Sunday, 14 June 2020

What kind of depraved statue-shagger thinks petty vandalism is worse than rape?


I can't believe I'm having to explain this, but petty vandalism is nowhere near as bad as rape.

The Tories have proposed 10 years in jail for people who damage statues and war memorials, which would be a longer sentence than most convicted rapists end up facing.

It's beyond obvious that damaging war memorials is both stupid and extremely counter-productive to whatever cause a person may be protesting, but the idea that it's somehow worse than most categories of rape is utterly absurd.

According to the Sentencing Council guidelines, only rapists who have committed the most serious category one offences face sentencing starting points of of above ten years.

In order for a rape to be classified as a category one offence, meaning a guaranteed sentence of above ten years, the rapist must have been particularly violent or abusive during the rape.


It's beyond absurd to believe that daubing a slogan onto a monument deserves a longer sentence than a category two rape (re-read the factors that determine a category two rape above).

The idea that minor damage to a statue or monument deserves harsher punishment than a crime like rape is the latest manifestation of the depraved Tory mentality of "property above people".

So what if you were violently raped, can't you understand that it's nowhere near as serious as someone daubing a slogan onto a piece of stone!

Even if supporters of this absurd sentencing proposal try to argue that the rape sentencing guidelines should be toughened to make all rape offences carry 10 years+, they're still blatantly anchoring their attitude to rape on the perceived worth of property, and demonstrating their warped attitude that it's a logical and moral stance to attempt to measure the harm a rape victim has suffered in relation to petty vandalism of an object!

Then there are all the outrageous and sickening crimes committed by capitalists and the establishment class that carry no punishment at all.

In light of all these free passes to the ruling establishment class over their crimes, only truly depraved minds could support such an absurdly disproportionate proposal to smash down on petty vandalism.

To Labour's shame they've decided to go along with this disproportionate depravity instead of opposing it (or just staying out of it), in the hope that they can appeal to the baying Daily Mail mob and the far-right thugs who rampaged through London at the weekend.

The sad thing is that in Tory Brexit Britain stuff like facts, evidence, morality, proportionality, etc simply don't factor into the equation.

We know that it's a myth that longer sentencing deters crime. We know that it's immoral to jail a petty vandal for longer than a violent rapist. We know this Tory proposal is venal headline-grabbing hard-right idiocy. But the purpose of it was never to make sense.

The ludicrous 10 year proposal is intended to do three things.
First: It's designed to to subvert the mass Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality and systemic racism into a frenzy of extreme-right ultranationalist statue-shagging.
Second: It's meant to distract attention away from the fact that three years after the Grenfell Tower fire, absolutely nobody has been held legally accountable for the inferno (it's absolutely no coincidence that they released this depraved nonsense proposal on the three year anniversary).
Third: It's intended as a trap for social liberals, who will rightly try to argue that 10 years for petty vandalism is massively disproportionate, because the Tories will deliberately misinterpret all of these legitimate concerns as being "soft on" or "in favour of" war memorial vandalism.
Just try to imagine the depravity of people who honestly believes that daubing a slogan onto a piece of stone is deserving of a harsher punishment than violent rape, and realise that this is the mentality of the people that both the Tories and Keir Starmer's Labour are intent on pandering to.

We're in a situation where both main parties are intent on pandering to the vile attitudes of the absolute worst among us, which means that we're in very serious trouble as a nation.



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Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Is there any proposition vile or ludicrous enough that the Tory mental gymnasts won't defend it?


Let's not pretend there's not a common human tendency to resort to absurd post hoc justifications for outrageous behaviour when it's our own, or perpetrated by those we support.

This tendency exists, and anyone who has ever even attempted to develop a rational worldview must have confronted their own tendencies to perform this kind of mental gymnastics routine.

Post hoc mental contortionism to defend the indefensible has been a feature of discourse for as long as any of us can remember, but in recent months there's been a constant stream of Tories willing to take the most absurd and demeaning positions to defend the outrageous behaviour of their political tribe.

There's never been a government full of people willing to absolutely demean themselves by defending the utterly indefensible.

The most obvious and glaring example that springs immediately to mind is the absurd story that Dominic Cummings engaged in a lockdown-defying 30 miles each way to the historic beauty spot of Barnard Castle in order to test his eyesight.

The idea that you'd conduct an eyesight test by packing your family into a car and driving them around the country is as absurd as the concept that undertaking such a reckless public-endangering test was an excuse to defy lockdown measures.

But a whole stream of Tories were herded onto social media to announce how convincing they'd found Cummings' explanation, and that it was
 'time to move on'.

But the biggest absurdity of all came when Tory government minister Michael Gove told a right-wing radio interviewer that he too had conducted this kind of radically dangerous driving-eyesight test, which they both had a jolly good laugh about because deceiving the public with absolute bullshit is clearly some kind of lovely in joke for ex private school Tories to chuckle over.

On the subject of Michael Gove, he was at the centre of another one of these frenzies of Tory mental gymnastics when his wife posted a picture of his bookshelf, which proudly displayed the work of the Holocaust-denier David Irving, and the outrageous bible of racist pseudo-science, The Bell Curve.

It's not hard to imagine the absolute cacophony of outrage from the Tories had a figure from the left, like Jeremy Corbyn for example, been found with the work of racists and Holocaust-deniers on his bookshelf.

Yet the Tory reaction to Gove's bookshelf was to snap into ultra-defensive mode, and suddenly begin portraying Holocaust-denial as 'required reading actually' and even deriding critics of Holocaust-denial as Nazis!

Another Tory figure to have provoked numerous impromptu displays of Tory mental contortionism over the last few months is their beloved cult leader Boris Johnson.

When he skipped five consecutive COBRA meetings in the crucial early stages of the pandemic, the Tory mental contortionism circus pretended that it was supposedly perfectly normal (no Prime Minister in history before Johnson has skipped five COBRA meeting in a row during a national emergency), and that he was actually in the right to focus on other issues, despite skipping one of them to lark about with a Chinese dragon!

When Johnson publicly bragged about defying social distancing rules (and basic self-preservation) by shaking hands with coronavirus patients, and then presented "take it on the chin" as the preferable option to "draconian measures" like ... erm ... actually attempting to contain the virus, the Tories put on their cognitive clown outfits again and utterly demeaned themselves by jumping through all manner of hoops to defend the ridiculous behaviour and reckless rhetoric of their cult leader.

Then there was the absolutely ludicrous Tory decision to completely sideline the government's own scientific advisers in order to replace the clear and concise slogan "Stay At Home", with a sequence of nonsense verbiage like "Stay Alert By Washing Your Hands!".

Suddenly Tories were flocking onto social media to pretend that this absolute gibberish was perfectly clear and intelligible, despite the fact that if you'd said "Stay Alert By Washing Your Hands!" to anyone pre-2020, they'd have assumed you were having a stroke and called you an ambulance.

And now we've got the absolutely repulsive spectacle of Tories tying themselves in knots to actually defend monuments to slave traders.

When the people of Bristol took matters into their own hands, after six interminable years of political incompetence, to remove the statue of Britain's most notorious slave-trader Edward Colston, the Tories complained bitterly about the lawlessness and the vandalism.

But then when Tower Hamlets Council removed the statue of slave-trader Robert Milligan, in a completely calm, lawful, and safe manner, the Tories erupted in paroxysms of outrage again.

It turns out that the lawlessness and vandalism objection they started with was just a cover for their real objection, which is apparently that they just like statues of racists, because they get some kind of perverse dopamine kick out of the fact that other people find the memorialisation of Tory slave traders and Tory fascist sympathisers abhorrent and disturbing.

But they'll just keep on inventing one post hoc justification after another to defend what can essentially be boiled down to statue trolling.

The latest post hoc excuse is that they're simply defending history, but where on earth were they when their own party was using austerity extremism as an excuse to shut down 800 libraries, annihilate funding for museums, and trash public investment in history departments and history education at every level of the education system?

They clearly don't really give a damn about the nation's history, or they'd have raised concerns over the last decade of Tory historical vandalism, it's just the latest contortion required of them by the leaders of the CCHQ freakshow circus.

In a matter of months the Tories have proven themselves willing to excuse all kinds of nonsense and depravity, from pretending that driving a vehicle on public roads with failing eyesight constitutes reasonable behaviour, to vehemently defending Holocaust-denial as if it constitutes required reading. And from laughing off the actual Prime Minister mocking his own government's social distancing measures, to publicly eulogising slave-traders!

As a nation we've lumbered ourselves with the most inept and cultish government in British history, with piss-witted simpletons in almost every single crucial position, and no matter how badly they keep on screwing up, we're stuck with them for another four years thanks to their 80 seat majority.

There's very little we could do to rid ourselves of them, and the increasingly bizarre and contorted displays of mental gymnastics they're willing to perform to defend the outrageous words and actions of their own cult illustrates the fact that it simply doesn't matter how bad things get, they'll just spout total gibberish, and continue to get away with it.

They know the gibberish they're spouting is absolute bollocks. We know it's 
absolute bollocks. And worst of all they know that we know it's absolute bollocks.

But they also know there's basically nothing we can do about it, so they're actually getting a perverse kick out of doing stuff like defending the indefensible, excusing Holocaust-denial, and eulogising slave-traders, because they believe that a nation that elected an incompetent, bone idle bigot like Boris Johnson as their leader will never hold them to account for any of it.


Hopefully the British public with eventually grow tired of this lamentable Tory freakshow of mental contortionism, and get rid of them.

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Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Priti Patel doesn't even know how the law works!


It's widely accepted that Priti Patel is one of the least intelligent members of the least talented government this country has ever suffered, but once again she's made an absolute fool of herself.

You'll probably already be familiar with some of her other blunders, like claiming that applying the death penalty to innocent people would serve as a deterrent, getting caught working as an agent for another state embedded within the UK government, and being unable to read a six digit number off a piece of paper.

Her error this time is particularly sinister and disturbing because it highlights the fact that she has absolutely no understanding of the fundamental basics of how the criminal justice system functions in a liberal democracy.

Patel's latest blunder came about when she put political pressure on the Chief Constable of Avon and Somerset police to ensure criminal prosecution of the activists who took down the statue of Tory slave-trader Edward Colston over the weekend.

This is simply not how the law works, and this kind of political interference represents a dangerous step towards police state authoritarianism.

The way it's supposed to work is that the police conduct an investigation, and then pass their evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The CPS then make a decision whether to bring the case to trial, based on considerations such as the likelihood of conviction, and whether a trial would actually be in the public interest.

The legitimate role of the government, and specifically the Home Secretary, is to propose new laws, and alterations of existing laws, which are obviously subject to parliamentary approval before they can be enacted.

A legitimate position for the Home Secretary to take would be to argue that the current laws prohibiting vandalism of public monuments are not strong enough, and to propose new legislation.

It's completely illegitimate for the Home Secretary to put pressure on the police or the CPS in order to demand prosecutions, because then any case that is brought, can obviously be perceived as politically motivated.

And once we slip into the territory of politically motivated prosecutions, we end up with political prisoners, meaning we're living in a police state.

Patel is obviously far to dim to understand any of this, but ever since the Stalinist Cummings Purge of  the 21 liberal-capitalist Tory MPs in September 2019, the Tory party is even more bereft of talent than it was before.

I'm obviously no huge fanboy for purged Tories like David Gauke, Ken Clarke, Rory Stewart, Justine Greening, Dominic Grieve, Philip Hammond ... but at least these individuals would have been somewhat more likely to actually understand a little bit about the history and structure of the legal system, and the critical importance of avoiding political interference in the application of justice.

The fact of the matter is that if the protesters who organised the statue removal are found, and prosecuted, they can easily demonstrate that the prosecution was politically motivated, thanks to Patel, and then portray themselves as political prisoners if they're convicted.

I'd actually expect black civil rights campaigners to be queuing up to face such a ludicrous prosecution, because the prospect of being jailed for opposing slavery, in a politically partisan trial, would obviously create a powerful martyrdom narrative and turn their predicament into an instant cause célèbre.

Furthermore, conviction at the behest of a right-wing government would make a powerful demonstration of the systemic racism that the Black Lives Matter protesters were protesting against in the first place!

So whichever way you look at it, Patel has screwed up.

If you're you're even remotely liberal, you'll be opposed to politically motivated prosecutions as a matter of principle.

And if you're of the authoritarian persuasion, and want to see the statue-removers punished, then Patel's politicisation of the process has made the prospect of a reasonable conviction all the more difficult than it already was!

As ludicrous as this situation is, it's also deeply concerning, because once again we're an absolute laughing stock of a country, with a profoundly unintelligent and disturbingly authoritarian Home Secretary who demonstrably doesn't give the slightest damn about how the law is supposed to work in liberal democracies.

Any reasonable person, of any political persuasion (other than rabid right-wing authoritarianism) must be left wondering how on earth we've sunk so low.



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Monday, 8 June 2020

This Tory statue outrage is the latest manifestation of their 'property above people' ideology


On Sunday June 7th 2020 anti-racism protesters tore down the Edward Colston statue in Bristol and threw it into Bristol Harbour. Many would argue that this represented a fitting end for a statue of a slave trader whose ships threw 19,000 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean.

The outraged Tory reaction to the removal of this slave trader statue is an absolutely telling demonstration of their militant ‘property above people’ ideology.

In the midst of a huge global uprising against racism, you might have thought that the Tories would have tried to keep a low profile, given their very recent history of implementing unlawful systematically racist policies, and the racist words and actions of their leader. But no, they couldn’t help themselves.

The unlawfully racist Tory Hostile Environment resulted in the systematic persecution of black British citizens. They were denied housing, employment, social security, banking services, and even life saving medical treatment. Scores were even deported, with several actually dying in exile overseas.

But Tory MPs have more tears for the fallen statue of a historical slave trader than for the thousands of real life victims of their own Windrush scandal!

We all know the Tories love a statue of a racist, because in the middle of the 2019 General Election campaign Boris Johnson and a load of other senior Tories flocked to Plymouth to pay homage to a statue of the notorious antisemite and anti-black racist Nancy Astor.

Not only was Astor a vile fascist sympathiser and antisemite who described Adolf Hitler as a welcome solution to the “world problem of Jews”, she also told a room full of African Americans that they should be “grateful for slavery”!

It’s absolutely beyond question that Tories see more value in statues of racists, than in the actual lives of the people who have suffered at the hands of slave traders, fascists, antisemites, and their own racist policies of systematic anti-black discrimination.

The rhetoric they’ve used to defend their beloved slave-trader statue gives a horrifying insight into the Tory mindset.

Their primary tactic has been to adopt the ludicrous pretence that removing monuments and statues to discredited figures and ideologies equates to erasure of history, which is a ludicrously weak argument.

Did these Tories cry bitter tears of frustration about the erasure of history when monuments to Lenin were torn down in post-Soviet Russia? Of course they didn’t.

Did they howl with outrage when the statue of Saddam Hussain was torn down in Baghdad, and the symbols of Ba’athism were destroyed across Iraq? Of course they didn’t.

Did they vehemently object the erasure of history when statues and monuments to Jimmy Savile were removed after his depraved crimes came to light? Of course they didn’t.

Would they argue that it was wrong to remove all the Swastikas and monuments to Hitler after the defeat of Nazi Germany? Because any kind of consistent application of their erasure of history principle suggests they believe Germany should still be covered in the iconography of Nazi Germany, and Russia should still be covered in the symbolism of the Soviet Union.

Then there’s the nonsensical demand that people should have just waited for politicians to sort it out, rather than taking matters into their own hands.

The problem of course is that the people of Bristol left it in the hands of the politicians to sort out, and instead of taking the required action of calmly taking the statue down, moving it somewhere appropriate (like a slavery museum) and then replacing it with a monument to the victims of the transatlantic slave trade, they spent literally years debating the precise wording of a plaque to be attached to the plinth!

And the local council allowed the slavery apologists at the Society of Merchant Venturers more say on the wording of the plaque than black civil rights activists in the city, or even the mayor!

No wonder people got sick of the political game-playing and eventually took matters into their own hands.

Another problem with the Tory erasure of history attack line is the fact that in one single day the removal of the statue did more to raise public awareness about Britain’s participation in the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade than leaving the statue in place for another century would have done (ridiculous plaque or not).

As David Olusoga pointed out, the removal of the statue wasn’t erasure of history, it was actually a defining moment of history.

And if the Tories really gave a damn about the erasure of history where were their torrents of outrage when the Windrush boarding cards were destroyed by the Home Office, or when the national records were vandalised to erase Britain’s colonial crimes?

The Tory objections to the destruction of actual historical records were non-existent of course, because they don’t mind history being erased if erasing it suits their purposes, and because their erasure of history argument is obviously just disingenuous nonsense to obscure the actual reason they’re enraged by the removal of a slave trader statue.

Perhaps the most despicable Tory argument of all is the way they invoked the Holocaust Museum at Auschwitz as if it constitutes some kind of direct comparison.

’If the Auschwitz concentration camp wasn’t demolished, how dare you pull down our slave trader statue?’

The answer of course is that Auschwitz was preserved as a memorial museum about the Holocaust, while the Edward Colston statue was erected as a memorial to a slave trader.

You’d have to be disgustingly ignorant, or wilfully obtuse to treat them as identical cases.

But what’s even more sickening than this grotesquely misleading comparison in itself, is the way that Tories will dredge up the suffering of one people, in order to whitewash the suffering of another.

Let’s remind Jewish people of the horrors of the Holocaust in our hastily constructed, and searingly incoherent justification of a modern day monument to a slave trader!

The Tory reaction to the removal of this slave trader statue has been divisive, deluded, depraved, and above all disingenuous.

It’s divisive because demanding that memorials to slave-traders should be left standing is an insult to all right-minded people who object to the Tory ‘property above people’ mentality, it’s a spit in the eye for black Brits, and it's especially insulting to the African American and Caribbean descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade.

It's deluded because leaving it to the politicians resulted in endless naval gazing over the precise wording of a stupid little plaque, rather than the required action of just calmly taking it down and replacing it with a memorial to the victims of slavery.

It’s depraved because the logical conclusion of their erasure of history argument would mean leaving Swastikas over Germany, the Saddam Hussain statue in Baghdad, and all the Jimmy Savile statues and monuments that used to be dotted around Leeds.

And above all it’s disingenuous because whatever rhetoric they're spouting to oppose the removal of this statue, the real reason they're so furious is that slave-trader Colston was a Tory MP, and they see the removal of this monument to one of their beloved Tory brethren as an attack on Toryism.


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Saturday, 30 May 2020

It's too dangerously early to lift the lockdown restrictions


There are four deeply concerning factors about the Tory rush to ease lockdown measures, re-open schools, and try to return to business as usual.

High Death Rate

The future consequences were hard-baked and unavoidable when the Tory government decided to pursue Boris Johnson’s deranged ‘superman of capitalism’ strategy of letting the virus spread like wildfire in the crucial early stages.

Letting the virus spread uncontrolled in the exponential growth phase left the UK with two horrifically unappealing choices. Either continue letting the virus spread out of control and cause an absolutely vast death toll, or implement a much longer lockdown than the countries that actually took the situation seriously from the beginning.

Under huge public pressure the Tories eventually ditched Johnson’s ‘superman of capitalism’ lunacy to bring in a late lockdown, but this decision to save lives was clearly made against their initial intention to prioritise the economy over people’s lives.

As a result of the late lockdown the UK daily death rate (324) is still way higher than Italy (87), Spain (2), Germany (24), and France (52) all combined, but the Tories insist on undoing the lockdown measures as if we’re in a similar situation to our European neighbours, when we’re not.

The shockingly high UK death rate was caused by the Tories being too slow to introduce lockdown measures, and now they’re being too hasty to end the prolonged lockdown measures that were necessitated by their ineptitude in the first place.

Sidelining the science

Multiple scientists, including members of the government’s own scientific advisory group, have publicly declared that it's too early to ease restrictions, because the viral reproduction rate is still too high.

The Tory government completely bypassed scientists to change the clear and unambiguous "Stay At Home" message to absolutely nonsensical gibberish like "Stay Alert By Washing Your Hands", and now they're ignoring the scientific concerns again to push ahead with their bid to return to business as usual.

It makes an absolute mockery of the Tory government’s repeated claims to have "followed the science" when it's now clear that they're simply ignoring the science that contradicts their political agenda.

If the death rate rises again because of this Tory refusal to listen to the concerns of scientists, the decision to kill those people will obviously have been a political one.

Inadequate preparation

The Track and Trace app is unfit for purpose and riddled with problems and delays.

Countries like China and South Korea managed to get Track and Trace apps up and running within weeks, but the Tory government has created a hopelessly delayed shambles.

Then there's the fact there's still not even adequate protective gear for medics and other front line workers, let alone enough to support the culture of mandatory mask-wearing that’s become commonplace in the countries that really got their infection rates down.

It could be argued that the sensible course of action would be to wait until the Track and Trace app is fixed, and until the supply of PPE is adequate, but that would be to assume a level of competence that this dreadful Tory government simply doesn’t possess.

They’ve had over four months since the first reported UK case in January 2020, and it’s still an absolutely chaotic mess. It would take a dangerously large dose of over-optimism to imagine that it would only take them a few more weeks for them to find the competence they’ve been so sorely lacking for months.  

The problem of course is that it’s just not safe to relax the lockdown unless this hopeless shambles of a government somehow becomes competent, which it certainly doesn't seem capable of.

Undermining the rules

If lockdown isn’t to result in another spike in the death rate a few weeks down the line, it’s absolutely crucial that the majority continue following the social distancing and self-isolation rules.

The fact that Dominic Cummings has not been made to resign over his multiple flagrant breaches of self-isolation and 'Stay At Home' measures means that huge numbers of people are obviously going to conclude that if the rules don't apply to him, then they don't apply to me either.

The Tories haven’t just refused to punish Cummings for his brazen rule-breaking, they’ve actually been running a series of utterly absurd excuses for him, to the extent that they’ve been refusing to tell people to respect the 14 day self-isolation rules if the question is posed in the context of Cummings’ rule breaking.

Boris Johnson has decided to elevate the career of a single Tory adviser over the public health of the entire nation, and the longer Cummings is allowed to stay, the worse the damage is going to be.

Conclusion

The UK death rate is higher than the four largest EU states combined, the concerns of scientists are being ignored, the infrastructure simply isn't in place yet, and the partisan political decision not to sack Cummings is catastrophically undermining the social distancing and self-isolation rules that people must follow if the lockdown is to be lifted successfully.

It will take several weeks for the consequences to become clear, but if the death rate stops falling, or rises towards a second peak, we'll know that the Tories are entirely to blame.

And if the Tories do end up pushing thousands more people into early graves, we'll have to be extremely wary of their cynical efforts to offload the blame onto scientists, public health professionals, or the public.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.




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Tuesday, 26 May 2020

If he'll lie about coronavirus to make himself look cleverer than he is, why would you ever trust anything else he says?



It would clearly take days to unpack all the excuses, and blame-shifting, and deceptions, and lies, and open admissions of guilt, and refusals to take responsibility, but one thing in particular stands out from Dominic Cummings' press conference.

Cummings claimed to have predicted coronavirus on his blog last year by saying "only last year I wrote explicitly about the danger of coronaviruses".



 

But what he didn't seem to realise is that it's possible to look up what changes have been made to his blog posts, and when these changes were made.

It turns out that Cummings didn't predict coronavirus at all. What he did was retrospectively edit his blog to make it look like he predicted it, when he actually didn't, and he made these sneaky changes on the day he got back to London from his jolly jaunt to spread the disease up to the north east!

Obviously there are plenty of other very serious issues to consider, like the multiple admissions that he broke self-isolation and lockdown rules; the Prince Andrew level absurdity of the excuse that he drove his car 30 miles to a local beauty spot to test his eyesight; the outright refusal to apologise; the blame-shifting; the fact that of all the inaccurate media coverage he railed against his own wife's account of their coronavirus experiences was by far the most misleading and inaccurate; and the fact that he was somehow handed 
the 10 Downing Street garden and airtime on the BBC's main channel to make a speech that he openly admitted that he was making in a personal capacity.

However the fact that he sneakily edited his blog post to make himself look like some kind of great predictor, then lied about it on national television, is clear proof that the arrogant con-artist simply cannot ever be trusted on anything else he says.

If he's willing to lie to the nation about an issue as serious as coronavirus, purely to make himself seem smarter than he actually is, what else is he willing to lie about?


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