Today’s Doublethink:

February 22, 2017

The Claim:

The Facts:

Representatives across the country are holding town halls and meeting with constituents upon returning to their home districts while Congress is in recess. Lawmakers are receiving widespread feedback from citizens about controversial Trump policies including immigration, Cabinet selections, and repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.

Trump’s disdain for opposing opinions is in direct conflict with the facts. Many citizens voicing dissent are actually from both parties.

“Having a good, solid, respectful debate, that is something that serves our country well,” Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn said in response to her Tennessee district’s town hall.

What is “sad” is that in this case, we find the POTUS is attacking one of the tenets of our democracy: the right to peacefully protest policies. Many town hall meetings probably are attended by “liberal activists” who organized to be there, because that is what activism is. What is important to note is that these meetings are also attended by many frustrated pro-Trump constituents who are not satisfied, either. Sad!

This is what democracy looks like.

February 7, 2017

The Claim:

The Facts:

This morning President Trump presented the public with an alternative version of his relationship with Vladimir Putin and Russia. The president’s relationship to Putin has been a topic of discussion for years, recently taking on increased significance with the accusation of Russian influence in the 2016 elections.

Trump has made several public statements confirming their relationship. In 2013, during an interview in Moscow with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts, Trump admitted, “I do have a relationship. And I can tell you that he is very interested in what we are doing here today.”

In 2014, Trump bragged about speaking “directly and indirectly” with Putin at the Miss Universe contest and admitted he “spoke to all of [Putin’s] people” during his visit to Moscow.

Yet, in 2016, while campaigning for the presidency, Trump suddenly denies any relationship with Putin, personal or otherwise.

Ironically, it seems Trump is using Russia’s own tactic of “whataboutism” from the Cold War, using social media to distract the American public from more important topics on the home front. Today, the Senate is voting on the controversial Department of Education nominee Betsy Devos. Yet Trump is directing attention to his (non)relationship with Putin, and deflecting to an unrelated topic of Obama’s “deal” with Iran, implying that those foreign policy negotiations were indicative of a similar relationship.

Is Trump trying to distract the public with his tweets? What about Putin?

January 30, 2017

The Claim:

The Facts:

President Trump signed an executive order action on Friday to effectively ban individuals from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia from entering the United States for at least 90 days. This order also stopped all admission of refugees to the U.S. for four months.

After “studying the world,” it’s interesting to note the countries missing from Trump’s list, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates, even though these are countries of origin of a number of people who carried out terrorist attacks in the U.S. starting with September 11, 2001 (NPR).

Conversely, no citizen from the seven countries banned have killed Americans on U.S. soil since 1975 (CATO 2017). Why are these nations with known terrorist associations not included in the immigration ban? Notably, the countries President Trump did not include in the ban are countries in which he has strong business ties and associations.

Statistically, we’d argue, the ban is less about national security, and more about playing politics with immigrant and refugee lives. A study by the CATO Institute in 2016 reports the chance of an American being murdered in a terrorist attack caused by a refugee is 1 in 3.64 billion per year while the chance of being murdered in an attack committed by an illegal immigrant is an astronomical 1 in 10.9 billion per year. These immigration bans have little effect on foreign terrorism.

January 26, 2017

The Claim:

The Facts:

President Trump believes that the U.S. should revisit its NAFTA agreement with Mexico and routinely talks about the trade deficit. It’s true there’s an imbalance but the top-line number Trump routinely cites is not the best way to determine the severity of the U.S.-Mexico trade imbalance.

Instead, it’s more effective to look at how large the deficit is in comparison to the amount of U.S. exports to Mexico. In 2016, the trade gap narrowed 10.1% year-on-year (US Census Bureau), with the total trade deficit representing 21.7% of all US exports to Mexico. Compare that to 34.1% in 1995, one year after NAFTA was passed, and 40.3% in 1985, a “great” year Trump hopes to return to (Fortune 2015).

In regards to whether Mexico will ever pay for that wall? President Pena Nieto this past week said: “Mexico does not believe in walls. I have said it time and again: Mexico will not pay for any wall.” And former President Vincente Fox released his own tweet on 1/25: “Sean Spicer, I’ve said this to @realDonaldTrump and now I’ll tell you: Mexico is not going to pay for that fucking wall. #FuckingWall”

January 25, 2017

The Claim:

The Facts:

President Trump tweeted this out this morning to again perpetuate voter fraud as the reason for his loss of the popular vote in the 2016 Election. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, has surpassed him by close to 3 million votes.

However, he’s been hard-pressed to find support for these claims even amongst fellow Republicans. Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters: “I’ve seen no evidence to that effect. I’ve made that very, very clear,” reiterating his position against Trump’s claim of mass voter fraud.

Is there any basis for Trump’s claim? Research, studies, and evidence say no.

News21, a national investigative reporting project funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the John S. and James L. Knight foundation, found just 56 cases of noncitizens voting between 2000 and 2011. A Pew study in 2012 did find millions of invalid voter registrations because people moved or died, but “zero evidence” of fraud.