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Misspeaking and Liars

Misspoke!  Did you ever wonder exactly what that word meant but were too lazy to look it up?  It means “to express oneself insufficiently clearly or accurately”.  So, when Hillary Clinton gave a story about being under fire when she visited the Balkans, she DIDN’T lie, even though none of it was remotely true.  She “misspoke” according to her campaign.  She just wasn’t clear that she MEANT to be telling a lie. Yes, that’s it.  She meant to be telling a lie.

Most politicians exaggerate and, if caught, can simply say that they misspoke.  Technically they are often right, they “misspoke”.  So, where is the boundary?  Let’s look at Donald Trump:

imagesDonald is a world class liar.  Now it is true that Ted Cruz comes close, but no one beats The Donald.  Some of the better newspapers in the US, such as the Washington Post which I am most familiar with have fact checkers that could spend 50 hours in a day checking out his statements.  Let’s take a look.

On March 21 Mr. Trump gave an interview with Charlotte Sykes, a reporter for the Washington Post.  He talked a lot about NATO.  NATO was established right after World War II with 12 members, the US, Canada, and the Western Europe nations.  There are now 28 members.  How much a country pays is dependent on its Gross Domestic Product.  We pay 22% of the NATO costs, the UK pays 8%, etc.  That money includes such things as headquarters upkeep, fuel for AWACS planes, etc.  Trump claimed that we spend “billions and billions” of dollars on NATO.  Actually we spent $500 million last year.  That is 1/2 billion. No one really disputes (except Donald) that the allotment seems to be fair.  No one is complaining – except Donald.

Now, in other military spending it is true that we spend more.  We do that because research and development is very expensive.  We hope to have the best aircraft carriers, the fastest fighters, the most accurate missiles, etc.  Germany, for example, might decide that they need the fastest fighter but they certainly don’t need, for example, aircraft carriers.  We have made a lot of military commitments that are not a part of our NATO commitment.  We want it all and seem willing to spend what it takes.

Now, above, I mentioned “Gross Domestic Product” as a determiner for NATO spending.  The guideline is 2% of our Gross Domestic Product.  We as well as four other NATO nations are actually exceeding that.  Let’s not forget that the only time in its history that the NATO nations went to war because of treaty commitments was when the US was attacked on 9/11.  The NATO nations sent whatever was asked from the US – and it was quite a bit!  There Germans, Italians, French, etc., showed themselves to be very good in combat, and showed that they were well trained, and their weapons worked well.

Trump was simply wrong on NATO funding.  To say that other nations are paying “Virtually Nothing”, is absolutely false.  He shouldn’t be making such claims if his campaign is not prepared to explain or back them up.  If he wins the election, he will have offended a lot of nations that he will have to work with.

So, what else? Politifacts has claimed that 90% of Donald Trump’s statements have been considered dishonest.  Cal Thomas, a conservative writer for the conservative Washington Times discussed Mr. Trump’s claim that he will negotiate the price of drugs with the pharmaceutical companies and save us Americans $300 billion.  He, of course, doesn’t say how he will pull that off and his conservative followers don’t seem to care.  If Trump says it, it must be true.  Let’s be clear, he is claiming that he will save Americans 4-times the entire cost of the entire Medicare prescription drug system.  Is that remotely plausible?

What about his border wall.  Needless to say, unless we are really willing to go to war with Mexico, the Mexicans are surely not going to pay for the wall.  We export a lot of stuff to Mexico and that wall will hurt us, maybe, even more than it will hurt Mexico.  As former Mexican President Calderon once said, “We love American products”.   In 2013 Mexico bought $226 billion of our products.  Are we willing to simply stop selling those products?

As Cal Thomas said, if Mr. Trump wins the presidency, it will show that American politics has transformed from serious business to the biggest reality show of them all.  Well, that is probably the only thing that Trump does well.

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