When Is A Fact Not A Fact?

Let’s start with basic math. We can all agree that one plus one equals two, right? We can all agree that the moon revolves around the earth and the earth revolves around the sun. Keep in mind — we can’t actually “see” the moon revolve around the earth — or the earth revolve around the sun. We have to extrapolate these things based on the available evidence.

We’re connecting dots in order to “see” the bigger picture and draw reasonable conclusions. We’re using a bunch of smaller facts to understand a larger fact.

Donald Trump is a criminal. Funny thing? We don’t have to connect any dots to see it. He happily commits plenty of his crimes in plain view. Hell, reliable, informed people keep telling us that Trump’s a criminal — likely a traitor, too. Plenty of dots that a scientist would connect.

Yet, our journalists do not.

In storytelling, if you’re doing it right, each scene adds new information to what the audience knows. Scenes don’t have to add a ton of info to justify being in a story, but they have to at least add a nuance or shading to a character or how the story might break. The point is, the scene that follows? It can’t go back to the story as it was BEFORE the previous scene. The audience knows too much now.

When fictional storytellers do that — keep going back to story points the audience already knows? They lose their audience. Why, unless it’s Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal” which deliberately and brilliantly tells its story backwards, would a storyteller do that? Most wouldn’t. It’s horrible storytelling.

So why do our journalists — storytellers albeit of true stories — do it?

Our accumulated picture of Donald Trump — from “Mexicans are rapists” & “pussy-grabbing” all the way through to Trump’s continuing embrace of Confederate flags tells one completely consistent story. Even outside of his presidency, Trump is a study in multi-generational racism. Fred Trump, don’t forget, was a card-carrying member of the KKK. Father and son were nailed for refusing to rent to black people. Everyone with ears on the set of “The Apprentice” has a story of “Donald Trump: Big League Racist”.

If we were telling any other story, the audience would understand (because the storytellers made it explicit) that the subject — in addition to all his other hard, fast biographical data — IS A RACIST. Each story would begin along the lines of “Oh, and here’s what that racist Donald Trump just said on the subject of race…”.

The news audience would begin their understanding of the story from a “Oh, what did the racist-in-chief say now about race?” platform.

Instead, our news media begins their reporting every day as if Trump was a “normal” POTUS saying normal POTUS things. Except he’s saying abnormal things for a POTUS to say so therefore THAT must be the “new normal”. Um, no. There is no “new normal”. That’s the press normalizing what should never be normalized. It’s the storyteller doggedly dragging the story backward, while it kicks and screams all the way.

We’ve seen and heard (the press has reported) ample evidence that Trump is a security risk. That he says things to the Russians in particular that — let’s not tiptoe — are flat out treasonous. Oh, sorry — there I go again, connecting the dots sitting there that clearly connect. Instead, our news media continues to report Trump as a man with an “odd fixation” with Russia or a “different kind of relationship” with Putin.

Oy.

When is a rapist not a rapist?

When is a racist not a racist?

When is a traitor not a traitor?

Apparently when our news media “reports” it.

A scientist looking at the evidence would probably say “Ya know, though a jury’s never said it — they’ve never been asked — the evidence all says clearly, without viable contradiction, that Donald Trump is a rapist/racist/traitor.

In a civil trial, the obligation is 51% — the preponderance of the evidence. I once sat on a jury that decided an ageism case. We had to decide if the preponderance of the evidence said LA’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority fired an older employee because he was older. There was no direct evidence — someone saying “Let’s fire the old guy cos he’s old”. We had to deduct it to reach our verdict. Anyone, we felt, would have reached the same conclusion looking at the same evidence.

A journalist, for instance. Nothing we saw at trial was unavailable to the press pre-trial (it wasn’t that big a case; what I mean is — had the victim gone to the media first, they would have had access to most of the same information). The preponderance of the evidence spoke loudly.

“Both Sides Do It” journalism has put the ludicrous notion in our news media’s head that it must be strictly neutral. Yes, one must report the news from as even-handed a point of view as one can — even-handed in that it represents the facts up to that moment. It’s no good being “even-handed” based on old information. If we’re reporting on a child molester, it would be malpractice to ignore that fact to report on what a fabulous Halloween display he put on.

Both Side Do It journalism ignores facts in favor of the cynical insistence that everyone behaves with the same motives. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If we were all the same, we’d all be Republicans or Democrats. There’s not much common ground between real conservatives and real progressives. They don’t “do” things the same because they don’t think the same. Socialists who believe in the greater good and that the group’s freedoms always supersede the individual’s do not act the same way as “rugged individual” conservatives who think “you’re not the boss of me” is what freedom’s all about.

And they don’t do things for the same reason.

But, every time an American journalist asks “Are they just being political?” they’re ignoring facts. Odds are the question’s NOT being asked about Mitch McConnell blocking every bit of legislation cos he’s the Grim Reaper but it IS being asked about every Democrat calling him out for it.

Indeed — when are facts not facts? I repeat — OY!

Americans Need To Kick Their Addiction to BABY TALK

All over America, talking heads are swooning. Rashida Tlaib — one of the new Democratic Reps — called Donald Trump out for being the mofo he is. You’d think she’d called him a traitor. That would have been a far dirtier word…

Understand — by ‘baby talk’ I do not mean anything remotely ‘gaa-gaa-goo-goo’.  I mean Americans need to speak like grown-ups when speaking about grown-up subjects.  Like Racism.  Or Bigotry.  Or Treason.

But Americans — the talking head class anyway — have a terrible habit of baby-talking everything — of talking down to the audience as if the Cold Hard Facts would be more than our tender snowflakey white sensibilities could handle.  That may be true for the Snowflakes in the audience but the rest of us have a few scars and welts on us — that cured us of any possible baby talk addiction.

Using the word ‘wee-wee’ in place of, say, ‘penis’ is dubious practice with a 5 year old.  Right off the bat it sets certain words apart.  These are dangerous words.  The subtext travels right along with the word as it burrows into our minds.  The culture’s discomfort becomes our discomfort.

Hello, ‘baby talk’.

The epitome is comics having to work ‘clean’ when on broadcast television.  The baby talk gets laughs — uncomfortable laughs — because it sets off all the alarm bells baby talk is meant to set off:  We’re talking about something we shouldn’t… we’re not ‘adult’ enough.

Yeesh!  When someone lies to you — they’re not dissembling or hedging or ‘yes-but-ing’, they’re lying.

Let’s start there.

It is unconscionable that it took so long for a few of the MSM to call Donald Trump out on his lies.  Now — if only they could do it to his face.  Sometimes, just the refusal to say something — to speak the truth (especially to the world’s biggest man-baby of all time) is the baseline equivalent of Baby Talk.

The first time or two, no doubt — Donald Trump will bristle and react like he’s just been zapped in the bloated orange nutsack.  But then he’ll adapt to it.  He’ll say:  “Yeah — I’m lying.  What of it?”  He’ll expect us to shrug and say nothing.

Or — he’ll expect us to baby talk him — as everyone does.

Historically, Trump can’t deal with being opposite smart people.  They make him feel every bit as inadequate as he actually is.  Adult talk is not only anathema to Trump — it’s his kryptonite.  Adult talk – focused Adult talk – is to Donald Trump what salt is to a slug.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s try it out…

‘MAGICAL THINKING’ isn’t ‘Thinking’, It’s BULLSHIT; That’s Not A Revelation…

There’s a phrase I’m fond of saying here:  “BACK IT UP OR IT’S BULLSHIT”.

I appreciate that it’s just easier to let other people think for you — especially where the Bigger Questions In Life are concerned.  Where did ‘This’ all come from?  Why are we here?  What is the point?

‘Cos god’ is what Institutional Religion wants you to buy — and they hit you early and hard to make you buy.  And, because they’re hitting you early, when you’re a kid, they know you have no capacity to fight back.  Or ask a good question or two.  Something that might stump them like: “What the hell are you TALKING about?”

Enter the ‘Mumbo Jumbo’… the ‘Ooga Booga’… The MAGICAL THINKING.

What happens when we die?  Heaven.  Proof of it’s existence?  Don’t need proof — faith.  Ah — and ‘faith’ in WHAT?

Faith in the Magic.  Faith that ‘The Magic’ is real.  Based on… nothing.  Because there never was anything to back it up.

For a generation now — since Lee Atwater & Newt Gingrich & Karl Rove & everyone who ever worked in the Nixon White House declared open cultural war on Progressive America (AMERICA in other words), actual data to back up and justify their policy initiatives and the direction they wanted to take America were totally non-existent.  But MAGICAL THINKING was suddenly available in abundance.

Liberated from having to actually BACK UP their claims, republicans and conservatives went hog wild — trickling down all kinds of bullshit on the heads of the American People.  Bullshit is like a booby trapped toy dropped into a war zone.  It looks so innocent when you pick it up — and then it ‘explodes’ inside your head.  Coat the Truth in enough lies often enough and the lie begins to cover up the Truth completely.

The story of how marijuana was ‘illegalized’ in this country comes to mind.  And while I’m at it, let me do a little cross pollenization —

https://www.marijuana.com/news/2018/08/blunt-truths-introduction-how-one-man-turned-the-law-and-society-against-weed/#comment-687464

Inevitably, Magical Thinkers legislate their Magical Thinking onto the rest of us.  We find ourselves subjected to laws and rules that WE KNOW are based on bullshit.  And we look around at each other and we wonder — how the hell did THE MAJORITY of Americans end up HERE — where BULLSHIT (Magical Thinking) gets taken seriously while The Truth gets tossed aside?

Bullshit — and those who deal in it — count on their bullshit causing confusion and disrupting logic.

Donald J Trump comes to mind, strangely…

Good thing the cure isn’t hard to find or take:  Read.  Learn.  Analyze.  Question.  Back It Up.

Dear American News Media: Telling A Story Is Like ‘CLIMBING’ A Mountain – Not Just ‘LOOKING’ At One…

Mountains impress.  They wow you with their existence, their enormity, their majesty, their size.  On the one hand you want to revere it like a sentient creature, on the other, you want to climb it — not so much to master it as just to look it directly in the eye.

You want the mountain to know that you understand how to ‘tell ITS story’…

Because mountains are so big, to climb them, you have to prepare — get in shape, get the right gear — and (here’s the really important part) CHOOSE A PATH.  With a lot of mountains, attacking it directly — climbing straight up — will not work out well (no matter how experienced you are and how much your equipment cost).

So, the experienced mountain climber — having considered all the climbing conditions (which means they’ve familiarized themselves with every bit of the mountain — top to bottom) — will scope out and then plan for a particular ‘line of attack’ that will get them to the top safely and efficiently.

And then there are ‘tourists’ who love to look at mountains from afar.  The view is incredible — ‘comprehensive’ and complete in that we ‘see’ the whole mountain.  We know its shape and size and general ‘affability’ in the sunlight.

It looks ‘approachable’.

swiss-alps-day-trip-from

It’s not.  The picture doesn’t tell you anything specifically about ALTITUDE other than there might be some.  If you’re there, ON the mountain?  That unseen force will dictate a lot of your feelings about the mountain.  Distances, too (from this distance) get distorted; a lateral move across the mountain’s face that looks ‘relatively straightforward’ from way, way, way back here is nowhere near that straightforward when you’re actually clinging to the mountain’s icy face…

That wide shot of the mountain is lovely.  But it doesn’t actually convey a whole lot about the mountain.

 

The first time a story comes over you — over me anyway — there’s a rush of ‘awe’.  It is very much like the feeling I get when driving, say, up the PCH in Big Sur and you see THIS around every curve —

It can stagger you with its Big Picture Awesomeness.  And you could lose yourself forever in any number of its Small Picture Details.

But for all any story’s beauty — or absurdity — or tragedy — you cannot tell it from miles away.  You have to GET INSIDE IT in order to report it.  But (and here’s where the MSM falls down 90% of the time) — You have to report it from inside while always keeping THE WIDE SHOT in your mind’s eye.  You have to see every bit of detail in its larger context — The Big Picture.

And then you have to remind yourself constantly:  What COMPELLED you to tell THIS story in the first place?

When you find your way atop a story — when you look it in the eye and know you found the best possible way to ‘tell it’, there’s always one last challenge awaiting you…

valleeblanche

frenchalps-thumb

How the hell do you get down?

 

 

Americans Are SUCKERS For Words. Literally

Most Americans have never been especially good at ‘English’ — at speaking it, writing it, understanding it…

Throw in the priggish moral scold that sits on their shoulders — and you get a strange disconnect from the thing they need most to communicate with each other:  The Language.

Now, to be fair, we live in an age where words and their meanings are less ‘concrete’ than they used to be, more ‘fluid’.  Or, as it was put not that long ago:  “It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.”  Yeah — we’ve come to that.

Swear words have always been harder on American ears than on the ears of other English-speakers.  But then, lots of Americans won’t write or type out the name GOD because they’re afraid of ‘offending’ ‘him’ by speaking or writing ‘his name’.  Never mind that ‘GOD’ is not ‘his’ name, it’s his ‘JOB TITLE’.  His NAME (read the texts, people, I hear they’re all readily available) is Yahweh or Jehovah if you prefer.  It ain’t GOD.

In the same vein, Americans are hyper sensitive to words with sexual overtones (or worse).  One particular word — addressed by the comedian Sam Bee to Ivanka Trump — has caught everyone’s attention.  Yes, it’s an explosively controversial word (the C’ Word) but, funny thing, it wasn’t even close to being the worst thing Sam Bee called Ivanka.

That would have been ‘FECKLESS’.  Samantha Bee called Ivanka Trump ‘FECKLESS’ — and GOT AWAY WITH IT.  No one complained.  No one rushed to Ivanka’s defense — “How DARE anyone call Ivanka ‘feckless’, why, she’s the least feckless person I know!”

No doubt.

Or, more likely, they hadn’t a clue what the word meant.  Here — allow me:

Feckless
adjective
  1. ineffective; incompetent; futile:feckless attempts to repair the plumbing.
  2. having no sense of responsibility; indifferent; lazy.

In the greater scheme of things, one WOMAN calling out another WOMAN for being that thing — that’s mean.  It’s a pointed stick poked right into the eye.  But, as word-attacks go, it’s lots of Bang but very little Buck.

IS Ivanka Trump that thing?  In what sense?  In any sense?  How was the word meant?  Was it metaphorical or literal?

See?  It’s a ‘Debatable’.  Of the two words, THAT one was the ‘subjective’ word.  The ‘EMOTIONAL’ word.  The ‘could-be-or-couldn’t-be-it-depends-on-your-point-of-view’ word.

But ‘feckless’?  One could make strong, evidence-based arguments (that would stick) about Ivanka Trump being almost ALL those things:  Ineffective, incompetent, futile, having no sense of responsibility, indifferent and, yes, even lazy.

In the cold light of day — and personal attacks — “FECKLESS” is a sledgehammer to the gut.  It’s got REAL heft to it — not just because it’s a hurtful word used to hurt women.  Whereas the C-Word is a judgment based on feelings, the ‘F-word’ is a judgment based on facts.

Now THAT’S a word we Americans need to get more intimately familiar with:  ‘FACTS’.