Sunday, February 19, 2017

Bill Maher: The Magic R

I have some big problems with Bill Maher, but when he's right, he's right. I've never understood this either. Can you imagine if a Democrat were playing footsie with Vladimir Putin?

And that's only one example among many, throughout the Republican Party.

PS. My thanks to Jeff for the link!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Candidate Donald Trump attacks President Donald Trump

Maybe Donald Trump isn't stupid, he's just channeling the future? Nah, he's stupid.

As America lurches towards fascism


From the BBC:
At a different time, in another country, it was effectively a death sentence.

Being branded an "enemy of the people" by the likes of Stalin or Mao brought at best suspicion and stigma, at worst hard labour or death.

Now the chilling phrase - which is at least as old as Emperor Nero, who was called "hostis publicus", enemy of the public, by the Senate in AD 68 - is making something of a comeback.

In November, the UK Daily Mail used its entire front page to brand three judges "enemies of the people" following a legal ruling on the Brexit process.

Then on Friday, President Donald Trump deployed the epithet against mainstream US media outlets that he sees as hostile.

"The FAKE NEWS media (failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" he wrote on Twitter. ...

Steve Silberman, an award-winning writer and journalist, wondered whether the remark would prompt Trump supporters to shoot at journalists.

And that might not be a far-fetched concern. Late last year, a Trump supporter opened fire in a pizza restaurant at the centre of a bizarre conspiracy theory about child abuse.

The US president's use of "enemies of the people" raises unavoidable echoes of some of history's most murderous dictators.

Under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, out-of-favour artists and politicians were designated enemies and many were sent to hard labour camps or killed. Others were stigmatised and denied access to education and employment.

And Chairman Mao, the leader of China who presided over the deaths of millions of people in a famine brought about by his Great Leap Forward, was also known to use the phrase against anyone who opposed him, with terrible consequences. ...

Carl Bernstein, a reporter who helped to bring down Richard Nixon with his reporting on the Watergate scandal, tweeted: "The most dangerous 'enemy of the people' is presidential lying - always. Attacks on press by Donald Trump more treacherous than Nixon's."

Is Donald Trump really that ignorant, that he doesn't realize the historical significance of "enemy of the people"? That's how dictators talk.

Donald Trump and his supporters in the Republican Party want you to get your 'news' directly from him, without anyone pointing out when Trump lies. That's fascist thinking.

Rep. Lamar Smith, from Texas, actually said, "Better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth." Believe it or not, this is the guy Republicans put in charge of the House Science Committee!

Keep in mind that this is the president who readily repeats lies with the justification that he saw or heard them somewhere. And that's where we Americans are supposed to get "the unvarnished truth"? Really?

We're still less than one month into this pathetic, dangerous excuse for a presidency. How crazy can it get?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Jake Tapper: the difference between conspiracy theories and news stories

I'm not too familiar with Jake Tapper - and not especially fond of CNN in general - but here's another video clip I stumbled upon today. And I have to admit that I'm impressed.

Donald Trump doesn't seem to have intimidated these guys - not yet, at least. Of course, Trump's record low approval ratings might have something to do with that, I don't know. But I'm trying to praise Tapper here, not cast doubts on his motives. Nice job!

Still,... this is Donald Trump, a Republican so crazy that even Fox News calls him out on his lies:

Yes, that's Shep Smith, who's easily the best of the worst at Fox News, but nonetheless, this is unprecedented, isn't it? Have you ever heard Fox News say anything like this about another Republican, let alone a Republican president?

President Trump's first solo press conference

Yesterday, Donald Trump's first solo press conference as president was just crazy piled on top of crazy. As others have said, it was unhinged. It was nonstop whining. And it made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

If this didn't scare you about the future of our country, nothing will. And we're not even a month into his presidency yet!

I can't even begin to recount all of the lunacy he displayed here. TPM has posted the 8 Craziest Moments and 5 Overlooked Asides, but even those barely scratch the surface. It was just nuts! SNL will have to devote an entire show to this press conference if they hope to come even close to the insanity of the real thing.

This is one of the best reactions, for its brief length, from Jake Tapper at CNN:

"It was Festivus." Heh, heh. Now, that was funny. But his point was very serious.

"At one point he said that the leaks were real but the news was fake, which doesn't make any sense whatsoever." Tapper is right. If it's fake, it's not a leak.

You can't claim that the intelligence community is leaking classified data while also claiming that news organizations are lying when they report it. Yet that's exactly what Trump has been claiming.

Tapper mentions Peter Alexander at NBC, and the clip below shows that brief segment of the news conference.

Remember, after the election, Donald Trump bragged and bragged about winning one of the biggest electoral college margins in history, while also claiming that he won the popular vote. Neither of those claims was true - not even close!

Recently, he's dialed back the first of those claims, maybe because it was so ludicrously false. But he replaced it with a claim that was just as demonstrably false, that he had the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.

That "304 or 306" stuff is because Trump didn't even get that part right. He's repeatedly claimed that he got 306 electoral votes, when he actually got 304. But that's hardly the main thing here. I mean, at this point, no one is going to expect Donald Trump to get numbers right.

But he claimed, as he has been claiming, that he won the biggest electoral college victory since Reagan. Alexander started to correct him, mentioning one of Barack Obama's wins (both were bigger than Trump's), when Trump interrupted to change that claim to just Republican wins. But even that isn't true, which Alexander noted when he finished his sentence.

"So why should Americans trust you, when you accuse the information they receive as being fake, when you're providing information that's not accurate?" Good question, isn't it?

But like everything else where Donald Trump has been demonstrably wrong, he shrugs it off as just something 'he was given.'  "Actually, I've seen that information around." But the point is that it's not true.

We've seen this over and over again, throughout the campaign and right into the presidency. We saw it when he falsely claimed to have seen thousands of American Muslims cheering on 9/11. We saw it when he claimed that he actually won the popular vote, because 3-5 million people voted illegally.

Over and over again, Donald Trump either lies or is just too stupid to separate fantasy from reality. I don't know which it is, but it's scary as hell, either way, given that he's now President of the United States.

PS. Please note that Trump is holding a 2020 campaign rally in Florida tomorrow! Yes, this is an actual campaign rally, paid for by his 2020 presidential campaign, less than one month into his term of office. How crazy is that?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Arab "sex mob" story wasn't true

These days, deliberate lying about immigrants and refugees seems to be more widespread than it's ever been - at least, since the days of Nazi Germany.

From the Washington Post:
On Feb. 6, Germany's most-read newspaper reported that dozens of Arab men, presumed to be refugees, had rampaged through the city of Frankfurt on New Year's Eve. The men were said to have sexually assaulted women as they went through the streets; the newspaper dubbed them the Fressgass “sex mob,” referring to an upmarket shopping street in the city.

Bild's report sparked widespread concern in Germany. The nation has taken in millions of migrants over the past few years, and there had been reports of a similar incidents in Cologne and other cities the previous New Year's Eve.

But police investigating the crime now say that the allegations included in the article are “without foundation.”

According to the Frankfurter Rundschau, the witnesses who spoke to reporters may be investigated themselves. Bild has now deleted the story from its website. The paper's online editor in chief on Tuesday said that the company apologized “for our own work.”

It's admirable that the newspaper apologized for the false story and deleted it from their website. But that won't undo the damage that it's done - and that it will continue to do.

These kinds of stories never die. They just continue to get passed around by people who don't know that they're false and by people who do know they're false but are fine with deliberately lying to push their ideological agenda.
There have been plenty of false stories about refugees and migrants in Germany over the past few years, in large part a reflection of divisive political views on the issue within the country and the increasingly fragmented world of online media. They include the story of the “Allahu akbar”-chanting mob that set Germany’s oldest church alight (quickly proved false), for example, or the refugee who took a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was accused of terrorism links (again false).

But most of these stories have been driven by social media or spread by ideological websites like Breitbart.

Fox News was bad enough. Now we've got Breitbart. Not only that, Breitbart is in the White House, advising Donald Trump. Breitbart has been given political power at the highest levels of our government. Lying racists have taken control of America.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trump at Mar-a-Lago

This is just a brief video, but IMHO, the subject hasn't received nearly enough attention. Of course, that's not surprising, given all of the other crap going on with Donald Trump.

Still, Republicans complained nonstop about Hillary Clinton's email server. Well, she never in her life did anything this reckless with our national security. And this situation doesn't even have anything to do with Vladimir Putin!

Incidentally, I wonder how much money Trump is making from the presidency? Even during the campaign, he was charging high rates when using his own properties. Now, he's holding events at his own golf club and charging the military rent in his office tower.

We might never get to see his past tax returns, but it would be very interesting to compare them with what he's making now, don't you think? He seems to be using the government as his own piggy bank and the presidency as free advertising.

This is about Trump

As bad as I expected a Trump presidency to be, it's been even worse than that. And we're not even a month into it yet!

And we're still speculating about how much Donald Trump and/or his advisors have been working with the Russians to damage America! Imagine that if it were a Democrat, rather than a Republican, in office!

Now that Trump's National Security Advisor has resigned in disgrace, Josh Marshall explains what's really the problem here:
The truth is Michael Flynn does not matter. We have before us a question that has stood before us, centerstage, for something like a year, brazen and shameless and yet too baffling and incredible to believe: Donald Trump's bizarre and unexplained relationship with Russia and its strongman Vladimir Putin.

It is almost beyond imagining that a National Security Advisor could be forced to resign amidst a counter-intelligence investigation into his communications and ties to a foreign adversary. The National Security Advisor is unique in the national security apparatus. He or she is the organizer, synthesizer and conduit to the President for information from all the various agencies and departments with a role in national security. This person must be able to know everything. The power and trust accorded this person are immeasurable. It is only really comparable to the President. And yet, we are talking about the President. A staffer or appointee can be dismissed. The President is the ultimate constitutional officer. ...

...the circumstantial evidence, the unexplained actions, the unheard of spectacle of a foreign power subverting a US election while the beneficiary of the interference aggressively and openly makes the case for the culprit, the refusal to make even the most elementary forms of disclosure which could clarify the President's financial ties - they are so multifaceted and abundant it is almost impossible to believe they are mere random and chance occurrences with no real set of connections behind them. ...

If you were Vladimir Putin you could not have done more to help the cause of Donald Trump. And if you were Trump, you could not have done more in actions and statements to repay the favor. The only question is whether the trajectory of perfectly interlocked actions were simply chance or tacit. Is it even remotely credible that with everything that led up to it, Michael Flynn initiated and conducted this back channel on his own? Hardly. It's crazy that we're having this conversation about a sitting President. But here we are. It's time. We need to know the answer to this question.

And how are Republicans responding? You know, the political party which held seven investigations into Benghazi, none of which found anything they could blame on Hillary Clinton? That same political party which chanted "lock her up" over emails - emails! - supplied to them by Vladimir Putin (dropping the whole thing like a hot potato after the election was over)?

You could probably guess, huh?
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on the Flynn affair: "I just don't think it's useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. We'll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we're spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense."

That was the same mindset – an aversion to accountability in exchange for perceived short-term political gain – that produced an explosion of GOP corruption in the mid-aughts. There's little evidence the party learned from that sordid period, and Trump seems likely to reproduce it, except bigger, more garishly, and with more conspicuous gilding. And his congressional enablers seem ready to help out, if only by omission of real oversight.

The Trump administration itself (I still throw up a little in my mouth whenever I say that phrase) is only concerned about stopping the leaks, stopping the flow of information to our news media, so that the American public just won't hear about this stuff.

And the Republican Party doesn't give a crap about Russian influence in the highest levels of our government, as long as they think it will help them politically.

Well, this is the same political party which deliberately uses racism for political advantage. This is the same political party whose leaders agreed to do nothing to help America as long as our first black president was in office,... while we were in the middle of two wars and in the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

Given the past 40 years of the Republican Party putting political ambition above their own country, why would we expect any difference now? The only thing they care about is partisan politics. They won't give a crap about Russian meddling in our country unless they see the a political downside from it.

And even then, they're far more likely to try to suppress the news or muddy the waters, rather than see any ugly truths come out. Besides, we just had an election, so this is the absolute worst time for political pressure to have an impact.

We should have cared about this stuff in November. Remember, we did this to ourselves! Putin helped, but he couldn't have done this without our willing participation. That's the problem with a democracy: we get the kind of government we deserve.

Whatever happened to freedom of religion?

Yeah, it's another good one from... the cartoonist who must remain anonymous in order to stay alive. Oh, give me that Old Time Religion, huh?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

And the insanity continues

It's only been a month! Heck, it's been less than a month since Donald Trump took office. We've got another week to go before it will even have been one month,... and we've got at least four years of this stuff ahead of us!

What have we done to ourselves? What has the Republican Party done to us? Can America survive four years of these people?

And that's four years at best. That assumes we pull our heads out of our asses and start voting. Keep in mind that, if you didn't vote for Hillary Clinton in November, this is your fault. But I keep hearing people making excuses for bone-headed idiocy.

We don't need Russia to destroy America, because we're doing it to ourselves.

Monday, February 13, 2017

John Oliver: Trump vs the truth

John Oliver has been off for awhile. I'm sure glad he's back, because we've never needed him more - as this video clip shows!

PS. Be sure to watch to the very end. It's hilarious!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Sean Spicer press conference

This is several days old, but it's so funny, I kept going back to watch it again. So I thought I'd post it here.

That's Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, and she nails it, doesn't she? I'm not a big fan of SNL in general, but their political skits have been hilarious. Of course, Trump is a gold mine for political comedians!

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Statue of Liberty, R.I.P.

Apparently, that German magazine cover is "controversial." I'm not sure why. This has been a persistent theme of political cartoonists since Donald Trump became president, and rightly so.

In case you've forgotten, the inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty reads:

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

What Would Jesus Do? - the movie

Sorry, this review is audio only. But I'm a big fan of God Awful Movies, brought to you by the same funny people who do The Scathing Atheist podcast.

These aren't safe for work, and they might give your elderly relatives a heart attack (unless they're like me, of course), but if you're not easily offended, they're hilarious. I just listened to this one, and it struck me as particularly funny. It's a review of What Would Jesus Do?

I've never tried to embed audioBoom, but if this doesn't work for you, you can download the mp3 file here, or listen to it on iTunes. The later podcasts are available on YouTube here, but not this one - not yet, at least. (This particular podcast is about a year old. I've been working my way through their archives.)

Actually, that is probably only scratching the surface of where you can get these. But again, if you enjoy this kind of humor, be sure to check out their Scathing Atheist and Skepticrat podcasts, too. (Note that the latter is their newest podcast, and although it started great, they've only released one episode since May. I suspect that two regular podcasts are about all they can handle right now.)

BTW, here's a quote from the beginning of one of their Scathing Atheist podcasts: "Warning: The following podcast contains genuine, heartfelt emotions. But don't worry. We wrap them in profanity." Don't say you weren't warned. :)

Friday, February 3, 2017

The not-a-Muslim-ban Muslim ban

I'm a little late with this, but when it comes to Donald Trump, the crazy never stops coming. It's depressing and tiring.

Luckily, there's Samantha Bee, who seems to have enough energy for all of us.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A lie is a lie, even when the president says it

From Charles M. Blow's column in the New York Times yesterday:
Trump does not simply have “a running war with the media,” as he so indecorously and disrespectfully spouted off while standing on the hallowed ground before the C.I.A. Memorial Wall. He is in fact having a running war with the truth itself.

Donald Trump is a proven liar. He lies often and effortlessly. He lies about the profound and the trivial. He lies to avoid guilt and invite glory. He lies when his pride is injured and when his pomposity is challenged.

Indeed, one of the greatest threats Trump poses is that he corrupts and corrodes the absoluteness of truth, facts and science.

It is no coincidence that the rise of Trump is concurrent with the rise of “fake news.” It is no coincidence that his rise comes during an age of severely damaged faith in institutions.

And now that he has been elected, Trump wants absolute control over the flow of information, to dictate his own version of facts rather than live with the reality of accepted facts. Trump is in a battle to bend the truth to his benefit.

He hates members of the press because, when properly performing, they are truth seekers rather than ego-strokers. The press may sometimes get things wrong, but it most often gets them right. A truly independent press is not stocked with political acolytes but political adversaries.

This doesn’t sit well with an administration that wants to be perpetually patted on the back and never rapped on the knuckles.

After Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, got called out by the press for lying about Trump’s inauguration crowd size and viewership, Spicer limped back to the mic and whined of Trump’s press coverage: “The default narrative is always negative, and it’s demoralizing.”

No, sir, the default is to call a lie a lie; lies are negative because they are the opposite of the truth; and Trump continuously lies. ...

And Trump for his part continues to rage about three to five million illegal votes causing him to lose the popular vote in November. This, too, is a lie. A lie. Not the euphemisms you hear on television, like “unsubstantiated,” or “unproven,” or “baseless.” It is a lie, pure and simple.

But Trump won’t let it go. His pride is hurt, his vanity tarnished. The man who prides himself on winning lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes, the biggest popular vote loss by a winning candidate in American history. That stings.

So, even after his lie is reported and rejected, he continues to perpetuate it. This is what makes Trump qualitatively different from our leaders who came before him: He believes that truth is what he says it is, and the only reason it has yet to be accepted is that it has yet to be sufficiently repeated. ...

We all have to adjust to this unprecedented assault on the truth and stand ready to vigilantly defend against it, because without truth, what’s left? Our president is a pathological liar. Say it. Write it. Never become inured to it. And dispense with the terms of art to describe it. A lie by any other name portends the same.

I only disagree about one thing. The default - at least in the news media - isn't "to call a lie a lie." Even today, even with Donald Trump, it's common for the national news media to use euphemisms.

"Lie" is so harsh, right? And they're still desperate to get along with the man and the political party who control our country and lie pretty much nonstop. Even after all this, their first instinct is often appeasement.

Democrats, too. Through most of the past eight years - certainly in the early years of his presidency - Barack Obama bent over backward to appease the Republicans. But Republican leaders had agreed before he'd even taken office that they'd do nothing our first black president wanted, no matter what it might be or how badly America was hurting.

The Democrats even adopted the Republican health care plan, only to see every Republican immediately turn against their own plan. Every Republican.

Today, Democrats in the Senate are still voting for Donald Trump's terrible cabinet picks - not all Democrats, not even a majority, but enough that the Republicans can call it "bipartisan" approval. Will they never learn?

I don't want the Democrats to be carbon copies of Republicans, no, but it would be nice if they understood that this is politics. I don't want politics to be the only concern of Democrats, as it is for Republicans. But it would be a nice change of pace if Democrats understood the contest they're in.

Republicans are playing kick-boxing, while the Democrats are playing tiddlywinks. We've seen how that plays out, haven't we? We've watched this game for decades now. Will the Democrats never learn?

Of course, Blow was talking about the news media, but I have to wonder the same thing about them. When will they learn that the president needs them more than they need the president?

If Trump gets mad and cuts off access, then interview the people who oppose him. It's not your fault if Trump's people won't talk to you. If Republicans refuse to talk with you, then talk with Democrats. How long do you think Republicans will hold out then?

You have the upper hand here. They need you more than you need them. They know that, so why don't you? And note that this would be the case even if Donald Trump wasn't polling at 36%.

Well, Trump's lies have been so outrageous that even some of the news media are calling them "lies." Some of the news media. Unfortunately, they're competitors, so some will always suck up to power, no matter what. (And I'm not talking about places like Fox News, which are basically the propaganda arm of the GOP - PR people, not journalists.)

Others in the news media seem to be like the Democrats. They still haven't learned that you can't appease people who won't be appeased no matter what you do. Even complete surrender wouldn't fully satisfy them. Certainly, anything short of that will be met with bitter denunciations and, yes, more lies.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

National insecurity

As pretty much his first action as president, our new clown-in-chief, Donald Trump, has gone completely off the rails about... the size of the crowds at his inauguration.

Incredible, isn't it? TPM called it "National Insecurity," and I liked that so much I borrowed it for the headline here, too. What's next? Apparently, Trump still thinks he's a 'reality TV' star.

It's not just Trump. His whole team has become equally hysterical about this. At the first White House press briefing of this new administration, Trump's press secretary did nothing but rant about the press and lie about the crowd at the inauguration, without taking a single question from journalists.

Here's how TPM describes it:
On the one hand it is chilling, bizarre, un-American to see the President's spokesman begin the term excoriating and threatening the press, telling demonstrable lies, speaking with a palpable rage in his voice. On the other, the President and his toadies are on the second day almost vanishingly small. They are embarrassing themselves. They look silly. They look ridiculous. It is hard to be intimidated by ridiculousness. I suspect this will be the abiding duality of the Trump presidency.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump's campaign manager and now a senior White House advisor, has been trying desperately to make insanity seem... well, slightly less crazy.

It wasn't lying, you see. It was just "alternative facts":
Senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said in an interview Sunday morning that White House press secretary Sean Spicer wasn't lying about crowd size at the President's inauguration—he was just giving "alternative facts." ...

"You did not answer the question of why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood," [Chuck] Todd interrupted. "Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one."

"No, it doesn't. Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck," Conway replied. "You're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point really is—"

"Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts?" Todd interjected, looking incredulous. "Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true."

Conway tried to interrupt, but Todd continued.

"Look, alternative facts are not facts," he said.

But they are for faith-based people. For faith-based people, reality is whatever you want it to be. They don't care about the truth of their beliefs, but only about whether or not they want to believe them. These are the same people who've decided that facts don't exist.

They're wrong, of course. Facts do exist and, unlike gods, they don't cease to exist when you stop believing in them. Donald Trump can push his 'alternative' reality all he likes. That still won't make it true.

Even Fox News agrees that they're lying. Even Fox News thinks that this is crazy. And when Republicans get too crazy for Fox News, you know it's bad.

But I haven't even mentioned the craziest part of all this. On his first day in office, Donald Trump went to the headquarters of the CIA and spent his time bragging about how smart he is, whining about the media, and... yes, arguing about the crowd size at his inauguration.

Yes, at the CIA. On his first official day in office.

Again, from TPM:
A presidential speech that was intended to thank the intelligence community quickly went off the rails Saturday as Donald Trump talked about himself, his inauguration crowd, the dishonest media and how great his party was.

Trump appeared at the CIA on his first official day as the 45th president after a rough few weeks where he'd heavily criticized the agency, blamed it for leaks and questioned their assessment that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election. In a brief 15-minute statement, Trump meandered, but without the kind of discipline or grace one might expect from the commander in chief. ...

It seemed at every turn, Trump would pivot to himself. As he talked about his choice to lead the CIA Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Trump noted that he himself was smart.

"I met him and I said, he is so good. Number one in his class at West Point. I know a lot about West Point, and I'm a person that very strongly believes in academics. In fact, every time I say I had an uncle who was a great professor at M.I.T. for 35 years, who did a fantastic job in so many ways," Trump said. "He was an academic genius, and then they say, there's Donald Trump, an intellectual, trust me, I'm like a smart person." ...

It was a strange juxtaposition: a President, standing before the memorial wall at the CIA that honors the lives lost by agency officers as he talked about crowd size and his intelligence. According to the pool report, there were about 400 CIA employees at the agency Saturday. At first, the cheering came from across the crowd, but the pooler noted that as the speech continued, the senior officials in the front grew "subdued."

I'll bet they did! Keep in mind that this was a speech that was supposed to show support for the CIA (so it should have made them happy).

Trump himself said, "I am so behind you and I know maybe sometimes you haven't gotten the backing that you've wanted and you're going to get so much backing. Maybe you'll say, 'don't give us so much backing. Mr. President, please, we don't need that much backing.'"

Who talks like that? Who says, "...and then they say, there's Donald Trump, an intellectual, trust me, I'm like a smart person"?

I've known lots of smart people. None of them talk like that. That's like a dumb person's idea of what a smart person says. How scary is that when you're talking about the President of the United States?

After her "alternative facts" gambit failed, Kellyanne Conway was reduced to arguing that size doesn't matter. No, of course it doesn't. But this wouldn't have been news at all if Donald Trump hadn't thrown a temper tantrum about it:
"I completely agree with that. We spent eleven hours on the air during the inauguration, barely talked about the crowd size if we brought it up at all," George Stephanopoulos replied. "The question is, why does the President choose to talk about that at the CIA? Why does he send his press secretary out to talk about it in his first White House briefing and say things that aren't true?"

This just gets scarier and scarier. After one day in office, Donald Trump already seems to be going insane from the stress. What has America done to itself?

For the record, there were a lot of people at Trump's inauguration, just as you'd expect. But from every bit of evidence (i.e. everything but unsupported claims from Donald Trump himself or his spokespeople), they didn't match the crowds at either of Barack Obama's inaugurations. (Here's, too.)

Please note that the National Park Service doesn't release official estimates of these crowds anymore, not since the organizers of the Million Man March threatened to sue because, like Trump, they wanted to believe they had a bigger turnout. (And, of course, Trump has banned the Park Service from Twitter after they posted a picture comparing the crowd size this year with Obama's 2009 inauguration.)

Is the crowd size important? No, not even slightly. Rather, it wouldn't have been important if Donald Trump hadn't had such a meltdown about it, if his press secretary hadn't lied about it, and if his campaign manager hadn't made such ludicrous claims about "alternative facts."

This is only important because of Trump's clownish reaction to any perceived slight. Remember how he claimed that he'd won one of the biggest Electoral College landslides in American history (false) and also that he'd actually won the popular vote? (That's even less true. Hillary Clinton received almost three million more votes than he did.)

But if Trump wants to talk size, let's compare. One of the few hopeful indicators of this new year is that the Women's March on Washington yesterday - protesting Trump - apparently had a crowd three times as big as the inauguration the day before.

You can believe whatever you like - Trump supporters certainly will - but there are pictures from the same EarthCam at the same time of day. Well, until Russia hacks it, I suppose. :)

Saturday, January 21, 2017

How big alt-med tried to silence a scientist

So, you thought you'd heard all of the downsides of a Trump presidency? Sorry, but... not even close. I'm sure we'll be learning of new downsides for the next four years. (Let's just hope it's not eight.)

And yes, some liberals can be just as gullible as conservatives when it comes to this alt-med bullshit. But liberals tend to have a lot better attitude towards regulations and libel laws (among other things).

Friday, January 20, 2017

How to destroy the White House press corps, Russian-style

Interesting, isn't it? My thanks to Keith Olbermann.

Moving in

OK, I had a few extra political cartoons I didn't want to skip. Donald Trump may be a turd sandwich for America, but he's a godsend to political cartoonists and comedians.