Category: Close Looks (Page 1 of 2)

“Fake news,” Cernovich, and how the Trumpist right denies reality

Alt-right blogger Mike Cernovich was featured on 60 Minutes for a segment on how bullshit and fake news spreads around the public discourse.

CBS’s Scott Pelley cited one story Cernovich published himself at his website Danger & Play titled, “Hillary Clinton has Parkinson’s Disease, Physician Confirms.” The only source of information cited was Ted Noel, an anesthesiologist who later recorded a video. That means diagnosis of Parkinson’s is not even his area of expertise in the first place–and he didn’t examine Clinton, either.

If people could be diagnosed from news reports and videos, then Donald Trump and Barry Goldwater would be clinically-diagnosed narcissists.

Cernovich stood by his story, though he offered no evidence beyond his own hate of Clinton.

I don’t take anything Hillary Clinton is going to say at all as true. I’m not going to take her on her word. The media says we’re not going to take Donald Trump on his word. And that’s why we are in these different universes.

Yet, even if one were to distrust Clinton, distrusting her can’t prove she has Parkinson’s.

But let us move to a bigger point: Cernovich tried to equate his own website with actual news outlets that employ people to look into issues, ask questions, investigate, and confirm news before they report it. He equated himself with CNN and the Washington Post.

The truth is you’ve talked to a person who sincerely believes true, you must also admit that there have been many stories reported by major outlets like The New York Times, the Washington Post, and Rolling Stone, that were false. … People get it wrong, so why then come guns blazing at me, and not guns blazing at everybody?Why isn’t this segment going to say, how did the New York Times get conned? How did the Washington Post believe that Russia had hacked the power grid?

The story he’s talking about with regard to the power grid is one the Post published on December 31, 2016 about how Russians may have hacked a computer at an electric utility.

A code associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration has been detected within the system of a Vermont utility, according to U.S. officials.

The original article overstated what happened, and the Post corrected it and added an editor’s note:

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.

AOL:

So did the Russians attack a laptop at a public utility, even if it wasn’t connected to the electric grid?

It’s possible, but not certain.

The malware found was certainly Russian made and related to the malware used to infiltrate the DNC. But that does not mean that it was used by Russians.

So the Washington Post reported a story based on information from credible sources and then corrected the part that was wrong within 24 hours of its publication.

Has Cernovich retracted or offered any kind of additional note to his blog post from August 12, 2016? No, it’s 227 days later, and he still says he believes it.

Free Speech: No, CPAC disinviting Milo Yiannopoulos is not an attack on free speech

Milo Yiannopoulos’s brief history as an invited speaker to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) lasted less than a week. Given that Yiannopoulos is who he is, an attention seeker and an expert at victimization politics, he is sure to try to turn this into a discussion about free speech.

But make no mistake: This is no war on free speech, and it is nothing like the violence at Berkeley, which caused his speech to be shut down, or other attempts by anti-free speech radicals to silence invited speakers through intimidation or disruption.

CPAC, given that they are putting on the event, makes the decision over who it invites, and CPAC attendees decide whether to purchase a ticket or not. Even before videos of Yiannopoulos praising the potential of relationships between older men and minor children went viral, many conservatives were disappointed with the decision to invite Yiannopoulos, which was reportedly not made with the full approval of the CPAC board. CPAC, after all, is a “conservative” event, and Yiannopoulos offers no deep insight into conservative thought–or much of anything besides showmanship.

Free speech does not imply inviting anyone and everyone to give a speech. After all, CPAC had not extended invitations to Black Lives Matter activists, Lena Dunham, Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, DeRay Mckesson, Shaun King, Brianna Wu, Anita Sarkeesian, or any other identity politics-supporting left-wingers.

They don’t have to extend invitations to anyone and everyone. CPAC, like the College Republicans, is a private group with its own viewpoints and agenda. In the past, CPAC has barred conservative-affiliated groups from being cosponsors for ideological disagreements (GOProud for its support of gay rights) and because of their radicalism (the John Birch Society). Those decisions can be debated, but it’s well within CPAC’s right to make them.

That many of their attendees and sponsors didn’t want to hear Yiannopoulos speak anymore than they wanted to hear DeAndre “Soulja Boy” Cortez Way speak doesn’t make them opponents of free speech–just people with values. In the end, the market place of ideas (and of money–CPAC sells tickets) determined Yiannopoulos’s fate.

Flashback to 2008: Republicans and Joe the Plumber

Chuck Jones’ sin was pointing out that Trump lied about how many jobs the Carrier deal actually saved, tried to take credit for 33% more than the reality.

Now flashback to 2008 and the news sensation over Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher. How did conservative news outlets cover it?

Fox News (Hannity & Colmes): Why Are Democrats Attacking Joe the Plumber?

HANNITY: Why can’t you as a Democrat say you know what? Leave Joe, the plumber alone. He’s out there swinging a wrench for 12 hours a day, probably six or seven days a week. Do you think it’s unfair what’s happening to him?

Newsmax: Joe the Plumber Angered: ‘I’m Just a Private Citizen’

“I’m just a private citizen … That scares me just for the simple fact other people might hesitate on questioning our elected officials and that worries me greatly for America.”

American Thinker: Thugocaracy attacks Joe the Plumber’s Audacity

Michael Barone coined a word in his National Review article, dated October 11, 2008, entitled “The Coming Obama Thugocracy,” and subtitled “Attempts to shut down political speech have become routine for liberals.” Thugocracy: the rule of thugs.

Mr. Wurzelbacher was minding his own business when he had the audacity — Barack Obama’s favorite word after “taxes” — to question Senator Obama’s intention to “spread the wealth around.”

They’re out to destroy a simple American citizen who was made into a public figure by the people now out to smear him.

Townhall: The Obama Thugocracy Goes After Joe the Plumber

Jim Wickre: Attacks on ‘Joe the Plumber.”

The media and the Obama campaign will attack and attempt to destroy any one who stands in the way of Obama’s election as President.

Also in the Newsmax article, Joe said: “But to sit there and say that Barack Obama was directly responsible for such a thing–no, I’m not going to say something like that.”

That can’t be said about Donald Trump.

Republicans already failing in holding Trump accountable

Just weeks after Trump took a majority of the electoral votes on Election Day, Trump’s administration is already facing the potential for scandals, conflicts of interest, and corruption, as Trump has met with foreign business people and invited an executive vice-president of the Trump Organization (for which he himself remains president) to a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Who will hold Trump accountable? Republicans held many hearings to investigate the Obama administration. Many Republicans ran on a promise of keeping the next president honest.

Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman’s campaign pitch (in an ad) was, “If Donald Trump is the president, I’ll stand up to him. Plain and simple. And if Hillary wins, I’ll hold her accountable every step of the way.”

But will the Republicans actually be willing to hold aggressive hearings on Trump’s business dealings in his first months in office? They would be trying to get conservative bills passed Congress, like repealing Obamacare, and they wouldn’t want to tarnish their party’s president, especially early on. But being early in his administration is no excuse, since he’s already involved in business that creates conflicts of interest.

On November 21 reports emerged from Argentina that Trump asked Argentine President Mauricio Marci for help with an office project he is developing there.

While spokespeople for both parties denied it, the very fact that the president-elect would retain his position as president of a company with transnational interests with his children as executives creates the appearance of impropriety, the classical definition of conflict of interest, and the potential for impropriety. There is no way to verify what Trump discusses with foreign leaders and no reason to believe him. That’s why previous presidents have put their assets into blind trusts.

Trump is also reportedly trying to get Jared Kushner, his son in law and husband of Trump Organization executive vice president Ivanka Trump, who sat in on the meeting with Japan, a White House security clearance and position. Nevermind that would give the Trump Organization yet another avenue to access the White House, it is also potentially illegal under an anti-nepotism law.

But will the Republicans hold Trump accountable?

Time magazine reported:

Republicans, likewise, don’t see any conflicts at all in Trump’s family members managing the national government. “For goodness sake, JFK put his brother over at the Justice Department. It’s not like these things are new and unprecedented,” Rep. Tom Cole said.

Oh, right, the fact that JFK put his brother Robert Kennedy in charge of the Justice Department before a law was passed to bar such nepotism in response to JFK putting his brother in charge of the Justice Department. Would it hurt Tom Cole to read a little history?

Many Republicans are more concerned about excusing Trump’s abuses of power than investigating them.

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The Bombs + Dollars $5 million Trump birther challenge

At the first U.S. presidential debate Monday night Donald Trump blamed Hillary Clinton for birtherism.

“Secretary Clinton also fought it. I mean, you know — now, everybody in mainstream is going to say, oh, that’s not true. Look, it’s true. Sidney Blumenthal sent a reporter — you just have to take a look at CNN, the last week, the interview with your former campaign manager,” he said.

Is it really true that Clinton was a birther?

Bombs + Dollars did some research on YouTube and found a few clips wherein Trump questioned Obama’s American birth.

Here’s Trump on “The View” asking, “Why doesn’t he show his birth certificate?” and saying, “If you go back to my first grade, people remember me. Nobody from those early years remembers him.”

Here’s Trump on the “Today Show” saying, “Three weeks ago, when I started, I thought he was born in this country. And now I have a much bigger doubt than I did before.”

Here’s Trump in December 2015 on MSNBC refusing to admit Obama was born in America:

You can go on and on.

Now Trump says that Clinton was a leader of the birther movement. If that’s true there must be videos of her questioning Obama’s birth and demanding the birth certificate. Here’s the Bombs + Dollars birther challenge: If Donald J. Trump can produce a video of Hillary Clinton on cable news questioning President Obama’s birth, we will donate $5 million to the Trump Foundation that he can spend on anything he likes. Bribing public officials, purchasing a Tim Tebow baseball helmet, actual charity work–it’s up to him. All he has to do is produce a video proving that Clinton made Trump-esque birther comments even one.

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Eric Trump mislabels Dallas Mavs arena as being in “Pensacola, Fla.”

In a failed attempt to prove that Donald Trump drew a huge crowd to Pensacola, Florida on September 9, Trump’s son Eric tweeted a photo of his father giving a speech at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, home of the NBA’s Mavericks.

Trump, still stewing over Hillary Clinton’s dig that half of Trump’s supporters belong to a “basket of deplorables,” which includes racists, sexists, anti-intellectuals, and the alt-right, tweeted this:
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There’s just one problem. That’s not Pensacola, Fla.

It’s easy to see. Just take a look in the left corner. What is that flag? Hint: It’s not Florida’s flag.
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In response, a number of Twitter users have pointed out Trump’s stupidity:

Even the owner of the Mavs, Mark Cuban, got in a dig:

This isn’t the first time that a part of the Trump campaign has tweeted the wrong photo for a supposed Trump speech. In August Brietbart.com used a photo of a Cleveland Cavaliers NBA championship victory parade for an article about a Trump speech:

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Baby pics and appeal to emotions

The photo of Omran Daqneesh, the five year old boy pulled out of rubble in Aleppo in Syria, was on the front page of every newspaper in Europe. The baffled look of a child, who was just bombed by people he never would even know, instantly symbolizing the story of every child who is suffering under this brutal Russian bombardment, in this animalistic Syrian civil war, currently in its fifth year. The last time a photo had a similar effect was when Aylan Kurdi was drowned while fleeing to Europe from Turkey with people smugglers and the reaction this time was also similar. It was similar when the French kid with her baby doll was murdered by a rampaging terrorist truck driver in Nice. The reactions to these photos are always predictable, cries for solidarity, donations to charity and calls to “do something”.

Photographs are intensely powerful medium of message. Devoid of broader context and compartmentalized in a visual frame, it gives power and meaning and substance, and simplifies the most complex situations in a binary of good or bad. It also changes meaning, sometimes imposing one where none exists. Perhaps most importantly, it can portray a strong appeal to the highly emotive limbic system of the brain. It clouds rationality.

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Taking a red pen to Donald Trump’s 1987 campaign ad

In 1987, Donald Trump placed an advocacy-style ad in the New York Times echoing the same basic foreign policy ideas that he would recycle for the rest of his political life about how America is being had. Even at the time, many of the arguments he made were typically questionable. In the long-view, however, his arguments have fared even worse. There he was praising Japan’s economic success just a few years before Japan’s Lost Decade began. He claimed the world was laughing at the United States, just a few years before the Soviet Union collapsed–and made no reference to the Soviet Union.

Yet the ideas he stated here are the same ones he’s pushing in 2016. He may refer to China’s economy in the place of Japan’s, but he still talks about making Japan “pay” for having troops there, which they do to the tune of US$4 billion a year in base-related expenses. You will see the rest:
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Trump’s trend of bigotry can’t be easily excused

Donald Trump on July 2 tweeted an image of Hillary Clinton in front of a pile of money with the quote “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” inside the outline of a Star of David. As usual with acts of bigotry from Trump, Trump’s defenders are out in full force to defend him.

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“That’s not a Star of David, it’s just “a star”,” Mary Ann Arlotta wrote on Facebook.

“I’m fairly certain that same shape is on Microsoft PowerPoint,” Rhea Paseur wrote.

Mark Ross wrote, “Some call it the satanic star while others call it the Star of David.” (The pentagram, aka “the satanic star,” has five sides, but anti-Semitic conspiracy theorists do consider the Star of David to be a “Satanic Hexagram.”)

This is becoming a familiar pattern in the Trump campaign: Trump does something bigoted and/or incredibly stupid. Trump fans, whom Trump joked would support him if he killed someone on 5th Avenue, display their gymnastics abilities by defending him.

As Facebook user Kevin Wos wrote, in an explanation that anyone with the faintest understanding of history doesn’t need to read, “Oh yeah, because a Star of David combined with images of money and talk of corruption couldn’t possibly be a dog whistle for the far right. Nope, not anti-Semitic at all!”

The issue, furthermore, comes down to reputation and track record. People are granted a number of mistakes. Trump deleted this tweet afterwards and reuploaded the same image with a circle in the place of the Star of David, so one might be charitable if it was the first time he said or did something bigoted against a minority ethnic group.

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Did the Orlando shooter use an AR-15?

A dispute has emerged on the web between conservative bloggers and the press and liberal bloggers over whether the Orlando shooter, who murdered 49 at the gay nightclub Pulse, used an AR-15 or not.

Bombs and Dollars dug into the controversy, and this is what we found:
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Liberals have argued that the attack—the shooting—caused such a high death toll due to the easy availability of high-powered guns, especially those referred to as “assault rifles.” In particular, many outlets are reporting that the shooter used an AR-15, a rifle that is among those Democrats have tried to ban through a failed assault weapons bill.

5.) Did the shooter use an AR-15?

This is perhaps the biggest and most mysterious contention between liberal advocates of gun control and conservative opponents of gun control. After many mass shootings, it is reported that an AR-15 was used, and conservatives write that an AR-15 wasn’t used.

The Washington Post reports that the shooter used an AR-15, the same gun that has also been used in the shootings at San Bernardino, Calif.; Aurora, Colo.; and Newtown, Conn. The gun rights blog Bearing Arms reported, however, that the weapon was a Sig Sauer MCX carbine.

The Sig Saucer’s brochure notes that the MCX carbine has an “AR-15 Type” mag type.
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The Orlando police were also quoted as reporting that a Sig Saucer MCX was found on the shooter’s person, and there was no mention of an AR-15:

He had a Glock 17 handgun purchased on June 5, a Sigsauer MCX assault rifle purchased on June 4 on his person during the shootout, and investigators later found a .38-caliber weapon in his vehicle.

The dispute between what to call the gun could be due to the fact that AR-15 is now, like “kleenex” and “xerox,” a brand name that is used by many as a generic term for a series of similar guns. According to Rolling Stone,

Mateen carried two guns with him Sunday: a 9mm handgun and a .223 caliber AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle. [Editor’s note: Note the use of “-style.”]

The standard magazine for a Glock, like the one Mateen carried, is 15 rounds. The Sig Sauer MCX rifle Mateen used had double that capacity: 30 rounds.

AR stands for “ArmaLite rifle,” after the company the developed the gun for use by the U.S. military in the 1950s. (The military’s version, nearly indistinguishable from the AR-15, is called the M-16.) Today Colt holds the AR-15 trademark, but some 282 manufacturers make their own versions of the gun and its parts, according to a 2014 accounting by AR-15 enthusiasts.

Think Progress, a liberal blog, also referred to the gun in the same way as Rolling Stone: as “an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.”

If Congress tries to pass an assault weapons ban, the definition of what specific guns are being banned will be a sticking point, and there will be dispute as to what guns should be classes as such.

The question over the AR-15 is just one of 8 questions Bombs and Dollars looked at in relation to the terrorist attack and what could be done to stop such attacks in the future. Read the whole post here: 8 questions to ask after Orlando attack before demanding new policies.

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