In typical fashion yesterday, Trump took questions from the media at a law enforcement panel and lied through his teeth about the coronavirus pandemic. Trump said “we have the lowest mortality or just about the lowest mortality in the world,” which was patently false. In fact, there are only six nations with a higher (worse) per capita mortality rate than ours. Trump also complained, yet again, that virus testing “creates cases”, also an absurd and utterly false fantasy. Testing for cancer doesn’t create cancer, just like testing for pregnancy doesn’t get a woman pregnant. But Trump, ever the con-man, can’t help but lie his face off if it makes him look bigger to his cult. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank penned a wonderful editorial yesterday that began with this memorable and accurate line:
Whenever you are asked to name the lowest moment in the Trump presidency, one answer is almost always correct: Tomorrow.
At this point nobody expects Trump to tell the truth, and yet we can’t allow his fictions to become acceptable or normalized–much less his abuses of power and blatant corruption. As many observers of political history have pointed out, the most notable and destructive part of authoritarianism or fascism is not the corrupt leader–because the leader won’t live forever–but rather the elimination of objective truth. As in George Orwell’s novel 1984, the authoritarian leader demands that citizens accept as true whatever the leader says. What is two plus two? Whatever we say it is!
Unfortunately, thinking and reasoning and staying informed require a lot of work. It’s hard to live with the ambiguities of everyday life. And authoritarians take advantage of this fact and give lazy or exhausted citizens a way out. Authoritarians demand blind loyalty and trust, and in return promise to provide a safe and prosperous country. But the price also includes intellectual freedom, and it usually includes corruption on a massive scale. Authoritarians often rob their nation blind while pretending to govern. An excellent piece in The National Review by Bruce Bartlett details how conservatives have been working for years on discrediting science, knowledge and learning. Many well educated and “elite” members of the Republican party have used faux populism to bash liberals and score political points even when they didn’t believe their own bullshit. But Bartlett points out,
…adopting faux populism and anti-intellectualism for purely political purposes eventually leads practitioners to take their own rhetoric literally and denigrate expertise as something to be distrusted per se.
And that’s where we are with today’s Trumpublican party. After decades of lies and distortions by the Fox network, Trump’s cult now actually believe that Trump is smarter than Fauci, or that masks deprive the brain of oxygen, or that Covid 19 is a hoax, or whatever nonsense serves today’s profit priorities. Here’s a link to Bartlett’s article:
As we move toward the 2020 election and engage with our fellow citizens, one of the many things we need to advocate and support are experts and institutions of learning.
On the local front, the Poughkeepsie City Council passed a Right To Know Act. Their press release described it as:
A police transparency law that will require police officers to identify themselves, name the reason for a stop or encounter, and provide information on the complaint process at the end of the encounters that do not result in an arrest of summons.
Also on the local front, it looks like the official winner of the NY 19 Republican primary is Kyle Van De Water of Millbrook. It’s worth pointing out that Van De Water only had a few thousand dollars in his campaign fund as of the last reporting period compared with Rep Delgado’s war chest of over a million. It’s also telling that the 2020 Republican primary elicited a total of 19,526 votes, while the 2018 Democratic primary registered a total of 38,808 votes (Source: Nathaniel Wice). Democrats got more than twice as many voters to the polls!
Let’s stay as motivated in November as we were in 2018. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”