Trump and post-truth politics

Ignorance, lies, insults and even ‘fake news’. The US presidential election set new lows for political theatre – it couldn’t be described as discourse. And the country could not be more divided, well, short of civil war.

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The New Scientist editorial cites Media Matters for America which found that three TV networks for the entirety of 2016 spent a total of 32 minutes on the actual issues. They called the presidential campaign:

    a “horrifying spectacle” full of jaw-dropping plot twists that could have been plucked straight out of reality television. Most have been supplied by the reality TV star himself: conspiracy theories, bizarre late-night tweets, hate speech, insults and threats, degrading “locker-room talk” and allegations of sexual assault. But perhaps the killer twist is the FBI’s announcement that it is sifting through thousands more of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

    Not on that list: the actual issues. It has become customary to describe the quality of the debate as dismal; non-existent would be more accurate. The candidates took every opportunity to ignore the issues and attack their opponent’s shortcomings, real and imaginary.

When the candidates did talk about substance they often showed wilful disregard for evidence, with Trump the main offender.

PolitiFact found 233 of Trump’s statements were ‘pants on fire’ (57), ‘false’ (113) or ‘mostly false’ (63). The equivalent figures for Clinton in those categories were 7, 29 and 40, for a total of 76.

The New Scientist advice was straight-forward. Hold your nose and vote for Clinton. Trump’s views on climate change alone, which they described as “deranged claptrap” ought to have disqualified him.

The USA has become bitterly divided politically in a way that runs deep. The New Scientist ran another article looking at how the nation could heal itself. In short, with great difficulty and in no way that’s practical. The article uses Pew Center research to show what Republicans and Democrats think of each other:

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The Pew Center study conducted in 2014 showed marked polarisation over the last two decades.

    Among all Democrats, 27% say GOP policies are a threat to the well-being of the country; among all Republicans, more than a third (36%) think Democratic policies threaten the nation.

This negative view of the opposition create a situation where the means, any means, are justified by the ends.

This is how Pew saw the country bifurcating on a scale of 10 political values:

pp-2014-06-12-polarization-0-01_10-item-political-values_cropped

We can only assume that it is worse now.

At the top of the article I mentioned ‘fake news’.

Senior lecturer in journalism, media and communication at QUT, Dr Stephen Harrington, told the ABC that:

    fake news was no longer something just shared on the edges of society.

    “This was not just stuff that was happening at the fringes, but became part of the mainstream of the campaign,” he said.

    “There are lots of these things now that really circulate around at tremendous speed and its harder and harder for ordinary citizens to know the difference between what’s accurate and what’s completely fake.”

Some fake news sites were obviously set up by Trump supporters, but according to Buzzfeed teenagers in the Macedonian town of Veles (population 45,000) set up 140 political sites publishing fake news just to cash in.

Google and Facebook have announced that they will ban fake news sites. They can only try but it’s a bit late.

One of the bizarre stories was that the Clintons had purchased a house worth $200 million in the Maldives.

My friend in Erlangen sent a link to an article in Der Zeit The World is Flat about post-truth politics, which is becoming also endemic in Europe. At the top of the list, however, was Rudy Giuliani claim that there weren’t any terrorist attacks on American soil worth mentioning before Barack Obama became president. Of course the same Giuliani was mayor of New York in September 2001, when the Twin Towers went down. And looks set to gain a senior position in the Trump administration.

My friend also sent me some images I’d like to share:

The first is how the US looks from Europe:

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The second is a double word play as Trump takes the oath on the US Constitution:

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The German phrase “so wahr mir Gott helfe” means “so help me God”. Trump is saying in effect “God help you”. The question then is whether this is a slip of the tongue (Versprecher) or a promise (Versprechen).

I’ll leave you with this H. L. Mencken quote, posted in comments by zoot:

    “As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” — H. L. Mencken, 1920

They say he’s not, he just acts like one, but they also say that in politics perception is reality. And we genuinely don’t know what he’s going to do, except follow through on his climate change denialism and stack the Supreme Court with socially conservative anti-choice judges.

That’s scary!

92 thoughts on “Trump and post-truth politics”

  1. The thing that struck me was that Trump sucked Clinton into spending most of her time attacking all the easy targets instead of telling people what she was going to do if she got elected. It leaves a vacuum into which all the false stories could be pumped.

  2. By ” anti-choice judges.” you mean Judges that don’t like babies being murdered, right ?
    I would have thought all Judges should be like that.

  3. As an aside, I have interacted with a few libertarians, all male, who believe they have the right to tell a female libertarian what she can or can’t do with her body.
    I find it strange, to say the least. I’m sure they wouldn’t let me decide whether or not they could have a tumour removed from their abdomen.

  4. As an aside, I have interacted with a few libertarians, all male, who believe they have the right to tell a female libertarian what she can or can’t do with her body.

    Then you should know half the murdered unborn children are female ( at least here and in the US, other Countries females in a female are killed at much higher rates )

    Also 100% of pro-baby murder people ( like you ) were not murdered out of inconvenience.

    If someone slipped an abortion drug into your wifes drink when she was 8 months pregnant with your daughter, resulting in your unborn daughters death, what would you call that ?

  5. As an aside, anyone that calls themselves a Libertarian, male or female, recognises the Liberties of unborn babies.

  6. Jumpy, they’re not babies and therefore they are not being murdered.

    Another honest question, when in your eyes were your children actually valued as a child ? If you’re their natural Father that is.

  7. Jumpy, we know what your views are on female reproductive rights are. I don’t think we need to go over them again.

  8. Pious religious believe systems perhaps dont condone the removal of foetuses, but they have no problems with hushing systemic pedophilia, straight out child abuse, suffering of terminal ill people and sending young people into manufactured wars.

    Some people just don’t get consistency and difficult ethical questions or at least have no problems kicking them along the road for tribal or self aggrandised purpose. You are free to rape and pillage, but not to make a decision about wether you want to bring another child onto a planet reaching 9 billion people with a stuffed human life support system.

    Hypocrites the lot.

  9. Jumpy, if you are so passionately against abortion I suggest you exercise choice and not have one.
    And for what it’s worth, we nearly lost both of my daughters near the end of the first trimester because their mother tended to spontaneously miscarry.
    Had either of them not survived would you label their mother a murderer? In which case I married a murderer, because she did lose other foetuses. Spare me your sanctimony.
    Of course the real murderer is the God (your God?) who designed such a crap system that fully half of all fertilised eggs don’t even become embryos.

  10. Nothing at all to do with religion from my position.
    I have zero religious faith.
    Try another angle to denigrate a supporter of the most vulnerable humans on Earth.

  11. Beware of people shallowly profess concern for the vulnerable while consistently and whole heartily support the rape and pillage of the planet.

    In any case Trump has more positions on abortion than the Kamasutra. USA the land of FREEDOM to make up anything as you go. No wonder post truth is trump.

  12. It isn’t the purpose of this thread to discuss the rights and wrongs of abortion/pro-choice/female reproductive rights. I prefer not to discuss the subject unless I can see the whites of my interlocutor’s eyes, because in my experience on the web it always ends in an unseemly slanging match.

    The point here is that Trump took a politically strategic decision to commit to appointing pro-life judges, which I understand to be a departure from his former beliefs.

    If you google ‘pro life vs pro choice trump voting’ you’ll find a lot of different positions being held.

    This link from 2016 reports on a survey of American opinion.

    I understand, but I can’t find a link, that 20% of the people voting for Trump did so because of his position on Roe vs Wade.

    So I’m interested in the topic as a social/political issue relevant to the election of Trump, not in personal views.

  13. To return to the topic, I’ve been amazed at the there-is-no-alternative-to-freemarkets enthusiasts who are suddenly Trump fanboys, even though he has promised to withdraw from all free trade agreements and erect tariff barriers against China and Mexico.
    Tony Abbott is one.

  14. Thanks Ootz.

    I heard an interview with a black evangelical pastor, a traditional Democrat, who supported Trump because he said early in the piece Trump reached out to them with pro-choice as the bait.

  15. Ootz, I’ve now had time to look in detail at your link.

    It shows that Trump has been consistently pro-choice sinse June 2015 “with exceptions” whatever that means.

    The later questions are mostly about whether the woman should be punished, where he’s wobbled around. He is also aware that the law is between the Supreme Court and the states.

  16. Kind Gentlefolk: It has been my own personal experience that American ultra-right-fanatics really don’t give two hoots about fluoridation of water, immunization, abortion, The Bible in schools, open slather in the ownership of military weapons, The Flag, Moslems (undifferentiated), underpaid Mexican workers or any of the issues about which they claim to have immovable view-points. Holding the “correct(??)” views on those topics is merely a verbal membership badge of their club.

    What they are passionate about is money, influence and personal prestige. Nothing else. They will use whatever it takes to grab those three precious jewels. If standing on one leg whilst singing “Home On The Range” backwards would guarantee them money, influence and prestige, they would do that in a flash.

    There are decent Americans who hold strong views on one or another of the subjects I mentioned. Good luck to them; they are entitled to hold – and care about – whatever views they like in an open democracy. They are not the hypocritical ultra-right extremists who have grabbed power; they are not the ones who will become a danger to us here.

  17. Trumps best strategy was to call out the media on their bias and dishonesty.
    It never gained many votes, rather took the wind out of Dem voters that recognised the truth of it.

    Her plutocratic doners and shifty crony dealings being revealed made more traditional Dem voters stay home.

    The media can’t help themselves and can’t digest that they are the main problem facing America.

  18. The media can’t help themselves and can’t digest that they are the main problem facing America.

    Agreed, but this is probably because only six corporate conglomerates (Disney, CBS Corporation, 21st Century Fox, Viacom, Time Warner, and Comcast) own the majority (around 90%) of mass media outlets in the United States.
    Because of this

    More than 100 million Americans — one-third of the population — live in poverty or a category called “near poverty.” Yet the stories of the poor and the near poor, the hardships they endure, are rarely told by a media that is owned by a handful of corporations … The suffering of the underclass, like the crimes of the power elite, has been rendered invisible.

    (Thankyou Wikipedia)

  19. Of those media conglomerates, which endorsed clinton ?
    Only one.
    The ” poverty line ” red herring is relative to jurisdiction, the US poverty line is around $12k/year the international is about $750/year or $1.90 per day.

    If you like, zoot, i can post multiple videos of media bias and dishonesty against conservatives, Trump and Republicans.
    It is ridiculous to argue the media in America aren’t majority left, huge left majority.

  20. Jumpy, maybe you should read what is actually written before commenting on it.
    I made no reference to “left” and/or “right”, and the terms are irrelevant to the point I was attempting to make (I obviously failed in your case).
    But if you insist on framing it that way, your assertion that only one of the six conglomerates endorsed Clinton would indicate the media was in fact biased against her. Of course, it depends on how many of the other five endorsed Trump.
    But that calculation has nothing to do with the argument I was putting forward.

  21. Jumpy, I heard tonight that more than 50% of Americans use Facebook as their main source of news.

    Facebook was set up as a news aggregator, but is now avoiding the responsibility that goes with a news organisation.

  22. abortion rights being sent back to the states in the USA requires two events, something many who focus only on Roe neglect:
    1.) A complete overturning over the courts view of medical treatment and “reasonable actions and procedures recognized by the medical community.” In particular a full overturning of the 1971 ruling of United States v. Vuitch which recognized that abortion is a medical procedure.
    2.) Roe was overturned in part back in 1992. Planned Parenthood v. Casey is the current standard and it meets the rational basis test in full. Right now all cases going before the court are not based on “is abortion wrong” but “can this specific limitation upon access to a legitimate medical procedure be upheld”?

    While a core group wants 100% total removal of the abortion option this is not the norm nationwide. In fact most people when explained the ACTUAL law on abortion agree with it. Hell the slogan of Planned Parenthood when not associated with the organization is viewed as a positive in most surveys (aka “keep abortion safe, legal, and rare.”).

    So to get this kicked down to the state level you will need to establish that the procedure is not a medical norm. Perhaps tie it into religion? But even then the courts LONG have recognized that a religious hospital is not granted full rights as secular hospitals, and in select federal cases the courts have overridden supposed religious exemptions in both criminal and civil court cases where it can be established such hospitals where the only “feasible means to seek treatment.”

  23. Zoot I commend your patience, but I fear you are on losing ground.

    Your link on Media Bias in US states

    According to the ( 2014 Gallup) poll, 44% of Americans feel that news media are “too liberal” (70% of self-identified conservatives, 35% of self-identified moderates, and 15% of self-identified liberals)

    Well argued and supported rational established facts are no match for feelings and opinions in post-truth warp space.

  24. Well argued and supported rational established facts are no match for feelings and opinions in post-truth warp space.

    Ootz, I couldn’t disagree with that, but I’m old, and set in my ways. I have an irrational attachment to facts and logic. 🙂

  25. Please share with us your definition of a baby.
    Does a blastocyst qualify as a baby?
    Is an embryo a baby?
    At what stage of development does a foetus achieve babyhood?

    (Apologies for going off topic, but Trumpy started it 🙂 )

  26. Jumpy and zoot, I’m going to start deleting comments if the discussion goes back to that topic. If I wanted it discussed I’d set it up with the main views represented, including those of Peter Singer.

    For me the topic is existential. There were two women in my lineage who became pregnant from being raped. They made different decisions. If either had decided the other way, I wouldn’t be here.

  27. Fair call Brian, your blog.
    But I have a feeling that if abortion were illegal, the subject would be discussed here frequently.

    I’m interested in folks thoughts on Trump Tariffs to lower US unemployment, good or bad ?
    I’ll go out on a limb and guess most here support this Trump policy.

  28. Jumpy: Tariffs are a stupid way to try and control imports in a world of floating currencies.
    It makes more sense to sell a controlled number of import licences via something like the futures market The number of licences issued per month by the government would slowly vary on the basis of how our balance of trade was going and how the licence price compared with the product price.

  29. Thanks John.
    Would these licences be product specific, like cars or medical products ?
    And how would those levels be set if not by demand ?

  30. Also John, and I ask honestly, how and at what cost would we police this in the age of increased online purchasing ?

  31. Thanks, John D., for your comment on the problems with tariffs.

    Jumpy: Try the cost of NOT policing this trade. As for the proliferation of on-line business, where there is a will, there’s a way …. problem is that like so much of Australian business (now there’s an oxymoron for you!), the politicians and other decision-makers we have to put up with now are obsessed with Free Markets (another great oxymoron for you) that they hate the idea of policing or regulating anything.

  32. I tend to find it very interesting the different positions folk have on the free movement of goods and capital ( Trade ) and the free movement of People ( migration )

    I think Trumps position on Trade are closer to ALP and immigration closer to LNP.

    He is certainly nowhere near Libertarians or greens.

  33. To get back to fake news, there were reports that “Wikileaks CONFIRMS Hillary sold weapons to ISIS’, or the equally false “FBI agent suspected in Hillary Email Leaks Found Dead”.

    Fake news writer Paul Horner earned more money from Google AdSense revenues generated by his fake news work than as a professional news journalist.

    Now he is regretful that he may have elected Donald Trump, complaining that no-one fact checks anything anymore.

  34. There was another story earlier on in the New Scientist, from Newt Gingrich, who was challenged about crime statistics, which the public thinks have gone through the roof, and official statistics show a reduction of crime.

    His response was along the lines, “If it’s a choice between crime statistics and what people believe, I’ll go with the people every time!”

  35. Sigh!

    Jumpy, science lives and has its being in society. Of course it is a concern when the political class adopts attitudes that are ignorant of science, or anti-science. NS is not actively involving itself in the political process, but silence is complicity.

  36. Sovereign advice:
    1. Don’t believe anything that comes from:
    (a) Any political operators,
    (b) The “news(??)” media – and that includes spelling too.
    (c) Advertisers, and,
    (d) Funding-seekers.
    Unless there is rock-solid corroborating evidence backing it up.

    2. Remember Goebbel’s Maxim: A Great Lie, repeated often enough, becomes The Truth.

  37. Jumpy: ‘New Scientist’ magazine regularly covers mathematics (and IT) so perhaps the magazine believes that statistics , theoretical and applied, comes within their range? Just a suggestion.

    Brian at 12.11

    Now he [Paul Horner] is regretful that he may have elected Donald Trump,

    awww not all by himself, he had many millions of collaborators !!

    🙂

  38. Jumpy, ‘He [Mr Trump] is certainly nowhere near ….. [the] greens.’

    I agree, Jumpy.

    He doesn’t seem to be a greenie: neither a closet greenie, nor an out-and-proud greenie.

    In a week of uncertainty and predictions based on flimsy evidence and Mr Trump’s verbal inconsistencies, it’s reassuring that in far-off Australia, you have at least destroyed that furphy.

    Thank heavens it hasn’t gained any traction on social media. You, Trumpy, have squashed it in the nick of time!!

    Hat tip.

  39. Jumpy, to be frank, I don’t care what Mr Rudd thinks. The NS doesn’t just cover ‘hard’ science, but also opinion, psychology, sociology and stuff. Overall, they are truth-seeking and rational. I was going to say evidence-based, but they report on theories also where the evidence is not yet there.

    Some scientists are clearly activist, like James Hansen. It’s not a crime. Some see it as their duty.

  40. Jumpy: In terms of what i said re alternatives to free trade:
    1 I was thinking of fairly specific licences Ex: cars – but they may be more complex than simply one licence per car.
    2. It is not practical to cover everything. some things are just too variable. Some things have no Aus industry worth protecting or simply don’t need protecting.

  41. John
    On point 1, this method would inflate the cost of cars ( already the common persons 2nd most expensive investment ) would it not ?
    On point 2, there will always be a corporate welfare candidates willing to lobby for licences in return for election donations. And Politicians can be corrupted by exercising this power.

    In both instances manipulation of Capitalism has occurred with the masses paying the cost. Not your intent but the inevitable result.

  42. Brian
    In my view opinion is not science. NS is owned by a Corporation (shareholders ) the same way Fox News is.

  43. Any protection system increases prices Jumpy but it also means it saves the cost of welfare and retraining of people who would otherwise lose their jobs. It also means the wages paid to car workers add to the consumer purchasing power.
    I prefer the world the way it was when I left school in 1960 and i knew no-one who didn’t get a job and/or go on to tertiary education.

  44. Jumpy

    Other widely read science magazines and journals venture into opinion and the politics of science.

    Nature in the UK

    Science USA

    are well respected…. they are very scrupulous about the research papers they publish, they have eminent persons writing summaries of conferences and reviewing books. Their articles touching on politics or Congress are in the news sections, not in the ‘pure science’ sections.

    Where lies your problem?

    If you want to see full blown politics, try “Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists”, highly political from the start. Its purpose was always political; you don’t get much more geopolitical than nuclear weapons.

    (Unless you insist the discussion be confined to neutrons, energy production, fission, fusion, thermodynamics, shock waves, seismic signatures, half lives, modelling of fallout patterns, chemical reactions of radionuclides, relative efficiency of plutonium and U235 cores, fission-fusion-fission designs, etc.)

    Would you prefer that?
    If so, boy oh boy, do we have a model scientist for you! Step forward Dr Strangelove, circa 1963, portrayed by Penter Sellers. A genius, concerned mostly with counting.

  45. Yes John

    Those were good times. Plenty of jobs, plenty of apprenticeships offering good training. Commonwealth scholarships for Uni courtesy of Menzies Govt, state-based studentships for trainee teachers (1 year diplomas), manufacturing booming, houses affordable. Mining boom in late 60s. Unemployment around 1%?

    Drawbacks: limited range of jobs for women, lower pay for women, conscription by ballot for Army for young men, difficult for some country kids trying to make a life in a big city; droughts, flooding rains and bushfires, hardly any air conditioning, cars heavy and needing frequent repairs, drink driving, six o’clock closing, no seat belts in cars.

  46. Jumpy, in the Newt Gingrich case, it is straight forward that the NS should point out that prominent political figures are telling porkies.

    In the case of their editorial against Trump and for Clinton, it would be unusual, I think, for a journal like the NS to take a stance. But Trump’s views on climate science alone are putting life as we usually conduct it on the planet at risk.

    This is a matter of science, not opinion, and no doubt they felt compelled to act.

    BTW, Trump’s biographer tonight said he was a “pathological fabulist” who wasn’t going to change.

  47. Apropos of nothing in particular, Henry Ford’s most important insight was that he should pay his workers enough for them to buy the cars they produced. Latter day capitalists have lost sight of this principle, bringing the whole structure closer to collapse.

    (puts soapbox away)

  48. John D. and Zoot: Thanks for reminding us of what has been forgotten by the worshippers of the Free Trade cult …. that unemployment is an unnecessary cost borne by the whole economy.

    One good thing in all this Trumpery and outrageous lying is that Australian voters may well have been alerted to its pitfalls now.

  49. Ambiguous:

    Drawbacks: limited range of jobs for women, lower pay for women, conscription by ballot for Army for young men, difficult for some country kids trying to make a life in a big city; droughts, flooding rains and bushfires, hardly any air conditioning, cars heavy and needing frequent repairs, drink driving, six o’clock closing, no seat belts in cars.

    If you look at the post war period (stretching up to when Hawke started to get serious about free markets in the eighties) it was a period of rapid technical and social change.
    It is a stretch to credit changes to all the problems you listed above to the advent of free markets. Let alone justify all the damage free market globalization has done to some individuals in terms of fixing these problems.

  50. To be frank, we haven’t got, nor ever had free markets in Australia.

    As for employment, technology has more to do with it than lessening trade restrictions and barriers.
    When Australia had 4 mil people, 800,000 worked in agriculture ( 30% of men and 10% of women.
    By the time we had 20 mil people, less than 350,000 people worked in agriculture.
    Yet we produce many times more of the same stuff we needed then.
    Reducing trade barriers and opening more markets have helped employment in the face of technology, not hindered it.

  51. No, being less efficient, too expensive and greedy unions ended that.
    Why should a QLDer driving a better foreign car for less money pay to subsidise a South Australian lifestyle to the detriment of a Japanese person trying to improve both his and mine ?

    Sound like Trump Nationalistic protectionism to me.

  52. John/Ambigulous, apart from full employment the big thing we had in the 60s and 70s was hope. Our lives constantly improved and it felt like it was happening.

    I’m in favour of fair trade. Most countries will spout “free” trade, and even “fair” trade, but what the really believe in is national self-interest. If you are a trade negotiator it helps if you can lie through your teeth. Steve Ciobo should be good at it!

    Actually, I’ll say this for Trump. His “America first” is plain and simple national self-interest.

  53. Brian

    Actually, I’ll say this for Trump. His “America first” is plain and simple national self-interest.

    Which will be his sworn job.
    But as voters we apply self interest, whatever form that takes.

  54. Why should a QLDer driving a better foreign car for less money pay to subsidise a South Australian lifestyle to the detriment of a Japanese person trying to improve both his and mine ?

    You are apparently unaware that Japan built its post war car industry with trade barriers and huge government subsidies.
    Which leads to a restatement of your question: Why should the Japanese taxpayer subsidise the QLDer’s cheaper car to the detriment of the South Australian worker?

  55. Why should the Japanese taxpayer subsidise the QLDer’s cheaper car to the detriment of the South Australian worker?

    They shouldn’t , that’s the point, glad at least one penny has dropped.

  56. Jumpy, thing is they all did it the way the Japanese did it, the ‘Asian tigers’. So doing it your way there would be no modern industry in Asia.

    It must feel really good to know everything as you obviously do. I’d just question “greedy unions”. Did you live through the ‘Accord’ in the 80s, or did you go to sleep?

  57. So doing it your way there would be no modern industry in Asia.

    I don’t believe that at all. I do believe they wouldn’t be the highest gross debt to ” gdp ” Country in the word though

    Thanks Japanese Government, sorry Japanese citizens.

  58. Back in the olden days some people thought that trade should be about an overall win/win and that trade should be balanced at least to the point where the world economy was not being destabilized.
    These days the free trade fanatics think that all the world needs is free trade and, if the result is a GFC they couldn’t give a stuff.

  59. Question

    Why should the Japanese taxpayer subsidise the QLDer’s cheaper car to the detriment of the South Australian worker?

    Answer

    They shouldn’t , that’s the point, …

    Make your mind up Jumpy.
    You’ve just said that the QLDer should not have the benefit of a better foreign car but should instead be driving the apparently inferior and more expensive South Australian product.

  60. On reflection …

    “”… you mean Judges that don’t like babies being murdered, right ?””

    “”If someone slipped an abortion drug into your wifes drink when she was 8 months pregnant with your daughter, resulting in your unborn daughters death, what would you call that ?””

    “”As an aside, anyone that calls themselves a Libertarian, male or female, recognises the Liberties of unborn babies.””

    “”Another honest question, when in your eyes were your children actually valued as a child ? If you’re their natural Father that is.””

    “”I’m interested in folks thoughts on Trump Tariffs to lower US unemployment, good or bad ?””

    “”But Rudd said Scientist aren’t activists, just honest folk in white coats that count stuff.””

    “”In my view opinion is not science. NS is owned by a Corporation (shareholders ) the same way Fox News is.””

    “”Why should a QLDer driving a better foreign car for less money pay to subsidise a South Australian lifestyle to the detriment of a Japanese person trying to improve both his and mine ?””

    “”Fair call Brian, your blog.
    But I have a feeling that if abortion were illegal, the subject would be discussed here frequently.””

    “”Opps, forgot the micro aggression .. ” sigh “”

    In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[2] or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion,[3] often for the troll’s amusement.

    Wikipedia

    There is a pattern in all those listed comments, if anything the follow up comments (last in above list) after Brian’s two emotional revelations are a dead give away. Brian deserves a medal for his patience and decency.

    BTW the same pattern over at Catallaxy, and they have called for what it is.

    Folks there is an old adage and it has been shown to work
    Don’t feed the trolls

    Let’s get back on topic again please, the topic in itself is not only interesting but immensely important for better functioning political processes.

  61. Ootz, you have thrown down the gauntlet and I’ll respond at greater length later.

    You are spot on in that the topic of the post is Trump and post-truth politics, and Jumpy’s first comment was off-topic. He riffed off the last substantive phrase in the post.

    Two initial remarks.

    First, we should all reflect from time to time on how we habitually perform in everything, including on comments threads.

    Secondly, I was never emotional above except perhaps when I said “sigh!” Just a bit weary in the ‘here we go again’ sense. It seemed that anything that attacked or was negative about Trump had to be questioned.

    I’ve largely learnt not to expend emotion on matters I can’t change, and try to be a bit calm and measured where I can make a difference.

    The word “existential” may have implied emotion, but it’s a also a technical term. One of the reasons I don’t like discussing issues like female reproductive rights on blogs is that you need body language communication as well as words, or the exercise is almost certain to come unstuck.

    I want to finish the post I was working on last night before I say any more.

  62. Agree emotional was the wrong term for your existential comment to use. However, the responses you received never the less we’re clearly pitched for emotional reaction. I did refered to your patience and decency and add, that one reason I frequent your site is that you have at all times conducted yourself with the utmost integrity, something of rarety on social media.

    Perhaps I could have phrased the comment better, but the thread was not going anywhere and I had enough of this game.

  63. Sorry …. the thread was not going anywhere apart from the protagonists objectives of disruption and agonising and I had enough of his game.

  64. There’s a new Climate clippings up now.

    I’ve had some personal stuff to do and tomorrow I work again.

    I think I need to do a separate post on commenting, rather than a 500 word comment here.

  65. Thankyou Ambigulous, and thankyou Ootz for your kind and supportive remarks.

    If anyone wants to contact me, the email is climateplus[at]bigpond[dot]com. Last time I tried it out it worked.

  66. I’ll be watching to see which way Trump jumps.

    To my way of thinking, so-called Free Trade is merely an very successful strategy to concentrate all the wealth of the world in the hands of a few hundred (at most) 21st Century aristocrats and their eager servants.

    The benefits (but never the disadvantages) of uncontrolled and borderless trade are spruiked solely to benefit these latter-day plunderers – and nobody else!. These alleged benefits are marketed in exactly the same way as were the remission of all sins and free trips to Heaven were marketed to troublesome knights and unemployed soldiers back in the days of the Crusades.

    Privatization, which is always linked to this “Free Trade” fantasy – or deception, take your pick – has a close resemblance to the destruction of democratic system of selection of traditional chiefs and overlords, so that hereditary Kings and Emperors, with limitless power, could come into being. Privatization also has the stench about it of The Enclosures – followed by The Clearances – and then with Colonialism (where putting up your own flag and uttering an incantation in your own language gave you immediate control of vast tracts of territory, all of its resources and the power of life-and-death over all of its inhabitants.

    No wonder staunch Communist official everywhere took to Privatization like ducks to water! It was just what they were used to – but on steroids.

    John D. (at 4:13pm, 21st): Around here, three cost-effective, internationally competitive, very efficient rural industries were wiped out overnight by the “Free Market” commissars. Adam Smith is probably still turning in his grave over the utter stupidity of it.

  67. Graham, Wallerstein said he expected Trump to act on trade deals internationally in some way, because it would demonstrate that he is doing something and there is not much else he can do.

    I don’t think he’ll do a trade war with China, or bring back the car industry. A big infrastructure spend, with more debt, looks likely and the ‘markets’ (ie. shares, bonds, currencies) are actually depending on it.

    But I’m afraid it’s becoming the norm that you say whatever it takes to obtain power, and then do something else when you’ve got it.

  68. Without any non-conforming ideas or statements, a search of Ryans budget savings Bill of 2011 may give insight into the US fiscal attitude ” going forward “.
    (I mean no offence by this, nor antagonism. I anyone is emotionally harmed, i take full responsibility and accept punitive measures imposed )

  69. Jumpy, you didn’t need that bit in brackets.

    Is this what you are talking about?

    There seems to be some disagreement about who did what, when.

  70. Zoot and Jumpy, I am sorry to have so rudely interrupted your engaged discussion on trade and car industry so rudely in this post on Trump and post truth. But to carry on from that I’d like to note that there is a pretty good post on John Quiggin’s blog on that topic and thoroughly dissected by the commentariat. One pro manufacturing commentator in essence said that the bigger problem then trade deals is how little major industry transition is planned and acted on. The example she brought is that our car industry should be

    Building something like a… Tesla… perhaps – and the funny idea that success in manufacturing only is possible after doing some capital or money engineering – or through the advantages of some (UN)’Free Market’ – just drive once a ‘ultimate driving machine’ -(or learn how to take it apart – and rebuilt it again)

    Yes indeed, how on earth could we afford to ‘loose’ our car industry? Was this just the ‘free markets’ fault?

  71. Where did all the riches of the car industries previous success end up , doing what? That is the question, in a free market where does all the capital go? How is it distributed?

    I just came back from a long trip to native Switzerland, which provides somewhat interesting contrast. Being staunch independent thinking they have managed, somehow, to stay out of the EU and yet still partially integrated into bi-lateral negotiated treaties. Their lifestyle and wealth is a testimony that you don’t need global free trade deals to succeed as a nation. In relation to industry transitions, it is fascinating how they go about to sustain and rejuvenate their centuries old tourist industry as well watch/instruments industry. Also, you can find in some remote valleys small manufacturing churning out highly complex parts for the car industry or office furnitures According to my mate ” … but you have to be constantly on to it”.

    The Swiss are also one of the most egalitarian societies, in many ways so. The cabinet consists of members of the major parties in proportion to their seats in the house. Further, popular initiatives allows citizens to propose changes to the Swiss Federal Constitution, and so forth. I am not suggestion we revolutionise the Australian political structure as such, but would it help if people in general as well as in responsible positions, just would be a bit more “on to it”, not simply playing political footy with important issues. would it help if important issues could be fleshed out more seriously and solutions agreed on more frequently. Would it help if our bi-partisan thinking perhaps would allow for cracks and create opportunities for the common good. Would it help if we would consider wealth distribution more seriously? Where would ‘free trade’ stand under such circumstances.

    PS there is a interesting discussion by JQ’s commentariat on relationship of capital – wealth – income on previous posted link.

  72. Ootz I did see that Quiggin post, but don’t have time to get my head fully into the space.

    Anecdotally, last year I was having a bit of dental reconstruction work done from an implant gone wrong. I remember the orthodontist using a small phial of powder for bone repair that he said cost $200, made in Switzerland. He used two of those. Then when he stitched me up the stitching thread was same, worth $180 for a short piece.

    At one stage he explained he was using a technique developed in Berlin.

    Our pollies don’t value and invest enough in R&D, and our corporate managers are second rate.

    That’s not the whole story, but it’s a large slice.

  73. A detailed and impressionistic chronicle of the U.S. media’s coverage of Mr Trump’s campaign is at

    the guardian.com

    (dated 22nd November)

    Compiled by the Columbia Journalism Review team, it’s called

    Accomplices or antagonists: how the media handled the Trump campaign

    Cheerio

  74. Thanks Ambigulous, here’s the link.

    The Washington Post has a story Russian propaganda effort helped spread ‘fake news’ during election, experts say:

    Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.

    Two teams of independent researchers say it was for real.

    There is no way to know whether the Russian campaign proved decisive in electing Trump, but researchers portray it as part of a broadly effective strategy of sowing distrust in U.S. democracy and its leaders. The tactics included penetrating the computers of election officials in several states and releasing troves of hacked emails that embarrassed Clinton in the final months of her campaign.

    “They want to essentially erode faith in the U.S. government or U.S. government interests,” said Clint Watts, a fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute who along with two other researchers has tracked Russian propaganda since 2014. “This was their standard mode during the Cold War. The problem is that this was hard to do before social media.”

    The article was published in the Weekend AFR, along with another one saying that Angela Merkel anticipates the same treatment in next year’s election and has brought in consultants to try to counter it.

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