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The Future of False Conciousness

False Consciousness Fox News Trump Brexit Tax Policy Health Care Reform Global Warming Denial Media Class

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#1
caltrek

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I first alluded to this concept in our Socialism/Communism discussion thread.  It occurs to me that a closer look at this concept is probably in order.  It ties together nicely themes also discussed in the Trump and his election threads, the Brexit thread, the France election thread, and my Rise of the Kleptocrats thread.

 

Put simply, it revolves around the question: Why do people vote against their own class interests?

 

The obvious answer being that they no longer understand those class interests. 

 

Illustrative examples are:

 

1.       Global warming. Other than workers directly employed in the fossil fuel industry, it should be very obvious that it is in everybody’s class interest that the government take strong action to address the causes of global warming and to help plan for the physical adjustments that will be made necessary by climate change problems.  Yet, climate change denialists have taken over the White House and Congress is dominated by shills for the fossil fuel industry.

 

2.       Health care reform.  If you have been following this issue in my 2018 Senate Election thread or otherwise paying attention to this issue you will realize that the repeal of Obamacare that U.S. Senators are pushing would be detrimental to the very workers who voted for Trump and the Republicans in the Senate.  Yet, only a handful of Republican Senators seem to think that supporting that piece of legislation will threaten their re-election chances.

 

3.       Tax policies.  There again, Trump and the Republicans are pushing hard for drastic tax cuts for the super-rich.  This can only saddle debt repayment onto the shoulders of the working class or result in a drastic reduction of government services that benefit the middle class.   Only the most arithmetically challenged of adults should have trouble understanding that such policies are not in their class interest, yet many of those same adults support Republicans who keep pushing this policy.

 

4.       Brexit.  Need I say any more?

 

These are but four of the most obvious examples.  There is a fifth that I can think of, but it pertains to a country that is not predominantly English speaking, so I will hold off on that example for the moment.

 

So, in the United States at least, what accounts for this false consciousness?

 

This can partly be understood by following the rise of Fox news. This network was quite consciously created to counter the “liberal bias” of main stream media.  Unfortunately, this “liberal bias” came to mean anything that smacks of respect for science, the scientific method, or just about any other form of rational thinking.    The establishment of Fox News was thus crucial to establishing an alternative to a media that at least tried to employ ethical standards in its reporting, even as it packaged its presentation in a manner favoring the established elite.  Opinion leading elites and their media conduits were thus undermined in their legitimacy.  That was the first stage in the process.  The second stage was to so completely substitute an ongoing narrative of current events that a President Trump can now dismiss this main stream media (excluding Fox news) as indulging in “fake news.”

 

Is the media reporting anything that is even faintly critical of the Trump administration?

 

The simple Trump answer: ignore the media and trust me, and only me. Thus we see the rise of the alternative right.  An alternative right that seeks to displace the old elites and replace those elites not by a revolutionary push from below,  but by another set elites that were just waiting in the wings for their chance to move in and take power.  This alternative elite, somewhat uncomfortably, is embraced by the old guard of the Republican Party, who feel safe in the assurance that at least their taxes will be reduced and their economic advantages preserved by the new guard.

  

I have written before of the bubble of denial that Trumpians live in. Hopefully, my comments above will help to understand how that bubble came to be.  Robbed of a dependence on a media that at least tried at some level to be truthful, a substantial segment of the working class voting population no longer seems able to think rationally about the issues of the day.  Trumpians are stuck in a bubble, with no rational way out because the ability to think rationally no longer exists. The era of doublespeak and what to some is blatant hypocrisy is upon us.

 

The same sort of thing seems to be happening in Great Britain as well. Obviously, Fox News cannot be pointed to as the culprit there.  Yet, I suspect a similar dynamic may be at work.  Folks in Great Britain simply stopped trusting the elite that tried to explain to them that Brexit was a bad idea.  Those that saw through the façade were simply not numerically strong enough to prevail when the matter came up to a vote.  So here we are.

 

What to do? What to do?


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The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#2
Mike the average

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The biggest factor is USA (and others) made the democratic process of politics into 'sides'. All you ever hear is left vs right, rather than debating each issue independently and individual voters make independent choices.

Australia also has fallen into this trap in the last decade, powered by Murdochs media.
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'Force always attracts men of low morality' - Einstein
'Great spirits always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds' - Einstein

#3
Yuli Ban

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I'm noticing a common thread in the collapse of political discourse in these nations.
 
mIXRF.jpg

Once upon a time, there was no one really worrying about George Soros or the Koch Brothers because they were your typical billionaire political backers; we've had that sort of issue for millennia.
Come Rupert Murdoch, and now everything's gone to shit.


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Nobody's gonna take my drone, I'm gonna fly miles far too high!
Nobody gonna beat my drone, it's gonna shoot into the sky!

#4
Alislaws

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The biggest factor is USA (and others) made the democratic process of politics into 'sides'. All you ever hear is left vs right, rather than debating each issue independently and individual voters make independent choices.

Australia also has fallen into this trap in the last decade, powered by Murdochs media.

Do we see the same sort of self destructive decision making in countries where proportional representation is in play?

 

As i understand it PR moves a country away from the sort of 2 party systems you get in the UK and USA, both places that show a lot of this. 

 

This 2 party system means you end up voting for governments because they are not as bad as the alternative, instead of voting for the government that would represent your interests.

 

This means as long as the agenda of the 2 largest parties can be controlled, you can control the country and ensure that it operates in the interests of the elite. 



#5
caltrek

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Here is an opinion piece that I think further explores the disturbing developing political reality that the new false consciousness implies.

 

How Can Republicans Get Away With Outrageous Lies?

 

http://www.salon.com/2017/07/17/how-can-mike-pence-get-away-with-outrageous-lies-about-the-health-care-bill/

 

Extract

 

The GOP’s messaging, and especially the White House’s messaging, is aimed squarely at the 35 percent: the cult-like voters who will support Trump until the bitter end. Trump’s base. This is their micro-targeted “moneyball” gambit. Trump and the GOP are betting they can retain their current majorities, as well as the White House, by exclusively marketing to the 35 percenters who will believe literally anything their Scientology-like auditors tell them.

 

Whether the message is that it’s perfectly normal to conspire with a hostile foreign government while it attacks and invades American sovereignty, or whether it’s that the …(Affordable Care Act) is “imploding,” the pro-Trump loyalists will believe anything they’re told. We can fact-check all we want and it simply doesn’t matter. Facts don’t matter, reality doesn’t matter, and for Trump and his disciples, words have no meaning. As long as the 35 percent, with their “MAGA” hats…are energized, the Republicans can hang onto their seats.

 

How do they make up the additional 10 or 15 percent of the vote required to win elections?

 

…First of all, bear in mind that Trump won the White House with only 46 percent of the vote. The Republicans have designed this plot so that the extra several percentage points can be made up through gerrymandering, voter suppression, voter ID, voter purges and, of course, the Russians with their bots, hacking, malware, social media targeting and other active measures. In other words, they can pick up the votes they need over and above the base simply by continuing to cheat. It’s that simple.

 

…Republicans can continue to feed their cult followers a steady diet of conspicuous disinformation with virtual impunity — bread and circuses for the base. It must be seriously liberating for certain Republicans to be afforded the latitude to entirely sidestep the awkward drudgery of compromising and forming old-school coalitions that included moderates, independents and conservative Democrats. If they already enjoy a built-in captive audience that will forgive them anything, including losing their own health insurance or childish tweeting, sexual assault and treason, the GOP’s messaging can be untethered from objective reality.  Trump and his allies can sell their people on literally anything. And they can still win.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#6
caltrek

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Call Fake News ‘Viral Deception,’ Panelist Tells 9th Circuit Conference

 

 

 http://www.courthous...uit-conference/

 

Introduction:

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – While misinformation spread by fake news has polluted electoral politics, its dangerous implications extend well beyond that into the realm of business and national security, law and media experts said at the Ninth Circuit’s Judicial Conference Thursday.

 

“The discussion about fake news often focuses solely on electoral politics, as if that’s substantially the place for concern. Although it is a place of concern, there are other areas that are equally important,” said Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

 

For instance, Jamieson said, the Securities and Exchange Commission has charged 27 firms with fraudulently promoting stocks using anonymous sources that do not disclose where they’re getting their money.

 

“The firms trafficking in this sort of viral deception drove up the stock of one company by 925 percent,” Jamieson said. “This kind of undermining of facticity through false use of news channels is undermining our markets.”

 

Also on the panel was talk radio host and Chapman University law professor Hugh Hewitt, who said foreign intelligence agents can do tremendous damage by implanting fake news via weaponized electronic devices.

 

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#7
caltrek

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Is This the 'New Normal' We Want?

 

http://www.alternet....-normal-we-want

 

Introduction:

 

I lived with a military version of the “new normal” when my husband came back from Iraq with severe combat trauma, and there was nothing normal about it. Those years were defined by fear, insecurity, lies, violence, and crystal meth. I shudder at the fact that much of this country has tacitly accepted the Trump era as the new normal. When I hear climate scientists say the heat records of recent years will become the new normal within a decade or so,  I realize just how bad it will be. Anyone who’s been told to normalize highly abnormal and potentially lethal conditions has a gut-level understanding that new normal is a dog whistle for hell.

 

"New normal" is the phrase society slaps on the horrific conditions we have created and now lack the courage and love to change. So we get used to things that shouldn’t have happened in the first place, and most of us are okay with it, as long as it doesn’t happen to us. But eventually, it will. Truthfully, it’s happening to all of us right now, even if we’re too distracted by a shiny new news story to see it. A Google search of how miserable poor Don Jr. is with dad in the White House generated nearly seven million results. By comparison, a search for articles about how GOP leaders stripped Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) amendment to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) from the FY 2018 Appropriations Act at zero dark hundred produced 70,000 hits.

 

Since Congress refuses to raise war taxes or reinstate the draft, you probably believe you’ll never have to pay for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere that you don’t fight, don’t notice and may not even support. I’ve got bad news: you’re already paying for them. Those of you with children and grandchildren, or the dream that one day you’ll be parents? Be warned: the little ones will pay a whole lot more than you. They might just pay with their lives, even if they never wear the uniform.

shutterstock_155265725_0.jpg?itok=puL3Pz

 

Photo Credit: Tatiana Grozetskaya/Shutterstock


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#8
caltrek

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A Theory on Trump’s Nonstop Lies

 

http://www.motherjon...p-nonstop-lies/

 

Extract:

 

Trump’s chronic duplicity may be pathological, as some experts have suggested. But what else might be going on here? In fact, the 45th president’s stream of lies echoes a contemporary form of Russian propaganda known as the “Firehose of Falsehood.”

 

…Trump is …a prolific liar on stage: Of the 29 false statements the Washington Posttracked last week, five came in a speech to Boy Scouts, two came from a news conference, and a whopping 15 came from a rally in Youngstown, Ohio. (Seven others came from, where else, his personal Twitter feed.)

 

…Trump also has a habit of repeating false statements that can be very easily checked—such as lies about the number of bills he has signed. On July 17: “We’ve signed more bills—and I’m talking about through the Legislature—than any president, ever.” And then on July 21: “I heard that Harry Truman was first, and then we beat him. These are approved by Congress. These are not just executive orders.” The historical record shows that many presidents—including Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton—all signed more bills within their first six months of office.

 

…RAND notes that this propaganda strategy flies in the face of conventional wisdom that “the truth always wins.” However, the researchers found, “Even when people are aware that some sources (such as political campaign rhetoric) have the potential to contain misinformation, they still show a poor ability to discriminate between information that is false and information that is correct.” Confirmation bias and emotion also factor in: “Stories or accounts that create emotional arousal in the recipient (e.g., disgust, fear, happiness) are much more likely to be passed on, whether they are true or not.”

 

…Some responses proposed by the researchers may also hold clues for media struggling to contend with Trump’s unprecedented behavior in the Oval Office. The researchers suggest making the first impression on an issue by priming audiences with accurate information, to get in front of a potentially misleading message. And they advise exposing the method: “Highlight the ways propagandists attempt to manipulate audiences,” they say, “rather than fighting the specific manipulations.”


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#9
caltrek

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Why Can't White Supremacists Confront the Fact That the Source of Their Economic Problems Are White Economic Elites?

 

http://www.alternet....-their-problems

 

Extract:

 

There’s no disputing the white anger and rage seen in Charlottesville, even if conservative publications like the National Review say these "angry white boys do not have a political agenda.”

 

Their anger is real and grievances differ, even if they took the old path of joining mobs spewing racist filth. Yet these white supremacists are blaming the wrong slices of society for their angst.

 

Racial divides are not what’s plaguing vast stretches of white America—deepening class divides are. If you think about who is to blame, it is mostly powerful white capitalists and their government servants that decimated regional economies in recent decades.

 

…But as (author Steven) Slavin notes, the national economy and sense of well-being is on a downward slide that accelerated in recent decades.

 

Those responsible are largely white politicians, white business executives and more recently the graduates of elite business schools—where the curriculum involved outsourcing domestic industries that once allowed people without degrees to prosper.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#10
caltrek

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So how do people come to embrace a leader who does not represent their class interests?

 

Sometimes it is just a matter of style and raw emotion:

 

 

Most Americans Strongly Dislike Trump—but the Angry Minority That Adores Him Controls Our Politics

 

http://www.alternet....im-controls-our

 

Extract:

 

Pew...asked people what they think of Trump’s conduct in office. Again, most Democrats and Democratic leaners are appalled, as one might expect. On this, Republicans are more divided: Nineteen percent don’t like his conduct, while 46 percent say they have mixed feelings. But 34 percent like the way he conducts himself as president.

 

In fact, a larger proportion of Republicans either accept or embrace Trump’s aberrant presidential conduct than approve of his positions on policy. And here’s the kicker: when asked what people liked most about Trump’s presidency, the ones who approve of his performance actually cited his personality and conduct four times more often than his policies. In other words, those who like him like him because of his unseemly, unpresidential behavior, not in spite of it.

 

That group represents about one-third of the Republican party, the same third that flocked to Trump during the primaries and enabled him to win over a crowded field that split the other two-thirds almost to the very end. These are older and more conservative white people, for the most part, who believe he should not listen to other Republicans and should follow his own instincts.

 

These are the people who some might refer to as “a basket of deplorables.” They like Trump’s coarse personality, and approve of the fact that he treats women like his personal playthings. They enjoy it when he expresses sympathy for neo-Nazis and neo-Confederate white supremacists. They cheer when he declares his love for torture, tells the police to rough up suspects and vows to mandate the death penalty for certain crimes. (Which of course the president cannot do.) Trump’s embrace of the odious birther movement was one of his greatest selling points, at least with this crowd.

 

This cohort of the Republican party didn’t vote for Trump because of his supposed policies on trade or his threat to withdraw from NATO. They voted for him because he said out loud what they were thinking. A petty, sophomoric, crude bully is apparently what they want as a leader.

 

An angry minority controlling our politics.  Does that not remind you of fascist Germany, or at least fascist Italy just before World War II?


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#11
caltrek

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Disturbing New Evidence of How the Trump Era Is Boosting Misinformation and Propaganda

 

http://www.motherjon...formation-wars/

 

Introduction:

 

The signs started popping up on the margins of social media as far back as 2010: Like-minded conspiracy theories spread by far-right sites like InfoWars and Russian government-controlled media like RT. Tweets that accused mainstream media organizations of reporting “fake news.” And later, social media networks that appeared to follow both white nationalist and Wikileaks-related accounts.  

 

Initially, University of Washington professor and researcher Kate Starbird was studying how rumors spread on social media after disasters; they typically began with high volume after a crisis and then dissipated as news reports confirmed what happened. Then, in 2013, sorting through data after the Boston Marathon bombings, Starbird and her students noticed another kind of rumor—a kind that gained traction and volume over a longer period of time, in spite of facts confirmed in news reports. These longer-lasting rumors often intersected with politicized content. In the sustained chatter about the Boston terrorist attack, they noticed Twitter accounts pushing an alternative narrative, a conspiracy theory that Navy SEALS had bombed the race, not the Tsarnaev brothers.

 

Starbird mostly dismissed these kinds of alternative narratives as outliers, a conclusion she would later regret. Then came 2016, when hyper-politicized disinformation that spread in the aftermath of mass shootings and the Paris terrorist attacks was impossible to ignore. She and her team were compelled to dig deeper into the data. And as the “fake news” language of far-right and Russian media conspiracy theorists was embraced by Donald Trump and his presidential campaign, Starbird realized the phenomenon was going mainstream.

 

“When it’s coming out of the mouths of people in power,” she says, “it’s no longer marginal.”

 

As information warfare on social media has continued to escalate in the Trump era, Starbird’s latest research points to some disturbing trends (see linked article):

09072017-wh-press-briefing.jpg?w=990

Andrew Harnik/AP


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#12
caltrek

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One aspect of false consciousness is its implications for how children are taught in our schools.  The bubble of denial that has been created by the right is seen as needing to be sustained.  We have examined the role of alt media in that effort, so the next logical step is to look at what is being done in our schools, at least schools within the so-called red states.

 

 

A former New Mexico education official recounts the secrecy behind the state’s anti-science standards.

 

http://www.motherjon...l-creationists/

 

Introduction:

 

 

 

New Mexico’s top education official is misleading the public about how his agency crafted a series of controversial changes to the state’s science standards, according to a former state employee who worked on the standards and later quit in protest.

 

Last month, as Mother Jones first reported, the state’s public education agency released a plan for updating its science education guidelines for grades K-12. The draft language drew heavily on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which were developed over several years by national science and teaching associations, as well as by an array of other scientists, teachers, professors, engineers, cognitive experts, and business leaders. At least 18 states and the District of Columbia have adopted NGSS to teach science to their students.

 

But there were some eyebrow-raising differences in New Mexico’s guidelines. The proposed standards deleted language from the NGSS referencing the “4.6-billion-year” history of the Earth, omitted entirely one mention of evolution, and eliminated references to human-caused global warming. In one case, the proposed standards would replace language about the “rise in global temperatures” with a reference to the supposed “fluctuation” in global temperatures. The new standards have not yet gone into effect; they’ll be debated at a public meeting later this month.

 

News of the anti-science language sparked a backlash in a state that is home to such renowned institutions as Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Sandia National Laboratories. New Mexico’s two US senators wrote that they were “disturbed” at their state’s actions. Glenn Branch, the deputy director of the National Center for Science Education, said the changes were “evidently intended to placate creationists and climate change deniers.”

 

Christopher Ruszkowski, the head of New Mexico’s Public Education Department, shot back at critics by saying that his agency’s proposed changes—including those that fly in the face of peer-reviewed science and long-accepted facts—resulted from input by “a bunch of different groups,” among them “business groups, civic groups, teacher groups, superintendents.” He wouldn’t specify who the groups were but saidthe process that went into writing the controversial proposed standards was “how PED does business.”


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#13
caltrek

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Mother Jones has a couple of recent articles I have linked below that are relevant to the theme of this thread.  They show that far from being a spent force, conservative media is a growing threat.  As argued earlier, I believe this threat will mean more distortion of consciousness resulting in an embrace of policies that are against one's interests.

 

An Anonymous Sinclair Journalist Sounds Off on His Employer’s Pro-Trump Segments

 

http://www.motherjon...boris-epshteyn/

 

Introduction:

 

Stories about Sinclair Broadcast Group’s push to dominate local TV news and force pro-Trump viewpoints into its programming often lack the voices and opinions of journalists from Sinclair’s own stations. What do they think about Sinclair HQ ordering its stations to run Boris Epshteyn’s unabashedly pro-Trump commentaries? Or insisting on daily “Terrorism Alert Desk” segments (that sometimes have nothing to do with terrorism)?

 

As I reported my investigation of Sinclair, most employees I approached were afraid to speak for fear of retribution by company higher-ups. However, one veteran Sinclair journalist agreed to talk candidly and let me share an extended as-told-to version of those remarks on condition of anonymity.

 

I asked the journalist about Sinclair’s embrace of Trump, the company’s use of right-leaning “must-run” segments, and the wave of attention on Sinclair in light of its potential$3.9 billion merger with Tribune Media.

 

I enjoy what I’m doing. But I’m a local reporter. I don’t like what I’m reading [about Sinclair’s political tilt]. You probably saw the John Oliver piece. He said something about Fox News: with Fox News, you know what you get. Whether you like Fox or hate Fox, you know where they’re coming from 24/7. Oliver said what Sinclair is trying to do is more surreptitious.

 

It’s interesting to see the feedback from readers. One of them said they watch local news to get local news. They don’t watch local news to get a commentary on national issues from someone who quite frankly doesn’t have credentials journalistically. This hiring of Boris Epshteyn… have you seen some of his commentaries?

 

 

 

This Is How Sinclair Broadcast Group’s Leader Views the Media

 

http://www.motherjon...e-emails-media/

 

Introduction:

 

When I set out to write about Sinclair Broadcast Group, the conservative TV juggernaut I report on in the new issue of Mother Jones, the person I hoped to gain a better understanding of was the man behind Sinclair’s rise, executive chairman and former CEO David Smith. He sits atop a multibillion-dollar media empire. He rarely grants interviews these days. I decided to email him directly.

 

Smith wrote back after just three minutes. “Given your sites [sic] bent I see no point in chatting,” he replied. “Best, David.” Despite the brush-off, I continued to email Smith seeking an interview—and he continued to respond. Our exchanges were brief, but they ended on a revealing note, offering a peek into the mind of a media mogul with vast influence over the most trusted form of news in the US.

 

From the 1980s to the present, Smith and his three brothers built their small family company into the largest owner-operator of TV stations in America. Sinclair’s 193 stations span the country, beaming into 2 out of every 5 households. The company’s reach will almost double if the Federal Communications Commission approves a $3.9 billion merger between Sinclair and Tribune Media. The deal would give Sinclair footholds in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago—the country’s three largest media markets.

 

As I report in my new Sinclair investigation, media experts on the left and right argue the Sinclair-Tribune deal, if approved, would give Smith’s company a reach—a whopping 72 percent of all homes with a TV—that far exceeds the federal limit. And there is growing concern that Sinclair will use the new stations to expand its practiceof injecting conservative, pro-Trump commentary into the local news that tens of millions of people rely on and trust.

 

There were many subjects I wanted to ask Smith about, but he didn’t want to talk

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#14
caltrek

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This Is What the Trump Abyss Looks Like

 

http://nymag.com/dai...looks-like.html

 

Abstract:

 

…by far the most important development in all this, the single essential rampart, is how, through all this, Trump has tightened his grip on 35 percent of the country. He has done this when he has succeeded but also critically when he has failed, because he has brilliantly turned his incapacity to be president into an asset with his base. No wall? Congress’ fault. Obamacare in place? The GOP’s fault. No tax cut? Ditto. The only way forward? A deeper and deeper trust in him. Only he can fix the Congress by purging it. Only he can fix the Courts through nominees who will never stand up to him.

 

And this base support is unshakable. It is not susceptible to reason. No scandal, however great, will dislodge it - because he has invaded his followers’ minds and psyches as profoundly as he has the rest of ours. He is fused with them more deeply now, a single raging id, a force that helps us understand better how civilized countries can descend so quickly into barbarism. In a country led by a swirling void, all sorts of inhibitions slowly slip away. Nativism, racism, nationalism: these are very potent catalysts of human darkness. Usually it is the president who takes responsibility when these demons appear to emerge, and attempts to refute, or discredit or calm them. But this one amps them up. That is why we have the astonishing scenario of his two predecessors trying to do what he cannot. They know the fire he is playing with. And they have some sense of responsibility. He has absolutely none.

 

He is the total master of an enormous mob that, so far, has completely overcome the elites. He achieves this mastery through incendiary oratory, hourly provocations, and relentless propaganda. His rallies are events of mass hysteria and rage. His propaganda machines - Fox News, Limbaugh, Breitbart, Drudge - rarely crack. And there is no one in our political life capable of matching this power. Name one, if you can. …Among the few responsible Republicans left, what we see is either utter cowardice in the face of an enraged base, or the kind of courage that manifests itself too late to make a difference…

 

 

 

One of the most pathetic aspects of all of this is the way that that Putin has actually pushed for this result.  As if a nuclear armed America driven by raw emotion is actually less dangerous to the rest of the world than the alternatives.  Madness.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#15
caltrek

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What is really sickening about all of this  (see story below) is that we seem to be in a kind of death spiral.  A voting population that, thanks to Reagan's attack on education, is less and less scientifically literate and able to think critically on issues.  Resulting in the election of Donald Trump, who then proceeds to take further actions to ensure that citizens do not receive the education needed to vote in a responsible manner.  The rise of the kleptocrats indeed. 

 

The GOP Tax Plan Is a Declaration of War on Learning

 

https://ourfuture.org/20171115/the-republican-tax-plan-is-a-declaration-of-war-on-learning

 

Introduction:

 

(Back to (our) Future) “Top-down class warfare” is what economist Paul Krugman calls the new Republican tax plans being drawn up in Congress, because both plans in the House and Senate propose “huge tax cuts to corporations and the wealthy” and eliminate scores of “credits and exemptions that mainly benefit the middle class.” The heaviest casualties are likely to be on the public education front.

 

As Krugman explains, Republicans intend to knock off many current tax deductions for higher education expenses, but the extent of the carnage in the plans will extinguish learning opportunities at every age and stage of young people’s lives.

 

What the Republicans propose in their tax plans is not just a raid on education-related budget items for the sake of fiscal efficiency; their plans are part of a strategic offensive against the very idea that all children and youth have a right to a free and high-quality education.

 

The Assault Starts Early

 

The assault Republicans are coordinating starts very early in children’s lives.

 

 

Federal assistance for child care, once brandished as a priority of the Trump administration, is not on the agenda. As Think Progress reports, the plan in the House rolls back some “existing child care benefits in the tax code” and fails to expand a child care tax credit.

 

The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#16
caltrek

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Why Trump Lies

https://www.alternet.../why-trump-lies

 

Introduction:

 

(Alternet) You want to know how inured we are to Trump’s lies? A headline in the Washington Post this week passed almost without notice. “President Trump has made 1628 false or misleading claims in 298 days.” I’ll bet it went right by you, along with this: “In the past 35 days, Trump has averaged an astonishing nine claims a day.” That would be false claims, in case you were wondering. According to the Post’s calculations, Trump has averaged 5.5 lies a day, putting him “on track to reach 1,999 claims by the end of his first year in office, though he obviously would easily exceed 2,000 if he maintained the pace of the past month.”

 

The Post is pussyfooting around by calling Trump’s lies “false and misleading claims.” To use only one of the Post’s examples, Trump has said the Affordable Care Act was dying or dead at least 60 times since taking office, despite the fact that the Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly found that the health care exchanges are “expected to remain stable for the foreseeable future,” according to the Post. The Hill reported last week that more than 200,000 people signed up for Obamacare on the first day of open enrollment, with over a million visiting the Healthcare.gov sign-up site. By any reasonable measure, calling a functioning federal program “dead” when in fact it is alive and well is not “misleading,” it’s a lie. With Trump’s repetitions, it is 60 lies.

 

But it’s not how many times Trump has lied that makes him remarkable. It is how he lied, and why.  It would appear that Trump lies instinctively, automatically, reflexively, almost as a matter of course. But he doesn’t lie that way at all. Trump tells lies as a way to exercise power. He used lies to accumulate wealth as a businessman. He used lies to accumulate votes as a candidate. He used lies to accumulate power as a president. Now he’s using lies to keep himself from being removed from office.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#17
caltrek

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Fighting fake news online wins these three projects accolades

 

https://techcrunch.c...ects-accolades/

 

Introduction:

 

(Tech Crunch) There are few greater threats to democracy in the world today than the proliferation of fake news and propaganda.

  

So it was no surprise that this year’s National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) prestigious Democracy Award focused on websites and research organizations that are countering the distribution of fake news.

 

The three winners of the 2017 Democracy Award, announced by NDI Chairwoman and former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, at a ceremony in DC, were the Ukrainian fact-finding website Stopfake.org; the Oxford Internet Institute’s Project on Computational Propaganda and the Philippines-based social news network, Rappler.

 

All of these award winners are at the “forefront of the battle to combat disinformation…. They work each day to protect the integrity of our information, to protect truth itself,” according to the NDI.

 

…According to Maria Ressa, the former CNN bureau chief in the Philippines and founder and editor-in-chief of Rappler, the real responsibility for cleaning up fake news lies with social networks like Twitter and Facebook. 97% of those online in the Philippines get their news via Facebook, Ressa reminds us. So social media networks need to “take responsibility” in revealing the ways propaganda spreads online — like the bloggers consciously spreading lies in the Philippines, she says.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#18
CoolGuy23

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To be honest, the whole answer to that question, as to why people vote against their own interests here in the USA (and especially here in the south) boils down to racism completely.

 

If you can convince poor white people that voting for someone who advocates for the poor means "blacks and latinos are going to take what little you have" they'll vote against their own interests.

 

I remember in 2012, Newt Gingrich called Obama the "food stamp President" and there was a lot of debate as to whether it was insinuating anything racial, but I can tell you, being raised by wealthy white people in the Old Confederacy, that was a dog-whistle without a doubt. Even though poor whites make up the large majority of welfare recipients, if they think they are being stolen from by minorities, they'll vote for the person who promises to "fix" it.



#19
CoolGuy23

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Also, in regards to Brexit, anti-globalization politicians are basically preying on people who dislike that the economy in their nation is changing. They'll blame "jobs leaving" on immigrants, Chinese, Mexicans, whoever they can, because it serves their agenda. Saying "Your job left because a machine took it and it's never coming back, so you need to get retrained" isn't very provocative, and provocation is what these angry people look for.

 

It's stupid that people say "globalization is killing the middle class" as well, the middle class worldwide is growing at an extremely fast rate, especially in nations like India, China, and other nations that are pouring money into putting themselves at the forefront of technological innovation.


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#20
CoolGuy23

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Also a disclaimer:

 

Although I have criticized "conservatives" in my previous posts, I still consider myself a conservative. I just dislike alt-right populism and racism. I'm a John-McCain style neocon, and I like to consider myself as having open viewpoints and not tying myself to something that is reflective of any kind of prejudice. Hell, I'm a white Republican from the American south, yet the person who has stuck with me the longest has been my ex-girlfriend, an Iranian-born atheist, socialist, and immigrant with an almost entirely Islamic family. I try not to let stereotypes impact my ability to grow positive relationships, and I believe that's exactly what these people who buy into this false consciousness are doing.

 

I attribute the openness I have to growing up on the internet, where I made friends from all over the globe, of all different races, politics, religion, disability, experience, and every other type of difference. I believe the Internet and technology in general holds a lot of potential if children can see the positive aspects and not get caught in the alt-right, or misogyny, or racism, or any other form of negative thinking. Conservatism does not have to be those things, and I wish people would realize that more. What is morally right is more important than any form of political organization, which is why I voted for Evan McMullin instead of Donald Trump last year, even though I am a Republican. I hope that American Republicans will come to their senses, do something good, realize that technology is a good thing, that anger isn't a good thing, and work towards a brighter future with those who may not be exactly like us.


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