Tag: #AlternativeFact

Alternative Fact: Trade Wars

Alternative Fact (from Trump’s Twitter @ dark-o-clock today): “When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”


Real fact: Not buying a billion dollars of stuff from country X does not mean said “stuff” will now be produced domestically (assuming the domestic capacity and raw materials to produce the “stuff” exist). It may well mean we’re paying for a few cents more (bad for people with limited income streams) to source the “stuff” from country Y (until Trump sufficiently offends them too and we have to move on to country Z at yet another slight cost increase).

Retaliatory actions significantly reduce American exports too (see: Bush 2’s steel tariff a year or so into his presidency). So maybe you’ve managed to reduce the trade deficit with country X. You’ve increased the overall trade deficit twofold: we’re paying more for our imported “stuff” AND the targeted countries (and possibly non-targeted countries) are buying less from us.

Now theoretically slapping wide-spread tariffs on everything sourced from everywhere would be an easy trade war to win – assuming you want to restrict your country to domestic markets (again, retaliatory action). I expect that means domestic corporations with international operations would spin off international divisions. An ugly mess … and probably why the stock market reacted so poorly yesterday.

Bonus real fact: China isn’t our biggest trading partner for steel or aluminium. That would be Canada. And the EU. Both of whom, I must assume, will object to the tariffs (again, see Bush 2 in 2002)

Everyone Is An Attorney At Heart?

Alternative Fact: From Trump Jr, attorney client privilege protects a conversation he had with his father because attorneys were present with both parties. Seriously.

Real Fact: FRE Rule 501 makes privilege a little difficult to figure out in federal cases. And privilege may not even apply to Congressional testimony. But considering attorney client privilege in general — Attorney client privilege restricts what the attorney can divulge. A reasonable protection, otherwise people wouldn’t be able to have frank conversations with their attorneys. There is precedent for the witness invoking privilege regarding a conversation they had with their attorney. But that doesn’t mean every utterance a lawyer hears instantaneously becomes top secret information that cannot be disclosed by either party.

First of all, the communication has to be for the purpose of obtaining legal advice. Iffy, but you might be able to sell that. Wanting to understand the legal ramifications of publicizing information.

Having a conversation with ones attorney in the presence of a third party can nullify the privilege. There’s a joint defense privilege which allows parties with common interest in the litigation to share information without waiving privilege. This applies for parties “sharing a common interest in the outcome of a particular claim” [United States v. LeCroy, 348 F. Supp. 2d 375, 381 (2004)]. Common interest in the outcome doesn’t mean “daddy cares what happens to me” or “I was working on daddy’s campaign when I did this”. It means a legal interest. So they’ll need to sell that there’s a joint defense going on (which admits that Trump Sr has some involvement in these events of which he claims ignorance).

Furthermore, there’s an exception to privilege when the communication is itself seeking to commit a crime or fraud. Even if Jr rang up his lawyer to discuss what false narrative should be presented under oath to Congress, that is not privileged communication.

There’s a legal principal that the parade of horrors shouldn’t be considered when adjudicating a case — essentially you need to ignore the ramifications of the order — but if the presence of a lawyer in a conversation makes the conversation privileged, wouldn’t a whole bunch of rich dudes just have a lawyer go with them everywhere?

On Compromise And The Civil War

Claimeth John Kelly: “But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand”.

Yes, John Kelly, rich white dudes refusing to compromise their profits for human decency totally caused the civil war. Now let’s address all the things rich white dudes refuse to compromise their profits for today … sustainable production, livable environment, human decency, REALITY.

Finally, a REAL FACT!!

Speaking about his failure to address the death of American soldiers in Niger, Trump said he’s mailed / is mailing / will mail tomorrow (yeah) letters. And defended this method of communication saying “Other presidents did not call, they would write letters, and some presidents didn’t do anything”. Most certainly, he is correct that some presidents did not call the family of deceased service members. The first telephone was installed in the White House in 1877 – and even then, I don’t know that phone service throughout the country was advanced enough to warrant phone calls from the chief executive.

Statistically, I am certain some presidents did do nothing too. Over half a million Union soldiers died in the Civil War — penning an individual letter to each family (even if you could combine a couple of siblings into one letter) would have been unrealistically time consuming.

We’re ten months into the administration, and I think we’ve finally gotten a fact fact!

Alternative Fact: Compassion

Alternative Fact: Courtesy of Trump at some meeting with military sorts and discussing North Korea: “Maybe it’s the calm before the storm”

Real Fact: It is literally after the storm in several devastated areas of the country. Trump’s comment was irresponsible viewed from a military or diplomatic perspective. But from the perspective of a compassionate person whose memory spans two news cycles? Probably better not to mention storms at all.

Alternative Facts

The Trump administration’s fabrications of current events, euphemistically coined ‘alternative facts’ by Conway, have migrated into fabrications about history. General Pershing did not shoot Muslims using bullets dipped in pigs blood.

Had Pershing done so, this comment would be much the same as decreeing that American internment camps had the right idea (yeah, Trump’s said that too) – whilst one cannot argue the historical validity of the event, one most certainly can admit that the country made a grave mistake.

Alternative Fact: Public Records Are Leaks

Alternative Fact:

Real Fact: Much like the “leak” regarding an employee’s termination where the leaker was Scaramucci himself … the “leaked” financial document was a public record completed by … Scaramucci. At some point, is this dude going to have to fire himself?

When taking a position in an administration that goes on and on about witch hunts, undertaking one’s own witch hunt is, in and of itself, a rife with risk. But in a witch hunt for leakers, maybe one should undertake extensive research to verify that they themselves are not the leaker in question.

Alternative Fact: Just Oppo Research

Alternative fact: “Politics is not the nicest business in the world, but it’s very standard where they have information and you take the information.” Trump at a joint press conference with French President Macron in Paris.

Real fact: There is an interesting article on Politico from someone who actually conducted oppo research.  Obtaining private (and anything so sensitive that it needs to be discussed with you instead of your dad’s assistant is somewhat obviously not public record type stuff) information from frenemy nation governments.

When a public investigation in the Ukraine revealed payments to Manford, receiving information from a public investigation … well, using it might be sleazy politics (in that respect, Trump is not wrong … politics is not nice). But buying a computer on sale from a well known retail store isn’t illegal whereas purchasing one for half retail from the back of some guy’s van behind the Tower City is probably going to garner a receiving stolen goods charge.

There was a car theft ring in Pennsylvania that obtained blank titles from Harrisburg. Purchasing a car with a valid title from a used car dealer is not a suspicious circumstance. Victims were out money because the cars were returned to their rightful owners, but they were not charged with a crime because nothing about their scenario seemed suspicious.

The item itself, nor its provenance , are not the only considerations — how suspicious a reasonable person would have been of the circumstances is the distinction between a criminal activity and being a victim of a crime.

Alternative Fact: Intentions Do Not Matter

Alternative Fact: Kelly Ann Conway, in reference to Trump Jr scheduling a meeting with a Russian lawyer who promised damaging info on Clinton but was actually just tricked into scheduling a meeting to discuss adoptions: “Let’s focus on what did not happen in that meeting. No information provided that was meaningful. No action taken. Nothing”

Real fact: I think anyone who has contacted law enforcement officers when trying to put out a hit or got caught up in a solicitation sting can tell you … what you intended to do can be criminal even if your attempt is thwarted. It may be mitigating if he did not know who was offering damaging information about a political opponent. But in the middle of the DNC being hacked and information from the hacks being released (and the candidate specifically requesting the hackers find the deleted e-mail messages), wouldn’t you be suspicious of someone offering up damaging details about the opposition??

Alternative Fact: Don’t Quote Me On That

Alternative Fact: Trump has tapes from his meetings with Comey (and tune in later this week to hear exciting news about them!).

Real Fact: Rationally, if Trump had something that exonerated him, he would have produced the evidence WEEKS ago. Hell, the day after Comey’s testimony would have been late but suitably theatrical. But it is a little silly to expect rational behaviour from someone who has thus far displayed nothing of the sort.

With the “but it was a ‘scare quote’ so he didn’t literally mean it” argument from March’s wire tapping bit of craziness

how can I possibly be asked to believe he has “tapes”?

Bonus real fact: It is impossible to differentiate scare quotes (the phrase in quotes is used sarcastically, ironically, or otherwise without intending the actual meaning of the word) from highlight quote (the “word” is what should be emphasized in this sentence) without prescient knowledge.