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Hometown: Green Mountains
Home country: US
Member since: Tue Feb 5, 2013, 03:27 PM
Number of posts: 11,849

Journal Archives

Big lies may have big consequences : Narain Batra


I find his analysis particularly acute. We can only fight lies with truth - not by trying to control the lies.

Donald Trump and Liz Cheney are both the offspring of American democracy and historically it has always been a struggle between such people. In closed authoritarian societies, if a lie is repeated 10 times, as the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels asserted, it will become believable — but not for long, as the postwar Germans discovered. And as My Pillow guy Mike Lindell, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others too would discover soon.

Nobody has a monopoly on truth; therefore, the First Amendment, in essence, says: Speak up fearlessly so that truth might emerge.

In the marketplace of ideas, when robust and uninhibited discussion about public issues leads to inaccurate information or misinformation, the remedy is not censorship or suppression of the information, however outrageous it may be.

Relentless fight against falsehood is the only way, but it requires people of tremendous moral courage, time and patience, and financial resources to dig out the truth and punish the liar.

The Jan. 6 Committee, the bipartisan select committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, is an exemplar of the collective moral courage for the truth to be established, regardless of the consequences, so that American democracy renews itself as it did after the Watergate, which brought down Richard Nixon.

Donald Trump and Liz Cheney are both the offspring of American democracy and historically it has always been a struggle between such people. In closed authoritarian societies, if a lie is repeated 10 times, as the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels asserted, it will become believable — but not for long, as the postwar Germans discovered. And as My Pillow guy Mike Lindell, Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others too would discover soon.

At the core of American democracy is a dynamic system of fundamental rights that empowers the individual, limits the government, and decentralizes and distributes power. But no fundamental right is absolute because your right to free speech might interfere with someone’s right to a fair trial, invade someone’s privacy and cause emotional harm, or ruin someone’s business reputation. If the First Amendment’s broad tolerance for all kinds and shades of speech leads to defamation, damage to one’s reputation, threat to security or emotional hurt, the price can be very high.

The conspiracy theorist and Infowars host Alex Jones found out that the First Amendment does not protect the reckless disregard of truth, deliberately telling lies, or what the Supreme Court called “actual malice.” The jury asked Alex Jones to pay $965 million in damages to the Sandy Hook Elementary School families for telling lies about the shooting that killed 20 first-graders and six educators on Dec. 14, 2012. It took about a decade for justice to be done, but that’s how the justice system in a democracy works. Libel is a strong antidote against reckless liars taking shelter under the First Amendment umbrella.

Alex Jones is a small fry compared to a most politically powerful global media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, whose Fox News not only allowed the spread of the Big Lie about the 2020 presidential election; but also accused Dominion Voting Systems of using a faulty algorithm that made it possible for voter fraud to occur and steal the election from Donald Trump.

Moreover, Fox News hosts said without any evidence that the Dominion Systems, the Toronto election technology company, was a cover for the Venezuelan communist government of late Hugo Chavez.

In an interview with Anderson Cooper on CBS “60 Minutes,” Dominion Systems’ John Poulos said the Fox News’ deliberate and reckless falsehood has not only damaged the company’s reputation, but also: "People have been put into danger. Their families have been put into danger. Their lives have been upended and all because of lies. It was a very clear calculation that they knew they were lies. And they were repeating them and endorsing them."

Dominion’s $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News and its parent company, Fox Corp., is rather complicated because it raises the question of the freedom of the press under the First Amendment, and the media’s right to report news, especially about a prominent politician’s allegations about electoral machine-enabled voter fraud.

Then-President Donald Trump’s tweets were always a source of media news regardless of their authenticity. Neither Fox News nor any other media company could have ignored it when, for example, Trump tweeted, "We have a company that's very suspect. Its name is Dominion. With the turn of a dial or the change of a chip, you could press a button for Trump and the vote goes to Biden. What kind of a system is this?”

Good journalism is based on: Trust but verify, and then report. Fox News should have known.

Dominion’s case argues that Fox News hosts knew the allegations against the company were baseless; nonetheless, they recklessly and knowingly went on repeating them and also allowed their invited guest speakers to do so. Moreover, according to the case, they wouldn’t have done it without the knowledge of Fox Co. chairman Rupert Murdoch and CEO Lachlan Murdoch. Their irresponsible actions not only caused tremendous harm to the company’s reputation, the suit alleges, but they also jeopardized the safety of their employees.

When the case goes to trial, the crucial question before the jury will be: Did Fox Corp.’s top executives know that the voter fraud allegations against the Dominion Voting Systems Corp. were false, but nevertheless allowed Fox News hosts and guests to keep broadcasting the lie?

More importantly, what role did major news media organizations such as Fox Corp. play in the 2020 presidential elections in diminishing voters’ trust in the electoral system and, consequently, people's faith in democracy?

U.S.A. the Envy of World After Ten Billion Dollars in Campaign Ads Changes Almost Nothing


Borowitz, people.

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA (The Borowitz Report)—The United States of America has become the envy of the world after a ten-billion-dollar expenditure on political advertising changed virtually nothing.

People around the globe marvelled at a democracy so robust it could withstand an outlay of cash greater than the gross domestic product of nations such as Tajikistan, Montenegro, and Somalia.

“In my country, I would worry that spending ten billion dollars on campaign ads would result in the entire government being ousted,” a resident of Tajikistan said. “But America is such a great nation that you can spend that much and the results are barely detectable.”

“When you imagine what you could do with ten billion dollars, you immediately think of building new roads or schools,” a citizen of Montenegro said. “But America’s roads and schools must be in excellent shape, if they can afford to spend ten billion dollars on elections instead.”

“Ten billion dollars could pay for a lot of solar panels, wind farms, and other measures to mitigate climate change,” a resident of Somalia said. “Thank heavens Americans realized that political advertising is the thing that makes them No. 1 in the world and decided to spend it on that.”

Shankar Vendantam (Hidden Brain): You don't actually know what your future self wants


Excellent TED presentation. I'd post in the video forum but my prior attempts don't work there.

All about understanding ourselves as we age and understanding that we (usually) won't know who we'll be in 10 or 20 or 30 years.

Danziger: Then and Now

Mistakenly cross-posted in Video & Multimedia. No harm, no foul?

Danziger: Then and Now

US Republican politicians increasingly spread news on social media from untrustworthy sources

New research shows US Republican politicians increasingly spread news on social media from untrustworthy sourceshttps://phys.org/news/2022-09-republican-politicians-increasingly-news-social.html

A study analyzing millions of tweets has revealed that Republican members of the U.S. Congress are increasingly circulating news from dubious sources, compared to their European counterparts.

The research, published in PNAS Nexus and led by the Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) in Austria and the University of Bristol in the UK, showed Republican Congress members are sharing more links to websites classified as "untrustworthy."

It is widely acknowledged that what politicians share on social media helps shape public perceptions and views. The findings are especially pertinent, with the U.S. midterm elections coming up in November and much of the campaigning taking place on social media platforms.

The findings showed that members of the Republican Party in particular shared significantly more links to websites classified as "untrustworthy" over the years. Compared to the period 2016 to 2018, the number of links to untrustworthy websites has doubled over the past two years.

Dr. Lasser said, "In general, members of parties in the right half of the political spectrum in all countries studied share more of these links—but only Republicans show this significant increase. In the other countries, the share remains stable."

Specifically, the percentage of links to untrustworthy websites posted by Republicans more than doubled between 2016 to 2018 and 2020 to 2022, from 2.4% to 5.5%.

Overall, Republican members of Congress post about nine times as many such links as Democratic members of Congress, for whom only 0.4% of the links contained in tweets point to untrustworthy sites.

Humor (and a lot of intelligent discussion from EmptyWheel)


quickbread says:

Five boxes of documents of obstruction. Banker boxes, right? When you put it that way, Marcy, that’s just a mind-boggling amount of both obstruction and documentation of it. I wonder if it’s not only material he moved from the WH in January 2021 but also paperwork he’d been stashing in FL for “safekeeping”/nefarious use throughout his term.

punaise says:

Six drops of essence of terror…
Five boxes of sinister docs…
When the searching’s done, may I lick the subpoena?
Of course, aha!, of course.

Peterr says:

Three boxes of Russiagate, from the FBI,
Seven from the Generals in their halls of stone,
Nine from secret spies doomed to die,
All for the Orange Lord on his orange throne
At his Mar-a-Lago, where the Shadows lie.
One box to rule them all, One box to find them,
One box to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them,
At his Mar-a-Lago, where the Shadows lie

emptywheel says:

Jeebus I love this place.

John Lehman says:

“ Round about the cauldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.
Toad, that under cold stone
Days and nights hast thirty one
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot.

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

The Ballad of Downward Mobility :: The Atlantic

Archived: https://archive.ph/qQXIL

I didn’t quit on the American dream; it quit on me—and my generation. Now we need a different idea of the good life.
By Rich Cohen

In the summers of my youth, the rooms were always air-conditioned. This machine-cooled air came not from window units, which were a relic of the cities, but from central systems that chilled every inch of living space to an Alaskan 67 degrees. The air seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere. It had no warm spots, no eddies, no pockets of humidity. It was a sea of comfort that ran from the threshold of the front door—passing from yard to house was like moving between seasons—to the peak of the finished attic. Now here I am, in the late summer of 2022, eons away from my 1970s and ’80s suburban childhood, in a world beset by heat waves, droughts, wars, and disasters, sitting before a Walgreens fan, bathed in sweat and meditating on the wealth of nations and the fate of the American dream. And the realization comes that I am just one of the millions of members of Generation X who, looking into the sun of the thing, must admit that we are in fact downwardly mobile, the first American generation that will perform worse economically than their parents.

When your median Baby Boomer was 50, around the turn of the millennium, he earned roughly $30,000 a year. I use the male pronoun because the gender-wage gap among Boomers was even wider then than it is today. Currently, a 50-year-old with the same education, family background, intelligence, good luck and bad, will earn slightly more in inflation-adjusted terms (the youngest Boomers are now nearing their 60s). Things have improved—not enough, gap-wise, for women and people of color—but overall the picture still looks like stagnation, or worse. According to the Pew Research Center, “the typical Gen Xer has just over $13,000 in wealth (defined as total assets minus total debts), compared with the $18,000 held by a typical Gen Xer’s parents when they were the same ages.” Or, as The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson just described the change in life chances for a child born in the ’80s compared to one born in 1940, “In 40 years, the American dream went from being a widespread reality to essentially a coin toss.”

It’s bad even before you consider the dragon at the door: debt. Our grandparents had practically none, our parents had little, but it can seem, to those born between 1965 and 1985 (the precise parameters given for Gen X vary), that debt is the only thing we’ll ever really call our own. Negative numbers. Swampland on the wrong side of zero.

Republicans Worry That Midterm Voters Might Believe Women Deserve Rights :: Borowitz


In the aftermath of the decisive Democratic win in New York’s special congressional election on Tuesday, Republican leaders are suddenly concerned that midterm voters might believe that women deserve rights.

The Democrat Pat Ryan’s thumping win in Tuesday’s election has made Republicans wonder, in the words of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, “Is this thing of women having rights going to be a problem for us in the fall?”

“You look at the results in the Ryan election, and it sure seems like a lot of people thought women should be considered human,” McCarthy said. “The question is: is this a part of something bigger or just kind of a onetime fluke?”

McCarthy said that he hopes midterm voters will “think big picture” and consider other issues besides whether women should have rights.

“With our emphasis on environmental deregulation, book banning, and easier access to guns, the Republicans have created a big tent,” he said. “It would be a shame to see that wrecked by an obscure special-interest group like women.”

Meet Becca Balint, the first woman Vermont could send to Congress -- ever :: WaPo


Archived: https://archive.ph/PyGT5

For the last few weeks on the campaign trail, first-time U.S. congressional candidate Becca Balint has been driving around Vermont in her bright yellow Honda Fit, singing Alicia Keys at the top of her lungs. She has gravitated toward the song “Underdog,” in particular.

The Keys ballad is both an anthem and a rallying cry, urging the forgotten and downtrodden to chase their dreams. In the song, Balint sees the story of her historic campaign.

“When we started, we were the underdog by far. People just felt like there was no way I was going to be able to overcome the name recognition gap,” Balint said.

Last week, Balint, a Vermont state senator who also serves as the state’s Senate president pro tempore, handily defeated Lt. Gov. Molly Gray in the Democratic primary for Vermont’s lone U.S. House seat. The victory brought Balint one step closer to making history: If elected, she will be the first woman to represent the state in Congress, as well as the first out queer person to do so.
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