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There Are No Alternative Facts, It’s Called Lying

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There Are No Alternative Facts, It’s Called Lying

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Liar in chief, Trump

Her name was Miss Nelson.

I don’t recall her first name. She didn’t seem to need one.

She taught fifth grade at West Elementary School in Ashtabula, Ohio. In the fall of 1967, my mother dropped me off in her classroom like a failed adoption. My mother would deny that characterization, but we all knew that Miss Nelson had a reputation. She was tall and wide with a voice that carried and a mind inclined to use it. I’d never seen anybody like her.

You know how this story goes. She also had a heart bigger than a Dodge wagon. She hid it well in the first few weeks, but soon enough she was holding after-class sewing sessions for all of us girls. She claimed to be teaching us how to make clothes for our Barbie dolls, but it was just an excuse to gather us round and talk to us about how to be citizens of the world.

She believed diagramming sentences builds character and profanity is the sign of a diminished mind. She hated the word “liar,” declaring it the worst thing you could ever say about a person. If he was a liar, there was no hope for him.

All these years later, I’m still so reluctant to use the word. Some people you never stop wanting to avoid disappointing.

I’ve been thinking of Miss Nelson a lot during the past few days — since Inauguration Day, to be precise. It hurts to the marrow of my bones to say this, but there’s no use in pretending that we don’t have a chronic liar in the White House.

On Tuesday, I made a list of newspaper headlines on Donald Trump’s continued lie about nonexistent voter fraud.

The New York Times: “Trump Won’t Back Down From His Voting Fraud Lie. Here Are the Facts.”

The Washington Post: “Citing no new evidence, Trump continues to say there were millions of illegal votes.”

Boston Globe: “White House defends illegal voting claim, without evidence.”

Los Angeles Times: “Trump’s unproven claims of widespread voter fraud trip up White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.”

Chicago Tribune: “White House doubles down on Trump’s claim that millions voted illegally, but provides no evidence.”

Wall Street Journal: “Trump’s Claim of Massive Illegal Voting Gets Little Support From GOP Lawmakers.”

This is our new reality.

We still have our holdouts. NPR listeners wanted to know why Mary Louise Kelly reported on Trump’s many lies but wouldn’t call them what they are: lies. On “Morning Edition,” Kelly explained that she relies on The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “lie.”

“A false statement made with intent to deceive,” Kelly said, “‘intent’ being the key word there. Without the ability to peer into Donald Trump’s head, I can’t tell you what his intent was. I can tell you what he said and how that squares — or doesn’t — with facts.”

At what age is adulthood assumed and a person held accountable for his words? Unless he admits he lied, we’re supposed to think he’s just flirting?

True, I can’t peer into the dark recesses of Trump’s head — thank you, Jesus — but that doesn’t mean I can’t discern his intentions by the content of his words.

He lies, but he may not mean it? That’s like someone hitting me in the head with a baseball bat and then assuring me on the ambulance ride that he didn’t mean to make me bleed. At some point, one of us has to state the obvious because the medical staff and the police are definitely going to have their assumptions.

Every time I hear another lie come out of Trump’s mouth — about his inauguration crowd (smaller than Barack Obama’s and the Women’s March), voter fraud (it didn’t exist), the media’s accusing him of attacking the intelligence community (he compared them to the Nazis) — I feel as if I’m back in junior high school trying to break up with the boy my mother warned me wasn’t stable.

“You told me you love me.”

“I never said that.”

“You did. I heard you. Everybody knows it.

“I’m sorry. I never said that.”

“We should drink each other’s blood.”

“I’m going to call Dad now.”

Enough of this cat dance around what most of America already knows.

With apologies to Miss Nelson, we in the media must call this what it is: Our president is a chronic and unapologetic liar.

And this is not normal.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and professional in residence at Kent State University’s school of journalism. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

IMAGE: President Donald Trump looks up while signing an executive order to advance construction of the Keystone XL pipeline at the White House in Washington. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicated. Schultz won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. She has also published two books: Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths -- a collection of her previously published columns -- and ...and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, which chronicled her experiences on the campaign trail with her husband, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

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24 Comments

  1. Dominick Vila January 27, 2017

    The time has come, for those Americans who are still determined to defend the spirit enshrined in our Constitution, our purported values, and our traditions, to reflect on what is happening, and take steps to stop what could be easily interpreted as the decline of the American society, and the emergence of imperialism without the façade of righteousness that we once used to justify our geo-political goals, prejudices, and hide our fears.

    Gone are the days when we used fabrications, such as the scuttling of the U.S.S. Maine in Havana to justify a war designed to punish a country we loathed, and build military bases in remote places, such as Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam, to advance and protect our expansionist economic and political goals. Gone are the days when we used an imaginary attack against the U.S.S. Pueblo; or claimed that not all the Weapons of Mass Destruction, provided to a despot by the Reagan
    Administration during the Iran-Iraq, had been destroyed, in spite of IAEA assurances to the contrary, to justify a crusade. We have transitioned to an era when we are no longer bothered with excuses or lies, and prefer to use alternative facts,
    such as demanding that another country pay for what we want to build, or suggest that we may invade another country and take their natural resources to pay for the invasion, while demanding respect. The first order of business is for our leaders to realize that respect is not demanded, it is earned. They must try to understand that bullying against smaller countries that lack the economic and military might to defend themselves against the most powerful country in the world, is not conducive to earning the respect of anyone. If anything, it will elicit disgust and scorn by anyone with an ounce of morality and humanity left in their beings.

    As disgusting as what passes for foreign policy nowadays is, it pales in comparison to domestic policies focused on the repeal and undermining of social programs designed to help the poor and lower middle class, senior citizens, the handicapped, and every vulnerable citizen in our society get the medical care, and financial assistance, they need to survive and live with a modicum of dignity. Gone
    are the days when excuses focused on spending limits, feigned concern over budget deficits and increases in the national debt were used to reject proposals to invest in infrastructure, and protect our safety net. The same champions of fiscal responsibility that denied investment in things we need as a society, to remain competitive on
    the world stage, and to protect our environment, are suddenly supporting redirecting funds appropriated for Homeland Security to build a wall along our
    Southern border, at a time when illegal immigration is at its lowest point in decades and about one million more illegal immigrants have left the USA, either because of deportations or voluntarily, than those still coming in. Never mind the fact that the construction of such wall will not deter the millions of foreigners that enter the USA with tourist and student visas, and never leave, from doing what they have been doing successfully for years. The real objective, behind this insidious decision has nothing to do with the need to defend our sovereignty or guarantee our national security. It is designed to satisfy the wishes of millions of white supremacists who see diversity as an evil concept, and loathe the people they love to exploit. The
    only silver lining behind the overt examples of political opportunism and cynicism is that, regardless of motive, we are finally going to invest in
    infrastructure.

    Last, but not least, is the damage that our overt
    expressions of ethnic and cultural hatred is causing to our credibility and claims of being a bastion of freedom and democracy. The damage that is going to be done to our environment, and our patrimony, by removing environmental regulations, by building a pipeline to transport highly corrosive shale oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico for export to other
    countries, to help some of the wealthiest members of our society accumulate more wealth at the expense of our environment, and our health, is enormous, and nobody seems to mind.

    Enumerating all the counter-productive policies that are being advanced, and that are supported by a large segment of our population, ostensibly more interested in short term financial gain, and a desire for revenge, than what is in our best interest, would require writing a book, an endeavor I am not interested in pursuing. What is evident to me is that the election of Donald Trump was influenced more by a recognition of who we have become as a society, than foreign interference, or allegations
    of illegal voting. Trump represents who we have become. The arrogance of a man who demands respect while bullying weaker nations is not an aberration. It is consistent with what almost half of
    our population believes and wants, and the reason so many fellow Americans voted for Donald Trump.

    Reply
    1. Mama Bear January 27, 2017

      and that is the sad truth ….I am afraid.

      1. Rhodawmax January 28, 2017

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  2. Budjob January 27, 2017

    Fact,I saw a full moon last night,.Alternative,no you didn’t it was a lamp post!

    Reply
    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 27, 2017

      Nice one. What craziness awaits us tomorrow?

  3. Mama Bear January 27, 2017

    The day we are no longer able to tell fact from lie will be a very sad day. We have to pressure our media and our Democratic lawmakers to call it out loudly. If not, we will become just as the Arab nations…constantly at war with the “outside” and a theater of proxy wars found here. Think VietNam…Cambodia….Middle East.

    Reply
  4. latebloomingrandma January 27, 2017

    Thank you, Connie, for calling out a liar. By the way, watch your back and that of your husband.

    Reply
  5. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 27, 2017

    We now all acknowledge that a chronic liar is in the White House. He is there because truthfulness has been relegated to a practice we turn on or off depending on the circumstances. Its definition is relative depending on the situation—If someone decides at some point in time to demonize a person while exalting the person’s competitor, that someone will decide that everything said by her is a lie, and she’ll often be stigmatized with a name like “Hilliary”, while the person exalted(i.e., Donald Trump) would never be described as a liar, despite Donald being exposed time and again.
    No one is saying that of the two of them, one is angelic and the other solely satanic, but when a pattern is exhibited then the conclusion one reaches is that the chronic offender IS satanic in nature—not that automatically the other is angelic.

    Donald J. Trump is chronic in his negative behavior and therefore deserves to be called out for it in public. If he were a private citizen and out of earshot, I would be remiss in pointing him out, especially if I myself was a liar.

    Certain people in this forum have been keen to exalt Trump while blithely ignoring his transgressions—transgressions needing to be brought out due to his extremely contrasting behavior of accusing others constantly of the very same thing he engages in habitually. Something is terribly wrong with that contradiction in behavior, and Donald deserves all the derision that has been directed to him for the very reason of blatant disregard for consistency—and Donald’s admirers here, like “mike”, “InformedVoter”, and “itsfun”, “Godzilla”, and others, are just as culpable for contradictory behavior as Donald. “Otto the Goat” is in the same category, but since he seems quite mentally challenged and disturbed, I’ll have to consider him to be in a separate category all to himself.

    And Donald isn’t the only one exhibiting blatant signs of contradictory behavior—the generality of the entire GOP and its base, and Donald’s associates in the new Administration exhibit the same grave flaws as he.

    Reply
    1. Dominick Vila January 27, 2017

      I thought it was very revealing that all the nations on the list issued by the Trump administration as targets to refuse issuance of visas or granting refugee status does not include countries like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, two countries where Trump has substantial investments.

      1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 27, 2017

        Investigating Trump is like opening a can or worms. The “worms” are linked to places across the globe, and the omissions are red flags.

  6. sigrid28 January 27, 2017

    My concern is that the media are not handling Trump’s lying correctly, that is, in such a way as to expose it and refer readers/listeners/viewers to the truth. He is counting on repeating a lie long enough for the rubes who voted for him to take it as the truth. The only way to counter that effectively is not only to call it out for what it is, a lie, but to repeat each time what the truth is—every time. Even more tiresome, to reveal fully how Trump has lied reporters must cite the truth in a way that the average person can understand. These lies are a poison for which there is only one antidote: if you only refer to the truth but do not explain it, you have not administered the antidote to Trump’s chronic lying properly.

    I can imagine news outlets bulking at this cumbersome prescription while at the same time envisioning how easily various templates that might be devised for assistant editors to revise lightly and insert wherever necessary in text devoted to one of Trump’s lies. I forgive editors this: It is the way we all resist necessary health measures up until the last possible moment that we finally give in to the need to turn down the second piece of pie. What finally gives us the impetus to take care of our health is often concern for what would happen to our loved ones if we checked out. The press must deal effectively with Trump’s lying once and for all—each time he does it—for the same reason. The stakes are that high.

    We all really know it: Once the avalanche begins, it will is unstoppable: It sweeps away half the mountain burying those at the base . To voters Trump duped, it makes little difference, apparently, that a few of his cronies at the top of his administration are poised to reap enormous profits from Trump’s presidency while bringing down calamity on the poor rubes at the bottom, whose standard of living is likely to decline. When that happens, these duped voters, many of them white and working class, will not blame Trump but blame their favorite scapegoat in times of economic insecurity: minorities.

    Reply
    1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 27, 2017

      I agree with your assessment and recommendation for the media. Donald is a dangerous anomaly requiring stricter measures on his behavior.

      1. sigrid28 January 27, 2017

        That you agree, Aaron, means a lot to me. I would also add that the media is spending too much time deciding what to do, while admitting that it has only been a week into Trump’s presidency. They seem not to be taking the bait of being told they are the enemy. They really must ignore this misdirection and get on with reporting the damage, every single detail.

        1. dpaano January 27, 2017

          I find that many newspapers are starting to report the truth. I know that the LA Times, on a daily basis, calls out the president on the lies and “alternate facts” that he’s spouted the past week. If more newspapers did this, maybe someone will see the truth, especially his uninformed followers.

          1. sigrid28 January 27, 2017

            I’m encouraged by that. I would call for “report no lie without correcting it.” I think the cable news outlets do the worst job of correcting Trump’s lies because of the crawls across the bottom of the stream, reporting on his tweets, etc. These news outlets have also been the worst about paying Trump spokespersons to spew their mendacity-lite in an effort to grant equal time. Lies do not deserve equal time: they have to be refuted, that’s all.

        2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 27, 2017

          Thanks for your reply, but I’m just a squirrel trying to get some acorns, to use a variation on a slang expression.
          We’re all in this together, you and I, and must do what we can to resist this assault on commonsense and decency being waged by the storm troopers in the WH and in Congress.

          1. sigrid28 January 28, 2017

            In my opinion, you are doing and have done great service in your posts. I hope I did not imply anything to the contrary. While I admire your modesty and the humor of your squirrel analogy, I feel compelled to warn you that, as the saying goes, mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

          2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 28, 2017

            Thank you—I’ll keep trying. And I love that reference about mighty oaks. It’s amazing that everywhere one looks, from the tiniest subatomic particle traces to the trees, and out to the clusters of galaxies, spiritual principles are embodied in physical analogs.

            Have a great day, and don’t let the acorns with growths of pompadours on them fall on you.

      2. dpaano January 27, 2017

        Does anyone think that maybe Ivanka pressured her father into hiring her husband just so there would be a family member close at hand to keep him in check? She couldn’t do it because she’s too close and it would smack of nepotism, but her husband could easily do it. Not sure how much of a pull he has with the president, but someone has to keep a close eye on him or he’ll end up going completely off the deep end!

        1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth January 28, 2017

          Trump’s entire network of friends, family, and associates is like a giant rats’ network in underground New York City or under the neighborhoods in Back Bay Boston, with paths going in all directions of chaotic configurations, leading to dead-ends and vices.

  7. dpaano January 27, 2017

    No, it’s not normal, but what do we do about it now. It’s just a little too late to take the election back and ask for a “do-over.” The biggest problem is that the people that he lied to are his followers, the people who actually believe that he has their problems in his hands. He lied to them, he’s lying to everyone now, and he’ll continue to lie. It’s in his marrow. So, unless something comes up that is truly horrendous that will convince EVERYONE that he’s a liar, nothing will be done! We just have to hold on and pray a lot that someday soon, he’ll take himself down big time!

    Reply
    1. InformedVoter February 2, 2017

      Hello racist and bigot. I see you tried to explain to Aaron Of P that you have friends who are black, blah blah blah. I informed him of your use of racial slurs leading up to the election. You can deny all you wish, but the truth is out there for the world to see.

      Regarding “alternate facts” the real definition is that it’s the truth and that the MSM is using fake facts, generally made up facts. Lies like the bust of MLK was removed was printed by the MSM as being true, but the “alternate facts” shows that the bust is where it has always been. Lies like President Trump (doesn’t that sound great!) threatened the Mexican President that he would invade Mexico.
      Or how about the lies the MSM printed that HilLIARy was leading in the polls and that when President Trump (sounding better and better) claimed his “alternate facts/pools” showed he was actually leading, the MSM said he was lying.

      So when sources like NYT, WP, CNN, USA Today, etc make claims that are FAKE, made up even, the public understands this as a biased attack and ignore the lies. Hence they believe the “alternate facts”, which generally a true.

      And the lies that the Russians did the hacking and altered the election. NO intel agency has stated that the Russians did the hacking and the reason is that they can’t prove it! Meanwhile, ALL intel agencies stated that there is no way that the Russians altered the election.

      Yup, “alternate facts” are the truth and the fact that you lefties believe the lies the MSM is feeding you is a big reason why you are low information.

  8. hermadite January 27, 2017

    Dumpty Trumpty sat on his wall
    Dumpty Trumpty had a great fall
    None of the GOP heard his call
    They all laughed, partied and had a ball!

    Reply
    1. roguerunners January 28, 2017

      Hahahahaha!

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