Monday, January 23, 2017

'Alternative Facts', The War Against the Media, and the Looming Specter of Neofascism in the Trump administration --and the Emerging Resistance Against It


One can very clearly see, hear, touch, and smell the fundamental SOCIAL PATHOLOGY of this neofascist regime and its absolute determination to invoke, advocate, and defend the horrific bedrock fascist principle of the BIG LIE (see/google: Goebbels, Joseph for further details). And it's only going to get much worse very soon (like tomorrow). We're down the linguistic and amoral rabbithole of Orwellian doublespeak and cheap propaganda antics and tactics here and trust me it's not merely a "random choice" by the billionaire sociopath but a purely calculated STRATEGY pursued, honed, and developed by the head BS-in-Charge and such blatantly insidious and openly hostile media manipulators as his rancid "senior advisors" and "chief strategists" Steve Bannon (see/google: Breitbart News) and the always duplicitous and endlessly condescending Kellyanne CONway. Can you say LUGENPRESSE boys and girls? Because it's assured that the billionaire sociopath and his entire neofascist administration not only can but do every single chance they get, which of course is any time they appear before the media or general public. Stay tuned...


January 23, 2017
The New York Times »
Breaking News Alert


Speaking to lawmakers, President Trump again falsely claimed that illegal immigrants had cost him the popular vote

January 23, 2017
9:45 PM EST

President Trump used his first official meeting with congressional leaders on Monday to gripe about his loss of the popular vote, falsely telling the lawmakers that he would have won a majority if millions of illegal immigrants had not voted against him.

The president’s comments about the election results came as he gathered the bipartisan leadership of Congress for a White House reception. He also sought to build support for an ambitious legislative agenda despite days earlier castigating the very institution he needs to approve it.

Read more »


Trump Repeats Lie About Popular Vote in Meeting With Lawmakers

January 23, 2017
New York Times
President Trump met with leaders of Congress from both parties on Monday at the White House. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Trump used his first official meeting with congressional leaders on Monday to falsely claim that millions of unauthorized immigrants had robbed him of a popular vote majority, a return to his obsession with the election’s results even as he seeks support for his legislative agenda.

The claim, which he has made before on Twitter, has been judged untrue by numerous fact-checkers. The new president’s willingness to bring it up at a White House reception in the State Dining Room is an indication that he continues to dwell on the implications of his popular vote loss even after assuming power.

Mr. Trump appears to remain concerned that the public will view his victory — and his entire presidency — as illegitimate if he does not repeatedly challenge the idea that Americans were deeply divided about sending him to the White House to succeed President Barack Obama.

Mr. Trump received 304 electoral votes to capture the White House, but he fell almost three million votes short of Hillary Clinton in the popular vote. That reality appears to have bothered him since Election Day, prompting him to repeatedly complain that adversaries were trying to undermine him.

Moving into the White House appears not to have tempered that anxiety. Several people familiar with the closed-door meeting Monday night, who asked to remain anonymous in discussing a private conversation, said Mr. Trump used the opportunity to brag about his victory.

As part of that conversation, Mr. Trump asserted that between three million and five million unauthorized immigrants voted for Mrs. Clinton. That is similar to a Twitter message he posted in late November that said he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Voting officials across the country have said there is virtually no evidence of people voting illegally, and certainly not millions of them. White House officials did not respond to requests for a comment on Mr. Trump’s discussion of the issue.

Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, who attended the meeting, said that Mr. Trump also talked about the size of the crowd for his Inaugural Address.

“It was a huge crowd, a magnificent crowd. I haven’t seen such a crowd as big as this,” Mr. Hoyer told CNN, quoting Mr. Trump. He added that Mr. Trump did not “spend a lot of time on that, but it was clear that it was still on his mind.”

The president’s comments about the election results and his inauguration came as he gathered the bipartisan leadership of Congress for a White House reception. He also sought to build support for an ambitious legislative agenda, despite days earlier castigating the very institution he needs to approve it.

Mr. Trump has said he intends to press Congress to move quickly to repeal and replace Mr. Obama’s health care law, pass a large investment in the nation’s infrastructure, make changes to the country’s immigration laws and overhaul the tax system.

Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, called the meeting a “good sort of get-to-know-you session” and noted that “relationships count for a lot in this business.”

Mr. Cornyn said he thought such sessions would be more frequent while Mr. Trump is in office than they were during Mr. Obama’s tenure. Mr. Obama famously disliked socializing with members of Congress.

Referring to Democrats, Mr. Cornyn said, “They said they’d never been over to the White House for anything like this before.”

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, said it was an “interesting” meeting. Along with health care and infrastructure, she said they discussed China and currency manipulation, as well as issues involving intellectual property rights, which she said were a point of agreement.

“We talked about the Affordable Care Act and said what the Affordable Care Act has been successful in doing is improving quality, expanding access and lowering costs,” she told reporters. “And any proposal that they might have that does that, we’d be interested in hearing about.”

Even with Republicans in control of Congress, Mr. Trump will have to build relationships in a city that he spent more time mocking than praising during his campaign.

In his Inaugural Address, the president criticized the political establishment, saying the people assembled behind him — including the leaders he met with on Monday — had “reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.”

White House officials said the meeting was designed to press the lawmakers on the need to move quickly.

The reception included, among others, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, as well as Ms. Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York.

“The American people are frustrated with the lack of progress here in Washington, and the president wants no delay in addressing our most pressing issues,” said Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary. “He’s taking every opportunity to forge strong bonds with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle.”

As the group sat around a dining room table for photographs, Mr. Trump described his interactions with lawmakers.

A “beautiful, beautiful relationship,” Mr. Trump told reporters.

That has not always been the case. Before Mr. Trump secured the Republican nomination, Mr. Ryan pointedly declined to endorse him. At one point, Mr. Ryan said he was “not ready” to back Mr. Trump after his remarks about women and Hispanics and because of his divergence from Republican orthodoxy.

That relationship slowly improved after Mr. Trump became the party’s nominee and later won the election to become the 45th president. Monday’s reception, officials said, was another step in that process.

Matt Flegenheimer, Thomas Kaplan and Jennifer Steinhauer contributed reporting.


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'Alternative facts:' Why the Trump team is 'planting a flag' in war on media
by Brian Stelter @brianstelter
January 22, 2017

"Alternative facts" are lies

The alternative to "facts" is "fictions."

But President Trump's special adviser Kellyanne Conway proposed something new on Sunday: "alternative facts."

The strange phrase entered the lexicon when Conway told NBC's Chuck Todd that the numerous misstatements in press secretary Sean Spicer's angry statement to reporters Saturday were actually "alternative facts."

Related: White House press secretary attacks media for accurately reporting inauguration crowds

The phrase called into the question Conway's understanding of the word "facts" and caused widespread mockery on Sunday.

But Conway's remarks were reflective of something real -- a new administration which feels, on day three, that it is already under siege from unfair reporters. Trump himself spoke about his "running war with the media" on Saturday.

Spicer, Conway and other Trump aides are "planting a flag, saying they're not going to tolerate this," a longtime Trump aide told CNN on condition of anonymity.

The aide blasted alleged media "obsessions," using some of the exact same language Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus used on "Fox News Sunday."

"I'm saying there's an obsession by the media to delegitimize this president, and we are not going to sit around and let it happen," Priebus said on Fox. "We are going to fight back tooth and nail every day, and twice on Sunday."

The administration's view, according to the source, is that journalists have seized on Trump's popular vote loss; intelligence community findings regarding Russian interference in the election; and inauguration crowd size counts, all in order to "delegitimize" the new president.

Newsroom leaders strongly reject this suggestion.

"The president may feel he's at war with the media. 'The media' is just honest men and women trying to do their jobs," NPR head of news Michael Oreskes said on CNN's "Reliable Sources."

Spicer said at least five things that are not true during the five minutes that his angry statement lasted on Saturday. His false claim about Trump having the biggest inauguration audience ever, "period," came under severe scrutiny on the Sunday morning news shows and online. Meanwhile, Spicer had no further comment on the controversy.

Todd, the moderator of "Meet the Press," was startled by Conway's "alternative facts" explanation.

"Alternative facts are not facts. They're falsehoods," he said to her.

At one point in the interview, when Todd brought up "falsehoods," Conway said he was being "overly dramatic."

Before their discussion ended, Todd asked Conway if it's "a political tactic to come up with 'alternative facts' and try to set up the press as your enemy."

Conway replied, "no, I didn't say that at all."

But to a lot of journalists, that's exactly what it sounds like.

The presentation of "alternative facts" undermines the media's reporting of reality in a way that decreases public trust in the media -- and in facts.

The administration's tactics in its first days, coupled with Conway's invocation of "alternative facts," has observers worried that one of the ways it will "fight back" is to simply deny that two plus two equals four.

"Alternative facts" is "a George Orwell phrase," Washington Post reporter Karen Tumulty said, referring to the science fiction novel "1984."

"This brings us to '1984' doublethink, where war is really peace, where famine is really plenty. That's what's happening here," political historian Allan Lichtman said on CNN Sunday afternoon.

The phrase was a top trending topic on Twitter during the day. Some people made jokes while others took it very seriously.

"'Alternative facts' is a euphemism of propagandists and authoritarians. The new White House administration is full of both. Actual facts," MTV's Jamil Smith tweeted.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary even tweaked Conway by tweeting out the definition of a "fact."

"May I say that we teach no courses in our journalism program about alternative facts," Frank Sesno, the director of the school and media public affairs at the George Washington University, said on CNN's "Reliable Sources."

"We will flunk you if you use alternative facts," he added.

Oreskes said Conway's "alternative facts" comments are symbolic of a larger "struggle going on in the world right now."

"There are people who understand that if you can create a different understanding of reality, you can actually change politics or anything else you want to deal with," he said.

The administration is likely not all that upset with the discussion it's started among the press about the truth and its flaunting of it. The Trump aide, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out a fringe benefit of the administration's media complaints: "By going out and doing this, it took images of people protesting off the TV."

January 21, 2017

Congratulations, America — you did it! An actual fascist is now your official president

Yes, the word fits him, and it really happened. There is still time to fight back and save the best of America

by Chauncey DeVega

                      PHOTO: (Credit: Getty/Alex Wong)

Congratulations, America — you did it! An actual fascist is now your official president

America’s increasingly abnormal politics have now surrendered to dystopia.

Donald Trump, a serial liar, narcissist, failed businessman, political con artist, adulterer, professed grabber of women’s genitals without their permission, man who does not read, ignoramus, admirer and fan of despots and dictators, encourager of vigilante violence against innocent people, actor in a porn video, person who does not pay his employees, member of the Vladimir Putin fan club, racist landlord, preferred candidate of neo-Nazis and other fringe racists, professional wrestling villain, and candidate who incites violence against his political opponents, is now the 45th president of the United States of America.

Donald Trump is also a fascist authoritarian in the American mold and leader of the world’s most powerful and influential “democracy.”

Throughout the 2016 presidential campaign, the American news media desperately avoided using such language to describe Donald Trump. They did this because of material self-interest and advertising revenues, as well as an inability to accept how Trump had gamed obsolete journalistic norms of “fairness,” “balance” and “objectivity.”

In doing so, the American news media facilitated Trump’s rise to power. They labeled Trump as a “populist” who was “unconventional.” The American news media kept suggesting that Trump would “pivot” for the general election in order to win more “mainstream” and “centrist” voters. There were some bold voices who said that Trump had “authoritarian tendencies.” But very few commentators had the courage to plainly state that Donald Trump was a fascist — even though the evidence was growing then and is now insurmountable.

Video: Here's How Much Donald Trump's Inner Circle Is Worth

Consider the following:

Donald Trump does not believe in freedom of the press.
Donald Trump threatens his political enemies with violence and/or prison.
Donald Trump uses ethnocentrism, bigotry, nativism and racism to mobilize his voters.
Donald Trump does not believe in standing norms of democratic governance or tradition.
Donald Trump is a misogynist.
Donald Trump is obsessed with “strength” and his own “virility.”
Donald Trump promises “law and order.”
Donald Trump is a militant nationalist.
Donald Trump traffics in conspiracy theories and lies.
Donald Trump admires authoritarians and political strongmen.

Donald Trump’s most recent press conference was modeled on the way Vladimir Putin manipulates Russia’s news media.
Donald Trump has surrounded himself with a cabal that consists of family members and self-interested Cabinet appointees, who — like him — stand to enrich themselves through the agencies they are supposed to administer in the public interest.

Ultimately, the American news media were and are like the troglodytes in Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave,” comforted by the dark because their eyes would be hurt by the light of the truth. Or, to borrow from a more contemporary example, the media did not want to face the situation Morpheus explains to Neo in “The Matrix”: “Standing there, facing the pure horrifying precision, I came to realize the obviousness of the truth.”

The anxiety about calling Donald Trump a fascist was also enabled by many liberals and progressives who were desperate to appear fair-minded by being politically generous to their conservative and Republican foes. Such people maintain an erroneous belief that there is some type of continuum or symmetry between today’s Republicans and the policies offered by Democrats.

Because liberals and progressives belong to a centuries-long tradition with origins in the Enlightenment, they are unprepared to deal with the primitive thinking and irrationality that drives Donald Trump’s political movement and contemporary conservatism more generally. In reality, the Republican Party abandoned any semblance of normal politics beginning with their assaults on Bill Clinton in the 1990s. This long decline culminated with the Republican reaction to Barack Obama and now the rise of Trump.

In New York magazine, Jonathan Chait offers a classic example of this dangerous liberal reasoning:

"It is impossible to know what course American democracy will take under Trump’s presidency. The fears of authoritarianism may prove overblown, and Trump may govern like a normal Republican."

This assumes there is something called a “normal Republican,” and that Trump is something else. But Trump won more votes than any Republican presidential candidate in history. Research shows that authoritarian attitudes have increased among the American public over the last 20 years, especially among Republicans. The Republican Party is the country’s largest white identity organization: It mobilizes anti-black and anti-brown animus for political gain. Since at least the 1960s, conservatism and racism have been functionally identical in this country. Trump leveraged those forces to maximum effect in order to defeat Hillary Clinton and win the White House.

In short, Donald Trump is a normal Republican. Pretending otherwise is what led the chattering classes to underestimate Trump’s appeal to the angry, authoritarian-minded white voters who elected him.

Donald Trump is a fascist. It’s not an easy thing to say. Own those words. Acknowledge the truth of the situation that America (and the world) now faces.

What to do now?

Protest marches are great. Now plan for what comes after the cathartic release.

Run for office on the local and state level. Practice political consumerism: Refuse to spend money at stores, banks, and other businesses that work with Trump, his administration or his enterprises. Target Republican officials with phone calls and emails. Let them know that if they support Trump there will be negative consequences at the ballot box.

Borrow from the obstructionist strategy that Republicans used against Barack Obama. Turn the metaphorical map upside down and practice political Aikido.

Learn from those groups and individuals who have been actively fighting fascism. Donald Trump and his movement are not normal. Do not make the mistake of treating them like they are. There is no room for negotiation or compromise.

America is your country. Donald Trump and his supporters represent the tyranny of minority opinion. Consequently, they are the worst example of the will, spirit and character of the American people.

Now is the time to reclaim the United States’ fundamental character before the world, and recapture the most noble sense of American exceptionalism. Shouting “Not in my name!” is a fine beginning, but not an ending. Resistance to Donald Trump and everything he represents must be the new normal. Anything less is not acceptable.


Chauncey DeVega is a politics staff writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.