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Foster: The fake news and lies keep on coming

At some point, I figured, even Trump supporters would get tired of all the lies and exaggerations uttered by their fearless leader. But I was wrong. There’s no shame in the White House or in the 35% of the American population who support him regardless of the issue.

If you can’t see the horrid conditions afflicting migrants at the southern border, you’d feel right at home in Nazi Germany, where big lies led to the slaughter of millions of innocent humans in what we now call the Holocaust.

Fact Checker, as reported by the Washington Post, shows Trump’s unwarranted boasting and outright falsehoods have continued at a remarkable pace since he took office. By June 7, his 869th day in office, Trump had made 10,796 false or misleading claims.

One-fifth of the claims are about immigration, his signature issue — a percentage that has grown since he shut down the government over funding for his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, his most repeated claim — 172 times — is that the border wall is being built.

Congress has balked at funding the concrete barrier he envisioned so he has tried to push bollard fencing and repairs of existing barriers as “a wall.” Trump’s attempt to bypass Congress and use military funds to build the wall was upheld in the latest appeal.

Days before Trump’s July 4 extravaganza in Washington, D.C., he spoke to U.S. troops stationed in South Korea while on his four-day trip to the Far East. He’s trying to curry favor with the military, an effort derided by many as hypocritical because of his bone spurs medical deferments to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War.

Trump told the troops they had received pay raises the past two years, adding, “You know, it was close to 10 years before you had an increase. Ten years.”

That’s a bald-faced lie.

Members of the military have received pay raises every year since 1983 — and if you ignore an administrative quirk in 1983, they have received raises every year since 1961.

Trump could accurately say that the 2018 military pay increase of 2.4% and the 2019 increase of 2.6% were the largest in nearly 10 years. Troops saw a 3.4% pay increase President Obama signed into law for 2010. But raises under Trump for the past two years were certainly not the first in 10 years as he claimed.

According to official military data, military pay has increased for every year since 1983. In that year, the government switched from introducing the raises at the beginning of the fiscal year on Oct. 1 to the beginning of the new calendar year on Jan. 1.

In other words, the military did get a raise that covered 1983. It started on Oct. 1, 1982. The next raise after the switch to the calendar year system was introduced on Jan. 1, 1984. While it’s possible Trump simply misspoke, he has made versions of this false statement more than once before.

Last October, for example, he told Fox Business, “President Obama starved the military. He didn’t give them raises, he didn’t give them anything. I gave them a 10% pay increase they haven’t had in a decade.”

In December, Trump told troops in Iraq, “You haven’t gotten one in more than 10 years — more than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one.”

You have to wonder where Trump comes up with such outlandish statements, which are so easily verified as false. He’s not known for reading policy statements or intelligence reports so is he relying on conservative commentators on Fox News and other outlets? He’s quick to call in his opinion on these talk shows so he’s obviously listening to them.

With 65% of his schedule penciled off as “executive time,” he has a lot of time to think up new lies and exaggerations his followers will take as gospel.

Some analysts say many of Trump’s unhinged statements stem from his hatred of all things Obama. He takes special delight in signing executive orders overturning Obama’s policies, but seems to forget his executive orders will be quickly undone by the next Democratic president.

It must gall Trump that Obama continues to be voted the most admired man in America for the 11th consecutive year, even after being out of office for two and a half years. It’s hard to compete with a predecessor who exudes class and grace with nary a scandal or indictment tied to his administration.

Trump also is probably miffed that Obama has more Twitter followers, while the CEO of Twitter said millions of Trump’s followers were deleted as bots. For a president consumed about fake news, let’s hope he understands the meaning of fake supporters.

— John D. Foster, a Carthage resident and former editor of the Panola Watchman, is a regular contributor to the Saturday Forum. Email jandmfoster@yahoo.com

Today's Bible verse

“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”

Psalms 63:1

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