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Trump routinely says things that aren’t true. Few Americans believe him.
Take the quiz to see how your fact-checking skills stack up against others nationwide.
WN: I’ve generally stopped postings about Trump. But below is report of a fascinating poll, that speaks to larger philosophical/theological issues about truth-telling.
A personal example is a friend who ended his career as police chief in a major Canadian city. A committed Christian, a nice guy. But he had no qualms about routinely lying, and supporting that widely used strategy in policing. They in the know can name so many more institutional instances. The dilemma at its simplest is his lying all day on the job, then coming home to reprimand his son for his lying. Something dies with such official lies.
Another personal example is a relative who believes Trump apparently to hell and back. Here is an article about the tally of Trump’s lies in his first 700 days as President: a whopping 7,546! My relative in response to such facts asks: But who is checking the fact checker? Impossible will to believe against all odds, otherwise known as completely brainwashed! Hence the joke about the man convinced he was dead who was given books to read by his doctor about the state of dead men. Upon the patient’s acknowledging the next doctor visit that dead men do not bleed, the doctor whips out a giant needle, stabs his arm, and blood splurts out. The patient looks at his arm askance, and declares: “Dead men do bleed after all!”
Back to my former police chief friend: The issue becomes more serious when the lies cover up routine police wrongdoing. Anyone with even a passing acquaintance of the work on Canadian policing by journalist Paul Palango knows of the devastating consequences of official RCMP lies and far worse. There is no exemption for municipal police forces. This is where sayings like “The rich get richer, and the poor get prison“, and “Laws are like cobwebs: they catch the little guys and let the big ones get away” have absolute cachet in Canada.
There is a fuller discussion of this in my “War, Police and Prisons: Cross-Examining State-Sanctioned Violence” (also a chapter in my series: Justice That Transforms: Volume Three.)
The problem only vastly deepens when institutional racism is added to the criminal policing mix. Listening to Canadian Broadcasting Commission (CBC’s) Cross Country Checkup today (“How can we tackle racism in Canadian policing?”) was intensely distressing for those of us making up the dominant white community with consciences about these things.
Not one, but three reports were released this week on the state of race and policing in Canadian cities, and all of them scathing in their conclusions.
In Thunder Bay, Ont., police are under intense scrutiny over relations with Indigenous people after two separate reports suggested the police service is rife with institutional racism.
In Toronto, police are also under criticism after the Ontario Human Rights Commission released stats showing that black people are “grossly over-represented” in violent interactions with city police.
Sadly, the result of these reports aren’t new revelations. They only confirm what black and Indigenous people have reported for some time. Nor are Thunder Bay and Toronto unique among Canadian cities, as many police forces wrestle with complaints of police discrimination.
Whether you believe in institutional racism exists among police forces or not, trust is broken in Canada’s justice system.
Our question: How can we tackle racism in Canadian policing?
One need also only read one book on Canadian police racism such as Secret Service to learn its endemic nature: one largely denied by Canadian police forces, or paid scant lip service to. Or one can adduce any of the dust-gathering Canadian government inquiries into the criminal justice system such as the 1999 “Report of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry of Manitoba” which in Volume I begins:
The justice system has failed Manitoba’s Aboriginal people on a massive scale. It has been insensitive and inaccessible, and has arrested and imprisoned Aboriginal people in grossly disproportionate numbers. Aboriginal people who are arrested are more likely than non-Aboriginal people to be denied bail, spend more time in pre-trial detention and spend less time with their lawyers, and, if convicted, are more likely to be incarcerated (p. 1).
One must add: and more likely to be shot dead. In a brand new Report we read that
A black person in Toronto is nearly 20 times more likely than a white person to be shot and killed by police, according to a new Ontario Human Rights Commission report on race and policing.
It is suggested that Big Oil and other Big Fossil Fuel extraction corporations will only likely fail when the oil or coal, etc. run out… if gargantuan environmental catastrophe does not shut down the Planet first. Sadly, widespread police criminal wrongdoing, racism, brutality and the like will not likely end unless the Planet comes to similar societal catastrophic demise.
As to politicians lying, scholar A. J. Coates writes:
The moral prohibition of lying, for example, makes good sense in the context of personal relations, but no sense at all in affairs of state. Telling the truth is a moral luxury that politicians and diplomats can rarely afford. More than that, the fulfillment of their public duty will require them not only to conceal the truth but to suppress it and twist it constantly (The Ethics of War, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997, p. 36).
Internationally known political scientist Hans Morgenthau in refined casuistry argues that ‘there is no escape from the evil of power’ and that ‘to know with despair that the political act is inevitably evil, and to act nonetheless, is moral courage’ (cited by Coates). We know the 19th-century saying by British Catholic historian Lord Acton:Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.
This at least puts in some kind of perspective the endless stream-of-consciousness prevarications of Trump: and who in America believes him…
For months, President Trump has claimed that U.S. Steel has announced plans to build more than six new plants. Throughout the midterm election, he repeatedly said that Democrats had signed onto an “open borders” bill. And he has long charged that millions of fraudulent votes were cast in the 2016 election.
None of these claims is true. What’s more, most Americans don’t believe them, according to a new Washington Post Fact Checker poll.
Fewer than 3 in 10 Americans — including fewer than 4 in 10 Republicans — believe these or several other prominent claims by the president, according to the poll.[Read the full Post Fact Checker poll results]
Trump was particularly careless with the truth at his raucous 2018 campaign rallies. The Fact Checker evaluated two Trump campaign rallies in July and September and found at least 70 percent of Trump’s factual assertions were false or misleading.
The Post poll finds little connection between watching Trump’s rallies and believing his false claims. Americans who report watching rallies on TV or in-person are seven percentage points more likely than others to believe false claims made by Trump, but rally watchers are also six points more apt to accurately identify the true alternative claim to Trump’s falsehood.
Please click on: Trump Liar-in-Chief
- Palango reflects on this in a December 3, 2008 Georgia Straight article: "Democracy and accountability are an illusion" -- which title says it all. At one point he writes:
I love Canada. I want Canada to be fair, progressive, and governed by the rule of law. It is a battle worth waging for everyone, even if it means in the short term being personally smeared by politicians, police, and members of the media who are all too cognizant of their own culpability. That’s the only thing to fear in Canada. You don’t get killed for being on the cutting edge in Canada; you either are ignored or shunned, or get heaps of mud thrown at you. Over the past few weeks, I’ve experienced all three.Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on "Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:
The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below. Palango reflects on this in a December 3, 2008 Georgia Straight article: “Democracy and accountability are an illusion” — which title says it all. At one point he writes:
I love Canada. I want Canada to be fair, progressive, and governed by the rule of law. It is a battle worth waging for everyone, even if it means in the short term being personally smeared by politicians, police, and members of the media who are all too cognizant of their own culpability. That’s the only thing to fear in Canada. You don’t get killed for being on the cutting edge in Canada; you either are ignored or shunned, or get heaps of mud thrown at you. Over the past few weeks, I’ve experienced all three.
- Longstanding Restorative Justice advocate and scholar Catherine Morris, in a superb paper entitled "Noble Lies, Augustinian Lies and the Post-Modernist Black Hole: Truth, Reconciliation and the Church" writes:
It is also important to consider the impact of lying on the liar’s integrity, including the possibility that a liar will become inured and practiced in lying to achieve other just ends, resulting in damage to social relationships and to societal trust. Lying also deprives those who believe the lie of the ability to make fully informed choices. Lying is a method of trying to take the future into one’s own hands.It continued:
‘For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians – in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public,’ the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians. ‘Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers,’ The Blade said. ‘Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.” The New York Times confirmed the claimed accuracy of the stories by contacting several of those interviewed. It reported: “But they wanted to make another point: that Tiger Force had not been a ‘rogue’ unit. Its members had done only what they were told, and their superiors knew what they were doing. “Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground forces throughout Vietnam, they said. That contention is backed up by accounts of journalists, historians and disillusioned troops… ‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war, a frontless war of great frustration. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’ Current likely Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was also quoted giving evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. He reported that American soldiers in Vietnam had “raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. Nicholas Turse [later author of: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam], a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, has been studying government archives and said they were filled with accounts of similar atrocities. ''I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported,'' Mr. Turse said by telephone. ''I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds.'' Yet there were few prosecutions. Longstanding Restorative Justice advocate and scholar Catherine Morris, in a superb paper entitled “Noble Lies, Augustinian Lies and the Post-Modernist Black Hole: Truth, Reconciliation and the Church” writes:
It is also important to consider the impact of lying on the liar’s integrity, including the possibility that a liar will become inured and practiced in lying to achieve other just ends, resulting in damage to social relationships and to societal trust. Lying also deprives those who believe the lie of the ability to make fully informed choices. Lying is a method of trying to take the future into one’s own hands.
- Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:
Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] ("The Cold War in Central America", pp. 216 - 221).What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary "City on A Hill" that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. "The Land of the Free" conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America's leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.↩
-  The highlighted article about renowned whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg points to again what is utterly chilling, horror-filled, exponentially beyond immoral, American (hence the world's) reality: "Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button". He has since written The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Of it we read:
Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist for the California Book Award in Nonfiction The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2017 List In These Times “Best Books of 2017” Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week” From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the dangers of America's Top Secret, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day. Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.↩
- A classic instance of this aligning with "just war" is the United States' "war on drugs" as subset of "war on crime", while at the same time the CIA was a major worldwide drug dealer in league with other drug cartels -- all done to enhance American Empire during the Cold War -- and continues to the present. The four-part series mentioned below connects American Empire drug dealing to the current War on Terror, in particular in Afghanistan. This of course is colossal hypocrisy as well. Worse: the series posits American federal government administrations over many decades as the Ultimate Drug Cartel, with Blacks, Latinos, and generally the poor directly being knowingly poisoned en masse. Then they have been primary targets of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and thereby become victims of America's too often savage prison system that oppresses and brutalizes them all over again... See: "The War on Drugs Is a Failure, So [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions Is All for It". A citation from the article reads:
In June , the History Channel aired a four-part documentary series called America’s War on Drugs.” The series asserts that the war on drugs was actually a war of drugs—and that the CIA was essentially a partner in spreading drugs and drug use. The series follows how the U.S. intelligence agency, in an obsession with fighting communism, allied itself with U.S. organized crime and foreign drug traffickers and includes firsthand accounts from many involved. In an interview with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar on her radio program “Rising Up With Sonali,” the series’ executive producer, Anthony Lappé, explains why the CIA got involved:
It’s actually a pretty mind-blowing story when you look at the extent to which the CIA was involved with drug traffickers and drug trafficking throughout the Cold War. … If you look at Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, we were locked in a global battle for supremacy, where we have lots of proxy wars going on. … We needed to team up with local allies, and often the local allies we were teaming up with were people who had access to guns, who had access to underground networks, to help us fight the perceived threat of communism. There are actually a lot of similarities between what drug traffickers do and what the CIA does.Lappé elaborates by saying the hypocrisy of the war on drugs has been evident from the start: Secret CIA experiments with LSD helped fuel the counterculture movement, leading to President Richard Nixon’s crackdown and declaration of the war on drugs. The series also explores the CIA’s role in the rise of crack cocaine in poor black communities and a secret island “cocaine base.” In addition the documentary makes the connection between the war on drugs, the war on terror and the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco state and contends that American intervention in Mexico helped give clout to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the super cartels, making it easier to send drugs across American borders. Watch Kolhatkar’s full interview with Lappé by clicking here. Please also see the now classic: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, by noted American historian Alfred McCoy. Of it we read:
The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of illicit drugs.To be noted as well is Johann Hari's Chasing The Scream, which tells the tragic tale of America's long-standing offensive against drugs, and the way to end such a war worldwide -- that several nations are successfully embracing.↩