Saturday Soother – February 18, 2017

The Daily Escape:

(Home library, Dallas TX)

It’s Saturday, and Wrongo wishes he was sitting in that beautiful 5,000 book home library, drinking a Grande Chai Latte, listening to music, and distracted from the world at large.

But reluctantly, Wrongo watched some of Trump’s press conference on Thursday (transcript and video here). His presentation style is obnoxious. He adds opinions and adjectives to everything that he, or anyone else says. The point is that he NEEDS to tell you that his shit is great, and yours stinks.

He has memorized a list of both positive and negative adjectives, and he fires them in volleys as he speaks. He said that he has made “incredible progress” so far. Every new POTUS claims to make progress on something in the early weeks, but generally, they leave it to the media and public to evaluate the claim. Trump however, gives us the first glowing review of his work, and if possible, the first negative review of his opponents.

This is highly problematic for fact-based observers, because they have to evaluate not only “progress” but “incredible progress”

He is willing to lie about things that a ten year old could fact check. A lot of his shtick is a continuation of his basic campaign speech, and nobody needs to waste time refuting that BS. We can just roll our eyes, and move on.

However, we should be very concerned about how completely he controlled the press conference. It seemed to Wrongo that the press corps acted in a less than first-rate manner when on their feet. They had few sharp or pointed questions, and they allowed Trump to repeatedly call them out for trading in fake news.

Why didn’t anyone point out that the slow confirmation process for Cabinet positions is due mostly to Trump naming his appointees late, followed by submitting the required paperwork slowly?

Trump gets away with his whining because the press spends time trying to play “gotcha” with the Jedi Master of gotcha: Did you see what he did to Rep. Elijah Cummings? They should be exposing that half of what Trump thinks he knows is wrong. But he sure knows how to hold a press conference, and we should probably expect him to do more of them than any previous POTUS.

The Trumpets like the notion that he’s going to “Shake things up“, but he plans to go well beyond shaking things up. For example, he wants to change the balance of power with the other two branches, and it appears that many of his supporters actually want that to happen.

It he pulls that off, say bye-bye democracy.

Wrongo gets incensed when powerful people attack the weak and vulnerable. He believes in the importance and value of facts and rational thought. But Trump, and his so-called mainstream Republican buddies keep moving farther and farther away from these values.

We could try to look at each lie or obfuscation in Trump’s press conference, but something is lost when you look at the trees rather than the forest.

And its Trump’s forest of total bullshit that needs to be chopped down by what remains of the independent media.

Enough! It’s Saturday, and we need to kick back and relax. Here is Anne-Sophie Mutter playing “Méditation”, which is a symphonic intermezzo from the opera Thaïs by French composer Jules Massenet. The piece is written for solo violin and orchestra. The opera premiered in Paris in 1894:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

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Saturday Soother – February 11, 2017

Tons of moving parts this week. Jeff Sessions and Tom Price were confirmed; the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed Trump a setback in his plan to keep most Muslims out of the country, making our Overlord 0-2 vs. the justice system. The tweets continued; Elizabeth Warren was told to shut up, and Kellyanne was shut down for pumping Ivanka’s merch on a Fox news show.

But the big news for Wrongo was hearing on the BBC about National Security Advisor Michael Flynn: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

[Flynn] couldn’t be certain that he didn’t discuss sanctions with Russia’s Ambassador [Kislyak] to the US on December 29, 2016.

In December, it was rumored that Gen. Flynn had done exactly that, which brought denials from the Trump transition team. You may remember that Mike Pence said in an interview with CBS News that he had spoken with Flynn about the matter. Pence said there had been no contact between members of Trump’s team and Russia during the campaign. To suggest otherwise, he said: (brackets by the Wrongologist)

Is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the [Trump’s] candidacy.

Of course, December 29, 2016 was not during the campaign. Now, the WaPo has a blockbuster story indicating that Flynn did talk to the Russians:

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn privately discussed US sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former US officials said.

More from WaPo:

Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

All of those officials said Flynn’s references to the election-related sanctions were explicit. Two of those officials went further, saying that Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by President Barack Obama, making clear that the two sides would be in position to review the matter after Trump was sworn in as president.

MoJo reports that on Friday, the Trump administration confirmed that Flynn did speak to the Russians about sanctions.

This means that Flynn was working against established US policy. He was telling Moscow not to worry about new sanctions imposed by Obama, and to stand by until Trump was inaugurated, which is what Russia did.

In some quarters, this is aiding an enemy. It also was dumb, since US intelligence routinely intercepts Russian conversations. The WaPo indicates that a transcript of Flynn’s conversation was passed among the intelligence community.

This is not the way a senior national security official should behave. He isn’t fit for the office he holds, he should be fired.

Gen. Flynn clearly needs a soothing something after the week he is having, and you do too. So grab a hot cup of cocoa, put your feet up and listen to “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2” by Franz Liszt, composed in 1847 and performed here by Katica Illényi, a Hungarian violinist, with the Győr Philharmonic Orchestra in 2011:

If you grew up with Saturday cartoons on the tube, this will sound familiar. It has been featured in Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Krazy Kat and Tom & Jerry cartoons, and in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

A Bonus Video: Illényi is one of the few people who plays the Theremin. Here she is playing “Only You” by the Platters:

Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.

 

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Monday Wake Up Call – January 23, 2017

After the Women’s March, both Trump and his press bunny, Sean Spicer, said that the numbers of attendees at the Trump Inaugural was the largest of all time. How can Spicer explain this?

Why bother explaining? From Media Matters:

In a surreal turn, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tonight denied reality, lashed out at the press for its supposed “shameful and wrong” coverage of the size of the crowd that attended President Trump’s January 20 inaugural festivities, instructed the White House press corps on what they “should be writing and covering,” declared that the administration intended to “hold the press accountable,” and left the briefing room without taking questions

For those who think they can trust Spicer, here are a few more links:

Trump inauguration crowd: Sean Spicer’s claims versus the evidence (Guardian)

White House Disputes Inauguration Attendance Estimates (WSJ)

Trump inauguration draws nearly 31 million U.S. television viewers (Reuters) Absolute numbers were fewer than Obama, better than Clinton and both Bushes.

Trumpism Corrupts: Spicer Edition (Weekly Standard)

With False Claims, Trump Attacks Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift (NYT)

If Spicer wanted to avoid a confrontation, he could have shut down the discussion by saying that Trump’s supporters had to work on a Monday, because of the terrible jobs situation in America. But he tried ju-jitsu instead.

We should be very concerned about the lying and the angry effort to turn the tables on the press by Trump and his press secretary. They wouldn’t even tell the truth for something that is totally knowable, and then they attacked those who reported truthfully.

It is clear that the Trump administration plans to bully the press until: a) they stop attending press conferences, and/or b) stop digging for the real facts behind any bald-faced Trump administration assertion.

There are just three choices here:

  • You think lying is wrong
  • You think lying is OK
  • You are a hypocrite who moves between options 1 & 2 depending on whether you’re benefiting from the lie, or being harmed by it

The Overlord thinks he has no need to speak the truth, because he can just deny that whatever he disagrees with is true, and have some 20 million of his diehard twitter followers re-trumpet that he is correct.

This is a real threat to democracy! It is looking like Trump will be the Bullshitter-in-Chief, broadcasting a daily smokescreen of “fake news” (formerly, propaganda) while his cabinet of billionaires work to enrich themselves and Trump’s friends, and the Republican Congress tries to turn America into Paul Ryan’s granny-starver version of Ayn Rand’s paradise.

Bush’s and Rove’s “we manufacture our own reality” ultimately failed, and it seems Trump is trying the same thing but with a much weaker hand. We thought that Bush was incompetent and couldn’t do the job, and he was well on his way to proving that when 9/11 happened, and suddenly everyone was “rallying around our president“. Trump would also be seen as a terrific leader by a majority if he was talking through a bullhorn from the top of a pile of rubble.

And Trump won’t miss any opportunities to tweet glowing assessments of his performance. Thus, he has no need to engage in an honest evaluation of anything when a quick, preemptive hit works so well for him.

So time for the press to wake up and flay the Trump administration whenever they dissemble. The press now has a new organizing principle called the quest for truth. Something that has been missing for nearly 30 years.

To help them wake up, here are the Eagles with “New Kid in Town” from their 1976 “Hotel California” album. Released as the first single from the album, the song became a number-one hit in the US. Glenn Frey died late last year. He is missed. Here is “New Kid in Town” in a live version from their show in Washington, DC in 1977 at the old Capitol Center:

Time to hold the new kid responsible for his lying.

Sample Lyrics:

There’s talk on the street, it sounds so familiar.
Great expectations, everybody’s watching you.
People you meet they all seem to know you,
Even your old friends treat you like you’re something new.

Johnny-come-lately, the new kid in town,
everybody loves you, so don’t let them down.

There’s talk on the street, it’s there to remind you
That it doesn’t really matter which side you’re on.
You’re walking away and they’re talking behind you.
They will never forget you till somebody new comes along.

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

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Trump Promised Jobs. That’s Why He Won

Take a good look at this map. It shows which counties switched parties in the 2016 US Presidential election compared to 2012. Red counties switched from Democrat to Republican, blue counties switched from Republican to Democrat and the vast majority in grey did not switch parties:

counties-that-changed-partys

Source: Brilliant Maps

Of course, it doesn’t show vote margin or size of the total vote in each county. The main thing this map shows is the large number of counties in the North East and Midwest that flipped to Trump, after having been Democratic counties in the prior election. The effect was large enough to deliver the normally Democratic leaning states of Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin into the Republican camp.

Tim Duy has an article about how economists and most politicians get so wrapped up that they miss the human element in economic dislocations. Duy makes the point that they ignore two of the negative impacts of job losses. First, they say how lost jobs free up human capital for use elsewhere in the economy. Of course, as jobs are added to the economy, skill levels and training determine whether laid-off workers are part of that equation.

“High-skilled” workers is what we need, but they are not always the kind of workers that were laid off.

Second, Duy reminds us that most workers have little ability to move to where better jobs might be found. Politicians tell us that the economy is shifting to urban and suburban areas; to higher skilled jobs; that workers must go and get retrained. That misses the point.

Most new jobs for those who were laid off will only be found if workers are able to relocate, to move from rural or devastated urban locations to geographic areas where jobs are expanding. Duy notes it is particularly difficult for rural areas:

The speed of regional labor market adjustment to shocks is agonizingly slow in any area that lacks a critical mass of population…Relative to life spans, in many cases the shocks might as well be permanent.

We don’t have answers for most of these communities. Rural and urban economic re-development is hard. The people living in these regions have experienced job losses (or no jobs growth) for decades; positive jobs growth has occurred elsewhere.

And the laid-off workforce isn’t mobile. In effect, we have limited access to housing in our major cities by pushing housing costs beyond the reach of most middle class workers. This, from Kevin Erdmann:

If you lost your manufacturing job in Buffalo, and you’re thinking of moving to New York City because there are more jobs there, you might decide not to move because it is too expensive. It is the affordability that is keeping you out. But, even here, the affordability problem is just the messenger. It is the rationing mechanism for a housing stock that is relatively fixed for political reasons.

If you decide to move to the NYC area, you see that the housing supply is largely fixed. New buildings are hard to get through zoning. Construction costs in big cities are very high. Income taxes are rising rapidly.

Erdmann makes the point that housing in big cities doesn’t move up with increased demand:

So, it doesn’t matter if Brooklyn apartments rent for $500, or $1,000, or $2,000, or $4,000. There isn’t one for you. Fixing this by fixing affordability isn’t going to change the supply curve. It’s simply substituting non-monetary rationing mechanisms for the monetary one.

Trump’s message that US firms need to consider domestic jobs as much as their bottom line, also resonated with middle and upper-middle class households. OTOH, it’s not like Trump took on the Coal Industry on behalf of workers. He blamed federal environmental policy, but that isn’t what caused the loss of coal industry jobs.

Trump doesn’t really have any answers, but he pretends to care while pretending to have answers. Pretending to care and pretending to have answers gave him the switched counties on the electoral map above. People want work. They want secure jobs.

Trump might be running a “jobs” scam, but if it fails, what is the Democrats’ alternative?

We have four years until the next election, two if you are looking at Congress. What policies will work? Will we just trade Trump’s scam for another one peddled by the establishment?

Business as usual hasn’t delivered. The idea that economic growth creates jobs is a pipe dream for many: For the past 40 years, economic growth did not improve wages.

Trump’s promise swung the election. If he fails, what will be the Democrats’ response?

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Sunday Cartoon Blogging – November 27, 2016

Are you sick of all the winning yet?

You have probably heard that Fidel Castro died yesterday. Wrongo was in college in October 1962, at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. We were glued to TV waiting for a nuclear attack that never came.

That Castro survived JFK by 53 years is remarkable, particularly since at least two American Presidents tried to kill him. At the time, Kennedy offered two things in exchange for Soviet removal of the Cuban missiles: (1) the US would pledge never to invade Cuba and (2) the US would secretly withdraw missiles from Turkey. The removal of the nukes from Turkey was delayed several months, so that the US would not appear weak in the face of the Cuban missile threat. The Soviet Union accepted this offer the next day.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, their archives of the Missile crisis showed that Castro wanted the USSR to fire the missiles at the US. Khrushchev came to regard Castro as a lunatic, bent on war. We came very close to invading Cuba, and the Soviets never fully trusted Castro again.

In most ways, Castro’s death is anticlimactic. He retired, and appointed his brother Raul to head the government years ago, and recently, the Obama administration has been effective in improving relations with Cuba. Had Fidel died during a period of greater tension, it might have signaled the possibility of a positive change in relations between our two countries. Sadly, it is probable that the next great change in Cuban/American relations will move us backward under a Trump Administration.

Onward to cartoons. Thanksgiving and Trump’s staffing plans dominated the week.

Many avoided politics at the family repast:

cow-i-survived

Democrats weigh their strategy with Trump:

cow-turkey-talk

Trump meets with the New York Times, tells them how to cover the news:

cow-trumpy-times

Our Orange Decider has yet to decide a few things:

cow-the-decider

Paul Ryan is locked and loaded for 2017:

cow-paul-ryans-targets

Many who voted for Trump have little or no retirement savings, or regular savings for that matter. Ironically, a majority of them will be reliant on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in later life. Sadly, they can’t seem to connect the dots between Ryan’s Ayn Randian dreams of privatization, and how it will affect their lives. It may be too late for many of them.

Deficits are part of the Art of the Deal:

cow-white-house-puppy

Those “responsible Republican deficit hawks” wanted to restore earmarks the week after the election, but Ryan is making them wait until the new Congress is seated. That way, they won’t destroy the PRETENSE of budget deficits mattering.

The GOP really can’t wait to take off the debt girdle:

cow-deficit-girdle

 

 

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Monday Wake Up Call – November 21, 2016

Broadway attacked Mike Pence, not with sticks and stones, but with words. Mr. Pence went to see “Hamilton”, but was greeted with boos, and then the cast addressed him after the performance from the stage:

We, sir, we are the diverse Americans who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us…But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.

Maybe it would have been appropriate for Mike Pence and Brandon Dixon, the Aaron Burr character who addressed Pence, to just duel out on Broadway after the play. But The Donald stepped in to protect Pence by dueling with the cast of Hamilton instead. As part of a tweet storm, Trump tweeted his demand for an apology. Get used to it, there will be many, many more demands via twitter by your Orange Overlord. This from Trump:

trump-apologize

If this got under Trump’s skin, maybe Hillary was right. Pence was professional in the low-key way in which he responded to the confrontation at the theater. Trump of course, was not. He could have seized the opportunity to assuage the fears of Americans who are afraid of what may be coming after January 20th.

He could have made it clear that his election night promise to be “A President for all Americans” actually meant something

Trump must know that the theater is a place to be challenged. NO one goes to the theater thinking it is a safe zone where their precious little Fe Fe’s will be safe. It is the nature of theater and the arts in general to challenge us, to force us outside of our comfort zone, to make us consider alternate ways of viewing the world. From Bob Lefsetz:

This is what artists do. They speak truth to power. They make people uncomfortable. And when there’s a reaction, they know they’ve done their job.

The negative social media response to Trump’s tweet went viral. More from Lefsetz:

…we’ve got a President-elect who uses social media to get his message across…Isn’t it funny that a contrary opinion is now being spread through the same platforms? My inbox and Twitter were ablaze last night after the “Hamilton” kerfuffle. Word spreads fast these days, and the last ones on it are the mainstream media, who go to bed at 11 when we live in a 24/7 world.

There were lots of comments supporting DJT’s tweet, that what the Hamilton cast said was “inappropriate” or was said in the wrong venue. So the Hamilton team has no right to speak up? Hogwash. So where do we go from here?

Have we ever seen this kind of spontaneous pushback right after a presidential election (other than Lincoln’s, which precipitated the Civil War)? There is demonstrable national unrest, people are pissed. And Trump now demands that people just lie down and take it?

Trump isn’t getting an apology.

Trump said that he wants to be president of all Americans. But post-election, he is acting as he did while campaigning. He expects to preside over all, attempting to quell dissent by forcing people who disagree with him to toe the line. If you want to be part of Making America Great Again, you will treat him and his administration with decorum and proper respect. Like this:

cow-healing

Yea, No. Time to be inspired to speak truth to power. Time to perfect your message of dissent. Time to develop a message that wins in 2018 and beyond. Let the Hamilton cast inspire your actions. Inspire others so that it is clear where the Orange Overlord is taking us. The time for revolution is here.

It’s time to wake up if you think that giving Trump a chance to heal America is a good idea. Healing requires a two-way street of thought and communication. But all that we are likely to get from the Orange Overlord are tweets that say get back in line, or here come the cops.

To help with your morning wake up, here is the late Mose Allison, who died last week, with his song, “Your mind’s on vacation but your mouth is working overtime”. It was said that Allison was a social critic before Dylan and a musical satirist before Randy Newman. His music has influenced many artists, including Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, the Yardbirds, John Mayall, JJ Cale, and the Who.

Here is “Your mind’s on vacation but your mouth is working overtime”.

Sample Lyrics:

You’re sitting there yakkin’ right in my face
I guess I’m gonna have to put you in your place
Y’know if silence was golden
You couldn’t raise a dime
Because your mind is on vacation and your mouth is
Working overtime

You’re quoting figures, you’re dropping names
You’re telling stories about the dames
You’re always laughin’ when things ain’t funny
You try to sound like you’re big money
If talk was criminal, you’d lead a life of crime
Because your mind is on vacation and your mouth is
Working overtime

Does this remind you of a certain orange someone?

For those who read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

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Did Fake News Swing the Election?

This from Paul Horner:

I think Donald Trump is in the White House because of me.

Who is Paul Horner? He is the leader of a fake news empire, including his ABCnews.com.co site that The WaPo wrote about today:

Paul Horner, the 38-year-old impresario of a Facebook fake-news empire, has made his living off viral news hoaxes for several years. He has twice convinced the Internet that he’s British graffiti artist Banksy; he also published the very viral, very fake news of a Yelp vs. “South Park” lawsuit last year.

But he really hit his stride in the 2016 presidential election. From WaPo:

In March, Donald Trump’s son Eric and his then-campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, tweeted links to one of Horner’s faux-articles. His stories have also appeared as news on Google:

faux-news-google

He also pushed a story that Trump protesters were paid by Democrats. Even Trump on the campaign trail, said it was true. Here is the story behind the story by Horner:

My sites were picked up by Trump supporters all the time. I think Trump is in the White House because of me. His followers don’t fact-check anything — they’ll post everything, believe anything. His campaign manager posted my story about a protester getting paid $3,500 as fact. Like, I made that up. I posted a fake ad on Craigslist.

Horner is correct. Here is (then) Trump Campaign Manager Lewandowski tweeting it:

lewandowski-retweets

WaPo asks Horner, why do his stories go so viral?

Honestly, people are definitely dumber. They just keep passing stuff around. Nobody fact-checks anything anymore — I mean, that’s how Trump got elected. He just said whatever he wanted, and people believed everything, and when the things he said turned out not to be true, people didn’t care because they’d already accepted it. It’s real scary. I’ve never seen anything like it

Real news is so boring. Fake news is so compelling.

Despite Horner’s “dumber people” comments, satire should not need to be fact- checked by the reader to determine that it is satire, not false news. When Horner writes a purported news story reporting that a protester was paid thousands to protest at a Trump rally, that story presented itself as news, not satire. It also generates revenue for him while providing ammunition for Trump supporters.

NPR reported yesterday on how Facebook reviews news sites that post on their platform. They said that FB:

Turned to the consulting firm Accenture to put together a dedicated team of subcontractors. Sources say the team is now several thousand people, with some of the largest offices in Manila…and Warsaw.

Ok, outsourcing isn’t necessarily good or evil, but NPR also reported that:

Current and former employees of Facebook say that they’ve observed these subcontractors in action; that they are told to go fast — very fast; that they’re evaluated on speed; and that on average, a worker makes a decision about a piece of flagged content once every 10 seconds.

The 10 second rule means that a worker on an eight-hour shift, at the rate of one post per 10 seconds, means that they’re clearing 2,880 posts a day per person. How do you evaluate something as fake news in 10 seconds, particularly when you don’t even live in the US?

There’s another huge barrier: The subcontractors typically don’t get to see the full story, because the messages are truncated. Therefore, no one can really evaluate a particular story’s context.

This is America in the 21st Century. How can people develop good bullshit detectors, when the platform that 1.7 billion people worldwide subscribe to, can’t be serious about checking to see if something posted is true?

We are in an era where facts are increasingly irrelevant.

The solution is to fund independent social media organizations that really fact check BS statements. And then, reach out to counter the faux that easily-manipulated individuals want to believe. Their fact-checking will have to be part of social media, since that is what people who live mostly on social media understand. Next, treat them with respect, and work hard to relieve their underlying anxieties.

Consider Obama’s last press conference: He treated the reporters well, and they were respectful of him. He paid homage to the death of the respected newsperson, Gwen Ifill, including thanking her for holding his feet to the fire.

That’s the kind of presidential temperament we need.

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Won’t Get Fooled Again

Wrongo and Ms. Right watched the”60 Minutes” Trump interview on Sunday. Basically, it was a low-information session, long on atmosphere and short on what is likely to happen in the first 100 days of Trumptopia.

There were hints that low information may be emblematic of the future relationship between the press and the new administration. In the interview, there was this: (emphasis by the Wrongologist)

Lesley Stahl:…A lot of people are afraid. They’re really afraid. African Americans think there’s a target on their back. Muslims are terrified.

Donald Trump: I think it’s horrible if that’s happening. I think it’s built up by the press because, frankly, they’ll take every single little incident that they can find in this countryand they’ll make into an event because that’s the way the press is.

More press paranoia by the Donald-elect. To think of the media as liars destroys one of the only protections we have for our democracy.

And Fortune Magazine, not exactly a haven for lefty journalists, said this:

What does that future look like? It looks like a pitched battle between a man who made his own media rules and rode them to victory, and a traditional press that has lost much of its power.

It seems obvious that President-elect Trump’s relationship with the press could be more contentious than even that of Richard Nixon.

Trump’s spokesperson, Hope Hicks, had to go out of her way to reassure the media that Trump was planning to operate a normal press “pool,” in which the president travels with reporters who share their news reports with others. The press is concerned, since they were not permitted to travel with Trump during the campaign.

But the media holding the Trump administration’s feet to the fire was is made very difficult by Trump’s points about social media in the “60 Minutes” interview: (brackets and emphasis by the Wrongologist)

Lesley Stahl: But are you going to be tweeting [about] whatever you’re upset about…when you’re president?

Donald Trump: So it’s a modern form of communication, between Face– you know, Facebook and Twitter and I guess Instagram, I have 28 million people. 28 million people

Taken together, the major network and cable TV outlets account for 26.5 million viewers.

So, Trump has the ability to talk directly to more people than the networks. During the campaign, Trump took advantage of that to spread both accurate (and inaccurate) information that helped his cause. In effect, the Trumpets were using the media equivalent of modern military technology while the mainstream media (and the Clinton campaign) used tanks and bayonets.

Going forward, what will happen when Trump, who has continued to attack the motives of the press, has to deal with them as president? Will Breitbart News and Fox get preferential treatment while the New York Times and the Washington Post are left scrambling for the scraps they leave behind?

And if that happens, who is in a position to stop him? In 2016 and going forward, how will you find out what is really going on in the world?

And think about the parallels to the GW Bush presidency: Pence has the operations role. This could very well turn into another Cheney Administration, where Pence actually runs the government in the background while Trump soaks up all the attention playing Mister President on Twitter and for the cameras.

The parallels are frightening. Fortune has this vision of the future:

A weakened and increasingly marginalized traditional media, fighting with the tools of a previous era, surrounded by more nimble adversaries who know how to use social platforms for their own ends, and a president who is actively hostile to the traditional press. Not that long ago, it probably felt like things couldn’t get any worse for the media—but they just did.

Let’s not lose hope completely. Why? This administration will enter office with close to zero credibility with the press. Think about how few newspapers endorsed Trump.

Second, the media remembers its failures to follow the facts during the Bush administration. So, the fear of being called unpatriotic as those few in the media were when they spoke out against Bush’s Iraq policy, will be tempered by the press’s memory of their complicity in Iraq War.

Finally, blogs and social media can work both ways. They may have helped elect Trump, but social media in particular will not allow Trump to operate unchallenged.

That challenge will force the MSM to follow stories in a way that didn’t happen in the GW Bush administration.

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Election Day 2016: Closing Argument

“I look forward to a great future for America – a future in which our country will match its military strength with our moral restraint, its wealth with our wisdom, its power with our purpose.” –  John F. Kennedy

JFK said that at Amherst College less than a month before he died. He wasn’t running for reelection yet, but that quote shows how he towers over the two presidential candidates in front of us today.

We could ask: “What does wisdom have to do with being president?” And our answer should be “everything”!

Some Americans are angry. Some are mainly angry with Washington. Many are impatient, unable to keep a long complicated idea in their heads to a conclusion, saying things like: “bottom line this for me” after less than a couple of minutes of talk. People are overwhelmed with information, much of which is patently false, so they do not know what to believe. The simply angry people will not help us solve anything, and they may not even accept a solution designed to help with some of their problems.

This is the context for today’s election.

The best case for Hillary Clinton is that she represents a continuation of Obama’s policies, with a few slightly more progressive ideas forced into the mix by Bernie. If Clinton is president, she will continue to have the same fights with Republicans in Congress that Obama had, but since Trump wants to enact policies that are destructive, some of which will be enthusiastically supported by Republicans in Congress, wisdom indicates Hillary is our best option this year.

Over the next four years Clinton is unlikely to do anything domestically that makes the lives of most Americans worse, and any Supreme Court justices she picks are likely to be reliably liberal on social issues, assuming Republicans are willing to confirm any nominee offered by a Democrat.

Her foreign policy is hawkish. This is the one place where Trump seems to be to the left of Clinton. How we handle Russia, China and the Middle East will be a huge challenge to the next president, but the leader of the free world cannot be an impulsive know-it-all.

What about the arguments against Clinton?

Emails are Hillary’s quicksand. Win or lose, Congress will keep worrying on that bone for a long, long time.

What about the paid speeches, the relationships with Wall Street and foreign governments? None of that is unique to Clinton. Her neoliberal positions and affiliations are common in both Parties. Obama, both Bushes, Bill Clinton, and Reagan have all taken money from most of these same groups through the campaign finance system.

Money and influence are the business plan for all American politicians. There’s nothing particularly revelatory about that, and it doesn’t make her any more corrupt than most other Democrats and Republicans who have run for president.

Arguments for Donald Trump:

The best argument for Donald Trump doesn’t rely on any of his policy positions, some of which are unclear and many of which are completely detached from evidence-based reality. Instead, the argument for him is that he will shake things up, and possibly, change some things.

Arguments against Trump:

A Trump presidency would be risky, since his ideas and temperament could easily make things worse than the current situation. He’s been called many names, his own ghostwriter for the book “The Art of the Deal” called him a sociopath. Many words describe Donald Trump, but here are a few that do not: Thoughtful. Serious. Presidential. So, wisdom argues that we not elect Trump.

People are looking for change. For them, it’s disheartening to settle for someone like Clinton who seeks gradual improvement, but is not a change agent.

America needs change, but it has to be a positive kind of change. That means it’s better to stick with the lower risk candidate unless there is a political alternative who really might make things better.

There will be better messengers for left-driven and right-driven populism down the road. When that happens, we will have more chances to pick a workable political alternative to the neoliberalism of both establishment parties.

Be patient, while we wait for a better alternative.

And vote today, if you haven’t yet.

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Weekend Links to Help Improve Voting

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

If you read the Wrongologist, the chances are excellent that you will be voting, or, have already voted in the local, state and presidential elections that will culminate with some kind of decision next Tuesday.

However, you have an additional job this weekend, and that is to reach out to friends or family that may be hoping to skate by the big decision altogether. We need to help them screw up their courage for the task of voting, and to help you with shaming or compelling them to vote, here are a few electoral links for your weekend reading. Grab a hot cup of “Wake the Fuck Up” coffee and check these out:

Trump fans try to fool Clinton faithful into voting via text: The ads, in English and Spanish, encourage Clinton voters to text “Hillary” to a 5-digit number to cast their votes and avoid the long lines at the polls. Twitter user Robert McNees said he flagged the tweets. Then, he said Twitter told him the tweets didn’t violate their terms of service. They eventually took them down. Sorry folks, politics isn’t American Idol.

It’s unnecessarily hard to vote in America: US voter registration numbers are abysmal. According to Pew Research, only 71% of voting-age citizens were registered to vote in the 2012 presidential election. That’s compared to 99% in Japan, 96% in Sweden, and 91% in Canada. Why? In a Brennen Center study of democracies across the world, the US was one of only four countries that didn’t proactively solicit or initiate voter registration. We also struggle to get our voters to the polls. Again according to Pew Research, in 2012 the US ranked 31st out of the 35 developed countries in the OECD. Only 55% of eligible voters cast a vote on Election Day, compared to 87% in Belgium and 83% in Sweden.

Gaps in voter turnout are an important factor in the growing misalignment of public policy with the concerns and needs of working-class and low-income people: The linked study by Demos shows that our democracy mainly serves a single dominant class of affluent white voters, largely due to poor turnout by millions of Americans who would vote for progressive ideas.

A Guide to selfies that won’t get you arrested when you vote. Selfies taken inside the voting booth are illegal. Justin Timberlake took one that could land him behind bars. Don’t be like Justin. However, there is research that suggests people are more likely to vote if they see their friends talking about actually voting on social media. So, voting selfies may be useful on Election Day. Post a pic of you and your “I Voted” sticker after you leave the polling place.

The music video service Vevo, is encouraging its users to vote in the upcoming elections by launching an original series call “Why I Vote”, featuring pop stars talking about the reasons why they are going to the polls this year. The purpose is to galvanize first-time voters interested in shaping their own future.

Here is American Authors , two of the band members have brothers who have served time for shooting someone. They examine the circumstances and explain their opinions on the need for comprehensive gun reform:

If you read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

Or you might like this “Why I Vote” Vevo by musician/actress Becky G., who, since it is her first opportunity to vote, and given her Mexican heritage, talks about immigration:

If you read the Wrongologist in email, you can view the video here.

Voting for Democrats risks eternal damnation, says San Diego Catholic Church bulletin: An insert to San Diego CA’s Immaculate Conception Catholic Church’s weekly bulletin on Oct. 16, told parishioners that “it is a mortal sin to vote Democrat.” That’s not all. An article in the Oct. 30 bulletin compared a statement by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton to Satan. The San Diego Diocese disavowed the messages, and say they have no idea how this happened. Get James Comey on the phone!

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