Nel's New Day

July 25, 2016

2016 Presidential Candidates: Who’s the ‘Truthiest’ of Them All?

Over a decade ago, satirist Stephen Colbert, now the host of The Late Show, coined the term “truthiness,” which rapidly found its way into the English lexicon. Truthiness is the quality of determining “truth” from intuition—“from the gut” or “feels right”—with no connection to information, logic, thought, or facts. In other words, the Republican mindset. When he first used the term in his pilot of The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005, he used George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 as an example of truthiness.

John Oliver spun off this concept in his brilliant analysis of last week’s GOP convention. One example he uses is former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s awkward defense of Donald Trump’s claim that crime is rampant in U.S. streets. Confronted with the fact that the last 25 years have seen a steady decline in crime, Gingrich tried to prove that there was an increase because people “feel” that way. Gingrich just ignored this chart showing that the U.S. crime rate is at its lowest rate since the 1970s.

Violent-Crime-Rate-Chart1

Oliver explained the truthiness of Gingrich’s position:

“I think we can all agree that candidates can create feelings in people. What Gingrich is saying is that feelings are as valid as facts. So by the transitive property, candidates can create facts, which is terrifying, because that means someone like Donald Trump can create his own reality.”

About Antonio Sabato Jr.’s claim that President Obama, a self-identified Christian is a Muslim, Oliver said:

“What is truly revealing is that his implication that believing something to be true is the same as it being true. Because if anything, that was the theme of the Republican convention this week. It was a four-day exercise in emphasizing feelings over facts.”

This segment of Oliver’s show can be seen here. Or you may want to read the script. 

Desperate to win minority votes, Trump keeps saying “Blacks love me!” and “Latinos love me.”

Desperate to win minority votes, Trump keeps saying “Blacks love me!” and “Latinos love me.” In a Washington Post interview, Trump said, “I’m the least racist person that you’ve ever interviewed.” His history, however, shows exactly the opposite. Blacks in Ohio, a vital swing state, gave W. Bush 16 percent of their vote in 2004. At this time, Trump has zero black support—yes, that’s absolute none!—in Ohio and only four percent nationwide. The 18 black delegates at the 2016 convention said that Trump needs to pull in the black vote to win. A “truthy tweet” last fall that stated blacks killed 81 percent of white homicide victims proved to be both racist and false. The factual number—not Trump’s feeling—was 15 percent; in fact, 82 percent of whites were killed by whites.

“The Hispanics love me. Latinos love Trump, and I love them,” Trump has said. The RNC tried to prove that with signs at the convention stating “Latinos Para Trump.” Unfortunately, the 133 Latino delegates weren’t enough to make an impact so whites had to carry the signs.

Latino signs

Clinton started the convention with a 55-point lead with Latino voters and ended with a 63 percent lead.  That’s not a total 63 percent—it’s the lead, leaving Trump with 15 percent favorable rating and 82 percent unfavorable rating among Latino voters. Of the Latino voters, 81 percent said that the RNC convention mob changing “build the wall” is “disturbing and encourages discrimination against immigrants and Latinos.” In addition, 77 percent described the GOP as “dangerous” after the convention, and 85 percent said that the convention worsed their image of the GOP.

So who’s the truthiest of them all? Check out the following charts from Politifact for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates:

Hillary-Clintons-Scorecard

Tim-Kaines-Scorecard

Donald-Trumps-Scorecard

Mike-Pences-Scorecard

And the overview of candidates during the past three cycles.

Overall chart from Trump to Obama

Who’s lying now?!

 

April 22, 2013

Conservatives Aim to Destroy the Environment

For the past two Earth Days I have posted Ann Hubard’s rich photographs showing how special the planet can be. This year, she is on vacation in parts of the Southwest that has kept its beauty. Therefore today, I will write about one of the greatest potential disasters in the United States, and tomorrow I will post photographs of how conservatives want our country to look. When Ann returns, I’m sure that she will provide more gorgeous photographs to give us hope.

Today is the 43rd annual celebration of Earth Day. It was also supposed to be  the last day that the government took public comment on the proposed Keystone Pipeline that would move tar sands oil from Canada through Texas to the Gulf of Mexico. The State Department plans to post all 800,000+ comments and and has decided to permit further public comment during the National Interest Determination period. During the one public hearing on the pipeline project, hundreds of opponents attended the central Nebraska meeting and begged for the pipeline’s rejection.

The Keystone Pipeline is a very bad idea.

  • Oil companies are gutting Canada’s boreal forest, one of the last wild places on the planet; they have already created a waste zone the size of Chicago.
  • Oil companies have to mine at least two tons of sand to get just one single barrel of tar sands crude called bitumen that requires extensive refining to be converted into fuel.
  • Producing tar sands crude generates up to 4.5 times more climate-changing carbon emissions as the production of conventional crude oil, as much as putting 4.3 million more cars on the road.
  • The pipeline would carry and emit 181 million metric tons of CO2 every year, equivalent to 37.7 million cars or 51 coal plants.
  • The pipeline would cut through states with more than 250,000 ranches and farms and cross nearly 1,500 American waterways from the Yellowstone River in Montana to Pine Island Bayou in Texas.
  • Oil companies have had 5,611 pipeline failures that have killed 367 people, injured nearly 1,500 more, and spilled more than 100 million gallons of oil into our waters and over our lands.
  • Oil companies would create only 3,900 short-term jobs during construction, and only 10 percent of those would employ people living in the area of the pipeline. Following construction, the pipeline would require 35 jobs.
  • Most of the oil doesn’t stay in the United States. it will be exported.
  • The ten spills (or more!) during just the last month have been largely not covered by the media.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) thinks that “Exxon should be patted on the back for the way they handled [the spill.]” The back pat would be for refusal to pay for the cleanup, the pittance ($10,000 house cleaning) allocation per household affected for weeks with their land permanently destroyed, and the inability to use anything except paper towels to wipe up the oil. He continued with the usual ignorant statement connecting the Boston bombing to the pipeline:

“I mean, would we rather buy oil from the Middle East that sponsors the acts that we see like at the Marathon that we just saw yesterday? I don’t know if that was actually sponsored by them or not but that’s the acts that they support.”

A Department of Energy analysis noted that Keystone XL will have virtually no impact on Middle East imports to the United States. And oil companies are the top donors to Mullin’s campaign.

Another buy-in to the oil industry is the company that Arkansas’ Attorney General Dustin McDaniel hired for the “independent analysis of the cleanup” of the Mayflower oil spill. Witt O’Brien has participated in most recent high-profile oil spills, all of them botched up—Exxon Valdez, the BP Deepwater Horizon spill, the Enbridge tar sands pipeline spill into the Kalamazoo River, and Hurricane Sandy.

After 1 million gallons of tar sands dilbit spilled into the Kalamazoo River, Witt O’Brien covered up the disaster by thinning out the oily debris and mixing mud into it. Witt Obrien ordered its employees: “Rake it into the soil. Cover it with grass. Cover it with leaves. I want you to hide it–to dupe the EPA and the [Michigan Department of Natural Resources].”

Witt O’Brien also worked with the BP Deepwater Horizon dispersant cover-up. They applied 1.1 million gallons of surface dispersant in the Gulf and another 720,000 gallons of subsea dispersant, claiming that it would change the oil into something edible for Gulf creatures. It doesn’t, but Witt O’Brien did the PR spin for damage control.

Five years ago, Witt O’Brien also got a $300,000+ contract “to develop a Canadian-US compliant Oil Spill Emergency Response Plan for TransCanada’s Keystone Oil Pipeline Project.” Many of Witt O’Brien’s employees have worked for Shell Oil, Exxon, etc. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush is also part of Witt O’Brien.

One of Witt O’Brien’s former clients is IFC International, a consulting firm hired by the U.S. State Department to do the Keystone XL Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Energy Secretary nominee Ernest Moniz was paid over $300,000 and given 10,000+ shares for two years on IFC’s board of directors.

An open supporter of nuclear power and fracking for shale gas, Moniz worked as a long-time corporate consultant for BP. He also accepted millions of dollars to sponsor studies at MIT. Under the auspices of the MIT Energy Initiative, the report, “The Future of Natural Gas,” was funded by the front group for Chesapeake Energy, the shale gas industry’s number two domestic producer. Of course, the report was extremely positive about gas as a “bridge fuel.”

Steven Colbert best summed up Exxon’s mishandling of the Mayflower debacle:

“Why haven’t we heard anything about the cleanup of that rupture in the Pegasus pipeline that spilled 150,000 gallons of tar sand oil? Well, that’s because Exxon has contained the cleanup [pause] coverage by threatening to have reporters arrested for trespassing.”

Showing workers power-washing oil into storm drains, Colbert said, “Of course the oil is going into the storm drains. They’re just putting back in the ground where it came from. It’s called recycling, duh.”

About the common 21st-century practice of cleaning up oil spills with quilted paper towels, he said:

“See, Exxon is employing a time-honored cleanup technique pioneered by drunk guys. You just throw some paper towels down on whatever you spilled and just get out of there. Of course, there are other drunk guy options like hiding the spill with a strategically-placed coffee table, or better yet, just flip Arkansas over like a couch cushion.”

Like most of Colbert’s and Jon Stewart’s shows, there’s as much fact as comedy in their reporting.

Evidencing the growing polarity in the United States is the contrast between the first Earth Day in 1970 under President Nixon and the current attitudes in the country. Although fewer people place importance on environmental issues than 42 years ago, more people are trying to protect the environment through limiting electricity use, eating organic food, and recycling. In 1971  88 percent of the poll’s respondents said it was important to restore and enhance the national environment compared to 80 percent now. The “very important” category dropped from 63 percent to 39 percent.

The New York Time is a reflection of this growing indifference to the destruction of the environment: last year they cut their Green blog and the reporters to cover this subject. Fortunately, smaller organizations are continuing to pursue news about  the subject. Inside Climate News is one of the best, and three of their reporters—Elizabeth McGowan, Lisa Song, and David Hasemyer—were recognized with a Pulitzer this year for their national news reporting. Their coverage of the recent Exxon spill in Mayflower was superb, especially considering the way that the oil company tried to keep anyone outside the corporation away from the site.

Exxon has also kept the pressure on the media by preventing the Little Rock television stations from running advertising critical about their actions.

Conservatives want the teenager who allegedly set a bomb in Boston last week to be treated as an “enemy combatant.” Conservatives want everyone to have easy access to as many guns and as much ammunition as they wish. Conservatives also wish to kill the country and its people by shipping Canada’s tar sands product across the entire nation so that oil companies can send it out of the country.

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