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.

Why We Are Forced To Endure Trump

There was a time when a person as obviously crude, ill-mannered, misogynistic , dishonest, racist and obnoxious as Donald Trump would be relegated to walking around the street with a sandwich board proclaiming his wingnut theories.  But not now.  In this world, he’s the king of the news.  The more outrageous, the better.  Hate? Racism? Ridiculous, unfounded claims used to spread obviously false information?  Hell yes!

Trump HateIt has been decades since anything resembling journalism was involved in Presidential politics. For the Right Wing, it’s all about the most extreme nutjobs battling each other to see who can be the most hateful to the poor and disenfranchised, the most hostile to women, the most obsequious to the rich and the least credible with facts.  Donald Trump fires on all these cylinders and more.  The pathetic press corps is so completely addicted to this storyline that they can report on almost nothing else but Hillary Clinton’s emails.

The scrum of GOP wannabes spend all their limited press coverage on trying to make Planned Parenthood an issue, as they did ACORN in 2008, in the vain hope that they’ll tap into the seething hatred of evangelicals and anti-choice zealots.  Trump will beat them to the punch there as well.  He’ll make shit up.  He’ll scream insults.  He’ll pout his lips and squint.  He’ll utter hollow pronouncements and vague clichės.  Trump has eaten the other candidate’s lunch on immigration and brought back popular use of “illegals” as a pejorative term for Latinos.  Don’t fool yourself that they are talking about anyone but Latin Americans.   They don’t even give a shit about Islamic terrorists except to the extent that they can tie them to sneaking across the US/Mexico border.

Trump is speaking to the racists who have been seething for seven years as an African American sat in the Oval Office.  He sounds the clarion call to men who are fed up with being criticized for calling women sluts, bitches and bimbos.  He’s putting it all out there in the vernacular of the American Idiot, bestowing the legitimacy that boys in the barroom see as their due in a Christian God Fearing Nation.

It has been popular for years now to compare politicians one doesn’t like to Hitler.  The Right has done this repeatedly and viciously with President Obama.  They undercut their argument and betray their utter ignorance by using the terms “fascist” and “socialist” interchangeably.  They put caricatures of Obama as Hitler on the crudely lettered and illiterate signs.

But Donald Trump is the real deal in the race to fascism.  He has the rhetorical style and he is purposefully tapping into the deep, ugly reservoir of American Hate to fuel his campaign. No one plays the media for such utter fools like Trump.  He gives aid and comfort to those who, like himself, see him as a brave Messiah who speaks the truth about all those ugly people who are Not Like Us.  The people from other places, the liberals, the feminists, the goddamned, self righteous intellectuals who need to learn a thing or two about political correctness.  He is giving voice to the Great American Asshole.

Without media worship, Trump is nothing.  He is a failed, serial bankrupted, amoral son of a bitch who is trying to make the fantasies of every ignorant jackass come true.  Film at 11.

Shut up and eat your word salad.

“Word salad” is actually a clinical term referring to a symptom of mental illness.  But once she burst on the scene, Sarah Palin made that term her own by demonstrating a complete lack of knowledge about anything having to do with government.  Now, more than six years later, the popularity of rambling, incoherent media vomit has never been greater.  The tea party candidates in particular seem to believe that it is not necessary to have a point, make any 218px-Fireworks_in_San_Jose_California_2007_07_04_by_Ian_Kluft_img_9618sense or follow a thread of logic.  One must simply throw the words “liberty” or “freedom” or “our Constitution” into the diatribe.  It’s like sending up fireworks in the dark.  Audiences sit mesmerized and uncomprehending until one of those words shoots up into the sky, then the narrative all connects.  Oooh!  Aaaah!

At Steve King’s (R-Wingnut-IA) “Freedom to Bring On The Apocalypse Fest”, Former partial Governor Palin, a teleprompter malfunctioned and Sarah’s train just kept a rollin’ until it had completely derailed and carved a channel through an Iowa cornfield.  The stunning thing is that the improv was barely indistinguishable from her prepared remarks or the rantings of a particularly inarticulate and bitter schizophrenic.  You could watch the whole train wreck here, if you have the endurance, or you could enjoy some annotated highlights below.

Marco Rubio, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee and a host of barely socialized and sociopathic GOP unknowns will vie for the title of least comprehensible and most scary over the next couple of years.  It’s an impressive field, but some of them are going to have to be further lobotomized or overdose on Sterno to catch up with Sarah.