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The Case for “Alternative Facts”.

THE CASE FOR
“ALTERNATIVE FACTS”

 

Is there is such a thing as an alternative fact?

Aren’t facts by definition true?

 

If proven false then don’t they cease to be . . .

fact?

 

In the land before the internet I enjoyed court room dramas. Inevitably the prosecution and the defense would take turns interviewing their experts who would present competing evidence. With the internet it is possible for any debate to become a courtroom drama. You can find evidence, facts, and experts that support any believe or opinion. Now for the matter at hand I don’t care if Trump had more attendees or not. My first thought when I see a headline like that is that there isn’t much going on at the moment, (but they have to report on something). I don’t think crowd size at the inauguration is blog-worthy, let alone a press conference, but I believe what has happened here is a microcosm of the larger drama between the Trump Administration and the media. That is worth taking a closer look at.

It’s worth paying attention because in this case we have access to all the facts. That will not always be the case. We can look at the facts and draw our own conclusion. Kellyanne Conway believes this incident is a “symbol for the unfair and incomplete treatment that this President often receives.” Is that what is happening here? Or do we have, as the Media tells it, a situation where government is brow beating reporters for telling the truth.

Recode does a fair job of covering the issue but there are some other sources I want to reference. It started with the Times reporting that fewer people attended President Trump’s inauguration than President Obama’s in 2009.

peak_obama_from_wash-monpeak-trump-from-wash-mon

The Times reports the images were both captured 45 minutes before the oath of office. The Times’ expert, Keith Still, estimates that the crowd on the National Mall on Friday was about one-third the size of Mr. Obama’s. He is a professor at Manchester Metropolitan University in England and a crowd safety consultant. He has consulted for the 2011 royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, as well as the Saudi government on crowds for the hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

I tuned in about 10 min before noon. There were performances and prayers just before the swearing in of Vice President Pence. According to the Times attendees were still entering the National Mall up until Mr. Trump’s speech. Better late then never. That is like showing up to a movie for the last 15 min. There obviously was room for them. Fox news provides some additional facts that support the Times’ narrative.

Then Spicer entered the debate. I find it odd that the White House held a special press conference on Saturday ahead of the first scheduled conference on Monday to address the matter. He made five points to refute the Times:

“This was the first time in our nation’s history that floor coverings have been used to protect the grass on the Mall. That had the effect of highlighting any areas where people were not standing, while in years past the grass eliminated this visual.”

“All of this space [from Trump’s platform to the Washington Monument] was full when the president took the Oath of Office.”

“We know that 420,000 people used the D.C. Metro public transit yesterday, which actually compares to 317,000 that used it for President Obama’s last inaugural.”

“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe.”

“This was also the first time that fencing and magnetometers went as far back on the Mall, preventing hundreds of thousands of people from being able to access the Mall as quickly as they had in inaugurations past.”

Each of these points have been proven false. I have the same question Chuck Todd asks Kellyanne Conway in the clip below,

Why send Spicer to the podium to litigate a provable falsehood? Mind you about the smallest, pettiest thing.

“Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods,” Chuck Todd tells Pres. Trump’s counselor Kellyanne Conway this morning. WATCH: pic.twitter.com/Ao005dQ13r

Kellyanne makes a great point, “Presidents are not judged by crowd sizes, they are judged by their accomplishments.” She follows up with the statement,

“I am about things that are quantifiable and important.”

But the Trump Administration’s actions tell a different story. Is she avoiding the question?

So is there is such a thing as an alternative fact? Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods. I want to make the argument that we should consider and even seek out facts that contradict our opinions and beliefs. We don’t need to rename them. They are simply fact.

If proven false they cease to be . . .

fact.

Trump Win Can’t Be Undone.

Trumps Win Can Not Be Undone, For Me, It’s Become Personal

 

Idiots yell. intellectuals debate opinion. And the wise man is silent. I invite you to comment below. If I say something that resonates with you please let me know. If you disagree, please share. Dialog gives us an opportunity to grow, #WisdomThruRespect . My name is Rho. I am not a speaker. I am a thinker. I do my best thinking in Excel. I’m a data nerd. I am the principal contributor to Assume Wisely, a blog about making decisions.

I believe my experience can be of help as you seek to heal, and heal frayed relationships. In the early hours of election day I seriously considered voting for Trump, I am not politically offended: I understand where republicans are coming from.

It still hurts.

I put his character aside, just as I put hers.

It still hurts.

I was able to excuse a man who is accustomed to having his way with people. Now he has had his way with the american people.

It still hurts. 

Something else is happening. 

I started my morning routine at 4 am on Wednesday like it was any other day. In the wake of Trump’s win the Dow dropped during overnight trading. I was looking for bargains in the market. It is important for me to highlight where my mind was because something had changed and I was not aware.  I had not consumed any media. This wasn’t political upset. This wasn’t the pain of loosing. This wasn’t sadness. This wasn’t mourning.

This was visceral pain. This was fear. It wasn’t until I am getting off the bus that I realize I am feeling uncomfortable. Three things stand out this morning:

  • all the faces on the bus are white.
  • the lavish breakfast spread out for a meeting I was not invited to.
  • the admission of a friend that voted Trump.

Somehow each of these pointed to one singular conclusion. It is important to not let emotions control your decisions, but you should never ignore them. My emotions were hijacked with a sense that . . .

 

. . .  I do not belong.

 

I’ve come to know this feeling well. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I’ve been able to dismiss this feeling. But it still hangs around in the shadows. This week, it stepped out of the shadows. Now I ask, do I belong?

Have I been kidding myself all along?

My friend assures me he isn’t racist. He says, (and I quote)

My heart goes out to those who are in pain or feel our country has turned its back on them. I hope my thoughts may help clear up some of those inaccuracies so heads can be raised, hope rekindled, friends reunited, and we can move forward as one. I hope you can better understand that I (and most of the 60 million of us) didn’t vote for him out of hatred toward you.”

I’ve had several friends justify themselves on Facebook.  They insist they are not racists. In the days leading up to the election I adopted the words of a gay Trump supporter,

Voters do not pull a lever to endorse a candidate’s flaws.

That is still true. But It doesn’t invalidate that I have been wounded. It was not intentional, it was not anticipated. I am equally surprised.  It is nonetheless a wound. I need time to heal. I need to move forward.

 

How Can I Move Forward?

Here in Utah, I am getting involved in politics for the first time. Regardless of who you support, I invite you to walk with me. Subscribe below and we can walk together. The path forward is not clear. But there are some first steps we can take:

  • Get clear on your values.
  • Attend and participate in community meetings.
  • Volunteer with your party.
  • Work on a campaign.
  • Wear a safety pin.

There’s a growing effort in the United States for people to start wearing a safety pin in the face of attacks and harassment. It is literally a safety pin.  One small way to signal that you’re an ally (regardless of who you voted for) to anyone who feels so out of place in this volatile time.

The “safety pin” symbol was inspired by the 2014 #illridewithyou movement in Sydney, Australia. People offered to sit next to Muslims who felt threatened on their commutes — at the time, in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, they feared an Islamophobic backlash.

For those that subscribe below I will be creating a community with content, links, and tips for those who are walking this path for the first time. Involvement is more than voting. Involvement is more than knowing about the Utah caucus system. Involvement is a weekly if not monthly engagement. This is a first for me too. If you are interested in walking this path together, i invite you to subscribe below:

 

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#DENY270

It is Never Too Late To Do The Right Thing

 

At first, when McMullin joined the race, I dismissed him as a vote for Hillary. I agreed with Chaffetz, he was a “fast-track to nowhere.” That leaves me going back and forth between major party candidates trying to decide who I dislike more. What happened? We nominated a “crazy third world dictator.” It’s a terrible joke. Real events have play out like rehearsals of Saturday Night Live.

 

A vote for Mcmullin isn’t a vote for Hillary.

Chaffetz (@jasoninthehouse), if you can draw the subtle distinction between a vote and an endorsement then you should be able to see that a vote for McMullin isn’t a vote for Hillary. It is a vote for principles. Trump has an established pattern of behavior. He isn’t sorry. He hasn’t changed. He believes he can do anything. He disrespects women as he does the party. But Trump is the star so you will “let him do anything”. I get that YOU need to vote for Trump. To win or at least not give in. Because you have put party before principle. Respect yourself, “If this is the best our party gets then our party should quit.” Celebrity is a value, but it isn’t one I share.

 

Misdirected Voter Values

I’d like to think I can appreciate where Trump votes are coming from. Peter Thiel is a contrarian and supports Trump for president. Thiel is a tech investor most notable for founding Paypal among other name brand tech startups. While the New York Times labeled him toxic, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg defended him saying, “It would set a bad precedent to cut ties with him because of his political views.” In a speach to the National Press Club, #NPCLive , Thiel makes several good points:

 

Voters do not pull a lever to endorse a candidates flaws. While this election may appear crazy, it’s less crazy then the condition of our country. It’s not a lack of judgement that leads Americans to vote for Trump. Both major candidates are imperfect people to say the least.

us_real_household_median_income_thru_2014Median income is lower than it was 17 years ago. (Fact check: While that is true, it is comparing now to a time in the economy just before the tech bubble of 2000 burst. It was a time of excess, see graph to the left.)

This is the only country where students take on loans they will never escape, even by filing bankruptcy.

We judge to leadership of our country to have failed. It isn’t surprising to see people vote for Bernie Sanders, or Donald Trump, who is now the only outsider left in the race.

Thiel identifies a call for new american politics that overcomes denial, rejects bubble thinking, & recons with reality. He suggests that if we fail to elect Trump we may ask, “Did the new american politics come too late?”

 

 

 

Don’t confuse the strengths of Thain’s oratory with Trump’s strengths. Agree or disagree, Thain is persuasive. He knows his audience: Bernie supporters. I don’t even know if Mcmullan is on his radar. He frames Trump with Bernie. Trump is the last independent candidate. This point has two benefits (1) it speaks directly across the isle to fringe democrats that supported Bernie, (2) it gives Trump supporters something to share with friends and family. He also does a great job of identifying a widely held pain: that Washington is fundamentally broken and that only an outsider can fix it. The flaw in Thain’s argument is the suggestion that Trump is the answer.

Trumps Plan for America Looks Like A High School Assignment

I googled, “trump plan for America”. To be fair I also googled, “Hillary plan for america”. Trumps big plans are shockingly immature. For example:

  • Ensure that the opportunity to attend a two or four-year college, or to pursue a trade or a skill set through vocational and technical education, will be easier to access, pay for, and finish.

That is it. The whole thing looks like is was formatted by a high school student in MS Word. It reads like a vague job responsibility. It is woefully inadequate. It is confirmation of the criticism that he is all buzz and little substance.

In comparison Hillary’s blog is an inspiration. Literally, the design inspired me to be a better blogger. Visually it is beautiful. I don’t have any issues with Hillary. I have issues with the system. She is a product of that system. She embodies the problems. But she isn’t the problem, they are systemic. She can’t be the change we need.

 

We Need To Be The Outsider.

I agree with Thain whole-heartedly in his call for a new american politics. Hillary cannot fix the problems. Trump cannot fix them either.

Enter McMullin.

Mcmullin cannot fix them either. We need to stop waiting on others to fix our problems. We need to stop holding our nose while we wait to see what our parties bring us. That starts with acknowledging our mistake. Republicans have messed up. Instead of acknowledging this they are toeing that party line and pointing the finger at Hillary. That isn’t acceptable.

So on November 14th when this is old news. I will reach out to my local leadership. I will volunteer. I will learn from my mistakes. I will humbly begin the process of learning to actively participate in the political process.

 

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