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.

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.

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.