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Slate's Jeremy Stahl suggests that liberals have a fake news problem, too:

A BuzzFeed analysis found that 38 percent of posts from three large right-wing politics pages featured "false or misleading information," compared to 20 percent from three large left-wing pages.

Stahl continues by observing that "it has become increasingly clear that the right wing does not have a monopoly on believing things that aren't true [and] don't even have a monopoly on being fooled by propaganda:"

As the Washington Post reported last week, one organization has started to catalogue the worst media offenders in disseminating anti-western Russian propaganda that has proliferated from Putin-sponsored media organs like Russia Today. Many of the offenders called out as "useful idiots" for picking up on and spreading this propaganda are alternative media sites with a left-wing bent like Naked Capitalism, Black Agenda Report, Consortium News, Truthdig, and Truth Out. (Some alternative media outlets have pushed back against the claim that some among them are witlessly spreading Russian disinformation.)

Sorry, but those liberal sources are apples and oranges--or chalk and cheese, if you prefer--compared to right-wing sites. Having said that, however, the Buzzfeed piece is worth perusing. Its sample is limited to a mere nine news sources (three liberal, mainstream, and three conservative) over the course of seven weekdays, but "the least accurate pages generated some of the highest numbers of shares, reactions, and comments on Facebook -- far more than the three large mainstream political news pages analyzed for comparison:"

Our analysis of three hyperpartisan right-wing Facebook pages found that 38% of all posts were either a mixture of true and false or mostly false, compared to 19% of posts from three hyperpartisan left-wing pages that were either a mixture of true and false or mostly false. The right-wing pages are among the forces -- perhaps as potent as the cable news shows that have gotten far more attention -- that helped fuel the rise of Donald Trump.

Here's the breakdown:


It's no surprise, of course, that the Right lies more than the Left, so a factor of two to three is no surprise. I would like to see a follow-up study that's both wider (more news outlets) and over a longer time frame.

Sapna Maheshwari demonstrates how fake news spreads with this case study:

Eric Tucker, a 35-year-old co-founder of a marketing company in Austin, Tex., had just about 40 Twitter followers. But his recent tweet about paid protesters being bused to demonstrations against President-elect Donald J. Trump fueled a nationwide conspiracy theory -- one that Mr. Trump joined in promoting.

Mr. Tucker's post was shared at least 16,000 times on Twitter and more than 350,000 times on Facebook. The problem is that Mr. Tucker got it wrong. There were no such buses packed with paid protesters.

But that didn't matter.

"The next morning, the frenzy began," the analysis continues, as the rumor spread from Reddit to Free Republic and beyond. "By about noon, Mr. Tucker's initial post had been retweeted and liked more than 5,000 times:"

Around 6 p.m., the conservative blog Gateway Pundit posted a story using Mr. Tucker's images under the headline "Figures. Anti-Trump Protesters Were Bussed in to Austin #FakeProtests." The post, which included a mention of "Soros money," has been shared on Facebook more than 44,000 times, according to statistics on the website. [...] Then, shortly after 9 p.m., Mr. Trump sent this tweet:
Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair! -- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 11, 2016

Snopes and other debunked their tall tale, but "None of this seemed to have much impact:"

Mr. Tucker's initial tweet continued to generate thousands of shares on Facebook through Free Republic and pages like Right Wing News and Joe the Plumber.

When this crap flourishes so rapidly, what happens to our crops?


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GLAAD's annual report on LGBT characters on TV, the "Where We Are on TV" study, "looks at the number of LGBTQ characters on cable networks and streaming services for the 2016-2017 TV season:"

  • Of the 895 series regular characters expected to appear on broadcast scripted primetime programming in the coming year, 43 (4.8%) were identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer. This is the highest percentage of LGBTQ series regulars GLAAD has ever found. There were an additional 28 recurring LGBTQ characters.

Racist and sexist under-representation are still evident:

  • While this year's report marks a record-high percentage of black series regulars on broadcast (20%), black women remain underrepresented at only 38% of all black series regular characters.
  • This year, 44% of regular characters on primetime broadcast programming are women, which is an increase of one percentage point from last year but still greatly underrepresents women who make up 51% of the population.

The Advocate proclaims that "TV has never been queerer," although LGBTQ Nation notes that "More than 25 lesbian and bisexual female characters died on scripted broadcast, cable and streaming series this year:"

While TV remains far ahead of film in gay representations, the medium "failed queer women this year" by continuing the "harmful 'bury your gays' trope," the report said. [...] It's part of a decade-long pattern in which gay or transgender characters are killed to further a straight character's storyline, GLAAD said, sending what it called the "dangerous" message that gay people are disposable.

Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD's CEO, comments that:

"While it is heartening to see progress being made in LGBTQ representation on television, it's important to remember that numbers are only part of the story, and we must continue the push for more diverse and intricate portrayals of the LGBTQ community," said Ellis.

Salon's Chauncey DeVega wrote a piece on peak propaganda which points out that Fox's viewers:

...are much more critical of Obama; are afraid of Hillary Clinton; and have a much more negative attitude about the future of the United States than the general public. Fox News viewers are also much more likely to believe that the presidential election will somehow be manipulated or subjected to fraud and that the American news media is conspiring against Donald Trump. [...]

In all, Fox News is extremely dangerous to the public discourse and consensus politics in America because it creates a feedback loop among conservatives, one that is almost impossible to break.

"This has a deleterious impact," he continues, "on the ability of Republicans to legislate and govern in a responsible manner:"

CNN and other outlets in the American corporate news media are complicit in perpetuating this alternate reality -- they are reluctant to speaking plainly about Fox News and its role in disseminating Right-wing lies and disinformation because they have been bullied into submission by the myth of the so-called "liberal media."

The sum effect of this is that CNN and other major American news outlets elevate Right-wing talking points and falsehoods to the level of factual "news." This legitimizes them as now being worthy of inclusion as an "alternative point of view" that should be spoken to in serious discussions of politics. CNN and the so-called liberal media then circulate Right-wing propaganda to a broader public outside of the Fox News echo chamber.

"It is clear that Donald Trump is good for ratings," he writes with resignation, "in the fantastical world created by Fox News and the Right-wing media:"

This is also true at CNN and for too many other outlets in the news media as well. Unfortunately, the Fourth Estate should be functioning as a watchdog for American democracy but is instead more beholden to money and profit than it is to civic virtue and truth-telling.

Sophia McClennan describes he entire 2016 election as an insult to our intelligence, and writes that "the real problem [is] not just that we don't have our facts straight:"

It's that we have collectively lost our ability to process information and make good judgments. To be truly stupid, you need to have poor reasoning skills. So our problem isn't just that we have lies substituted for facts; it is that we don't even know how to process information anymore.

In the era of Fox "News," she laments, "lying has become a common part of our political life:"

Now some 15 years into the era of constant political lying, it is time to realize that we don't only have a war on truth; we have a war on logic. If we focus only on the lies and miss the faulty logic, we get only part of the picture of why we have gotten so stupid. To be truly stupid, you have to have no grasp of what legitimate evidence looks like and no ability to process the information you do have.

She writes that "The Trump campaign is literally a lesson in stupidity and poor logic," and "Our political conversations have become dominated by either/or thinking, false binaries, hasty generalizations, slippery slopes, circular arguments, straw men and red herrings:"

As we have moved towards greater fundamentalism -- market fundamentalism, political fundamentalism and religious fundamentalism -- we have lost the ability to practice critical reasoning. Everything we think now is a belief rather than a reasoned judgment. Ideas can't be questioned, critiqued or debated because to do so would be to shake the foundations of our mind palace. [...]

In our current political climate, any correcting information is considered suspicious and threatening. Facts are no longer to be trusted. We live in echo chambers where our biases become truth claims. Any effort to point them out feels like an affront and leads to conflict rather than conversation. Rather than hone our skills of debate, we sharpen our spears to fend off our challengers.

TruthDig's Paul Street looks at the ubiquitous "PBS NewsHour" program and how it is funded:

The claim [of neutrality] has long been contradicted by the string of corporate-image commercials (purchased by leading financial, defense, auto, insurance and rail corporations) that appear before the network's nightly "NewsHour" broadcast--along with a list of corporate-sponsored foundations and superwealthy individuals who pay for the show, along with "regular viewers like you."

It is important that PBS news products exist within "the narrow capitalist parameters of acceptable coverage and debate that typify the more fully and explicitly for-profit and commercialized corporate media:"

Whatever the global issue of the day or week, "NewsHour" anchors and their invited "experts" can be counted on to report and reflect in accord with the doctrinal assumption that Washington always operates with the best of intentions. They almost uniformly treat the U.S. as a great, benevolent and indispensable force for freedom, democracy, security, peace and order in a dangerous world full of evil and deadly actors.

"Today's PBS, Street continues, "is not about to blow the whistle on the moral contradictions:"

There is a natural connection between the "P" in PBS standing for "Plutocracy" and it standing for "Pentagon." The core economic interests of the nation's superwealthy corporate and financial elite have long been global in nature. And, as the arch-neoliberal guru and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman explained in New York Times Magazine on the eve of the U.S.-led bombing of Serbia, "The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist--McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies to flourish is called the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps." Friedman is a PBS favorite. He has appeared on "NewsHour" and other PBS productions at least 50 times by now.

Of such bricks is a media elite edifice constructed.

The idea of secret Hillary clubs, writes Slate's Michelle Goldberg, is an encouraging one:

One of the emerging themes of the last weeks of the presidential campaign is the resurgence of the right's "unskewed polls" theory, which holds that when Republicans are behind it's because the pollsters are sampling the wrong people. [...]

But the idea that Trump voters are hiding their true allegiance in large numbers strikes me as implausible. It just doesn't track with the swashbuckling, politically incorrect, in-your-face ethos of the Trump movement. Considering the huge gender gap, one would have to assume the shy voters would be a hidden group of Trump men who are telling pollsters they're voting for Hillary Clinton. If you're the kind of man who likes Trump, you're probably not the kind who feels the need to hide it.

On the other hand, there could be some "shy" Clinton voters out there who say they are voting for Trump in order to keep the peace with their aggressively pro-Trump husbands and maintain their standing in their conservative communities.

As usual, the scenario less comforting to conservatives is also far more likely to be true.

Indeed, Goldberg "spoke with several Hillary voters who said they had just decided to keep quiet to avoid confrontation:"

Clinton is the first female presidential nominee from a major party, and the opposition chose an aggressive, rank misogynist to oppose her. The fact that some women are reluctant to support her openly in the face of Trump's overheated followers -- especially women who normally vote Republican -- is a perfect example of why the secret ballot is so important. No matter what your community or your family or your employer says, your vote is your private decision. There may be quite a few women like those Iowa evangelicals who will cast a vote for Hillary Clinton this year, and never tell a soul.

Perhaps they won't even tell exit pollsters, which could drive losing Trumpites mad.

Speaking of the Trumptards, Neal Gabler explains how the media manufactured hatred of Hillary--pointing out that "Hillary Clinton wasn't unpopular when she announced her decision to run in April 2015:"

If you look at the Gallup survey in March of last year, 50 percent of Americans had a favorable impression of Clinton, only 39 percent an unfavorable one. So there was clearly no deep reservoir of Clinton hatred among the general public at the time. On the contrary: Americans liked her; they liked her quite a bit.

Already by June, however, her favorability had not only taken a hit. It had plummeted. By July, according to Gallup, her favorability hit an all-time low with only 38 percent positively and 57 percent viewing her negatively -- putting her 19 points underwater [while] "Trump's deficit was 24 percent"

Gabler writes that misogyny "certainly doesn't explain why her numbers nosedived last July," because "policy wasn't what the media were focused on:"

They were focused on emails. There was a court-mandated dump of Clinton's emails late that month, and the media leapt on it with alacrity. This certainly wasn't the first time the public had heard about Clinton using a private email server while Secretary of State. That news had come out in March 2015 and hadn't affected her favorability at all. But the fixation on emails, which had long been an addiction among Republicans and the right-wing media, suddenly became an addiction in the mainstream media as well.

Gabler writes bluntly, "You could say that Clinton was sabotaged:"

And that wasn't all. As reported in a study by Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on media coverage in the pre-primary period, Clinton received especially negative coverage -- overwhelmingly negative. At the same time, both Sanders and Trump received extremely positive coverage. As the report put it: "Whereas media coverage helped build up Trump, it helped tear down Clinton. Trump's positive coverage was the equivalent of millions of dollars in ad-buys in his favor, whereas Clinton's negative coverage can be equated to millions of dollars in attack ads, with her on the receiving end."

Andrew Marantz's analysis of trolls for Trump looks at an allied dynamic among the more rabid conservative media outlets:

In late August, Hillary Clinton announced that she would soon give a speech, in Reno, Nevada, linking Donald J. Trump to what has become known as the alt-right--a loose online affiliation of white nationalists, neo-monarchists, masculinists, conspiracists, belligerent nihilists, and social-media trolls. The alt-right has no consistent ideology; it is a label, like "snob" or "hipster," that is often disavowed by people who exemplify it. The term typically applies to conservatives and reactionaries who are active on the Internet and too anti-establishment to feel at home in the Republican Party. Bizarrely, this category includes the Republican nominee for President. It also includes extremist commentators, long belittled or ignored by the media, whom mainstream pundits are now starting to take seriously.

Mike Cernovich of Danger and Play pushed the #HillarysHealth meme, and claimed that "Donald Trump has proven me right. People are tired of pussies." Despite asserting "I'm not a pure troll," Cernovich is unabashedly partisan: "If there's a story that can hurt Hillary, I want it in the news cycle," he said. One only wishes that his gleeful taunts that "We're going to make a whole new news cycle about her fucking e-mails again!" weren't enabled quite so vigorously by the "liberal" media.

Salon's look at Clinton's ongoing donor mess is much ado about very little--"once again, the Clinton Foundation's fundraising practices have churned up some politically fraught news coverage and questions about the ethical standards put in place for the former president's global philanthropy:"

In August, the foundation announced that should Hillary Clinton win the presidency, it will cease accepting foreign and corporate donations and spin off the majority of its projects to other charities. That was a good first step toward preventing conflicts of interest and also a recognition that the charity's fundraising practices pose political and ethical problems for the Clintons.

Now comes this Doug Band memo, detailing the ways in which Bill Clinton's personal financial endeavors were intertwined with his charity's fundraising efforts. That memo was written shortly before Chelsea Clinton voiced complaints that Band and his associates were misusing her father's name and influence to drum up business for themselves overseas.

It turns out Chelsea was right to be wary of Band. The memo was basically a how-to guide for leveraging a former president's profile into financial gain with as little ethical oversight as possible.

The piece summarizes the problem by writing that "documents like the Band memo make it impossible to completely separate the Clinton Foundation's charitable activities from the Clintons' personal finances:"

That's a perception problem, which the Clintons -- as political figures and philanthropists -- should have been going to every length to avoid. And it's one of many other ethical gray areas that seem to persistently crop up regarding the Clinton Foundation.

out the window

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The system is rigged, writes the Socialist Worker, but not against Trump:

DONALD TRUMP is lining up his excuses for why he's going to lose: the media is against him, Democrats are faking ballots from undocumented immigrants and dead people, blah, blah and blah.

In reality, few people have ever caught as many breaks in life, and for less good reason, than Donald Trump. But like a five-year-old-playing Candy Land, he has never known how to lose without crying foul...

Not surprisingly, the piece makes a pitch for Green candidate Jill Stein:

While Trump complains about biased media personalities serving as moderators--even after he received an estimated $2 billion in free airtime during the primaries alone, courtesy of the supposedly biased media--it was the Green Party's Jill Stein and the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson who weren't even allowed to participate, because the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) only invites candidates averaging 15 percent in national polls.

The piece sees "a vote for Stein is the most practical step you can take in this election towards building a third party alternative." Laura Marsh gives us an overview of the Overton Window (see Wikipedia), which essentially defines the Democratic-to-Republican spectrum (lamented above) as the range of acceptable discourse:

Best known until recently as the title of an overheated political thriller by Glenn Beck, in the last year the Overton Window has been cited everywhere from The New York Times to The Rachel Maddow Show. Despite its peculiar origins and limited applications, pundits increasingly invoke it to describe not only Trumpism, but the Sanders surge, Brexit, and more.

The Overton Window refers to the range of policies on any given issue that are, at that moment, popular enough for a politician to campaign on successfully. Just outside of the window lie "acceptable" policies, and beyond those the "radical" and "unthinkable."

"Where we once talked about shifts in public opinion," writes Marsh, "we now talk about the Overton Window moving, implying an unfair tampering with the consensus:"

There is now a window of policies that are acceptable to the Republican base, and another for Democrats, but on the national level, there is no window. Instead of a consensus edging one way or another, we have a choice between two poles. The Overton Window is ultimately a name for what we have lost, not an indication of where we are headed. Its popularity today represents a powerful nostalgia for the center. It doesn't help us overcome fragmentation or rebuild a consensus. Its attractiveness lies in its reassurance that a middle ground once existed.

In contrast, however, I would say that this election is less a contest between two poles than it is between the center and the far-right fringe.

During the aftermath of a rather casual meeting at work today, the subject of the impending presidential election reared its all-too-ugly head. I sometimes lament the absence of a certain former co-worker, almost to the point of missing the steady stream of right-wing misinformation that she could be counted on to recount--and which I could reliably debunk, much to her chagrin. My lamentations were somewhat premature, as her place in the information ecosystem has been at least partially filled.

Today's tawdry tidbit was a vague tale of Wikileaks exposing an alleged Hillary Clinton quid-pro-quo deal regarding Algeria making donations to the Clinton Foundation and her subsequently removing them from the State Department's "terror list." (Clinton's folks also allegedly crowed about getting away with it.) The word "treason" was even bandied about--which is somewhat of a red flag for me.

As often happens in these situations, I took a step back from questioning the details (have we declared war on Algeria, thus making them an enemy to whom acts of "treason" could potentially apply?) to asking questions about the source of the claims. I wasn't free to research the allegations at the time, but the whole miasma of imprecise invective struck me as resembling the typical emanations from conservatism's propaganda swamp.

Later, after a brief bout of rigorous Google-Fu, I found the Wikileaks email in question--but that was the most exciting part of this research excursion. It turns out, not surprisingly, that this whole media molehill (which Gateway Pundit and other even less reputable outlets tried to spin into a "bombshell" or even "treason") was not the mountainous scandal that had been alleged.

In fact, as could be seen in the contemporaneous news stories that were mentioned in the Wikileaks email, this non-scandal is an 18-month-old slander on the part of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. (Yep, it's that "liberal media" at work again--carrying water for conservatives by making up negative stories about Democrats!)

The tl;dr of the story (based on the work of PunditFact and MediaMatters) is as follows:

• Algeria was never on a "terror list," so
• Hillary never removed them from it, therefore
• there was no "quid pro quo" situation to carp about.
• Joe Scarborough, whose baseless speculation started the story, delivered a "heartfelt apology" for his error, and
• Clinton staffers didn't express joy over exploiting "a legal gray area" (that was a paraphrase of Scarborough's words), but merely referred to him being exposed as a liar as "Really great" and "excellent!"

As usual, corrections receive much less media attention that the inflammatory claims--making this yet another example of a "liberal" network doing the GOP's work. Consider also that it takes longer to research and rebut these tales than it does to create them, thus ceding media time to their spin. Perhaps it's a tactic in conservatives' playbook to get us all (however reluctantly) singing from their infernal hymnal.

Is it any wonder that people are burned out on this election?

MediaMatters sees Chris Wallace's debate moderation as an example of the banality of conservative dishonesty, showing "the extent to which conservative spin has become normalized in national politics:"

Wallace also exposed his audience to a large dose of right-wing misinformation:

• His question about the economy began with the false premise that President Obama's 2009 stimulus plan damaged the economy.
• His question about immigration took Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton's 2013 comments about "open borders" grossly out of context.
• His question about abortion access invoked the right-wing myth of "partial-birth" abortion, a non-medical term invented by anti-abortion groups.
• His question about the national debt falsely alleged that programs like Social Security and Medicare are going to run out of money and add to the debt absent short-term cuts, echoing Republican talking points about entitlements.

Wallace also failed to fact-check Trump's frequent falsehoods -- following through on his promise not to be a "truth squad" during the debate.

MediaMatters' summary is telling:

It's easy to challenge bullshit when it's being delivered wildly by Trump on a debate stage. It's much harder to challenge it when it's being subtly baked into questions from a moderator whose employer has spent years trying to blur the lines between serious journalism and right-wing fantasy.

Salon also looks at how Wallace's right-wing agenda "grossly misled the audience:"

It was a coup for Fox News to have one of its anchors moderate a debate, something conservatives have been pushing the Presidential Debate Commission to do for years now. And in Chris Wallace, they found a seemingly fair-minded talking head. But he also brought all the baggage of Fox News with him -- that is, the worst traits of the post-fact, post-truth moment in political discourse that we are living through, that has found its ultimate vessel in the form of Donald Trump.

In other words, Wallace's questions were another example of right-wing talking points taking a stroll outside the usual bubble that encloses them. Unfortunately in a debate, there is no one, save the Democratic candidate, to push back on them.

John Nichols writes in The Nation that "Wallace's wrongheaded recitations of false premises were every bit as absurd as the Republican nominee's repetition of discredited claims about 'rigged' elections," citing Wallace's statement to Clinton that:

"I want to pursue your plan. Because in many ways it is similar to the Obama stimulus plan in 2009, which has led to the slowest GDP growth since 1949."

Nichols eviscerates Wallace here:

The moderator asked a series of questions based on false premises about everything from Social Security and Medicare to debt-service payments. He concluded by repeating the "grand bargain" talking points of billionaire-funded austerity advocates who seek tax breaks for wealthy and "shared sacrifice" from everyone else. [...]

Even when questions appear to be substantive, they are often based on partisan talking points and the "concerns" generated by the billionaire-funded campaigns that seek to get everyone talking about their latest austerity schemes.

The question what has conservatism conserved? needs to be asked far more often. "In the Obama era," notes Commentary, "two successive midterm wave elections resulted in Republicans enjoying their largest congressional majorities in over half a century." Despite this,

The GOP in the Obama years failed to communicate to its voters what it could achieve, preferring instead to focus on the chambers it could win. That's a tragedy, because the party has achieved quite a lot.

This "achievement," sadly consisted primarily not by accomplishing anything, but by obstructing everything--as the piece admits: "Republicans in Congress have effectively blocked Barack Obama's agenda since 2011." In addition to the Obamacare repeal failures,

The GOP passed a bill to keep Guantanamo Bay open, [...] passed anti-Net Neutrality legislation, expanded funding for the military, the de-funding of Planned Parenthood, and new measures to vet refugees fleeing war in the Middle East, none of which Obama allowed pass into law.

"Trump will lose," the piece concludes, "but, despite his best efforts, he may not succeed in taking the GOP's congressional majorities with him."

He might also fail in creating a media conglomerate. TNR notes that "there are many reasons a Trump TV channel or a Trump Media Group makes no sense as a business proposition:"

...but the most important one is best reflected in the fact that Donald Trump is the Republican Party's nominee for president. The GOP itself may have been ripe for disruption and coopting, but that's in large part because of the excellent job conservative media has done Trumpifying the party's base. [...]

Trump won the GOP nomination because the conservative media was already heavily Trumpified, and a Trump media conglomerate makes no sense because the conservative media will remain Trumpified once the election is over.

TNR also writes that, although the media can't rig the election, they can expose Trump's lies:

"I have no doubt the national media is trying to rig this election with their biased coverage in Hillary Clinton's favor," Mike Pence said Monday in Ohio. On ABC News on Sunday, Newt Gingrich--who actually contradicted Trump by saying it's "not about election officials at the precinct level"--nevertheless said that "without the unending one-sided assault of the news media, Trump would be beating Hillary by 15 points."

TNR disposes of this quickly, pointing out that "the media can't rig an election:"

If Trump wants to argue that the press is biased against him, a trope Republicans return to every election cycle, then fine. The media does lean left, and it's certainly true Trump is getting more critical coverage than Clinton. Of course, in this case, it may be because he's asked for it. He flunks every conceivable character test, flouts the norms of American democracy, and seems eager to transform America into an ethno-nationalist, quasi-fascist state.

To my mind, the contrary case is the stronger one:

There's also a case to be made that the press, particularly cable television, has been too kind to Trump. His rallies have run endlessly on TV, earning him billions in free media. Networks were baited into covering a glorified infomercial for his Pennsylvania Avenue hotel in Washington, D.C. CNN is receiving well-earned criticism for paying four Trump defenders to routinely deny facts on air and engage in trolling, to the increasing frustration of the actual journalists employed by the channel. [...]

The audience he's built is frightening; as a new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows, 41 percent of the country believes the election could be "stolen" from him. We're living in an age of misinformation, making it all the more fortunate that the media--though powerless to rig an election--still has enough power to spread the truth. Whether it's sufficiently exercising that power is another question altogether.

MediaMatters discusses two decades of Fox, which launched on 7 October 1996, and discusses the network's "torrent of hateful messages, misogyny, and fraudulent smears, all in the guise of journalism:"

Fox News is an enforcement arm of the conservative movement and the Republican Party.

Fox News has time and time again been a malignant force, utilizing its airwaves to attack progressive activists and politicians, elevate conservative activists and officials, and slant facts and information -- sometimes completely inventing it out of whole cloth -- in service of a right-wing conservative agenda.

Whether it was providing TV platforms for Matt Drudge and Glenn Beck, broadcasting Bill O'Reilly's claim that the Iraq War would "not last more than a week," stoking fears of Christmas being "under siege;" and promulgating nonsense that a young Barack Obama "went to a madrassa" and became a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people," Fox was on the wrong side of pretty much every event of the past two decades. Their propaganda promoted the "tea party" protests, toed the GOP party line as needed, including plagiarizing a GOP press release, and bolstered Trump's BS conspiracy theory about a "rigged" election.

I can hardly wait to see what they make up next.

Milo Y's "puff piece"

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ThinkProgress issued a condemnation of Out's Milo Y puff piece, writing that "the profile negligently perpetuates harm against the LGBT community:"

Here is a white supremacist whose entire career has been built on the attention he can get for himself through provocation. His attacks against women, people of color, Muslims, transgender people, and basically anybody who doesn't like him are as malicious as they come, and he catalyzes his many "alt-right" followers to turn on any target he deems worthy of abuse. This puff piece -- complete with a cutesy clown photoshoot -- makes light of Yiannopoulos's trolling while simultaneously providing him a pedestal to further extend his brand of hatred. Indeed, he does so in the profile itself, openly slurring the transgender community, which Out published without any apparent concern.

The Advocate talked to Out magazine editor Aaron Hicklin:

"If LGBTQ media takes its responsibilities seriously we can't shy away from covering queer people who are at the center of this highly polarized election year," he wrote, "and we ask you to assess Milos Yiannopoulos, the focus of this profile, on his own words without mistaking them for ours."

Hicklin has taken to social media to insist that Out's profile is actually an example of the best of journalism.

Politico's VandeHei and Allen report on GOP cries of "blatant bias," adoringly quoting Haley Barbour and Ari Fleischer and observing that "Republicans cry 'bias' so often it feels like a campaign theme:"

It is, largely because it fires up conservatives and diminishes the punch of legitimate investigative or narrative journalism. But it also is because it often rings true, even to people who don't listen to Rush Limbaugh...

Not that it is true, mind you--just that it supports their persecution complex. At American Prospect, Paul Waldman points out that working the refs continues to work for the Right:

VandeHei and Allen's article is a masterpiece of unsupported claims, false equivalences, speculations about what news stories "imply," and Republican complaints taken not as complaints but as truths. [...]

Let's examine this, shall we? The bias charge, they say, "often rings true." But is it true? Well, that's a complex question, so why bother trying to answer it at all? It feels true, so that's good enough. The "imbalance" in coverage, which has been alleged by Republicans but we don't know is actually true, is nevertheless doing "unmistakable damage to Romney." Really? Any evidence for that? Nah, but it sure feels true.

Media Matters explains what 'liberal bias' claims are really about, snarking "Republicans? Alleging liberal media bias? Pardon me while I find some pearls to clutch:"

The conceit behind this whole affair is that Haley Barbour and Ari Fleischer told Allen and VandeHei that "liberal bias" is real and it's devastating, and Allen and Vandehei believe them...

People who level the "bias" charge aren't looking for balance. They're not interested in journalistic good practices and they certainly don't give a damn where a story appears in the Washington Post. They're looking to game the refs.

It's all about discouraging journalists from turning a critical eye on Republicans and conservatives, lest they be tarred with the "liberal bias" epithet.

Salon calls the Politico article a "deeply stupid piece" that "could be the latest installment of Breitbart's whiny, posthumous 'Nobody Vetted Obama So We Have to Do It, By Printing Stuff We Know is False!' investigative series." It's useful to remind ourselves that these same "liberal media" outlets haven't given Obama a week of positive coverage in almost a year (h/t: Eric Boehlert), as the conservative "cottage industry" of media grievance "that pays the bills for talk radio, fills endless hours of commentary on Fox News, and produces content for right-wing authors" remains dominant. Pew studied the media from January to early April this year, concluding the following:

Of all the presidential candidates studied in this report, only one figure did not have a single week in 2012 when positive coverage exceeded negative coverage--the incumbent, Democrat Barack Obama. [...]

While Republicans have jockeyed for their party's nomination for the last year, the Democratic president has been hammered with negative press coverage. And it's coverage whose harsh tone has been matched only by its week-in and week-out consistency.

Behold the liberal media.

update (6/1):
James Fallows examines Pew's research into press coverage of Obama and Romney, noting that "At no time in the past year has coverage of President Obama been as positive as that of Governor Romney:"

Indeed, at no time in the past year has it been on-balance positive at all.

You can argue that negative coverage of the administration is justified. You can argue that incumbents are -- and should be -- held to a tougher standard, since they have a record to defend. But you can't sanely argue that the press is in the tank for Obama, notwithstanding recent "false equivalence" attempts to do so.

Politicus USA comments on the latest fact-free factoid floating around the conservative media cesspool, that Obama's consumer protection adviser Elizabeth Warren "is basically a Communist [because] she's a supporter of everything conservatives hate." Of course, as Politicus points out, "most of us know that communist (like Nazi and socialist) is a term conservatives like to throw around without really comprehending what it means:"

And not just the average ignorant Tea Partier but congressmen like Allen West, who is convinced that there are between 78 and 81 Democrats in Congress who are members of the Communist Party.

On the surface, it would seem both West and Carmenker are on agreement: a communist is one who is diametrically opposed to conservative ideology. This is all very Cold War and McCarthyesque and it's no wonder it's an attractive thesis to conservatives. It's a simple appeal - emotional and "patriotic" and it requires little thought - everyone knows that those commies were the enemies of American democracy and since conservatives are "real Americans" communism must be its opposite, right? (remember too that witch-hunts have historically been conservatism's response to people getting uppity and thinking for themselves).

Politicus comments on the factoid's source:

They claim that "For a refreshing and informative change in where you get your news, log on to" If by informative they mean dishonest and misleading, they are apparently spot on and certainly in good company... [...]

Apparently, conservative viewers and readers want to be liberated from the world of facts and from the millstone that is a fact-based universe where fantasy is not allowed to have its way with reality. If one hate-filled group says something the hate-filled news service has to report it and certainly won't violate the precepts of the agreed upon fantasy universe to question it. Why introduce facts when the fantasy is so congenial?

I know that it covers well-trod ground, but the study "What you know depends on what you watch" (PDF) from Farleigh Dickinson shows yet again that NPR listeners are the best-informed, and Fox viewers are the worst-informed:

People who watch MSNBC and CNN exclusively can answer more questions about domestic events than people who watch no news at all. People who only watch Fox did much worse. NPR listeners answered more questions correctly than people in any other category.

As these two graphs indicate, the Fox audience is even less informed (believe it or not) than the no-news audience:


Fox: when you want to know less than nothing.

Chris Mooney writes that "we live at a time when Republican 'Big Lies'...are everywhere," looking at PolitiFact's analyses:

Republicans were overwhelmingly more likely to draw a "false" or even "pants on fire" rating (the worst of all). Out of the ninety-eight politicians' statements that received these dismal ratings, seventy-four were made by Republicans--or 76 percent.

Mooney weighs the suggestion that "PolitiFact is biased against the right" against "another possibility: the left just might be right more often (or the right, wrong more often)." Also interesting is the Washington Post "Fact-Checker" column, where Republicans got nearly three times as many "four Pinocchio" ratings as Democrats. Rather than "liberal bias" among fact-checking organization, Mooney suggests "A potentially simpler explanation for these results:"

...that the fact-checkers are simply doing their job--and Republicans today just happen to be more egregiously wrong. Democrats, meanwhile, are certainly not innocent when it comes to making misleading statements, but their pants are not on fire.

Mooney continues by observing that "psychology... suggests that one's politics are driven partly by one's personality, and Democrats and liberals are simply more open to new information and experiences as well as more tolerant of ambiguity and uncertainty:"

Moreover, this difference has been exacerbated by a well-documented turn toward psychological authoritarianism in the Republican Party over the past four decades. Increasingly, the GOP has become the party of those who are more rigid, less given to compromise, and more inclined to see the world in black and white.

When talking about political polarization, don't just blame Republicans. TNR's William Galston spreads around the blame for the "complex story" of political polarization. He makes two key observations--that the electorate has polarized while the parties have become ideologically homogeneous, and also notes that "conservatives and liberals have come to understand the practice of politics differently:"

Unlike most other Americans, conservatives seem to believe that compromise represents defeat [and] intransigence represents their only hope; never mind the risks.

Big lies - compromise = disaster

Jonah Goldberg [of Liberal Fascism infamy] writes that Chris Mooney's Republican Brain "purports to show that conservatives are, literally by nature, more closed-minded and resistant to change and facts:"

His evidence includes the fact that conservatives are less likely to buy into global warming, allegedly proving they are not only "anti-science" but innately anti-fact, as well. "Politicized wrongness today," he writes "is clustered among Republicans, conservatives and especially Tea Partiers."

"The data might be correct," Goldberg avers, but "the conclusions are beyond absurd."

Oblivious to the anti-factualness of his criticism, Goldberg blunders onward. He parodies scientific analysis as an "algorithmic whirligig" and calls Mooney's research "inherently undemocratic and ... self-serving bigotry that allows liberals to justify their own closed-mindedness on the grounds that Republicans aren't even worth listening to."

Mooney's response points out that Goldberg "extensively misrepresented The Republican Brain:"

He talks about Republicans having "bad brains," as if this is something that I allege. This is both inflammatory and false. I say no such thing. is hard to miss the irony here. Conservatives are reacting defensively to a book about how they react defensively...just as the book predicted they would.

As for Goldberg's latest screed, The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, Mother Jones points out the following:

Jonah Goldberg argues that liberals craftily use innocuous-sounding yet hackneyed phrases such as "social justice" and "diversity" to obscure their nefarious intentions. Never mind that issue-framing is nothing new in American politics and that conservatives are pretty darn good at it. And never mind that Goldberg's last book, Liberal Fascism, indulged in the very argument-by-sloganeering that he now decries.

AlterNet's Joshua Holland wonders why the conservative brain is more fearful, and wants us to "Consider for a moment just how terrifying it must be to live life as a true believer on the right:"

Reality is scary enough, but the alternative reality inhabited by people who watch Glenn Beck, listen to Rush Limbaugh, or think Michele Bachmann isn't a joke must be nothing less than horrifying. Research suggests that conservatives are, on average, more susceptible to fear than those who identify themselves as liberals [which] has implications for our political world.

The "nightmarish landscape[of] the world around them" is indeed frightening:

The White House has been usurped by a Kenyan socialist named Barry Soetero, who hatched an elaborate plot to pass himself off as a citizen of the United States - a plot the media refuse to even investigate. This president doesn't just claim the right to assassinate suspected terrorists who are beyond the reach of law enforcement - he may be planning on rounding up his ideological opponents and putting them into concentration camps if he is reelected. He may have murdered a blogger who was critical of his administration, but authorities refuse to investigate. At the very least, he is plotting on disarming the American public after the election, in accordance with a secret deal cut with the UN and possibly with the assistance of foreign troops.

On issues as diverse as immigration, terrorism, violent crime, "sharia law," "death panels," global warming "hoaxes," gay "indoctrination" in sex-ed classes, rampant voter fraud, and the ever-popular "War on Christmas," Holland implores us not to "look at these specters haunting the right with exasperation or amusement, but just consider for a moment how bleak the world looks to those who buy into these ideas." It's hard to be empathetic toward their self-inflicted fantasies when they're burying us under a blizzard of bullshit, but we must try.

In his piece on anti-gay pseudoscience, Mooney examines "the underlying psychology behind how conservatives, especially religious ones, can believe such falsehoods" about same-sex marriage (such as Amendment 1 in North Carolina) and asks "Don't Christian conservatives want to be factually right, and to believe what's true about the world?:"

And shouldn't a proper reading of this research actually come as a relief to them, and help to assuage their concerns about dangerous social consequences of same-sex marriage or civil unions? If only it were that simple. We all want to be right, and to believe that our views are based on the best available information. But in this case, Christian conservatives utterly fail to get past their emotions, which powerfully bias their reasoning.

"Christian conservatives," he observes, "rely on their gut emotions to come up with wrong beliefs:"

Their deep emotional convictions guide the retrieval of self-supporting information that they then use to argue with, to prop themselves up. It isn't about truth, it's about feeling that you're right -- righteous, even.

"In the end," he concludes, "facts are facts -- and emotions and gut instincts are an utterly unreliable way of identifying them:"

We can try to be understanding of people different from us -- even when they're manifestly failing at the same task. But the latest research makes it more untenable than ever to base public policy on gut-driven misinformation.

update (5/3):
Amanda Marcotte contemplates the psychology involved, and asks, "Do they really believe this shit?"

I'm not so sure. I've said it before, but I think it's worth repeating: I think they only "believe" it. Which is to say, there are two kinds of ways people believe something. They have things they believe because they're factually accurate: That it's raining outside, that items dropped will fall, that Barack Obama is President. Then there's stuff that isn't real that people believe: that there's a God in heaven and an afterlife, that miracles happen, ghosts exist. These are things you don't really believe in the same way you believe in truths. It's more that these beliefs are convenient to apply a belief-like approach to, because the stories make you feel good or, more commonly, because joining in the belief connects you to your community.

In the end, she writes, "I don't think they believe-believe this stuff:"

I think they're just confused about the difference between fake belief and real belief, though I think they're highly motivated to be confused about it. After all, that confusion helps generate right wing identity. They may even mistakenly believe it's politically beneficial, though the available evidence shows that it instead causes everyone else to think they're nut jobs.


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Republicans--by way of Faux News and the Moonie Times--are claiming that Obama's just-unveiled slogan "FORWARD" is actually a word that has "a long and rich association with European Marxism:"

David Badash ridicules their silly sliming:

Forward is a leadership position in football, basketball, and rugby. The Forward is also a Jewish-American newspaper. Forward is also the name of several towns in Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Forward is also the name of a truck sold in the U.S. by Isuzu. And Forward is the name of an album recorded by American Idol semi-finalist Ayla Brown.

Interesting that Fox News and the Washington Times didn't bother to make those sports, journalism, geographic, automotive, or musical references.

Conservatives' antipathy to the concept of forward progress is instructive, and points toward a new slogan for their standard-bearer-of-the-moment Mitt Romney:

update (1:34pm):
Ron Chusid mocks the manner in which conservatives tremble in fear of moving forward:

To the frightened reactionaries of the right, the priority is avoiding Marxism, despite the fact that (except in their imaginations) there aren't enough supporters of Marxism left to present any threat. To the right wing, liberal ideas such as individual liberty and a market economy which everyone has the opportunity to benefit from, as opposed to oligarchy and plutocracy, are terrifying ideas.

update 2 (5/4):
After further reflection, I have two better solutions:
This one preserves the original "R" as well as reversing the period's position to the wrong end of the word. Also, it makes me chuckle.

So does this one:

stop CISPA

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In stop CISPA in 5 minutes, Business Insider writes that "if we want to keep the Internet free of over-governance and widespread state surveillance without warrant, opposing CISPA is crucial:"

It has already passed the House and now heads to a Senate vote. Here's a quick action kit you can use to make your voice heard -- in as little as 5 minutes, you can do almost everything you can "reasonably" do to help prevent CISPA from becoming the law of the land.

Educate yourself, sign a petition, call your Senators, and follow the situation online...that's pretty much it.

Can we warn millions of Americans in time? Can we all present massive opposition to CISPA as it is currently worded? Absolutely.

Slate notes that CISPA will flood the US government with more data that it can handle. Leaving aside the "centralized, paternalistic, 'trust us with your personal data' approach," the author notes that CISPA "makes little technological sense given the complexity and growth trends of today's digital networks, systems, and services:"

Over the last decade or so, thoroughly analyzing the world's data to identify potential cyberthreats has gone from difficult to impossible. The volume of digital information has become far too large.

Last year's online data creation and replication amounted to approximately 1.8 trillion gigabytes, and the article notes that "thoroughly analyzing all of that simply not possible."

It's also not appropriate in an ostensibly free nation. a rhetorical sense, of course:

H/t to Chris Bowers at DailyKos, who noted that "This may well be the first time a protest movement will air a positive branding ad."

Do you remember the conservative accusation that New York City workers deliberately slowed down blizzard cleanup? An investigation into the allegations "found no evidence of an organized slowdown:"

In fact, the report found, Mr. Halloran had no evidence for his accusation, and his account of conversations with two workers differed sharply from what the workers told investigators.

"In toto," the report said, "Mr. Halloran's information about city employee statements contributed no actual evidence about a possible slowdown."

H/t to Oliver Willis, who summarizes:

It's almost as if conservatives, Republicans, and the conservative media pushed a fraudulent story simply to kick unions in the balls as part of the decades-long attempt to bust unions and screw over working-class people. Wait, that's exactly what happened.


Michael JW Stickings writes about Palin's upcoming bus tour, asking "Notice how she's back in the news? Notice how we're writing about her again?"

This is what she wants. This is what she needs. This is what feeds her. Like any celebrity whose time is almost up, she's desperate for more, for the spotlight to shine brightly once more, for all the attention that fame brings. This is why she's back, and why she's dipping her toes into the pool.

And if and when she loses? Well, so what? She'll have been martyred and her admirers will be all the more devoted. And she'll be able to blame the loss on her usual targets, the coastal elites, the "lamestream" media, even the GOP establishment, anyone and everything beyond her bubble of self-aggrandizing delusion.


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Newt's spokesweasel Rick Tyler fired a floridly full-bore fusillade against critics of his boss:

The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding. Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment's cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won't be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.

It's ridiculous to suggest that Newt is anything but a Washington insider who makes his own living from distortions and falsehoods, but Rachel Maddow ridiculed the statement as "The Epic of Gingrich" for its overblown heroic rhetoric:

The text has also been adapted into a delightful cartoon (h/t: Alex Pareene at Slate):


(Click here to see the whole thing.)

Here are the beginning and the end of Jon Perr's excellent piece on Republicans rewriting history to credit Dear Leader W with killing bin Laden:

The only thing more predictable than Americans' jubilation over the killing of Osama Bin Laden is the Republican campaign to give George W. Bush credit for it. [...] Bush, after all, shrugged off Bin Laden's escape after the U.S. failure at Tora Bora by proclaiming, "I truly am not that concerned about him." And it was President Obama who as promised tripled American resources in Afghanistan and authorized unilateral strikes without the permission of Pakistan. [...]

It would have been helpful if President Bush had been worried about Osama Bin Laden when it could have made a difference. Bush, after all, responded to the infamous August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Brief (the one Condoleezza Rice later told the 9/11 Commission, "I believe the title was, 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.'") by telling his CIA briefer:

"All right. You've covered your ass, now."

According to one Israeli source years later, it was precisely Bin Laden's ass Bush was focused on. In a review of a 2007 biography of Ariel Sharon, the Israeli paper Ha'aretz included this purported exchange between President Bush and the now-comatose Sharon:

Speaking of George Bush, with whom Sharon developed a very close relationship, Uri Dan recalls that Sharon's delicacy made him reluctant to repeat what the president had told him when they discussed Osama bin Laden. Finally he relented. And here is what the leader of the Western world, valiant warrior in the battle of cultures, promised to do to bin Laden if he caught him: "I will screw him in the ass!"

Whether that story was apocryphal or not, George W. Bush did not screw Osama Bin Laden in the ass. And, sadly for the Republican propaganda machine, he wasn't responsible for killing him, either.

Blue Gal shows where the GOP's historical revisionism may wind up:


Politico reported last night on a "mother lode" of information on al-Qaeda:

Navy SEALs snatched a trove of computer drives and disks during their weekend raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, yielding what a U.S. official called "the mother lode of intelligence."

The special operations forces grabbed personal computers, thumb drives and electronic equipment during the lightning raid that killed bin Laden... [...] The material is being examined at a secret location in Afghanistan.

"Hundreds of people are going through it now," an official said, adding that intelligence operatives back in Washington are very excited to find out what they have.

CNN provided more details:

Among the items taken from the compound were 10 hard drives, five computers and more than 100 storage devices which include disks, DVDs and thumb drives, a senior U.S. official told CNN.

I hope that this intel will enable us to keep overturning the right rocks, and continue neutralizing those who would do us further harm.

I hung this outside my office this morning:


We've paid way too much attention to this non-event.

That is all.

Richard Florida's analysis in The Atlantic of this Gallup poll observed that "Conservatism, at least at the state level, appears to be growing stronger:"

Ironically, this trend is most pronounced in America's least well-off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states. Conservatism, more and more, is the ideology of the economically left behind. The current economic crisis only appears to have deepened conservatism's hold on America's states.

Chauncey DeVega dissented at AlterNet, noting that the survey depended on the slippery notion of self-identifying with a political label:

Conservatives and the Right-wing echo chamber will be crowing about their success in light of Gallup's findings. They will scream that Conservatism is on the march and that Gallup's polling data is a vindication of their ideas. Those who live in the reality based world can easily foil those claims. But, the cries of victory will appeal to the true devotees nonetheless. Sadly, the foot soldiers of Conservatism do not understand that they are winning a Pyrrhic victory, one which indicates a deep and systemic rot in this country, as opposed to a triumph of ideas and values that can lead us through the decline of empire and towards a brave new future.


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Donald ("I was a very smart guy") Trump, now a birther conspiracist, was speculating on Faux News last night (h/t: HuffPo) about Obama's birth certificate, stating "there is a doubt as to whether or not" he was born in the US. [There is no doubt, except among those who lack basic reading comprehension or common sense.] Trump says "He doesn't have a birth certificate:"

"He may have [a birth certificate], but there is something on that birth certificate. Maybe religion. Maybe it says he's a Muslim. I don't know. Maybe he doesn't want that. Or he may not have one."


The inanity of manufacturing a religious identity for a newborn is something that Richard Dawkins mentioned in The God Delusion:

A child is not a Christian child, not a Muslim child, but a child of Christian parents or a child of Muslim parents. This latter nomenclature, by the way, would be an excellent piece of consciousness-raising for the children themselves. A child who is told she is a 'child of Muslim parents' will immediately realize that religion is something for her to choose--or reject--when she becomes old enough to do so. (p. 382)

[This is, of course, what Obama did: he rejected his largely irreligious upbringing in favor of Christianity.] Birthers are still hunting for a mythical long-form Kenyan birth certificate that will prove not only that Obama is a Marxist/fascist/socialist/radical/Muslim, but that he's also the Antichrist. It's a sad and ultimately fruitless quest, but their loopy theories and lazy forgeries are sometimes entertaining.

In the same interview, by the way, Trump made this announcement:

"I'm opposed to gay marriage [because] I just don't feel good about it."

Well, Mr Trump, perhaps you'd care to explain why your emotions should have any bearing on the legal recognition of other people's marriages. [Like Newt, Trump is on his third wife--so it appears that he's fond of marriage, just not marriage equality.]

Scott Bradner's Network World column mentions McCain's prediction that net neutrality [see here and here] will "stifle innovation, in turn slowing our economic turnaround and further depressing an already anemic job market." Bradner suggests that McCain is "someone has absolutely no idea how the Internet works or what it is used for:"

The only way such an objection makes sense is if you only look at the carriers and assume that they will be worse off if they cannot get a piece of the action for the business that is done over their networks.

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