Category Archives: politics

A primer on facts, beliefs, and alternative facts

 

Last night I had a nice conversation with my old friend, Dave. I was surprised he called. He said it was to give me a virtual hug because he thought I was probably upset by a querulous Facebook conversation with yet another friend.

I’m not sure we’ve ever chatted on the phone before, not least because our views are so far apart. We’re talking acres apart. Miles. Galaxies apart. But, the discussion was interesting and civil and we hung up later each knowing that the other is a good, if sadly misguided, person.

I’d love to bring Dave around to my way of thinking and vice versa, I’m sure.

trump-batonThis could maybe happen on the day that Donald Trump marches down Pennsylvania Avenue wearing nothing but go-go boots and pink panties, twirling flaming batons in each tiny hand.

Yeah. That far apart. Light years.

So I got to thinking about the difference between facts and beliefs, and just for fun, that delightful new concept introduced by the wiry, yet slippery Kellyanne Conway, “alternative facts.”

Allow me to explain in a most factual manner:

Facts

A fact is indisputable. Like the once popular saying I have a hard time giving up, “it is what it is.” Dave surprised me by mentioning that there is still a Flat Earth Movement, which means exactly what it sounds like. I thought that went out with the Medicis in Renaissance Italy. Apparently not. Sorry, guys. The earth is a sphere. Oh, it may not be a perfect sphere, but it sure is not flat. That’s a fact. It’s been proven any number of ways over the years and anyone who disputes it is a nut job. Sorry.

So, that is a good example of one proven scientific fact.

There are historic incidents that also are fact. We can prove they happened. Like the Holocaust, for instance, which we remembered in sorrow this past week. For those pea brains who think they can dispute that the Holocaust occurred, we still have survivors to testify to the fact, not to mention mountains of grim, heartbreaking evidence. It happened. Fact. End of story. And anyone who wants to ignore or forget it should be ashamed.

However – and talking with Dave last night brought this to mind a number of times  – beware of “alternative facts,” which are lies disguised as truths. More about that later. The point is, whether we’re talking about the fall of Saigon or what was said by the guys having coffee and donuts in the diner this morning, the truth of what was said and what happened is only as reliable as the source providing that information. Still with me? Good. If your information comes from an indisputably reliable, accurate, unbiased source, let’s call it fact.

Beliefs

pence-rolling-stone

A holier-than-thou VP from the amazing Rolling Stone magazine

I was reading the Cleveland Plain Dealer this morning and skimmed a story about Vice President Mike Pence addressing participants at the Pro Life Rally in Washington this week. That seems to me to be a perfect opening to discuss the difference between beliefs and facts.

It is my understanding that Pro Life proponents believe that life begins at conception and therefore, abortion is as unthinkable as killing a baby that was delivered at full term. I respect that and recommend that all people who believe this should not have abortions. How could they ever forgive themselves?

But here’s the issue. No one knows if that tiny collection of atoms or tissue or whatever eventually develops into a fetus is a person from the moment egg and sperm collide.

 

I don’t know.

You don’t know.

No. One. Knows.

Period.

That’s because there’s currently no evidence to prove that this is a fact. It’s a belief. And you can cry and light candles and feel 100% certain in your heart of hearts, but that doesn’t make it a fact. It makes it something you very strongly believe.

In this country, and in most of this world (thank goodness), people are free to believe all kinds of things. If you want to believe the earth is flat, knock yourself out with that. As long as you’re not going to hurt me or stop me from making a living or picket my house, etc., etc., you can believe that and I’ll believe the world is a sphere and smile at you when we cross paths in the produce aisle.

And until science or a heavenly visitation that EVERYBODY witnesses testifies that a fetus becomes a feeling, thinking, viable human entity at conception or at five days or at three months or whatever – it’s all conjecture, folks. And conjecture = belief. Not fact. And fact, as you may remember from above, is information that comes from an indisputably reliable, accurate, unbiased source.

In the meantime, let’s respect each other’s beliefs. May they be honorable and true. But don’t ask me to live according to yours and I won’t force you to accept mine. Live and let live.

Oh – and I almost forgot – is this insistence on forcing their beliefs on others a self-righteous excuse to stop helping poor women on Medicare from getting reproductive healthcare using “their” tax dollars? Okay. Then let’s do this: my taxes can be designated to help out poor women who can’t afford reproductive care, and yours can go toward building that wall protecting us from Mexico, or maybe investigating nonexistent voter fraud, or even vetting potential immigrants from dicey countries. Fair enough? Good.

Alternative facts

Are lies. And they’re all over the place. Watch out for blatantly “fake news” on the internet. Be especially wary of biased news from just about every source.

kellyanne-conway-us-weekly

Either she didn’t use a stylist, or that stylist hates her. Photo from US Weekly.

Count on the White House to lie for the next four years. Sad, right? And scary. Trump might actually mean well and have some worthwhile ideas. But he may be mentally ill and certainly isn’t afraid of a bald-faced lie. In fact, if anyone calls him on a lie, he just puffs himself up even bigger and shouts and points fingers at everyone else and generally makes a foolish spectacle of himself. The people around him are no better. I’d like to see Steve Bannon, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan marching behind Trump in their pink panties (and that’s just for starters).

I’d add Kellyanne Conway, but she already bought the outfit to be the drum major. Meow. Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

So there you have it. To recap:

Fact = indisputable

Belief = varies by individual

Alternative Fact = just a lie

And be careful out there.

 

 

It’s just about time to grow up, shut up, and play nice

After months of Trump- and Hillary-bashing, we’re finally days away from the election, and guess what? We’re really going to have to stop with the jokes and the screaming and the hateful allegations, folks. Like it or not – and there will be a boatload of people who do NOT like the outcome, either way – we are very soon going to be faced with a four-year presidential term for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

I say it’s time to suck it up, pull up our big girl/boy panties, and act like civilized adults about the situation.

Starting with . . . how about we decide to give these folks the benefit of the doubt now and then?

Let’s start with Donald Trump, since I’m a Clinton supporter. Personally, I think he’s a delusional nut job, among other things. However, if Donald Trump is elected president, I’d like to believe that whether or not I think there is any logic behind the majority of his pronouncements, his heart is in the right place. That’s right. He may be clueless – in my opinion – but I’m going to believe that he sincerely does NOT want to screw up the country and will do his best to be a good president. He will not purposely do anything stupid. However, when he does do something stupid (because we ALL do stupid things now and then), I will believe that he tried his best and meant well. I will pray that the stupid thing does not result in nuclear war.

I will not scream that he should be put in jail for screwing up. I will no longer make fun of his hair, his apparent fondness for tanning booths, his limited vocabulary, his multiple marriages, misogynistic tendencies, exaggerated rhetoric, etc., etc. I reserve the right to complain about any actions he takes that I may disagree with, but I won’t make fun of him or his family on a personal level.

Now, how about Hillary Clinton? First, let’s stop with the “throw her in jail” bullshit. If Trump becomes president and his followers say, “Hey, Donald, let’s get that special prosecution up and running so we can throw that bee-atch in jail, okay?” President Trump’s response will likely be something like this:

“Are you crazy, or just stupid? I just said that to get you to vote for me. You didn’t think I meant it, did you? Or that I’d actually build a wall and send Mexico the bill? That’s just politics, you nitwits. Move on.”

So when we start acting like adults, we must stop calling President Clinton a bee-atch and – again, with the benefit of the doubt thing – we will start to think that maybe the Benghazi incident happened for tragic reasons, but not due to Mrs. Clinton sitting in bed reading People and eating Chex Mix while thinking, “I’m not helping those crybabies.” No. The lady sincerely tried to do her best but in this case, it resulted in disaster. Ever heard the bible verse about throwing the first stone? Right. Unless you were there and know the circumstances, stop judging and move on.

In fact, unless you were sitting next to Hillary at her desk and saying, “Hey, hon, don’t use that private mail server. What are ya, stupid?” then just shut up about that, too. You can’t read her mind. She sure as hell didn’t do it to sneak state secrets to Papua New Guinea or anything.

Oh, we can go on and on and on, can’t we? But Donald said this. Then Hillary did that. We hate her because she’s a woman and her husband cheated on her and she sometimes has that stupid little smirk while people try to crap all over her. Yeah. That’s a good reason to hate someone. Maybe she really is a Good Person. A loving mother. A doting  grandmother. Give her a break, for crying out loud.

We hate him because he looks ridiculous and how can we take a guy seriously who thinks it’s okay to walk around with that hairdo, never mind all the absurd statements he makes. If Trump becomes president – we’ve just got to let all that crap go and hope that the outrageous comments were mostly just his version of political blather.

And for God’s sake, let’s hope they both are wise enough to surround themselves with intelligent, knowledgeable advisers who are, perhaps most importantly, GOOD PEOPLE, and – please, God – that they LISTEN to these people and don’t make any irreparable mistakes between now and 2020.

trump-and-clinton-ny-times

This is an old photo (thank you, New York Times), but you know what? It wouldn’t surprise me to see this same gang making nice (if looking significantly older) and yucking it up at some party not that many years from now. Will we be over the trauma of this election as easily by then? Moral of this story:  Love your friends and family – no matter who they’re voting for. To the Clintons AND the Trumps – it’s just politics, darlin’.

So that’s it. Grow up, people. Get ready for a new president and let’s treat him or her with the respect and dignity that the office deserves. Don’t forget – benefit of the doubt. Let’s make that our mantra when things look grim. Don’t go into this assuming our new leader is either the devil or a crook.

Let’s give them a chance and believe their intentions are honorable. I don’t know about you, but I can forgive, and even be supportive if I believe someone is sincere and honestly trying to do what’s right.

What do you say we start there?

Me vs. the Koch Brothers?

It started innocently enough – a contribution toward the campaign of my favorite presidential candidate. I made a small donation through PayPal and was feeling pretty righteous. Little did I know that I had opened a can of worms that now wiggle into my Outlook inbox almost hourly.

I’m going to leave names out of this, but you may be able to guess who I’m supporting before I’m finished here. I’m not asking for discussion about who might best serve our country, so just zip it if you figure it out and disagree. That’s not the point, okay? I’ll bet you’re getting similar emails from the various groups supporting your candidate and cause, too, right?

Dear Kate –

Wall Street is terrified of our campaign, Kate. We don’t want their money (the billionaire class) and we don’t want their super PACs. So this is your chance to contribute to help us win.

Oh, dear. Well, who likes Wall Street? Or billionaires, right? This is my chance to stand up to the corrupting influence of corporate greed, so I pull out the credit card I only use for online purchases and send them a few bucks.

Dear Kate,

I’m sorry to bother you this morning, but we just got some AWFUL news.

The Koch Brothers are planning to host a MASSIVE fundraiser this weekend with hundreds of their anonymous right-wing allies. If we’re going to fight back against their flood of corporate cash, we need to go on the offense.

chip in

And underneath that there’s a little box to check if you want to donate that amount monthly . . . .

Crap. The dreaded Koch Brothers? How can I help? Lucky for me, the website remembers my credit card information and, with a sigh, I contribute a little more. But wait. Another email just arrived urging me to stand behind gun control initiatives.

Dear Kate –

Blah blah blah . . .

  • Protecting the gains we’ve made under President Obama
  • Electing a gun violence prevention majority in the United States Senate
  • Flipping state legislatures and winning ballot initiatives to increase the number of states that have expanded background checks since Sandy Hook

With elections just about underway, it’s time for you to renew your commitment to . . . .

Well, I’m not ashamed to admit that I am pro-gun control and I hope this will be an important issue to whoever governs the country next, so I make another donation. I know the next Capital One bill isn’t going to be pretty, what with all the donations and after-Christmas sales at Coldwater Creek and Wayfair.com., but it’s worth it.

Kate –

It’s the official start to all of the 2016 elections and the stakes couldn’t be higher for those of us fighting to make our communities safer from gun violence.

crasstalk dot com

Are you absolutely sure you don’t want to join me in pushing for stricter gun control measure? Really?

Uh oh. I really, really care about gun control. What if this group is better at achieving the objective than the other one and really warrants my support? Will it kill me to send, oh, another twenty bucks? I think I can manage.

Dear Kathleen,

Big news in the fight to protect bees: The Environmental Protection Agency just released a stunning new report admitting that popular neonicotinoid pesticides are partially to blame for the massive bee colony collapse.

Wait. Bees? How did I get on the EPA list to protect the bees? Is my email address now on some soft-hearted, green-loving liberals list, or do they know my favorite breakfast is a wheat bagel thin with a smear of chunky peanut butter and a little honey on top? Even the NRA has to like bees. If you haven’t read up on the bee problem, please do so the minute you finish reading this. And please sign the petition and contribute to the cause – like I did.

Hi there,

Blah blah, we make history by electing pro-choice women, and we’re ready to do it again in 2016. We’re committed to making sure a woman is at the top of the ticket, and we’re already recruiting women to run for office up and down the ballot — from Senate to city council.

hippie me

They’ve got me pegged. And that even looks like my Little Richard.

Yes, you guessed it. I like bees, am in favor of gun control, and am pro-choice. How can I not support women running for office who share my beliefs? Now, where did I put that credit card . . . ?

And let’s not even start with Soi Dogs and the American Heart Association and my local food bank. I thought I would retire next year, but frankly, my social security benefits won’t begin to cover the causes that need me, let alone pay the bills.

I’m starting to the feel the pressure and while it’s just a thought, do you suppose the Koch Brothers could be persuaded to make a handful of donations in my name for a few of my favorites? They’d hardly miss the cash.