Sunday, November 20, 2016


The Oxford Dictionary chooses a "Word of the Year" every year, and this year it's "post-truth." When I first heard this I thought there must be something better. Post-truth isn't a word you hear very often, it isn't like some hipster slang that comes in and takes over the conversation. It's not cool new technology. You can argue that hyphenated words are not actually words.

But it's growing on me.

We have seen post-truth here in the comments at Vigilance blog for a long time. We have had right-wing trolls who quote things from reputable sources, but change a few words to give it the opposite meaning. This has been going on a long time, they will edit things so that they mean the exact opposite of what the original writer said. You wouldn't know if you didn't Google for the quote, find its source, and read the original yourself, and mostly people don't bother to do that. So if they say some scientist says something, most people who read the comments think that's what the scientist said. Even in our little microcosm we have learned that people will do that. They seem to consider it a valid form of argument.

And as we combed through the day-to-day events of the culture wars, you could see the same thing happening all around. Conservatives would take news stories and twist them to say whatever they wanted them to say. Some of it is just plain head-scratching incredible.

Did you ever look at Conservapedia? This is the conservative version of Wikipedia. They call themselves a "Wiki encyclopaedia with articles written from a Christian fundamentalist viewpoint." So for instance, it has an entry called "Obama's Religion." It starts like this:
Public opinion polls show that despite liberal denial, one in five Americans recognizes that Barack Hussein Obama is a Muslim.[2][3] While campaigning for president in 2008, Obama made a self-serving claim to be a Christian in an interview he gave to Christianity Today magazine.[4] Of course, what politicians claim while campaigning for an election, and what the truth is, are often two different things.

Real historians look at all the evidence, not merely what a politician campaigning for office says. The following is a list of evidence indicating that Obama is a Muslim...
Then it goes into a bulleted list of "clues" that Obama is a Muslim.

Everything at Conservapedia is like that. There is no pretense, everything is just pure fiction.

We have always heard terms like "postmodernism" and "deconstruction," terms having to do with literature and the reader's relationship to a text. Outside the literary community these kinds of terms are usually used wrong, and nobody really believes that a text means whatever meaning you assign to it. In ordinary life people believe that words do refer to something, and that sentences have meaning that is grounded in the real world. It may be an illusion but we don't care, if we say something to somebody we try to tell the truth and hope the other person understands it as we mean it.

Actually I have attended and given talks at conferences on semiotics, I have read Peirce, I am cool with the complexity of linking symbols to grounded realities. These are not concepts that are beyond my understanding, but I would have thought that postmodern deconstruction would have come into our society through some drum-circle, hummus-nibbling intellectuals. Guys with man-buns and beards, women with hairy legs, distorting the truth in creative ways for their own ironic amusement. But no, it hasn't worked that way.

It turns out conservatism is a term that refers to a community of people who have divorced semantic reference from physical reality. Conservatism is a bundle of beliefs that are internally consistent to some extent within their self-referential semantic system, but the beliefs do not point out to the real world that all of us can observe. Utterances only point to each other. So, for instance, no one who looks at the facts would conclude that Obama is a Muslim. He isn't a Muslim in the real world, if you still believe in that. But because that would be bad -- because some terrorists are Muslim and so all Muslims are terrorists, and also they are weird and speak a different language and dress different from us -- and because Obama does not accept the conservative world-view and so is an enemy, it is consistent with conservative beliefs for him to be a Muslim. It really doesn't matter if he worships Allah or not, I mean really, they don't care if he reads the Koran or prays five times a day to Mecca. If he doesn't do those things then he might be a "secret" Muslim or a hypocrite or some other bad thing. It does not disprove the statement, it only requires some other made-up details to be provided to make it all fit together. And so a system, a schema, is created. If something doesn't fit it is because the person -- Obama in this case -- is lying or being a hypocrite. If there is a gap in the logic then facts can be invented to fill it. That is where fake news comes in, it provides details that support fictional belief systems.

I would have thought this kind of "postmodern" talk was for people who go to art galleries or something. You know, paintings of white on a white background, where you stand there and ponder your existence and it is really just stupid. Music that is silence, or random noise. Things that make you go aaahhh, if you don't have a life. It never occurred to me that the guy down the street in the gimme cap, with the decal on his F-150 of Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes peeing on a Chevy logo, would be the one who was deconstructing texts. But that's how it's turned out. That is conservatism for you.

So we are post-truth. It turns out there is a cognitive thrill when an imagined fact fits into place with existing beliefs, there is a shot of cognitive consonance that feels nearly as good as discovering real facts. And for some people, that consonance buzz is just as satisfying at the buzz of figuring out something for real. And it turns out that if you keep filling in with imagined facts, eventually the schema gets overloaded with falsehoods, and at some point it just doesn't matter any more. Obama is a Muslim, Hillary killed Vince Foster, the thrill of a newly constructed fact clicking into place is good enough. Post-truth.

In this past election cycle we had something called "fact-checking." Did we ever have that before? Before the election, Daniel Dale at Politico said "What we’re experiencing from Trump is a daily avalanche of wrongness." He began trying to tally up Trump's lies -- "or as close to a daily tally as I can produce while also sleeping occasionally."
The fewest inaccuracies I’ve heard in any day is four. The most is 25. (Twenty-five!) That doesn’t include the first two debates, at which I counted 34 and 33, respectively. Over the course of 33 days, I counted a total of 253 (including some that repeat). Confessions of a Trump Fact-Checker
Nobody cared. Trump could say anything and it didn't matter. I mean, it really didn't matter. Lying is not bad, it is good, Trump's lies are an emblem of conservatism, they are how conservatives recognize that he is one of them for real -- it's not "small government" or Christian ethics or lower taxes or traditional values, obviously. Telling the truth is something wimpy that liberals worry about. It doesn't matter if a fact is "true" or not, as long as it is inspiring, or as long as it fits in with the other untrue facts.

I would say that the recent campaign, and now the upcoming presidency, are about post-truth. Reality TV has replaced reality. This is what people like about Donald Trump, he is not a slave to mere facts. If he doesn't like the world as it is he makes up a different one. Before the election, David Remnick, in the New Yorker wrote:
Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for President, does not so much struggle with the truth as strangle it altogether. He lies to avoid. He lies to inflame. He lies to promote and to preen. Sometimes he seems to lie just for the hell of it. He traffics in conspiracy theories that he cannot possibly believe and in grotesque promises that he cannot possibly fulfill. When found out, he changes the subject—or lies larger. Introducing a New Series: Trump and the Truth
Everybody knew this. Some of us thought of this tendency to lie as deplorable, but a good proportion of the US voting population loved Trump's post-truth reality. It liberated them from the dreary constraints of the real world. And now we are in for four years of it. Will truth survive conservatism? I guess we are going to do the experiment.


Anonymous Simple truth said...

Your gross TRUE Nazi story o' the day

There are a lot of them. This one caught Digby's eye:

Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch NYC Memorial Park Defaced With Swastikas, Pro-Donald Trump Graffiti

The words "Go Trump" were spraypainted on the park's grounds in Brooklyn Heights.

Since Donald Trump's election last week, there has been an uptick in the amount of "biased-based attacks" across the nation. One of the latest victims is the the New York City memorial park in honor of the late Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch.

The Adam Yauch Park in Brooklyn Heights was defaced with graffiti of swastikas and the words "Go Trump" on Friday (Nov. 18). Yauch, like the rest of his Beastie Boys bandmates, was Jewish.

This anti-Semitic stuff is happening all over the country. The white nationalist "alt-right" is neo-Nazi. But we knew that. Their leader is going to be in the White House on January 20th.

November 20, 2016 1:44 PM  
Anonymous Stand Up for the Montgomery Way said...

"Hundreds gathered in downtown Silver Spring on Sunday at a rally designed to bolster spirits and remind people that Maryland’s largest county remains a place that values diversity, inclusion and respect for all.

Dubbed “Stand Up for the Montgomery Way,” the rally came as county officials sought to calm a community roiled by one of the most divisive elections in U.S. history.

Since Election Day, students unhappy with the election of Donald Trump as president have staged protests, and several churches have been vandalized with racist graffiti. Officials said Sunday that there has been a spike in hate crimes in recent days.

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and other speakers, including Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who was recently elected to the U.S. Senate, and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez were flanked by dozens of religious leaders.

All sought to assure the crowd that the values the county residents have long embraced will not change with the election. They also sought to quell fears that people would be targeted because of their religion, immigration status or race.

“We are a county that welcomes all people and treats people with dignity and respect,” Leggett said.

Montgomery Police Chief Tom Manger told the crowd that his officers had no interest in a person’s immigration status. Rather, his department goal is to keep all residents safe. That message was echoed by Montgomery County schools chief Jack R. Smith, who was also at the rally..."

Continues at:

See also:

"Our County Executive asked the faith community for leadership and we delivered with hundreds of people and leaders from 10 faith traditions. Standup for the Montgomery Way was the theme for a rally affirming our values of inclusion and justice for all in the face of division, bigotry and hate..."

November 21, 2016 7:45 AM  
Anonymous Will Why, the real science guy said...

"We have seen post-truth here in the comments at Vigilance blog"

that's true

TTFers subscribe to and repeat all kinds of post-truth

here's a few:

-unborn children are not humans
-Hillary Clinton has done nothing wrong
-the pipeline from Canada will cause some kind of damage that the tens of thousands of miles of pipeline already existing won't
-Obamacare will lower health care costs
-science has proved that same gender sexual preference can't change
-Hillary Clinton won the popular vote
-science has proved that human activity has caused global warming
-homosexual activity is not responsible for the AIDS epidemic in the U.S.
-the process of evolution produced life
-practicing homosexuality in the U.S. is perfectly safe
-making guns illegal will reduce violent crime
-school choice doesn't help poor children and teachers' union do
-global warming didn't cease for about 17 years, starting in 1998
-raising taxes will produce economic growth
-the wealthy don't pay their fair share of tax
-Islamic terrorists aren't Islamic
-homosexual pedophiles aren't homosexual
-we can raise enough money by raising taxes on the wealthy to balance the budget

that's just a few

here's a broader discussion:

November 21, 2016 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Deep Blue said...

Anon, I have followed this blog for a long time, and I don't think you will find anyone saying any of those things here. Maybe it has been suggested that the wealthy don't pay their share of taxes. The rest of these things are what is called "straw men." They are arguments that you are opposed to, but nobody has made them.

November 21, 2016 9:34 AM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Indeed. I have never even once mentioned to anyone here that my fetus was actually Klingon.

Have a nice day,


November 21, 2016 10:01 AM  
Anonymous "-science has proved that human activity has caused global warming" said...

Looks like the man you are so happy is now your Pu--y Predator President Elect might believe what you call a lie is actually "The-Truth, not post-truth.

Donald Trump Now Says Humans Somehow Contribute To Climate Change: “There is some connectivity.”

Donald Trump wants to build a wall – to save his golf course from global warming: On climate change, is Trump uninformed, or playing his voters?

You don't think he was playing any voters, do you??

November 22, 2016 3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, this is pointless but I will make the attempt.

Trump supporters believe that able bodied americans should work for a living ... agree or disagree ?

Trump supporters believe that those who do work for living should not be demonized for choosing to work, agree or disagree ?

Trump supporters believe in a safety net for workers who have lost their jobs, but believe thAt this safety net shoudl be limited to a fixed and small period of time ... like 12 months, agree or disagree ?

Trump supporters don't believe in a negative income tax code, ie, one that allows illegal immigrants who had enrolled kids in our schools illegally to file for 25K total family income or less, which results in a 7K tax refund from the federal govt for coming here illegally, agree or disagree?

Okay, let's just start with those specific issues.

Response ?

November 22, 2016 8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please come try this at my house.

Please vandals, please come try this at my house.

November 22, 2016 8:33 PM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

Yeah, a lot of it is pretty pointless. The whole premise you start from is a simplistic cartoon characterization of "liberals" and no matter how much we try and explain things, you still circle around to the same bogus stating point eventually.

I'll try using short sentences with small words so they are easier to understand.

First though, I am only one person, and I don't presume to speak for all liberals. However, I know many that think similar to the way I do.


I don't think I can make that any simpler. I don't know why you keep insinuating that liberals don't think that.

We also believe that everyone should pay reasonable taxes for things like roads, schools, police, defense, and and a clean environment. Some tax breaks are ok, but multi billion dollar corporations shouldn't be able to find so many loopholes that they pay little or no taxes. They derive the benefits of a safe and educated society in spades, and they should contribute to it.

I DON'T DEMONIZE ANYONE FOR WORKING. Neither do any of the liberals I know.

Priya demonizes you for how you and your colleagues treat LGBT people, not because you are working. She has no sympathy for you tax situation, and quite frankly, neither do I, for several reasons.

Here are some of them:

1. My last job was at an engineering consulting firm, making very good money - enough as a single person to see roughly 50% of my incremental income go to Uncle Sam, Aunty Maryland, and Cousin County. I also know what my company charged for my services, while keeping the rest to do marketing, buy insurance, and pay for people who were not currently on customer contracts.

Care to take a guess at the split between what I got and what the company kept?


Yeah. So when DirectTV, BAE Systems, Current Technologies, Qualcomm, or others signed a check over to my company to pay for the engineering services I performed, I was destined to get as little as 25% of it after taxes. Ouch. It was tempting to go out and work as a lone contractor instead. I swallowed the bullet though and stayed with the company to avoid the hassles of doing my own promotion, and the luxury of more steady employment.

(Continued below).

November 23, 2016 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Looks like the man you are so happy is now your Pu--y Predator President Elect might believe what you call a lie is actually "The-Truth, not post-truth.

Donald Trump Now Says Humans Somehow Contribute To Climate Change: “There is some connectivity.”"

there's a post-truth right there

that I'm "so happy" that Trump is the President-elect

there are some things refreshing about him, and he was preferable to HRC, but I'm not happy that there were no other feasible choices

I've made that clear and so you are lying

as for his switch on climate change, I've told you before that I don't trust any of his policy statements

I think he is comparable to Clinton in that regard

they would both say whatever seems necessary to get elected

he was just better than her at guessing what that is

"Pu--y Predator President Elect"

as for this, you're disgusting

Trump was wrong to speak like this but he has acknowledged that

what about you?

meanwhile, the press has learned nothing from their rebuke from the public that they supposedly serve

some bias examples from the Washington Post, which I'm one of the few remaining subscribers to:

1. day before yesterday, a story about families divided over politics for Thanksgiving and every example was someone whose family won't speak to them because they voted for Clinton

of course, it would easier to find Dems who won't give Repubs the time of day

since such people are much more common

why would Trump supporters be angry?

they won

2. in a story today about his Foundation checking the box on it's 2015 990 from Guidestar that it engaged in self-dealing, the Post "it's not clear that the same form was provided to the IRS"

the implication being that Trump has filed false returns with the IRS

truth is, Guidestar gets the 990s it posts from the IRS

is it really possible that the Post did not know that?

3. in a story today, it claims the white nationalist movement has been in the shadows for years until the election of Trump emboldened them to go mainstream

actually, the only thing that changed is the media coverage, which actually defines what is and isn't in the shadows

the nationalists are a fringe group that the media is currently trying to promote to associate with Trump

their numbers are so small that they're not noteworthy, unless you're trying to create a false narrative

truth is the American left is obsessed with race, Trump isn't

as a matter of FACT, read this:

November 23, 2016 12:35 PM  
Anonymous svelte_brunette said...

2. I know people with real problems, such as these, suffered by just a handful of my trans friends:

Severe childhood physical, emotional, and / or sexual abuse.

Varying degrees of PTSD due to item above. In one person it was described at a severity normally reserved for combat veterans.

Learning disabilities including dyslexia, dycalculia, ADD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder, severe reading comprehension problems.

Physical birth defects involving the legs, venous system, and spinal column.

Job, home, and spouse loss due to coming out as trans.

Spouse claims in court that you are mentally ill and shouldn't be allowed visitation right for your kids because you are trans.

Inability to get a job due to trans history.

Harassment by cops and civilians with guns.

Harassment by customers at work without the ability to respond - otherwise you will like loose your job.

Harassment by people in cars trying to run them over (while walking) or shove them off the road while driving.

Working multiple low-paying, part time jobs, and still not having enough decent food to eat.

Going to school while working low paying jobs, trying to better yourself, and then having your school go out of business because it was essentially a student loan fraud scheme perpetrated by greedy businessmen, and was shut down.

Getting stuck with student loans without the degeee you were studying for, and little chance of restarting your classwork all over again at another school, or paying off student loans with existing income stream, and no chance to recover using bankruptcy like a corporation or Donald Trump did.

The list above covers the issues faced by about half-a-dozen of my trans friends, currently, or in the past. Unfortunately, a couple of folks are dealing with multiple items above, not just one, or even two.

Fortunately, not all of my trans friends have been so unlucky, and have managed to get through life with far fewer problems to deals with, so the above should not be assumed to be "typical" for the average trans person.

The average trans person has plenty of problems just dealing with the American religious society, and its toxic spillover into secular society as it is. But that's a whole 'nother topic.

Given that these are the problems that some of my trans friends are facing, and you and your friends have spent 8 years here denigrating trans people, conflating them with paedophiles, insisting we are mentally ill, and calling us petulant names like a bunch of spastic 6th graders, you may find it hard to believe, but i have absolutely no sympathy for your little tax problem.

I. Just. Don't.

You shouldn't waste time thinking that I ever will. FYI, Priya is probably a lost cause for your sympathies too. Just bein' honest.

3. TANF has a 60 month federal limit, with some extensions for hardships. Individual states can extend (or not) limits as they choose.

I've had to witness a lot of my friends lose their jobs thanks to the abusive attitudes the public has towards trans people. Attitudes that the religious right has gone out of their way to create, and at times even collected money for to further their anti-trans cause.

I have only seen one of these people get some food stamps for a short period of time. The rest were SOL. One was lucky enough to get into a homeless shelter for a little while.

From what I can see, the problem isn't people not wanting to work, but not being able to get hired. Or when they do get hired, it is not enough to live on.

This is the week of that great American holiday of Thanksgiving. Perhaps it is time we stop and think really, really hard about all the things we have to be thankful for.

Don't drink too much eggnog,


November 23, 2016 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Proud to call Silver Spring home said...

A church was defaced with ‘Trump Nation, Whites Only.’ The community had a different message.

"Five days after the election, Kristin Mink, a 32-year-old middle school teacher, desperate to channel her anxiety to something positive created a Facebook group she called, “What Now? (Moving Forward).”

“I was so frozen afterward, and I felt like I was on the verge of tears all the time, it was such a feeling of hopelessness and impotence, I realized I needed to be doing something,” Mink said. “I needed to feel like I could take an action every time that feeling came over me. I wanted to create a place where other people who felt the same way could come together.”

What Mink didn’t expect was an incident in her own backyard.

On Nov. 14, the day after she created her call-to-action social media page, she learned that a church in Silver Spring, the town where she was born and raised and was now raising her 8-month-old son, had been the target of a hate crime. Outside the church, on the back of a banner in Spanish, and on the brick exterior of the building was sprawled the same message: “Trump Nation. Whites Only.”

The Rev. Robert Harvey, who discovered the vandalism when he opened the church for Sunday services, doesn’t know why they were targeted. Maybe it was because of the non-English sign advertising their Spanish-language church service. Or, even worse, because the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour is majority immigrant, with congregants from 50 different countries.

He felt scared. He never thought it would happen there. But he assured his congregants that day they’d stand united no matter what.

Then, two days later, when Harvey was leaving for the night, he noticed a new banner had materialized in the church yard. It was bigger than the old one and visible from the highway. It held a very different message than the one left before: “Silver Spring Loves and Welcomes Immigrants!”

Harvey calls it their miracle banner.

Later he found out that Mink had mobilized her new social network, and within a day they’d collected the funds to rush-order the new banner. Others in the community made signs and wrote notes to leave outside the church. When Mink went that Tuesday to hang it, she saw others had come before her, writing hopeful messages in chalk on the ground and delivering flowers and handmade notes. One child’s drawing had hand prints in different colors and the child had written in crayon, “Happy you are our neighbors.”...

November 24, 2016 8:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Donald Trump's war on LGBTQ people has already begun

"Remember sweet, sweet July, when Donald Trump promised the Republican National Convention that he would do everything in his power to "protect LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a foreign ideology?"

Well, he hasn't even taken the oath of office and he's already broken that promise.

This morning [Nov. 11, 2016], Donald Trump announced that former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell would be heading his domestic transition team. Blackwell, who once compared LGBTQ people to animals, is a Senior Fellow at the Family Research Council, a hate group according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Compared to his hate speech against Muslims, Mexican immigrants and women, Trump's rhetoric against LGBTQ Americans was relatively tame during his campaign for the presidency.

His policy-related promises, of course, told a different story — Trump pledged to support the First Amendment Defense Act, which would allow businesses and healthcare organizations to legally discriminate against LGBTQ folks. He supports HB2, North Carolina's infamous law that prevents trans people from using the bathroom of their choice. And he appointed Mike Pence to be his vice president, the governor best known for his plan to defund AIDS research and support conversion therapy, a dangerous practice since denounced by the American Medical Association. Not to mention Pence's support of Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which also would have allowed legal discrimination against LGBT folks before public outcry necessitated its revision.

So it shouldn't come as any surprise that the candidate who once waved a rainbow pride flag upside down appointed Blackwell, a man who has reportedly blamed mass shootings on "the crumbling moral foundations of our country" and "the attack on natural marriage and the family."

When he was campaigning against same-sex marriage in Ohio in 2004, Blackwell compared LGBTQ people to farm animals.

"I don't know how many of you have a farming background but I can tell you right now that notion even defies barnyard logic ... the barnyard knows better," he said.

In the past seventy-two hours, LGBTQ community leaders have sounded the alarm about Blackwell and addressed additional pressing concerns about a Donald Trump presidency. While same-sex marriage is the law of the land, Trump's list of possible Supreme Court nominees include those who do not support a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. He could further reverse Obama's decision and yet again ban transgender and LGBTQ people from serving in the military.

While Trump has yet, of course, to enact any anti-queer legislation, Americans have already started to feel the brunt of his electoral college win. On Wednesday evening, Rochester, New York, resident Greg Ventura came home to find that the gay pride flags on his porch had been burned. Ventura had come out as gay earlier this year and believes that the incident was hate-related. Another home close to his had a rainbow flag burned Friday evening as well...

November 25, 2016 7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"please come try this at my house."

Careful what you ask for. You could get a lot worse:

White Man Accused Of Killing Black Teen Who Bumped Into Him: The remorseless killer called his victim a “piece of trash,” police said.

November 25, 2016 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

‘Go back to the cotton farm’: Black child was taunted, beaten on school playground, family says

November 26, 2016 8:25 AM  
Blogger Priya Lynn said...

Truly amazing post Jim! Its one exceptional post after another from you since the con-man got elected. Just tremendous insight and cogent analysis.

November 27, 2016 1:39 PM  
Anonymous ding-dong said...

yeah, Jim now realizes he blew it by dropping the vigilance and dispensing with posts

now he's trying to make up for it with a flurry of activity

but, alas, the working laborer, long ago deserted by the liberal establishment, heard a bell leading them out of the jackass party

and you can't unring a bell

November 28, 2016 9:47 AM  

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