arms. If we do that, the need for a wall will virtually disappear and we bring more wealth into the country as they open those businesses and work those jobs here.

We don't need a nationalistic approach to jobs and trade. We just need to stop thinking that any trade deal with a country is better than no trade deal at all. We need to show countries, like China, that if they are going to cap and trade clause our goods coming into their country, then we will do the same to theirs. That will cause them to rethink their priorities, which allows us to ease trade barriers to them over time -- win win. NAFTA has been an unmitigated success for the countries involved; no need revoke it or back out of it. Is it time to look at possible tweaks and revisions? Sure. That is always a good thing, and all countries should do it from time to time. But backing out completely? That's the sign of someone with a narrow perspective or a lack of information, not a visionary leader.

In many cases, companies don't need to be actively harmed by taking jobs out of the country, they just need incentives to keep as many as possible within the country. We need to be looking at how to provide incentives for the companies to keep the profits here, in the country, without penalizing them. Companies are fairly predatory creatures and the seek out the greatest profits -- how can we incentivize them to keep a job in the USA with workers that make salaries and have benefits, versus giving that job to someone in a foreign country that makes 1/5 the salary and, often, has no benefits to pay? Well, as I roll from this into the ACA discussion, one way would be to switch to a universal, single-payer insurance system, which would take a huge chunk of money the company has to pay US employees out of the equation, closing the wage gap slightly between the US worker and the foreign worker.

Repealing healthcare? Why? Is the ACA (aka Obamacare) really that bad? Of course not. Any plan the Republicans come up with will mimic or copy much of what is in the ACA today. So why repeal the entire thing only to replace it with something that will, likely, be about 70-80% the same?

Trump has yet to make a truthful or verifiable statement about the ACA, and that seems to indicate that he either doesn't understand it or is willfully ignorant about how well it has worked. Is it great legislation? Hell no. It has way too many loopholes that need to be closed, it would be far better as a single-payer system, and we need to browbeat the pharmaceutical and health insurance companies that exist into lower prices and better service (as all single-payer systems around the world have done, to the betterment of the peoples' health in those nations). Again, tweaks and revisions are all that is needed. Hell, even Republicans are questioning the Republicans' desire to repeal this legislation without having a firm, verifiable plan that the people can read and comment on first. That's really all the Republicans need to do, too. Just present a better plan or a better revision to an existing plan and let the American people decide if it should be enacted. Maybe a repeal isn't needed. Either way, the American people will still think the Republicans are doing a good job leading the country and listening to its people. Right now, there are many who feel they aren't listening at all... even to their own like-minded constituents on this topic (and others).

His plans to deregulate the banking industry? Well, Clinton and "W" did that, and we achieved one of the worst financial collapses in the country, and it took years and re-regulation to dig out of it. Why do what has already proven not to work? Dodd-Frank is a good thing. It keeps the banking industry honest in its dealings with its customers and the nation. Deregulating energy companies so they can amp up production and go after harder and harder to reach energy reserves? Again, we've done that, many times, in the past. Each time it has achieved sick people, destroyed ecosystems (like drinkable water) and caused millions and billions in health, property, and clean up damages. Why would we ever do that again? It has proven not to work, time and again.

Questioning climate change? Well, here's the thing; every other nation (including China!) is leading the way to cleaner energy. Some countries, like India are actively promoting solar and wind at a massive rate. And, this is the kicker, they get most of the technology from the US. The rest of the world going green is actively helping the US economy. Now, imagine if the US stopped arguing over climate change and, instead, continued to add jobs and incentivize the green industries? Hell, we'd have thousands of new jobs, thousands more exports, and millions more dollars pumping into local economies. What if those areas where coal is played out and the mines are closed were where we built solar panel factories? What if where shale gas would be pumped, and ruining the local ground water, instead we built a large wind turbine factory? What if, in those area where oil wells are running dry, we built solar roadway production factories? What if we built desalination plants and water turbine and geothermal factories, employing people to make the technology of the future, rather than continuing to protect and prop up the existing oil industry? This is visionary leadership, not deregulating and allowing the gas and oil industry to plunder our national parks and monuments, clear-cutting forests, and destroying what limited drinking water resources the nation has.

The one area that I agree with Trump is that our federal government needs to be cleaned up. We absolutely need term limits in Congress to get turnover and fresh ideas. We need to do away with gerrymandering and rigged elections. However, I question how he is going about doing it. How is electing people who literally have no clue about the jobs they are nominated for (DeVos, Romney, Carson, et al) going to achieve success? How is having one of the architects of the last economic collapse in your cabinet going to help you "clean up the swamp"? It makes no sense.

So, I completely accept that this man is now our legally chosen President. As you can see, however, I do not accept his platform. I think it is narrow, short-sighted, and could harm the nation over time. I hope I'm wrong, and I hope he surprises me (and us), but his first, stumbling steps have not been promising.