Monday, January 11, 2016

Trumpf Says When People Call Him P.T. Barnum He Takes It As A Compliment


I'd venture to guess that most people who have heard of Phineas Taylor Barnum (P.T. Barnum) think he coined the phrase "there's a sucker born every minute." He didn't, nor did Donald Trump, but both men have lived their lives as though they did. Barnum plagued American for most of the 19th Century, a hustler who Trumpf has modeled himself on. He was a businessman/showman, author and politician (briefly). He freely admitted that his actions were meant to "put money in my own coffers" and, more than anything else he considered himself "a showman by profession." His name is synonymous with hoaxes and self-serving "philanthropy." Like Trumpf, he made some spectacularly bad investments and went bankrupt. Unlike Trumpf, he ran for office, as a Republican, and won. He served 2 terms in the Connecticut state legislature and one term as mayor of Bridgeport.

Meet the Press went to Ottumwa, Iowa Sunday to capture some ratings points by interviewing the clownish Herr Trumpf. He spent a lot of time attacking Cruz-- insinuating that his birth in Canada could ruin the GOP chance to win theWhite House, reminding Iowans he's a flip-flopper on ethanol and only claims to be for it for the sake of the campaign, and a flip-flopper on "amnesty." Any time Chuck Todd tried to pin him down on something factual, Trumpf would try to worm out of it, often in artfully, by changing the topic slightly or just going off into a non-sequitur, like "I am really looking to February first; it's gonna be very exciting." Republicans-- though not necessarily Trumpf fans-- may be mortified that he's bragging about an intention to use executive orders when he wants to get things done.

Ted Cruz went on Fox News to whine that when President Obama issued an executive order, he was "behaving in an unprecedented way." as with much of what comes out of Ted Cruz's mouth, that's false. Lately-- i.e., since Obama was elected-- Republicans claim executive orders are unconstitutional and tyrannical, etc but they really took off in a big way under Teddy Roosevelt. His predecessor, William McKinely, had only used 185 but Teddy issued 1,081. "Mr. Republican," William Howard Taft, would sit in his bathtub issuing them and he averaged 181 per year, for a total of 724. Woodrow Wilson, a conservative Democrat, went right along with the trend-- 1,803. The 3 Republicans who caused the Great Depression were collectively responsible for 2,693 and FDR hit the top end-- 3,522, but he was president for a really long time. It's become much rarer since then:

Eisenhower- 484
JFK- 214
LBJ- 325
Nixon- 346
Ford- 169
Carter- 320
Reagan- 381
Bush I- 166
Clinton- 364
Bush II- 291
Obama- 226

So... the only presidents contemporary of anyone still drawing breathe today who have issued fewer executive orders than Obama were one-term presidents. Here are Chuck and Donald:

Obviously, when Trumpf sits down for an interview, the fact checking organizations have to be on high alert. It's almost impossible to fact check every lie he tells because virtually everything he says is a lie. But Politifact caught a couple of whoppers. First his nonsensical claim about the detainees Obama traded for Bowe Bergdahl 2 years ago. Herr said "We get a traitor, they get five people that they've wanted for nine years, and they're back on the battlefield, trying to kill everybody, including us. And we get a dirty, rotten traitor."

Trump’s statement that the five former detainees-- who were senior Taliban operatives-- are now "back on the battlefield" is one we rated False in July 2015. We decided to revisit the claim to see if anything had changed in the past six months.

We looked into whether there were any new developments around the detainees, sometimes called the Taliban Five. The new information shows they’re still where they were last-- in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar under government supervision. So Trump is still wrong.

The five detainees were released to Qatar in 2014. Qatar is understood to be a neutral state, as opposed to a "battlefield" for insurgent activity. Under the agreement, the five released detainees are not allowed to leave the country.

This travel ban was initially supposed to last one year, ending June 1, 2015, but it has been extended.

Multiple administration officials told us the detainees haven’t left Qatar. We looked for any evidence to contradict that and found nothing.

In fact, in December 2015, the Republican-controlled House Armed Services Committee produced a report in which it expressed concern that the Taliban Five pose a security risk. But the report noted that the security arrangements first made in 2015 had been extended so that the five would remain in Qatar.

The State Department told us on Jan. 9, 2016, that the men were still in Qatar.

"None of the five individuals has returned to the battlefield," said State Department spokeswoman Liz Trudeau. "All five men are subject to a travel ban, and none have left Qatar."

"They’re still in Qatar," added Myles Caggins, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

...Because there is no evidence to support Trump’s claim, we rate it False.
He also went off on some crazy rampage that South Korea doesn't give us anything in return for protecting it. "We have 28,000 soldiers on the line in South Korea between the madman and them. We get practically nothing compared to the cost of this." Another lie. Politifact:
This is not the first time Trump has used this talking point. In 2011, we checked this claim about South Korea: "We have 25,000 soldiers over there protecting them. They don't pay us. Why don't they pay us?"

We rated the claim that South Korea doesn't pay False, noting that South Korea had picked up the tab for nearly $700 million in the most recent year for personnel, logistics and construction costs.

On Meet the Press, Trump made a slightly less absolute statement. Rather than saying, "They don't pay us," he said, "We get practically nothing compared to the cost." So we took another look at this assertion.

We found that South Korea does still pay for the U.S. presence, which currently includes roughly 28,500 military personnel. (That’s far smaller than the roughly 500,000 South Korean service members on active duty, plus many more South Korean reserve troops.)

In fact, South Korea pays quite a bit more than they did in 2011.

In the most recent agreement, announced in early 2014, South Korea said it would pay $866.6 million that year to support the U.S. presence. That was 5.8 percent higher than the 2013 amount, and that could grow by as much as 4 percent annually through 2018.

...Beyond that, several experts said Trump’s apparent premise-- that the United States is giving a growing, affluent country what amounts to a charitable gift-- is wrong. The United States itself benefits from the military investment in South Korea, they said.

"U.S. forces are no longer there strictly to defend South Korea," said William W. Stueck, historian at the University of Georgia. "They are there to enhance regional stability as well. The point is that we have vital interests in East Asia and the Western Pacific, so why shouldn't we pay part of the bill for our force presence?"

Janda concurred: "The traditional argument for keeping troops in South Korea is that it deters North Korea from attacking South Korea, stabilizes the region politically, socially, and economically, and gives the United States bases from which it can project military power throughout the western Pacific. In addition, he said, the military expense helps protect countries that buy U.S. products, he said.

Allan R. Millett, a historian and director of the Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, agreed. "Alliances are not to be measured in dollars, but in their effectiveness at deterring conflict," he said.

...Currently, South Korea pays well over $800 million annually to support the United States’ troop presence, an amount that doesn’t qualify as "practically nothing." And while Trump makes it sound like the United States’ willingness to pay the rest of the freight amounts to a gift to South Korea, he overlooks that the United States actually benefits significantly on a strategic level from the arrangement. We rate the claim Mostly False.

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