The Trump administration’s “alternative facts”

Because I’ve been under the weather, I haven’t yet posted on the “alternative facts” issue, and I see from the discussion thread that several readers are aware of it.  In brief, Tr*mp and his minions have spent their first three days in office not only dismantling the accomplishments of the last administration, but in waging war against the press (a familiar tactic of totalitarian regimes), and, of course, lying.

The clips and articles below show two things: a). the Tr*mp administration’s willingness to lie when convenient, and then to dissimulate and waffle when caught on those lies; and b). the clashes between the press and the administration that are going to be common within the next four (or, God help us, eight) years.

And it introduces the a new mantra that, I suspect, will be with us for as long as Tr*mp: “alternative facts.” “Alternative facts” are, in fact, lies—the lies that Tr*mp et al. introduce in place of truths reported by the press. As a superannuated scientist, I’m especially offended by this notion: something is (unless it’s ambiguous) either a fact or not a fact, and cannot simultaneously be both—unless you’re Schödinger’s cat.

So, first we have Tr*mp’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, using his initial press conference to attack press reports about the relatively sparse attendance at Tr*mp’s inauguration (compared to Obama’s inaugurations), the BustGate issue, and to tout Tr*mp’s “triumphant” reception at the CIA. Spicer took no questions: not a good start for relations between the media and the government.

In a great piece by Chris Cillizilla, the Washington Post has annotated some of Spicer’s remarks. You’ll see that some of the statements are highlighted in yellow, and if you click on those you’ll see the reporter’s take on Spicer’s remarks. There are many lies, a few truths, and a lot of equivocation. This use of the “Genius” feature to highlight statements is a very nice thing.

Here’s the video: start at 1:18. Then read the piece highlighted above.

And here’s a remarkable exchange (also written up in The Post) between Chuck Todd, reporter and moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” and Kellyanne Conway, officially named as “Counselor” to President Tr*mp.

Todd presses Conway to explain why Spicer was trotted out to lie to the press in his first public appearance (Todd is talking about the attendance at the inauguration). Conway’s non-response is simply a threat to the press: “If we’re going to keep referring to our Press Secretary in those types of terms, we’re going have to rethink our relationship here.” She then brings up the Martin Luther King, Jr. bust, a press error that was immediately corrected. (Spicer, of course, did not correct his lies.)

At 1:32 Todd, exercised at Conway’s refusal to answer his question, presses her to explain why Spicer lied in his first appearance. She responds that “You’re saying it’s a falsehood, and. . . Sean Spicer gave ‘alternative facts.'” Todd gets even more worked up and says, “Alternative facts are not facts. . . they’re falsehoods.” (See Cillizilla’s piece to see how factual the “alternative facts” are.)

Todd’s right. Conway went on equivocating and bringing up other issues: she’s a master at midirection and dissimulating, but she’s not going to win over the press.

This exchange, which took place two days after Trump was inaugurated, is a harbinger of what we’re in for. Thank Ceiling Cat that America has a free press and won’t passively put up with lies. For its part, the Trump administration will do everything it can to mock the press, but it can do little to muzzle it given we have the First Amendment. Let us hope that people like Todd will keep pressing the Administration when they lie and equivocate. It can’t help but come across to at least some of the American people.

Fasten your seat belts; we’re in for a bumpy ride.

Alternative facts, indeed!

16142612_10154208018101179_160785306693094451_n

And, for more grins (we must not lose our sense of humor):

16177467_10154926952683550_8194217291649252038_o

h/t: Hempenstein

140 Comments

  1. Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    Love

  2. Christopher
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Spicer’s avarice manifests as sycophancy, which binds him to defending Trump’s mendaciloquence. Like any good pet, he’s just following the money and keeping Trump happy.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      I don’t think it’s exactly money that shapes Spicer’s position. Poor Spicer has no choice. He was told what to say and Trump was watching to make sure he didn’t deviate. Spicer serves not as an independent believer in the cause, even though he may believe, but as a mere conduit (think toilet paper tube) extending from Trump’s lips.

      • nickswearsky
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:36 am | Permalink

        “He was told what to say and Trump was watching to make sure he didn’t deviate.”

        I don’t believe this. Must he obey a command to lie to the press?

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          Sean Spicer embodies the three qualities Trump prizes in his spokespersons (or any of his other lackeys): He takes order, doesn’t ask questions, and there’s no lie so demeaning he’ll refuse to tell it.

          This is the man, after all, who blamed Melania’s convention speech plagiarism on Twilight Sparkle from “My Little Pony.”

          He should be made never to forget that incident.

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

        So just kind of a “good German” thing. That’s reassuring.

        • Ken Phelps
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:39 am | Permalink

          BTW, that *is* the official fascist haircut he’s sporting, right?

      • eric
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        Of course he has a choice; act reasonably and risk being fired.

        Nobody should be thinking of Conway, Spicer, et al as victims here. In whatever lie or deception the white house engages, they are collaborators.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

      Trump’s mendaciloquence

      There ain’t no “loquence” in Trump’s mendacity. It’s just a cheapjack pile of lies.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

        Loquence is ok if used to mean speech. Latin: loquax for talkative and loquor: to speak. He likes to talk a lot but he isn’t eloquent. He’s anti eloquent or if I mixed Greek with Latin: aloquent.

  3. rickflick
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:53 am | Permalink

    Another example of a bat-shit crazy lie – Conway was asked why Trump still refuses to release his tax returns. Answer, because “nobody cares”.

    According to a ABC News/Washington Post poll from last week:
    Seventy-four percent say he should release his tax records, according to the poll, and further, among Republicans, 49 percent also say the president-elect should release his tax records.

    I wish someone would ask again and point out the poll results. The rather bleak prospects for the future of this presidency have not improved. Not good. Unfair.

  4. Geoff Toscano
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    A free press will destroy Trump, if he doesn’t attempt to mend bridges and to work with them. That’s why the totalitarian states to which you refer begin by tethering the press.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

      The Bush Jr. administration did a pretty good job of subverting the press. The reason they were able to, though, was that a significant portion of the press was complicit in the process. The Trump administration doesn’t have that going for them. At least it looks as if a much smaller portion of the press is sucking up to them.

      • eric
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        You have to give to get. Bush gave access and the ability to ask questions in return for positive coverage. (Also, remember, there was probably a lot of good will after 9/11 and in the early stages of the war in Afghanistan, so it wasn’t just WH subversion, it was the press being charitable to a perceived ‘war time’ President.) Spicer, in contrast, allowed no questions. None. Not even FOX is going to be happy with that.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

        I know a very important part of that was with the Iraq war. The press did fail us on many occasions there, but they were falling over themselves to be granted unprecedented access to the war.
        That is not an excuse, though.

    • Brujo Feo
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      Geoff Toscano: doesn’t your thesis depend on having enough people paying attention to said press to make a difference? The same “enough people” to prevent his election in the first place?

      Perhaps I’m overly cynical, but I think that his followers revel in his lies. It shows how strong he is, that he won’t let mere facts deter him.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

        Trump himself also revels in his lies. For him, “truth” isn’t about “facts”; it’s about power — about his capacity for forcing others to accept that which is demonstrably not so. Accordingly, for Trump, the bigger the Lie, the bigger the “truth.”

        What we must all come to understand about Trump is that he and truth are orthogonal. All representations of fact are, for him, situational. The question for him when he says something isn’t whether what he says reflects reality, but whether those representations aggrandize the Trump brand. Anything that does must be true; that which diminishes him is false by definition.

        This is why Trump clings so steadfastly to his lies. It is also why he is so slow to disassociate himself from anything perceived as pro-Trump — his endorsement by neo-Nazis and the Klan, for instance. Trump will cut such ties only when the stigma attached to them becomes intolerable. Even then the uncoupling comes grudgingly: “You want me to renounce? There, I renounce. Are you happy now? Can I go back to making America great again?”

        • Posted January 23, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

          It’s also why he’ll happily contradict himself if the context changes and any “truths” he had previously asserted become liabilities.

          • Dick Veldkamp
            Posted January 23, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

            Liability = the extent to which you can lie about something?

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 23, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

            Yes, indeed. And it’s why his opinions of others vacillate so wildly from “the greatest” to “the worst” and back again — as with Mitt Romney or Pope Francis or even Barack Obama himself.

            Everything turns on whether the other person is praising or criticizing Trump, or is otherwise advancing or impeding his interests.

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:11 pm | Permalink

          Trump himself also revels in his lies. For him, “truth” isn’t about “facts”; it’s about power — about his capacity for forcing others to accept that which is demonstrably not so. Accordingly, for Trump, the bigger the Lie, the bigger the “truth.”

          What we must all come to understand about Trump is that he and truth are orthogonal. All representations of fact are, for him, situational.

          This reminds me of something I’ve posted before, but it is so appropriate for the power crazed, especially those of the right:

          In a famous October 2004 New York Times article on the Bush administration, journalist Ron Suskind described his encounter with a “senior adviser” to the president: The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now and when we act, we create our own reality.” (Chris Mooney, The Republican War On Science, p. 243)

          • rickflick
            Posted January 24, 2017 at 12:52 am | Permalink

            “…we create our own reality.”

            This fits the Donald perfectly. I’ll keep it in mind going forward. Perhaps his statements will be less of a jolt.

  5. DrBrydon
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    The media needs to take action by not asking people like Conway to speak anymore because they aren’t reliable. If the administration wants to get their side out, they need to meet certain standards. I am not sure what to do about Spicer. I am tempted to say boycott the press conferences, but that could backfire.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      I think it might be better for the press to talk with people like Conway as often as they can.

      • eric
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

        Yeah I agree. In this case, the best way to undermine Trump’s administration seems to be to hand them an open mic.

        • DrBrydon
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

          They’ve had an open mic for twelve months, and it’s only worked in their favor.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:33 am | Permalink

          I agree too. The more they talk, the more they expose themselves.

          There are other things too that are very serious here and aren’t getting a mention. At the CIA, Trump repeated the mantra that the US should have taken Iraq’s oil. He’s once again advocating illegal acts.

          And what about Sean Spicer highlighting the (don’t know if it’s true) “five minute standing ovation” Trump received at the CIA? That’s not even Putin, it’s Stalin or the Kims of North Korea.

          There’s reporting that there was a strong division in the audience at the CIA too. Much of the audience was apparently stony-faced at his comments. The cameras, of course, couldn’t point at the audience at the CIA.

  6. nickswearsky
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    Trump and his sycophants are trying to gaslight the entire country. But I think we have enough of a professional and free press that they cannot get away with it. Alternative facts will not fly. Trump is off to a very bad start from day one.

    • rickflick
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      I wonder if Fox News is still defending Trump and company as they continue to deny reality. Personally, I dare not look.

      • GBJames
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        I suspect is is a mixed bag. I saw that Chris Wallace confronted Reince Priebus about the Trump lies about crowd size.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

          Yes, I saw that too. Wallace really held Preibus’s feet to the fire. Other reporters are doing the same Trump has his sycophants on opinion shows though.

      • nickswearsky
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:38 am | Permalink

        I think you will see who has some semblance of journalistic integrity or human decency. Some among the Fox crew probably do. Now is the time for real journalists to step up and do their job.

        • eric
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:58 am | Permalink

          As I said above, even FOX isn’t going to be happy if the White House refuses to allow questions. They way you get FOX on your side is you give them preference in the Q&A session. Abandoning the Q&A altogether doesn’t give them squat.

          I also wonder if FOX is feeling a bit of a pinch with Megyn Kelly leaving. They may be afraid that if they don’t allow some investigative reporting by their better conservative reporters, those reporters may just get frustrated and leave. Kelly showed that that was a viable option, and that may have FOX running a bit scared.

        • ToddP
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

          This is where I truly feel the loss of Gwen Ifill. Her excellent journalistic skills are dearly missed in this moment.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:37 am | Permalink

      “Alternative facts will not fly.”

      Do you mean generally or in the specific case of the Trump administration at the present time?

      In general I’d say many people / groups have been successful at making alternative facts fly. The Bush Jr. admin and, a bit more generally, the Republican Party of the last 20 or so years are great examples of that.

      But, I hope I am not being overly optimistic in agreeing with you that I don’t think the Trump admin is going to be able to do it. The press looks like they might actually stand up and do their job after having largely abandoned it for many years.

      • nickswearsky
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:41 am | Permalink

        What I mean is that you cannot say the sky is green and up is down when it clearly is not. You cannot say Trump’s crowd was the largest ever, when it is obvious to all that is not the case. They will dissemble and spread propaganda, but who will you believe? Trump or your lyin eyes?

        • darrelle
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:27 am | Permalink

          But powerful people and groups have done that sort of thing many times in human history, including recent as in the examples I gave above, and not only gotten away with it but very much benefited from it.

          If the press doesn’t call you on it then much of the general public won’t have the information they need to see the lies. Even when people do have the damning evidence presented to them a sizable percentage won’t believe it. They’ll invent much more unbelievable conspiracy theories to explain why it isn’t true.

          But I have to say, I am starting to feel optimistic that Trump’s already low ratings are going to quickly take a beating. Largely because of his own extreme idiocy and the press being against him and taking every opportunity to expose his lies and misdeeds.

          • Mark Joseph
            Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

            Furthermore, there is a considerable chunk of the electorate that is willing and eager to swallow the lies, if it’s what they want to hear (no need to worry about the environment, or civil rights, etc.).

        • Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

          “What I mean is that you cannot say the sky is green and up is down when it clearly is not.”

          Obviously, you can. Trump and his minions have and do, and will continue to do so. We will have to depend on our “lyin eyes”, intelligence, research and rationality to get to the truth.

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

            Trump has been going out of his way to demonize the press. I’ve seen that handled on CNN with journalists telling the audience not to believe them and to look it up for themselves. Unfortunately, some who look it up for themselves will find Alex Jones of Infowars etc and believe those versions.

            I think a lot of his supporters believe that Trump just wouldn’t lie so blatantly to them.

            There’s also the phenomenon of how hard it is to let go of a belief system. When a leader is put on a pedestal the way a US president is, it’s not dissimilar to losing belief in a deity. People have invested a lot in Trump emotionally.

          • Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

            Stuff is even more dangerous in a way. Stalin and the like no doubt had lots of guys working to airbrush photos. Now, any teenager with a copy of GIMP can do this.

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

        Bear in mind that the percentage of Trump supporters pretty closely mirrors the number that think the world is 6,000 years old. Critical thinking not actually their niche.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      ‘Gaslighting’. Another word we are going to hear a lot.

  7. Posted January 23, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Spicer is so ignorant, he thinks Peña Nieto is Prime Minister of Mexico. At 6:02.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

      Hell, Spicer is so dumb he couldn’t pour pee from a boot if the instructions were written on the sole.

      To be any dumber, he’d have to be twins.

      • Mark Joseph
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

        🙂

      • Filippo
        Posted January 24, 2017 at 4:43 am | Permalink

        Any dumber than the SNL writer’s disparaging Barron Trump tweet?

        • Brujo Feo
          Posted January 25, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

          Filippo, maybe you’re being flippant, but if you’re serious…what does obvious satire (no matter how savage and ill-considered) have to do with the “alternative facts” from Spicer and Conway.

          Why the tu quoque?

          • Filippo
            Posted January 25, 2017 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

            Per the customary and required response of a subordinate to a superior in the US Navy, Sir, thank you for your inspection and instruction, Sir.

            Frank Bruni writes in today’s hard copy NY Times, referencing the SNL writer fiasco and regarding the best approach to dealing with and commenting about Trump and his assigns/subordinates/relations. As highlighted in the column: “Insult his youngest son. Surrender the high ground. And lose it all.”

  8. Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    I saw this exchange on Meet the Press on Sunday morning, and was gobsmacked. Alternate reality and disinformation also sprang to mind.

    Dan Rather has also pointed out the bigger picture which is that the POTUS is wielding propaganda. (Note my non-astericized use of POTUS: in this case, PussyGrabber of the US).

  9. GBJames
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Frank Schaeffer, former right-wing-evangelical-extremist and now near-atheist has much to say about how we got here. Yesterday he posted this video about alternate facts. Worth a view, IMO.

  10. Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    I fail to see the difference between Kellyanne Conway and Joseph Goebbells.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:12 am | Permalink

      One has a skirt.

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

        ++

      • Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:38 am | Permalink

        Goebbells didn’t wear a skirt. That was Goering.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

          IIRC, the Third Reich book our host recently reread suggested there were a few in the Führer’s inner-circle who were, shall we say, a bit light in the jackboots.

    • colnago80
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Josef Göbbels: If one is going to tell a lie, make it a big lie, tell it often, tell it loudly, and eventually people will come to believe it.

      This is the strategy of the Hitler wannabee, dummkopf Donald, and his administration.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      One is a sucking chest-wound of propaganda; the other was Joseph Goebbels.

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

      Goebbells was better looking.

  11. Historian
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Watching Spicer’s briefing, I concluded that he is very much like his boss – expecting to get his way through blatant lies and verbal intimidation. This tactic is taken from the right-wing playbook: repeat the lie over and over again and before you know it, people will believe it. The press seems to have caught on to this and will not let the Trump team get away with it. A free society depends on it.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      And they could have just spun things. Said something like sometimes you aren’t popular when you make change or some such. It really is so easy to spin it.

  12. Diana MacPherson
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I’ll just leave this here.

  13. Hempenstein
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Spicer seems unaware that Aldrich Ames is no longer with the Agency.

  14. Robert Ryder
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    The good news is that the press is already on to Trump and his minions. I remember that it took a long time for the press to catch on during the Reagan administration, but I don’t think that’s going to be a problem this time. Probably a good time to read or re-read Orwell’s 1984.

  15. Stephen Barnard
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Worst job in the world: Trump’s press secretary.

    Think about it. Day after day, in front of television cameras, you have to go in front of a room full of intelligent, curious reporters, out for blood because they know you’re a craven liar from day 1.

  16. Brujo Feo
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    I have taken to calling it the Post-Factual Reich.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      That has a nice ring to it.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Very good!

      • Brujo Feo
        Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:26 am | Permalink

        Can anyone here tell me why the “Notify me of new comments via email” button has quit working for me? I don’t want to bother PCC directly about this.

        But if I click that button when posting, the button then disappears, as it should, but I never any more get the emailed notifications of new comments that I used to get. ??? (And yes, I have checked my spam digest and junk folder–nothing there.)

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

          It’ll be a problem with your WordPress account rather than WEIT specifically. It’s quite touchy, and you can block things from happening when you think you’ve done something entirely different. I couldn’t get notifications of new posts for a long time no matter how many times I tried to re-subscribe because I’d set it to stop getting comments on a particular post. I couldn’t tell you what’s wrong, but try having a look in subscription management of WordPress. You might have to subscribe to comments on another WordPress website, then when you get the email to confirm, go into the option to manage notifications.

  17. Dominic
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    This new book The Myth Gap by Alex Evans looks tp be particularly relevant –
    https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1113478/the-myth-gap/
    http://www.scotsman.com/lifestyle/culture/books/book-review-the-myth-gap-by-alex-evans-1-4334944
    Not read it yet…

  18. Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    I have a serious question. The followers of this website by and large are able to see what is happening and we agree that is presents a huge problem. What can we do, however, with the millions who either don’t get it or don’t care and refuse to open their eyes? Do we keep trying to make them see, or simply give up and accept that a large segment will follow and support Trump no matter what he does to erode the freedom of the press? I really do not know what I can/should do on a personal level.

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Never give up

    • Ken Phelps
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:52 am | Permalink

      On a personal level, scorn. Consistent, unrelenting scorn. The thing that finally pushed me out of religion, after getting educated had laid the (still partly subconscious at that time) factual foundation, was someone whose intelligence I respected telling me my arguments were idiotic. He was right. I woke up the next morning an atheist.

    • Historian
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:55 am | Permalink

      If you are able, get involved with your local political organizations. Talk to your family, friends and neighbors. Above all, do not let the Fox News zombies get away with a lie. Do not be intimidated – always challenge the lie. Never let them get away with it. You probably won’t change the minds of most people you talk to since psychology seems to say that it is a difficult task. But, you don’t have to change most minds, just a few should suffice to alter the political balance in this country.

      Democrats have failed to concentrate on state politics, which is a major reason for their current predicament. State legislatures determine congressional and state house district boundaries. Hence, they can gerrymander districts in favor of the majority party. Most state houses and governors are Republican, thus they have created districts which favor Republicans in the national House of Representatives. Change state government and you will be changing national government.

      • nicky
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        Now that is a sane thought. I guess the only way out in a few years, marches will not achieve much.
        And not just the gerrymandering, also ‘Crosscheck’ and provisional votes, oversight of counting, etc.

    • Billy Bl.
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

      Someone should set up a website dedicated solely to monitoring the lies. It would have to provide documented evidence why they are lies. If such a website could be promoted well and adopted and supported by a large number other websites/organisations, it could become a very sharp thorn in Trump’s side, and we all know how Trump would react. If his supporters are constantly exposed to the banalities that would ensue, maybe some of them would join in.

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

      In Google, enter “Indivisible Guide”. It will bring up sources for this reference guide “on how to resist and persist to get government to change.”

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      We also need to get out more. Get to know Republican Trump supporters and understand what is important to them, and show them that they’ve often, though not always, been misled by Trump on those issues.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

      It’s worth noting that it’s not just Obama’s inauguration that was bigger than Trump’s. The Women’s March was also bigger than Trump’s inauguration. And there were Women’s marches all over the world.

      Trump thinks he’s the leader of a worldwide populist movement. But that movement is dwarfed by the anti-Trump movement.

      And millions more voted for presidential candidates other than Trump. He did not win the popular vote. The electoral college is a form of gerrymandering all on its own. The votes of people in some states count for more than three times what they do in others.

      Also remember that Trump wasn’t the only populist candidate in 2016. Bernie Sanders was a populist too and he represented a very different philosophy.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      The worm will turn once Trump is revealed to be a loser. Then, his reality tv fans will abandon him — and the label will drive Trump himself (even more) batshit crazy.

      In American society, Being a Loser is the one (and may be the only) Unforgivable Sin.

  19. Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Is the golden book in print?

  20. Simon Hayward
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Couple of things. The serious one being that the lack of focus on real issues we saw in the campaign continues. If this lot is so easily distracted by trivia and perceived slights perhaps that’s good, or perhaps they are evil geniuses and are using the distraction to work under the table while we are not looking.

    On a more frivolous note, I saw a comment on, I think, the Independent site this morning to the effect that the tr*mp crowd was larger than it appeared in the pictures, the white sheets they were wearing just blended with the grass covering 🙂

    • eric
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:06 am | Permalink

      Well, right now Trump’s team is way behind in confirming political appointees for their administrative positions. There’s something like 1,100 appointments throughout the executive branch that need to be confirmed by the Senate. A typical President aims to have the most important 100 or so lined up for confirmation on the first day; Trump has so far had 2 appointments confirmed (Defense and Homeland Security), and has about another 25-30 more named. He’s not even meeting the “first 10%” standard.

      So, for now it appears that their penchant to get distracted by every shiny penny is on the ‘good’ side, meaning the civil service is running itself for the time being and not being run by any hard-right appointees (evil geniuses or otherwise). That, however, could easily change in the future.

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:25 am | Permalink

        Where is Sir Humphrey Appleby when we need him most…..and could he get a visa 🙂

  21. TJR
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    “Donald, are we the baddies?”

  22. veroxitatis
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    “Alternative facts”. – Something that even Orwell never thought of. Of course, using such an expression will not even slightly embarrass the Trump Administration, most of whom will be entirely ignorant of 1984.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      I think “alternative fact” exists at the intersection of “Newspeak” and “Doublethink.”

      I doubt Orwell would be surprised at all.

  23. docbill1351
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand why the press suddenly got religion. Is it because Trump is now actually the president and not a candidate or president-elect that the press woke up from their deep sleep?

    Propaganda Barbie Conway has been lying and misdirecting for over a year, in interview after interview, and the press NEVER called her out, NEVER pushed back and NEVER made a fuss about her. Now, here she is doing the same old Kellyanne schtick and the press is suddenly surprised to find there’s gambling in this establishment!

    Certainly better late than never, but I fear these news, er, entertainment outlets will find it easier to simply accept the Alternate Fact World rather than fight it.

    BTW, congrats to me, I just received the Nobel Prize in physics for my discovery of the framastat.

  24. Larry Cook
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I usually enjoy your posts whether I agree with them or not, but I can’t take you seriously when you call the Trump administration “totalitarian”. Okay, technically you implied it. We have a government with separation of powers. It would require a conspiracy involving the legislative and judicial branches to turn our government totalitarian. Even congressional republicans would understand the gravity of a situation in which a president tried to grab enough power to rule with total power. No president could abolish all opposing political parties like Hitler or Stalin. I’ve been a big fan of you and your books as well as this website, but you’re losing me with your alarmist and paranoid rhetoric about this new president. He can do no more damage to liberal ideas and policies than Obama did to conservative ones. If he tries to go too far, the Democrats will take back power in Congress in two years and if he doesn’t modify his behavior after that, he will lose the next election. And if he ever truly attempted some kind of total takeover, he would be removed from office through impeachment.
    People from all over the world, some of whom may not know how our government works (most Americans don’t), read your posts. I’m surprised you would tell them that anyone, including the president, could run this country in a totalitarian manner. I’m also surprised that your very intelligent and educated readers can think that the Trump administration has the ability to change the Freedom of the Press. I pity anyone who consistently lies to the press or the American people. That person will be destroyed by the free press. Yes, presidents get away with lies. Neither Bill Clinton nor George W Bush would have made it eight years unless they got away with lies, but nobody can do it over and over and survive politically. Continuous refusal to answer questions in a forthright manner certainly contributed to Hillary’s defeat.
    I don’t expect you or your readers will agree with me, but I haven’t written one word here that was motivated by my political leanings.

    • darrelle
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Larry, several of your claims are contrary to the history of the past 20 + years, let alone all of human history.

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      Larry: What term would you prefer to describe the type of government we are in for with Trump? Oligarchy? Kingship?

      Most of us older U.S. citizens have some remembrance of our high school Civics courses so are not totally without a sense of how our government is supposed to work based on the ideas put into place by our founding fathers

      You are not addressing or acknowledging the manipulation of the press by the owners (e.g. Rupert Murdoch), the influence of a jillion lobbyists, and the massive input of money into the political system at all levels of government by the conservative wealthy such as the Koch brothers.

      Presidents getting away with lies have been part of the system from the beginning. Use of the media to promote one-sided views also has been. What’s different is the huge number of lobbyists promoting the interests of particular individuals and corporations, and the influx of millions of dollars to promote one side’s platform. “Personhood” of corporations was not always with us and has impacted our government adversely.

      In reality, big business and corporations have had too much influence on our government. We are entering a period when the interests of the wealthy and corporations will dominate.

    • veroxitatis
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      “No President could abolish all opposing political parties” — Trump and his acolytes don’t need to do any such thing. All they need do is convince sufficient numbers of American citizens that what they are doing is for the benefit of the PEOPLE and any main stream media which says different is lying for its own PEOPLE DEFEATING ends. In turn, the people will elect to Congress those with the same outlook. the only question is whether enough can be done over the relatively short time scale of a couple of presidential terms.

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      Umm. . . if you can’t take my whole post seriously because I used the one word “totalitarian,” it’s distressing. Try using “autocratic” instead. Will you be able to take my post seriously then?

  25. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    I know squat about women’s couture, but what the hell was up with that inauguration outfit of Kellyanne Conway’s?

    Looked like something Shirley Temple would’ve worn to dance in a George M. Cohan production number.

  26. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Latest “alternative fact” from Sean Spicer: dear leader Trump shot his usual par 18 at Burning Tree CC over the weekend.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

      Kasparov had a brilliant tweet about record steel and grain production in the Soviet Union.

    • Brujo Feo
      Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:34 am | Permalink

      I’ve heard from people who ought to know that he plays to a 4 handicap. That wouldn’t make a par “usual,” but it certainly wouldn’t be unusual.

      Hey, I wish that I had a 4 handicap. (I’m trying to get to 20.) But that doesn’t make Der Drumpf any less of a shit for brains.

  27. Craw
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I’m not going to defend any of the Trumpers’ clais. But I think we need to be fair about the phrase “alterantive facts” which I think meant something like “other facts you could have discussed but didn’t because you are cherry picking”. Ann Althouse puts it well:
    “In context and read sympathetically, “alternative facts” doesn’t mean that there are competing versions of the truth and you can refer to all of them as “facts.”
    ….

    But what I think Conway meant was that there are many different factual issues, and some people choose to forefront one factual issue — such as the size of the crowd at the Inauguration — when there are many other factual issues that could have been selected as the main story. There are “alternatives” in that you don’t have to make such a big deal out of that one thing, and you could emphasizes something else. The “alternative facts” were all the other things that Trump did, good things, that would have put him in a good light, and the media is criticized for picking out the fact that diminished Trump.”

    Coyne has in the past pleaded for the principle of charity in interpretation.
    I confess I do not see that in the OP.

    • Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

      If the understanding you have of what is intended by “alternative facts” is so, the
      terminology selected to describe it does not.
      We thave Trump and his cohorts who can’t put thoughts into sentences or paragraphs in a cogent manner, and don’t bother with FACTS at all. Having the leadership of this country in the hands of a chronic liar, ignoramus and blatherer is heartbreaking.

      There’s no such thing as “alternative facts”.

      • Craw
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

        Indeed there is no such thing. That is evidence she meant something else, isn’t it? Isn’t that how the principle of charity works?

        • Filippo
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          Do one or more “alternative” realities exist?

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, but no. In this instance they were specifically talking about the size of the crowd. Conway said that Spicer offered “alternative facts” about the crowd.

      And his facts were wrong. He gave a figure for metro ridership on the 20th that was actually much lower than reality – the truth was slightly better than his data.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

      What “alternative facts” support Trump’s lie (told during his CIA speech, and repeated by Sean Spicer to the assembled White House press corp) that Trump’s inauguration had the “largest audience to witness an inauguration, period. Both in person and around the globe.”

      That was the context of the whopper Kellyanne Conway told about the whopper told by Sean Spicer. The word for that is lie, not “alternative fact.”

      • Craw
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

        Where do I suggest “alternative facts” support his statement about the crowd? Nowhere. You are ignoring my point entirely. My proposition is that by “alternative” she meant “facts that you could alternatively have cited”. I think Althouse put it perfectly, so I won’t repeat it.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

          My point, which you ignored completely, was what possible application did that concept have in the context Conway used it?

          Sure, propositions can always be contradicted through the presentation of contravening evidence. There’s nothing novel about that. And there’s hardly any need for a new bafflegab term for it like “alternate fact.”

          What was the contravening evidence — or “different factual issues,” to use your even-more-obtuse coinage — that supported Sean Spicer’s contention that Trump’s inauguration crowds were larger than those in 2008 (which is the entirety of the context in which Conway used the term “alternate fact”)?

          Conway is up to something nefarious, and Althouse is acting as her quisling apologist in this instance.

          • Brujo Feo
            Posted January 25, 2017 at 2:40 am | Permalink

            Ken: how did you figure out a way to format text (bold, italics, etc.) in WordPress? Can you point me to a URL with instructions?

    • Pali
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      That this was your takeaway from the interview is just one more piece of evidence that Conway is amazing at her job. While I agree with the others that her use of “alternative facts” is pretty clearly about the crowd and Spicer’s comments on it, she spent so much of the interview dodging the question and bringing up other topics that she’s confused you into sympathizing with her.

  28. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Trump administration … can do little to muzzle it given we have the First Amendment.

    What the Trump administration will do — indeed, what it has already begun doing — is to make an end run around the press. That’s one of the reasons why Trump (who fashions himself the Papa Hemingway of the twitterverse) continues his ubiquitous tweeting.

    Look for Trump also to pack the press room with alt-right and other “alternative” media (and, perhaps, even to move the press briefing room across the street to the old Executive Office Building, so it can hold even more alternative media and to keep the press corp out of his godawful hair in the west wing).

    Also, look for Trump himself to answer few questions from the media. The White House will stage beaucoup photo opportunities of Trump glad-handing dignitaries and performing ceremonial duties (like signing executive orders), but the press corp itself will be reduced to shouting questions fecklessly from the sidelines, while his nibs pretends to ignore them.

  29. Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    “Hello. I’m Leonard Nimoy. The following tale of alien encounters is true. And by true, I mean false. It’s all lies. But they’re entertaining lies. And in the end, isn’t that the real truth? The answer is: No.”

  30. RPGNo1
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    A good laugh. xD

    • Kevin
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      Grab them by the pony. Historical.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

      I laughed myself silly.

      😎 😎

      cr

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

        P.S. Sky TV here has caught on – they’re just advertising their upcoming movie lineup with the voice-over “It’s great…. great!! … gonna be great… it’ll be great… ”

        cr

  31. Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Also: facts are what is the case. So there are no alternative facts, for reality is one.

    However, fact *statements* come in some different varieties. In the most extreme cases, (completely) true and (completely) false.

  32. GBJames
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m offering the Trump administration my complete alternative support.

  33. Kevin
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Alternative facts. American children learn what these are watching Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner.

    Apparently the Trump administration have been deprived.

    Here maybe they can catch up to my nine year old…

    Physics of Wile E. Coyote

  34. ChrisB
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    This is all we are going to get from Spicer and Kellyanne Conman: obvious, easily debunked lies and obfuscation. Because it works.

    Trump showed throughout his campaign that he could lie and distort all he wanted, and the sycophants that are fooled by his shtick will never hold him accountable. They look to Spicer and Conman and Trump himself to give them the barest excuse to ignore the lies, and they believe.

    The Trump team aren’t even deceiving the gullible; they are facilitating the self-deception of the gullible. It’s like the Matrix: remember the guy who betrayed his fellow escapees because he wanted to taste steak again even though he knew it was an illusion? Some people just prefer the “alternative facts” the Trump team weaves for them to reality. That’s hard to beat.

  35. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    Sean Spicer — worst White House press secretary since the hapless Ron Ziegler held the job.

    • veroxitatis
      Posted January 23, 2017 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      He seems to be channeling “Comical Ali”.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 23, 2017 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, but I think the Iraqi cognomen you’re thinking of is “Baghdad Bob.” 🙂

        • Posted January 23, 2017 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

          Yes – too bad Baghdad Bob is ailing and possibly dead – he could have likely landed a yuge amazing job as adviser to the POTUS.

        • Veroxitatis
          Posted January 23, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

          In Britain he was referred to as Comical Ali, a play on the nickname Chemical Ali, a wanted cousin of Saddam.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted January 23, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

            Right-o!

  36. ToddP
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    Jerry, one small correction: the Washington Post reporter’s last name is Cillizza. You’ve got it spelled as Chris Cillizilla.

  37. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

    Sean Spicer looks like he cut his own hair … while distracted by doing The Times crossword with his dominant hand.

  38. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted January 23, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

    I suppose we could always blame the Pomo’s and their co-religionists the regressive Left. “alternative facts” == “other ways of knowing”.

    cr

  39. Posted January 25, 2017 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Your statement that “she’s a master at misdirection and dissimulating, but she’s not going to win over the press…” hits the nail on the head. She and her boss have been so viciously mean to not only “the press” but to specific reporters that there is now very little interest in forgiving her blunders. You reap what you sow…


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