Media and Political Bias Isn’t Binary

Nor is it just news media bias. As we saw with the recent revelations in the New York Times story, it extends to (anti-)social media as well (see The New York Times: 14 November 2018: Sheera Frenkel, Nicholas Confessore, Cecilia Kang, Mathew Rosenberg, and Jack Nicas: “Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook’s Leaders Fought Through Crisis”). It also happens in non-news programming.

There is a tendency to believe that if the media is biased against conservatives, it can’t also be biased against progressives. This is clearly false, as bias is anchored on difference, and the media has its own political culture to defend.

The media is biased against conservatives in some ways, and some of those biases are reasonable; for example, being pro-environment and therefore biased against those who are indifferent, at best, to the environment. But the media is also biased against progressives, seeming to believe that math works differently when it applies to money, and therefore that a universal healthcare system is rainbows on roses and whiskey-toting kittens.

The right-wing uses this effect as a handy political signal. They made hay of the IRS looking for political groups in social welfare clothing. They made hay of (anti-)social media having a bias. But we know in both cases that the IRS also targeted progressive groups and that Facebook has a bias against progressive criticism.

The constancy of the “Democrats in Disarray” narrative is such that you could set your watch, if you still wore one. The media dutifully revives the notion of the “fiscal conservative” like it’s a civilian costume on a superhero. Poof! Where did the tax-slashing big-spending party go? Nobody here but us arch-penny-pinching conservatives.

We saw the ultimate absurdity of this media tendency on several occasions in Trump’s first year or so. He would read a speech, and the media actually thought it was worth pretending he was presidential. They still give enough gravitas to him, merely for occupying the oval office, that they’ll print his lies as headlines.

Media bias is a thing. It comes in many forms. Not all of them are unreasonable, but every one of them is acknowledgable, and those that aren’t reasonable should be discarded.

A Good Election: Reflections on the 2018 Midterms

Not a great election, but a good election.

Was it a blue wave? The Democrats made sizable gains facing headwinds of gerrymandering and a strong economy. Whether it’s called a blue wave is immaterial.

More women in the House than ever before, which we can all hope will become a springboard to even more equal representation. They will be able to offer their own perspectives and help erase the blind spots in thinking that contribute to poor decisions when representation isn’t diverse enough.

Democrats with control of a chamber in Congress means we can have oversight of the executive. There will be surprises as their oversight unveils things the media either couldn’t find or just missed. The people will be informed moving forward and in 2020 can make better decisions based on better information about how our government is operating.

Ex-felons in Florida got their voting rights back, which should mean that state will be more representative and responsive to the people living there. When more people vote, good things happen. We need people to vote, and we need the government to let them share their voice. It’s what makes America work.

Several states voted to expand Medicaid in their states: Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah. This is a strong issue that allows more people to have access to vital health services, but it also creates jobs. It’s good for the economy and good for people.


While a few results are still outstanding, we know that the Democrats taking the gavel in the House of Representatives marks a turning point for our troubled nation. Without good information, we are left to the gaslighting of bad-faith actors in the Republican party who failed to provide oversight of this administration. If the full truth of the misdeeds had been known going into this election, it’s safe to say that the Republican party would have done worse for it.

But that’s why information is so important: we don’t know what we don’t know. We need journalism. We need checks and balances. Without them businesses make poor decisions and state and local governments miscalculate. The whole system suffers from bad information and from information droughts.

By opening this one spigot of information, the American people will empower themselves to make better decisions in the future. Businesses and communities rely on knowing that they get a fair hearing, that their concerns are heard by the executive branch. But under Trump there has been this lingering question about how much abuse, how much fraud, was happening. We’ll finally know, and businesses that were short-changed on bidding, or otherwise misrouted by a bad administration, will seek redress in the courts and other venues of appeal.

The 2018 Midterm Election is Tuesday: ⓋⓄⓉⒺ✔

When you vote, you will be given a sticker. It’s a piece of paper with adhesive on one side and decorations on the other. You put the sticky side on your clothes. Also, you get to weigh in on who does what in the government. It’s fun! Will you elect a dog as dog catcher? A cat? A fox to guard the henhouse?! It’s up to you! Choose wisely!


Predictions for the Midterms

There is a lot of misery from the muralists’ failure to make any attempt to govern in an inclusive way. Trump stomps on the values of America on the regular. The Republicans sit at the table counting their money. They pause on occasion to look over at what the president is doing to the country but don’t do anything about it.

That is not a healthy dynamic. Everybody knows it, including the elected Republicans who keep following along, wayward elephants who think Trump’s their mother. They don’t want the music to stop. Keep dancing, Trump says, and nobody (who’s a Republican politician) gets hurt.

But the voters know. Even the Trump supporters know. They think it’s all a game. They think Jesus is coming soon to put them in the goat pile and that it’s too late to fix climate change or the crumbling bridges. But the rest of us, who plan to be alive through and after Day Zero, want good governance.

In the House things look good for the Democrats. They currently hold 193 seats (two vacancies) to the Republican party’s 235 (five vacancies). The magic number is 218, so they need 23 seats.

FiveThirtyEight: “2018 House Forecast” gives them a chance in the mid-80s of winning control, but where within that range they’ll fall is harder. The median and average are both short of a direct reversal of the numbers (a 40-seat swing), and in recent history the largest the Democrats gained was 2006 with 31 seats (in 2010 the Republicans had a 63 seat pickup).

Signs point to turnout exceeding 2006 and 2010, so I’m predicting the Democrats beat their numbers but fall short of the Republican record: 42 seats putting it 237 to the Republican party’s 198.

In the Senate, as anybody who’s looked knows, the Democrats have a rocky path. I will be very surprised if they can make the climb, but it could happen if there are enough draw races (like the gubernatorial election in Florida and some of the House races, particularly in red districts that might have gone uncontested in other years). Democrats should learn that contesting races (with reasonable candidates) always helps: if it gets just a few more people to get an “I voted” sticker, that can turn the tide for other races.

I predict a 50-50 Senate (net gain of one seat for the Democrats) with a very busy Vice President Pence (Mother will be pissed).


We should all have the luxury to vote by mail, but for those of us who don’t, it’s to the polls on 6 November 2018. Even if we don’t have vote-by-mail, we should vote as though we are post carriers:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Because that’s what voting is: it’s sending a message, a signal, to our nation’s capital. And boy do we all have a message to deliver in 2018. We want America to be what e’s meant to be. Smart and ready for the rest of this century and the centuries to come. Self-improving steady and dependable. Welcoming and helping eir neighbors and strangers alike.

We do not want America back, as though we could own it. We want to share America again. To share it here at home, and to share the values of America with the world. We must be rid of the feeling this nation is held captive by those who want to possess and decide without hearing the thing out. They do not own America, and any who seeks to conquer her, internal or external, by force or by deception, will hear us all tell them exactly where they can stick that notion.


The midterm election is on Tuesday, 6 November 2018.

(The 2020 election is in about 104 weeks. hehe)

Anti-Globalists Pave the Way for Globalization

The First World War was largely borne out of a weak international order with strong military alliances. The Second World War was largely the failure to strengthen the international order after World War I. And the pattern continues, with refugees fleeing from crises that are caused in part by a weak order, and the migrations are made worse by not having a world community prepared to deal with displaced peoples at scale.

People like Donald Trump that believe we can shut our borders and ignore the world are missing the fact that doing so invites crises that will inevitably result in either the destruction of civilization (unlikely, but possible and therefore stupid in its own right) or a stronger international order.

Why is this the case? Because the pain caused by bad policies is eventually redressed by learning from the mistake and adding more controls against it. (As bad as MAD is, it’s better than world war. The unfortunate trade-off is a low likelihood of total annihilation for a high likelihood of avoiding world war.) We have plans in place to deal with domestic crises (even if they’re poorly implemented and subject to endless sabotage by politicians that deny reality). After the 2001 attacks, the USA stepped up its efforts on all fronts to avoid vulnerability to a similar or different attack. We tend to fail to fix problems until they’ve already happened, but once they’ve happened we at least make plausible efforts to prevent a recurrence. At least for awhile.

So the efforts by dictators and leader-fools to thwart a stronger international order will leave the door open to crisis, and crisis will provoke a stronger order. That will entail a diminished sovereignty and increased spending for preparedness, and in turn a higher tax rate, particularly on the wealthy libertarians that claim to have studied history and claim to know better.


The balance between big government and liberty is not solved by picking one. The synthesis is to enshrine rights at the highest tier of government and devolve the administration of government, within the boundaries of rights, to the lowest reasonable level.

(Take healthcare as an example. The main reason the federal government involves itself in healthcare is that some of the states have historically bungled it, attempted to deny it on the basis of race, etc. That failure and those like it, at the lower tiers, to respect and enshrine rights, drives the enlargement of the federal government, for good and ill.)

It is not a simple task, to find this new balance, but it is achievable. And with the complexity of the modern world, it becomes necessary. It requires proponents of small government to agree that it’s better to have these rights recognized while pushing functions down the chain (and privatizing where possible) rather than leaning on racism and gluttony to try to drive a wedge between the people and their rights.


Ten days. There is an election in ten days. Check with your state election authorities for details. You should have registered by now (unless you live in a state with same-day registration)—if you missed the deadline, go ahead and register for next time.

Donny Filled Up the Swamp (or: For Lulz)

(To the tune of “When Johnny Comes Marching Home.” (Wikipedia: “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”))

They all voted for Donald Trump
For lulz, for lulz
They all chanted out “Lock her up!”
For lulz, hurr durr
They all voted for Donald Trump
To give the lib-ruls a big ol’ thump
But they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

They said he gonna build the wall
For lulz, for lulz
They said he gonna stop ’em all
For lulz, for lulz
They said he gonna build the wall
It couldn’t stop a tennis ball
They all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

They thought when he got to Beijing
For lulz, for lulz
They heard trade wars are easy wins
For lulz, hurr durr
They thought when he got to Beijing
China would be their new plaything
And they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

The rich got tax cuts to the bone
For lulz, for lulz
The debt shoots up to the ozone
For lulz, for lulz
The rich got tax cuts to the bone
And now the country’s rent-to-own
See they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

They said Muslims ain’t welcome here
For lulz, for lulz
They said it with a racist sneer
For lulz, hurr durr
They said Muslims ain’t welcome here
But lied in court when they appeared
Well they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

The dictators are gaining ground
For lulz, for lulz
Killing reformers the whole world round
For lulz, for lulz
The dictators are gaining ground
While Donny’s spine, it cain’t be found
They all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

The hurricanes done gotten worse
For lulz, for lulz
The Koch Brothers sponsored this verse
For lulz, hurr durr
The hurricanes done gotten worse
The mercury’s fixin’ to burst
They all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.

Donald Trump—the man’s a fraud
For lulz, for lulz
And money is his only god
For lulz, for lulz
Donald Trump—the man’s a fraud
Fred spoiled the child to spare the rod
How they all got trolled hard
Donny filled up the swamp.


The election is two weeks away.
Remember, voting in elections where fewer people vote gives you more power. It’s the nitrous boost of voting.