One of the many reasons I prefer non-fiction is the simple fact that truth often is stranger than fiction.
Our latest example is that great national embarrassment, Donald J. Trump.
Time after time, Trump has shown a breathtaking ability to see, read, hear and deduce things that the rest of us mere mortals are either blind to or cannot comprehend.
“…my I.Q. is one of the highest,” Trump said in a 2013 tweet, “and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”
In an April commentary, (The Ethical Take, Two Updates and a “Bombshell”), I wrote about a story that appeared in The National Enquirer where the tabloid’s crack investigative “journalists” concluded – through positive, photographic evidence, mind you – that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael, associated with JFK assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald.
No sooner had The Enquirer hit the stands then, presto change-o, Trump’s super-human intelligence deduced some very shady shenanigans.
Fox and Friends (May 3): “Donald Trump questioned this morning Ted Cruz’s father’s connection to JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, highlighting a National Enquirer report on the subject.
“ ‘His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being, you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,’ Trump said. ‘Nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.’ ”
Notice Trump never actually says that Rafael Cruz assisted Oswald or knew of a plot against President Kennedy, he just implies: “His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald…”
Well, boys and girls, Trump implies no more. America’s own Stephen Hawking of business, politics, and… whatever, has doubled-down… again!
As reported by FactCheck.org (July 22), “A day after accepting the Republican presidential nomination, Trump touted the national tabloid [The National Enquirer] as a credible source worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, and said the newspaper would not have run the photo if it was ‘wrong.’ Moreover, Trump said, the Cruz camp ‘never denied’ that it was Rafael Cruz in the photo with the man who assassinated President John F. Kennedy.
“That’s all nonsense,” FactCheck Managing Editor Robert Farley writes.
“As we wrote on May 3, the thinly sourced story hangs largely on comments from an expert who told the paper that a photo of an unidentified man handing out pro-Fidel Castro leaflets with Oswald has ‘more similarity than dissimilarity’ with a passport photo of Cruz’s father, Rafael.
“The photo expert, Mitch Goldstone, president and CEO of ScanMyPhotos, a California-based digitizing photo service, was quoted in the Enquirer story — ‘Ted Cruz Father Linked to JFK Assassination!’ — as saying, ‘[I]t looks to be the same person and I can say as much with a high degree of confidence.’
“Note the parsing of words,” Farley continues. “He wasn’t saying with a high degree of certainty that it is Rafael Cruz. He’s saying with a high degree of certainty that it ‘looks to be the same person.’
“Goldstone told us in a phone interview that he never claimed the man in the picture with Oswald was definitely Rafael Cruz, and he called Trump’s unqualified assertion that it is Cruz ‘stupid.’ Goldstone said he compared, by eye, the photo of the unidentified man in the picture with Oswald with a passport photo of a young Rafael Cruz, and concluded ‘They look pretty close.’ …
“ ‘Now, Ted never denied that it was his father,’ Trump said in his post-convention remarks, adding later, ‘But they never denied. Did anybody ever deny that it was the father?’
“In fact,” Farley adds, “they have.
“ ‘This is another garbage story in a tabloid full of garbage,’ [Cruz] Communications Director Alice Stewart told McClatchy. ‘The story is false; that is not Rafael in the picture.’
“ ‘It’s ludicrous, it’s ludicrous,’ Rafael Cruz told ABC News on May 3. ‘I was never in New Orleans at that time.’ ”
FactCheck rates the claim, a second time… False.
FactCheck also examined Trump’s RNC acceptance speech (July 22), in which he promised “there will be no lies,” and then proceeds to distort, twist and manipulate like a pro. Here are just a few:
“Trump said after Clinton’s four years as secretary of state, ‘Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons.’ But Iran was already on a path to acquiring nuclear weapons. At issue is whether the nuclear deal will prevent Iran, as intended, from becoming a nuclear power.”
“Trump claimed Clinton ‘illegally’ stored emails on her private server while secretary of state, and deleted 33,000 to cover-up ‘her crime.’ But the FBI cleared Clinton of criminal wrongdoing, and found no evidence of a cover-up.
“Trump said that ‘there’s no way to screen’ Syrian refugees to determine ‘who they are or where they come from.’ But all refugees admitted to the U.S. go through an extensive vetting process that takes 18 to 24 months to complete.
“Trump claimed Clinton ‘plans a massive … tax increase,’ but tax experts say 95 percent of taxpayers would see ‘little or no change’ in their taxes under Clinton’s plan.”
FactCheck did highlight some correct statements by Trump, but with qualifiers:
“Trump was correct to say that ‘homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s 50 largest cities,’ but criminology and statistics experts disagree with his conclusion that a one-year increase in some cities means that ‘decades of progress made in bringing down crime are now being reversed.’ ”
Of course the Einstein of Everything has never changed his claim of events on 9/11.
As reported by ABC News: “ ‘Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering,’ Trump said at a campaign rally in Birmingham, Alabama on Nov. 19.”
Politifact writes (Nov. 22, 2015), “This defies basic logic. If thousands and thousands of people were celebrating the 9/11 attacks on American soil, many people beyond Trump would remember it. And in the 21st century, there would be video or visual evidence.
“Instead, all we found were a couple of news articles that described rumors of celebrations that were either debunked or unproven.”
Politifact labeled Trump’s claim Pants-on-Fire false, the same rating it gave Trump’s suggestion that Rafael Cruz “was with Lee Harvey Oswald” before the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Last year, the Pulitzer Prize-winning organization awarded Trump its annual “Lie of the Year,” not for any one particular lie, but for an avalanche of campaign misstatements. “No other politician,” Politifact wrote at the time, “has as many statements rated so far down on the dial.”
And this year promises much of the same. As of this date, Politifact has checked 146 statements made by Trump: just 15 percent were rated True or Mostly True; 16 percent, Half-True; 53 percent False or Mostly False; and 17 percent were rated Pants-on-Fire false. Trump’s pants are on fire more than he tells the truth!
On December 31, 2015, FactCheck.org dubbed Trump, the “King of Whoppers.”
(In fairness, FactCheck also took Hillary Clinton to task for her own “whoppers,” last year.)
Nonetheless, in March of this year, Washington Post Fact-Checker Glenn Kessler wrote, “There’s never been a presidential candidate like Donald Trump — someone so cavalier about the facts and so unwilling to ever admit error, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.
“As of July 14, 63 percent (33 of 52) of our rulings of his statements turned out to be Four Pinocchios, our worst rating. By contrast, most politicians tend to earn Four Pinocchios 10 to 20 percent of the time.”
When it comes to lies, Donald J. Trump is The Lyin’ King.
Saddest of all, however, are all those supporters who continue to ignore or believe whatever comes out his mouth. Such is the state of willful ignorance on the part of far too many Americans.