Sunday, January 22, 2017

Alternative Facts = TheTrump administration's normalization of lies

Have you seen this?  .

In this clip from NBC's "Meet the Press," with host Chuck Todd, Trump spokesperson Kellyane Conway defended Trump press secretary Sean Spicer as merely offering "alternative facts" in place of the truth regarding the size of the crowds attending Trump's inauguration in a no-questions press conference the day after the inauguration.

Let there be no mistake.  Of five widely reported items in the news that Spicer wanted to dispute, four of Spicer's conflicting versions of the truth were clearly false - probably outright lies if any effort had been made to check on their veracity.

The only item that Spicer got correct - that a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. had been removed by the Trump staff, was, in fact, false was quickly confirmed by the reporter who originally got it wrong.  A phone call from the White House to the reporter would have sufficed to get the record set straight, get the correction and probably an apology.

The other four items regarding crowd sizes, however, are fact as reported by the media originally as far as anyone can determine.  No evidence to the contrary was presented by Spicer.  Spicer, at best, was dead wrong, and most likely, lying deliberately.

So what  did Kellyanne say that is even more important than the lies of Sean Spicer?  Here is the exchange:

Conway: "Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. You're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving — our press secretary, Sean Spicer, gave alternative facts to that. But the point really is —"

Chuck Todd:  “Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts? Four of the five facts he uttered . . . were just not true. Alternative facts are not facts; they're falsehoods.”

In the first day on the job, Press Secretary Sean Spicer lies about 80% of the indisputable facts he disputed, with almost a 100% certainty that he was ordered to do so by President Trump and then was wholeheartedly defended the next day by top adviser Kellyanne Conway.

 Conway wondered why Chuck Todd was "laughing" at her during the interview.  She is right.  This is no laughing matter and the media would be wise to not treat this as a joke any longer.  This is sick and dangerous.

Friday, January 20, 2017

The Most Depressing Thing Today, 1/20/17; Ideology

Today, January 20, 2017, was the day that Donald J. Trump was inaugurated.  However, his inauguration, which was inevitable and lawful, was not the thing that depressed me most.  After all, he won the election game although, as any objective person would admit, he in fact came in second to another person in the popular vote.  All you can say is that he legally won the election game under the insane rules under which it is governed.  To deny him the presidency is to descend into anarchy and chaos.  Following rules, even crazy rules, is probably a better alternative.

It wasn't his speech that was especially depressing either.  I had no expectations of graciousness from Trump nor did I expect him to reach out to others, in particular to that majority of Americans who opposed him.

The most depressing thing was the violence perpetrated by a small group of persons protesting Trump's inauguration in the nation's capital.  Although few in number, the coverage of their actions was immense - all eyes were on Washington DC.  Since those who oppose Trump need to make their views known, it is frightening to think that such demonstrations may serve, instead, to help President Trump.

Even though the violence was limited, at least as of 4:30pm EST, to the burning of a Fox News vehicle, and some violence in the streets of Washington DC, this is precisely the kind of thing that will help Trump and hurt those who oppose his intentions to reverse the Affordable Care Act, and help Trump promote his racial, ethnic, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist and religious biases.  This kind of hijacking of a peaceful protest will serve to make people think twice about protesting; the concern that a protest will turn violent is a legitimate concern.  If you care about whether the protest will actually turn into an asset for President Trump to exploit, why protest?

If you want to help Trump, do what those particular protesters did: riot in the streets and burn vehicles.  I do not care how the protesters feel in their hearts about Trump.  I do not like Trump but I view these protesters as agents of Trump.  What I care about are the results of their actions.  Their actions will only give comfort to supporters of Trump and strengthen their and Trump's resolve to follow though on their biases.

Consider that Trump would have been roundly defeated if only voter turnout was high; Clinton would have won if those who favored her did not stay home out of laziness, complacency, lack of motivation or because Clinton was "not progressive enough."  Any protester who did not vote for Clinton can now thank themselves for the eventual results.  They should be hiding in shame instead of rioting in the street if that is what they were doing.

What kind of thinking leads to this sort of behavior?  How does anyone come to the conclusion that rioting and behaving like anarchists will change the hearts and minds of those on the fence about Donald J. Trump?  Unfortunately the answer is that the rioters are the mirror image of those Trump supporters who threatened peaceful protesters at Trump rallies; or those who chanted "lock her up"; or those who chanted "build the wall."  Those pro-Trump supporters did not care whether their beliefs were reasoned, true or helpful. They just believed.

In the next few days there will be numerous demonstrations around the country protesting Trump's expected policies; if too many of the demonstrations are hijacked by a violent few, they will only serve to help Trump move his agenda forward just as the misguided "anti-war" movement helped George W. Bush gain support for the disastrous Iraq War in 2002 and 2003.

Most people have short memories.  To quickly summarize, demonstrators had often framed the opposition to the Iraq War as being opposed to all wars - it was the "anti-war" movement, not, more specifically, the "anti-Iraq War" movement; also, some protesters coupled it with anti-capitalism protests which was not helpful; and occasionally some participants perpetrated violence.  Obviously, to an American public that has not forgotten World War II, and for those who understood that the U.S. was attacked by Al Qaeda on 9-11, overall pacifism seemed a ridiculous concept. Also, to those who have reaped the benefits of the world's strongest economy, lumping anti-capitalism with an "anti-war" movement was not sensible.

The better route for that movement to take was to emphasize that Iraq was NOT the source of the 9-11 attack and that bin Laden, hiding on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border, WAS the source.    The other excuse, that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, was the subject of ongoing UN inspections that were halted by the U.S. before they were completed so that we could invade - before the inspectors could confirm that there were NO weapons of mass destruction.  By the time the Iraq War began, and for years after, most Americans had the impression that Iraq was involved in 9-11 and that weapons of mass destruction were found.  The "anti-war" movement failed to communicate these key facts primarily because the "anti-war" movement was more about ideology than preventing the Iraq War.  They had other axes to grind - their ideologies.

This is my warning; do not make those who are ready to oppose President Trump's policies reluctant to side with a movement marred by anarchists and rioters and ideologues.  Let the demonstrations be inspiring, peaceful and welcoming to those looking on objectively.  Give onlookers the information they need to have, such as the simple fact that the popular Affordable Care Act is actually the same as the unpopular Obamacare.  Duh!  Let them understand that manufacturing jobs are mostly disappearing due to automation; let them understand that tax cuts for the wealthy mean that everyone else will have a greater tax burden; let them understand that equality under the law applies to women, minorities, the disabled, GLBT persons, non-believers and Muslims as well.  Give them the obvious yet disputed facts!

However, I am afraid that anarchists and ideologues do not  really care whether they are actually assisting Trump; ideologues are ideologues precisely because they care more about their belief system than whether it is grounded in reality and whether the results of their ideology actually assist with humanity's well being.  To be an ideologue is to place your ideology beyond question and to accept the results no matter how bad they are.  Ideologues just believe.  Those who burned the FoxNews car did Trump a huge favor but are now basking in their own perceived "purity."

They are the mirror image of Trump supporters.  These violent and radical few cannot be allowed to hijack the movement to stop Trump from doing what he has promised to do.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Definition of a Hypocrite

Wikipedia says: Hypocrisy is the contrivance of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, while concealing real character or inclinations, especially with respect to religious and moral beliefs; hence in a general sense, dissimulation, pretense, sham.  A person who indulges in hypocrisy is a hypocrite.

In the past, Donald Trump has tweeted, "An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud."  4:23 PM - 6 Aug 2012.

He also tweeted, "Congratulations to @RealSheriffJoe on his successful Cold Case Posse investigation which claims @BarackObama's 'birth certificate' is fake."  8:56 AM - 18 Jul 2012

How about one of Trump's hallucinations, recounted on George Stephanopoulos' TV show:
TRUMP: “Hey, I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: “You know, the police say that didn’t happen and all those rumors have been on the Internet for some time. So did you misspeak yesterday?”
TRUMP: “It did happen. I saw it.”  ( )

He also said this, "There was a picture on the front page of the National Enquirer, which does have credibility," Trump said to a room of volunteers and staffers in Cleveland, adding that the tabloid "should be very respected."  In May, Trump had said to Fox News, "You know, his father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald's being -- you know, shot....Right prior to his [Kennedy's] being shot, and nobody even brings it up. I mean, they don't even talk about that. That was reported and nobody talks about it."  (Go to )

Here's a delusional Trump tweet for you: "In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally."  3:30 PM - 27 Nov 2016

Now Donald Trump wouldn't promote the existence via a tweet of a "sex" tape unless it actually had sex in it and it the person he was accusing was actually in it, would he?  Oh yes he would:  "Did Crooked Hillary help disgusting (check out sex tape and past) Alicia M(achado) become a U.S. citizen so she could use her in the debate?"  5:30 AM - 30 Sep 2016

Let us not forget Trump's favorite target, Hillary Clinton and the charitable Clinton foundation in a campaign statement: "Hillary Clinton is the defender of the corrupt and rigged status quo... The Clintons have spent decades as insiders lining their own pockets and taking care of donors instead of the American people.  It is now clear that the Clinton Foundation is the most corrupt enterprise in political history.  What they were doing during Crooked Hillary’s time as Secretary of State was wrong then, and it is wrong now. It must be shut down immediately.”

And that brings us to today, January 11, 2017, with Trump dismissing any possible conflicts of interest and complaining about "fake news" and the "media" being unfair...

Although Trump demanded Clinton close down her charitable foundation from which she made no money (we know this because we have seen her tax returns) and has done much good work with 87% of monies going to the needy, "He told a news conference he had formally given 'complete and total' control to them in a bid to avoid conflicts of interest.  Mr Trump's lawyer, Sheri Dillon said the President-elect had 'isolated' himself from his businesses.  But the Office of Government Ethics said Mr Trump's plan didn't 'meet the standards' of former presidents.  The organisation's director Walter Shaub said the office's primary recommendation was that Mr Trump 'divest his conflicting assets'."  ( )

And of course, now he sees "fake news" everywhere (except for coming from himself):
"That's something that Nazi Germany would have done," he said.  He was replying to unsubstantiated allegations that his election team colluded with Russia and there were salacious videos of his private life... Mr Trump said the information "should have never been written and certainly should never have been released...   It's all fake news, it's phony stuff, it didn't happen," he said, adding that "sick people" had "put that crap together... it's an absolute disgrace". ( )

Trump was not happy that an allegedly "fake news" story damaging to him made it into print and was complaining about it being leaked by Buzzfeed while at the same time falsely accusing CNN of linking to the report, which it did not.  He threatened to throw out a CNN reporter from today's news conference.  I guess CNN is no National Inquirer.

Please note that this "fake news" was actually a privately created report given to John McCain and the intelligence community and in no way was it classified material.  If it is "leaked" to Buzzfeed, there is no culpability necessarily on the part of the intelligence community.  They had no ability to keep the report secret if someone in private life had decided to send it to Buzzfeed.  It's a private report; anyone could have written it, gotten it and forwarded it.  The sources of the report apparently had enough credibility to inspire a John McCain and others to consider it to be worth investigating by the intelligence community.  That is not "fake new" - it's real news.  The report may prove to be false itself, but the fact that this report is being investigated is real news and its leak may be perfectly legal.  Its leaking certainly is as ethical as Trump's birther claims, his claims about Ted Cruz's father and other lies that Trump has promoted.

Unfortunately the President elect seems to have no ability to discern "fake new" from real news, and sadly a large minority of Americans cannot as well.  And even before the inauguration, that a large minority of Americans are learning to accept gross hypocrisy and lies on a scale even more grand than I could have ever imagined is the biggest real news of the day.