Facts are now “bias” 

Trump aides are trying to convince you that if you use facts, you’re now “biased” reporting.

Here’s the CNN screen that Kobach says shows “bias” because it points out the soundbyte about voter fraud has been shown to be false by every metric.

Trumpsters keep repeating it as if that makes it a fact. It does not. My 13-year old would fail her geometry proofs if she tried that shit.

And Samantha Bee’s whimsical tweet about it:

How to Find Good Journalism

Disturbing, but accurate, analysis:

The Russian dissident and chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov drew upon long familiarity with that process when he tweeted: “The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.”

Mr. Kasparov grasps that the real threat is not merely that a large number of Americans have become accustomed to rejecting factual information, or even that they have become habituated to believing hoaxes. The real danger is that, inundated with “alternative facts,” many voters will simply shrug, asking, “What is truth?” — and not wait for an answer.

In that world, the leader becomes the only reliable source of truth; a familiar phenomenon in an authoritarian state, but a radical departure from the norms of a democratic society. The battle over truth is now central to our politics. NYT

I saw a plea on social media from a right-leaning friend who asked for suggestions about what media to read. She said it’s all slanted, so much so, that the headline “telegraphs” their opinion. She misunderstands, as do most people who are trying to sound fair-minded despite their own disinterest in analyzing arguments. 

Journalism isn’t about reporting mere facts but about reporting facts and providing context. Doing this usually provides the critical thinker with what they need to decide their opinion of the matter. What is happening is that most readers aren’t critical thinkers: they want to be told what to think. 

Two things are happening with media these days. 

As the above opinion piece explains, the right have been convinced that not only are they slanted but mainstream newspapers actually lie. Major newspapers do not. The New York Times, the Economist, the Washington Post — these are venerable news outlets that examine the world with people trained in journalism. 

Yes, when these newspapers’ articles seem critical of their subject, they likely are. But you know what? They provide facts and links to facts, and they build a rational argument without inflammatory language or epithets.

That’s the point of a free press, of real journalism: be suspicious, require proof, challenge the story that the powerful in any field are feeding you. Any newspaper that sweeps away the critical aspect of their reporting is not journalism but PR. Supporting outlets that defend the powerful while that power delegitimizes actual fact is the fastest way to bring despotism to the US.

Trump knows this well. That’s why he keeps saying whatever the hell he wants with no facts to back his statements up. The right-leaning will defend him, will want to believe him, which leaves them only the option that mainstream media is lying or — for those tired and despairing — that ALL media is lying or slanted or “telegraphing” their opinions in the headlines.

Trump constantly tweets that the NYT is reporting lies. They are not, of course, and we can verify it easily. But too many of us don’t. We’d rather just tell the naked king we like his clothes. 

The second thing that is happening is that readers conflate the news articles they read with opinion blogs. Every newspaper has them, and when you follow a link to one from social media, all you see is the newspaper’s URL. You think you’re reading a journalist, but you’re not. In addition, news conglomerates like Huffington Post, Drudge Report, and Breitbart mix news and opinion together and push the most popular (i.e. the most sensational) to the top. These are not journalistic sites.

You’re lazy, America. Quit reading conglomerates and you’re half the way there.

Civics 101: Checks and Balances

The Trump administration thinks it has a unilateral authority to bar anyone from this country it chooses. That is, Trump asserted he could ban anyone entering based on his judgment alone and that the courts had no right to question it.

He is ruling by fiat alone, writing executive orders left and right and not bothering to consult Congress or seek to form coalitions. Why? Because he knows nothing about governing. And when his orders aren’t followed, he bullies. This has worked in his businesses — bullying and suing those who disagree. He neither understands nor respects our democratic republic.

Several courts have now disagreed with him, so Trump questioned their integrity. He made it personal. This man is demeaning the office terribly.

But thank god for our judiciary and our Constitution. The ninth circuit Court of Appeals had this to say:

[T]he government has taken the position that the president’s decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable, even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections. … There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy. [Pages 13-14]

The Trump administration has argued that the judiciary should stay out of the case. The appeals court strongly disagrees as a matter of constitutional first principles.

NYT

His supporters seem to be doubling down, digging in, and ready to accept a scorched earth policy. But they need to realize they made a very big error in judgment.

This land is your land, this land is — no it isn’t

Now I get it. Trump has decided he owns this country. He’s that obnoxious man yelling at his neighbors to stay off his lawn.

In its argument for an appeal, the Justice Department had said the president had an “unreviewable authority” to suspend the entry of any class of foreigners.

The Justice Department argued that the president acted well within his constitutional authority. Blocking the order, it concluded, “immediately harms the public by thwarting enforcement of an Executive Order issued by the President, based on his national security judgment.” NYT

“Unreviewable authority”? You mean, like a dictator?

His “national security judgment”? You mean the man who avoids the security briefings and has seated inexperienced yes-men as his advisers, like Steve Bannon, former Goldman-Sachs executive and alt-right news mogul, was given a seat on the NSC usually reserved for generals?

I just keep watching SNL to stay sane.

The one thing all terrorists have in common

The Economist conjectured on the current decade of terrorism compared with previous decades. They had this to say:

Especially in America, it is all too easy to buy high-powered automatic weapons that can kill scores of people in moments. Neither great planning nor great intelligence is required to carry out such attacks. Even when the perpetrators are on the radar of the police and security services—and by no means all are—there is no guarantee they can be stopped, given the sheer number of potential jihadists.

Thus it seems likely that much of Europe and America will have to get used to acts of Islamist-inspired terrorism becoming, if not routine, at least fairly regular occurrences. The challenge for open, liberal societies is how they should respond to that threat, particularly at a time when popular confidence in traditional political elites has sunk so low. Above all, the danger is of over-reaction. (The Economist)

But the article makes these good points;

Last year General Michael Flynn, Donald Trump’s adviser on national-security issues and a former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, did just that. He described the terrorist enemy as “fuelled by a vision of worldwide domination achieved through violence and bloodshed” that was “committed to the destruction of freedom and the American way of life”. That may indeed be how IS thugs see themselves. But why should anyone sensible be so keen to validate their boasts?

To his credit, Mr Obama has consistently warned about the consequences of using hyperbolic language to describe the terrorist threat. In a TV address last December, after the San Bernardino shootings, he explained that success against IS and other terrorists “won’t depend on tough talk or abandoning our values, or giving in to fear”. Instead, he said, America would prevail by being strong and clever, resilient and relentless. Mr Obama is right. Defeating terrorism depends above all on good intelligence, a degree of stoicism and a refusal to allow it to undermine the principles that open societies are built on.

In other words, all this banning of Muslims entering the country is so ridiculously irrational and unhelpful that only Trump supporters are capable of thinking it’s a good idea.

If, indeed, you want to be safe from the greatest threats of violence, let’s consider the facts:

  1. Muslims commit terrorism.
  2. No, radical Muslims commit terrorism.
  3. But radical conservative Christians have killed as many in the US, some years they account for more and some years less than Muslims
  4. So maybe this is all a religion thing
  5. But wait, it’s not just religion. Despondent adolescents and angry workers have killed even more
  6. But wait…what connects EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE GROUPS?
  7. They’re all almost exclusively men
  8. Men are the greatest risk to our safety in this country and the world

 

Maybe it’s time to ban men. Not only are they nearly every single terrorist, they are also almost the entirety of the violent criminals, murderers, abusers, and rapists. If this post seems ridiculous to you, you need to really spend some time thinking about risk assessment, patriarchy, scapegoats, and red herrings.

 

The CEO you hired

This is a tremendous post I ran across at Quora. It’s in response to a Trump supporter who wonders why Democrats won’t just “give Trump a chance.” Hahaha! I could ask why this Trumpian didn’t just “give Hillary a chance” — but I already know it’s because Trump supporters lack critical thinking skills.

So, let’s say your company hired a new CEO. By popular vote, but not really.

The new CEO, before he even gets there, announces he’s going to give high-paying, high-impact jobs to random people he knows, regardless of their ability to actually do the job.

The CEO announces he’s going to get rid of the company health plan. He promises “something better” but he’s already started the process of cancelling your health care with absolutely no plan to put something else in.

The future CEO also announces he’s buddies/not buddies with a rival firm who’s been trying to steal your company’s secrets and business for years. Maybe he even throws around the idea of a merger or a buyout… it’s just business right?

He’s also announced his intention to put all Muslim employees in the basement, under security cameras.

He has a history of not only dismissing sexual assault complaints, but actually bragging that he can do whatever he wants to women. He announces his intention to “inspect” the ladies room whenever he thinks there might be a transexual in there.

This is your job- you are about to be taking orders from junior executives who have no idea what they are doing, but have a lot of relatives who are bidding on company contracts.

You just sit back and watch all this coming and say, “I’m sure it will be great. Let’s see what he can do!”

Right? No cause for alarm.
Myra Scott 

It begins (and perhaps ends) with incompetence and greedy billionaires 

David Brooks got it exactly right. We don’t need to fear Trump’s ideology — he has none. It’s his incompetence, his lack of intellect, his conflicts of interest, his peevishness, and the family and “royal retainers” he has appointed to run a vast bureaucracy that should help and protect but will focus instead on policies that create profit for its leaders.

What we got:

His business is a pre-modern family clan, not an impersonal corporation, and he is staffing his White House as a pre-modern family monarchy, with his relatives and a few royal retainers. In his business and political dealings, he simply doesn’t acknowledge the difference between private and public, personal and impersonal. Everything is personal, pulsating outward from his needy core.

And how we got it:

We’ve never had a major national leader as professionally unprepared, intellectually ill informed, morally compromised and temperamentally unfit as the man taking the oath on Friday. So let’s not lessen the shock factor that should reverberate across this extraordinary moment.

It took a lot to get us here. It took a once-in-a-century societal challenge — the stresses and strains brought by the global information age — and it took a political system that was too detached and sclerotic to understand and deal with them.

The conflict of interest in nearly every appointee is astounding–a secretary of education who owns interest in charter schools poised to deliver long-distance education, couldn’t answer questions about standardized testing, and has NO personal and NO professional experience with public schools? A secretary of energy who once wanted to demolish the department but has changed his mind right after his nomination? A secretary of treasury who manages a tax haven holding company in the Cayman Islands and lied about an extra 100 million in property he owns and whose bank lied and profited off the foreclosure crisis?

So here we are. I doubt the country will actually end in the next four years, but we are seeing the unraveling. We are at the beginning of the end.

Let the circus begin…