Thursday, April 30, 2020

Columnists vs. Journalists

Next newspaper column:
There’s confusion, lately, about journalism versus columnists; between fact and opinion. These examples will clear everything up: 
Fact: In last Sunday’s tweet-storm, Trump said journalists who received “Noble” prizes for “fake news” should have them rescinded. Sub-fact: It’s spelled “Nobel.” Co-fact: There’s no Nobel prize for journalism. 
Opinion: Trump is losing it at an accelerating rate. 
Fact: Trump’s tax cuts produced trillion-dollar budget deficits, with the benefits going mainly to the already-wealthy. Corporate tax cuts created shareholder dividends, windfalls for executives, and stock buybacks, but minimal hiring of or salary increases for workers; thus doing little for the economy. 
Opinion: The tax cuts were unnecessary, and detrimental to the future of capitalism. The current crisis shows why tax cuts in economic good times are a bad idea. 
Fact: Trump wondered if getting disinfectants into the body, by injection or other unspecified means, and/or shining light inside, would cure the virus. Having both delivered and received endoscopies, up, down, and sideways, we know light entering via whatever orifice won’t illuminate bronchioles and alveoli, where the virus does its worst. Then Trump said it was sarcasm. 
Opinion: People who continue to defend Trump should be embarrassed. But he’s giving America multiple sarcasms. 
Fact: In medical school, we saw people who’d had disinfectant injected into them. We called them cadavers. 
Opinion: Not opinion. 
Fact: Trump just said he “created” the “greatest” economy ever. 
Opinion: That’s like a new contractor adding the final story onto a skyscraper and claiming credit for designing and building the whole thing. 
Fact: Pence said he didn’t wear a mask at the Mayo Clinic so he could “look people in their eyes.” 
Opinion: Toady. Flunked anatomy. 
Fact: Trump deregulated the pork-producing industry BEFORE Covid-19. 
Opinion: Look what happened. 
Fact: Kushner/Trump claims the federal response to Covid-19 has been “a great success.” 
Opinion: Soviet-style disinformation, which Trumpists will believe.  
As to journalists and columnists: the latter… aren’t. That’s why columnists and other opinionations are found on a newspaper’s opinion page, whereas its reporting (journalism) is in front, making it easy to read only news, and to know where to stop. In fact, if one finds particular columnists annoying, it’s medically advisable to ignore them.   
A recent spate of emails and letters complaining about the lack of “conservative” voices in this newspaper suggests the need to distinguish between conservatives and Trump supporters. Because you can be one or the other, but not both. 
We recall a time when conservatism meant fiscal responsibility. When it disdained the idea of an all-powerful president, and when it understood that an opposing party isn’t an enemy, but a vital component of legislating wisely, via the sort of compromise on which this country was founded.  
Years ago, conservatism supported our Constitutionally-mandated separation of powers; believed in Congressional oversight of the executive; understood the indispensable role of inquisitive, skeptical journalism in a democracy, and why it was enshrined in the very first of the Bill of Rights. Once, conservatism included comprehending the value of an independent (and qualified) judiciary; and belief in free and fair elec… okay, maybe not that. 
You can support Trump – improbably, millions still do – but you can’t, by any definition, call yourself a conservative: he embodies the opposite in every way. Similarly, Trumpists who claim belief in Jesus can do so only by rejecting His teachings. 
This paper carries conservative columnists. Being actual conservatives, they rarely write in support of Trump. Letters from Trump supporters, however, are regularly printed, praising him and, often, announcing cancelation for not having their weltanschauung reinforced. Which, again, is why… oh, well. 
If The Herald carries fewer opinions in support of Trump than ones correctly pointing out his unfitness, it has always done journalism; for example, turning up damning information about a recent Democratic county executive. Even when reporting on politicians, if journalism is factual, it’s apolitical. If reporting reveals malfeasance, it’s “fake news” or “bias” only by the malefactor’s definitions.  
In covering Trump, balance is impossible: physics teaches us that the occasional ounce of truth can’t nullify a ton of lies. For Trumpists, being presented with opinions they don’t share countervails the value of a local news source. That’s Foxification, personified. (Opinion.) 
In a bygone world, none of this would need saying. In Trumpworld, though, wherein facts have given way to fiction, and incompetence (fact) from the White House is both undeniable and denied, the obvious needs stating and restating, over and over.


  1. I really like what you've written this week — as I do every week — and the 'jab + power-punch' format is especially effective for your topic. It's too bad that your graphic won't accompany the column.

  2. Fact: Nicely written.
    Opinion: Nicely written.

  3. I've lived rurally in the Ozarks, in the deep red state of Missouri for almost seven years. I haven't yet, but if I ever do run into a conservative I'll shake his hand.

  4. Geezus. I never thought I'd compare you to a fine wine, but the aging thing is making each column another vintage year. You're becoming more Orwellian in world view than I realized. 😉

  5. Great Post, too bad the D's are running a Heterosexual Jerry Sandusky.(In Jerry's defense(?) he's a bit more lucid than Joe)

    Frank "the lesser of 2 Evils in 2020!"

  6. I let that one through, Frankie, only because it shows the kind of argument we'll be hearing from Trumpists for the next several months. Also, because as I said in the post, even if it were true (doubtful) it wouldn't balance the, what, sixteen? accusations against Trump that Rs were happy to let slide (love the slide.) Also, this:

  7. Trumpies are engaging in deflections and whataboutisms because other than that they've got squat. Nothing new!

  8. Some things get better and better with age...Single malt scotch, some wines and Sid

  9. Trumpenkleinkopfen need to get red ocular implants to match the hats. Then we get ... "We are Kleinkopfen Schafenvolk of Drumpf. You will be de-cogitated. Resistance is socialism!"

  10. Haven't found a way to sign this yet. Online signatures for official petitions are not currently an option. I suppose blank signature sheets will be made available to print at home and mail in. We need signatures of 25% of the Nov 2019 voter turnout, or about 51,000.

    To: Snohomish Count}7 Auditor
    Re: Petition to Recall Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney
    From: Lori Shavlik
    April 22, 2020

  11. Hey Sid, must be nice to age like a fine wine(I'm more like a spent fart)..
    Did you catch Sleepy Joe's "It never never happened"??
    get it? "Never Never"?? in Poker it's what they call a "Tell"
    and what's in those U. Delaware records?? (I know, his Top Secret Foreign Policy discussions with that Ukraine dude) He was VP, he cut ribbons at "Green" Energy plants(See Solyndra) because who's gonna have room for $1.50/gal gasoline...(been driving just to burn it lately)
    You gotta watch Minka getting all up in his hair plugs, even Al Franken was laughing...
    question's not if he makes it to the convention, lets just see if he's there Monday...

    Frank "#Trust the Women!!!!!!"

  12. Okay, Frankie, I let that one through, too (don't get used to it), only to be able to provide you with this:

  13. Usual Trumpian hypocrisy ... Getting all bent out of shape over one accusation against Biden while letting far worse things against the First Sociopath totally slide. I guess dozens of accusations and tens of thousands of COVID fatalities don't count for squat. Then again, neither does a dyed-in-the-wool MAGA*-head's cognitive ability.

    * - Magnifying America's Graveyard Acreage

  14. Frank, did you see that Ms. Reade is changing her story again? Back-tracking on her claims? Cancelling her interview with Chris Wallace?

    I guess she got cold feet about her lies. Or maybe the RNC wanted their money back? Or maybe Vlad wanted his money back?

    The story's over. Now, let's talk about the 23 women who have accused the predator "president", shall we?

  15. seeker of wisdom and truthMay 2, 2020 at 3:11 PM

    Four years ago, I called the "impeached-One" a bloviating egomaniacal lying idiot. He has
    proven to be even more unacceptable each day. No regrets, no humility, no empathy, no repentance, no honor, and instead irrational, untrustworthy, and self-serving bloviations and egomaniacal behavior.
    I do not label his MAGA infused idol worshippers as conservatives or republicans, but more resembling disillusioned angry pawns similar to the followers of Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Castro, and other autocratic warriors who led their nations to disaster by appealing to their
    discrimination of other people for un-Christian motivations.

  16. This site for the recall Fortney petition just launched.

  17. Good Column Dr. breath of fresh air in a fetid time.
    I will always remember this unthinkable attempt to dissolve democracy as the Trump show.
    To watch those you care most for never complaining, and the complainer in chief elicit pity from his mindless boobs, deplorable does fit the bill here, in my nsho.
    Thanks, Linda S.

  18. "A recent spate of emails and letters complaining about the lack of “conservative” voices in this newspaper suggests the need to distinguish between conservatives and Trump supporters. Because you can be one or the other, but not both."

    Drumpf alt right types call them "RINO"s. Reagan cured me of RINO's disease. I've voted straight ticket Democrat ever since.

    And that self awarded Noble medalist who posted above...It's Mika..not Minka.

    See how much they and Drumpf are alike?

    Also...Drumpf paid off these poor women he assaulted and also bullied them via his lapdog Cohen. Nothing like that on Joe's ledger.

    Who would drag 100 weapons and thousands of rounds into a state capitol building to protest??? Also, why would you choose to go the weapons route? To intimidate, that's it. Simple fact. What if counter protesters showed up with their army? Shoved their way into the capitol building. Are the alt right idiots gonna gun them down as they come through the door? Rain 1000 rounds on top of them from the balconies? That's the plan right??? The alt right surely didn't forget the scenario in which counter protesters would also be there. They are stupid, but not that stupid.

    It's OK...People will probably start dying faster by the end of summer and I bet most are in "open states".

    It's to deliberately create division. Texans can only leave to "open states", but not "closed states". Do we want a bunch of idiots from "open states" in WA.? Do we really want cruise ships docking here? Surly we can find other ways to create income.

    This will further divide America. As it is intended to do. When the alt right loses, and they will lose. They are hedging their bets by trying to control as much of America as possible. Basically, the south will rise again, is the plan. The dream has always been to secede. It won't work, but that's the carrot.

    Do you want people flooding this state from other "open states"? I do not. They can keep their stupid where the stupid thrives and leave us alone. My mantra is sucede and don't come back. Turn the south into what amounts to N.Korea in America. Build a wall and dig a moat so they feel at home. Give them what they want before they kill us all.

  19. "THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph."

    — Thomas Paine, 23 December 1776

    Those armed Trumpthugs that we've all seen on the news lately? They are today's summer soldiers and sunshine patriots of the war that we fight against a terrible, invisible foe. Americans are falling and these sunshine patriots run from the fight! We are called to duty; summer soldiers turn their backs on us. We stand with justice and order for all; they demand personal gain at their fellow Americans' expense.

    We have no president, but that will not stop us.

  20. I think we'll find that in November the image of thugs and other images like that will ensure the landslide return to sanity. Or, at least where we were before the hijack.
    I'm playing with the numbers now, for my prediction of the landslide.
    It's a fun calculation. Have faith for a change. (not: have faith, for a change. :-)
    It will happen, and it will be glorious. Trust in that!
    (it's just around the corner, coming to your neighborhood)

  21. From your lips... (or, more properly, fingertips...)

  22. You can likely imagine that in certain circles I remain very silent.
    There are nowhere near as many of those circles as some fear, though in our 3rd largest country by population in the world, just a few seems like so very many, since there are only 24 hours in a day. Even Bill and Warren can't change that. Jeff is actively working on that, (i.e Space-X), but he'll fail too. They all do, if only they'd just keep their dumb ideas in their toys, and leave the rest of us to help each other, since they don't/won't. Everything they do blows up in our faces in due time.
    The pendulum swings, one side to another, but I hope for dampening in its amplitude. It rips through the middle with hurricane force, and spawns tornadoes which run in their own paths.

  23. I like this one! Level and precise.

  24. May the Fourth be with you also!

    And the message of the day for the Trumpenvolk (particularly those of the Evangelical persuasion) is as follows ...

    You have allowed this amoral demagogue to twist your thinking until now you are enabling the very thing that you once professed to stand against.

    Trump brands those who won't march in lockstep with him, or who are in any way different from the sort of followers he craves, as his enemies. Clearly, he is a person who delights in dealing in absolutes. Come November 3rd -- or sooner, if appropriate -- those of us who retain the faculties of independent and critical thought, regardless of political or religious outlook, will do what we must to give the nation the best chance at a meaningful future.

    Huge tip of the hat to Obi-Wan, Revenge of the Sith

  25. I've just read what is likely the finest article The Herald has ever reprinted from a national columnist:
    I can tell you where to find this lesson, but, it's not appropriate in Sid's blog, so I won't even ask Sid for that. Be assured though, it's there.
    When I read the chilling writings of those who propose the cockamamie notion that there would ever be a king T, I know it is the substance of what Mr. Hemel is warning against. His pictures indicate he's a young man, to which I just write wow!
    I'll now be reading Mr. Hemel's columns where I can find them, he writes in many places, the WaPo, The Atlantic, Time, NYTimes, Stanford, Harvard, UChicago, more (!). Wow! (again).
    Look into what can be learned through this young man's writings, and let's begin the process of toning down the imbeciles currently ravaging our country like a plague.

  26. It is, indeed, a well-stated argument. Not sure what "lesson" it is to which you refer, particularly in the context of what is or isn't "appropriate" on my blog.

    In any case, the author places blame for overstatement on both "sides." And it's not as if what he said can't be found elsewhere. Click-bait headline notwithstanding, this article from several days ago lays it out, too.


  27. I think that he's a fine and promising writer, too, Anymouse, but the dire threat that Trump presents in many dimensions requires that worst case interpretations be considered seriously. A recent 'OMG!' reaction stopped him cold: "I was just being sarcastic." If extreme and unlikely interpretations save us from less extreme but nonetheless terrible actions, so much the better.

    A small edit to one of Hemel's last sentences makes my point —

    "In the end, what threatens us from an imperial presidency is not just the legal process, which can take weeks or months to kick into gear, but the process by which presidential pronouncements are translated into popular understandings."

  28. You probably know I walk on thin ice here, not with you so much, but with some who came from TH to your blog. I was told more than once not to go places. When I did so, it was always in attempt to clarify and correct, since certain things written were clearly not correct. I always endeavored to support what I wrote, and would agree to my being infantile in my naivety the recipient would investigate, but, for others who might, I wrote. I persisted.
    The lesson, since you asked, is Judges 9. The learning is that it takes the people to allow a king, especially when self-proclaimed. It takes followers to form the power of the despot. But, if the people rise up against the despot and his followers, then he is no more. Particular in who caused the despot's death in the lesson, too. Though written 3,000+ years ago, directly appropriate for today! Even funny that it happen(ed)s after 3 years of rule, plus the few months in which he took control.
    As for the young man's article, I don't think I'm going too far in that he wrote an entirely different discussion than the article you referenced. Surely you were 100% correct in the facts of the situation(s), so I see why you found it. But what Mr. Hemel was appealing to people is to not make despots like DT (is anyone like him?) into kings through suggestion of same.
    And it's my hope that if DT tries in this, he'll be soundly thumped, which is a rhyme we could have much fun with.
    But the thumping must come from the people! And not depend on "officials", and "others". I think that's the broader lesson happening now. I'm concerned it's not being learned though, with every crazy thing that happens, and compounds on top of other craziness. It's the pendulum metaphor.
    Now, pendulums move about a single point (foci?), and the way to dampen the amplitude is to move the point. If you've ever corrected an over-steer in driving your car, you've done this. So, to help things in our craziness-increasing swings, we need to move the foci in the direction of the travel of the pendulum.
    So, how to do this? (or is this simply the babble of a lunatic? you decide :-)
    I enjoy your writings, and think you're correct in your anger (if that's the best word). And, I'm confident we'll be redeemed in November. And, the world will respond!

  29. "It's OK...People will probably start dying faster by the end of summer and I bet most are in "open states"."

    "Do you want people flooding this state from other "open states"? I do not. They can keep their stupid where the stupid thrives and leave us alone. My mantra is sucede and don't come back. Turn the south into what amounts to N.Korea in America. Build a wall and dig a moat so they feel at home. Give them what they want before they kill us all."

    Yeah, I said that and it's true. Every word...

    Now? Today it's announced Medicaid is going to be slashed in the stupid states of America. The liars are saying when times are tough, it's critical to cut costs. We all gotta have skin in the game is the stupid states mantra. Then why is it that in good times they also want to cut entitlements? Why are we not saving for the bad times during "the greatest economic boom in history." If things have never been better, then why give tax breaks to corporations so they actually pay taxes instead of paying none?

    My argument is this. If someone's threatening my life they should pay. Jail, getting the crap beat outta them, something. I have aright to defend myself and justice. Cutting Medicaid is threaten my life and the lives of millions. I have no chance to defend myself against stupid states. If I find the Governor after that fact and beat him till he needs Medicaid. I'd go to jail. The Gov. gets justice..and a Medicaid check. But me? I just get to die a slow and extremely painful death. The Gov. and his minions in legislature get to take sucker punches galore at me w/o anything more than than the tiny possibility the incumbent will lose their election.

    I think before each vote, in the spirit of alt right stupid, us "libs" should also be given the opportunity to intimidate. But in like kind. The stupids hand over all their arms to the "libs" protesting at the same event in the capitol building.

    Ok ok ok..A non starter. How about this. The "libs" take up strategic positions outside the capitol with all the stuff needed for a month long siege? A battalion of 'lib' doomsday preppers.

    Okokok...That too is a non starter. So then why do it to other people if you don't want the same treatment??? Why? Because that's "different".

    Yeah...OK...Then just stay in the "stupid states of 'merca" and leave the United States alone once in for all.


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