Current Affairs

The “POTUS is a liar therefore he needs to be removed from office etc. etc.” meme

OK folks, time for an explanation. I am reading yet more of the usual nonsense about how the POTUS should be charged with treason (this idea has been popular amongst many authoritarians and nativists for a long long time).
When I inquired exactly why he should be charged with that crime, the person on Twitter who was firing off all manner of “hang him high” tweets came back with “because he told me I could keep my doctor under the ACA and now I can’t therefore he lied therefore he should be charged with treason”.
Sheesh. Where to begin.
First of all, lying is not treason. There is a specific definition of treason in most legal jurisdictions, and it requires a level of malfeasance (presenting a clear and present threat to the existence of a country) far in excess of simple lying. I don’t think that there is a cat-in-hells chance of charging a sitting president with treason on the grounds that he lied about the ACA.
Secondly, the statement by President Obama was certainly not true. However, I doubt if it meets the definition of a lie based on the evidence. A lie is a falsehood uttered by somebody who knew that it was false at the time that it was uttered. In order to prove legally that somebody lied, you have to provide proof that a person knew that they were saying something untrue when they originally said it. That is a high bar to clear.
Now if you want to start from the assumption that all politicians are liars, or that the POTUS is a liar, then you can define any mistaken utterance as a lie. However, that does not make it a lie. That is you overlaying your assumptions about behavior on other people’s statements.

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Fear, Fear, Fear…the psychosis of perpetual (bad) arousal

Fear, Fear, Fear…no sooner had the “second Ebola patient in Dallas” scare story fallen off my Facebook feed (probably because it will be at least 48 hours before we know for sure if that person has Ebola, and that is a lifetime in the sphere of news management), than I find recycled allegations that ISIS terrorists are marching across the border from Mexico into the USA popping up all over the place like molehills on a lawn after the rain.
Where do I start?
Firstly, it is election season. BS lies thick on the ground and flies through the air on all sides of the political spectrum in election season. A hell of a lot of the stories popping up right now are, or soon will be, revealed as total bullcrap. NOTE – If you happen to believe that only The Other Guys Do That, Not My Guys, then I suggest that you stop reading and toddle off to your sources of information. You probably won’t like the rest of this posting.
Secondly, it might be a good idea for people to stop thinking that just because a story appears in well-modulated prose on one or more websites, that it is somehow true. You can be distrustful of government (as I am) but that does not mean that any story that contradicts the government is therefore true. That is like assuming that your enemy’s enemy must be your friend, which is the kind of simplistic thinking that, starting in the 1950’s, keeps getting the USA into trouble overseas.
Thirdly, beware any story that uses suspiciously specific numbers contained in a rumour or allegation that is unsourced, or unattributably sourced. and delivered in a style designed to engender fear. Students of history will recall that Sen. Joseph McCarthy got up and running by calling a press conference, brandishing a piece of paper and claiming that it was a list of 205 Communists in the State Department. It turned out that his list was a figment of his imagination, but people were seduced by the superficial exactitude of his initial claims. Right now, the standard fear-induction process is at work in these allegations. First of all, it is “4 terrorists” (GASP), now it is “10 terrorists” (SHOCK HORROR). Folks, if you are going to immediately believe these types of undocumented unverified claims, I can’t be polite about this – you are almost certainly being played.
Fourth, when a politician or conspiracy theorist trying to get attention (but I am being tautological) claims that he will produce “proof”, “evidence” etc. to back up an uncorroborated and rumour-sourced allegation, be very very skeptical. People do that sort of thing all of the time when they have nothing of substance to back up their initial allegations and bloviations. It is merely a variant on the old showbiz trick of trailing bigger and better things and keeping your audience transfixed and waiting for more. I have been waiting for 3+ years for the “compelling evidence” that the POTUS is not a US citizen, and all I have seen is variants on “coming soon – this will be explosive”. It reminds me of the old placard you see affixed to the wall behind the bar in pubs in the UK (the one that says “free beer tomorrow”). Either you have the evidence, or you don’t.
Lastly, triangulate, triangulate, triangulate. There are websites that track what is actually happening on the border. They are not difficult to find.

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