False Equivalence, Tu Quoque and the Death of Facts

“If someone says it’s raining, and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the fucking window and find out which is true.”

— Popular Internet Meme

False equivalence is the industry standard for reporting on nearly all popular media outlets.  It’s why we have Trump.   It’s why we have a climate catastrophe.  At some point, the mainstream media became too frightened or morally compromised to report important stories without pretending there was another equally valid side. We all know that’s not how the world works. That’s how lazy people form their arguments.   In reality, the science is clear that climate change is massively fucking up the world.  You no longer need to be a scientist to understand this, you can see it with your own eyes.  Yet, whenever a right wing kook, such as those running the government, disputes this fact, the media feel duty bound to report their doubt and cite what passes for their reasoning.  This is a massive moral failure and breathtaking cowardice.  Again, it’s why we have Trump and many, many other bad things.

The other fallacious argument that drives much of public discourse is  Tu Quoque.  This is a Latin phrase meaning “you also.”  This is the rhetorical equivalent of “oh yeah, well you’re just as bad as me.” It is used as a device to diminish an argument by asserting that both sides of an issue are equally flawed.  For example, “You may believe Creationism is unscientific–that it is only a matter of faith–but, the Theory of Evolution is also based on faith.”  This bullshit would be at home on any Sunday morning news show.

The wide adoption of this failure to research, check and report information accurately has led us to a wild west of information where any one piece of “knowledge” is equally valid to another.  It is the wedge that Fox News, and the right wing Wingnutverse use to lay the foundation for the batshit crazy pablum they spoon feed to the hordes whose ignorance grows daily due to the absence of a standard of truth in reporting.

Don’t get me wrong.  I know there are many reporters who are working hard to swim against this tide and bless them.  But the idiots are currently winning this struggle.  Godspeed, good reporters!

I’ve always thought that, at some point, the craziness of misleading, dishonest, sloppy and poorly reasoned reporting would reach such a massive level of dissonance with reality that the whole fiction would collapse because people will only accept so much conflict with what their eyes can see.  Turns out  I was wrong again.

Citizens Rally To Protect Community From Coyote Menace

(San Francisco, CA) — A group of concerned citizens have identified a grave threat to the city’s outdoor cats and unleashed dogs.  An evil genius group of coyotes are exhibiting signs of intelligence and wile far beyond what is typical for their species.  The SuperCoyotes, as they have come to be known, have been living in parks, apparently planning a mass takeover of the city.  Records obtained by the activist group CULL (Cwile-e-coyte-300x229oyotes Unwelcome to Live Locally) show that the coyotes are actually breeding and engaging in predatory behavior that is likely to result in significant emotional and financial damage to the entitled citizens of San Francisco, 2.0, California.

“They’re out there plotting to eat my poodle and pick their teeth with his bones.” said Cody Smythe, a long-time resident of Noe Valley who moved to the city in September of 2015.  Trey Cummings is worried that his recently purchased $6.7 million, five story house will lose value if the city is overrun by the craven canines. “I have not actually seen one attack anyone or anything, but I know what they’re capable of” he observed “I read it online.”

CULL has successfully raised funds to hire a well known coyote expert to come to San Francisco, a posh suburb of Silicon Valley, to do battle with the critters.  Roadrunner, as the expert is known, is familiar with the tactics coyotes commonly use, such as painting tunnels on rocks, setting off TNT charges and hang gliding in to kill their prey.  The word is that Roadrunner has a perfect record of victory over the creatures and confidence is high that he will be able to fix the problem.  When asked for comment, Roadrunner remarked “Beep Beep”, but was unavailable for further comment.

 

Playing Chicken with Donald Trump

America’s bigots are worried.  The middle class and lower middle class white people who liked it better when tax breaks for millionaires were killing the economy are worried.  After more than 200  years of white, anglo-saxon protestant presidents, they are looking down the barrel of an existential crisis.  The only one who can save them is Trump.

They’ve endured eight years of an African-American President.  If another Democrat is elected, it will be a woman or a Jew.  This cannot stand.  Where is their candidate?  Is it that smarmy Canadian Cuban from Texas?  Is it the weasely little Cuban from Florida?  Hardly.  They’re part of the “Establishment” a word with roots in the 60’s that now means something entirely different.  It means fringe dwelling politicians who have the blessing of their party.

Trump HateWho is that man riding in on a white golf cart, hair holding steady in the breeze?  He seems a savior, he speaks the truth about Mexicans.  They are thugs and rapists.  He wants to rid our nation of the curse of Muslims.  Think of all the space he will make for real Americans when tens of millions of brown people are deported.  He wants to go beyond waterboarding and torture enemies and their families.  It’s like a great TV show and he is the star.  He’ll bring back our jobs. He’ll make America GREAT again.  Like it was back when…uh….uh…hey look!  It’s a Obamacare!  Man is he gonna fix that with his solution. It will be a terrific solution.  Something about removing lines.  I don’t know, he’s a BUSINESS MAN.  He’ll run America like a business.

There are a large number of our fellow Americans who think like this and are hopping on board the Donald Trump Love Train.  There are a lot of them and it’s disturbing, but there are not enough to elect him president in any conceivable scenario.  Even though the media are obsessed with reporting on his every utterance, there aren’t enough disgruntled morons in the country to make him electable.  He could easily get the Republican nomination because the disgruntled morons make up a large portion of their base.  Not a majority, mind you.  Trump has never gotten a majority in any primary or caucus.  But he’s gotten more votes than the others and that may carry the day.  In fact, if you are a Democrat, or just a person who is averse to the most regressive conservative social policy ever, you should probably hope for a Trump victory in the GOP race.  He is the only candidate who can be defeated by both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, according to current polling.

On the Democratic side, the problem is Hillary.  She has, for some time, appeared to be the likely Democratic nominee.  She had it sewed up tight and Bernie’s candidacy was not given a chance for success.  The media have covered it entirely like he is the upstart underdog without a shot.  He gets only a fraction of the coverage Hillary gets, and a diminimus amount of coverage compared to Trump.  But something happened with Bernie. He is succeeding in spite of the institutionalized handicaps he faces.  He is restoring grass-roots power to the process and he is making it work.

There are a lot of Democrats, myself included, who have been thinking “I’m voting for Bernie in the primary, but I’m going to have to support Hillary in the general.”  We think this because we have been trained by our experience never to expect a candidate representing truth, justice and the American Way to succeed anywhere but in the comic books.  But many Democrats, again, myself included, are now seeing an opening.  It is completely possible that Hillary can be defeated if enough people get active and get behind the candidate they care about in a big way.  This thing can be turned around.  We can transcend Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s manipulations of the system, we can overcome the lack of coverage and we can break free of the thinking that says it’s “Hillary’s Turn.”  This is not the a game.  There are no “turns.”  This is life and death and the future of our civilization.

But while Bernie getting the nomination is within our grasp, it is still a risk at this point.  We need the opposition to help set the Democrats up for victory regardless of who the Dem candidate is.  Let’s go to the polls

According to ABC News/Washington Post Poll of March 3-6, 2016, Hillary beats Trump by a respectable 50% to 41%.  It’s hard to see how that number goes in any direction but worse for Donald Trump.  There just aren’t enough people ignorant enough to set fire to the Democracy by electing him.  In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll of March 3-6, 2016 Hillary beats Trump 51% to 38%.but she only squeaks by Cruz 47% to 45%.  She is tied with Rubio with 46% each.  Those numbers are likely to improve for either of these two Republicans in the general as they refine their messages to appeal to more moderate voters.  They will capitalize on Hillary’s shortcomings, both real and manufactured, and they will be on a clear path to winning.  These are not nice people and they are a damn sight worse than Hillary as President of the United States.

The outlook with Bernie, in that same NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll, is much better.  He beats Trump 55% to 37%, meaning he pics up 4% of undecideds vs. Hillary. In a CNN/ORC Poll of Feb. 24-27, 2016, he beats Cruz 57% to 40% and Rubio goes down 53% to 45%.

My takeaway from all of this is that Trump is the best choice for the GOP because he has very little chance of winning a general election.  If the Democratic party machine prevails and forces Hillary Clinton on us, Trump is the only candidate she has a good shot at defeating.  She is in trouble against the others.

I’m gaining more optimism about Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee and Democrats need to blow out all the stops to make this happen.  He will do well against whatever is thrown at him and he has a base of support that is passionate and energetic.  That’s how Obama won.  But we absolutely need to hedge our bets and hope that the wingnut wing of the Republican party will prevail and anoint the embodiment of their worst selves, Donald Trump, to be their standard-bearer.

This can then be an election with no shades of grey.  Hillary can beat Trump.  Sanders can beat Trump, Cruz or Rubio.  One way or another, Trump has to be their guy.