Spicer’s Lies Mean More Than You Think

There is a post that’s been going around on social media explaining the purposes served by the blatantly dishonest press conference given by Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer.

Sean Spicer at Press Room Podium

Sean Spicer. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by user GrahamHughey

I’m worried that the significance of the crazy lies is greater than most people realize, and that the outrage over the new normal will fade.

For most of us (two thirds, according to the post), Spicer’s lie wasn’t meant to convince. It was meant to establish. It’s not like a guy with pockets full of jewelry telling the police that he had nothing to do with the jewelry store that just got robbed. It’s more like the same guy with a gun telling a witness, “You didn’t see a thing”.

With this new normal, Trump can tell us that the economy is booming even if it collapses. He can tell us that public schools are working even as public school students slip further behind their wealthier peers. He can tell us that he has actionable evidence of crimes committed by his political adversaries (“Lock her up!”), and it should go without saying that he can start wars on false pretenses for economic gain or to distract from domestic issues.

Trump and his team know that there has been and will continue to be a backlash against this new normal. They’re prepared for it. Which means that we have to give them more than what they’re prepared for. The resistance must be greater than what any of us have expected. Introverts and TV addicts have to start getting active. People who have never voted before have to start taking an interest in political activity, and it would be great if Sanders and Clinton supporters could come together.

Below is the post that I referred to. It was originally tweeted by Anna Rascouët-Paz, but written by “someone who worked in a past administration”. I transcribed the text ( using Google Drive ) because the original was in a graphic format, so any grammatical errors might not be from the original.

If you are puzzled by the bizarre “press conference” put on by the White House press secretary this evening (angrily claiming that Trump’s inauguration had the largest audience in history, accusing them of faking photos and lying about attendance), let me help explain it. This spectacle served three purposes:

1. Establishing a norm with the press: they will be told things that are obviously wrong and they will have no opportunity to ask questions. That way, they will be grateful if they get anything more at any press conference. This is the PR equivalent of “negging,” the odious pick-up practice of a particular kind of horrible person (e.g., Donald Trump).

2. Increasing the separation between Trump’s base (1/3 of the population) from everybody else (the remaining 2/3). By being told something that is obviously wrong – that there is no evidence for and all evidence against, that anybody with eyes can see is wrong – they are forced to pick whether they are going to believe Trump or their lying eyes. The gamble here likely to pay off is that they will believe Trump. This means that they will regard media outlets that report the truth as “fake news” (because otherwise they’d be forced to confront their cognitive dissonance.)

3. Creating a sense of uncertainty about whether facts are knowable, among a certain chunk of the population (which is a taking a page from the Kremlin, for whom this is their preferred disinformation tactic). A third of the population will say “clearly the White House is lying,” a third will say “if Trump says it, it must be true,” and the remaining third will say “gosh, I guess this is unknowable.” The idea isn’t to convince these people of untrue things, it’s to fatigue them, so that they will stay out of the political process entirely, regarding the truth as just too difficult to determine.

This is laying important groundwork for the months ahead. If Trump’s White House is willing to lie about something as obviously, unquestionably fake as this, just imagine what else they’ll lie about. In particular, things that the public cannot possibly verify the truth of. It’s gonna get real bad.

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Black Lives and Blue Lives

There’s a meme going around complaining that while mothers of “Young Men” (sarcastically printed in quotation marks) who were killed by police spoke at the Democratic National Convention, there were no family members of fallen heroes who were killed by “Thugs” (quotes mine).

Image described in paragraph above

But there were no family members of fallen heroes at the Republican National Convention, either. Family members of fallen heroes didn’t speak at either convention because we already agree that the deaths of police officers are tragic. That’s why we have severe penalties for violence against the police and compensation packages for family members of fallen heroes.

Those compensation packages would be more generous if Republicans didn’t fight against police unions. It’s only Republican lies that suggest Democrats are against the police. Democrats do more to support the police than Republicans do, but we all agree that the police deserve our support.

What we don’t all agree on is that something should be done about the few rogue cops who murder or brutalize the citizens they’re supposed to protect. Republicans seem to feel that the lives affected by dangerous or murderous acts committed by police don’t matter, as long as it’s not happening in their own neighborhoods. They claim that it’s best to just shut up about it, and that even mentioning the fact that sometimes people are murdered by police is the same as calling for the deaths of good cops.

Except for a few bad actors, nobody is calling for attacks on the police. That’s why Hillary Clinton praised the 500 applicants who wanted to become police officers in the aftermath of the Dallas murders, and why she said of the police, after Baton Rouge “They represent the rule of law itself. If you take aim at that and at them, you take aim at all of us. There can be no justification, no looking the other way.”

In my city, where “Police hugs make Sydnee smile”, community leaders and the police are working together. For those in Suffolk, there will be a Unity Parade, during National Night Out, and community leaders and police departments across the nation are working together in similar outreach efforts.

Dead cops isn’t the answer, but neither is ignoring the problem. It’s too bad that the phrase “All Lives Matter” was born as an attack on the Black Lives Matter movement. Indeed, all lives do matter, Black lives and blue lives included.

A Facebook Argument about Gaza Gets Nasty

I’m not sure if there is much value in re-posting this, other than a desire to vent and a vain desire to hear what others think. But sometimes it’s helpful to share.

This started when a FB friend of mine posted a video make by a FB user named Ali, who also calls himself “Neat Man”. Ali lives in Gaza and I don’t doubt the distress that he must be in right now. Ali placed the following caption on his video:

My rage just shows that this is bad and that its what it is its a genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians..
Ali
Gaza, Palestine

I responded to my friend’s repost of the video.

Me: Israel’s goal is not genocide. Israel’s goal is to stop the attacks. While I don’t approve of the way Israel prevents the people of Gaza to live a normal life, I can’t blame Israel for every casualty when Hamas fires rockets from populated areas then tells people to remain in those areas to await the missiles.

L: Stop listening to the mainstream media Ben. Zionist have even stated that genocide is their agenda. The Jewish people (not Zionist) have also told the world that they do not support the Zionist hijacking their religion to further their political agenda. Zionist Israel is a terrorist organization who have used the media to advance their political goals. ANY country that locks people into an area where they cannot escape and then bombs them is trying to ethnically cleanse the population. The Zionist goal is to get rid of all Palestinians and they have said this numerous times. Don’t let the media convince you that human right violations are justified. It is never ok to kill innocent people and then to use power, money, corruption to cover up the crime…. GENOCIDE.

Me: I try to listen to a verity of media. I recommend that you occasionally hold your nose and visit news agencies that you find offensive because sometimes your enemies are telling the truth. It’s hard to learn when you decide that anyone telling you what you don’t already believe is lying. I don’t believe Ali is lying, for instance. But I believe he is being used as a pawn. Hamas fires rockets from populated areas and awaits Israel’s wrath. Israel is too happy to comply. The rockets won’t stop because too many Muslims want Arabia to be clean of Jews. And every time a terrorist attacks Israel, Israel attacks Palestinians like Ali. I don’t support everything Israel does, but they don’t want Genocide. They want the rockets to stop.

L: It seems Zionist supporters in the US are all watching their TVs cause all of you keep repeating the same Zionist spun media reports. Collectively you are some of the most hate filled people I have ever known. How you can justify mass murder of people held captive is beyond me. Ben no one can force you to care about human rights. This massacre in Gaza is NOT about rockets. Please refrain from telling anyone what they should do or not do to conform to your value system and thought process. Ben, ALL of Gaza is a populated area. Israel is now firing on Hospitals. Do you actually believe that Hamas is using the Hospital to hide a stash of rockets? Israel destroys Hospitals because that is what angry, hateful Terrorist do for revenge. The world’s Jewry has made it very clear that they too oppose Zionist Israel and the hijacking of their religion to further the Zionist political agenda. Part of which is to secure the Gas reserves off the coast of Gaza…. A multi billion dollar find that the greedy corrupt Israel wants all to itself. As I keep saying…. This massacre is not about rockets. Zionist always think about two things…. Money and Power. What is that saying? Money and Power always lead to…..

Me: Instead of addressing anything I’ve written, you dismissed all with a baseless implication that I get all of my news from watching Zionist spun media reports on TV, which is extremely false. It’s as if you barely read my post beyond discovering that I don’t agree with you 100 percent, and decided that I must be brainwashed or hateful.

Yes, I actually believe that Hamas is using hospitals to stash weapons. You see, I can believe that the Israelis are evil enough to destroy a hospital out of hate but I can also believe that Hamas is evil enough to turn a hospital into a target. You seem to be only capable of believing the Zionists are evil.

Even if the Zionists could be evil enough to destroy a hospital for no reason other than pure hate, how could they be so stupid? Not only did they fire upon a hospital, they broadcast their intentions well enough in advance to allow a large group of Palestinians to gather around and watch. “Hey look everyone, we’re about to destroy a hospital. Grab your smartphones, you won’t want to miss this!”

Hamas is not stupid either. Hiding weaponry in a hospital is a win win situation for them. They either get to store their weapons in a place that Israel won’t dare destroy, or, more likely and more lucrative, they get the publicity of showing Israel’s wanton destruction. So the the next question is if Hamas is willing to sacrifice Palestinians to further their goal of destroying Israel. Considering they used to train people to blow themselves up on buses and in markets, and only stopped because suicide bombers were bringing bad publicity, I have to think the answer is Yes.

They are both capable of evil. I am not as pro-Zionist as you think. But the Israeli strike on the hospital would be completely against Israeli interests if there wasn’t a tactical reason for it, and creating a tactical reason is very advantageous to Hamas.

L: I know you personally Ben and I know what your other personal friends say about you…. It’s not something I would repeat on social media but I am well aware of your political agenda. Your lack of care and concern for the human rights of the Palestinian people and the internationals in Gaza suffering at the hands of Zionist Israel is deplorable.

Me: That is bizarre. We met twice. There is only one person who we know in common and I am sorry if I ever offended him. You know what my personal friends say about me? That’s hard to believe, since you have me characterized so incorrectly. You think I watch TV News. You think I’m repeating the same things as all the other Zionists. You think I have no compassion for the Palestinians.

I believe you are compassionate but I also think you are vengeful, stubborn, and sometimes out of control with your anger. And you don’t fight fair. But this is more important than how we feel about each other personally. I simply don’t believe that your characterization of Israel as genocidal is going to help ease the suffering in the Middle East. Your heart may be in the right place but your refusal to explore information that doesn’t comply with your beliefs is counter-productive. It may not be your intention but you are promoting hate. I believe that Hamas is at least as responsible for Palestinian suffering as Israel is, and I don’t think that anyone who refuses to explore that fact can help stop the carnage. I don’t expect you convince you here. But I ask that you explore points of view that differ from your preconceived notions.

I do not intend to reply to any more personal attacks.

L: You sure act just like a Zionist Benjamin Goldberg hateful, mean and nasty. You come to my house (my wall) and you attack me, my family and friends then just like a Zionist you want to spin it around as if I attacked you. You have a habit of doing this to people you disagree with and we have all seen you attack people and then pretend you are innocent. I didn’t ask for your comment on my wall posts so don’t think I am going to take your foul behavior and just shut up. You pull that on everyone. Attack Attack Attack and you never stop until you get the last word. Please go play your games elsewhere Benjamin.

Today, July 15th Net Neutrality Comments Deadline

Although I’ve seen posts yesterday implying that the deadline was last midnight, I’m pretty sure that the deadline is midnight tonight. So if you’ve been procrastinating about sending in your comments about net neutrality, you have a few hours left.

I wrote, “The Constitution grants the government the right to establish post offices and postal roads, to ensure that the people of the United States of America have access to information. The internet is a new postal route. In fact, it is now the primary source of the kind of information that the framers hoped to protect. We should not allow information to be throttled by private interests. We have a duty to protect this new route of information.”

I can understand if you haven’t acted on this issue yet. It’s technical, and the other side seem to have a good point. Why shouldn’t content providers pay more for a higher level of service?

Well if you haven’t seen John Oliver’s segment do so now, and if you’re still skeptical read Slate’s evaluation.

John Oliver explains perfectly why you’ve been procrastinating and why you should stop immediately. My only point of contention with Oliver’s very good segment is he frames the debate in terms of entertainment, ie Netflix vs Comcast (well that and the fact that he ripped off “nutflix” from “Idiocracy”).

What he leaves out is that the debate isn’t just about watching movies. It’s about information. What if your cable company doesn’t like the reporting done by a news organization that isn’t supportive of big corporations? That is the bigger issue. If net neutrality is abolished, your cable company will have an easier time throttling information that they don’t want you to hear. To put it more bluntly, they will have an easier time limiting the news that your low-information neighbor sees because your low-information neighbor doesn’t work very hard to get informed. that news will only be news that his provider wants him to see, and that will be what he takes with him to the polls.

There are several ways to submit comments. You can go to the FCC’s comments page, or, for a friendlier interface submit through organizations such as Free Press or Battle for the Net. I used Battle for the Net’s interface but I asked them if the message goes to the same place.

Hey Ben,

Yes, our form submits directly to theirs, we just tried to make it a bit easier for people since their’s is a bit confusing.

Cheers,
-Evan at FFTF

Which it is.

If you miss tonight’s deadline, there is still a reply period, but it’s best to get your comments in now.

Arrest George Zimmerman

I try to understand all sides of a story, so I looked through headlines about Trayvor Martin and George Zimmerman. I tried to find what the hard-core right wing sites, like Breitbart.com were saying. Perhaps Trayvor Martin was caught stealing candy from the checkout aisle while his Mom was paying for groceries. Perhaps he was sent to the principal’s office in 6th grade for disruptive behavior. Perhaps he got into a fight with a White kid in high school. But the only headline I found on Breitbart was “Media Labels Hispanic Man White in Shooting of Black Teen”. If that’s the best the right wing can come up in their mission to accuse the liberal media of being unfair to White people then Trayvor Martin must have been an angel.

Oddly enough, the best defense for the delay in arresting Zimmerman comes not from the hard right but from NPR. And the reason for the delay, according to NPR, is not that anyone thinks George Zimmerman is innocent, but that Florida’s outrageous “Stand Your Ground” law makes it difficult to prosecute anyone who claims self defense as a motive for an apparent murder.

In theory, Florida’s miserable and dangerous law, which has been adopted by 16 other states (according to the NPR story), is a double edged sword. In theory, someone who kills a White person could claim “self defense” just as easily as someone who kills a Black person. But I think supporters of the law are not so much Whites looking to kill Blacks with impunity, but rather White people who believe that Black people already kill Whites with impunity. They feel under siege in a world where liberal judges feel sorry for Black murderers and refuse to punish them for anything. If you ask them why there are so many Black people in prison, they might conclude that Black people are so murderous that even though we only incarcerate a tiny percentage of them, it’s still enough to skew the prison population. They knew a Zimmerman case would come up, but they feel it’s better than letting Black people run around raping and killing their daughters. These people aren’t White supremacists, they’re Orks who believe the lies of supremacists and the suggestions of right wing pundits and politicians.

Thanks to these paranoid, gun-slinging Orks, we have laws in seventeen states that encourage the murder of innocent young men.

With the crazy law in place, there are complications which make arresting Zimmerman tricky. But I still don’t believe the “Stand Your Ground” law is enough to let Mr. Zimmerman remain free. It seems almost certain that Mr. Zimmerman chased Mr. Martin and instigated some kind of conflict, and it appears that Mr. Martin was not a threat at the time of his death. The case might not be as easy as some think it is, but I find it hard to even imagine that a good investigation can fail to find enough evidence to take a disturbed and dangerous man like George Zimmerman off the street.

There is a petition (probably one of many) for the proper investigation and prosecution of George Zimmerman. Hopefully this will not only pressure investigators in the Zimmerman case, it will also pressure lawmakers to reconsider laws which encourage the murder of innocent people like Trayvor Martin.

Update, March 25: I said the right wing media couldn’t find any dirt on Trayvon Martin. That was true at the time, but now we know that Mr. Martin had been suspended from school. I still don’t see how that justifies Mr. Martin being hunted down by Mr. Zimmerman.

A Day in the Life of a Video Post about the Occupy Movement

I recently came across a video that was first posted back in October. It’s titled “A Day in the Life of an Occupy Wall St. Participant” by Matt, in Portland Oregon. This post is so full of misinformation I wish I could be surprised about it’s many thousands of facebook likes and comments of approval. Unfortunately, accurate information is less important than sarcastic rhetoric.

In the video, Matt describes Dakota, Marin, and Simon, a group of young, mindless, consumers, as they plan for a day of protesting while purchasing and using products sold by big corporations. Matt says that they are hypocrites for being compulsive consumers while protesting the evils of “corporate greed” and asks, “If you really wanted to change the system, wouldn’t you want to boycott these evil corporations?”

Well, no. Generally, what the occupiers hoped to accomplish was financial regulations to prevent the kind of investments which create great risk to people not making those investments. The target of the protest were primarily financial institutions, hence “Occupy Wall Street”. Since most of companies that Matt lists in his video aren’t financial institutions, the Occupy movement, though diverse, wasn’t generally targeting those corporations. As it turns out, many of the protesters did put their money where their mouths where, and closed accounts at large financial banks and moved them to local banks and credit unions. But even if they were protesting Verizon, Dell, and Cisco, boycotting isn’t the only way to voice displeasure and sometimes isn’t event he best. A massive boycott of dozens of major corporations would cause an even greater financial crisis than the one we’re recovering from now. That would be hypocritical.

Thus, Matt uses the activities of his three characters (I don’t know if he completely made them up ) to describe the entire movement as a bunch of “Self righteous, morally indignant hypocrites”, even though their activities, real or not, don’t demonstrate hypocrisy (thoughtlessness and consumerism, perhaps).

Towards the end of the video, Matt starts to sound a little bit like a liberal. He chastises his three characters for not giving money to homeless people, then he talks about Chinese slave laborers and Vietnamese children who make all the products that we mindlessly purchase. He actually says, “It’s your consumerism that’s driving the social inequality that you’re out protesting”.

So true. Interesting that the occupy movement was started by an anti-consumerist organization called
Adbusters (according to Wikipedia). Perhaps Matt and the occupiers have more in common than he realizes.

Matt doesn’t seem like a really bad guy, and I won’t chastise him for not telling us if Dakota, Marin, and Simon are real people, amalgams of stories he’s heard or read about, or just three dopes he dreamed up. He wasn’t expecting his little video to go viral.

The problem isn’t Matt, so much, as all the people who took this little story seriously, despite all of its irrelevancy, and hailed it as proof that the occupiers were all just a bunch of hypocrites.

It will be tough without Lowes, but we can do it.

Sasha and I have been pretty big customers of Lowes, but that ends now because Lowes decided to comply with the demands of bigoted family values organization in Florida to pull their ads from a TV show about Muslim Americans.

I personally find it shocking and heartbreaking, because Lowes was on the correct side of the bullshit English-Only campaign. I guess Lowes decided that Muslim Americans don’t buy as much lumber as Spanish speaking Americans do.

I wish a boycott of Lowes would teach them that it’s worth a business hit not to promote bigotry, but I’ll have to settle for trying to teach them that appeasing bigots isn’t a good business decision.

I hope Lowes apologizes for this miserable decision. Even they only do so for pragmatic reasons, it will demonstrate that Americans who hate bigotry are a larger and more powerful group than they expected, and that would be a step in the right direction.

Mountaintop Removal

There are so many issues to get worked up over that it’s hard to know where to put your energy. To me, mountaintop removal seems low on a list of urgent priorities, but I might reconsider. The issue should be getting more attention.

http://amountainjourney.wordpress.com/2009/02/20/an-open-letter-to-president-obama/

** Canceled ** Dr. Legrow in Chesapake

** This event has been canceled **

From the Chesapeake Democratic Committee’s Facebook Page (posted by Jim Romeo)

Meet Dr. Wynne LeGrow, Democratic Candidate for US Representative from the 4th District of Virginia (Running against Republican Randy Forbes)

…At

Memorial Weekend Pot Luck Picnic

Saturday May 29th at 2 pm

At Towne Bank Hall on Mt. Pleasant Road in Great Bridge
(Please Do Not call the bank.)

Bring your family and friends with you to celebrate this exciting news. Let’s show our
support to make it worthwhile for him to come to Chesapeake.

To bring the change we voted for, President Obama needs Congressmen that support his agenda. He can’t do it by himself. To help them win, we need to get all those new 2008 voters that voted for him back to the polls. We can do it, with your help.

Let’s show the GOP, the Party of No, and the Tea Party we will win in 2010! YES WE CAN

A Next of Kin Relationship

In “An Unfinished Life”, there are two wifeless but heterosexual men who are very close. They are so close that one of the other characters assumes that they are lovers. But they’re not. And that’s good, because if there’s one thing I don’t want to see it’s Morgan Freeman having sex with Clint Eastwood. The movie is worth seeing. Jennifer Lopez looks good as always, and if you do fly other way, you might like the cowboy hats.

With or without sex, two people can be closer to each other than they are to anyone else. They could be injured war buddies who are unable to have normal relations; They could be old friends, each of whom has lost their husbands; Or, possibly, they could be gay lovers. The point is, nobody has to ask. Why couldn’t two people who are closer to each other than any member of the opposite sex, and are committed to sharing their lives together, enjoy the benefits that come from a next-of-kin relationship?

The various domestic partnerships that have been proposed as a substitute for gay marriage received hostility from anti-equal-rights advocates because even though they weren’t called “marriage”, they were framed as a marriage with a different name to appease homosexuals. The hostility was hateful and wrong, but it was powerful. And the way the domestic partnerships were framed as vehicle exclusively designed for gay couples meant that they would not be used by others who could, and should, be allowed to take advantage of them.

I would call the relationship a “Next Of Kin Agreement” or something like that. I realize that there would be little more than a semantic difference between that and a “domestic partnership”, and I realize that most of the people who would take advantage of it would be gay lovers. But framing the debate differently would support gay couples while allowing other deserving people to take advantage of a legal acknowledgement of their relationship.

I also realize that my timing for this post is pretty lousy. It’s too late now to prevent the travesty that has occurred in Virginia, a wide sweeping law which not only prohibits gay marriage but anything “bestowing the privileges and obligations of marriage”, even if granted in a different state. But if the issue comes up again, maybe we come up with something even better and more inclusive than what marriage equality advocates were hoping to achieve in the past.