Archive for the ‘war on truth’ Category

I’ve been baking the past few days because we *finally* got summer here in the SF Bay area — and boy howdy, we got it with a vengeance. Broke records all around the Bay area on Sunday, and Saturday wasn’t much cooler.

So anyhow, in the aftermath of a lesbian black woman saving the life of an anti-gay David Duke supporting bigot who was attacked by what appears to have been a lone wolf white Bernie Bro, the tighty righties have their panties in a bunch about how those mean lefties are coarsening the public discourse. Like this leftie threatening violence:

Err, yeah.

Or this liberal threatening violence:

Err, ah. Okay. Well, I’m sure this guy has to be a liberal:

No? Okay, so how about this guy who shot someone outside a Milo Yiannopoulos speech? He was clearly a liberal, right.

Uhm, no. He was wearing a Trump hat and had told his wife he was carrying his gun with him to the event so he could kill some liberals.

Okay, so let’s get this straight. You have some liberals saying that we should impeach Trump, one of whom, out of all the millions saying that, decided to start taking potshots at Republicans. Then you got right wingers saying that killing liberals is a great idea, *lots* of right wingers saying that, you can’t throw a rock at Stormfront or Brietbart or the Fox News comment section without hitting one of the right wingers saying that, and that means that liberals are the ones advocating violence.

Yeah, global warming is real, and it’s apparently baked the fucking brains out of half of America. Just sayin’.

– Badtux the Too-warm Penguin

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His jobs program apparently is… lawyers.

Yep, Donald Trump’s lawyer has hired a defense lawyer to defend him (the lawyer) against charges of colluding with Russia. Everybody in Trump’s family has hired a lawyer to defend them against charges of colluding with Russia. Donald Trump hired a different lawyer (other than the lawyer who hired the lawyer) to defend him against the charges of colluding with Russia, and it appears that Trump’s Russia lawyer (Kasowitz) is going to have to hire his own lawyer given his own history of collaborating with the Russians. Mike Pence has hired a personal lawyer too to deal with Russia inquiries, and Stephen M. Ryan, the lawyer for Trump’s original lawyer that needed a lawyer to defend him against Russia collusion charges, apparently is also going to need a lawyer because he, too, has been called to testify about Russia collusion. So the lawyer for the lawyer needs a lawyer.

Dear Appalachia: if you guys need jobs, Donald Trump has the jobs program for you! Just go to law school as a defense attorney, move to Washington D.C., and bingo, you’ll be hired immediately by the lawyer of a lawyer of a lawyer who needs to defend another lawyer against charges of colluding with Russia. It’s lawyers all the way down!

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin

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I am perhaps tardy in talking about the death of Roger Ailes. They say don’t speak ill of the dead. Yet what can I say that’s good about a man who had no redeeming qualities? Other than, “He’s dead. Good.”

It is perhaps appropriate that Roger Ailes’s introduction to politics was via Richard Nixon in 1967. Richard Nixon was a twisted man who required a corkscrew to put his boots on in the morning, and Ailes and Nixon got along with each other like macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meatballs, slime and slugs. Nixon was evil in the way of insecure men with a desire for power and no moral scruples, but Ailes was evil just because. Ailes was a master of the Big Lie, never letting the truth out of its barn if a lie would do, because he didn’t care about polluting the body politic with fake news to keep people confused and uncertain — all he cared about was corrupting the public discourse so that evil could win. As such, he led the media propaganda efforts of Nixon and Reagan and Bush 1, then met, finally, someone who was both evil and rich enough to make his ultimate dream come true. I am talking, of course, about Rupert Murdoch, who sadly still walks this earth despite making Richard Nixon look like an honest man.

Ailes was a creep, a serial molester of women, a serial molester of the truth. When he convinced Murdoch to fund his Fox News Network, he un-ironically proclaimed it to be “Fair and Balanced” at every point in time, where “fair” meant both falsehood and truth was given equal crdibility, and “balanced” meant that both good and evil were given moral equivalence. He polluted the public discourse to the point where frothing white snowflake MAGAts truly believed that there were evil Communist Liberals out there whose sole goal was to exterminate the white race, something which any reasonable person would simply laugh at, but after two decades of concerted propaganda there were few reasonable people on that side of the bench, only true believers who believed every lie that Ailes had his network present. Every morning, every single person at Fox News Network got the day’s talking points from Ailes. Their job was to reiterate those talking points, over and over again, repeating the Big Lie over and over until it became not something incredibly racist and venal and evil but, rather, became normal. Normalizing evil was the thing that Ailes loved to do, and the results can be seen on every Youtube video that attracts attention from the rightward side of the political spectrum, and every newspaper comments section, where people spew evil as if it were simply common wisdom, and it’s the people *not* spewing evil who are attacked and marginalized.

It is too bad there is not a Hell, for if there was, Ailes would certainly be condemned to inhabit it for the rest of eternity for his work in the service of evil. But there is not a Hell, and so all we can do is talk about the evil that Ailes did — an evil that will far outlast his worm-eaten body, alas, an evil that has the potential, in all likelihood, to destroy the nation and the world itself.

That is Roger Ailes. He was a creep. And evil. Let us never forget that.

– Badtux the Obituaries Penguin

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I’ve never been a fan of tribalism. Most of the world’s problems are because people put tribe above truth, tribe above morality, tribe above wisdom. They pretend their tribe is the sole possessor of truth, their tribe holds the only moral way, their tribe has all the wisdom. Too often what they serve up instead are self-serving lies posing as truth, excuses for atrocity posing as morality, and facile trite platitudes posing as wisdom.

Watching Republicans trying to put a gloss on the shit sandwich that was Donald Trump’s first week in office is a perfect example of watching tribalism in action. About the only thing Trump did that was reasonable in any sane world was to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which had a lot of evil shit in it that had nothing to do with a trade agreement and everything to do with imposing a particular neoliberal order upon the world. Watching the MAGA red-caps reflexively defending a shit sandwich immigration order that resulted in people who’d been living in the US for literally a decade left outside the borders or stranded in airports has been instructive. Count up the excuses for atrocity posing as morality that you encounter in their statements, the self-serving lies posing as truth, the facile trite platitudes posing as wisdom. They fall from the lips of red-caps like water from Niagara Falls.

Hurting people is wrong. Handcuffing a 5 year old child is wrong. Splitting up families is wrong. Keeping out dedicated doctors and nurses and other professionals who’ve been here for years contributing to our country is wrong. Anybody who says different is putting tribalism above truth, tribalism above morality, tribalism above wisdom. They have demonstrated with their own lips that tribe is more important to them than truth, morality, wisdom.

So be it.

– Badtux the Truth-tribe Penguin

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Ignore the media lies!

Ignore the media lies!

Baghdad Bob apparently has undergone a name change and has a new job as White House Press Secretary. Today he came out and said that the crowds at His Fraudulency Donald the Trump’s inauguration, variously reported as sparse, were YUUUGE, tremendous I say!. The biggest ever! Bigly! Amazing! As evidenced by this comparison of Trump’s inauguration crowd with Obama’s inauguration crowd, where Trump’s crowd is on the left:

Oh wait. No, Trump’s crowd is on the right.

Eight years ago, 1.8 million people gathered in the National Mall to watch Barack Obama take office. It’s estimated, based on transit numbers, less than half that number gathered yesterday to watch His Fraudulency’s coronation.

Compare / contrast with the crowd for today’s Women’s March On Washington. It appears that more women showed up today to protest His Fraudulency’s administration, than people total showed up yesterday to celebrate His Fraudulency’s coronation. Which pretty much matches the polls that say that Trump is about as popular as genital warts. He got into office through chicanery and through having an opponent even less popular than him, not because people like him.

So what do Trump’s supporters have to say about this?

“The inauguration was on a Friday. We had to work.”

Yeah, those fry cookers don’t fill themselves, y’all.

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin

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Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga), a genuine hero of the Civil Rights movement. He’s been trying his best recently to teach House Democrats how to be heros. He’s even gotten a dozen or so to actually show some spine. Too bad the rest of them are as spineless as jellyfish.

When people ask why didn’t Hillary fight, I’m thinking about what happened to Al Gore in 2000. He tried to fight in Florida, and when he needed the support of his party to counter Republican hooliganism and obstruction… [crickets]. That had to be going through Hillary’s head as she looked at the election numbers and realized that they were crooked. But would she have had support from Democrats in making that case? No more than Al in 2000, she realized, after a few conversations with Democratic insiders and leaders who are all concerned about not breaking a system that keeps them employed and wealthy, and apparently not at all concerned about America and Americans.

So anyhow, one of the things Rep. Lewis brought into this situation was questioning Trump’s legitimacy. Trump, he says, was elected with Russian help and is more legitimately president of Russia than of the United States, and he isn’t going to attend the inauguration of this pretend president. Trump, of course, immediately went on the Twitter attack, claiming in his tweets that Rep. Lewis needed to instead work on improving his own decrepit and crime-riddled impoverished district… an attack which rebounded hilariously:
The reality is that John Lewis has no fucks left to give. He’s faced down real monsters before. Has a steel plate in his head from doing that. Facing down Trump is no different.
Sadly, that kind of courage appears to be the exception, rather than the rule, in today’s Democratic Party.

You can tell a man’s character by who he stands with. I would be proud to stand with Rep. John Lewis. He is a man of integrity. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is an ignorant blowhard asshole, and so is anybody who stands with him. ‘Nuff said on that.

– Badtux the Integrity Penguin

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It isn’t. It really isn’t. It is a set of techniques for statistically measuring and evaluating the world, and comparing the results of those measurements with what theory says should be happening. If the measurements don’t match, the theory is discarded. If the measurements match, the theory is tentatively held to be true — until other data comes in that, most of the time, refines the theory rather than overthrow it entirely. For example, Einstein’s theory of relativity did not overthrew Newtonian physics. Rather, it found that Newton’s equations were a fine description of how things worked at low speeds, but did not work as you approached the speed of light. We sent Apollo to the moon using Newtonian physics, because everything was at slow enough speeds that Newtonian physics was accurate enough. This despite the fact that Einstein had proven over 50 years prior that Newtonian physics was not an accurate description for how mass, speed, force, and acceleration interacted as the speed of an object approaches the speed of light.

This tentativeness confuses people raised to believe there are truths that are handed down by God, Mommy, or Preacher Bob. They think this makes science somehow inferior to their handed-down truths, which have no such tentativeness attached to them. But this tentativeness is exactly why science has been so successful at improving our quality of life, decidedly more successful than God, Mommy, or Preacher Bob. This very computer that you’re reading this on is proof enough that science works. Yet there are people who, if they read this, will deny that fact, and claim that science — things like evolution, global warming, etc. — is a “liberal conspiracy” because of that tentativeness, that inherent lack of absolute truth that characterizes science. Science cannot provide absolute truth, because the universe is too large for human brains to comprehend, but science can provide approximations of truth — like the Newtonian equations — that are “good enough” until refined further by later scientists to create a better approximation of reality.

In short, the inherent tentativeness of science is not a reason to claim science is a liberal conspiracy. Rather, it exists because that’s how science works. Sometimes awkwardly, sometimes heading down wrong paths for decades, but there are no sacred cows in science. There are only measurements, and theories to explain the measurements. And of the two, only the measurements are held as true, and only if they can be repeated by third parties using different methods. Such as, for example, the multitude of methods that have been used to approximate global temperatures over the past 2,000,000 years, which show that the Earth is warming rapidly right now in a way that hasn’t been seen anywhere in the lifespan of humanity on this planet, and that this rise has been correlated with a steep rise in carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. At that point the question becomes not, “is global warming happening”, but, rather, “how much of global warming is caused by increases in this potent greenhouse gas.” Scientists then develop models and test their models against the actual measurements. Models that match the measurement are then the models that they adopt as tentatively true, until other data arrives and refines them. And what those models show, right now, is that we’re going to bake ourselves off this planet if we keep going this way.

That is not a liberal conspiracy. That is a model that fits the data. If there are other models that fit the data that show we are *not* going to bake ourselves off this planet, those models would be welcome. Unfortunately, no such models exist — just handwaving on the part of Preacher Bob and Oilman Steve and Politician Don about how science is a liberal conspiracy. So unless Preacher Bob and Oilman Steve and Politician Don can pull out some models that explain these temperatures we’re seeing that do *not* end up with us baked off the planet, they have no cause to claim “liberal conspiracy” — the data is the data, and the model is the model, and the way to refute them is to provide more accurate data and a model that better fits the data. Ranting about liberal conspiracies doesn’t do that, it just makes the ranter look like an idiot.

– Badtux the Science Penguin

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