By BILL DELEHUNT
Last Friday, Donald J. Trump took the oath of office and became the 45th President of the United States. During the recent presidential campaign, Trump effectively used an old political trick. He introduced topics he wanted his low-information voting base to hear, but did so in a way that would avoid blowback from the press or from his opponents for lying about them. He would cleverly and disingenuously begin sentences with phrases like, “People are saying…,” or “I’m hearing that…,” or “People are telling me…,” and then continue with the most outrageous fake news story of the hour, for example, the father of Senator Ted Cruz (Republican from Texas) being complicit in the assassination of President John Kennedy. Another one of these, “I’m hearing people say” concoctions was that Hillary Clinton killed an aide back in the 1990s. Details were never given to back up these fabrications and Trump would often deny the very story he was referring to. But he was able to lie directly to his base, to give read meat to those whose votes he craved (“I love the poorly educated,” he once proclaimed this past February in Nevada, gleefully).
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has begun using a similar tactic. “It’s not at all clear to me just viewing this from the outside that this hacking into the DNC and the RNC computers was not a false flag operation,” he said. Bolton, for those of you not fluent in Washington insider doublespeak, accused the Obama administration of actually hacking into the Democratic National Committee computers, releasing embarrassing information about their own political party and members of their administration and then claiming it was actually done by the Russian government in order to discredit the Trump campaign. We will ignore for now the utter ludicrousness of this charge, which does not pass the Occam’s Razor test (take a logic class, freshmen), and instead focus on Bolton’s words. He, like Trump, is able to make an outrageous, nearly unverifiable claim, but couch it in a way that he would not be held accountable if it is later disproved. Using rhetorical tricks that would amaze the Sophists of Ancient Greece (take a philosophy class, freshmen), Bolton can cast aspersions without suffering consequences or aligning himself with these allegations.
In that same spirit, here are a few more things “people are saying.” We cannot confirm or deny any of the following information, but this is what we are hearing people talk about.
Donald Trump will move into the White House at least on a temporary basis. First Lady Melania Trump will remain for the time being in New York City, costing taxpayers roughly $1 Million per day in protective services. Evangelical Christians have sent Mrs. Trump to the White House despite the fact that she plagiarized her most important public speech at the Republican National Convention, that she fabricated her university résumé or that she posed nude with her legs spread and simulated sexual activities with another naked woman for GQ Magazine. She is currently involved in a $150 Million lawsuit, in which the defendant alleged Mrs. Trump worked as a highly paid escort. Of course, The Minaret and this writer would never allege such a malicious, vile charge, and would vehemently agree with the Trump lawyers who have written, “Plaintiff (Mrs. Trump) was not a sex worker, escort or prostitute in any way, shape or form….” But, like Ted Cruz’ father being involved in the Kennedy assassination or Hillary Clinton being involved in the death of Vincent Foster, this is something people are saying about the First Lady.
Newly appointed Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos admitted she and her family have donated $200 Million to Republican campaigns and candidates, which seems to be a significant reason why she was nominated for a Cabinet position. Who knew these jobs would cost so much? Trump chose her for the Education Department because she has been an outspoken advocate for siphoning tax money from public schools and redirecting it to for-profit schools, effectively taking public dollars and putting them into private hands. In her confirmation hearing, DeVos was asked a fundamental question about student evaluations. Not only did she not have an answer, but she did not even understand the question, which dealt with the differences between the amount of information students learn during a given reporting period, known as growth, and students reaching targeted levels of learning, which is known as proficiency. Despite her bafflement at such a fundamental issue, her defenders jumped up and claimed this topic was too much “inside baseball” and was too detailed. How can that be, when she is going to be Secretary of Education? How can any question regarding basic student learning be too detailed? DeVos was exposed. She understands how to make money in the private business of running schools, but she lacks the essential knowledge of educating students from an elementary to a university level. ill the focus of the next administration be lining the pockets of entrepreneurs hoping to drain off tax dollars, or providing a quality education for all students? If it is the latter, DeVos has already shown herself unqualified.
We will continue to look at members of the new Trump Administration next week.