Archive for the ‘American Politics’ Category

This is a pretty good summary and exposition of what many of us have known for years. It’s basically an elaboration of the false-equivalency argument many of us have been screaming at journalists. Go to the link for the full article.

Thanks

PG

Journalism cannot be neutral toward a threat to the conditions that make it possible.

Source: Donald Trump and the rise of tribal epistemology – Vox

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete BS. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to draw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t East Coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of the choices they’ve made and the horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe…

Source: An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America | Alternet

By Olivia Ward | March 13, 2017

She calls herself a humble scribbler, but when I read in a recent parody by Canadian journalist Olivia Ward about how Donald Trump reacted to allegations about “The Russian Connection” by ordering the Russian Tea Room in Manhattan to close …

…In a speech immediately ridiculed by Donald Trump, actress Meryl Streep told the Golden Globe audience, “we need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution.” Ironically, she called for supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, whose main mission, until now, has been campaigning for those in the dungeons and torture chambers of authoritarian regimes. “We’re gonna need them going forward,” she said, “and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”

But therein lies the nut graph, as editors like to call the crucial piece of the story. Because safeguarding the truth has never in living memory been more difficult in the democratic world…

Continue reading: Truth, Lies and Democracy: Journalism in the Age of Trump – BillMoyers.com

Conservatives have had a very hard time getting over President Trump’s much-repeated response to Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly’s calling Russian president Vladimir Putin “a killer”. Replied Trump: …

…Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:

Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.

Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.

Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.

Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.

+ Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.

+ Though not as easy to quantify, has also led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American instructors.

Where does the United States get the nerve to moralize about Russia? Same place they get the nerve to label Putin a “killer” … a “butcher” … a “thug”. It would be difficult to name a world-renowned killer, butcher, or thug – not to mention dictator, mass murderer, or torturer – of the past 75 years who was not a close ally of Washington…

 

Source: The United States and the Russian Devil: 1917-2017

Decades of conservative efforts to work the press are paying off handsomely.

The front page of The New York Times carries a picture of President Trump on Feb. 25, 2017, a day after he criticized in a speech the FBI and journalists in New York City. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

 

To merely make it through the day with one’s sanity intact is no small task during Donald Trump’s presidency. There are so many moving targets, and they proliferate so quickly, that it’s all but impossible to maintain any kind of equilibrium between outrages.

The phenomenon I find most difficult to stomach is Trump’s genius for upside-down attacks on the media. CNN spent the last two years sucking up to him, giving him billions of dollars’ worth of free airtime and hiring “analysts” whom Trump was paying to lie for him — and he nonetheless accuses the network of spreading “fake news” on those rare occasions when it actually reports real news. To Trump, it’s the real news that is “fake news,” and vice versa. Every day is Upside-Down Day.


The Times’ DC bureau is a particular problem: Its reporters and editors see themselves as part of the ruling establishment.


Mainstream media institutions have no idea how to deal with this situation. They know how to treat a president “respectfully,” saying things like he “misspoke” or, in extreme cases, “asserted, while failing to provide evidence,” when presidents lie. But they don’t know how to cover a pathological liar who has convinced himself of the truth of those lies and who is able to get millions of gullible Americans to believe them too. Trump may be Frankenstein’s creation, but the media long ago lost control of their monster.

Among the institutions trying to find their footing in our newly dystopian democracy, none is more influential than The New York Times. And none does a better job, or even comes close. The Times was among the first newspapers to call the president’s lies by their proper name, and much of what we know about Trump’s various machinations is due to its energetic reporting. But significant problems remain. They will not be easily fixed, since they’re tied to the paper’s DNA. The Washington bureau is a particular problem: Its reporters and editors see themselves as part of the country’s ruling establishment, along with politicians, lobbyists and various hangers-on. They can’t shake the old habits that continually allow The Times’ pages to be manipulated by the liars and charlatans who now run our government…

Source: The Media’s Addiction to False Equivalencies Has Left Them Vulnerable to Trump – BillMoyers.com

“There are a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?” — Donald J. Trump, Feb.

…Of course, I could be wrong about all this, and it could be that resistance leads Trump to have second thoughts, makes civil servants across the government push back vigorously against fascism, and revives both the Democratic and Republican parties to go back to their respective liberal and conservative roots rather than the two-headed neoliberal monster they’ve become. We could have a mass movement of compassion toward immigrants, Muslims, and poor and unhealthy people in this country. The media could become a repository of diverse opinion. We could see mass support for disengagement from our wars in the Middle East and retreat from our worldwide assault on human rights. Of course, all of that could happen, in which case, go ahead, participate, engage, remain hopeful that we can go back to the thing that we’ve lost, or make it even better, and I will accept that I’m wrong.
But I know that there is nothing to hope for from our entire (neoliberal) intellectual establishment; how can there be a chance for resistance to work in that situation? They, the country’s thinkers, especially those who consider themselves progressive, are the conveyors of the virus that has led to fascism. We are not yet ready to give up empire (we call it our “world standing”), and therefore the fascism that goes with it; we just want a nice human face on it, an Obama or a reformed Hillary Clinton.
Why do I think that resistance makes fascism worse? Because it creates the illusion, for a while (as under the Obama administration), that things are getting better, but they only get worse. Resistance legitimizes, and fascism, especially, thrives on it. The two missing elements in the Bushian version of fascism were the lack of a charismatic leader and the potential of a fascist militia, the first of which has at last come true and the second of which now seems a real possibility. I would say that it’s because America is fascist but also the world’s strongest power, and administratively already possesses total capacity to destroy any entity, internally and externally, the way it wants to, that resistance only strengthens the fascist regime because it gives it something to fight against. Fascism needs an enemy to build itself against, but what if the enemy were to retreat and disappear? What would it fight against?…

 

Source: This Is a Fight Against Fascism—Our Resistance Tactics Have to Change | Alternet

Any correlation between Trump’s rhetoric and the hate crime in Kansas is “absurd,” White House says. Really?

…If Donald Trump and the Republican Party actually believed in the Constitution, they would ensure that gays, lesbians and transgender people would be able to marry and use public facilities without fear of violence or harassment.

If Donald Trump and the Republican Party actually believed in the Constitution, they would want to stop police abuse and thuggery against African-Americans, Latinos, First Nations people and other vulnerable populations.

If Donald Trump and the Republican Party actually believed in the Constitution, they would not single out Muslims for profiling, travel bans and other violations of their human rights and dignity.

If Donald Trump and the Republican Party actually believed in the Constitution, they would not seek to deny women the right to make their own reproductive and other health choices.

If Donald Trump and the Republican Party actually believed in the Constitution, they would not threaten entire communities of people with mass deportation and arrest.

Harry Truman was one of America’s greatest presidents. On his desk he displayed a famous sign that said: “The buck stops here.” By comparison, Trump is a clown king, demagogue and serial liar who evades personal responsibility for his actions…

Source: Profile in cowardice: Donald Trump will take no responsibility for the wave of hate crimes he has inspired – Salon.com