Alternative facts in today’s DOD, Trump, & what the Bible tells us!

January 10, 2019 
Tomgram: Rebecca Gordon, Confronting “Alternative Facts
They are unending. There’s no way to keep up, much less respond
effectively, and it almost goes without saying that they are never to be
taken back, corrected, or amended in any way. Call them false claims, lies, untruths, misstatements, whatever you want, but they are what comes
out of his mouth just about anytime he opens it. Take, for instance, that
moment as 2018 ended when, in a blacked-out plane, he landed at
al-Asad Air Base in Iraq for a three-hour presidential visit with the
troops. It was there that he swore (as he had before) that he had won
those troops a 10% pay raise for 2019 and that, to do so, he had fought it
out in the trenches with unnamed military officials. (“They said, you
know, we could make it smaller. We could make it 3%. We could make it 2%. We could make it 4%.’ I said, ‘No. Make it 10%. Make it more than
10%.’”) He insisted as well that they hadn’t had a raise, not just of such a monumental sort but of any kind, in “more than 10 years.” As it happens, what were once known as the facts went like this: those troops last
received a pay raise — of 2.4% — in 2018 (and every year before that for
three decades); the 2019 pay raise is for 2.6%, not 10%; and those
unnamed military officials evidently won! 

For any half-normal president that would have been the trifecta: three outlandish falsehoods in a single try, but for Donald Trump it was just the modest, everyday demonstration of his remarkable ability to adjust reality to his needs, desires, and fantasies, and (as Jean-Luc Picard would once have said) “Make it so”! After all, for the man who, according to Washington Post fact-checkers, managed to make almost 6,000 “false and misleading claims” in 2018 alone, more than 15 a day and almost triple his record-setting pace of the previous year, that was nothing. Land him at al-Asad again in the middle of the night and don’t for a second think he couldn’t do better. 

And maybe his example should free us up. After all, only the other day I was myself advising The Donald that, while the government is partially
shut, he should begin building a 10-foot “Great Wall” around the White
House, give himself a 10% pay raise, make Ivanka his secretary of defense, and send Jared to Afghanistan to evaluate the situation there — and if
you don’t believe that, let me tell you another one. Or, alternatively, I
might suggest that you check out TomDispatch regular Rebecca Gordon’s account of what it means to live in a world in which the presidential
“credibility gap” that was the heart and soul of the long-gone Vietnam era is now an artifact of Mesopotamian history amid the “incredibility
chasm” of the present moment. Tom

A Twenty-First-Century
Incredibility Chasm 
Life in the United States of Trump 
By Rebecca Gordon
In one of the Bible stories about the death of Jesus, local collaborators
with the Roman Empire haul him before Pontius Pilate, the imperial
governor of Palestine. Although the situation is dire for one of them, the
two engage in a bit of epistemological banter. Jesus allows that his work
is about telling the truth and Pilate responds with his show-stopping
query: “What is truth?”Pilate’s retort is probably not the first example in history of a powerful ruler challenging the very possibility that some
things might be true and others lies, but it’s certainly one of the best
known. As the tale continues, the Gospel of John proceeds to impose its
own political truth on the narrative. It describes an interaction that, 
according to historians, is almost certainly a piece of fiction: Pilate offers an angry crowd assembled at his front door a choice: he will free either Jesus or a man named Barabbas. The loser will be crucified.

“Now,” John tells us, “Barabbas had taken part in an uprising” against the Romans. When the crowd chooses to save him, John condemns them for preferring such a rebel over the man who told the “truth” — the
revolutionary zealot, that is, over the Messiah.What, indeed, is truth? As Pilate implies and John’s tale suggests, it seems to depend on who’s
telling the story — and whose story we choose to believe. Could truth, in
other words, just be a matter of opinion? Click here to read more of this dispatch.

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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