Archive for the ‘Kellyanne Conway’ Tag

Donald Trump’s Dangerous and Criminal Behavior Should Not Surprise Anyone.   Leave a comment

IT IS OLD NEWS.

Donald Trump has taught me a lesson:  He can always go lower.  He can always be more despicable and dangerous to the republic.  The son of a bitch, who sent the domestic terrorists to invade the United States Capitol Building and staged an insurrection, enjoyed watching footage of the ransacking of that structure.  That bastard tried to call United States Senators, holed up in a secure location during the invasion of the Capitol Building, to try to ask them to overturn the election results.  Even then, Trump cared about himself, not the country.

Trump caring about himself, not the country, is old news.  Trump spreading dangerous and discredited conspiracy theories is old news.  Trump inciting violence is old news.  Trump feeding off hatred is old news.  Trump being a bully is old news.  Trump having dictatorial tendencies is old news.  It was old news in 2016.  

But don’t blame me.  I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016.  I tried to prevent this.

Despite old news, recent news, and current events, many Republicans, including a host of members of the United States Congress, remains loyal to Trump.  The Republican Party, in its current state, is a death cult of personality.  Those principled conservatives, the Never Trumpers, were always on the margins of the party.  

The United States of America has long had a two-party system.  The labels and substance of the parties have changed over time, but the number of major parties has usually been two.  This country has done well when both major parties have been sane, rational, and grounded in objective reality.  Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said that all people are entitled to their own opinions yet not their own facts.  The Trump Administration has fed off what Kellyanne Conway called, in Orwellian terms, “alternative facts.”  

Objective reality is what it is.  Disagreeing with it is not a political virtue.  Political parties may legitimately differ regarding what the facts mean, but not about what the facts are. 

Here is a fact terribly inconvenient for Donald Trump.  Even if he pardons himself or Mike Pence pardons him, that pardon will not shield Trump from prosecution (for other crimes) in the State of New York.  Trump uses the rhetoric of law and order yet seeks shelter from the law while he violates law.  I do not buy what he is selling.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 9, 2021 COMMON ERA

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Anti-Intellectualism and Right-Wing Populism   1 comment

Truthiness, Alternative Facts, and Damn Lies

Stephen Colbert, during his years of hosting The Colbert Report on Comedy Central, spoke, in the character of a composite of most of the on-air talent at the FOX News Channel of “truthiness,” defined as

the quality or seeming or feeling true, even when being false.

“Truthiness” is the quality of anti-intellectualism, of the distrust of expertise and reference works.  Objective reality, the character of Stephen Colbert said on October 17, 2005, is

all fact and no heart.

The television persona of Colbert rejected objective reality.

Objectively, surveys revealed that more self-described conservatives than self-described liberals did not get the joke.  More self-described conservatives than self-described liberals failed to realize that Colbert was playing a character.

That which Colbert said in political satire has become the governing strategy of the Trump Administration.  One may recall that, in early 2017, Kellyanne Conway used a now-infamous term:

alternative facts.

Her boss is a proponent and purveyor of alternative facts, half-truths, conspiracy theories, and what Samuel L. Clemens called

damn lies.

Anti-intellectualism is a political and religious tradition in the United States and elsewhere.  (Traditions are, by definition, old, so I choose not to call anti-intellectualism an “old tradition.”)    Related to anti-intellectualism is another tradition, distrust of science.  I trust science and consider myself an intellectual, of course.  Another cousin, so to speak, is the distrust of expertise.  I like experts, people who have read, studied, researched, et cetera.  They are well-informed, by definition.  I do not pretend that they are infallible, but I trust them before I trust an uninformed person on the street.  If that makes me an elitist, so be it.

Right-wing populism embraces truthiness and alternative facts as it rejects intellectualism, expertise, and science.  This tendency is proving deadly during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Wearing masks in public and maintaining social distancing should NOT be controversial, but they are.  The Coronavirus will not vanish one day, magically.  No, it will remain with us for a very long time.  The Bubonic Plague still exists, but how often does it become a news story?  COVID-19 will eventually join the ranks of generally contained diseases that break out here and there, now and again, with limited effects.  We will get to that day sooner rather than later by acting responsibly, both collectively and individually, and by trusting that people who study this disease know more about it than people who do not.

Unfortunately, as human psychology proves, ego defense mechanisms are generally impervious to objective reality.  The least effective way to convince one to change one’s mind may be to present objective information, especially if one’s ego is invested in an erroneous belief.  Consider opposition to vaccination, O reader.  I understand why, centuries ago, when vaccination was new, that many people feared it.  However, given that vaccination has proven effective, fear of it is irrational and contrary to objective reality.

Aside:  I report that the worst reaction I had to an immunization was the exception to the rule.  My standard reaction is none, except for momentary discomfort; I despise needles.  I recall, however, that I passed out momentarily once.  On the other hand, I got a piece of chocolate, so I cannot complain.

This pandemic presents people with a choice:  Behave responsibly and reject misinformation or embrace conspiracy theories and racist, nativistic, xenophobic, and objectively false statements and those who peddle them.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2020 COMMON ERA

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“Alternative Facts”   1 comment

Look, alternative facts are not facts.  They’re falsehoods.

–Chuck Todd, January 22, 2017

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If I wanted alternative facts, I would use a ouija board.

–Joe Scarborough, January 23, 2017

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I respect objective reality.  In that sense I am a modernist in the Enlightenment sense of the term.  (I am also a modernist in the theological sense of the term, by the way.)  As John Adams famously argued,

Facts are stubborn things.

I cling to objective reality stubbornly.  As a teacher of history I cling to the objective reality of the past tenaciously.  Whenever I get a detail wrong  and realize it, I admit my error and strive never to repeat it.  I hold my students to the simple standard of being objectively accurate.  The penalty for inaccuracy is a grade lower than it would have been otherwise.

Facts are stubborn things.

With regard to certain current events I conclude that Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway are either postmodernists, easy liars, or people who have difficulty telling the difference between accurate and inaccurate statements.  I lack sufficient information to arrive at a definitive statement at this time.  I am certain, however, that, in the realm of mathematics, some numbers are of greater value than others. That is an accurate statement.

Facts are stubborn things.

I keep in mind the difference between a lie and an accidental falsehood.  A lie is an intentional deception; motivation marks the difference between a lie and a merely inaccurate statement.  Either way, an inaccurate statement, regardless of whether it is a lie or an accidental falsehood, is false.  And that is not an “alternative fact,” for there is no such thing as an “alternative fact.”

Facts are stubborn things.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 23, 2017 COMMON ERA

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APPENDIX

In light of today’s development, in which Spicer expressed his willingness to “disagree with the facts” yet, oddly enough, not to lie (an oxymoron), I conclude that he is a liar.  As Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the great empiricist noted, each person is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.

KRT

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