Category: U.S. Politics (Page 1 of 17)

“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.

Healthcare fail puts the lie to Trump’s power narrative

Less than three months into Donald Trump’s presidency, and already the Republicans have given up on their #1 promise. Repealing Obamacare was what you could count on almost any Republican to say at almost any campaign event.

They won a majority in the House of Representatives in 2010 campaigning on repealing Obamacare. They won the Senate in 2014 campaigning on repealing Obamacare. And in 2016, Donald Trump won the presidency on a campaign of selling himself as a strong leader who would dispense with the niceties of the weak Republican establishment.

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How cutthroat corporate culture imposed on politics dooms the Trump administration

Kellyanne Conway, a political activist and current advisor to President Donald Trump, and Stephen Miller, also a Trump advisor may not, at first blush, seem to be products of a corporate structure.

Employees who work in upper echelons of huge corporations all know corporate structure comes from top management, usually the CEO and Executive Board. It is easy to succumb to the rigorous demands of deeply embedded corporate structure without realizing it. However, when a corporate structure makes a cross over to government, all of the most negative factors of living the corporate life become obvious. Such is the picture the public sees of Conway and Miller. Part of the structure is what many recognize as the “rat race” to stay in close proximity to the top. Within such an environment, the level of competition between top advisors becomes overwhelming, and leaks abound. (Reportedly Conway leaked to the press that Trump was dissatisfied with press secretary Sean Spicer’s performance.)

The Ambitions of Conway and Miller

In order to remain a vital part of the “team,” Conway and Miller often become “creative” about facts and truth. They believe

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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.

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2 Articles on Liberal Protest

These past two weeks, we have seen massive protests by liberals and left-wing anarchist groups, both non-violent and violent, and both Sumantra and I have written about them.

The general thrust of my thesis is that non-violent protests such as the Women’s March are a fine way of opposing Trump’s radical policies and statements. That kind of non-violent protest should not be associated with fascistic violence like that of Disrupt J20 or the Antifa thugs in Berkeley. However some of the mechanisms of social protest, like #DeletingUber, are very stupid and possibly counterproductive.

Here are my pieces:
Antifa and the Woman’s March: A Tale of Two Protests – Areo

Protesters have depicted both Bush and Obama as Nazis. Neither side has a monopoly on Hitler comparisons and stupid signs, and both sides are guilty of hypocrisy in selectively cherry picking the worst examples of their opponents for condemnation.

But because of certain characteristics of the Left, such as the fact that collectivism lends itself more to collective protests than does individualism and the fact that a good deal of leftists romanticize French Revolution-style “resistance,” progressives are generally more likely to have large-scale marches and marches that often push or overstep the limits of the law. It’s no coincidence that, more often than not, the people occupying a public park or a pipeline construction location are leftists. Most progressives aren’t waving Soviet flags at a World Trade Organization protest, but most people waving Soviet flags at WTO protests are progressives.

Read full article.

And:
By Targeting Uber, Immigration Protesters Punish Innocent Bystanders – The Federalist

Imagine you are a traveler just off a long flight across an ocean. You’re tired, you’re hungry, you’re annoyed from standing in long lines and waiting for your luggage. You already know the immigration ban is in place because you saw it reported on CNN in the terminal. Now there’s no one to take you to your hotel downtown. You find out it’s because taxi drivers are striking due to an order you didn’t sign and had nothing to do with. You might not even support it. You might not even be a citizen of this country. But you have one more headache just because Trump did something the taxi drivers don’t like. Are you going to be more or less likely to support the taxi union?

Read full article.

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The assault on rule of law in America

Anarchists smashed windows and burn cars on the day of Trump’s inauguration. Two weeks later, “Antifa” rioted at Berkeley, destroying property and beating innocent people, just because an alt-right extremist was planning on speaking (Ben Shapiro has a run down of him). In the White House, President Trump ignores multiple court rulings and continues to illegally enforce an immigration ban he unilaterally implemented that is likely unconstitutional.

America, in the eyes of many, is tearing apart at the seams.

Some would blame it on liberals or leftists who are unable to accept that Trump won the popular vote. But the thugs destroying ATM machines and punching people in Berkeley weren’t wearing pussy hats or “I’m With Her” shirts. Quite probably few of them voted for a “corporatist” like Hillary. Probably few of them voted at all in a “corrupt” system.

Donald Trump should be speaking out and changing his ways. He’s the president, and he needs to take leadership.

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#NeverTrump was right: Trump is everything #NeverTrump warned about

In less than two weeks in office, President Trump has already proven to be everything #NeverTrump warned about. He has lied, abused his power, implemented unconstitutional policies, disgraced the office and divided the nation.

Trump has lied brazenly

@Cheryl707 @SalenaZito @BradOnMessage That’s a lot of words to use to defend a pathological liar. – @AndyKindler

Just the day after his inauguration, Donald Trump was already brazenly lying to the CIA and the public to appease his narcissism. He told the CIA that he had the largest crowd ever for his inauguration and that maybe 1.5 million people came. He had press secretary Sean Spicer yell at reporters and berate them for accurately reporting the crowd size. Spicer’s first remarks included provably false statements about the number of metro riders at both his and Obama’s inauguration and the use of floor coverings. The next day Kellyanne Conway defended Spicer on the grounds that he was simply using “alternative facts.”

And spread conspiracy theories
But that wasn’t even the worst of it. Trump also said that “3 to 5 million illegal votes” caused him to lose the popular vote, which he lost by 2.8 million votes. Defending his nut job claim, Trump cited random internet person, Gregg Phillips.

Trump has a long track record of affiliating himself with conspiracy theories, including leading the birther crusade against Obama, suggesting Obama is a secret Muslim, believing that Ted Cruz’s father was involved in the JFK assassination, being advised by Roger Stone, and appearing on the Alex Jones show.

Trump’s lies about politics spread into much that he says to defend his policies, including stating that, “If you were a Muslim [applying for refugee status in Syria] you could come in, but if you were a Christian, it was almost impossible,” and that his executive order banning everyone including green card holders from seven countries was the same as something Obama did.

Trump abuses his power and violates the Constitution

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Source: Google Public Data Explorer

Tariffs are falling everywhere but in America — 12 charts to explain the economy

Economic charts to explain some aspects of Trump’s economic policy.

Donald Trump has proposed a 20 percent tariff to pay for his proposed barrier on the border with Mexico. During the campaign, he often proposed raising tariffs on China up to 40 percent and renegotiating or leaving trade deals. Among his first executive orders was one to call for “renegotiating” NAFTA and leaving the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Trump’s argument for doing so rests on the case that America imports a lot of goods and thus has a high trade deficit and that he and some of the economists he has surrounded himself with, such as Peter Navarro, believe that America’s trade deficit is causing manufacturing jobs to be lost to countries with low wages, like China.

Trump is right that the U.S. has a high trade deficit, though he often espouses false and exaggerated numbers. In one debate he said the U.S. had an $800 billion trade deficit. In fact, the U.S. had a $484 billion trade deficit (deficit in current account balance) in 2015. Canada and Mexico were also among the top seven.

However, the United States also has the largest economy in the world. America’s trade deficit is nearly the same as that of Canada and Mexico as a percentage of GDP. Indeed, according to the IMF, the three countries rank consecutively.

Tariffs around the world have been falling for years as countries embrace free trade. While Mexico’s average tariffs remains higher and more volatile than Canada’s or America’s, it has fallen since 1990.

Source: Google Data Explorer

Source: Google Data Explorer

Tariffs in important Asian countries have fallen “bigly.” China’s average tariff fell from over 30% in 1992 to less than 5% by 2014. When China joined the WTO in 2001, its tariff fell from close to 15% to 10% the next year.

Source: Google Public Data Explorer

Source: Google Public Data Explorer

Along with a decrease in tariffs, major Asian countries have also seen increases in imports.

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Trump breaks some immigration promises, makes partial progress on others

It’s Trump’s first week in office, and already he has broken some promises and made progress on others. Throughout Trump’s tenure, Bombs + Dollars will track Trump’s promises and offer updates at intervals.

Trump has already taken bold actions with a number of executive orders on immigration, abortion, and Obamacare. Republicans in Congress, as well, are trying their best to repeal Obamacare, although it’s unclear what kind of a replacement they will try to push through.

Among Trump’s major executive orders was one to keep the Guantanamo Bay military prison open and in use, which fulfills his pledge to keep Gitmo open.

An executive order to expend funds to build a barrier on the border leaves open the question of whether the barrier would be a wall or a fence, a distinction Trump made on the campaign trail. The executive order also spends American money, not Mexican money, which would violate Trump’s pledge to have Mexico pay for the wall. Trump claims he will eventually get Mexico to reimburse America.

Trump also is reportedly planning on signing an executive order to ban new refugees for a number of months and to ban anyone from a number of countries, including Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. That would result in more than 180 million Muslims being banned (Iran: 74.8 million Muslims; Sudan: 39.0 million; Iraq: 31.1 million; Yemen: 24.0 million; Syria: 20.8 million). However, there are 1,703 million Muslims in the entire world, including 257 million in South-East Asia alone, 204 million in Indonesia, 178 million in Pakistan, and 172 million in India. If this is the full extent of Trump’s “Muslim ban,” he would have failed massively to implement his plan for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” This policy, however, can credibly be argued to fulfill his promise to “suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the United States, Europe or our allies, until we fully understand how to end these threats.”

Trump broke his promise to have call on Congress to pass “Kate’s Law” on his first day in office. To date, he has still not called on Congress to do so.

Presented below are some of the updates to the chart:

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Going forward, conservatives must not bow to Trump

January 20 we’ll all watch as Donald Trump is sworn into office, a spectacle most of us never thought would happen. For over a year we repeated the mantra of “keep calm, it won’t be Trump,” but that didn’t play out as we expected, obviously. In the midst of our astonishment we’ve been called to question much of what we’ve believed for so long, and, without doubt, I’ve had someone ask me a variation of the following at least once a day:
“I mean, didn’t we technically win? What do we do now as a movement? Should we give him a chance before judging his presidency? How will you handle things going forward?”

In reply I’ve given a slew of answers, from ideas on building a new party, to helping middle ground Democrats who are willing to meet us half-way. Maybe we stay on the right side of the aisle and be a voice of reason, or maybe we traipse over to the left and forge a new alliance. The options are endless, and everyone is walking around those options on eggshells, pondering the vast number of possibilities, and worried that they’ll choose the wrong one. However, regardless of how difficult the choice is, for so many it seems a choice must be made. They’re not content in the wilderness, and they desperately want to be a member of the tribe again.

I’ve listened to people say that, despite their refusal to vote for Trump, they must now join in the thunderous applause – “albeit reluctantly,” they’ll proclaim – of a Republican sweep until their fears are confirmed, because that’s what a good team player does. I’ve watched them cheer on Sessions, Tillerson, and Carson, despite obvious issues, simply because that’s what people on the right are doing.

As though getting behind the schoolyard bully is the only logical option, because while he’s shaken down all of the defenseless kids on the playground, it’s only reasonable to stand beside him until he shakes down the next, and then the next, and so on and so forth. They’re willing to wash, rinse, and repeat until there’s nothing left of their principles but a shell that barely tells the story of what they once were.

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