Of lies, name calling, and monkeys in the zoo

monkeys

Pretty standard tripe for Conservatives: Obama speechifies and they count how many times he uses “I” or “me” or “my,” then start jumping up and down, using that count to demonstrate it means he only thinks about himself. Like most things said about him by the right, it just ain’t true.

Yes, in last night’s speech (which I did not see because of a serious conflict, but will watch tonight before Hillary’s speech), he used those words a total of 123 times  Wow!

He must really be a narcissist. Never mind that he used “we,” “us,” and “our” 126 times—these are the inconvenient facts that no good conservative will allow to enter their consciousness.

What about their boy, Donald J. Trump? “I” or “me” or “my,” were used 132 times in his convention speech. .  More than Obama? Huh, one must think he is a narcissist.  But no one has ever said that about him, have they? OK, well and sure, he said those words more than did Obama, but since he loves all Americans so much, he must have used “we,” “us,” and “our” more. Um, no, he only used them 102 times.

For clarity, these numbers are presented below:

 Trump  Obama
Total words       4,359       4,125
I           65           47
Me           32           60
My           35           16
         132          123
Percent 3.03% 2.98%
We           60           53
Us           14           12
Our           28           61
         102          126
Percent 2.34% 3.05%

 

But to make a fuss out of this is rather childish.  But childishness seems to work for the republicans about as well as do lies about Hillary Clinton—even when the statements, like how narcissistic Obama is, are proven to be false.

The reason is simple: the lie or distortion or childish taunt can be uttered in seconds while very often, the refutation of it takes much longer.

“Crooked Hillary acted illegally by setting up her own e-mail server at home.” No, she didn’t, but to explain why that three second statement is wrong takes much longer and sounds like lawyering—something every Republican politician seems to hate (even though 202 of the 535 members of congress are lawyers). Their response is along the lines of, “Any low level employee would get fired for doing what she did, so there.”

“Obama rules by illegal executive orders.” Well, no: He has averaged 33.6 per year while his predecessor averaged 36.4. Well,” they say,”it’s not the number, but the nature of them that counts.”

“Obama care is a complete failure.” Well, no: The uninsured population dropped from 20.3 percent in the third quarter of 2013 to 13.2 percent in the first quarter of this year. “But no one can afford it.” Health care cost growth slowed sharply. After consistently outpacing gross domestic product growth by 2 to 3 percentage points annually, health care costs rose at just about the same rate  as GDP, which amounts to a savings of more than $2,000 in 2015 for a family of four.  “Anyone can say anything with statistics.”

“Hillary lies all the time.” Well, there was that time about being under fire when she got off the helicopter. . . Trump said I don’t lie, I mean I don’t lie. In fact, if anything, I’m so truthful that it gets me in trouble, OK? They say I’m too truthful. And, no I don’t lie. I don’t lie. I’m self-funding my campaign. I tell the truth. (See http://crooksandliars.com/2016/02/donald-trump-i-don-t-lie-i-m-too-truthful).

Trump Hillary Clinton
True 4 16
Mostly true 10 48
Half true 21 24
Mostly false 28 16
False 65 15
Pants on fire 30 1

 

The source for that table is Politifact.com. “Yeah, but, the pick and choose what they check.” Politifact says this about the numbers: “We get asked all the time how the candidates compare. We often fret the question because we don’t fact-check every claim a politician makes (we’d never sleep), and we may fact-check a statement multiple times if candidates keep repeating themselves. GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump, for instance, has often made the False claim that the United States is “the highest taxed nation in the world,” and we’ve fact-checked it four times.” See this interesting discussion of their work: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/jun/29/fact-checking-2016-clinton-trump/

There are so many issues like this, it is impossible to list them all, and would be at least that hard to wade through.

Here’s the typical sequence:

  1. The lie is told by a republican.
  2. If is refuted, proven to be a lie.
  3. Conservatives reduce the statement to one so murky it cannot be proven.
  4. True Conservatives believe the lie more than before it was proved to be a lie.

What we think about our beliefs and what makes sense is that when they are challenged with facts, we alter our opinions and incorporate the new information into our thinking.

What actually happens  for far to many of us is that when our deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, our beliefs get stronger. (See https://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/06/10/the-backfire-effect/)

It seems to get down to a case of “You are_____.” “No, I’m not.” “Yes, you are.” “Am not.”—and so on, like happened in the school playground all the time.

Name calling is a conversation killing device.  When Trump says “Pocahontas,” his face affects that look that makes one want to slap him into next week.  Most of us stopped doing this in about 4th grade because, mostly, I guess, it serves no purpose, and can start fights. Which is why Trump does it. It is why the kids who didn’t stop doing it, could get away with it, were known as bullies. It exasperates people and diverts their attention.  The image would be clearer if he put his thumb on his nose at waggled his fingers.

Pocahontas, Lying Ted, Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie, Bimbo (Megan Kelley), Low Energy Jed, Little Marco, are a just a few. Then there are the general purpose taunts: Lightweight, loser, moron, dummy, overrated, stupid, thug. So prevalent is this, that The New York Times has a Trump insult generator (http://time.com/3966291/donald-trump-insult-generator/).  See a rather long list of Trump insults here: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/01/28/upshot/donald-trump-twitter-insults.html

His supporters love it because it confirms to them that he is bigger and stronger than the rest and no one can stop him. In other words, they recognize him as a bully, and, just as every school yard bully had his (or her) group of followers, who usually were behind the bully laughing, and pointing fingers when their bully taunted other kids, every time Trump does it, his supporters smile and think how clever he is. Once his opponents line up behind him, the name calling usually stops (except when he demeans them to make sure they remember who the boss it).

It is hard to stand mute when called a liar, but that is what honorable people do in the hope that the bully will be seen for what he is. Of course, any response in kind reduces the responder to his level, and will be used as evidence damning the responder.

It’s like the old aphorism about  monkeys in the zoo: So long as everyone is nice to each other, they all play together, but let one start flinging the feces and before long, all are covered. Up until this cycle, politicians seemed to be throwing mud; with Trump, it sounds more like the feces monkeys throw.

Thankfully, there are only 102 days until the election.  I prayerfully hope Donald J. Trump is not elected for many reasons, not the least of which is what will happen to our standing in the world when he start finding and using pet names for world leaders. He has already slandered Mexico, Islam, the European Union, China, and is now making now making noises to add Great Brittain and France to his Muslim ban. God help and protect us.

 

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