Monday, April 23, 2018

Party Of Trump, Party Of Treason

The most egregious treason committed by the Party of Trump is not limited to their corruption, kleptocracy, or kakistocracy by the worst, least qualified, and most unscrupulous citizens. It's not even in their fealty to Putin.

Putin and the Trump Administration will be gone eventually. But what will remain?

The Party of Trump and their legions of Angry White Americans are at war with our Constitution’s First Amendment. The founders knew a free press is vital to inform the citizens of democratic representative republic, as well as to question and speak truth to power. There is no place for this freedom in the far Right's plan for totalitarian dominance.

In his masterpiece1984 George Orwell explained the mission of  the Party’s “Ministry of Truth”, its propaganda agency. “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

The radical Right has been almost subliminally waging this stealth war on our free press for decades. Now it's open warfare. The Big MAGAt has accused the press of being the “enemy of the people”.

It's all founded on the Cult of Right-wing Authoritarian Personalities’ most important Big Lie. "Liberal media", and now “fake news” are wielded as weapons against our First Amendment.

If you buy this lie, you are drinking their cult koolade. You’ve  surrendered to their authoritarian seizure of defining terms of debate and discourse. I have often noted the Nazis of the 1930's used the term “Lügenpresse”, or lying press, in their campaign to destroy journalism. The Party of Trump is employing the same fascist tactic.

The C.R.A.P. must be stopped, or the Great Experiment in Democracy will most certainly collapse into utter failure, leaving us a totalitarian Orwellian nightmare. 

It can’t be overstated. This is arguably the most critical threat to our freedom, democracy and the very soul of our nation. I’m donating the remaining space of this post to a professional. Please share this

NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen gave this speech which he shared on a long twitter thread.


"The Campaign to Discredit the Press"

Professor Jay Rosen
April 21, 2018

There is alive in the land an organized campaign to discredit the American press. This campaign is succeeding.

Its roots are long. For decades the Republican coalition has tried to hang together by hating on elites who claim to know things, like “what is art?” Or: “what should college students be taught?” Or: “what counts as news?”

The media wing of this history extends back to Goldwater’s campaign in 1964. It passes through Agnew’s speeches for Nixon in 1969, and winds forward to our own time through William Rusher's 1988 book, 'The Coming Battle for the Media'...

... then through the growth of conservative talk radio, and in the spectacular success of Fox, which found a lucrative business model in resentment news, culture war, and the battle cry of liberal bias.

Donald Trump is both the apotheosis of this history and its accelerant. He has advanced the proposition dramatically. From undue influence — that was Agnew’s claim — to something closer to treason: “enemy of the people.”

Instead of criticizing The Media for unfair treatment, as Agnew did, Trump whips up hatred for it. Some of his most demagogic moments have been attacks on the press, often by singling out reporters and camera crews for abuse during rallies held in an atmosphere of menace.

Nixon seethed about the press in private. Trump seethes in public, a very different act. But his transformation of right wing media complaint goes beyond these lurid performances.

It starts at the top with the President’s almost daily attacks on “the fake news,” and his description of key institutions — the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, NBC — as both failing AND corrupt. Contempt thus has two places to settle.

At the bottom of the pyramid is an army of online trolls and alt right activists who shout down stories critical of the President, and project hatred at the journalists who report them.

Between the President at the top and the base at the bottom are the mediating institutions: Breitbart, Drudge Report, Daily Caller, Rush Limbaugh and especially Fox News.

The campaign to discredit the American press operates differently on the three major sections of the Trumpified electorate: supporters, opponents, and those who are not in either camp.

For core supporters, media hate helps frames the president as a fighter for them. “I will put these people down for you” was one of the most attractive promises Trump made during the campaign. He has delivered on that pledge.

They in turn deliver for him by categorically rejecting news reports that are critical of the President, in the belief that biased journalists are simply trying to bring their guy down.

On his committed opponents, the President’s political style “works” by inviting ridicule and attack. Their part in the script is simply to keep the culture war going via native responses to the awfulness of the Trump phenomenon.

The anger, despair and disbelief that Trump inspires in his most public doubters is felt as confirmation, and consumed as entertainment by his most committed supporters— and his trolls.

Notice how if Trump’s opponents defend the reporting of an elite institution like the New York Times — or simply make reference to it as revealed fact — that only supports his campaign to discredit the press as a merely ideological institution.

Then there’s the third group: Americans who are neither committed supporters nor determined critics of Donald Trump. On them, the campaign to discredit the press works by generating noise and confusion, raising what economists call search costs for good information.

If the neither/nors give up and are driven from the attention field, that is a win for Trump, the polarizer-in-chief. So that’s my short course in how the campaign to discredit the American press operates. Now let me turn to our subject: the risks that come with this pattern.

There is a risk that one third of the electorate — his core supporters — will be isolated in an information loop of their own, where Trump is the source of news about Trump, and independent sources are rejected on principle.

I described this as a risk, but in fact it has already happened. An authoritarian system is up and running for that portion of the polity. Another way to say it: Before journalists log on in the morning, one third of their public is already gone.

There is a risk that Republican elites will fail to push back against Trump’s attacks on democratic institutions, including the press, even though these same elites start their day by reading the New York Times and Washington Post. This too has already happened.

There is a risk that journalists could do their job brilliantly, and it won’t really matter, because Trump supporters categorically reject it, Trump opponents already believed it, and the neither-nors aren’t paying close enough attention.

In a different way, there is a risk that journalists could succeed at the production of great journalism and fail at its distribution, because the platforms created by the tech industry have overtaken the task of organizing public attention.

There is a risk that the press will lose touch with the country, fall out of contact with the culture. Newsroom diversity is supposed to prevent that, but the diversity project has been undermined by a longer and deeper project, which I have called the View from Nowhere.

The press is at risk of losing its institutional footing. For example: In the hands of Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders, the White House briefing has gone to ruin. It was always frustrating, now it’s useless and frequently counter-productive.

Many floors below the surface of journalism there are bedrock attitudes that make the practice possible— and thinkable. There is a risk of erosion there. One example is the shared belief that there exists a common world of fact that can be established through inquiry...

When the President of the United States forcefully rejects the premise of a common world of fact, and behaves like there is no such thing, any practice resting upon that premise is in political trouble. This has happened to journalism. No one knows what to do about it.

Used to be that when the American president went abroad, the press came with. There would be a joint press conference with the foreign head of state. Under authoritarian regimes this would often be the only time the host country’s press corps got to question their own leader.

In these moments, the American government and the American press came together to show the strongmen of the world what a real democracy was. All that is now at risk. What was once described — yes, with some hyperbole — as a beacon to the world is flickering...

When Donald Trump met the president Xi Jinping of China in November of 2017 there was no joint press conference. The Chinese didn’t want it. The State Department failed to press for it.

There is a risk that established forms of journalism will be unable to handle the strain that Trump’s behavior puts upon them. For example: the form we came to call fact checking has had zero effect in preventing him from repeating falsehoods.

There is a risk that journalists will hang onto these forms way past their sell-by date because it’s what they know. They want things to be normal. Access to confusion and disinformation serves no editorial goal, but “access journalism” remains basic to White House reporting.

I will close with something Steve Bannon put to the author Michael Lewis in February of this year. "The Democrats don't matter,” Bannon said. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit."

To this kind of provocation (“The real opposition is the media...") Marty Baron, editor of the Washington Post, has a succinct reply: “We’re not at war, we’re at work.”

I think our leading journalists are correct that if they become the political opposition to Trump, they will lose. And yet they have to go to war against a political style in which power gets to write its own story. There's a risk that journalists will fail to draw this distinction: between opposing Trump and opposing a political style that erodes their place in the public sphere. In my role as a critic, I have been trying to alert them to that danger. So far it is not working.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Angry White American Conservatives

We know the routine. When White American Conservatives feel their privileged social order is threatened they become angry. They started a Civil War when slavery was no longer accepted in a free country. They opposed the civil rights movement and school integration. The very same racism and resentment from the past lingers today and fuels the KKK, white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

You wouldn’t know it from their howling accusations about “Leftist suppression of free speech” in higher education, but far Right white hate groups have been increasing their recruitment activities on college campuses across the country. For some reason Conservatives had no problem when Liberty University de-recognized its campus Democratic club, saying the national party’s platform went against the school’s "moral principles". But Trump is fine, amirite?

As a political weapon, Conservatives have seized the authority to unilaterally define terms of our political and policy debates. They root their dogma in one-sided definitions such as “liberal media”, “death taxes”,  “death panels”, “right to work”, and now even “liberal and leftist” Americans.

Their decades long campaign to smear and demonize the word “liberal” has come back to bite them. Liberals resisted, and reclaimed the word for themselves.

Far Right Conservative Dennis Prager has taken the authority upon himself to separate and redefine “liberals” apart from “leftists”, in order to divide and conquer. Spoiler alert: "Leftists hate America, oppose capitalism, oppose border security, and promote a progressive agenda". The far Right immediately accepted his definitions as absolute. It is the way of all authoritarian followers.

Leftists/Liberals don’t have to redefine words to define American white Conservatives. Instead, we let the historical record define them. In the past, white Americans, no matter how poor, enjoyed a higher social status than minorities. As civil rights and equality expanded, they felt they were the ones becoming marginalized. For the privileged, equality is viewed as oppression.

This meant they had to oppose the advocates of racial equality, minority voter rights, women’s rights, social justice, and democracy.

Angry White American Conservatives were originally Tories loyal to the Crown and then racist slave owners who started a war of treason.

Later Angry White American Conservatives were/are...

...opposed to Blacks having the right to vote.
...opposed to women having the right to vote.
...opposed to child labor laws.
...opposed to labor safety laws.
...opposed to FDR and Social Security.
...opposed to interracial marriage.
...opposed to the civil rights movement.
...opposed to school integration.
...opposed to Medicare.
...opposed to Medicaid.
...opposed to all public healthcare apart from the V.A.
...opposed to public schools and teachers’ rights to negotiate pay and work conditions.
...opposed to public universities and faculty.
...opposed to labor rights and unions.
...opposed to women’s reproductive rights.
...opposed to scientific consensus on greenhouse gasses.
...opposed to a free press critical of Nixon, Reagan, the Bush Dynasty, and Trump.
...opposed to regulating banks and Wall Street.
...opposed to minorities' access to voter registration and polls.
...opposed to environmental regulations
...opposed to LGBTQ equality.
...opposed to democracy itself by vote suppression, gerrymandering, and seizing disproportionate representation in the Senate and Congress.

There are small minorities of White American Conservatives who differed to some degree on some of these issues. Some still believe in personal character and speak out against the Party of Trump. 

But the Angry White Conservatives largely remain loyal to the Party of Trump and still hold to these positions.

While the far Right needs to invent meanings of words to define those who disagree with them, we let their own actions and words define them.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

NRA: How It Works

Here's a good response to NRA hate mail solicitations. Send them a copy in their prepaid envelope. (Gun nuts don't want you to know that Reagan opposed assault rifles.)


Simple Equations for the Rational Mind:

More NRA Money = More Republicans

More Republicans = War on Public Education

More Republicans = War on Public Health Care

More Republicans = War on Women’s Rights

More Republicans = War on Journalism

More Republicans = War on a Free Press

More Republicans = War on Science

More Republicans = War on the Environment

More Republicans = War on Voter Rights

More Republicans = War on Democracy

More Republicans = LESS FREEDOM


Simple Equations for the Sane Mind:

More NRA Blood Money = More Weapons of Mass Slaughter

More Weapons of Mass Slaughter = More Death



Bottom Line:


Monday, April 2, 2018

Fascism And State Media

Manipulation of fear, anger, hate, racism and blame has been a primary tool of fascists and tyrants throughout history. Ours is no exception:

Border Patrol Agents are not allowed to properly do their job at the Border because of ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws like Catch & Release. Getting more dangerous. “Caravans” coming. Republicans must go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws NOW. NO MORE DACA DEAL!

Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S. They laugh at our dumb immigration laws. They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!

These big flows of people are all trying to take advantage of DACA. They want in on the act!

As the MAGAt-in-Chief spews his trademark fear-stoking white nationalism, he’s been attacking our free press in new and destructive way.

It goes like this. The Washington Post does its job and prints factual information about Trump and has editorials that criticize Trump. (Never mind they also print Trump shills' BS too.)This has always been the American pattern of free press in  a democracy. 

Trump hates a free press and democracy. He hates and attacks the Washington Post, as he does owner Jeff Bezos. Bezos owns Amazon, so that makes Amazon a target.

Then he lied about Amazon and its stock fell. Then the Stock Market fell. Mind you, this is all around a de-facto trade war Trump started. Now China says it will impose more tariffs on US goods. And there we have it; “reciprocal trade", just what the idiot has been demanding.

Trump’s war on the press is carried out further by the Sinclair Broadcast Group, the owners of a vast network of local TV stations. Former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn is Sinclair’s resident Minister of Propaganda.

Thus the Big MAGAt belches:

“So funny to watch Fake News Networks, among the most dishonest groups of people I have ever dealt with, criticize Sinclair Broadcasting for being biased. Sinclair is far superior to CNN and even more Fake NBC, which is a total joke.”

The Trumpist Sinclair Broadcast Group has been consolidating vast power over local news , and they are actively taking the role of another FOX(R), forcing their people to become shills for Big MAGAT’s propaganda. They are compelled to participate in the mass regurgitation of Sinclair’s mandatory propaganda campaign masking as local editorials.  “...We’re concerned about the troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country. The sharing of biased and false news has become all too common on social media,” the script read. “Some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias. ... This is extremely dangerous to our democracy.”

NO. Forcing journalists to read pro-regime propaganda is dangerous to democracy. 

“Some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias.”

How is THAT for blatant projection? Sinclair's "Terrorism Alert Desk" also does its best to keep viewers in fear of the dreaded "others".

Goebbels employed the same tactics of fear-mongering and accusing others of what Nazis were doing.

Yes, the Big MAGAt has installed his white nationalist neo-fascism in the US government. He has his own "state media" working for his agenda of lies and treachery.

The only Republicans speaking out against him are the ones not running for office.

The entire elected Republican Party is now complicit with the extreme far Right agenda, and defends the Big MAGAt from accountability and justice.

How can this end well? 

Since it involves either the Republicans finding morality, or the Democrats taking both Houses of Congress, I can’t see any way justice can prevail. 

Because of the present gerrymandered and disproportionately rigged electoral system in the House and Senate favoring Republicans, Democrats often need double digit higher vote count percentages to regain more fairly proportioned representation

Yes the system is absolutely rigged in favor of the Party of Trump.

Decency is gone and truth is quashed. The economy is on the precipice and all the Cult wants is a wall, to punish brown people, and to ”lock her up”.

All that’s left of the Republican Party is greed and hate.

And they have a one-party dictatorship.

It all seems so unreal. Yet, here we are.

I now return you to your abnormal 3-D cartoon world. That’s all folks.