Must-see: Rachel Maddow on right-wing media

“Things that would have been disprovable myths in times past in America now become conservative truths.”

Things that can be easily disproven outside of conservative America can never be disproven if you live in their closed circuit world on the right.

In the amazing video below, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow focuses on what our favorite climate-decrocker Peter Sinclair calls, “The Greatest Threat to the Planet: The Right Wing Echo Chamber.  Maddow explains why a substantial fraction of conservatives and conservative-leaning independents are impervious to the facts:

Maybe T.S. Eliot was wrong.  The world doesn’t end either with a bang or a whimper but with the endless repetition of lies and disinformation.

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66 Responses to Must-see: Rachel Maddow on right-wing media

  1. Richard Brenne says:

    Since my comment about this under the Karl Rove post below is in moderation and was mostly addressing Rachel Maddow’s excellent commentary, I thought I’d re-submit it here.

    Many if not most assume that politics is generally a pendulum that will eventually swing back in the liberal direction.

    But the hard times we know aren’t part of a pendulum either; instead they show every sign of reaching limits to growth in virtually every area. The era of cheap and abundant fossil fuels and the relentless real and speculative growth they allowed is over.

    This means that a significant minority and soon a majority will start knowing hardships that haven’t been known for decades. That was one thing in the 1930s but the thing that has grown the most is our expectations, with every politician and pundit telling us we should only expect more of everything all the time.

    Reality cannot come close to meeting those expectations, and the disconnect will undoubtedly become unimaginable suffering in the decades and even just years ahead.

    So no, I don’t think this pendulum is swinging back into a familiar direction. This could be just the very beginning stages of it. We might be like Germany in, say, 1931 or so.

    We need to do everything in our power to guard against this.

  2. Jay Dee Are says:

    Astrophysicists have speculated that the laws of physics might be different in other universes. For example, in our universe, the theory of relativity holds. On our planet, the climate is changing rapidly.

    If US conservaties are from another universe, maybe over there, relativity doesn’t hold – maybe the speed of light over there is infinite – and the climate(s) on their planet(s) is (are) just fine. Their being from another universe would also explain where all that money they used to buy the election came from. Otherwise, the money would have been circulating in the economy and could have provided support for people to have jobs, right?

    Another thing to ponder: If they are from another universe, they are not Americans. Has anyone seen their birth certificates?

  3. Colorado Bob says:

    When arguing with ‘bots, use a ‘bot

    I see a lot of the same, tired, and totally wrong arguments about global warming over and over again whenever I write about it. “The other planets are warming!”, “In the 70s scientists said the Earth was cooling!”, “The climate scientists were caught faking their data!”

    Wrong, wrong, and wrong. It’s almost as if the people making so much noise against the idea of global warming are robots, just repeating their arguments in the hope — sadly, probably correctly — that people will be swayed by repetition.

    Software developer Nigel Leck feels the same way, so he created a ‘bot for Twitter that scans for key words used by climate change denialists and tweets automatic rebuttals to the most common “arguments”. It’s pretty awesome: it posts a short, pithy debunking with a link to sites for more detail. The ‘bot is called AI_AGW and you can follow it on Twitter (note: it tweets a lot).

  4. Rockfish says:

    It was an excellent segment, but this is hardly news. The “repeat fiction until it becomes fact” trick has been central to (neo-)conservative strategy since the Clinton witch hunts at least, and probably well before that, though the “WMD” fiasco was its high point, at least so far.
    The media has utterly abdicated their role as “truth” seekers, and are really just another corporate enterprise selling advertising by providing entertainment.
    I too fear we are closer to 1930’s Germany than we are willing to admit.

  5. Lou Grinzo says:

    A few semi-random thoughts…

    1. We need way more people like Maddow, lesbian vampire-ness, and all.

    2.If the climate change engaged members of the public don’t get over the strong tendency in our ranks against “getting political” then we have precisely zero chance of stopping the kind of nonsense Maddow drags out into the harsh sunlight. This is particularly true of scientists. Detachment from the political process where CC is concerned is a luxury we can no longer afford. One could argue that we passed that point some time back; regardless of the exact timing, the point is now behind us.

    3. We are already locked into a lot of pain and expense, and with every ton of CO2 we emit it only gets worse. If I could force mainstreamers to sit down and learn one fact about CC, it would be the basic lesson that “love is fleeting, but CO2 is forever”, and therefore what matters is our total emissions over time. Nearly every mainstreamer I’ve talked to has this notion that we can cut our emissions tomorrow, and CO2 levels will plummet in a matter of weeks or months. (Much as so many assume that you can smoke for decades, quit, and your cancer risk instantly goes to zero.) My point here is to contrast trying to teach mainstreamers about that one particular inconvenient truth vs. the open hydrant of lies the right wing has unleashed.

    4. Anyone who thinks we’re anywhere near “the worst it can get” in terms of politics and policy is naive beyond words. The Red House will make the last two years look like a warm-up act.

  6. At what point will reasoned people finally dare to utter the plain, unvarnished truth, free from Political Correctness?

    “America, your name is Idiot!”

    All the talk about how ‘the people are sovereign’ and ‘the people are always right’ and ‘never call the people idiotic’ have become so ingrained that they’re now bandied around as quick excuses to avoid doing fact-checking and learning actual knowledge. And this form of Political Correctness — the idea that ignorance is freedom, that emotions are patriotic, that opinions are sacrosanct — is the most pernicious form of PC of all.

    Skirting around this problem isn’t going to solve it.


  7. Lou Grinzo says:

    Rockfish: I respectfully disagree on one point. It’s not news to us, but I would bet it is news to a vast portion of the American public, the ones who think Democrats and Republicans are all alike and haven’t actually seen the echo chamber in action. Even with Fox’s high ratings, many millions of Americans have no clue how far from reality the right wingers are in 2010.

    I guarantee you that if we showed the Maddow clip to a few million people who couldn’t be bothered to vote this week or in most elections, a lot of them would suddenly find the time and energy to register and get to their polling place.

  8. Mark in South Africa says:

    I don’t understand how people can be allowed to get away with this? In South Africa, the liar would be sued. Whart kind of country are you people running?

  9. cervantes says:

    The other networks don’t seem to have caught on that Fox is not a legitimate news operation. They get all bent out of shape when politicians, including BHO, try to dis Fox, and IIRC they put a Fox “reporter” in the Helen Thomas chair.

    That is actually a big problem. So long as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and the print media treat them as colleagues and believe (or perhaps pretend) that they are all in the same business, they will continue to deceive with impunity. (That’s why NPR was right to fire Juan Williams, BTW, not because of his specific remark but because he was taking money from a fake news operation. But they don’t dare say so, it appears.)

  10. neot says:

    In other news, defeating Prop 23 was the top voting priority for Californians. The problem with Democrats is cowering and not taking to the airwaves to denounce this BS. They perhaps think speaking against the falsehood demeans themselves or gives credibility to the lie, but this strategy is failing miserably. They need to start making a big issue out of these lies, aggressively and vociferously. Expose the lies of right-wing media quickly and in clear terms.

    It might even earn them the respect of some people who don’t like liberals simply because of their limp-wristed aversion to affrontery. Imagine how Prop 23 would have turned out if Schwarzenegger hadn’t come out with guns blazing. The Republicans *get* this. You don’t need to be an a-hole, but you can’t be a wimp. Obama’s pre-capitulative discussion of EPA regs this week puts him in the latter camp. As if the climate didn’t even exist.

  11. Rob Honeycutt says:

    I totally love the part of the whole $200M/day story regarding sending 34 navy ships to the area. I mean, come on, what are we going to do? Are we going to invade India if something happens to the president?

    It also took me about 30 seconds on the internet to confirm that the entire Afghanistan war costs less than $200M a day!

    You know, maybe there is something to this whole episode. Maybe we should be using Fox against itself. We should create absurd news stories about the president or democratic members of congress, and then when they show up on Fox News crush them with the truth. Surely those who watch would start to slowly distrust Fox News as a source of reliable information.

    I remember reading one of Andy Warhol’s books in college where he talked about how he liked to tell little lies about himself to someone and see how long it would take the lie to come back to him.

  12. The more things change, the more they remain the same. Listen to FDR’s full Fala speech:
    He refers to “the Republican fiction writers in Congress”.
    He also uses this story as the last of a series of falsehoods perpetrated by the same folks, in a rhetorical tour-de-force. If anyone can send this speech to folks in the white house, they need to hear it! Nobody calls out liars like FDR, but perhaps President Obama can up his game on that particular front.

    The ‘Fala Speech’
    “These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family doesn’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I had left him behind on the Aleutian Islands and had sent a destroyer back to find him–at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars–his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself–such as that old, worm-eaten chestnut that I have represented myself as indispensable. But I think I have a right to resent, to object to libelous statements about my dog.”–Sept. 23, 1944, address to the Teamsters Union

  13. Jose says:

    It’s hard to quantify reactionary craziness and stupidity. It’s been around all my life and I percieve it to be roughly constant in how crazy and stupid it can be.

    The conspiracy theories are coming up thick and fast. But they tend to discredit their purveyors over time. That may just be wishful thinking on my part.

  14. Rob Honeycutt,

    I think there’s something to the strategy you propose, but I’m not sure who’s the best person or institution to implement it.


  15. cervantes says:

    Hey Rob, you seem to be missing the point. The crap on Fox News does get crushed with the truth, all the time, but Fox News viewers never find out because Fox doesn’t bother to tell them. That’s what Rachel was saying.

  16. Rockfish says:

    If the truth falls in forest, but nobody is there to hear it…

  17. Mike Roddy says:

    Cervantes, I don’t see how Fox’s lies are being debunked in any systematic way.

    There should be a weekly show on TV that acts as a media watchdog. As Rachel and Peter Sinclair have shown, this can be pretty damn entertaining. Fox would dominate the bullshit awards, but other networks need to be called out too.

    The problem is- who will do it? It may have to be HBO, since the other networks are owned by media companies (such as Viacom and Disney) that are almost as right wing as Murdoch. Anybody got ideas here?

  18. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Cervantes…. What I’m saying is they need to be far more extreme, like this whole $200M/day story.

    I’ve personally been in several places today online where right-wingers were trying to defend this story and then backed down because it was just too absurd to defend.

    It would have to be carefully calculated to be lies that were clearly disputable.

  19. Anu says:

    @Rockfish says: November 5, 2010 at 3:33 pm
    The media has utterly abdicated their role as “truth” seekers, and are really just another corporate enterprise selling advertising by providing entertainment.

    Appellate Court Rules Media Can Legally Lie
    By Mike Gaddy. Published Feb. 28, 2003

    On February 14, a Florida Appeals court ruled there is absolutely nothing illegal about lying, concealing or distorting information by a major press organization. The court reversed the $425,000 jury verdict in favor of journalist Jane Akre who charged she was pressured by Fox Television management and lawyers to air what she knew and documented to be false information. The ruling basically declares it is technically not against any law, rule, or regulation to deliberately lie or distort the news on a television broadcast.

    Project Censored – 2005
    The Media Can Legally Lie

  20. Lore says:

    “Software developer Nigel Leck feels the same way, so he created a ‘bot for Twitter that scans for key words used by climate change denialists and tweets automatic rebuttals to the most common “arguments”. It’s pretty awesome: it posts a short, pithy debunking with a link to sites for more detail. The ‘bot is called AI_AGW and you can follow it on Twitter (note: it tweets a lot).”

    This is cool! Pretty soon they will have their own bot to post against our bot and we can just ignore it all and go back to playing marathon rounds of World of Warcraft.

  21. David Smith says:

    Fox news is not news or entertainment. They are a really sophisticated, endless multifaceted, political advertisement. They should be regulated by campaign finance rules.

  22. Lore says:

    Just heard that Keith Olbermann was suspended From MSNBC for campaign donations. Another voice silenced?

    “One executive said the network decided it was imperative to take this kind of strong action as a way of underscoring that MSNBC, while featuring prime-time shows that overly support Democratic policy, remains a channel that adheres to fundamental journalistic values.”

  23. Mark S says:

    The $200 million a day thing found it’s way onto WUWT. Shocking. Allowing that story there shows what he/they have become: just another voice of the right wing noise machine. No rationality, no credibility, except to each other.

  24. Jeff Huggins says:

    NOTE About (and To) The Media

    Although I am angry with Fox and NewsCorp about this, of course, we should be even more upset and disappointed in some senses with most of the other media organizations, including those that claim to be above the fray, for practical purposes. Indeed, The New York Times is one of the worst culprits, and perhaps THE worst in important senses.

    It is, perhaps, “unchangeable” what Fox does, until we get good at boycotts of Fox and of big advertisers on Fox. (And we should.) But the other organizations should also be ashamed of themselves — CNN, NBC, MSNBC (even), ABC, The New York Times, CBS, and so forth and so on. And, when it comes to those other organizations, we SHOULD be able to prompt them to change. Our focus, really, should be on THEM, because they are getting away with far too much — and indeed enabling the Fox problem — and because we CAN prompt them to change, as they should.

    Why? They ALL put up with it (the Fox problem, the ExxonMobil BS, and etc.), and indeed enable it, and look the other way far too frequently. They also create false balances, cover “both sides”, miss pivotal stories, fail to mention climate change far too often, and so forth. For example, it seems crystal clear to me that The New York Times, Bill Keller, and Andy Revkin don’t actually get it (on this matter). They play the game and (far too much) they enable the problem. Indeed, The New York Times is probably the largest enabler, in print, of the confusions foisted upon the public by ExxonMobil. Meanwhile, how many times does The New York Times miss key stories and avoid covering pivotal letters sent by leading scientific organizations? And meanwhile, how many times does Andy put us on a quest for the “magic word”, enable false balance, and defend the media when the media are earning an F? If I were Rachel at this point (and I admire her), I would set my sights squarely on The New York Times until they “get it” and until they become part of the effort to push the entire media to reform. The entire media need reform. Are you listening, Disney-ABC? The New York Times? Andy?

    I’ve put some quotes below. The most important, to me, at this point, are those that explain why The New York Times (and etc.) are letting down humankind. Bill Keller and Andy ought to read these. It’s also helpful to listen carefully to Bob Dylan’s great song, “Who Killed Davey Moore?”, in order to understand the balls that are being dropped by many of those who think they are doing a good job. The Tacitus quote is probably the best.

    In any case, here are some helpful quotes. Cheers, Jeff

    * * *

    A shocking crime was committed on the unscrupulous initiative of few individuals, with the blessing of more, and amid the passive acquiescence of all.

    – Tacitus

    We have sunk so low it has become the obligation of every decent, thinking individual to re-state the obvious!

    – George Orwell

    There is a demand today for men who can make wrong appear right.

    – Terence (Publius Terentius Afer), c. 190-159 BC

    Nothing is more terrible than ignorance in action.

    – Goethe

    The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.

    – Machiavelli; paraphrase

    In my humble opinion, non-cooperation with evil is as much a duty as is cooperation with good.

    – Gandhi

    In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else will solve their problems. Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.

    – Tenzin Gyatso – The Dalai Lama

  25. Lcarey says:

    That quote from Mark in South Africa @8 needs to be engraved somewhere prominent: “What kind of country are you people running?” Indeed.

  26. I Read It On The Internet says:

    Why do you think Obama is taking all those warships to India? There are hundreds of millions of muslims there, and he wants to bring them back to the US.

  27. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    On a level closer to home – what do you do with a close family member who has bought the BS hook, line, and sinker and considers herself intelligent and well-informed and me a tool of the Al Gore conspiracy?

    I’m at my wits’ end and am close to writing her off as anyone I want to deal with. It’s just too frustrating.

    The deniers are breaking up families as we speak, in spite of their typically pro-family stances.

  28. Rob Honeycutt says:

    Ominous… I was just watching John Cook on that new podcast The Climate Show, and he seems to be saying the same thing regarding his own family.

  29. Jeff Huggins says:

    Ominous Clouds

    I agree with the point of Ominous Clouds Overhead (Comment 27) and think it deserves a great deal of attention. When people drive a wedge into society by substituting what I’ll call “fictions that cause real harm” for genuine fact and understanding, they fragment society itself, including families and friends. Otherwise good and well-meaning people have diverse and weird ways of either falling for fictions that are ideologically preferred, OR for continuing to value the quest for truth and their own intellectual integrity and respect for fact. If Person A goes one way, and Person B goes the other, that can cause a fragmentation of the relationship, especially on matters of importance (and climate change IS a matter of importance). Indeed, this is one of the things that makes me most angry with the Fox folks and others who are denying reality: They are actually wrecking friendships, making it nearly impossible to discuss fact in certain venues, and causing great stress between members of families. Given where things currently stand, I think (at this point) that there is no way for me NOT to take the harms Fox is causing “personally”. In normal times on normal issues, there is this thought, “oh, don’t take it personally”. I’m afraid that I AM beginning to take it personally, and correctly so, because it DOES affect personal matters and human matters, and I feel that actions being taken by some Fox folks, and others, ARE doing harm to my children and to my children’s children (which thankfully are still years away).

    Anyhow, I agree with OCO’s Comment 27.

    Be Well (or try to),


  30. Colorado Bob says:

    “This is the scenario I dislike the most, because the deepest magma is pushing up now,” said the agency’s chief, Surono. “The eruptions haven’t stopped, the tremors are getting stronger and one big explosion could be the result. I’ve never seen it act like this. We don’t know what to expect.”

    By midday yesterday, the volcano had been erupting continuously for 30 hours, the longest known period, and about 100,000 people had been evacuated.
    Anytime the top Indonesian volcano guy says, ” I’ve never seen it act like this. ” we should all take note.

  31. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    Thanks for the comments. It helps to know you’re not alone. But it sure is hard to want to be around people who think they’re smart and yet are totally brainwashed.

    I try to be open-minded and at least read/listen to opposing views. But I have trouble dealing with intellectual arrogance, especially if it’s my own family.

    The whole scenario is just so disheartening.

  32. Ominous Clouds Overhead says:

    And for Colorado Bob, yup, if an Indonesian says something like that, watch out. They know what they’re talking about, being in a very active part of the Ring of Fire.

  33. Prof. Joe says:

    How on earth is this rubbish allowed to be carried out? In New Zealand yone would be vanquished from all credibility and most likley taken to court, where the accused would invariably lose every time. What kind of system are you running over there? I am not an expert on American politics, but it would appear some serious investment needs to be made in countering the conservative think tanks and discrediting those who A. are not qualified to comment B. have a social and political engineering agenda. Time for science and those who care to stand up an fight!

  34. Doug M. says:

    Lore says:

    Just heard that Keith Olbermann was suspended From MSNBC for campaign donations. Another voice silenced?

    From the article I read about this (I think it was on Huffington Post), it looks like this is mostly Olberman’s boss attempting to force home the point that he’s the one in charge, not Olberman. And Olberman’s not the first of the MSNBC hosts to be punished in some manner recently. So this may be part of a larger effort by MSNBC to “maintain order”. A nice way to put it might be that MSNBC is trying to get its hosts to act as more of a coordinated team, further emulating Fox News. Whether that’s a good idea is another matter.

    So, anyways, I expect Olberman will be back on relatively soon.

  35. dp says:

    the goal of any decent capitalist is to get paid more than your work is worth. the only way capitalism as a whole can function is with a system of checks to keep the few from fleecing the many. this is a seriously potent magnetic polar opposite situation. you gotta have the right amount of fraud to make things happen but not too much.

    this is the key to the right wing echo machine’s power. they look like the good kind of liars, the kind that makes you rich.

  36. climate undergrad says:

    Ominus –

    I have the same problem with a very close friend. I believe that at some point in his life he crafted an image of what he wanted to be. In this image he was rich, married, and conservative. He is a very smart and capable person, but yet somehow believes wholeheartedly in the BS machine.

    Besides being inept scientifically, Americans are EXTREMELY superficial. Republicans have successfully created this image of a wealthy white man, that young white men (and probably others) actually aspire to. Image first, facts/logic/reasoning second.


  37. Colorado Bob: Maybe Gaia is doing some geoengineering.

  38. Christopher S. Johnson says:

    Speaking of NPR (in comment above) there is a horrible-horrible NPR All Things Considered story today on reducing CO2 emissions. The entire story was a kowtow to political pressure and anti- carbon pricing. They only had one “expert”, ** Roger Pielke Jr. **, who is not a climate scientist and is on a long term campaign to avoid regulation policies. He presents false choices between innovation and regulation, and he misses the concept of the enormity of change that needs to happen within a few decades. He sounds reasonable, but he is representing only a partial selection of the needed action at the expense of the rest. That’s terribly dangerous and I propose it is misinforming the public in the disguise of “reasonableness”.

  39. Jeff Huggins says:

    An Article Title in The New York Times Today

    For some lighthearted fun — sort of — I thought I’d point out the title of an article from the Times’ home page (on the web) today:

    “New York’s Next Frontier: The Waterfront”

    Someday, it might be more accurate to say:

    “The Waterfront’s Next Frontier: New York”



  40. cr says:

    climate undergrad at #36.

    It’s not just that we’re inept scientifically. It’s that we have no critical thinking skills. I don’t consider myself that skilled in the sciences, but my background is history and research, so I have that set of skills to help me weed out the noise on climate science. Most Americans have never been taught how to weed out the noise and sadly don’t seem willing to learn.
    I would have thought that China kicking our butts in high speed rail and green energy would have motivated us to try and catch up, much like Sputnik did many years ago. But apparently we’re past that now.

  41. Oregon Stream says:

    Joe, meanwhile we have NPR doing a piece for Pielke Jr. regarding Obama’s cap & trade comment:

    If they don’t do as suggested in the comments, maybe you or someone else more reality-based should ask for rebuttal time.

  42. robert says:

    Rachel is my most favotite lesbian vampire… :)

  43. cyclonebuster says:

    I bet Rachel would love my “Underwater Suspension Tunnels.”

  44. Anu says:

    6. @frank — Decoding SwiftHack says: November 5, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    In case you’ve never heard this song:
    American Idiot
    sample lyrics (later in song):

    Don’t want to be an American idiot
    One nation controlled by the media
    Information age of hysteria
    Is going out to idiot America
    Welcome to a new kind of tension
    All across the alienation
    Where everything isn’t meant to be ok

    This song was released about one month before George W. won re-election in 2004.

  45. Colorado Bob says:

    Dead, dying coral found near BP spill called ‘smoking gun’
    ‘We have never seen anything like this,’ chief researcher says

    There’s that phrase again .

  46. Sailesh Rao says:

    Perhaps, Peter SInclair can start a TV News Crock of the Day channel on Youtube. I suspect that may be a full time occupation employing several people.

  47. Robbert says:

    No recrimination of open lies
    or rumored tails devoid of fact.
    Print ‘out of context’ is worth a try
    to thread the needle to feed the pac!

    The often repeated farcical spin,
    If someone said it, bring it back again.
    Be it hype or simply tripe,
    they do not hesitate to recite.

    Journalism’s call
    is to seek the source of light.
    Where did they get the idea
    to make it up and spin right!

    For some it’s fun
    to push the spoof
    but most understand
    the Code of Truth!

    Conduit of noise
    or window of light,
    isn’t it thee command
    to offer real insight?

  48. Colorado Bob says:

    141,759 people have taken action—113% of our goal of 125,000!

  49. Colorado Bob says:

    This may be of some help …….
    Years ago I came up with this , it’s called the BBFF

    The Butt Based Fact File , you just reach around and pull that crap out of your ass.

    Clearly that’s the world we live in now.

  50. Colorado Bob says:

    One more I wrote –

    The President continues to bring a plastic spoon to a gun fight.

  51. Michael T says:

    Prof Stephen H Schneider: Global Warming

    “Eminent Climate Change scientist Prof Stephen H Schneider talks Global Warming: Motivating game changing actions in an era of spin and confusion.”

  52. yogi-one says:

    I thought itr was all BS too until I woke up in the middle of the night last night, and feeling hungry, went to my kitchen. There was a small mouse on the table. I thought – OMG, that’s the end of the cheese and crackers I had left out after enjoying a glass of cabernet before bedtime.

    But the mouse wasn’t interested in the food. He was walking up and down on top of the Wall Street Journal I had left open to the editorial page on the table, staring at it intently.

    When I turned on the the light, much to my surprise, he didn’t scurry under the stove.

    No, he looked straight up at me and said, without a trace of fear, “You know, Obamacare SUCKS!”

    So now I know – it’s all true!

  53. Richard Brenne says:

    Ominous Clouds Overhead (#27) – Funny, I’ve always considered you a tool of the Al Gore conspiracy as well.:)

    And I’m glad you gave Wit’s End another plug.

    But you bring up a serious and important point. It sounds like a brick wall to effective communication has gone up between you and your family member. Whenever that happens with anyone in any setting, I think we need to ask ourselves if it’s useful to proceed. It sounds like in this case it might be better to agree to disagree, and not bring the topic up again (or let her bring it up) unless there is some meaningful shift.

    Even if there is a meaningful shift, I think it’s usually helpful to identify the direct approach that will run into the brick wall preventing any effective communication and go around the brick wall and come at the person from another angle.

    Here are some examples: When speaking to a group of astronomers, I talked about climate change from the perspective of the Fermi Paradox that asks, “If there’s all these aliens on other planets, why don’t we hear from anyone?” My answer was that that it is quite possibly the nature of industrial civilizations to find fossil fuels and change their climate so dramatically that civilizations don’t continue long enough to improve our odds of hearing from them.

    Another example is to talk about the incredible influence humans are having in so many areas of Anthro-Earth (species loss, resource depletion, our own overpopulation and over-consumption, etc). That makes climate change much easier to understand and digest. Your relative might be concerned about overpopulation or something else and you can talk about the concerns you agree about.

    When I spoke to many climate change deniers in the audience of a talk I gave at Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, I had carefully discerned how different the climate Lewis and Clark traveled in relative to the climate of today (three 90 degree days in two summers on the Missouri River when we get many dozens today, ice on the Lewis and Clark River near Astoria preventing travel, two weeks of snow on the ground at Fort Clatsop, a major March melt due to Willamette Valley snowpack, etc, etc, etc). Then I spoke about what Kevin Trenberth told me the climate could be like 205 years from now (the same distance in the future as the Lewis and Clark Expedition was in the past).

    The talk was a big success and opened a lot of minds without making enemies.

    I might agree to disagree with someone, but I never write them off and never give up on them. That’s in my job and role as a climate change communicator.

    But if we need to take a stand, stand up and oppose lies and evil, then we’ll do that as well, but the best thing to do with family members is to get along with them the best we can. But I generally think working things out is better than the silent repression of all emotions, which helped create the Bush family.

  54. A face in the clouds says:

    The link below is just one of the reasons for the timing of the fake news story highlighted by Maddow. Also note that Perry was hiding in plain view on teevee, shopping his book. His extravagant, taxpayer-funded lifestyle and other scandals (like his wife’s fascinating divorce attempt) will result in other GOP diversions. As so often is the case, the diversions are funneled through Andrew Breitbart (aka Maude Frickert) and cohort Matt Drudge the saloon gossip.

    The people who generate the kind of stuff Maddow discussed are also playing a very dangerous game profiting off of the 2012 doomsday nonsense. (There’s already been at least one suspected 2012 suicide cult reported to the U.S. Justice Department, and that was in early 2009. The suspected cult is still active online.) You may have noticed the flurry of late week stories about the 2012 doomsday shelters. This is nothing new but someone has invested a good deal in a new and rather massive marketing blitz. Some in the press correctly hinted the entire idea was a scam, but a lot of people are spending large amounts of money on personal shelters and reservations in community shelters. In this part of the country it is logical to have a small storm cellar, but these doomsday shelters are right out of Elizabeth Clare Prophet.
    Much of the wildest 2012 speculation (and other noise to which Maddow referred) traces back a few years to overnight, radio ghost buster/saucer chaser George Noory, who is part of the Breitbart/Drudge/Beck connection. Noory’s “news” at the beginning of his show is often a verbatim read of stories from the Drudge Report. Noory is also friends with Glenn Beck and a gold pitchman.
    None of this would work without a gullible audience and they’ve got a big one for this day and age.

  55. gecko says:

    Maddow is great!

    Time to start a Fake News Network something that American comedians can use to make billions of dollars and conquer the world.

  56. pete best says:

    Mcarthy witchunts etc all points to the right in the USA always having been so paranoid and so easily led to beleive what sounds good with no basis in truth. On the right in the USA the media in all its forms has the truth and not any means of checking the truth.

  57. caerbannog says:

    But you bring up a serious and important point. It sounds like a brick wall to effective communication has gone up between you and your family member. Whenever that happens with anyone in any setting, I think we need to ask ourselves if it’s useful to proceed.

    I got a message through a brick wall like that a couple of years ago with a little social “quantum tunneling”.

    One of my in-laws had gone back to school to get her degree. She’s quite religious and lives in an environment where global-warming denial flourishes. A couple of years ago, she received an assignment where she had to read a current article about global warming and summarize it in a paper. She wasn’t sure how best to approach the assignment and asked me for some ideas.

    Well… it just so happens that the Peterson et al. journal article “The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus” had just hit the press at that time, and I realized that I had a golden “teachable moment” opportunity.

    So I sent her a link to the paper with a little note that it was more than just an ordinary newspaper or magazine article. I pointed out that it was published in a professional scientific journal (i.e. “not just an ordinary magazine”), and that if she used that paper as a basis for her assignment, she’d really impress the instructor.

    Well, she took the bait, used the paper for her assignment, and was thrilled to get an A+. She told me later that her instructor gave her special recognition in class for her work, and thanked me for the tip. I haven’t had any direct discussions about global-warming with her family since then (it’s one of those topics that needs to be approached rather delicately given the social environment of their community). But at least I was able to get some legitimate information “through the brick wall”.

  58. Joan Savage says:

    Some comments (Rockfish and Ominous Clouds Overhead) touch on what I see is a burning issue.

    Us human beings can lose our critical thinking skills when distraught, or when heavily socialized to accept group-endorsed ideas. When we humans are anxious, we are more likely to circle the wagons and accuse others of causing our problems.

    What is the personal distress that opens the door for those listening to the false accusations?

    (I’d try indebtedness, insecure home ownership,underemployment, erosion of retirement security, etc.)

    And separate from that! – What other forces drive the socialization process?

    (I’d try prejudices, exploitation by business/media consortia)

    Don’t try to dismiss this phenomena with haughty slander about low intelligence. Don’t lump all the GOP in a “they, not me” category. That would be slipping into the kind of hostility that is already being fed.

    Emotional stress can trump intelligence. Think about Patty Hearst becoming a member of the Symbionese Liberation Army.

  59. pete best says:

    Democracy treats all opinions as being equal – many humans believe what is in newspapers and on TV news programs. Simple as that.

  60. Jeff Huggins says:

    Rachel Our Heroine, Fox, MMMM, 1927 and 1934, The Supreme Court, Gullible Irrational Humans, John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, Activism, and the Kitchen Sink

    In relation to Rachel’s point about Fox News and the dangerous closed-loop right-wing Mind-Media-Meld-Meltdown . . . (and how to deal with it) . . .

    If I’m not mistaken, The Radio Act of 1927 requires commercial broadcasters to operate in the “public interest, convenience and necessity”. In 1934, a broader act was passed: The Communications Act of 1934 requires a broader range of commercial broadcasters to operate in the “public interest, convenience and necessity”.

    (See The Museum of Broadcast Communications website for specifics.)

    Here’s the underlying principle: If a commercial entity wants to use the public airways and broadcast spectra (which are a resource of the American public and cannot be used for commercial purposes without license), then the commercial entity must operate in the “public interest, convenience and necessity”. Such commercial entities must not use the broadcast spectra for purposes that could likely harm the public interest, as in the public well-being.

    In other words, Fox News (or any other commercial entity) should not be able to continue to enjoy a license for broadcast activities if such activities violate this principle. Same goes for whatever company broadcasts Rush Limbaugh. Period! And indeed, we are all members of the public, and we have a right to demand that this law be upheld and that the government act to withdraw the license of any commercial broadcaster who doesn’t adhere to it.

    Now, someone might say that the law has been interpreted “liberally” to allow many things to pass as being not harmful to public well-being. But, given present-day activities and issues, such a finding would be entirely nonsensical. It’s one thing – and perfectly fine – to have different opinions about Coke and Pepsi. It’s also fine to have different views, and offer different arguments, as to whether governments should spend or not spend during economic upturns and downturns. But, it’s not fine – and it obviously CAN do great damage to public well-being – if downright lies, about basic and important facts, are circulated and amplified in the echo chamber. One CANNOT reasonably argue that the sorts of things that are going on today are not deeply harmful to the public well-being.

    Repeated lies and misinformation about important facts and important matters — that are repeated without scrutiny, even after the falsehood has been pointed out, merely for partisan political purposes and/or commercial ratings – are harmful BY DEFINITION if they involve important matters. Indeed, they are told and repeated in order to gain political advantage and to influence elections. So, the only way to hold that they don’t matter, and aren’t dangerous, would be to hold that elections don’t matter and that misguided public policy can’t possibly be dangerous. Nonsense.

    The government ought to start upholding the law and start warning (first), and then withdrawing licenses from any broadcasters who recklessly repeat and even invent lies regarding factual matters that can be shown false (the lies, that is).

    Another argument that some might forward is that lies and misinformation on important matters don’t matter, no matter how much they are repeated, because other sources can point out their falsehood and because citizens (human beings) are rational beings who are not gullible and who can distinguish truth from falsehood. So let’s consider that premise: “Citizens (human beings) are rational beings who are not gullible and who can distinguish truth from falsehood, even in the midst of the modern media environment”. If you’d like to hear of a totally nonsensical premise – completely contradicted by scientific understanding and history – that’s one! There is not a modern profession in the world that would hold that premise to be true any more: not life scientists, not psychologists, not psychiatrists, not sociologists, not medical doctors, not neuroscientists, and not even economists or philosophers. And lawyers and legal scholars (such as Supreme Court justices) should be among the very first people to realize that humans are not always, or even mainly, or even normally, “rational” beings who are not gullible and who can distinguish truth from falsehood no matter what information is spewed their way.

    Indeed, the very reason why our government is structured the way it is, is that humans are often not rational, are often gullible, and do often go astray in various human ways. If humans were always rational beings, and not gullible, and were always looking out for the public interest, we wouldn’t need a separation of powers in the first place. Yet this is clearly not the case.

    So we have a big problem (presently) and an opportunity for change: If the broadcast law is enforced, as it should and must be, then we can reduce the outright habitual falsity influencing so much of the public dialogue and politics today. On the other hand, if the law is not sufficiently and strongly enforced, because the Supreme Court thinks that repeated lies and misinformation on important matters are somehow not damaging to public well-being, then the Supreme Court invalidates itself and kills its own credibility. Is the Supreme Court beyond reproach or beyond making rulings that effectively invalidate its own credibility and just authority? No, not at all. John Locke and Thomas Jefferson themselves have argued why governments (including judicial branches!) retain their just authority only so long as they act in ways that secure and further the public good and do not substantially undermine that good. Of course, different matters, mistakes, nuances, and so forth can help or hinder the public good to different degrees, and certainly not everything is a “firing offense”, as in “let’s fire the Supreme Court or ignore it”. But, when a Supreme Court allows corporate money to flow without limit into politics, because corporations supposedly should enjoy the rights of real human beings, and if a Supreme Court were to rule that huge flat-out lies, about important matters, when circulated and re-circulated in the media, do not constitute a harm to the public good and a violation of the requirement to “operate in the public interest”, then such a Supreme Court would indeed invalidate itself. What worse damage could a Supreme Court do to the public interest? Drop a bomb on all of us? Indeed, BIG LIES are like “information bombs”, in some very real senses, and if laws and policies allow those lies to live long lives, to be re-circulated, to be reinforced, and to be used for political and commercial advantage, on a large and loud scale, and using the public’s own airwaves no less, that’s a big problem and a bad and unjust judgment.

    So, these broadcast laws should be pursued and enforced based on a genuine and sensible understanding of what they were ORIGINALLY intended to mean, regardless of what soft and enabling rulings various Supreme Courts may have made about them in more recent years. Then, if such enforcement is challenged (as it will surely be), a forceful and fact-based case should be made, to the Supreme Court AND in public, about the necessity of actually enforcing the laws as they were originally intended. If the Supreme Court then rules against such enforcement, and favors nonsense over sense, and disregards the vital roles of truth and fact in a democracy, and ignores the roles of the modern media, then we’ll know that the Supreme Court does not indeed have the public interest in mind, and we can look to John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and others to try to figure out what to do next.

    I DO think that Rachel-Our-Heroine should press this matter as far as possible, and I think that groups interested in public well-being should file big suits against Fox, and I think that some sensible and honest and courageous law enforcement officers ought to start issuing warnings and, if things don’t change, withdrawing licenses from those who would knowingly, purposefully, and harmfully mislead and lie to the public, using the public’s own airwaves to do so.

    Have I forgotten anything? Oh yes, the Kitchen Sink …

    Be Well,


  61. peter whitehead says:

    Richard Brenner Re: the Fermi Paradox. The Drake Equation has a key factor – the lifespan of a technical civilization. I suspect this is short, so we could well be the only planet in that phase in our galaxy right now. Perhaps there are many planets that have already supergreenhoused.

    Ominous Clouds Overhead: I feel for you. Try this: A TRUE OR FALSE (set of cards perhaps) – how do they answer.

    1. Do fossil fuels make CO2 when they burn? If FALSE then all basic chemistry is a lie too.

    2. Does CO2 act as a greenhouse gas? If FALSE then as above.

    3. Is there more CO2 in the air now than 60 years ago? If FALSE then you reject simple basic scientific record keeping.

    4. Does the CO2 we make go into the atmosphere? If FALSE where does it go?

    5. Is the earth hotter now than at the time the Industrial Revolution began? If FALSE then you reject basic evidence collected from many sources.

    If all else fails, use reverse psycology – persuade them that cars do not run best on fuel but on coffee. It is only a matter of opinion, and why should so-called experts tell people what to do? Stick to this opinion no matter what evidence they produce – owners manuals, company websites etc. They are all vested interests. Drive them mad first.

  62. peter whitehead says:

    On quotes:

    “It isn’t faith that makes good science, it’s curiosity”
    (The Day the Earth Stood Still, 1951)

  63. Sue Jones says:

    I cannot believe that a supreme court of justice could uphold the judgement that lies and distortion of the truth on the public airwaves is permissible. That would certainly dismiss themselves out of existence.

    But then I can´t bring myself to quite believe that elections can be bought in a civilised country.

    If America allows its fundamental values in truth and justice to be lost, then it will never find its way back.

    What´s it all for anyway- all those lies?

  64. Nancy Bailey says:

    @ Sue Jones: what’s it all for? Power, of course. All the rest is flummery.

  65. Andy Olsen says:

    I really do believe this habit by so many of the left of sarcastically repeating RW talking points is deeply counter-productive. In this video, for example, she is one-third into a 15 minute piece before debunking the myth. She spends 5 minutes re-broadcasting the lies!

    Even sarcastically repeating right wing talking points is still repeating right wing talking points! It is a counter-productive practice. Stop it!

    I see this all the time and the offense is even worse in print where people repost the right-wing TP without the visual cue of verbal communication. It’s like “Don’t Think of an Elephant.”

    Oh, God, she’s doing it again. I can’t bear to listen.

  66. leostringers says:

    As most other free nations learned long ago, the key areas of any democracy can be destroyed (health Care & information are 2 obvious ones if you simply tie Profit motives into thier end result , death of morals/truth/decency is not just a scarry possibility
    its 100 guaranteed.