Archive for the ‘media’ Category

Wrote this song around 2008 or so, based on an idea I had in 2004. Still relevant today.

Tell me who to hate today
tell me what to feel
tell me who’s the enemy
tell me who to kill
tell me what is right and true
tell me what is really real
tell me what I should believe
tell me who’s the enemy

Welcome to the United States of Delusion
Where every day’s an illusion
bathe me in your cool blue glow
tell me what to think and feel
Welcome to the United States of Delusion

Images on a glowing screen
teach me what is really real
I sit in my reclining chair
as they tell me who to blame today
for my dreary life of pain
and emptiness of dreams long died
Handsome men in expensive suits
fill me with their simple lies
simple lies to fill the holes
of a life empty of hope


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Undercounting and the Chinese coronavirus:

I have come across a CDC paper on the H1N1 epidemic of 2009-2010 which claims that for each reported case, there were 79 unreported cases. This was for the flu, but the coronavirus has simila rpresentation.

259 people have died and 11,791 people have been infected with the Chinese coronavirus according to the latest Chinese reporting. Applying the same multiplier to reported vs actual cases, that means around 920,000 actual cases. Now look at the numbers for 2016-2017 for the US for the regular flu. According to the CDC, 29,000,000 estimated cases, 38,000 deaths. If you divide 29,000,000 by 920,000 and multiply times 259, you get 7,511 deaths if this virus became epidemic in the United States.

Uhm, yeah, thus far not apocalyptic numbers at all. Definitely not 1918 numbers. Though you wouldn’t know it from all the breathless reporting you’re reading.

“But Tux,” you say, “nobody has immunity to the coronavirus! What if virtually *all* Americans became infected with it!”

Fine. Assuming it infected 290,000,000 Americans (i.e., most of us), the death toll would be 75,110 deaths. Or twice as many deaths as the average flu season, but still not apocalyptic by any means.

If you get sick with flu-like symptoms, by all means get proper medical care. Especially if you start having trouble breathing. Most deaths are from pneumonia, either viral from the virus itself or from an opportunistic bacterial pneumonia. But this is not the epidemic that’s going to end humanity. Sorry, you’re still going to have to wait on that one, despite all the hysterical reporting.

– Badtux the “This is not the apocalypse” Penguin

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Example from the Rolling Stone.

Stormy Daniels, in her new book, apparently has explicit details of the Presidential genitalia, and the press is having a collective nervous breakdown trying to figure out how to cover that news without explicit descriptions of the male sexual organ. I’m just over here giggling like a middle schooler at the whole circus.

I wish Ms. Daniels well. But I’m not going to read her book. I already have a good enough image of Donald Trump naked in my head, and it requires brain bleach.

– Badtux the “Blech!” Penguin

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The most dangerous place for a reporter to be in America today is at a protest. Not because they’re attacked by protesters. Rather, because police officers regularly attack the press at protests and regularly destroy their equipment. 1st Amendment guarantee of a free press? The Constitution is just a piece of paper, right?

Meanwhile, even when reporters do get the story, media outlets are afraid to print investigative reporting about oligarchs because the oligarchs own the courts and can put them out of business.

Indiana proposes licensing only “responsible” people to be reporters. Presumably any reporter who dares report on a protest or reports things the oligarchs don’t want reported is “irresponsible”.

And of course the Orange Racist Russian Stooge keeps trumpeting that any media critical of him is “fake” and his deplorable followers regularly threaten reporters.

Combined with the fact that most reporters now aren’t full-time staffers of newspapers, they’re part-time stringers for wire services who don’t have access to the legal resources of a major media outlet, and you get a serious issue where proper reporting is being suppressed by the government and the government’s supporters.

One of the first things that fascist regimes try to do is shut down any media that’s critical of them. Erdogan has done that in Turkey, and it appears the deplorables and their God-Emperor Donald the Trump are bound and determined to see that happen here too. Because remember, people. The Constitution, and the 1st Amendment that it contains, is just a piece of paper.

Or is it that the Constitution just has one paragraph, the 2nd Amendment?

So confusing!

– Badtux the Press Penguin

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Newspapers are having to install bullet-proof glass and high resolution video surveillance cameras to deal with the rise in Trump-encouraged terrorism against them for having the audacity to report that the Trumperor has no clothes. Seems that newspaper editors and reporters are receiving death threats on a regular basis due to the rise in Trump-encouraged terrorism against them for having the audacity to report news that His Fraudulency Donald the Trump doesn’t want reported.

This is new. I can’t remember any time in my lifetime when newspapers were regularly getting shot at by people opposed to their reporting. However, a study of history shows a prior politician who similarly advocated violence against newspapers and reporters who reported news that he didn’t want reported. And the Munich Post went down fighting, documenting all of Hitler’s atrocities up to the very day all of its reporters were arrested and sent to Hitler’s extermination camps.

The question is whether any U.S. newspaper editors would have that kind of courage under similar circumstances…

– Badtux the Journalism Penguin

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I am baffled by all the discussion of Anthony Weiner’s weiner today. He’s the (now former) husband of a Clinton staffer. It seems about as relevant to anything going on in the world as discussion of whether the ex-wife of a Trump staffer gave someone a blow-job or not. Who cares?

– Badtux the Baffled Penguin

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Sheriff Jerry Larpenter of Terrebone Parish, who thinks he’s found an ‘out’ to the Sullivan test by filing criminal charges claiming that his critic libeled an insurance agent who is not a public figure.

For those of you not familiar with the Sullivan Test, it dates back to the civil rights era where Southern politicians regularly sued newspapers for libel when those newspapers reported on their corruption and their mistreatment of civil rights protesters. This culminated in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, which raised the bar for libel of a public official to “actual malice” — that is, the politician or public figure not only had to prove that what was published about him was false, but also that the person who published it knew it was false.

Given the Sullivan Test, Sheriff Larpenter can’t file criminal charges claiming that the anonymous blogger who is documenting his corruption has libeled him. A quick trip to federal court with a reference to Garrison V. Louisiana, which invalidated the Louisiana criminal libel statute in any case involving public figures and especially public officials, and he’d be a laughingstock as well as promptly sued for malicious prosecution and violation of 1st Amendment press rights. But Sheriff Larpenter thinks he has found an “out”, which is that Tony Alford, the Sheriff Department’s new insurance broker (and whose office manager just *happens* to be the Sheriff’s wife), is not a public official or a public figure as defined by the Sullivan decision.

Of course the whole concept of “criminal libel” is ridiculous on its face in the first place. Libel is an act that does not cause death or physical injury, thus is more properly classified as a civil offense where the victim sues the perpetrator for damages. But most of the states of the Confederacy (all of them, actually, other than Texas and Missouri) still have these criminal libel laws on their books from the days when they were used against civil rights activists. And our corrupt Louisiana politician of the month, Sheriff Jerry Larpenter, in conjunction with his corrupt crony Terrebonne Parish District Attorney Joe Waitz, intend to use it in order to silence the blogger who is documenting their corruption. Because freedom of the press is not a freedom that Larpenter and Waitz care about. Because to them, the Constitution is just a piece of paper.

And the voters of Terrebonne Parish elected these corrupt anti-Constitution politicians, and will pay millions for the lawsuit settlement after the malicious prosecution lawsuit is filed against them. So it goes. Elections have consequences. If the voters of Terrebonne Parish didn’t want to pay out all that money, they should have elected less corrupt officials. Right?

– Badtux the Corruption Penguin

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People are making excuses, but nobody’s asking the question. The question being: Why was it necessary to blow up the Dallas shooter rather than wait him out?

The Dallas police chief said “It was necessary for the safety of our officers”. He gave no details about why it was necessary for the safety of his officers. Just said it. Why was it necessary? We aren’t told. We should just accept that it was necessary because he said so. Because in a democracy, mere citizens should never question authority figures and ask for more details. That would be un-American. Right?

Meanwhile, the right wing (and some left wingers) are running wild with theories about why he had to be blown up rather than waited out. Like: “It was a combat situation”.

Uhm, no. The United States is not a combat zone. Period. The rules of combat do not apply within the United States, the Constitution applies. There are no enemy combatants within U.S. cities, only Americans.

Whenever I hear something justified with “but it was a combat situation”, it makes me roll my eyes almost as bad as the notion that a SKS-45 is a magic gun that can shoot through bullet-proof vests makes me roll my eyes. There are no combat situations within the United States of America. There are *police* situations, but that is a different thing, and obeys rules entirely different from combat situations (for example, using teargas and hollow-point bullets is illegal in combat situations, quite legal in police situations).

Which reminds me of what is probably the stupidest notion amongst the stupid: the notion that Micah Johnson “had police outgunned” because he supposedly had some sort of super-rifle that could shoot clear through their body armor.

Say WHAT?! Mr. Johnson was armed with a SKS-45 rifle. This is a WW2-vintage Soviet rifle roughly equivalent to the M1 Garand. It is loaded from the top via a 10 round stripper clip, and fires the same round as the AK-47. It has most of the same problems as other Soviet rifles of that era — loose tolerances, barely adequate accuracy, and low muzzle velocity. Our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan just laughed when AK-47 rounds hit their body armor, and the same applies when they’re fired out of an SKS as when they’re fired out of an AK-47. The reality is that if you’ve put the plates into your body armor, the worst that’ll happen is that you get a bruise when your body armor gets hit. The Dallas PD, on the other hand, was armed with AR-15 rifles with 20 round box magazines and a muzzle velocity that’s 25% higher than that of an SKS. The AR-15 actually *can* penetrate modern body armor, unlike the SKS. In short, the Dallas PD outgunned Mr. Johnson by a huge factor, not only did they have more modern rifles capable of shooting more rounds, but there was a ton of cops with those more modern rifles who had him surrounded.

So why were so many Dallas cops shot by such a primitive weapon? Well, simple: they were looking in the wrong direction. Specifically, when shots rang out they were looking towards the crowd, and towards over a dozen Texas Open Carry activists who had assault rifles slung over their shoulders, thinking that was where the shots were coming from. Police officers didn’t turn around until people in the crowd pointed at the sniper in the opposite direction and started yelling “he’s over there!” In short, police officers had a very hard time distinguishing between Open Carry advocates running away, and the sniper running away, which likely cost the life of at least one officer who was facing the wrong direction, towards an Open Carry advocate rather than towards the sniper, when he was shot in the back.

This is just one of the many ways in which Open Carry is fail. In incidents like this, people in the crowd who are licensed to carry concealed and are carrying concealed aren’t going to be identified as possible targets by police and aren’t going to distract them from the possible sniper. But if there’s people carrying openly, how are police going to tell the good guys with a gun from the bad guys with a gun? They aren’t wearing white hats and black hats so you can tell the good guys from the bad guys, after all. It can cause sufficient confusion to cost lives — and likely did.

And I think I’ve gone off topic now, so I’ll just summarize: Nobody in authority has explained the imminent danger that required blowing up a cornered suspect rather than waiting him out. There may in fact have been such an imminent danger. I already speculated on one such possible imminent danger (the bomb one). But “we had to blow him up for officer safety” isn’t an imminent danger — it’s an excuse for blowing shit up, and could be used for literally *any* situation where officers are sent to arrest dangerous suspect, including sending helicopter gunships into black neighborhoods to “arrest” drug dealers by blowing up their houses. ‘Cause officer safety. An officer could have been shot if he went into that neighborhood to arrest the drug dealer the old fashioned way. We had to blow him up for officer safety. Courts, judges, juries, and trials are just so old-fashioned, right?

– Badtux the No Excuses Penguin

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Born down in a dead man’s town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
End up like a dog that’s been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up

Ah yes, the media. What a clusterfuck. First they put up the photo of an Open Carry activist, the brother of one of the organizers of the civil rights march in Dallas Texas, as a potential sniper. Except it turns out that Mark Hughes had nothing to do with the shooting, and in fact, the moment the shooting began, he turned his gun over to a police officer and then walked off. So now he is getting thouands of death threats. At least they *finally* took his down the photo they had on their Twitter feed naming him as “person of interest”. Finally. 24 hours after they cleared him.

Then they said that it was a Black Lives Matter rally. Except there is no Dallas chapter of Black Lives Matter. Instead, this rally was organized by a Dallas-area civil rights organization that regularly organizes rallies for voting rights and against violence of all kinds (whether police violence or gang violence), Next Generation Action Network, in conjunction with a liberal church headed by Pastor Jeff Hood (who is white, BTW). Yet I check and there is *still* no correction from any of the major media outlets which reported it as a Black Lives Matter event.

Then rather than wait for the final body count (five police officers dead, seven injured, and two civilians injured) they just started throwing out body counts. And instead of waiting for information about the perpetrator, they threw out the notion of “multiple snipers”. We now know that the attack was the work of a single man Micah Xavier Johnson, age 25, an Army Reservist who had served in Afghanistan but his specialty was mortar and carpentry, not shooting. But given that this is Texas, where they hand out assault rifles the moment you touch Texas soil ’cause 2nd Amendment, yo, he had no trouble laying hands on some heavy machinery and practicing his marksmanship.

And then nobody in the media seems to question the fact that the Dallas PD blew up Mr. Johnson with a bomb. Since when did it become permissible under law to blow up a cornered suspect who isn’t shooting at anybody? The Dallas PD said “they had exhausted all options”. Well, there was another option, which was to *wait*. The police had the advantage of being able to swap out personnel and resupply. He did not. At some point he either had to surrender, or jump out from behind cover and be ventilated, or fall asleep and be captured. It isn’t the job of cops to be judge, jury, and executioner under our Constitution, it is their job to use solely what force is needed to protect lives and apprehend a suspect (for under our system he remains a *suspect* until convicted of a crime, that whole innocent until proven guilty thing). I mean, I can think of a reason — if he told the cops he was wearing an explosive vest, blowing him (and the vest) up was the only safe thing to do. But nobody even questioned the Dallas PD saying it was “necessary”, nevermind get into the weeds of exact details about why it was necessary. It’s as if the media would have no problem if the cops simply bought some military drones and started sending Hellfire missiles into the houses of anyone they wanted to arrest. Is this the kind of country we want? Where someone can get blown the shit up and nobody even blinks an eye?!

So anyhow, 24 hours later I’m still reading news reports that this was a Black Lives Matter event (even though it wasn’t), or calls for the organizers to be prosecuted for condoning the killing of police officers even though they don’t and even posed with police officers for photographs during the rally before all hell broke loose. And of course nobody is talking about the reason for the rally anymore, which was not about killing police officers — rather, it was about stopping the killing. It was about disparities such as when black men are arrested, they get sentences 20% longer than when white men are arrested. It was about disparities such as black men being three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession even though every study done on the subject shows that white men and black men use marijuana at about the same rate. It was about disparities such as black men being arrested being 3 times more likely to be shot by police compared to white men being arrested. It was about disparities such as a rich black kid being five times more likely to spend time in prison than a poor white kid, i.e., it isn’t about socio-economic class, even when you compare rich black kids against poor white kids the black kid gets the shaft.

And it certainly wasn’t about a race war. Fuck no. Blacks are 12% of the population. Whites are 64% of the population. Blacks know damn well that if there was ever a race war, they’re going to all end up dead, period. That’s why MLK Jr. chose non-violence as his strategy for dealing with violent white people. It’s because the alternative, if you’re only 12% of the population, is death. NGAN and Rev. Hood know damn well what happens when a hated minority decides to take up arms against the majority. They get fucked up, big time.

So you get some poor sod who’s been kicked like a dog since he hit the ground who cracks and starts killing cops. Who does that help? Not black people, that’s for damn sure — and they know it. Being born black doesn’t make you stupid. It just makes you black.

– Badtux the News Penguin

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FactCheck.org tries to dishonestly spin Bernie’s accurate numbers about Federal tax receipts and where they’re coming from.


The chart needs little explanation, but I’m going to provide it anyhow. Bernie noted that corporate income taxes declined from 30.5% of Federal revenue in 1953, to 10.6% of Federal revenue today, and FactCheck.org then sputtered, “but… but… PAYROLL TAXES!”

Yes, and? The numbers clearly show taxes being shifted from corporate income taxes and excise taxes (which similarly declined from 14.2% of Federal revenue to 3% today) to payroll taxes, of which 50% are paid by individuals and 50% are paid by companies. Even if you add the 50% of payroll taxes paid by companies back into the “company” pile, that’s *still* 28% paid by companies today vs 44.7% in 1953. And who is paying the rest of what companies paid in 1953? Look in the mirror… your taxes are 63.8% of federal revenue today, versus 47.7% of federal revenues in 1953. In 1953, taxes were almost a 50-50 split between paid by individuals and paid by corporations. Today… not so much.

In short, you and I, individual Americans, are paying roughly 16% more of Federal tax collections as a percentage of revenues today than we paid in 1953. Bernie is right, we’re getting fucked. And shame on FactCheck.org on trying to spin that unspinnable reality to make it seem less so.

– Badtux the Numbers Penguin

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