Monday, December 5, 2016

Fake news, Post-truth and Lies

by Madeleine Kando

 From very early on in life, we are told that lying is bad and telling the truth is good. These values are imprinted in our genes and they are one of the pillars on which any society is founded, since without truth, there can be no trust and without trust we would soon all be at each other’s throat.

But the past year has shown that the truth is no longer what motivates a large segment of Americans to make political, social or even personal decisions. What Donald Trump has shown is that the truth exists to be manipulated. He has taken the idea that the truth is relative and not absolute to a whole new level.

Plato and Aristotle already argued about this a long time ago. Plato pointed out that relative truth is logically unsound, since it refutes itself. If your truth is different from mine, then I can say that my truth is true and yours is false. Equally, you can say that my truth is false and yours is true, which means that neither one is real. (See: Plato's Critique of Cultural Moral Relativism). Sounds familiar? Does Fox News report the true news or is it the New York Times? No wonder we no longer trust the news.


Fact-checking

Who would have thought that the 'information age' would morph into a 'misinformation age', where we have to fact-check everything we read or view. An entire ‘truth detective’ industry has emerged comprised of fact checking sites like FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.com, as well as on-line open source investigation organizations such as Bellingcat. For instance, Bellingcat’s investigation showed that a Buk ‘brought in from the territory of the Russian Federation’ launched the missile that shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 in 2004 in which 298 people died. Russia tried to cover up the facts of course. (See: Revelations and Confirmations from the MH17 JIT Press Conference).


Another development is the rise of Citizen Journalism or Guerilla Journalism, described by Wikipedia as "When the people formerly known as the audience employ the press tools they have in their possession to inform one another.” In other words, because there is so much toxic information out there, we need these new efforts to make up for the loss of truth. Read more...

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Trump's Reich - Part Two: The Consequences



This is the second part of my post-mortem of Trump’s presidential victory:

 As I concluded my previous article, things are likely to change for the worse, MUCH worse. Over the past couple of days, Donald Trump, the media and even president Obama have begun the obligatory “normalization” process. We already hear the kumbaya clich├ęs, “we are all Americans, we are all on the same team” (Obama), “we owe gratitude and respect to Hillary Clinton, who put up a valiant fight,” (Trump), etc. Don’t be misled by Trump’s new mask. The people now marching in the streets of America are not buying it, and neither should you. The Donald is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

As to those who are reluctant to forget and forgive (like me), they tend to predict a dark future, big fighting ahead, but they are short on specifics.

So let me help out here, and be a bit more PRECISE about the pain to come.

What are some of the likely specific consequences of Trump’s ill-gotten victory?

Nothing happens immediately at the macro level. It will be a while before things start to change. But you are in for some very major changes, changes very much for the worse: Read more...

Friday, November 11, 2016

Trump's Reich - Part One



Mandate schmandate! Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, as has happened five times before to a candidate who was then robbed of the presidency which he earned (e.g. Gore, 2000). And I believe that in every instance the presidency was stolen from the Democrats.

The national polls - now universally loathed - were not far off. As Nate Silver emphasized over and over again, it’s at the state level that polling was problematic. His last overall prediction (Nov. 8) had Clinton at 48.5% of the national total and Trump at 44.9%. After the California votes have been counted, Clinton may have a million more votes than Trump, so the Five ThirtyEight numbers will be well within the typical statistical error range.

Trump is Right: The system is Rigged. America is not a Democracy: Once again the winner was robbed, the presidency was stolen. The electoral college is an 18th century anachronism that should be abolished. Doesn’t democracy mean one (wo)man = one vote? Why does my vote count for a small fraction of that of someone in Nevada just because I live in California? There have been many undemocratic rules throughout history. For example the three-fifths compromise which counted a black man as worth three fifths of a white man, the poll tax, and many other income requirements for voting.
Read more...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Canvassing for Hillary

By Madeleine Kando

I wrote this story right before our country went dark, before Trump won the elections. It seems eons ago, at a time when life still seemed pretty good in the USA. Now, I am in mourning and like millions of Americans, I am afraid for the future of this country. Still, I am grateful for the privilege of having canvassed for one of the most admirable women in American history. This story is a tribute to Hillary Rodham Clinton and the effort, stamina and courage she has shown. I only wish I could have done more.

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Every morning I sleep walk to my computer to check the polls to see where the elections stand. Those red and blue lines on the polling site 'Fivethirtyeight' have become a daily fix, taking precedence over my morning coffee or even taking a leak before I start my day.

It has become a source of enormous stress. Like the prisoner checking off the days on the wall of his cell with a piece of chalk, I have practically stopped thinking about anything else. I am neglecting my cat and my husband, I don't clean the house and cooking dinner seems like such a trivial thing these days. My OCD personality has been given free reign and it is creating havoc in my life. Read more...

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Letter to my Daughters



Dear Leah and Dani:

This is in response to Leah’s text about Hillary Clinton’s plummeting polls. It’s too hard to text an elaborate message on the tiny iPhone, so I send this by e-mail:

Like you, Leah, I have become extremely agitated about this election. Maybe more than you. I need to work hard at not going nuts over this.

I have been tracking the numbers, for instance on Nate Silver’s Five Thirty Eight site. When one is retired, one has time to do such things.

I have extrapolated Hillary’s average daily decline over the past couple of days: by November 8, she will have lost the election.

So we have to seriously consider that America will have elected a severely unbalanced, politically utterly ignorant “fascistoid” aberrant personality, who has already announced an agenda which will be utterly repressive, unjust, militaristic and plutocratic, which will do NOTHING for the suffering blue collar workers who overwhelmingly vote for him.

We will then have to somehow adjust to an America which, for the first time in its history, is governed by someone with clear fascist characteristics.
Read more...

Monday, October 31, 2016

Should Hillary make an Impassioned Plea?



 This is our twentieth piece about the Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump race - just this year alone! I apologize for this, and obviously our fixation must come to an end in about a week (half of these pieces were about each of the two candidates, and roughly half were written by me and half by Madeleine).

The “Comey letter” has revived the persecution of Hillary Clinton for the way she has handled her e-mail. This is an unbelievable abuse of power by the FBI chief, whose attack is pure innuendo, an attack which says: “You MAY be guilty of something, but I cannot tell you what it is. Good luck defending yourself.” And to do this 11 days before the election is obviously meant to throw the election to the Republicans. It violates several laws and regulations, including the “60 days rule.” The timing is obviously calculated to inflict maximum damage, as Comey could have written the exact same letter six weeks earlier. The election is rigged indeed, although not the way Trump has alleged. This is a variation on what happened in 2000, when Florida’s Republican secretary of state Katherine Harris stole the presidency from Al Gore and gave it to George W. Bush.
Read more...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

The Facts about the Newly discovered Emails

by Madeleine Kando

The Players

Anthony Weiner, former congressman
Huma Abedin, personal aide to Hillary Clinton
FBI director James Comey.

(Sorry Donald, Hillary Clinton doesn't appear in this play).

The Facts

• On October 28, FBI director James Comey sends a letter to Republican legislators stating that ‘potential new evidence was discovered related to Hillary Clinton’s handling of her personal email when she was Secretary of State.’

• None of these new emails were to or from Clinton and has virtually nothing to do with any actions taken by Clinton. They were not withheld during the investigation, nor suggest she did anything illegal. Read more...