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Member since: Thu May 7, 2009, 11:59 PM
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Watch John Oliver Break Down Trump's Three Dangerous Manipulation Tactics


One year after Election Day, the season finale of Last Week Tonight's John Oliver outlined the three main manipulation tactics President Trump uses when engaging with the public and the press: delegitimizing media, "whataboutism" and trolling. The techniques, Oliver says, are "depressively effective." Many of these persuasive tools were even employed in Soviet-era propaganda. Even more depressingly, the negative impact is already spreading beyond Trump's presidency.

Oliver begins with Trump's most apparent defense mechanism: crying "fake news." Trump popularized the term during the presidential campaign, which hedged on attacking the mainstream media for having inherent liberal biases. As president, Trump continues to alienate reporters, which, paradoxically, perpetuates the misinformation he claims to abhor.

Trump's slightly subtler tactic is a term Oliver called "whataboutism," a fallacy with roots in old Soviet propaganda that shifts any given topic to another, potentially irrelevant one. "It implies that all actions regardless of context share a moral equivalency," says Oliver. "And since nobody is perfect, all criticism is hypocritical and everyone should do whatever they want ... It doesn't solve a problem or win an argument. The point is just to muddy the waters, which just makes the other side mad."

The most famous recent example was Trump's reaction to the alt-right rally in Charlottesville. When a neo-Nazi intentionally drove a car into a mass of people and killed protestor Heather Heyer, Trump responded by looking for equal fault on the other side. "A defense attorney could not stand up in court and say 'maybe my client did murder those people, but what about Jeffrey Dahmer? What about Al Capone? What about the guy from Silence of the Lambs? I rest my case.'"

Whataboutism: The Cold War tactic, thawed by Putin, is brandished by Donald Trump

Remember Trump won his campaign by avoiding issues and lying. His tactic of choice is what-about-ism, responding to issues by throwing up other unrelated issues to suggest a moral equivalency. What-about-ism does not solve problems. To the contrary, it simply muddies the water to avoid solutions.


What about antifa? What about free speech? What about the guy who shot Steve Scalise? What about the mosque in Minnesota that got bombed? What about North Korea? What about murders in Chicago? What about Ivanka at the G-20? What about Vince Foster? If white pride is bad, then what about gay pride? What about the stock market? What about those 33,000 deleted emails? What about Hitler? What about the Crusades? What about the asteroid that may one day kill us all? What about Benghazi?

What about what about what about.

We’ve gotten very good at what-abouting.

The president has led the way.

His campaign may or may not have conspired with Moscow, but President Trump has routinely employed a durable old Soviet propaganda tactic. Tuesday’s bonkers news conference in New York was Trump’s latest act of “whataboutism,” the practice of short-circuiting an argument by asserting moral equivalency between two things that aren’t necessarily comparable. In this case, the president wondered whether the removal of a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville — where white supremacists clashed this weekend with counterprotesters — would lead to the teardown of others.

Donald Trump's Sexual Assault Accusers Demand Justice in the #MeToo Era: 'We Were Forgotten'

While Republicans and even Democrats are happy to debate whether Bill Clinton should have resigned 20 years ago, everyone is ignoring Trump's accusers.


The recent accusations of sexual misconduct against a long list of powerful men in Hollywood and other industries have been widely believed — and led to resignations, loss of careers and other fallout.

Meanwhile, some of the women who accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment or assault during the presidential campaign wonder when the president might finally pay a price for what he allegedly did to them.

“Things just seem to fall off of Trump, I’m extremely disappointed,” says Jessica Leeds, 75, who alleges Trump tried to kiss her, fondle her breasts and put his hand up her skirt while on a flight to New York in the early 1980s.

Their stories — like the harrowing one PEOPLE writer Natasha Stoynoff shared of Trump allegedly attacking her in 2005 by pushing her up against a wall at Mar-a- Lago and shoving his tongue down her throat — are backed up in most cases by co-workers, friends or family members.

Salon - Dont expect Alabama Republicans to turn against Roy Moore

At the end of the day, what is motivating Evangelicals is not morality, but the subjugation of women. This is why there is so much sympathy toward Roy Moore. At the heart of it, many evangelicals are not only seeking dominance over religious and racial minorities, but over women.


Here's the thing to remember here: Alabamians already knew that Moore was a far-right evangelical who is deeply enmeshed in an extremist form of patriarchal Christianity. Republicans in that state are likely familiar with the fetish that far-right evangelicals have for young teenagers. They aren't going to be all that surprised by any of this, let alone interested in holding Moore accountable.

Take, for instance, evangelical hero and "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson. In 2009, he gave a speech advising men to prioritize servility and obedience in women, noting that submissive women are "getting hard to find, mainly because these boys are waiting ‘til they get to be about 20 years old before they marry ‘em."

* * *
Moore's baffling popularity in Alabama is an example of what Ingersoll is talking about. To be clear, most conservatives, even those who identify with the religious right, don't live the comically exaggerated patriarchal values that Moore preaches. But many are forgiving of it, and may admire someone like Moore for his willingness to push for complete male dominance over women.
And make no mistake: It's patriarchy, not morality, that is the animating force behind the Christian right that has elevated Moore.

Evangelicals may talk a big game about chastity, but their overwhelming support for Donald Trump is a reminder that "chastity" is just the cover story for the true agenda, which is bringing women firmly under the control of men. Men's unchaste behavior isn't really considered a problem, even when it's criminal. It's female bodies and female sexuality the Christian right is interested in controlling — and dating young girls in no way conflicts with that goal. If anything, as the above examples show, locking them down young is considered a handy way to achieve these patriarchal objectives.

Vox - A former right-wing radio host explains how conservative media became a safe space.

Interesting article about how the conservative media has gone beyond bias and now just creates a parallel universe where facts are really besides the point.


The conspiracy is false, but that’s not really the point. The point is to muddy the waters, to divert attention from actual scandals. This is something conservative media is uniquely good at. The question is, why? Why is conservative media so much better than liberal media when it comes to making its preferred narratives stick?

To answer this question, I reached out Charlie Sykes, a leading conservative radio host in Wisconsin for nearly three decades. A vocal critic of Trump, Sykes eventually walked away from his show after alienating some of his pro-Trump listeners.

I asked Sykes, the author of the 2017 book How the Right Lost Its Mind, how right-leaning media is able to construct alternate realities for its base, and why it succeeds in ways liberal media does not.

“The conservative media has done a really great job of convincing conservatives that they're under siege,” he told me. As a result, “the conservative media has become a safe space for people who want to be told that they don't have to believe anything that's uncomfortable or negative.”

Vox: Ahead of possible Mueller indictments, Donald Trump is attacking Hillary Clinton

Trump and the rest of the Republicans are in full lie and spin mode ahead of the release of who is being idicted:


Trump is playing up two counter-scandals that have become favorites in the conservative media: an Obama-era uranium deal involving Russia, and the revelation that Clinton associates paid for a salacious dossier of opposition research on Trump during the 2016 campaign.

* * *
The notion that the Clinton campaign paying Steele is the same as Trump (allegedly) colluding with Russia is laughable.

The former involves paying an experienced private investigator — remember, Steele is a retired British agent — to conduct research. The latter involves working with a hostile foreign government to influence the outcome of a US election, and potentially aiding and abetting a crime (the hack and theft of Clinton campaign and DNC emails) in the process.

Most importantly, attacks on the provenance of the Steele dossier would only matter if it were the only real source of allegations about Trump and Russia. It’s not.

Vox - The medias carelessness is helping ISIS use Las Vegas to its advantage

While I generally agree with this article, I also think it ignores how the current White House has shown a willingness to adopt and spread stories in the social media that helps it push its agenda. You can imagine Kelley strongly insisting that there is no evidence to support early social media reports that the shooter was either a left-wing fan of Rachel Maddow or a member of ISIS even though Trump probably wanted to believe and forward along such reports on his twitter feed.

I bet that in the weeks to come, Trump will start circulating links to alt-right outlets that suggest that this was a left-wing conspiracy or that it was an attack by ISIS or North Korea, while disclaiming any independent knowledge as to whether such stories are correct. In other words, during the election, Trump was happy to pass along propaganda pushed by foreign governments, so why stop now?


Shortly after news of the Las Vegas shooting broke on Sunday evening, ISIS’s official Amaq News Agency claimed responsibility for the attack. In the subsequent hours, most experts have concluded that the claim was almost certainly bunk. The shooter, Stephen Paddock, so far has not been found to have any established links to ISIS, nor is there any evidence that he shared their worldview. The FBI has publicly stated that Paddock had no connection to international terrorism, a rare step at this early stage of the investigation.

Yet when I searched Google News at around 3 pm Monday, several of the top articles had headlines that clearly treated ISIS’s claim seriously. And these weren’t from fringe outlets; we’re talking Fox News and Newsweek.

* * *
Media coverage that promotes this line, despite the lack of evidence, helps ISIS’s strategy to succeed. Research online media show that people rarely read past the headlines and first few paragraphs. Stories like this one from Newsweek’s Jack Moore, which doesn’t raise doubts about the claim of responsibility in Las Vegas until the seventh paragraph, helps spread the terrorist group’s spurious claim.

It’s also incredibly hard to correct false information once it has spread into various media ecosystems, especially when that false information is politically convenient. For right-wing outlets especially, making Las Vegas about terrorism rather than gun violence puts them in much more comfortable ideological territory. Hence why some of the more unscrupulous ones, like Gateway Pundit and Infowars, are still amplifying ISIS’s claim of responsibility.

Schumer points to Kansas to criticize Trumps tax plan

Source: Politico

In a warning shot to Republicans crafting landmark tax legislation, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Sunday that Kansas’s experiment with tax cuts foreshadows what can happen if the GOP relies on “fake numbers” to support their effort.

Speaking on CBS’s "Face the Nation," Schumer rebutted assertions by the Trump administration that the president’s tax plan is not designed to cut taxes for rich Americans.

“It's completely focused on the wealthy and the powerful. Not on the middle class,” Schumer said.

He also attacked the Republicans’ assertion that the tax plan won’t add to the deficit. Kansas’s 2012 tax cuts led to a budget deficit that forced the state to cut funding for schools and infrastructure, Schumer said. Facing a major budget deficit, Kansas lawmakers in June approved legislation that rolled back many of Gov. Sam Brownback’s tax cuts.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/01/schumer-trump-tax-plan-kansas-243343

Exactly. Trump is trying to do to the U.S. what Sam Brownback did to Kansas.

Jeff Sessions Decries Fragile Egos At Colleges As DOJ Moves To Re-Try Woman Who Laughed At Him

The lack of shame is just amazing.


WASHINGTON ― Free speech on college campuses is “under attack” as universities transform into shelters “for fragile egos,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who leads a Justice Department prosecuting a woman for laughing at him during a congressional hearing, said in a Tuesday speech.

“The American university was once the center of academic freedom ― a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas,” Sessions told an invite-only audience at Georgetown University’s law school. “But it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos.”

Sessions delivered his speech as the Justice Department prepares to retry a woman who laughed at him during his Senate confirmation hearing in January. The department’s continued prosecution of Desiree Fairooz was mentioned in an open letter signed by several members of the Georgetown law school faculty that said Sessions was a poor spokesman for the values of free speech.

Some students and law school faculty members demonstrated against Sessions and Trump administration’s policies on Tuesday morning, standing on the steps of the building where the attorney general would speak at an event they weren’t allowed to attend.

Atlantic - What American Healthcare Can Learn From Germany

This is what I wonder. The German healthcare system works very well, and it is probably closer to the ACA then the ACA is to single payer. So, why not make adjustments to be closer to the German healthcare system? It is not only cheaper per capita than Canada, but it is also easier to get an appointment.


Instead, the bill was paid by the Barmer GEK sickness fund, one of about 160 such nonprofit insurance collectives in the country. Every German resident must belong to a sickness fund, and in turn the funds must insure all comers. They’re also mandated to cover a standard set of benefits, which includes most procedures and medications. Workers pay half the cost of their sickness fund insurance, and employers pay the rest. The German government foots the bill for the unemployed and for children. There are also limits on out-of-pocket expenses, so it’s rare for a German to go into debt because of medical bills.

Sound familiar?

It should, since this is very similar to the health-insurance regime that Americans are now living under, now that the Affordable Care Act is four years old and a few days past its first enrollment deadline. All Americans are now required to have health insurance or to pay a fine, and insurers cannot deny coverage to anyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions. Obamacare has also created subsidies for those who can’t afford to buy health insurance and has implemented limits on out-of-pocket costs.

There are, of course, a few key differences. Co-pays in the German system are minuscule, about 10 euros per visit. Even those for hospital stays are laughably small by American standards: Sam payed 40 euro for a three-day stay for a minor operation a few years ago. Included in that price was the cost of renting the TV remote.
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