Telling the truth while float­ing in an ocean of lies.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Front Page - GENE COL­LIER Gene Col­lier: gcol­lier@post- and Twit­ter @genecol­lier

Barely a fort­night re­mains in the most re­volt­ing po­lit­i­cal sea­son in mem­ory, so yes, it’s the gun lap for truth tell­ers, par­tic­u­larly those who are des­per­ate not only to prop up democ­racy in the near term, but to breathe life into quaint Amer­i­can val­ues like hope and com­pas­sion. Yeah, that’s all. For­tu­nately, truth tell­ers are ev­ery­where in these fi­nal days, fac­ing an ocean of lies with an un­com­pro­mised spirit that binds them to­gether from dis­parate back­grounds.

Chuckie Deni­son was in Colum­bus, Ohio, on Mon­day, get­ting him­self kicked out of a Mike Pence rally for hold­ing up a sign with facts on it. The nerve.

“It was a lit­tle rough, you know?” Mr. Deni­son said on the phone from Ma­hon­ing County, home of what used to be the Lord­stown Gen­eral Mo­tors plant where he worked. “We didn’t ex­pect ap­plause, but we were hop­ing some peo­ple in the crowd might un­der­stand what’s go­ing on in Lord­stown. There might have been some boo­ing, but I heard some voices say­ing, ‘ Well, they’re right about that.’ That was good to hear.”

What Chuckie’s tired of hear­ing is the pres­i­dent’s vain­glo­ri­ous gib­ber­ish on what he’s done for man­u­fac­tur­ing, a hard story to stom­ach when you’ve spent most of the last quar­ter cen­tury chas­ing GM jobs from Day­ton to Louisiana to Lord­stown, ul­ti­mately for the op­por­tu­nity to watch the plant close.

“Many, many plants are now un­der con­struc­tion in Michi­gan and Ohio, Penn­syl­va­nia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida,” is part of the auto man­u­fac­tur­ing riff in Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s typ­i­cal stump speech. “They hadn’t built one in decades and now they’re all over the place.”

As with the great and tire­some per­cent­age of ev­ery­thing the pres­i­dent says, nei­ther part of that is true. Bernard Swiecki at the Cen­ter for Au­to­mo­tive Re­search told Fac­tCheck. org he knew of only two new assem­bly plants un­der con­struc­tion or an­nounced. Any­where. Fac­tCheck. org asked the White House for a list of auto plants “now un­der con­struc­tion in Michi­gan and Ohio, Penn­syl­va­nia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Florida.”


“Now there’s a very small frac­tion — maybe five to 10 cars — out in the park­ing lot dur­ing the first shift in a place where they’re sup­posed to be build­ing trucks,” said Mr. Deni­son, who did not vote for Mr. Trump but said he sym­pa­thizes with those who did.

“There are 20 cars in the man­age­ment park­ing lot. It looks like a mom- and- pop busi­ness. There are no jobs. Maybe jan­i­to­rial jobs, a hand­ful of skilled la­bor jobs, but there are no work­ers in­side build­ing trucks yet. It’s not that we hope it fails. We just want to hold them ac­count­able. We’re gonna keep push­ing.”

Lord­stown’s plant housed 4,500 jobs as re­cently as 2017, when it stopped mak­ing the Chevy Cruze. The ad­min­is­tra­tion helped strike a deal to make elec­tric trucks there, and Mr. Trump boasted that that part of Ohio was booming. Lord­stown is not a boom­town, Ohio pub­lic ra­dio said re­cently, “it’s more a ghost town with a paint job.”

The lies are so easy for this ad­min­is­tra­tion be­cause they are so easy for the pres­i­dent. “Billy, look, you just tell them and they be­lieve it,” is what Mr. Trump said to for­mer “Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood” host Billy Bush af­ter he ad­mon­ished the pres­i­dent for re­peat­edly say­ing “The Ap­pren­tice” was the No. 1 show on TV when it hadn’t been for five years. “That’s it: You just tell them and they be­lieve. They just do.”

That was in 2016. Now of course, it’s not just that jobs are dis­ap­pear­ing. Amer­i­cans are dy­ing be­cause these peo­ple refuse to tell the truth, which brings me to the other truth- teller I spoke with this week, Dr. Leonard Ganz, the Har­vard- trained, Pitts­burgh- based doc who di­rects the car­diac elec­tro­phys­i­ol­ogy depart­ment at Her­itage Val­ley Health Sys­tem and who has writ­ten ex­ten­sively on med­i­cal mat­ters.

“The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been ob­jec­tively ter­ri­ble when we look at com­par­a­tive data with re­spect to the preva­lence of COVID- 19 in our com­mu­nity and the case mor­tal­ity rate,” said Dr. Ganz. “There’s been no plan from the ad­min­is­tra­tion for the last eight months, and there is no plan go­ing for­ward.

“We rec­og­nize that peo­ple can dif­fer on is­sues of pol­icy, whether it’s tax rates, im­mi­gra­tion, what have you, but pub­lic health should not be a po­lit­i­cal is­sue. We should be able to come to­gether so that we can all work to pro­mote the pub­lic health of our com­mu­ni­ties. Not only are they not pro­mot­ing pub­lic health mea­sures that are proven to be ef­fec­tive like wear­ing masks, they are ac­tively work­ing against these mea­sures. On a day when Dr. [ An­thony] Fauci is say­ing it might not be a good idea for fam­i­lies to get to­gether at Thanks­giv­ing, Trump is hold­ing a rally in Iowa.”

That’s why the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine, the most pres­ti­gious pub­li­ca­tion of its kind, re­cently sidesteppe­d cen­turies of ed­i­to­rial tra­di­tion and took a firm stand on the elec­tion: “Truth is nei­ther lib­eral nor con­ser­va­tive. When it comes to the re­sponse to the largest pub­lic health cri­sis of our time, our cur­rent po­lit­i­cal lead­ers have demon­strated they are dan­ger­ously in­com­pe­tent. We should not abet them and en­able the deaths of thou­sands more Amer­i­cans by al­low­ing them to keep their jobs.”

Dr. Ganz has put to­gether the Pitts­burgh ver­sion of a na­tion­wide series of ral­lies to be held Satur­day by Docs for Bi­den. It’ll be at 2 p. m., ad­ja­cent to the Cathe­dral of Learn­ing in Oak­land, near where some of the most cru­cial vac­cine re­search con­tin­ues apace. Maybe some­one will men­tion that part in the Jour­nal ar­ti­cle where it pointed out that coun­tries like Kaza­khstan, Zim­babwe and Ethiopia, places with­out any­thing close to the med­i­cal sci­en­tific in­fra­struc­ture of the United States, have done a bet­ter job with test­ing based on the tests- per- in­fec­tion met­ric than Amer­ica has.

Is this what is meant by Amer­i­can Ex­cep­tion­al­ism?

Blessed are the truth- tell­ers; they must not be the ex­cep­tions.

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