How Trump bobs and weaves to avoid the truth

As he so often does, President Trump falsely declared on “60 Minutes” that North Korea and the United States were going to war before he stepped in to thwart it.

Interviewer Lesley Stahl was having none of it. “We were going to war?”

Trump immediately retreated to safer ground, expressing a view rather than trying to assert a fact: “I think it was going to end up in war,” he said, before moving on to his “impression” of the situation.

The 26-minute interview that aired Oct. 14 was typical Trump — bobbing and weaving through a litany of false claims, misleading assertions and exaggerated facts. Trump again demonstrated what The Fact Checker has long documented: His rhetoric is fundamentally based on making statements that are not true, and he will be as deceptive as his audience will allow.

.. Trump resorting to all of his favored moves to sidestep the truth.

.. On Stahl’s first question, about whether Trump still thinks climate change is a hoax, the president dodged by saying “something’s happening.” He then completely reversed course and declared that climate change is not a hoax and that “I’m not denying climate change.”

.. Trump also falsely said the climate will change back again, even though the National Climate Assessment approved by his White House last year said that there was no turning back. He said he did not know whether climate change was man-made, though the same report said “there is no convincing alternative” posed by the evidence.

.. Trump did his usual shrug when asked whether North Korea is building more nuclear missiles. “Well, nobody really knows. I mean, people are saying that.” Among the people who are saying that are U.S. intelligence agencies, who have concluded that North Korea does not intend to fully surrender its nuclear stockpile and is instead working to conceal its weapons and production facilities.

.. Even when he adjusts his rhetoric, at times contradicting what he has just said, Trump almost always appears to believe firmly in what he is saying.

.. On trade, the president continues to suggest that deficits mean the United States is losing money: “I told President Xi we cannot continue to have China take $500 billion a year out of the United States.”

That’s wrong. The trade deficit just means Americans are buying more Chinese products than the Chinese are buying from the United States, not that the Chinese are somehow stealing U.S. money.

.. Trump also continues to misstate the trade deficit with China. It’s not $500 billion, as he told Stahl; it was $335 billion in 2017

.. Curiously, he denied to Stahl that he ever said he was engaged in a trade war with China, even though he has said and tweeted it many times, including on Fox News last week.

.. He also falsely said that “the European Union was formed in order to take advantage of us on trade.” That’s a misreading of history, at best. The E.U. got its start shortly after World War II as the European Coal and Steel Community — an early effort to bind together bitter enemies such as Germany and France in a common economic space to promote peace.

.. Trump surfaced another old favorite knock on U.S. allies — “we shouldn’t be paying almost the entire cost of NATO to protect Europe.” Actually, the United States pays 22 percent of NATO’s common fund. Trump keeps counting U.S. defense spending devoted to patrolling the Pacific Ocean and other parts of the world as part of NATO funding.

When it was pointed out that Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a former general who served in the military for 44 years, says he believes NATO had kept the peace for 70 years, Trump sniffed, “I think I know more about it than he does.”

.. Questioned about Russian interference in the 2016 election, Trump conceded that “they meddled.” But he added, “I think China meddled, too.” When Stahl said he was “diverting the whole Russia thing,” Trump insisted he was not. “I’m not doing anything,” he demurred. “I’m saying Russia, but I’m also saying China.”

There is no evidence China engaged in the same disinformation effort as Russia, which intelligence agencies have said was designed to swing the election toward Trump.

.. Finally, Trump continued his habit of mischaracterizing what his predecessor did. He claimed that Barack Obama “gave away” the Crimea region of Ukraine, when actually Russia seized it and Obama then led an effort to impose sanctions in response.

.. In one of the testier back-and-forths, Trump tried to shut down Stahl with one line that was indisputably true: “I’m president,” he said, “and you’re not.”

New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss slammed for questioning whether sexual assault should disqualify Kavanaugh from Supreme Court

In an appearance on MSNBC, Weiss argued that the fundamental “ethical question” at issue is whether someone should be disqualified from sitting on the court because of a crime they committed as a teenager.

Weiss added that Ford’s allegations, which Kavanaugh has “unequivocally” denied, don’t fit a pattern — as many other instances of men who commit sexual misconduct do — and that the accusations can’t be proved.

“Brett Kavanaugh has a reputation as being a prince of a man, frankly, other than this,” she said. “Now, I believe her. I believe what she’s saying. I’m just saying, in the end of the day, it is one word against another.”

.. MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle pushed back, arguing that the standards should be higher for someone nominated for a lifetime position on the highest court in the country.

“We’re not talking about should he be disqualified to be a dogcatcher,” Ruhle said. “We’re talking about to be a Supreme Court justice.”

.. Weiss then seemed to back away from her assertion, but lamented that Kavanaugh’s “worst instance” was being “paraded” in public.

.. Mark Joseph Stern, a lawyer and writer for Slate, called Weiss’ question a “useless and irrelevant red herring” and argued that the question is not whether an adult should be held accountable for something they did as a teenager, but whether Kavanaugh lied about the allegations. If Weiss’ intuition is correct and Ford is telling the truth about the incident, then Kavanaugh has wrongly undermined a victim, he said.

.. “It is perfectly consistent to believe that nobody’s life should be ruined for committing a crime at age 17 — and that any adult who lies about that crime should not be elevated to the Supreme Court,”he wrote.

We were Brett Kavanaugh’s drinking buddies. We don’t think he should be confirmed.

We were college classmates and drinking buddies with Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh. In the past week, all three of us decided separately to respond to questions from the media regarding Brett’s honesty, or lack thereof. In each of our cases, it was his public statements during a Fox News TV interview and his sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that prompted us to speak out.

We each asserted that Brett lied to the Senate by stating, under oath, that he never drank to the point of forgetting what he was doing. We said, unequivocally, that each of us, on numerous occasions, had seen Brett stumbling drunk to the point that it would be impossible for him to state with any degree of certainty that he remembered everything that he did when drunk.

.. none of us condemned Brett for his frequent drunkenness. We drank too much in college as well. It is true that Brett acknowledged he sometimes drank “too many beers.” But he also stated that he never drank to the point of blacking out.

.. we felt it our civic duty to speak the truth and say that Brett lied under oath while seeking to become a Supreme Court justice. That is our one and only message, but it is a significant one.

.. No one should be able to lie their way onto the Supreme Court. Honesty is the glue that holds together a society of laws. Lies are the solvent that dissolves those bonds.

.. All of us went to Yale, whose motto is “Lux et Veritas” (Light and Truth). Brett also belonged to a Yale senior secret society called Truth and Courage. We believe that Brett neither tells the former nor embodies the latter. For this reason, we believe that Brett Kavanaugh should not sit on the nation’s highest court.

Trump’s presidency is one giant act of trolling

America’s feral president swerved into a denunciation of a nonexistent bill — “It’s called ‘the open borders bill’  ” — that, he thundered, “every single Democrat” in the Senate has “signed up for.”

..  Reid was in the Senate. In 2012, while the Nevada Democrat was majority leader, he brassily said during the presidential campaign that the Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, had paid no taxes for a decade.

.. Romney, unlike the Republicans’ nominee four years later, did not hide his tax returns. Reid, however, remained proud as punch of his accusation when, three years later, he was asked why he still defended it: “Romney didn’t win, did he?

.. “We don’t mail Elvis a Social Security check, no matter how many people think he is alive.” No. Matter. How. Many.

.. Bannon says: “The way to deal with [the media] is to flood the zone with shit.”

..  Trump’s presidential lying, which began concerning the size of his inauguration crowd, reflects “a strategy, not merely a character flaw or pathology.” And the way to combat Trump’s “epistemic attack” on Americans’ “collective ability to distinguish truth from falsehood” is by attending to the various social mechanisms that, taken together, are “the method of validating propositions.”

.. Validation comes from the “critical testers” who are the bane of populists’ existence because the testers are, by dint of training and effort, superior to the crowd, “no matter how many” are in it.

.. Rauch says Trump’s “trolling of the American mind” has enjoyed “the advantage of surprise.” But as this diminishes, the constitution of knowledge can prevail because, although trolling has “some institutional nodes” (e.g., Russia’s Internet Research Agency and Trump’s Twitter account), they are, over time, much inferior in intellectual firepower to the institutions of the constitution of knowledge.

.. much of the public has formed the impression that academia is not trustworthy.

.. Imposing opinions and promoting political agendas, many academics have descended to trolling, forfeiting their ability to contest he whom they emulate.