The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Issue no. 687 — September 9 - 23, 2002

Don't let them use September 11 against us!

Sep 9, 2002

For one whole year, they have been using September 11 against us – they being Bush, his administration, and every boss in the country, starting with the very biggest corporations.

The bosses announce job cuts; they demand wage concessions; they cut benefit programs – declaring that they have no choice, given the economic situation created by September 11.

Corporations declare bankruptcy, blaming this, too, on an economic situation created by September 11. But behind the scenes, the wealthy owners and executives are doing exactly what they were doing before September 11 – shifting the wealth of the bankrupt companies into other companies and into their own offshore bank accounts, throwing workers out into the street without a job and without, in most cases, any hope of getting back a penny of the 401(k) money they had been saving for retirement.

Governments, from the federal level down to the smallest little town, declare they are having budget problems. They cut back on funding for education, public services and social programs – in order to increase subsidies to the biggest corporations and financial interests. They are bailing out the bosses, pretending they need money to fight the "war on terrorism."All of this is nothing but a pretext – the bosses were cutting jobs and demanding sacrifices before September 11; the crooks like Bush's friends at Enron were taking the money and running with it; government was cutting back on social services. September 11 didn't make them do it – these crooks, capitalists and politicians – it just gave them an incredible opportunity to get away with doing what they wanted to do.

They believed they could play on our fears and anger in order to trick us into making sacrifices for them. They believed they could get us to accept any war they decided to wage on people in any other country for whatever reason. Waving the flag, chanting patriotic songs, they called on us to accept everything. And, for the most part, it's worked for them – this scummy trick they used. They have been able to plunder the economy and government finances, without any response from the population.

Now, with the anniversary of September 11, Bush is trying once more to enlist us in the bosses' parade of national unity, trying to make us forget that we have different interests than the bosses do.

Be done with it! It's time to turn our backs on their outrageous demands – outrageous whether they are trying to enlist us in still more wars against other people or in the economic war they are carrying out against us here at home.

We have our own interests to defend: we all need a job, a good paying job. We need the wages that let us and our family have a decent life. And we need cities that are cared for so we can live in them, school systems that have the money needed really to educate our children. We need roads that don't destroy our cars, public transportation that doesn't break down, bridges that don't fall down, streets free of garbage, vermin and filth.

In short, we need the wealth and resources of this country to be devoted to giving us a decent life – in our lifetime. Put another way – we need to devote our attention to fighting for what we need, not for what the owners of the big companies want.

This week, as we are being bombarded by all the images of September 11, we will remember those who died, but we should also remember the filthy way that Bush and the bosses have tried to use their deaths.

Pages 2-3

Back to school to what kind of education?

Sep 9, 2002

Tens of millions of parents got their children back to school recently, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on new school clothes, shoes, book bags and school supplies. But this was the least of their worries. For most working class parents there is the very real concern that their children will not be getting a decent education.

Students in the elite public schools serving wealthy areas generally provide a good education. And for the very rich, there have always been private schools that for a handsome price provide an excellent education. But for many working class students, the public schools are inadequate. In big cities, a large portion of the students fail to graduate, and even for those who do graduate, reading and math skills are often below standard.

It's no wonder that in such a circumstance parents search for other options.

But what options? More testing? Vouchers?

Recently many states have added requirements for testing students requiring schools to hold many more students back unless they meet minimum standards. But simply refusing to allow underperforming students to move forward in underperforming schools solves nothing. Tests are useful – As for vouchers – a voucher is nothing but a subsidy to parents who want to send their children to private or charter schools. But almost all the private schools cost more than the vouchers provide. So parents have to come up with additional money – usually thousands of dollars a year – to send a child to one of these schools.

Most charter schools and a big majority of the cheaper private schools provide a worse education than the public schools do. A recent study of 376 charter schools in ten states, for example, showed that the average charter school student tested at least a half year and up to a year behind the average public school student on reading and math tests.

No wonder.

Education depends on: first, good teachers and second, class size. But both of theses things require money and resources – more than what is spent on school systems today.

Eating away at the public schools through vouchers, charter schools and parochial school education won't add money to the system. It just subtracts money – and worsens the education.

Consolidated Freightways bankruptcy:

Sep 9, 2002

Another scheme to make the workers pay

On Labor Day, Consolidated Freightways, a national trucking company, said it was declaring bankruptcy. Consolidated operated about 300 terminals throughout the country and was the third largest less-than-truckload carrier, meaning it carried partial shipments from many companies, loaded them together and trucked them throughout North America.

Unlike many other companies that have filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy laws, Consolidated is apparently really going out of business. It immediately began to lay off over 12,000 of its 15,500 employees and said it would lay off the rest shortly. Two of its subsidiary companies – both in Canada – will continue to operate.

Consolidated's declaration of bankruptcy was triggered by a collapse in the price of its stock after it requested an extension for filing its quarterly financial report. It said it needed time to revise its revenue figures because it couldn't attest to the accuracy of its figures.

No wonder! For the past six years, Consolidated has been the center of some real wheeling and dealing. Consolidated was spun off by its parent company in 1996, which not only got rid of the Consolidated name, but also the union contract for its long-haul drivers, along with their pension fund's liabilities. The parent company, which renamed itself CNF, Inc. kept over 60% of the business, including its most profitable parts.

In the six years since, CNF has taken more and more of the business, while the debt attached to Consolidated saddled it with high interest payments.

Whatever the details of all this financial manipulation, the bankruptcy shows that avaricious capitalism is alive and kicking, even while workers find themselves without a job, out in the street.

Divorce among the very wealthy

Sep 9, 2002

On September 5, Jane Welch filed for divorce from Jack Welch, the former head of General Electric. What's interesting about this otherwise banal split is that Jane Welch details Jack Welch's income in her suit.

Welch's compensation before he retired was 16.7 million dollars. Today he gets a nine-million-dollar-a-year pension. But that's just the beginning.

GE continues to pay for Welch's large Manhattan apartment in the Trump Tower, worth $80,000 a month. This payment includes wine, food, flowers, laundry, toiletries, newspapers, property taxes, cook and wait staff, housekeeper, utilities, magazine subscriptions and postage. (GE wouldn't want a former exec to have to buy his own newspaper.)

GE provides for the communication equipment at his other houses – in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Florida. The company also provides the use of a Boeing 737 business jet, along with a helicopter, limousine and security protection when traveling abroad.

GE also pays four country club fees, floor seats to the New York Knicks, seats at the U.S. Open, the Metropolitan Opera, Yankee Stadium, tickets to Olympic events and Wimbledon.

Incidentally, none of this detail was provided in the papers GE is legally required to file with the government showing the benefits its executives receive.

Apparently just a little oversight.

Women victimized in Florida

Sep 9, 2002

A law passed by the Florida state legislature has just taken effect. It modified another law requiring women who want to give a child up for adoption to notify the father. This modification requires any woman who doesn't know who the father of her child is to place an ad in a newspaper in the city where the child was conceived. In the ad, not only must she list her own name, but also describe herself and any man who could have fathered the child. Supposedly this is to give a man the chance to proclaim his paternity rights.

Of course, if a male who provided the sperm had acted like a father in the first place, a woman might not be forced to give up a child for adoption. It takes a lot more than procreation to show responsibility for the life of a child. But responsibility for children is not what's on the Florida legislature's mind here.

The proof is – the law does not make an exception even for victims of rape and incest. So a woman who was brutalized is supposed to widely publish the details of her victimization – in order, what? – to give the rapist the chance to claim the child? Is the Florida legislature trying to tell us the child would be better served by being handed over to a rapist?

This law sounds exactly like the punishment handed down by religious leaders three centuries ago – to shame a woman in public for being a "libertine," that is, for having a child outside of marriage.

And, just like three centuries ago, in their desire to pander to the most reactionary views, the Florida legislators trampled all over the interests of children.

Pages 4-5

The Saudi Arabian king at Marbella, Spain:
The court amuses itself

Sep 9, 2002

Four hundred members of the Saudi court took their usual vacation in Spain in August. They arrived on a Boeing 747. A fleet of limousines brought them to the palace of King Fahd and to the luxury hotels at Marbella. Three hundred suites and rooms were rented in luxurious hotels on the coast, while 600 Mercedes were transported for the weeks of the visit. The luxury stores were ready for every little care for the well filled pockets of the members of the court, going so far as to close for any other customer. For the men, there was the casino, where it isn't rare for a gambler to lose 150,000 dollars by the wee hours of the morning.

All together the court spent 5 million dollars a day during its luxurious vacation, while the unemployed of the region wait by the hundreds in front of the palace, in the hopes of being hired for thirty or forty dollars a day.

The mayor of Marbella called the stay of the king "100% positive." No. This type of thing is 100% nauseating.

The U.S., the Saudi Arabian regime and bin Laden

Sep 9, 2002

The United States government responded to September 11 by carrying out a war in Afghanistan. As a follow up to that war, the Bush administration is now threatening a new war against Iraq.

For a regime so ready to go to war, why didn't it aim its own weapons of mass destruction against Saudi Arabia?

After all, Saudi Arabia is where not only Osama bin Laden is from, but also 16 of the 19 people who are said to have carried out the attacks on September 11. Moreover, most of the most responsible people in bin Laden's terror network are also from Saudi Arabia.

Even more critical, bin Laden's organization could never have carried out its operations without the support, direct and indirect, not only from many wealthy Saudis, but elements of the Saudi state apparatus itself, especially the Saudi secret service. The longtime head of the secret service, a nephew of the Saudi king, remained very close to Osama bin Laden, right up to the time of the September 11 attacks. And if he resigned after those attacks, he was nonetheless never charged with anything. As the New York Times editorialized last fall, these attacks were carried out "with Riyadh's [Saudi Arabia's capitol city] acquiescence. The money and manpower from Saudi Arabia helped create and sustain Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization."The fact that the Bush administration has responded to the September 11 attacks with wars, bombings and threats against everywhere but the country where the attacks came from is an indication of the predicament the U.S. government, as well as the capitalists it serves, find themselves in.

Saudi Arabia: A U.S. client state

For Saudi Arabia is one of the most important U.S. client states in the world. Obviously, with its gigantic oil reserves, Saudi Arabia is a key source of profit for U.S. oil companies. U.S. control of Saudi oil production and distribution in conjunction with the Saudi family dynasty allows the U.S. to have control over the international oil market. Saudi Arabia also is an important importer of U.S. goods and services, everything from advanced military hardware and weapons, to gigantic infrastructure projects, to Coke and McDonalds. Besides that, wealthy Saudi investors hold important stakes in U.S. companies – and U.S. investors, in turn hold important stakes in the Saudi economy. In fact, some of the most important U.S. fortunes, such as those of the Bush family, are tied up and interlinked with those of the wealthiest Saudi families, including the bin Laden clan.

At the political level, Saudi Arabia is an anchor of U.S. power in the Middle East. There are extensive U.S. military bases there. And Saudi Arabia has been a loyal ally of the U.S. in other conflicts all over the world, from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to the Gulf War to the war in Afghanistan. And when the Shah of Iran – the dictator who headed another client state in the region, fell in 1979, Saudi importance to the U.S. increased tremendously.

Undoubtedly the ruling clan – the family Saud, with its 18,000 members – as well as a few other privileged families (like the bin Ladens) have benefitted tremendously from this arrangement. They are among the richest families in the world.

Saudi Arabia in crisis

The Saudi economy is caught in a worsening crisis with the government racking up enormous debts year after year. Currently, the national debt is as large comparatively speaking, as that of Lebanon, which has not yet recovered from a devastating 20-year civil war. At the same time, the unemployment rate has skyrocketed. It is estimated that over one-third of the work force is unemployed. According to The Economist magazine, the average income in Saudi Arabia has been cut by more than half in less than a generation. And while modern skyscrapers dominate the skyline of the cities, most of the country is falling apart, with slums spreading and big parts of the infrastructure, like roads and schools, in complete disrepair.

Historically, the royal Saudi family has relied on its own brand of Islamic fundamentalism, called Wahhabism, to help control the population. This religious dogma, straight out of feudal times, is the law of the land. There is no parliament, no free speech, no political party, no right of assembly. Instead, what people get is religious law and religious police. Women are not allowed to drive. They cannot even leave the home without being completely veiled from the top of their heads to their toes. In March this year, 18 young girls were burnt to death in a school fire because the religious police would not let them escape since they weren't completely covered, as prescribed by holy law.

The decline of the economy, coupled with the repressiveness of the regime, as well as the ostentation and decadence of the Saudi ruling family, has led to growing discontent and covert opposition to the regime. And this has come not just from the poor layers of the society – but from the more privileged layers of the middle class, which often now also faces unemployment and ruin.

Terrorism: A hired gun for dictatorships in the Middle East

Obviously, bin Laden and his supporters have drawn on this discontent to further their own political agenda. On the one hand, bin Laden's terrorist gangs gather a kind of populist appeal that stretches well beyond Saudi Arabia. This appeal is based on the audacity of its terrorist attacks against the symbols of power of the U.S., the dominant power in the Middle East and the world. By blowing up U.S. embassies, military barracks, military ships and even some of its mightiest buildings for government and finance inside the U.S. itself, the terrorists have sealed their reputation amongst masses of the poor and the oppressed, as well as the better off layers.

But of course, they channel this appeal towards a terrorist organization that is politically no different than the predatory and decadent ruling Saudi clique. Bin Laden's terrorists espouse the very same religious fundamentalism as the Saudi family. At the same time, bin Laden's terrorists act as a hired gun in the service of dictatorships all over the Middle East by serving in their wars, or by keeping sectors of the population under control.

That should hardly be a surprise, given the fact that bin Laden's organization was first started in the proxy war in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union in the 1980s by not only Saudi Arabia's secret police, but with the help and support of the U.S. CIA as well. Within Saudi Arabia itself, bin Laden's terrorist gangs have been and continue to be useful for at least one part of the ruling elite.

For many years, the king of Saudi Arabia, King Fahd, has been extremely sick – in fact, practically dead. Behind the scenes, there has been a furious battle for power inside the Saudi ruling family. The stakes in this fight for power are great. But given the secret nature of this fight, it is difficult to know how everyone is lined up. But somewhere in this fight for power in Saudi Arabia the terrorist bands around bin Laden fit in. Otherwise, they wouldn't have had so much access to money, weapons and secret intelligence services.

All these ties explain why Bush has not even waved a finger at the Saudi Arabian government for the terrorist attacks, even while the U.S. claims to hunt down the terrorist bands that are closely tied to parts of the Saudi regime.

Pages 6-7

Health insurance costs up; coverage down

Sep 9, 2002

The Kaiser Family Foundation just released its annual report on health insurance. The cost of workplace health insurance policies went up almost 13% last year – the biggest one-year increase since 1990. Prescription drug insurance costs went up even faster – 14 to 19% last year. And even bigger health and drug insurance cost increases are predicted for this year and the future.

While overall costs are skyrocketing, the part of the cost paid by employees has been rising still faster. Employees paid 16% more for family coverage, or 27% more for single workers.

And the deductibles on PPO plans, the most popular type of workplace health insurance, went up by 37% last year.

Where is all this money going? To the profits of the insurance companies themselves for one. And to the profits of the drug companies for another. The health of their balance sheets couldn't be better.

Yes, we could have a health care system for everyone

Sep 9, 2002

Numerous politicians argue that the U.S. cannot afford to pay for prescriptions for the elderly, not to mention for a national health care system that would cover everyone. They say that it would simply cost too much.

A study just published in the professional medical journal called Health Affairs shows that this is a patent lie. The various government agencies, federal and state, already pay out more than enough to pay for a national healthcare system that would cover everyone, including with prescription drugs.

Today, government directly pays 548 billion dollars, about 45% of all the money spent on medical care in this country. This covers the health costs for the poor, the elderly, the disabled and soldiers.

But the study in Health Affairs points out that government funding for health care does not stop there. It pays for the health benefits of government employees who are nearly one fifth of the whole work force .

Then there are the indirect payments – chief among which are the various subsidies and tax breaks, including to pharmaceutical companies and to all private employers who provide medical coverage. The government subsidy for private employer medical insurance amounts, for example, to over 14 billion dollars a year.

Effectively, even though companies talk about their costs, they don't pay most, or in some cases, any of them; the government does.

If you add up all the government money that goes toward medical care, directly and indirectly, it totals 724 billion dollars, or almost 60% of all health care spending – public and private. Averaged out, that comes to $2,604 in government spending on health care for every person in this country.

Whether or not people have medical coverage, this per person average – $2604 – means that government spending on health is higher than government spending in any other country. The difference is that most industrialized countries provide health care to everyone, as opposed to the U.S., where more than 40 million people have no coverage whatsoever. And besides that, these governments also often provide drug coverage, not only for retirees, but for everyone.

In other words, in the U.S., health care coverage is much more expensive, but it doesn't go to everyone and it covers less. Why?

Obviously the few elite health care centers in this country provide the best that money can buy, if you have the money to buy it. But for most people in this country, health care is not particularly better than health care for ordinary people in most of the other richer countries.

Health care in this country is so much more expensive for two reasons. The complicated mix of all the different kinds of private insurance and public spending drains more than twice as much money as in countries with a nationalized health care system, just to pay administrative costs. In other words, there is much more red tape in this country than in countries that have nationalized health care system.

Second, almost every aspect of this system is set up to directly produce profits in the medical care industry. Much of our tax money goes to enrich a few very big drug companies, hospital corporations, and insurance and financial companies.

What gets in the way of providing decent health care coverage for everyone is not a lack of money. No, it is just the complete, no-holds-barred profit- at-all-cost system of health care that we already have.

Why Iraq?
And why now?

Sep 9, 2002

After almost a year of Bush's "war against terrorism," what does he have to show for it? Certainly thousands of civilians have been killed in Afghanistan but the regime that replaced the Taliban is so fragile that, despite the presence of western forces on the ground, it can't prevent its own ministers from being killed by other warlords who make up the supposed coalition government. As for bin Laden, whom Bush made enemy number one, he has escaped the most powerful army of the world.

In this situation, Bush's "war against terrorism" may end up costing him more than he gains from it. And yet it's necessary for the U.S. government – no matter who heads it – to maintain the illusion that the U.S. faces foreign threats. Otherwise, how can they justify, keeping and expanding the American military all around the world? Especially since its exorbitant cost is increasing even while conditions for a large part of the population are aggravated by the recession. So, what's more useful than to once again raise the old scarecrow of Saddam Hussein?

Bush has been threatening this war for a while. Nonetheless, he hasn't yet thrown U.S. forces into the kind of war required to overthrow Saddam Hussein and prop up the new regime – and not because he's worried about congressional approval. He makes it clear that he is ready, on his own word, to launch the war. The fact remains, a war against Iraq promises to be no picnic.

First because Iraq, despite the years of the embargo, isn't Afghanistan. Bush can't hope to take over Baghdad simply by sending in bombers from far off military bases. Troops are required. But that raises the question of the reaction of American public opinion when "body bags" of soldiers fallen in combat begin to come back. The memory of Viet Nam isn't that dim. Nor has the century old reflex to oppose foreign wars been forgotten. Moreover, the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, despite all its faults, has an advantage for imperialism. It has been able to prevent numerous national powder kegs (Kurds, Shiites, etc.) in the region from calling into question existing national boundaries. Finally, a ground war to the finish in Iraq would open a second front, along with Israel-Palestine, in a region on which a great part of the profits of the giant American oil companies depends. The risks of such a war might be run without any guarantee that a regime could be put in place in Iraq that would be both stable and favorable to Washington.

However, there are other options than of the current latent war, with its intermittent bombing and economic sanctions on Iraq, or an invasion of the country by the American army. Bush might launch a new wave of massive bombing as the U.S. has done several times in the 1990s. He might authorize limited landing of troops in vital regions on the border of Iraqi territory, which could, for example, totally interrupt Hussein'Saddam Hussein has already offered to accept the return of UN "inspectors." Bush could hope to force him into many other humiliating concessions – even to give up power personally, while leaving power to men of his political clan, which could at the end of the day be the most satisfying solution from the point of view of imperialism. Bush could pretend to have won a "victory." He could finish the demonstration that his father began and Clinton continued – designed to show all the peoples and regimes of the poor countries what it costs to contest – even a little bit – the imperialist order.

In any case, total war or not, the Iraqi population will again pay the cost of this demonstration of force whose sole aim, once again, would be to demonstrate the domination of imperialism and to terrorize the peoples who wish to resist it.

The "dirty bomb"

Sep 9, 2002

Attorney General John Ashcroft declared in May that the government had apprehended a "dirty bomber", a former Chicago gang member who had joined Al Qaeda. In fact, the accused had no materials to construct such a bomb, no knowledge of how to do it. But it certainly made a big propaganda hit.

It turns out, however, that "dirty bombs" have been used before, and in Iraq, the very country which we are told is raising a nuclear threat to the world. But the "dirty bombs" weren't released by Saddam Hussein, but by the United States itself!

During the Gulf War the U.S. fired off 350 tons of artillery shells made from depleted uranium. The military likes these shells because uranium is so hard it can penetrate tanks and other armor. So-called "depleted" uranium is taken from nuclear reactors. The fact that it's called "depleted" doesn't mean it carries no radiation – it means it's effective life in a reactor is used up.

When shell casings made of "depleted" uranium break up, they disintegrate into dust, enter the soil and are blown by the wind. The uranium particles can be inhaled and lodge in the bones where they release what is called "low level" radiation. This radiation causes cancer and other serious diseases.

Not only have these shells had a long-term ill effect on the people of Iraq, there is some evidence that they are one of the causes of Gulf War Syndrome which has affected many U.S. soldiers who were there during the war.

Yes, the threat of the "dirty bomber" is real – but it's the U.S. military who's the culprit.

"Weapons of mass destruction"

Sep 9, 2002

The Bush administration daily proclaims that Saddam Hussein is a madman, preparing to use "weapons of mass destruction."The claims have been repeated so much that many people in this country have come to believe Iraq does have chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

Certainly Bush and his administration assert that it is true. For example, on August 26, Vice President Dick Cheney said "There is no question that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction." Apparently, however, there were some questions, because five days later the Vice President said a little more cautiously, "We are convinced that Saddam will acquire nuclear weapons fairly soon."About the same time, the administration announced it had proof of a nuclear weapons facility in Iraq. It turned out embarrassing for them, however, since the facility they mentioned was in northern Iraq, in the part controlled by the Kurds, not by Saddam Hussein. So if a weapons facility exists there, it certainly isn't Hussein's nuclear bomb production factory!

Apparently the evidence they have been giving secretly to the Senate is not all that convincing either. Senator Chuck Hagel is the Deputy Whip for the Republican Minority, so he certainly supports the administration. He also sits on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations with oversight responsibility of the CIA. He announced that the CIA says there is "absolutely no evidence" that Iraq has ever possessed or will soon possess nuclear weapons.

As for the international experts the Bush administration cites – they, too, are a little skeptical. The administration reported that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had satellite photographs of Iraq showing new construction in Iraq, and it reported that the French physicist who heads the team, Jacques Baute, said, "We are very curious to see what is under the roof." The administration forgot to mention what Baute said when asked if the photos showed that Hussein was building nuclear weapons. He warned, "We have nothing now that allows us to draw a conclusion."There's one expert the Administration will not cite, the man whom the first Bush Administration sent into Iraq after the Gulf War to dismantle their weapon systems and make inspections. Scott Ritter, a former Marine who took part in the Gulf War as an intelligence officer, was chief inspector of the United Nations Special Commission (UNSCOM) from 1991 to 1998. What Ritter said in 1998 and has continued to say since then was directly contrary to what this administration asserts.

Ritter gave testimony at a Senate hearing in 1998 that his team had succeeded to a level of 90 or 95%. Ritter described the "destruction or dismantling of every major factory associated with prohibited weapons manufacture, all significant items of production equipment and the majority of the weapons and agents produced by Iraq."Ritter said that during his surprise inspections, the team "never once detected any evidence of retained proscribed activity or effort by Iraq to reconstitute that capability which had been eliminated through inspection."Ritter today says the political charges against Saddam Hussein are "a political sham used to invoke a modern-day Gulf of Tonkin-resolution equivalent for Iraq." Ritter refers to the excuse used to step up the bombing in Viet Nam. It was an incident that never happened, although the president of the U.S. said it did. In fact, Ritter, the man who knows better than anyone else, has been leading a campaign to refute Bush's lies.

That's what all the pronouncements from Bush and his supporters are: lies and propaganda.

Apparently, he thinks that occupying the White House gives him the right to make up any story, no matter how far from the truth. He wouldn't be the first president to do so.

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