Notes: Alternate Facts & Inauguration; Women’s March

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Alternate Facts & The Inauguration

Since the surprising US election results not much has happened in politics, except in Britain around Brexit.  And this weekend’s controversy sums it up.  There is no way to know how many folks attended President Trump’s inauguration.  Since the Million Man March back in 1995 the Federal Government does not give estimates of crowds on the Mall in D.C.

That is right.  There are no numbers. There are no facts. No one has any idea how many people attended the inauguration.

Yet the press and the new President are obsessed over who is lying.  The press cites to photographs which certainly do not give you numbers.  They are also subject to manipulation.  Were they taken at the exact same time in 2008 and 2017? And of course the new administration has no facts other than different photographs equally subject to manipulation.

So, yes we have alternative facts and either both the press or the administration are lying. As usual I read the fact checkers at the Washington Post and found them totally unconvincing.  Once again they have no evidence that could withstand a third year law student’s cross-examination, although they certainly have reasonable opinions.  And the administration’s press secretary has no facts, although he certainly has reasonable opinions.

But bottom line who cares?  This is precisely why the public has such a dim view of the press.  Calling people liars is serious business. You need evidence to make the charge not reasonable opinions. But more importantly lawyers are taught the concept of materiality. You do not have fraud over trivial matters.  You have to have a material fact in dispute. A charge of lying ought to be about an issue that matters.  And how many people attended the inauguration does not matter.

Meanwhile the Russians are deploying nukes on NATO’s border, the North Koreans may have an ICBM, underemployment and unemployment are over 10%, the earth continues to warm …

Women’s March

So, on the issues that motivated the Women’s March: reproductive rights; equal pay; equal rights for women and others; I am with the marchers.  But on whether it was a great idea, I have to be honest as a Democrat I am just not sure.  I spent quite a bit of time on Twitter, Facebook, press sites, and doing web searches. I did not find a single place where a march occurred that did not vote for Secretary Clinton.

So, who exactly were the marchers convincing? More importantly, who were the marchers turning against the Democratic Party? Were Trump supporters across the political spectrum from Republicans to Democrats to Independents convinced to change their votes in 2018 to Democratic candidates?  Or were they put off that their candidate is not even given the chance to start his administration?

White women, the largest group of women in the US electorate voted for Trump.  How many of them changed their minds watching the Women’s March?

As a Democrat I want our elected Democrats, our party officials, and our grassroots to make certain that every action they take is about winning in 2018.  It was no doubt uplifting to exercise a democratic right of assembly and protest.  That does not mean it was a good idea.

Having a right and using it wisely are two different things.

2 COMMENTS

  1. A reader commented that I must not be very good at using the Internet because they found a report of a march in Oxford, Mississippi of a few hundred marchers. Fair point. But, I would still argue that Oxford is in Lafayette County which had the highest turnout for Secretary Clinton in a very Red state. Which makes my larger point – who are we Democrats convincing? I am afraid the march is just another “feel good” event for Democrats that is a sign we are not serious about expanding our coalition to include people who voted Trump. People who did not find the Progressive issues of the Women’s March a reason to vote Democratic in 2016.

    Great minds apparently think alike as Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com posted more data showing the Women’s March was concentrated in Clinton states and towns. https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-long-march-ahead-for-democrats/

  2. One other comment on the press attacks on Sean Spicer, WH Press Secretary. The NY Times reported Nielsen’s viewer numbers this morning. Trump was about 6.5 million viewers short of Obama in 2009 and 12 million short of Reagan. BUT as the NYT admits Nielsen does not include online viewers, which now makes up a large percentage of viewers. So, it’s not a stretch that Spicer is right that Trump’s Inaugural viewership was the largest ever and certainly bigger than Obama’s viewership. None of it is provable as a fact or alternative fact. It is all opinion.

    And again, the larger point given world and national problems is who cares?

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