WC has always thought the aphorisms like, “A lie can run around the world before the truth can pull its pants on,” were stupid. You know, the truth and all that. WC’s vocations, law and justice, to a considerable (but admittedly imperfect) extent, is the pursuit of truth. WC’s avocations, science and nature photography, also involve the pursuit of truth.
The President of the United States? Not so much.
Some of his recent whoppers:
• The President said during a meeting with US sheriffs Tuesday that the US murder rate “is the highest it’s been in 47 years.”
The reality is that the US murder rate in 2015, the latest year for which data are available, was much lower than it was 45 years prior.
The President’s statement is simply false. It’s not even close.
• The President claimed Senator Richard Blumenthal “misrepresented” a conversation that the senator had with Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. You know, that “any criticism” of judicial independence is “disheartening and demoralizing.”
No. Ron Bonjean, a spokesman aiding Gorsuch in the confirmation process, confirmed Blumenthal’s account of their conversation in an e-mail and said Gorsuch “used the words disheartening and demoralizing.” Another stupid lie.
• The President claimed, “I’m very much opposed to sanctuary cities. They breed crime. There’s a lot of problems.”
Nope. In an August 2016 study of roughly 80 jurisdictions, University of California at Riverside and Highline College researchers used FBI city-level crime data to see how violent and property crime rates changed after sanctuary policies were adopted. Then they compared each sanctuary city to a similarly situated, non-sanctuary city, based on census data and other variables. They found that “a sanctuary policy itself has no statistically meaningful effect on crime.” University of California at San Diego professor Tom Wong looked at 608 sanctuary counties and found lower rates of crime in those counties than in non-sanctuary counties. It’s just not true.
• The President said in ABC News interview that two people were shot dead in Chicago during President Obama’s farewell address.
This is directly contradicted by the Chicago police. And, according to the Chicago Tribune database, the city had no slayings for about 24 hours before and after Obama’s speech, which lasted from 8:02 to 8:53 p.m. A man was shot about 20 minutes after the speech about eight miles away in the West Side’s Lawndale neighborhood, but that victim survived, according to Police Department data.
So there are four complete whoppers. Sure, we can joke about “alternative facts” and going down the rabbit hole. But what are we to think about an adult who utters these kind of lies. Some of my friends, people I respect, see it as Orwellian, as a Hitlerian technique that’s a step on the road to fascism. But WC doesn’t think President Trumpster is capable of that kind of Machiavellian planning.
WC’s theory is that our President is mentally ill. The insecurity, the delusional behavior, the bizarre priorities and the paranoia all signal mental illness. Looking for a rational reason for irrational behavior is a fool’s game. WC will grant you that there are those in the President’s circle of advisors who might be seeking the kind of government WC’s friends worry about. But WC isn’t sure that the President listens to them, either.
WC will also acknowledge that the difference between a crypto-fascist wannabe and a mentally ill POTUS may not offer a lot of comfort. But we have laws and constitutional provisions in place for the latter.