Saturday, September 26, 2015

If Donald Trump Lied Better, He Would Be Carly Fiorina

Politico's Glenn Thrush writes that Politifact "has rated 50 of Trump’s recent statements flagged by staff or readers and found that around three-quarters are either partly false, false or 'pants on fire' lies. None of them were rated completely 'true.'"  He considers especially damning three falsehoods about Trump's own biography, as well as one about policy.

The Art of the Deal is among the best-selling business books of all time, but not the best-selling as Trump claims.  Further, he's not worth $10 billion but perhaps as little as $4 billion and is not of Swedish descent as he says he is, but rather of German background.  And as almost everyone realizes, immigrants are coming to the USA of their own accord rather than because the Mexican government has been sending them.

Donald Trump will never pass a lie-detector test, and his boasts about himself themselves may eventually become stuff of legend.  However, there is one major Republican candidate whose dishonesty rivals that of the front-runner. Dave Roberts of Vox recently reported on an interview by Katie Couric of Carly Fiorina (video below) which addressed the issue of climate change.

Fiorina made several statements inconsistent with objective reality. She claimed California "destroys lives and livelihoods with environmental regulations," though as Roberts notes

between 1993 and 2013, thanks to energy efficiency, the average residential electricity bill in California declined, on an inflation-adjusted basis, by 4 percent, even as bills rose elsewhere in the country. Between 1990 and 2012, the state cut per-capita carbon emissions by 25 percent even as its GDP increased by 37 percent. Its total carbon emissions are declining, even as its economy continues to grow.

Oh, and California created more jobs than any other state in the nation last year, with the fifth-highest GDP growth rate. And its budget is balanced.

Fiorina argued also "China could care less" if the USA tries to reduce carbon. It turns out that China could care less. It could care far less because

China clearly cares what the US does; it would not have made the promises it did in its climate pact with the US if Obama had not made policy gestures of good faith. It's true that China, like any country, acts primarily in its own interests, not based on what America does. But that's precisely why it's investing more in clean energy than any other country in the world ($89.5 billion to the US's $51.8 billion in 2014), even as it puts increasingly tight restrictions on coal, leading its coal consumption to decline for the first time in years. It cares very much about reducing its crippling air pollution and dominating 21st-century growth industries.

Roberts observed Fiorina contending both "coal provides half the energy in this nation still" and "to say we're basically going to outlaw coal, which is what this administration has done." However, Roberts has found, coal provides only 20% of the total primary energy consumed in the nation. Under the Clean Power Plan, it's expected to provide 27% of the country's electricity n 2030, which is a far cry from being "outlawed."

Fiorina maintains also "Solar is great, but solar takes huge amounts of water" but Roberts recognizes

No, it doesn't.

All of the distributed rooftop solar in the US and 84 percent of utility-scale solar projects use solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, which require no water at all save what's needed to keep their surfaces clean.

Roberts details five other statements about climate change, each of them grossly misleading or flat-out lies, made by the candidate.

You get the idea. But you already suspected Fiorina was a serial liar when her claim of a "fully formed fetus on the table, it’s heart beating, it’s legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain" was revealed as a hoax.  Chris Ostendorf points out

Fiorina may have been referring to was an anti-abortion documentary called Human Capital, which does include footage of a moving fetus. However, that scene was not filmed at Planned Parenthood. The documentary also includes an interview with a former procurement technician—a biomedical research company employee who obtains fetal tissue—who claims that she was once commanded to extract brain tissue from an aborted fetus.

It’s impossible to prove whether the technician was telling the truth about her experiences, but the real problem is that Human Capital does not actually contain any footage like the moment Fiorina described.

No problem there, however. The Washington Post explains

Other campaigns have climbed down from similar claims about the videos. Fiorina and her allies have done no such thing. Three days after the debate, CARLY for America – the PAC that legally has to keep its distance from Fiorina’s actual campaign – put together a video that spliced the candidate’s answer with different clips. The viewer, hearing about the controversy but unaware of the original videos, might think that Fiorina nailed it.

Somewhat chastened, most candidates would apologize, attempt a clarification, or ignore the myth their candidate tried to create.  Instead, here there is, in the words of Dahlia Lithwick, "no walk-back, no clarification, just a persistent insistence that a video that doesn’t exist and can’t even be manufactured in the underground labs of political deception is really out there...."

Then there is the series of claims about foreign policy Fiorina made in the last debate when she bragged

What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet, I would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland, I would conduct regular, aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states. I’d probably send a few thousand more troops into Germany...

We could rebuild the Sixth Fleet. I will. We haven’t. We could rebuild the missile defense program. We haven’t. I will.

Chis Hayes, however, pointed out

Start with her first statement there, what I would do immediately is begin rebuilding the sixth fleet. As Stars and Stripes notes, Fiorina`s meaning wasn`t immediately clear. The sixth fleet is less a collection of ships than a command structure for operating American warships, moreover the fleet is one of the few growing military commands in Europe.

Fiorina then said she would begin rebuilding the missile defense program in Poland. But while one missile defense program there was scuttled, Poland is actually leading Eastern European missile defense efforts and plans to install a new system in 2018. Fiorina then vowed to conduct regular aggressive military exercises in the Baltic states, which would be fine, although you might not think that`s a good idea, but that is already happening as you can see from these images from U.S.-led military exercises in where else, the Baltics, that took place in June. Finally, Fiorina said she`d probably send a few more thousand troops into Germany. There are currently more than 44,000 troops in Germany. So it`s hard to see how a few thousand would make that much of a difference.

Glenn Thrush shouldn't be bewildered or aghast that Donald Trump has misled voters about his personal background, given that the candidate whose popularity has risen most of late

plays fast and loose with highly misleading metrics, changing the goal posts by manipulating peer comparisons. Fiorina brags that she doubled revenues—but she cut value in half. She talks about doubling employment at HP when all she did was combine the employment of two huge firms—and then lay off 30,000 employees. She presents her story as rags to riches saga, from secretary to CEO, when in fact she is the daughter of a Duke University Law School dean and a federal Appeals Court judge. She just worked for a few months as a receptionist after dropping out of UCLA law school.

Carly Fiorina sets out to mislead listeners more than her rivals, although falsehoods are standard practice for this crew. She does, moreover, make false statements with an unrivaled sense of certainty. Because she probably knows better, her style style resembles less what the late nutritionist Carlton Fredericks referred to as "opinionated ignorance" than the approach of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.  His veneer of righteous outrage won him a pass from the Senate Judiciary Committee, its chairperson Joe Biden, and from the US Senate. He got a seat on the US Supreme Court and so far, her scam has gotten Carly Fiorina a pass from most of the mainstream media.

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