The Difference between Fake News on the Left and Fake News on the Right

A lot has been made of the term “fake news.” There was a lot of it during the past Presidential election, and the Trump administration has taken to branding every story that it doesn’t like to be “fake news.” It isn’t so.

The Difference between Fake News on the Left and Fake News on the Right

I just want to point out something that should be obvious to people who have compared fake news on the left with fake news on the right.

  • Fake news on the left is designed to entertain.
  • Fake news on the right is designed to deceive.

Good example of fake news on the left are “The Onion” and the “Borowitz Report.” The readers of either know that the stories in them aren’t true. Those stories are satirical: they are designed to exaggerate, to amuse, to point a spotlight on something. They have headlines like “FBI to special-order a set of tiny handcuffs,” or “Betsy DeVos says Trump’s 40% approval rating means that more than half the country supports him.” Or stories like “Trump staffer grateful to work with so many people he could turn over to FBI in exchange for immunity,” or “Mar-a-Lago member complains about loud, obnoxious cabinet meeting at next table.”

On the right, it’s a completely different thing. Their fake news stories are deliberately intended to deceive. They’re intended to be believed and intended to be deceive. And to enrage. They are propagated by news sites like Breitbart and Infowars, and they are not funny in any way.

Three stories that are typical of fake news on the right include:

Stories like the three cited above have been completely debunked by non-partisan fact-checkers. They are no more credible than the obviously satirical stories form the Onion or the Borowitz Report. But people believe them as true.

The Death of American Common Sense

There has been this long popular notion that people in middle America have “common sense.” They may not be educated, the argument goes, but they can tell a conman when they see one, and they have the common sense that many educated people don’t have.

That notion, like so many others, has been blown apart by one Donald J. Trump. He has conned middle America to a remarkable degree, and all that legendary common sense that ordinary Americans supposedly possess has not come into play at all. Instead they’re falling for the Donald’s assertion that news that he doesn’t like or that contradicts his self-created narrative is “fake” news, when nothing could be further from the truth.

[1] This has sometimes been formulated as that 3 million people voted illegally, or that 3 million illegal aliens voted (which would obviously be illegal). Sometimes the number has ballooned out to 5 million. In Trump’s version, all of these people voted for Hillary Clinton. However, it’s worth noting that even if it were true that 3 million people voted illegally, and only a third of them voted for Trump, then Hillary Clinton would still have won the popular vote.

[2] This particular rumor led a demented man, one Edgar Maddison Welch, to take an AR15 into Comet Pizza with the intention of stopping the alleged pedophile ring. Once inside he fired his rifle into the floor. Miraculously, no one was hurt.

[3] This rumor is primarily propagated by the truly despicable Alex Jones, who also claims that the Oklahoma City bombing was faked as part of a plot to put down a “state’s rights” movements and to deprive people of their Second Amendment right to guns.

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Anatomy of a Propaganda Lie by President Obergropenführer and his Minions

In this blog I’ve promised to expose propaganda as we come across it – although frankly, there is too much propaganda coming out of the Trump White House than one poor blogger can keep up with. For that would be a full-time job, and I’m not paid to blog. But I did think it would be worth it to at least look at the question of why the Trump administration made the unfounded allegation a couple of weeks back that the news media was not covering terrorist attacks.

For those who forget, Donald Trump alleged in a speech before American veterans during the first week of February that terror attacks are happening ‘all over Europe’ but they’re not being covered by the ‘very, very dishonest press.’ After which his spokesman Sean Spicer released a list of 78 terror attacks since 2014 that the press allegedly had not covered.

It turned out – and I know this comes as a shock – that the very, very dishonest Trump administration was totally lying about the press coverage that allegedly did not happen. First of all, the list included not just terror attacks in Europe but attacks in the Americas, Africa and other countries and continents around the world. It also included incidents in which no one was killed. But most importantly, as noted by Politifact, the ‘list includes widely covered incidents’ such as the ones in Paris and Brussels and Berlin and Orlando and San Bernadino, incidents which arguably received too much coverage rather than too little coverage.

Trump subsequently made another claim, in front of a group of Sheriffs meeting at the White House, that the murder rate was ‘the highest it’s been in 47 years,’ which is another ‘pants on fire’ lie. As once again reported by Politifact, ‘the number of murders declined by 42 percent between 1993 and 2014, even as the U.S. population rose by 25 percent over the same period.’[1]

So why would the Trump administration come out with these obvious and easily disprovable lies?

And the answer, of course, is to scare us all to death.

Ever since before the Republican National Convention, but especially since it, Trump and his minions have been pushing this dark, dark narrative that our country is on the verge of disaster[2] and that ‘only Trump’ can fix it.

It’s the same reason that the media focuses so much more on the danger from sharks than we do from cows. We have a visceral reaction to sharks. But not cows. It turns out, however, that cows kill roughly five times as many people annually as do sharks. The numbers are something like this:

  • Sharks kill roughly 5 people a year;
  • Cows kill roughly 22 people a year;
  • Hippos kill roughly 2900 people a year;
  • Mosquitos kill roughly 725,000 people a year.

But if a shark is found swimming anywhere near a public beach, our media is all over it. And we’re all agog.

It’s this appeal to visceral fear (among other things) that motivates the Trump administration to lie without compunction about things that they clearly know are false.

Now, if the Trump administration were good liars, we would really be in trouble. But they’re such inept, obvious, terrible liars. They keep lying about things that are so easily disprovable. Trump himself is still clearly still fixated on the size of his election victory, and makes claims like:

  • That 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in the November Presidential election (and that they all voted for Hillary)[3].
  • More recently, that ‘busloads’ of Massachusetts were driven up to New Hampshire to vote illegally in that state.
  • And at his crazy Thursday press conference last week, that he won the biggest electoral college landslide since Ronald Reagan.[4]

The British Tabloid ‘The Star’ has identified 57 lies by the Trump administration just in the first three weeks of their existence. Even Teen Vogue got into the act by identifying all the lies told by the Trump administration just last week.

Teen Vogue?
Yes, Teen Vogue!
Oh boy.

Trump’s complete aversion to the truth was on full display last Thursday at his indescribable press conference. The one where he was supposed to announce the nomination of Alexander Acosta, the Dean of Florida International University College of Law, for the post of Secretary of Labor. This press conference devolved into more than an hour of ranting on Trump’s part[5], where among other things, he claimed that:

  • That his administration’s implementation of his anti-terrorism executive order, ‘was perfect.’
  • That the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which unanimously decided not to reinstate Trump’s travel ban, has had its rulings overturned by the Supreme Court ‘at a record number.’
  • That Hillary Clinton ‘gave’ Russia 20 percent of the uranium in the United States.
  • That ‘jobs have already started to surge’ since his election (citing investments by Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Intel).
  • That there was no press coverage of the fact that Hillary received some questions prior to one of the debates from former CNN contributor Donna Brazile.
  • That the media had ‘a lower approval rate than Congress.’

All of these things turned out to be not true. They have all been debunked by both and, as well as the ‘failing’ New York Times and Washington Post (among other legitimate news sources).

These are just the items that can be fact checked. Some of Trump’s other claims were truly ludicrous (although technically a matter of opinion). For example:

  • Trump claimed that ‘there’s never been a President elected who in this short period of time has done what we’ve done.’
  • Trump claimed that his Administration is running ‘like a fine-tuned machine,’ despite ‘the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved.’

Now, whether Trump’s administration is running like a ‘fine-tuned machine’ is, of course, a matter of opinion. The opinion of virtually all observers who don’t work directly for the administration, whether Democrat, Republican or something else, was that the administration is a managerial disaster zone in which almost everyone is jockeying for power.

But the most incredible exchange of all was with a Jewish reporter (Jake Turx) from the hitherto unknown ‘Ami Magazine,’ which exchange is set forth below. Trump is looking for a ‘friendly reporter’ and calls upon Mr. Turx, who says this:

‘Despite what some of my colleagues may have been reporting, I haven’t seen anybody in my community accuse either yourself or anyone on your staff of being anti-Semitic. We understand that you have Jewish grandchildren. You are their zayde,’ which is Yiddish for ‘grandfather’ and often a word of great affection.

At that Mr. Trump nodded slightly, and said, ‘thank you.’

‘However,’ Mr. Turx continued, ‘what we are concerned about and what we haven’t really heard being addressed is an uptick in anti-Semitism and how the government is planning to take care of it. There’s been a report out that 48 bomb threats have been made against Jewish centers all across the country in the last couple of weeks. There are people committing anti-Semitic acts or threatening to——’

At that, Mr. Trump interrupted, saying it was ‘not a fair question.’

‘Sit down,’ the president commanded. ‘I understand the rest of your question.’

As Mr. Turx took his seat, Mr. Trump said, ‘So here’s the story, folks. No. 1, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life. No. 2, racism, the least racist person.’

Mr. Turx tried to interject, realizing how the encounter had turned. He said he had wanted to clarify that he in no way meant to accuse Mr. Trump of anti-Semitism but instead intended to ask what his administration could do to stop the anti-Semitic incidents.

But Mr. Trump would not let him speak again, saying, ‘Quiet, quiet, quiet.’ As Mr. Turx shook his head with an incredulous look on his face, Mr. Trump accused him of having lied that his question would be straight and simple.

Mr. Trump said, ‘I find it repulsive. I hate even the question because people that know me. …’

He went on to say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, during his visit to the United States on Wednesday, had vouched for Mr. Trump as a good friend of Israel and the Jewish people and no anti-Semite.

Mr. Trump concluded that Mr. Turx should have relied on Mr. Netanyahu’s endorsement, ‘instead of having to get up and ask a very insulting question like that.’

‘Just shows you about the press, but that’s the way the press is,’ Mr. Trump said.

As noted in the New York Times, it was ‘the second time in two days that Mr. Trump was asked to denounce anti-Semitism and offer American Jews a dose of reassurance. In his joint news conference with Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Trump responded to a question about anti-Semitism by breezily recounting the size of his Electoral College victory and then reminding the reporters that his daughter, Ivanka, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and their three children — Mr. Trump’s grandchildren — are all Jewish.’

So, Trump literally said that he was the ‘least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.’ And the ‘least racist’ person. This was in the same news conference in which he requested April Ryan, the White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, to ‘set up a meeting’ with the Congressional Black Caucus when she asked him a question about whether he was planning to meet with the caucus.

For those who’ve forgotten, in the Second Presidential Debate with Hillary Clinton, the Donald also proclaimed that ‘Nobody has more respect for women than I do.’[6]

Then, in his completely unnecessary rally in Melbourne Florida on Friday Trump invented another non-existent scandal, just like the ‘Bowling Green Massacre.’ This time something terrible was supposed to have taken place in Sweden, except the Swedes knew nothing about it. Cue another meme. It turns out that Trump had heard some story on Fox News that claimed that things were not going well in Sweden. There is where President Obergropenführer is getting his information: from Fox News.

People used to argue that liberals took Trump literally but not seriously and conservatives took him seriously but not literally. Now that he’s President, we’re supposed to take him both literally and seriously.

How can anyone take this guy literally? And what do our conservative friends think when they hear something like this, something which only a literal imbecile would take to be true?

By now, it’s completely obvious the Trump is not at war with the Democrats or even with the media, but more simply with the truth. This has been pointed out by commentators who are cleverer than I am, such as John Oliver and his team at HBO.

[1] To be fair, Politifact also reported that there was a bit of an upward spike between 2014 and 2015 in the national rate, and that there has been a spike in some cities, especially Chicago (which is a special case having to do with the police essentially abandoning the inner city because they felt unfairly attacked after the Laquan McDonald case.)

[2] We are on the verge of potential disaster, of course, but primarily because of the Trump administration, which is unhinged in so many ways.

[3] Sometimes the claim has been that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally, and sometimes it’s been that 3 to 5 million illegal immigrants voted, but in any case, in either scenario Trump believes that they all voted for Hillary.

[4] When challenged on this clearly erroneous statement – since Obama, Bill Clinton and Bush I all had won bigger election victories – Trump asserted that this was the ‘information [he] was given.’

[5] It was so crazy that Fox Business Network’s Charles Gasparino, the home page of the New York Post, and Fox News’s Shepard Smith respectively described the press conference as ‘insane,’ a ‘marathon rant’ and ‘a press conference for the ages.’ And these are not in any respect ‘liberal’ news sources.

[6] This proclamation on Trump’s part literally got the majority of the crowd at the second debate to laugh out loud.

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There isn’t much point to trying to block the nomination of Neil Gorsuch

There will be a lot of effort expended over the next several weeks to thwart Neil Gorsuch’s appointment as the next Justice of the United States Supreme Court. It will be wasted effort, just like most of the effort to thwart President Kumquat’s cabinet.

A number of people – myself included – are still incensed over the Republican Senate’s refusal to even consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the court back in February, after the death of Antonin Scalia. There is no delicate way to say this: Mitch McConnell f**ked us in the a**. That’s what he did. He threw a Hail Mary that was destined to fail, until the extraordinarily unlikely (and by all evidence illegitimate) election of President Kumquat. If Hillary Clinton had been elected, as she should have been, she would have appointed a younger and more liberal judge than Merrick Garland. So the Republicans were gambling big time, breaking with hundreds of years of precedent, and the gamble paid off.

Now President Kumquat is going to make his entire base happy through the appointment of Neil Gorsuch. The Democrats can huff and puff, but they can’t do much about Gorsuch being appointed to the court.[1] Oh sure, Obama could have played hardball and made Merrick Garland a recess appointment – something I have previously argued would have proved that the Democrats (at last!) were as willing to play hardball as the Republicans – but being a man of reason and of conscience Obama didn’t do that. Now that Democrats can filibuster Gorsuch’s appointment if they want, but that would likely only lead to President Kumquat nominating someone who is more radical and less qualified.

And give him credit: for once President Kumquat listened to his advisors and made an excellent strategic appointment. Gorsuch has unimpeachable credentials. He is a Scalia clone.[2] He is only 49 and in excellent health. But this isn’t the big fight. That’s the next one, when Ruth Bader Ginsburg[3] dies or Anthony Kennedy resigns. That’s the one that will shift the composition of the court dramatically and could lead to the reversal of Roe v. Wade.[4]

And so with his cabinet. I’ve said throughout the eight years of the Obama administration that a President should be allowed to pick his cabinet, no matter how incompetent I think they might be. And so with President Kumquat. He should be able to have his guys, the people he wants to take into war with him. If it turns out that they can’t manage their way out of a paper bag, that will be his problem, not ours. Except for maybe Betsy DeVos, who is so blatantly biased and incompetent that even a couple of Republican Senators – Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski – have indicated that they will vote off.

But this is what happens when you elect a lunatic to be the President of the United States. He gets to pick his people, including for the Supreme Court. Oh, there will be payback at some point, but it won’t really happen until the Democrats wrest back the control of the Senate – not likely to be in two years, but maybe in four – and the Republicans want to get one of their late inning appointments through. Then the Democrats will be able to block that person with a clear conscience. Lord knows that the Republicans opened the door to that. They’ve opened the door to a lot of things, and the Democrats can finally stop apologizing for getting into the hardball game with them.

[1] Even the filibustering is likely to lead to nowhere. First of all, a number of Democrats in deeply red states are likely to vote off, and the Republicans are already preparing big ad campaigns in those states. Second, the Republicans can always use the “nuclear option” and rewrite the rules of the filibuster so that only a simply majority is needed. McConnell – in a remarkable and unusual show of restraint – has indicated that he doesn’t want to do that, and Susan Collins (Republican of Maine) has already indicated that she would not vote for the nuclear option. Besides, having already f**ked us in the a** once, McConnell surely knows the dangers of doing it again. Using the nuclear option would free up the Democrats to do the same when they return to power.

[2] As I’ve already argued in the past, far from being an “intellectual giant,” Antonin Scalia was actually just a giant hypocrite. Oh sure, he was witty and could turn a phrase, but when it suited his needs, he completely distorted the meaning of the 2nd amendment and wrote the opening clause right out of the document. So much for textural faithfulness.

[3] I will never understand why Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has been in terrible health for years, didn’t resign while Obama would still have had the chance to nominate a reasonable replacement. They’ll have to wheel her out of the Supreme Court building on a gurney, but that will likely happen in the next few years.

[4] It really is remarkable that 40 years later the question of a woman’s right to choose – which by all rights should appeared to be settled 40 years ago – is still open to debate in 2017. If Roe v. Wade does get overturned, it won’t matter in Massachusetts, California or New York, where either the state constitutions or the political realities have already enshrined choice as a fundamental right. But the women of Kansas and Oklahoma and Nebraska and Ohio will also have a choice: do they want to vote their assholes out of office or do they want to continue to have their men deny them their fundamental rights. It will be up to them.

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Donald Trump is not “crazy like a fox.” He’s just plain crazy.

There are a lot of people who think that Donald Trump is crazy like a fox. That he is much cleverer than he appears to be, and that one should never underestimate the man.

Don’t count me among this group.

I think he’s just plain crazy, as in mentally unhinged.[1]

Which is not to say that I don’t think he has talents. He’s clearly a master salesman. He’s an extraordinary showman. He has exceptional talent for self-promotion. But he’s still mentally unhinged.

As we watch Trump’s first week in office, he is behaving pretty much as one would have expected, especially for anyone who has read any of the several very excellent biographies of Trump that have been available for some time.

The New York Times noted that Trump had a very “rocky” first weekend. As the Times reported, Trump seemed to swing back and forth between celebrating his Presidency and wallowing in self-pity over the fact that there were many more people who came out for the Women’s march than for his inauguration. The times wrote:

“Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election!” he posted on Twitter in the morning. “Why didn’t these people vote? Celebs hurt cause badly.”

Kellyanne Conway, his counselor, contributed to the combative mood in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd when she described the falsehoods that the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, had told reporters Saturday night as “alternative facts” — an assertion that lit up Twitter.[2]

Then, a few days ago, Trump renewed his allegations that “3 to 5 million” illegal aliens (or at least illegal voters) cast ballots in the November presidential election, and called for a “major investigation.”[3]

Trump has been so erratic in his short time in office that, as reported in the New Yorker magazine, “Trump aides keep leaking embarrassing stories about how he can’t handle embarrassment.” In that article, the magazine noted that:

The president is a 70-year-old child whose TV time must be closely monitored — because any news story that upsets his ego will trigger a temper tantrum followed by irrational demands that his indulgent, overwhelmed guardians will be helpless to refuse.

Or so Donald Trump’s aides keep confiding to the nearest available reporter.

On Sunday, one of the president’s confidantes told Politico that his staffers have to “control information that may infuriate him,” a task made difficult by the fact that the leader of the free world “gets bored and likes to watch TV.”

Other commentators have suggested that it’s only a matter of time until the Donald just snaps.  For example, a blogger named Richard Willmsen from Sheffield, England (who has also lived in Ireland, Portugal, China, Spain, Mexico and Italy) wrote a long and interesting piece entitled “Donald Trump is going to snap very soon, and here is how I know.” As Willmsen wrote:

These first two days of his ‘Presidency’ saw paranoid and recriminatory tweets, a speech to the CIA in which he ranted bitterly about media reports of his coronation, and his press spokesperson being sent out to deliver another paranoid self-pitying rant. People are mercilessly taking the piss out of the piss-poor attendance at his pitiable inauguration, and Trump appears to be following every single one of them on Twitter. It’s clear to me that whatever means he’s used to survive up until this point aren’t going to work in his new role. There’s simply too much scrutiny and ridicule, and it’s going too deep. He’s too much of a shallow narcissist to ignore it. Trump is going to learn the wisdom of Jacques Lacan: “the madman is not only a beggar who thinks he is a king, but also a king who thinks he is a king”. Whatever monster he has buried in his mind is going to rise up to bite huge chunks of him from within. . . And it’s getting worse. People are laughing louder. He’s now put himself in a position where the entire world knows that he is venal, insecure, stupid and deluded.[4]

Others have suggested that Trump is clinically a malignant narcissist.  For example, John D. Gartner, a registered psychotherapist from the renowned Johns Hopkins University Medical School, has said that we’ve seen enough from Trump to be able to diagnose him in this way.[5] It would explain a lot about Trump, starting with the question of why he is so angry. For a guy who seems to have had virtually every advantage in the world, this guy is remarkably and unusually angry, with a set of needs that are clearly unquenchable.

If I have some sympathy for Trump because he is mentally ill,[6] I have none at all for Überhypocrite Mitch McConnell, Turncoat Paul Ryan, Kellyanne “Propaganda Barbie” Conway and Steven “I really am an Asshole” Bannon. It was Bannon, of course, who recently opined to the media that they are the “opposition party” and should “keep their mouths shut.”

The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while. I want you to quote this, the media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.

Bannon’s war against the legitimate media is, as anyone familiar with this sort of thing knows, straight out of the propaganda playbook. They keep calling the mainstream media the “dishonest” media. We should all start calling them the “honest media,” because they are the only ones who are not lying to us right now. The Donald, as has already been proven multiple times by now, is a serial liar who is incapable of telling the truth.

As long as he doesn’t start a nuclear Armageddon, I think it will be fascinating to watch the Trump presidency implode like a slow-motion train wreck. Of course, train wrecks can have serious consequences. A lot of people can get hurt. But all these smug assholes running around Washington D.C. right now . . . they’re eventually going to get theirs.  It could take a long time. But be patient, my friends. What goes around comes around. They are eventually going to get theirs. And I will enjoy that so much. Schadenfreude is alive in this part of town.

[1] I do think that a lot of the Republican leadership, including Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell, are very clever indeed. They have certainly outfoxed their Democratic counterparts for a very long time.

[2] Our dear favorite female campaign manager will therefore forever be known as Kellyanne “Alternative Facts” Conway.

[3] This renewed allegation caused Lindsay Graham to snap, saying that the Donald “was undermining confidence in both the American democratic system and himself with the continued claims of voter fraud.” It would also be remarkable if all of these alleged 3 million votes went against him. Even if there were 3 million illegal votes and 2/3rds went against him, he still would have lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. So there, Donald.

[4] A few days later Willmsen also wrote a rejoinder to the various people who had been commenting on his blog, in which he concedes that “it’s not inevitable that Trump will break down. . . However, the events on Sunday at the CIA suggest that he’s unable to cope without a cheering or baying crowd. He got that at his rallies and he gets it on Twitter but being President doesn’t work like that.”

[5] Technically, psychologists and psychiatrists are not supposed to “diagnose” public figures without having examined them personally. This is what is known as the “Goldwater Rule” defined as “the informal term for part of the ethics code of the American Psychiatric Association saying it is wrong to provide a professional opinion of a public figure without examining that person and gaining consent to discuss the evaluation.”

[6] Please note that the sympathy I have for Trump is very limited and pertains only to his mental illness. I don’t want my friends to think that I’ve gone completely soft in the head.

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Why the Donald will never be my President, regardless of what he says today

I don’t hate Donald Trump. I just hate the fact that he’s about to become our next President. I never really thought much about Donald Trump until he declared. I mean, I knew who he was, but he always seemed like a relatively harmless blowhard to me. “You’re fired!” Who cares? I was aware that the Donald was a proponent of the very silly “birther” movement, and that President Obama had handed him his lunch during the 2013 Washington Correspondent’s dinner. I got a little bit of pleasure out of that. But otherwise, who cared?

It also doesn’t bother me that Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Bob Kraft are friends with the Donald. He got a little bump out of that fact during the primaries here in the Commonwealth, where the Donald got a nice victory over his competitors in the otherwise inconsequential Massachusetts Republican primary. I can imagine that the Donald is kind of fun to hang out with, except when you have to run around grabbing some pussy with him. He’s a guy who will most likely show you every toy he has, bore you excessively about all the beautiful things he owns, but you can probably get a really nice meal out of him. I bet he’s generous in that way. He’ll pay for everybody’s meal. Nice meals, too.

Then, when the Donald announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015 in Trump Tower, riding down an escalator, hiring people to be present and cheer, and finally going off-script to designate virtually all Mexican men who had immigrated to the United States as “rapists” – something I might have expected of Mary Daly, but not from Donald Trump – I was with all the comedians who thought, this guy’s candidacy is going to last about five minutes.

If only.

So, this is not about right or left. This is not about being a sore loser. This is not about ideology. For example:

  • If Mitt Romney had won in 2012, I would have been disappointed for sure, but I would easily have accepted Romney’s win, and I would not have been worried about his possession of the nuclear codes.
  • If John McCain had won in 2008, I would have been disappointed for sure, and I would have been worried about McCain’s health and Sarah Palin’s proximity to the Oval Office. But I would not have been worried about McCain’s possession of the nuclear codes.
  • If Ted Cruz had won in 2016, I would have been horrified, to be honest, because I think Ted Cruz is a nasty, nasty man and demagogue, and I would have worried seriously about the direction of this country. But I would not have been worried about Cruz’ possession of the nuclear codes.
  • If the Donald were to be impeached and Mike Pence were to become President, I would also be horrified, because I think that Pence simply doesn’t understand the necessary division between church and state. I fear he would literally try to make us into a “Christian” nation. But I still would not be worried about Pence’s possession of the nuclear codes.
  • With the Donald, I’m literally worried about his possession of the nuclear codes. It’s not about ideology. I don’t think the Donald actually has an ideology, other than being an opportunist. But all of the Republican establishment were right all along: this man is not emotionally qualified to be President.

The reason that the Donald will never be my President, other than that he’s an unhinged Narcissist who cannot resist the impulse to respond to every perceived insult or slight, is that he’s also a world class con-man. And his most brilliant con was convincing the voters of the United States of America that he is qualified to be President. Not a majority, mind you – that was Hillary Clinton’s province – but enough to win the electoral college. That may be the greatest con job that any con-man has ever pulled. In the history of the world.

When your Right-Wing Cousin Asks the Donald to Babysit

The election of the Donald as President is like your crazy right-wing cousin asking you if the Donald can babysit your twin thirteen-year old daughters even though he’s a convicted child pornographer. “I don’t think so,” you say. “But he’s a great guy,” your cousin responds. “He didn’t even bring his camera!”

The Donald’s supporters want us to give him a chance. Kellyanne Conway asks us to “look at what’s in his heart” instead of listening to his words.

I don’t think so.

All I need to know about the Donald I was able to observe by watching how he ran his campaign, and more recently how he has run his transition. The Donald literally appealed to every lower instinct in all of us, the voters. He appealed to our racism, our misogyny, our xenophobia, our homophobia, and ironically, to both our Islamophobia and our Anti-Semitism (he got a two-fer out of that one). For his cabinet, Trump has picked a list of nominees who are distinguished by their wealth and by their being rank amateurs. The Donald also picked nominees noted for wanting to dismantle the Departments that they are going to govern. Rick Perry for Energy, the Department he couldn’t remember to name in the 2012 debates. The climate-change-denier Scott Pruitt for the EPA, a man who still has a number of ongoing litigation cases against the agency he’s supposed to administer. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, a man so racist he couldn’t get himself confirmed as a federal judge. Charter school zealot Betsy DeVos for Education. And so on and so forth.

This is a farce worthy of Monty Python.

It doesn’t matter what the Donald says today. Somebody will craft him a nice speech, and he will use the words “beautiful” and “amazing” a lot, and he will claim to be the greatest unifier that this country has ever seen.

Just like he “will be the greatest jobs producer that God ever created,” something he literally claimed in his first and only press conference as the President elect.

When I hear the Donald say things like this, I don’t know if he’s completely delusional or if he actually knows what he’s saying. The biggest con job the Donald may ever have pulled is on himself, giving himself the belief that he’s actually qualified to be President.

Along the way to the Presidential election they dragged a good woman through the mud. I’m talking about Hillary Rodham Clinton, of course. A woman whose only real sin is that she was an ambitious policy wonk who didn’t fully understand how an email server works. For that she was vilified and demonized like no woman before her. The Republicans, in a show of unrestrained hypocrisy, investigated Hillary over and over and over again, and all they could come up with is that she had been a little bit careless in her handling of classified email correspondence.

Lock her up?

I don’t think so.

But the Donald may eventually get himself (or one of his family members) thrown into jail. I doubt he’ll get impeached (because with both the House and Senate in Republican hands, his party will have little incentive to impeach him, unless they come to believe he’s bringing the whole party down), but he could definitely get himself convicted. As it is – and in a bit of irony – the Paula Jones case has already established that a sitting President can be sued while in office. The Donald still has something like 75 cases of ongoing litigation, and I understand that several women are going to file suit against him next week with allegations of sexual assault.

This really was a Rigged Election

So, the Donald was absolutely right about one thing: this really was a rigged election. If you recall, in the third and final debate with Hillary Clinton, the Donald excited all the political commentators by refusing to say that he would accept the outcome of the election if Hillary won. He kept alleging that this was going to be a “rigged” election.

And so it was.

You can buy into the arguments of the Donald’s many apologists and claim that Putin and Julian Asange and James Comey didn’t swing this election for the Donald. But you’d be a fool, just as much a fool as if you think the Donald is actually qualified to be President. I’m not going to go into all the arguments here – we’ll save that for a later day – but Nate Silver at the FiveThirtyEight website has demonstrated convincingly that late-breaking swing voters were greatly influence by James Comey’s shenanigans, and that the slow drip-drip about Hillary’s emails, courtesy of Vladimir Putin and Julian Asange, also had a sustained and measurable impact on the election. As Nate Silver said, “Clinton would almost certainly be President-elect if the election had been held on October 27.”

The Con-man and Liar-in-Chief

The Donald is almost like your five year old child when playing “opposite day.”  Most of what he says is actually the opposite of what is true. The man is a congenital and unrestrained liar, and so much less honest than Hillary Clinton, who was supposedly the candidate that the voters didn’t think they could trust. As someone noted “the press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” That was not only true for the press, but the entire left.

Shouldn’t you be able to take a Presidential candidate literally?

Not this one, apparently.

Trump claimed that he was going to “build a wall” and make the Mexicans pay for it. Sane people know that this has no chance of ever happening. Trump claimed the he was going to renegotiate all of our trade deals. Why would any of partners, who already have trade deals, want to renegotiate them? Trump claimed that he’s going to being manufacturing jobs back to the United States. Fat chance.

Meanwhile the Donald rails against the “dishonest” media – whose only sin is reporting on what he actually says and does – while he tells one big fat lie after another.

It’s like Fox News when they claimed to be “fair and balanced.” Their tag line was so ludicrous, so outrageous, that sane people around the country asked, who would possibly believe that of Fox News?

There are a lot of gullible people in this country, apparently.

And millions of them have been taken in by Donald J. Trump.

Several of the various fact-checking organizations have set up systems where they will track which (if any) of the Donald’s promises he actually fulfills. Of course, keeping up with his lies should make for some employment opportunities at organizations like and

Today is the High-Water Mark of the Republican Party

For all my progressive and Democratic friends, who have been walking the ledge since November 9th, I do have some good news for you: today, right now, represents the “high-water” mark of the Republican party. It’s all downhill from here.

The GOP will discover, in no time at all, that it’s much less fun to govern than it is to throw spitballs from the sideline.

Take the Affordable Care Act, for example. By now it’s painfully obvious that the Republicans have no plan to replace it. I don’t think they ever thought they’d be in a position to repeal it. They’ve had six years to come up with a credible replacement, and so far they’ve come up with nothing at all.  Part of the problem is, as I’ve repeatedly pointed out, that the “individual mandate” (which they allegedly hate so much) came out of the Heritage Institution. In other words, it was their idea. Now the Donald has promised that no one is going to lose their health insurance after the ACA has been repealed.

Fat chance.

All of their other “ideas” are going to face similar difficulty. Because none of them are, in fact, new ideas. They’re all old ideas, like “trickle down” economics, that have repeatedly failed before and aren’t going to do any better when warmed over and recycled.

Hold them Accountable

I don’t have many friends who voted for the Donald, but for the ones who did, this time I’m going to hold them accountable for what they’ve done. And we, as a movement on the left, have to hold the right accountable for what happens now. As I wrote right after the election, this particular election was a giant “FU” thrown by “real” America in the direction of the rest of America. “Unreal” America. Although “unreal” is the label that should accompany this election once and for all.

In any case, the right will not like what they’ve suddenly released in the left. After years of playing hardball while we were playing softball, suddenly we’ve joined the game. We’re galvanized. We’re mobilized. There will be millions of women (and their supporting men) marching tomorrow, not only in dozens of cities around the country, but in cities around the world.

Around the world!

Think about that.

This is the last time they’re going to get a free pass with all their bullshit and their fake news and their hypocrisy and lies. Oh no, they are not going to like what they’ve unleashed. Good luck Republicans. You’re going to need it.

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The Fire Hose Theory of Information: too much information to follow at once.

There is something known as the firehose theory of information, the idea that you can’t drink from a firehose, and when too much information is coming at you, you can’t really grasp any of it.

That is the same theory by which Senate Republicans seem to have been operating last week.

As detailed in a story in the New Yorker, in which the author, Evan Osnos, wrote the following:

A little more than a week after congressional Republicans tried to dismantle the Office of Congressional Ethics—they relented only after the public swamped the switchboard to such a degree that even Donald Trump joined the criticism—the Party is back with a related gambit. On Tuesday, over the objections of government-ethics officials and Democrats, Senate Republicans will convene the first of a rapid-fire series of eight confirmation hearings in five days, with four of those in a single day. The strategy appears to be intended to speed the approval of Trump’s Cabinet with as little scrutiny as possible—and it will succeed, unless the public objects again.

McConnell’s schedule insures that reporters will be spread thin, details will go unexamined, and a share of the public already addled by a Presidential transition marred by Trump’s denigration of the intelligence community will be overwhelmed with noise. Most important, McConnell and the Trump transition team have ignored the complaints of the Office of Government Ethics, which is tasked with overseeing ethics and potential conflicts in the federal government. The Trump transition has largely deflected the office’s attempts to get in touch. In an astonishing public statement, ethics-office director Walter Shaub e-mailed Trump aides in November to say that “we seem to have lost contact with the Trump-Pence transition since the election.” Shaub warned the transition that, by not producing enough materials with which to review the candidate’s financial information beforehand, they could end up breaking the law on conflicts of interest. “They run the risk of having inadvertently violated the criminal conflicts of interest restriction at 18 USC 208,” Shaub wrote to the Trump transition aide Sean Doocey.

Then, in a letter to Senate Democrats released on Saturday, Shaub wrote that his staff was unable to do its work in time for the hearings, which “left some of the nominees with potentially unknown or unresolved ethics issues.” He added, “I am not aware of any occasion in the four decades since OGE was established when the Senate held a confirmation hearing before the nominee had completed the ethics review process.”

McConnell’s actions look especially brazen when one considers his own past statements. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington released a letter signed by McConnell, in 2009, in which he demanded that “financial disclosures must be complete” before any Obama Administration nominees could receive a hearing. Pressed about that, McConnell dispensed with the usual decorous wind of nonsense about procedure and declared a blunt belief in zero-sum politics. “What this is about, the Democrats are really frustrated that they lost the election,” McConnell said on “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “We need to sort of grow up here and get past that,” he said.

But the most remarkable thing about McConnell’s desire to “get past” the process of vetting before the vetting has happened is not what it says about his commitment to political tribalism above all other values. That was already well-established, after all. No, the truly remarkable story it reveals involves the sheer recklessness of the incoming Administration. The vetting process is not, as some of Trump’s neophyte advisers might suspect, just a ritual performed for weak-kneed “goo-goos,” the good-government types in comfortable shoes. On the contrary, it is meant to be a cold-eyed political demolition derby: a controlled explosion that can protect an Administration by preventing a problem appointee from getting inside the inner sanctum.[1]

Trump is making an astonishing bet that he will be the first President in a quarter century to manage not to have a single nominee disqualified. And he is betting that the American people, having just elected the first modern President to refuse to release his tax returns, are, in effect, done with ethics. He is betting that, like his oft-cited prediction that he could shoot someone and not lose votes, virtually nothing that could come out after a nominee is confirmed will undermine his Presidency. He is betting, in effect, that we’re too dumb or too demoralized to care.

On Tuesday of this week, Donald Trump, in his first press conference in more than six months, announced (once again but this time more formally) that he would not be putting his holdings in a blind trust. No, he will be turning his businesses over to his two sons to run. And you know there will be a firewall between them and their father.

Proving once again that the Donald, who – as we already know, never expected or wanted to be president – loves his business empire much more than he loves this country.

The country he could give up. But not his business empire.

But fear not, my friends.

Instead, rejoice!

Rejoice, because the Obergropenführer is sowing the seeds of his own demise. He and his cabinet are going to be involved in so many scandals, we’re not going to be able to keep up. From the scandal-free President Obama we’re heading straight for the scandal-rich Trump administration, an administration that will bring us a bounty of scandals like never before.

We have to go through the Valley of Darkness before we can see the light again. And the journey is about to begin.

[1] For the past twenty-five years, every President, Democrat and Republican, has lost one or more Cabinet choices because of vetting before they entered the Administration. In 1989, the Senate rejected President George H. W. Bush’s pick to head the Defense Department, former Senator John Tower, of Texas, after he was accused of heavy drinking and womanizing. Bill Clinton lost two picks for Attorney General-Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood-over discoveries about the immigration status of their household employees. Two of President George W. Bush’s proposed appointments-Bernard Kerik, for Secretary of Homeland Security, and Linda Chavez, for Secretary of Labor-had to drop out for similar reasons. And Barack Obama lost former Senator Tom Daschle, his first choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services (he had failed to pay income taxes on a car and driver), and Governor Bill Richardson, of New Mexico (allegations, later disproved, of improper political financing), a would-be Commerce Secretary.

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Calling a blowhard out by name: John Abrahamsen

Yesterday, I wrote an expletive-filled rant calling out Representative Tom Emmer by name after he went on National Public Radio and just flat-out lied with respect to the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Filling my rant with expletives probably didn’t help my argument. On the other hand, I’m just so tired of the other side going out there and filling the airwaves, or social media, with lies. Statements that are provably and demonstrably false.

So, this morning I am calling out someone else, but this time I’m going to leave the expletives out of it.[1] The guy I’m calling out is someone named John Abrahamsen. I’ve never met this man, and he appears to be a fellow musician (which is in his favor, in my book). His remarks (below) were a response to a Facebook posting that a friend of mine wrote about the shame of the Republicans setting the state for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Here’s what Mr. Abrahamsen had to say in response:

John Abrahamsen: Obamacare will devastate people if it’s allowed to continue. Trump will stop this, and replace it with actual health care reform which obamacare was not.

Trump will restore energy production in this country, which was slated for a 20 to 30 percent reduction under Obama. This, if done, will destroy the economy. Trump will stop that planned disaster.

Trump will appoint Supreme Court Justices who will uphold our Bill of Rights, unlike the radicals previously appointed.

Trump will be the resistance to the globalist NWO. Trump is the counter coup against the globalists who have infiltrated our government for decades. Basically, since the JFK assassination. Hopefully, you will see this as time goes on.

Trump will establish good relations with other countries, and hopefully move us off the track towards world war 3 with Russia that Obama is on. Hopefully, nothing terrible will happen in the next 7 days. The troops on the Russian border have me very nervous.

So, this posting by Mr. Abrahamsen is obviously a mix of fact and opinion. He’s entitled to his opinions, but he’s not entitled to his false facts. Let’s see how his facts stack up with reality:

  1. Obamacare will “devastate” people if allowed to continue. I’m not sure exactly how Mr. Abrahamsen thinks it will “devastate” people, but the fact of the matter is that Obamacare, through the state exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid, has allowed approximately 20 million Americans who did not have health insurance to obtain it. Republican claims that Obamacare is hurting people usually focus on one of two propositions: (1) that Obamacare has hurt small business, and (2) that it has caused premiums to increase. With respect to the first issue, I’m personally in favor of “single payer,” which would take the burden of providing for health insurance off of our employers, where it shouldn’t be. But that notwithstanding, there is little evidence that Obamacare has “devastated” small businesses, especially since the core of Obamacare is the individual mandate, and not about employer-provided health insurance. With respect to the second issue, the fact is that average health insurance premiums fell in the United States since Obamacare has taken effect. This is not to say that there have not been some distortions in particular markets, such as (apparently) parts of Arizona. So, it should be noted, emphatically, that Obamacare is not perfect legislation. Not by a long shot. There are plenty of things that should be corrected or fixed, and that could have happened over the last six years of the Republicans had been willing to provide Obama with any kind of cooperation, instead of simply voting to repeal about 60 times.
  2. Energy production has been increasing, not falling under Obama. Once again, Mr. Abrahamsen is just flat out wrong on this issue, so his argument is moot. And just for the record, by virtually any economic metric, the economy is doing better under Obama than it had been doing under George W. Bush.
  3. With respect to the appointment of Justices, I’m not sure who Mr. Abrahamsen is talking about, but the Supreme Court has not been an activist court since the days of the “Warren Court,” which ended in 1969. The “Bill of Rights” is, of course, the first Ten Amendments to the United State Constitution – I have no reason to believe that Mr. Abrahamsen actually knows that – and the Conservative justices that he so favors have actually been detrimental to the Bill of Rights, especially on issues like search and seizure and voting rights. The rest of his statement is mostly a matter of uninformed opinion. Maybe he is upset about the Obergefell decision, which was decided by Justice Kennedy, who happens to be a moderate swing justice, not a radical of any stripe.[2]
  4. Abrahamsen may or may not be correct that Trump will lead the resistance to “globalism.” His rhetoric has certainly been anti-Globalist, but Trump has also outsourced most of his manufacturing, as has his daughter Ivanka. It remains to be seen if Trump is all talk and no action. Beyond that, globalism has actually been good for the United States as a whole, although not necessarily for everybody in the United States. Yes, there are specific regions and industries that have not benefitted from globalism, but reasserting a kind of tariff-based protectionism is not likely to help these industries and regions. Where manufacturing is returning to the United States it is generally in companies with a lot of robotics, and few workers. This is another “red herring” that right wing populists like to trot out.
  5. The notion that Trump will establish “good relations” with our countries is the most lunatic of all of all of Mr. Abrahamsen’s professed assertions. Anybody who has read biographies of Donald Trump – and I’ve read two of them – knows that the Donald eventually gets into a feud with just about everyone he’s ever done business with. The Donald has already feuded with House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and you can bet your mortgage that those will only intensify over the next four years. The only countries we are likely to have good relations with under Trump are Russia, maybe Taiwan, and the Philippines under Rodrigo Duterte. Things with Russia will deteriorate the moment that Putin comes calling with one of his Trump cards – “golden showers,” anyone? – and Trump realizes he’s been played for a fool. It’s exactly the risk of World War III that had conservative members of the military and intelligence community warning against a Trump Presidency. How Mr. Abrahamsen thinks that Obama has us on track for World War III will have to remain a mystery.

Now, in calling out Mr. Abrahamsen, I obviously don’t think I’m going to change his mind. Whatever news sources he has been relying upon – Fox News, Breitbart, Alex Jones? – have him convinced of beliefs that I cannot change. That’s not the point. He’s one of literally hundreds of thousands of right wing blowhards spreading misinformation across the Internet. The truth is that I just feel like calling him out because he happened to come across my Facebook feed. I feel like picking a fight with him, because I’m tired of our side lying down and letting all of this crap go unanswered. I’ll probably be calling out other individuals over the next four years, because I’m just tired of letting them go unchallenged.

Eventually, however, we all have to get in dialogue with each other and see if we can find a better way. Today just isn’t the day for that. Not yet.

[1] Not that I’m not still thinking them inside my own head.

[2] Also, Obergefell was decided under the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment, not under the Bill of Rights. But I’m sure Mr. Abrahamsen already knew that.

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