Steve Russell :
Truth in an age of post-factual politics

Since the arrival of The Donald, U.S. politics is a fact-free zone. The truth simply no longer matters.

Steve Bannon, back at Breitbart News, is backing convicted felon Michael Grimm for Congress. Caricature by DonkeyHotey / Flickr.

By Steve Russell | The Rag Blog | October 16, 2017

Congressman Michael Grimm (R-NY) was not happy being questioned by a TV reporter for NY1, Michael Scotto, about a pending investigation into Grimm’s campaign fundraising. Grimm walked away and Scotto had signed off… but the camera was still running when Grimm returned, and told Scotto, “Let me be clear to you, you ever do that to me again and I’ll throw you off this fucking balcony.”

He was speaking of the balcony in the United States Capitol and threatening the reporter with a 48-foot fall ending with a sudden stop on a marble floor. Survival would be chancy.

The video became confused with both men talking until Grimm ended the conversation, “No, no, you’re not man enough, you’re not man enough. I’ll break you in half. Like a boy.” Apparently noticing the camera was rolling, Grimm hurried away.

Reached that evening, Grimm doubled down and blamed the reporter for what was unfortunately for his story on video. He apologized the next day.

The investigation led to a 20-count
federal indictment.

The investigation that touched off the reporter’s question and Grimm’s ire led to a 20-count federal indictment. He pled guilty to one count of tax fraud and signed a statement admitting to underreporting wages and sales in his restaurant from 2007 to 2010 and committing perjury in a lawsuit by his employees and filing false business and personal tax returns.

Judge Pamela K. Chen, suggesting that his moral compass needed some reorientation, sentenced Grimm to eight months in the Club Fed. He resigned from Congress and did his time. Released from prison in September of 2017, he now is running for his former seat.

Appearing to bless Grimm’s candidacy at the announcement was Stephen K. Bannon, until recently working in the White House as President Donald J. Trump’s “Chief Strategist.” Bannon’s proximity to the presidential ear is credited with cementing the support of the white nationalist movement, withdrawal from the Paris Accord on climate change, and Trump’s executive order excluding Syrian refugees from the U.S. Bannon emphatically denies being a white nationalist, preferring “economic nationalist.”

In Bannon’s first interview granted to any outlet but his former platform, Breitbart News, since the election, he famously told CNN:

Darkness is good: Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.

Bannon returned to the starboard ramparts of U.S. media at Breitbart News.

In August, Steve Bannon left employment at the White House, apparently the loser in a power struggle with new Chief of Staff John Kelly, who represents the GOP establishment’s latest attempt to place a grownup in the room with Trump. Bannon returned to his station on the starboard ramparts of U.S. media at Breitbart News, from which he declared war on the Republican establishment.

The first battle in Bannon’s war on the GOP was the U.S. Senate primary in Alabama for the seat formerly held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The primary pitted incumbent Luther Strange (supported by Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and boatloads of money poured into the race by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell) against former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore, supported by Bannon. Moore had been removed from the court twice for ethical lapses, failure to obey a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse in one case and instructing Alabama judges to ignore the Supreme Court’s opinion on gay marriage in the other.

Bannon’s candidate polled 54.6 percent to 45.4 percent for the candidate Trump went to Alabama to boost. The establishment spent $137.57 for each vote while Bannon’s insurgent only parted with $7.63 per vote. Incinerated in the bonfire of Republican money was $9 million out of McConnell’s super pac and another million dropped in Strange’s tin cup by the NRA.

Round one of Bannon’s revolution nominated a man removed from office twice over ethics violations. Round two has Bannon backing Michael Grimm, a convicted felon freshly out of prison. How in the world, sane people might ask, can Bannon hope to elect a man to Congress who threatened to maim a reporter for doing his job?

Perhaps Bannon — the architect of Trump’s war on the media — was watching another election this year, wherein Greg Gianforte got to be the Republican congressman from Montana after body-slamming a reporter for The Guardian, Ben Jacobs, less than 24 hours before the election. The Billings Gazette, the Independent Record, and The Missoulian withdrew their endorsements. The Crow tribe stuck with Gianforte, as did the “businessman and television personality” Donald Trump, Jr. President Donald Trump made a robo-call for Gianforte.

Bernie Sanders campaigned for the Democratic candidate, folk singer Rob Quist.

Bernie Sanders endorsed and campaigned for the Democratic candidate, folk singer Rob Quist. The Democrat could, I suppose, be accused of support from the Hollywood elite, because he was endorsed by Jeff Bridges, Michael Keaton, Alyssa Milano, and Bill Pullman.

The attack on Jacobs was precipitated by a question about the newly released Congressional Budget Office scoring of the (late, unlamented) Republican health care bill. GOP leadership had insisted the vote be taken before the CBO scoring, but Gianforte was being asked his position at a time when he had the full story. Therefore, he could endorse the bill if he wished but if he chose to come out against it, the CBO had handed him cover.

Gianforte had gotten through the campaign without taking a position on the hottest issue in Washington at the time and apparently did not wish to give up that advantage a day before the election. His assault on Jacobs was on audiotape and within the presence of a Fox TV crew.

A spokesman for the Gianforte campaign, Shane Scanlon, released a statement that was transparently false. He claimed Jacobs is a “liberal journalist” who had grabbed the candidate and had asked “badgering questions.”

Alicia Acuna, a Fox reporter who saw the whole thing from “about two feet away” said “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him. Faith, Keith and I watched in disbelief as Gianforte then began punching the reporter.” She added, “at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte.”

Scanlon’s false statement stood until the votes were counted, at which time the new congressman withdrew the lie and apologized for the assault at a time when a criminal charge was pending. What he did not apologize for was the lie.

Do lies matter in post-factual politics?

Do lies matter in post-factual politics? Chris Hayes proposed that Shane Scanlon, who put his name to the lies, would not be effective if he went to Washington with Gianforte, because he will have no credibility.

With apologies to Hayes, his analysis makes some quaint assumptions about modern politics.

Both the legal profession (a common gateway for politics) and the rules of legislative bodies have — contrary to popular belief — cultural standards of truthfulness.

Lawyers understand that it’s hard to make money practicing law if you can’t make verbal agreements with other lawyers. Judges have short lists of lawyers that can’t be trusted and there is a monetary price to being on those lists when you have to reduce everything to writing and you have to show face to accomplish tasks trustworthy lawyers handle with a phone call.

Legislators disadvantaged by a reputation for dissembling have trouble accomplishing something as simple as amending a bill during floor debate. When you drop an amendment on a bill and there have been no lobbyists touting your amendment door to door, other legislators must trust your statement of what you are doing or, having a doubt, they will vote you down before taking a risk if you have lied in the past.

Selling legislation is not like selling used cars; everybody is a repeat customer.

I am reminded of what persons of all political stripes used to say about Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) when he was in the state senate: “He’s so honest you could shoot craps with him on the telephone.” Selling legislation is not like selling used cars; everybody is a repeat customer.

Born and raised in a small town, I come from a situation where you can’t be anonymous. Reputation always mattered. I’ll cheerfully admit that my background may predispose me to place an excessive value on truth, but I can’t believe my predisposition is the only reason I believe Donald Trump has led us to unfamiliar territory.

Reporting incorrectly or making a mistake will naturally create political problems, but I always thought an intentional lie uncovered would end a political career. I have been so wrong about that.

The New York Times only started trying to count Donald Trump’s lies on January 21, 2017. That choice of starting date sounds odd to me, but you can’t be influencing the election by telling the truth, right?

I’ve been trying to understand how lies got to be so normal. Bill Clinton famously claimed, “I did not have sex with that woman.” Clinton survived that and I have run across many college students since then who claim oral sex does not count. Did that come from resisting the idea that the POTUS would lie?

Around the same time in U.S. political history, there was the Newt Gingrich Congress. I remember lots of hyperbole and hypocrisy taken to a whole new level when many of those in Congress tut-tutting over Bill Clinton’s sexual impropriety were shown to be doing the same thing at the same time.

Hypocrisy is only lying by implication.

Hyperbolic speech is not lying. Hypocrisy is only lying by implication.

During the next presidential campaign, somebody mailed a selection of George W. Bush’s debate preparation materials to the Al Gore campaign. The materials came to former Congressman Thomas J. Dewey, who called the FBI. An employee of Bush’s media consultant served a year in prison and three years on probation.

While we were lied into the second invasion of Iraq, the lying was only chargeable to President Bush on the “captain of the ship” theory. Looking back on the deadly lies, they appear to have originated in the Vice President’s office, including the misrepresentation of classified materials and the planting of lies in The New York Times by cultivating Judith Miller.

Vice President Cheney has not stood for election again and most of his co-conspirators were not products of electoral politics. Scooter Libby, a Cheney person who turned out to be Judith Miller’s confidential source, was saved from the consequences of his felony conviction by presidential clemency.

Barack Obama is to my knowledge the only POTUS to ever have his State of the Union address interrupted by a shout of “You lie!” At the time of the shout, what Obama was saying was about the position of undocumented immigrants in the health care law he would sign.

It was not possible for Obama to lie about that matter. If memory serves, there were five bills at various stages. Obama was saying what he would sign when it came to his desk.

Later, Obama was called a liar for claiming that people could keep their health insurance even if it did not have all the coverage that was required by Obamacare. He was not lying. There was in fact a grandfather clause for non-conforming policies. He could not anticipate the lengths to which the insurance companies would go to get rid of the low dollar and low coverage and therefore low profit policies. Obamacare exempted existing policies from the minimum coverage requirement. It would have been difficult to require insurance companies to offer policies they no longer wished to have on the menu. So the insurance companies cancel — something they could have done anyway — and Obamacare gets blamed.

It became fashionable to say Obama lied, which, ironically, was a lie.

That’s an argument we could have, about whether forcing the issue would have been a good idea. We didn’t have the argument but it became fashionable to say Obama lied, which, ironically, was a lie.

Of course, the grandest accusation against Obama was the one adopted by Donald Trump when he was playing the birther. If Obama were not born in the U.S., then he had lied when he signed any number of forms that claimed otherwise.

Trump staked out turf on the other side of the question about Obama’s citizenship. “His people” were in Hawaii investigating Obama’s birth certificate. We “won’t believe what they are finding.” We are still waiting to experience this flush of disbelief.

The birther scenario always seemed to me to require superhuman abilities in Obama’s parents, but Trump never bothered to produce the evidence he claimed to have uncovered. In the end, there were not two sides to weigh. Why was that not the end of Trump’s political ambitions?

Since the arrival of The Donald, U.S. politics is a fact-free zone. The truth simply no longer matters. Looking back over the politics through which I’ve lived, there are lies here and there.

The sainted Dwight Eisenhower lied
about the U2 incident.

The sainted Dwight Eisenhower lied about the U2 incident and was proved a liar by the Soviets when they produced the pilot Eisenhower had claimed did not exist.

LBJ ramped up the Vietnam War based on the Gulf of Tonkin lie.

Richard Nixon tried to lie his way through the Watergate scandal.

The difference between then and now was that getting caught lying carried consequences. Ike’s lie blew an impending summit meeting out of the water. LBJ’s lie was one of the first dominoes to fall in a row that would destroy his chances for reelection. Nixon’s lies helped boost his articles of impeachment out of committee, an event that led to his resignation.

That was then and this is now and lies seem to have escaped political consequences. If truth no longer has value, how do we tell our kids to be truthful? I try to tell my grandkids what I was told about truth but they are not stupid and they will notice a gap between what I say and how the world acts.

My grandkids are not rude enough to say these things out loud but I am not stupid enough to miss what they must be thinking.

I tell them to keep their hands to themselves and they wonder if I noticed that Greg Gianforte didn’t do that and now they call him “Congressman” and Michael Grimm is following close behind.

I tell them not to lie and they wonder if I noticed Donald Trump riding to the presidency on a magic carpet of lies and that he appears to be governing without improving his relationship with the truth.

The only values I know to offer my grandkids are still found in the public libraries. They are just a bit harder to find now that they are shelved under “fiction.”


[Steve Russell comes to The Rag Blog after writing for The Rag from 1969 to the mid-seventies. He is retired from a first career as a trial court judge in Texas and a second career as a university professor that began at The University of Texas-San Antonio. He is now associate professor emeritus of criminal justice at Indiana University-Bloomington. Russell is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a ninth grade dropout. He is living in Sun City, just north of Austin, and working on a third career as a freelance writer. His current project is a book of autobiographical essays explaining how an Indian ninth grade dropout was able to become a judge and a professor without picking up a high school diploma or a GED.He can be reached at swrussel@indiana.edu. ]

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13 Responses to Steve Russell :
Truth in an age of post-factual politics

  1. Larry says:

    I think it’s the liar and not the lies that distinguish this political era. There have always been lies, tiny and mammoth, that have held sway. I even think that Trump being a pathological liar is not the primary part of his problem and ours. Add that he’s a pathologically lying sadistic sociopath in the middle of an exacerbated narcissistic rage – THE WORLD CAN’T DO RIGHT ENOUGH BY ME – and now ‘We have a problem, Houston and Puerto Rico’.

    The lying has come out of the shadows and become grossly manifest, partly due to the era of hyperextended mass communication, and Trump is schooling everyone in the only Trump University he could ever legitimately claim was teaching someone anything. He’s giving a Master Class in how to get away with lying. Now that to me seems to be what the problem is.

    Also, the lying that has been dragged and launched out of the shadows is bringing enough of the shadow with it to cast darkness on the truth. And that is the biggest part of the problem.

  2. It’s like walking through a pasture at night. I use the analogy almost reflexly at least twice a week. The full text is “40 years in Texas will make you learn how to instantly recognize bullshit, what it looks and smells like and how it sounds and feels when you step in it.” I didn’t believe, mistakenly, that Louisiana would vote republican again after Katrina, or a large minority of Americans would openly endorse “Klandidates” even though I had seen it election after election in El Paso and Ft Worth.

    I get a bit jaded. I don’t even wonder anymore why Halliburton, who consider Harris County and beyond as being their fiefdom… wouldn’t clean up their yard for free.

    I talked to Mom on the phone the other day, she’s in Euless, says there’s a second flood caused by Harvey, refugees from Houston who ain’t going back. They get told, by the same politicians who demand their votes every 2 years, that the OTHER proletarian neighbors “have the attention span of a goldfish and won’t remember events or statements 6 weeks after the fact” but they ‘politely’ exclude whoever is listening to them at the time. Hitler and his Big Lie theory comes to mind.

    I’m in Colorado Springs now, and every time I go to a store or just walkabout in the park I encounter fellow self-exiled Texans. Been that way all the time I’ve been here. Maybe it’s a cosmic field bringing us together like that.

  3. darms says:

    Yeah, I’m kinda blown away these days as I don’t see how ‘political rehtoric’ matters anymore, 50+ years of solid political discussion is blown away by 18 months of trump’s BS. Please tell what matters these days, whay woon’t he declare himself ‘el presidentete for life’ and what could stop him?

  4. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    Wow .. Steve. You had the misfortune of writing your piece just before the biggest bombshell news story in 100 years dropped about political lying, malfeasance, and perhaps treason.

    Poor Steve. He should have added LYING Hillary and John Podesta who commissioned, paid $9 MILLION for and then planted the hit piece dossier on the totally fabricated Trump Russia collusion story. Didnt expect that bombshell to drop right after you wrote your little essay . .did you?

    There are soooo many tentacles to the Uranium One story that are just now coming to light, the involvement of Lynch, Holder, Obama, Hillary, Comy, and Mueller in actual lying to cover up massive pay offs and collusion. How about lying journalists and late night comics who breathlessly reported on the fake story planted by the Democratic candidate and fed to the public by a complicit FBI director.

    How soon do you think it will be until Mueller has to recuse himself from his Independent Counsel gig because he is guilty of exactly what he WAS investigating Trump for? Sweet!

    I am getting some popcorn and sitting back and watching the shit storm brew over the next 18 months. No telling how satisfying it will be to see some of these people charged with crimes. And to see my man, The Donald, exonerated and vindicated. Oh yeah. Its gonna be classic.

    – Extremist2TheDHS

  5. Steve Russell says:

    Er…The Dems took over the dossier project from Trump’s GOP primary opponents. Seems to me that the truth value or not is the issue rather than who paid for it. We know who did the work and he in fact has connections in Russia. He just can’t go there anymore because of his time as a British spy.

    What law did you have in mind was violated by the dossier?

    Two things about the uranium nonsense. 1. Russia EXPORTS uranium, so it’s not like they need it for weapons and if the US needs it then it is still subject to eminent domain. No harm, no foul. 2. There’s been no allegation that Clinton had anything to do with the approvals, let alone proof of the allegations.

    You do understand that much of the Russia stuff is not a crime and not subject to controversy in the fact-based community…..but it still ought to be impeachable because of the quid pro quos Trump provided, starting with alterations in the GOP platform to suit Mr. Putin.

    Putin is not happy with Trump’s failures to deliver lifting of sanctions, but as far as I can see, he was never pro-Trump—he was anti-Clinton.

    • Extremist2TheDHS says:

      Lets do these one at a time …
      “Er…The Dems took over the dossier project from Trump’s GOP primary opponents. Seems to me that the truth value or not is the issue rather than who paid for it. We know who did the work and he in fact has connections in Russia. He just can’t go there anymore because of his time as a British spy. “

      There was NO dossier created by Trumps GOP opponents. Steele was not hired until AFTER the Perkins Coie law firm was engaged by the DNC and the Clinton campaign. Thats my understanding. If you have evidence to the contrary … bring it.
      Everyone who is successful in international business or national politics has connections to Russia. Saying that Trump has connections is a very vague statement. If you are claiming that the items in the dossier are true than I would ask you how you know this. Its certainly not proven anywhere. What is proven is this: The Democratic party and their candidate paid for an informant to partner with Russian officials to provide a hot piece that would influence an American election. They directed it, and paid for it, and ultimately used it. It turns out that paid informants will say whatever you want them to say as long as you keep paying. The dossier was so far fetched that the public and the intelligence services rejected it out of hand. It is now a huge liability for the Dems to be tarred with partnering with a foreign hostile government to influence an American election.

      – Extremist2TheDHS

    • Extremist2TheDHS says:

      What law did you have in mind was violated by the dossier?
      I am no lawyer, but I quote from politifact on May 31st, 2017 : ….
      Nathaniel Persily at Stanford University Law School said one relevant statute is the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.
      “A foreign national spending money to influence a federal election can be a crime,” Persily said. “And if a U.S. citizen coordinates, conspires or assists in that spending, then it could be a crime.”
      Persily pointed to a 2011 U.S. District Court ruling based on the 2002 law. The judges said that the law bans foreign nationals “from making expenditures to expressly advocate the election or defeat of a political candidate.”
      Another election law specialist, John Coates at Harvard University Law School, said if Russians aimed to shape the outcome of the presidential election, that would meet the definition of an expenditure.
      “The related funds could also be viewed as an illegal contribution to any candidate who coordinates (colludes) with the foreign speaker,” Coates said.

  6. Steve Russell says:

    Maybe I’m dense, but I can’t see how a British national preparing a work for hire violates that statute. If that were the case, every campaign would have to pay attention to the nationality of all employees of every contractor.

    I was wrong about the intitial funding of the dossier. It had another level of deniabiity in addition to a lawyer rather than a client paying the bills. The client was a political publication that had a horse in the race not named Trump.

    What intelligence services rejected the dossier out of hand? It presents raw intel the former Brit spy got from his contacts i Russia. As such, it contains internal contradictions. If the DNC or any other recipient wanted a narrative the author would stand behind as fact, they would have to pay a lot more than changed hands.

    I’m not a Democrat but I’m not aware that the Clinton campaign used the dossier outside of stand-up comedy. It does contain allegations worth following up on.

    Trump, by the way, could have then blown all speculation out of the water by releasing his tax returns. That would not stop people from laughing at the story about the hookers, but that story has no value beyond comedy so nobody is going to hunt up the hookers.

    Except as a starting point for research–which is the use to which the special prosecutor is putting it—the dossier is for amusement only.

    The dossier is not an attempt by a foreign power to influence the outcome of a US election like, for example, planting stories on Facebook and Twitter. Or hacking into emails and publishing those that would hurt one side.

    Think this through. Read it out loud if you need to: there is no allegation that a foreign power is spending money to influence a US election in creation of the dossier. It was begun by a right wing publication and finished by a lawyer with ties to the DNC–neither is a foreign power.

  7. Extremist2TheDHS says:

    I will agree to disagree. Steve you are a very accomplished person. I dont have your pedigree.

    And I think the beliefs you hold are sincere. I dont doubt for a moment that you want the best for your family and your country and work to achieve that. Same as I. We will have to see how it plays out.

    – Extremist2TheDHS

  8. Steve Russell says:

    My PEDIGREE? Are you serious?

    When I came to UT, I was an American Indian kid born in the Muscogee Creek Nation and raised by my grandparents.

    I did have a significant advantage in being raised without TV until the 4th grade.

    I did not finish the 6th grade, which means I technically did not graduate from elementary school.

    I did not finish the 8th grade, which means I technically did not graduate from what they now call middle school but then was called junior high.

    After the 9th grade, I quit for good and did not return.

    Pedigree? My father was enrolled and that made enrollment a bit easier for me.

    I’ve never seen much advantage to tribal enrollment, though.

    I understand “agree to disagree” and I wish people did more of that. But there has to be something to disagree about.

    You have asserted that the same law that criminalizes Russians spending money to influence a US election would also criminalize a candidate hiring a foreign national to do oppo research.

    That assertion is manifestly incorrect on its face. I’ve tried to explain why.

    Agreeing to disagree about applying the law to very different facts makes as much sense as agreeing to disagree about whether the planet is getting warmer. There has to be some play for opinion before opinions can conflict.

    If you think the Clinton case presents a foreign national spending money to influence a US election please identify the foreign national and the expenditure.

    My purpose is not to give you a hard time. I’m just trying to maintain the traditional distinction between facts and opinions.

    I am not angry, but I must observe you are the first person who ever claimed I have a “pedigree” that anybody else might consider an advantage…….

    I guess another way to go at it would be to ask what it is you propose that we disagree about?

    • Extremist2TheDHS says:

      I know what your purpose is Steve, make no mistake about that.You think facts are unique to you and the other Rag Bloggers. Hardly remarkable given our little thought bubble. But school is in session for you and those who think like you, much as it was in 2016 for those who never saw that outcome happening..

      If you think that putting me in my place regarding the law accomplishes something, think again. I am no lawyer and any law school student can do the same. Congrats, you won a legal debate with a non lawyer. But Its not me that you need to worry about. There are plenty of actual lawyers involved that dont give a crap about your fact spinning and slanting arguments to support your points of view.

      Neither of us know much of anything for fact about the myriad of scandal and intrigue that occupies Washington. I enjoy a few perks from the work that I occasionally do for conservative operatives. Perhaps the same is true for you. But the stench coming the growing pile of evidence of corruption and malfeasance from the crime family called Clinton Inc and its enablers in government and the media is impossible to ignore. .

      What is a new fact, is that Hillary tried to influence the primary elections through highly suspect actions and decisions regarding the DNC. She succeeded there. She tried to influence the general election by partnering with Kermlin connected sources to produce fictional information. She failed there.

      I think, Donald Trump will still be standing in two years. Finally free from the efforts to demonize him. I have my reasons to suspect that Hillary Clinton and her top generals will be fighting legal charges.

      We shall see. I will be happy to revisit this topic with you in the future.

      – Extermist2TheDHS

  9. Steve Russell says:

    NO, I don’t think you understand my purpose. This is not about winning a debate. Maybe I gave you the wrong impression because of that “pedigree” remark. That really set me off because I’m writing autobiography right now and it’s the hardest writing task I’ve ever undertaken and therefore always on my mind.

    My purpose is to stand up for fact-based reality.

    There is a governor race voting in Virginia today.

    Economists consider 5 percent unemployment to be “effectively full employment,” by which they mean it’s a level at which employment can no longer be meaningfully moved by policy at the top and that the Fed should be satisfied with the unemployment rate at that point and turn attention to the other end of the see-saw: inflation.

    The Donald inherited an economy that had been at effective full employment since September of 2015, although he denied it.

    Now, by reference to the same BLS figures, I’m sure he would be proud to claim credit for the current unemployment rate of 4.1 percent. Veterans unemployment is at 2.7 percent, which is low as I’ve ever seen it.

    This comes up because of a tweet The Donald wafted into the Virginia governor’s race: “The state of Virginia economy, under Democrat rule, has been terrible. If you vote Ed Gillespie tomorrow, it will come roaring back!”

    The unemployment rate in Virginia is currently 3.7 percent.

    Trump’s candidate, Gillespie, has run saturation ads against “sanctuary cities.”

    There are no sanctuary cities in Virginia.

    “Saturation” is an advertising term of art that represents a big chunk of money. If you have been attacked in this manner the day before the election, and your war chest is not bottomless, how do you allocate your advertising?

    It strikes me that at least a third of the voters will not pay attention the truth.

    I would advise the candidate to let the ads go and spend the money on GOTV. But I’m not involved in the Virginia governor’s race and I’m not a Democrat. If I were up there, I’d be raising hell with the Democrat when he cut his running mate’s pic out of some advertising because the light gov candidate is black.

    Odious as the Democrat’s tactic is, at least it’s tethered to fact-based reality. The areas where he made the cut are higher in racism.

    Compare what I did as a pol. I was not the only one to seek the endorsement of the Lesbian-Gay Political Caucus, but that had historically meant that your name got quietly slipped on a slate card distributed in the gay bars. I used my endorsement in a radio ad.

    My small point is that you don’t always change things by going with the flow but my larger point—and why I’m talking to you—is my perhaps naive faith that facts will eventually matter. Pols lie now and they have always lied. What has changed is there are no consequences for getting caught.

    If we can’t tug the debate back within fact-based reality it will make no difference who’s right.

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