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Media oversight

13335529_10157076057630492_8977891793245887712_nI did some polite, constructive criticism of corporate media the other day, as I have indeed been wont to do from time to time ever since I’ve been here. (Pushing seven years? Seriously? Hadn’t thought about it lately.) And I subsequently saw this.
 

Franken plainly said that Trump “is a liar . . . all the time.” Andrea Mitchell, sitting next to him, followed up by saying “Facts don’t seem to matter in this campaign. What has happened to our politics?” And Franken’s response was brilliant:
 

“I think they still matter. I still think, at the end of the day, they will still matter. And you know what, I would challenge you, all of you (pointing his finger at each of the reporters), to make them matter. To repeat them when there are lies. I would say that the media — you know, I used to write quaint books like ‘Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them’, and things like that, and I do think people think like, ‘Oh, wow, there used to be books about when people lied, and now no one cares.’ You guys have kind of a job to do.”

(Daily Kos)

This may seem odd coming from me, but I think there actually is a pretty good chance that corporate media will to some extent turn against the Donald Trump campaign. (I was heartened to see that this morning’s dead tree Star Tribune front-page headlined the appalling Trump/Russia deal, instead of using the Dem convention as an excuse to bury it on the inside as I had expected.) In 2012, they were pro-Romney for quite a while, but for the last couple of months turned slightly pro-Obama, largely because of the correct perception that he was going to win handily. This being America, you know about how good it is for a profit margin to be associated with a loser.
 

Most, or at least many, media owners/bosses, though Republicans, likely don’t want a Trump presidency either. Not because of its effect on women, minorities, children, etc. – that would be their problem, let them deal with it – but because a Trump presidency would also ultimately be very bad for business. And they mostly are not such witless ninnies, at least not in some ways, that they don’t know that.
 

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Donald_TrumpThat cooked “scandals” about e-mail are being treated as far more important than the likes of this, says it all about the degraded nadir to which American corporate “journalism” has fallen. Hillary Clinton will likely wipe her bottom with Donald Trump anyway, come Election Day, but it still sucks.
 

And in all honesty a big factor in how pissed off I continually am about this is my own sense of helplessness. I cannot for the life of me figure out an effective way to force c. media to shape up. People have been showing for decades now what bulls*it it is. Many millions nonetheless still watch/read/listen, and believe the plutocratic, war pig propaganda that they are shamelessly fed.
 

This article is comprehensive, brutal, and undeniable. Click and read.
 

Over the last year there has been a recurrent refrain about the seeming bromance between Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. More seriously, but relatedly, many believe Trump is an admirer and would-be emulator of Putin’s increasingly autocratic and illiberal rule. But there’s quite a bit more to the story. At a minimum, Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. And this is matched to a conspicuous solicitousness to Russian foreign policy interests where they come into conflict with US policies which go back decades through administrations of both parties. There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.
(TPM)

Additional material, from DKos this morning, here.
 

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whitehouse_historypgIs Hillary Clinton (who I am certainly going to vote for) my dream candidate? No, I would not state the case that way. Among other things, if I could tell her to do one thing and she had to do it, it would be to put a hard swift boot on the a*ses of the neocowards that she inexplicably still has hanging around. She should know better. Anyone should, by now. Indeed, long since.
 
That being said, a study came out which confirms what a lot of us have pretty much known for a while. I’m putting it out here as good to throw in the faces of those who claim otherwise. Not that that generally works with those making those claims – motivated reasoning is very resistant to fact, that’s the whole point – but third parties might take note. Note that it’s from a department of the right-wing Kennedy School of Government.
 

“Far more negative?” More like insanely more negative! The study found that 84 percent of Clinton’s coverage has been “negative in tone” compared to just 43 percent for Trump and 17 percent for Sanders. Even though many of us would just (as soon) forget about Rafael Cruz at this stage, it’s notable to point out that he received fairly balanced press coverage in comparison to his opponent. So while the media insured their playing field was much more leveled, they didn’t afford us the same luxury.
(Daily Kos)

Now, corporate media can’t really swing presidential elections. If it could, we’d be counting down President McCain’s (in all likelihood disastrous) time in the White House, and with VP Palin running well ahead in the polls as his successor. But this, and so much else, are nonetheless disgraceful failures when it comes to their alleged provision of legitimate journalism. What a f*cking joke.
 

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I am embarrassed to the very roots of my thinning hair to admit that I did not until very recently know about the North Star Policy Institute. It was apparently started by Jeff Van Wychen, some time after the late, great MN2020 called it a day. Every progressive activist in the state should check the NSPI Facebook page or Twitter now and then for recent work, because nothing crushes conservative drivel, and humiliates its originators, like learned displays of reasoning from fact. A few recent items that I thought of particular note:
 
“Business Property Taxes Not as High as We’re Led to Believe”
 

A recent publication from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce contains a list of claims regarding the level of business property taxes in Minnesota relative to other states: 49th “worst” (i.e., second highest) among the fifty states for rural commercial property taxes, 45th worst for metro commercial property taxes, and 40th worst for industrial property taxes. Startling? Definitely. Accurate? Not so much.
 
The property tax statistics cited by the Chamber are from the 50 State Property Tax Comparison Study 2014 from the “Minnesota Center for Fiscal Excellence” (MCFE). The first thing to note about this report is that it does not compare average metropolitan and rural property taxes within the fifty states. Rather, it compares a selected metro and rural city within each state. In Minnesota, metro (or urban) tax computations are based on Minneapolis, while rural computations are based on Glencoe, the seat of McLeod County.
 
Neither Minneapolis nor Glencoe are representative of their respective regions in terms of property taxes. For example, Minneapolis’ 2014 total local property tax rate is 19 percent higher than the average rate for the seven county metropolitan area, while Glencoe’s rate is a whopping 64 percent higher than the average rate for greater Minnesota.

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Vile deformer scum target Minnesota teachers

by Dan Burns on April 18, 2016 · 0 comments

abandoned2Yeah, I rarely adorn my posts with titles like that. I’m generally more about just passing along information, and letting other people, who are better bloggers than me anyway, do the righteous hyperbole. But this one is worthy.
 

A group of parents backed by a national nonprofit say Minnesota’s teacher tenure laws perpetuate the state’s academic achievement gap between white students and students of color.
 
The group on Thursday filed a lawsuit that challenges Minnesota laws that make it more difficult to fire teachers once they’ve been employed for more than three years. The suit was filed in Ramsey County district court…
 
The state teachers’ union president Denise Specht said in a statement that the contested laws “protect teachers from discrimination and arbitrary punishment, including for speaking out about the learning conditions in their schools.”
 
Specht said the laws “explicitly do not protect ineffective teachers.”
(MPR)

I did a bunch of blogging recently about efforts to destroy public education, and replace it with rote-learning mills to be strip-mined for profit. In the longer term, the intent is also to take control of curricula, and imbue young people with the purported glories of continued plutocratic, warmongering rule. That’s the right wing’s only chance, really, in the longer term, because young voters certainly aren’t buying that odious, failed, corrupt, reactionary crap, now.
 
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See if what jumped out to me jumps out to you too.
 

Mossack Fonseca is a leading global player in the incorporation of offshore companies across the globe. It was the subject of the largest-ever financial breach, and 11.5 million of its documents are the subject of a collaborative analysis by McClatchy and about 350 journalists under the umbrella of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. McClatchy was the only U.S. newspaper company involved.

 
You caught what I did if this bit was bolded in your mind as you read it, “McClatchy was the only U.S. newspaper company involved.
 
This is unfortunately not one of those instances where the title is a question because the writer is going to answer it. I don’t know why other major US media outlets didn’t join in. In an interview with On The Media, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists director, Gerard Ryle, said the NY Times chose not to join. He speculated that US media still have a go-it-alone approach, which Ryle criticized on the grounds that the modern media economy makes it difficult for individual outlets to have adequate resources. He didn’t name other specific US media outlets and it’s likely unfair to pick on just the NY Times, but what about the other major dailies? What about the broadcast networks, and the cable news channels. Well, Fox News has the excuse that they don’t do news, but what about CNN and MSNBC? What, too many airplane crashes and terrorism scares to cover? What about the big news magazines? OK, be fair, maybe they invited only newspapers, but the big dailies for sure muffed it.
 
I’m not saying major US media didn’t cover the story after the ICIJ broke it, but it seems odd they all but McClatchy passed on the chance to break one of the biggest stories of the year. In fact, with so many powerful people from so many countries hiding from their respective tax collectors, the Mossack Fonseca could be providing new scandals for a long time. That’s just how much material investigative journalists are still trying to sort through. Everything that has come out so far — that’s with the story just getting started.
 
It’s a shame these financial scandals are so hard to follow. Sex scandals are so much easier to understand, no wonder they get so much more coverage, but they are’t nearly so important. Go on, explain just what the big financial corporations did to crash the economy in 2008. Now explain why Tara Mack and Tim Kelly suddenly decided to spend more time with family. Which was easier?*
 
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MN-03: Strib goes after Paulsen?!?!

by Dan Burns on April 4, 2016 · 1 comment

paulsen2I put all that extra punctuation in the title because something like this – an article critical of a Minnesota Republican in Congress – is not a common sight, in this widely-read corporate media outlet, to say the least.
 

Republican U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen and his family members have taken more than $75,000 in free, mostly international travel since 2013, all paid for by outside groups.
 
Just a few weeks ago, Paulsen took his adult daughter, Cassandra, to Nairobi, Kenya, at a total cost of $27,357 for the week, the tab picked up by World Vision and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The trip was billed as a chance to provide “direct insight on how U.S. investments are working to improve global health.”
 
It was the single costliest trip a member of Congress has taken this year at the expense of an outside group, according to LegiStorm, a nonpartisan group that compiles information on members of Congress and their staffs.
 
The travel is legal and allowed by federal ethics rules, but it has drawn criticism from government watchdog groups as these organizations try to gain influence in Washington. Such organizations can pay for the travel of members, their staff and family so long as they don’t employ lobbyists and they report the costs, agendas and details of each trip to the Committee on Ethics.
(Star Tribune)

To be fair, the Strib doesn’t often go after Minnesota Democrats in Congress, either, though I suspect that some in senior management and elsewhere would dearly love to be more aggressive in that regard, especially concerning Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Keith Ellison. The guiding mantra seems to mostly be “offend no one.”
 
Despite a carefully contrived image that a whole lot of media outlets (in addition to, usually, the Strib) help to perpetuate, Paulsen is neither a “moderate,” nor a righteously devoted public servant indifferent to his own self-interest. Quite the contrary, on both counts. Jon Tollefson is a DFL candidate. You can help him out here.
 

And here’s a little something more about Rep. Paulsen: “Paulsen Pushing HSAs and FSAs While Voting Against Protecting Consumers From Price-gouging.”
 
Comment below fold.
 
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Beating down the education deformers, Part 3

by Dan Burns on February 21, 2016 · 3 comments

abandonedschool(Part 1 here. Part 2 here.)
 

The following blockquote is from the best succinct description of the goals and tactics of the deformer/privatization movement that I’ve seen. It was originally published in the Washington Post.
 

The pitch
 
Talking Points: (a) Standardized testing proves America’s schools are poor. (b) Other countries are eating our lunch. (c) Teachers deserve most of the blame. (d) The lazy ones need to be forced out by performance evaluations. (e) The dumb ones need scripts to read or “canned standards” telling them exactly what to teach. (f) The experienced ones are too set in their ways to change and should be replaced by fresh Five-Week-Wonders from Teach for America. (Bonus: Replacing experienced teachers saves a ton of money.) (g) Public (“government”) schools are a step down the slippery slope to socialism.
 
Tactics
 
Education establishment resistance to privatization is inevitable, so (a) avoid it as long as possible by blurring the lines between “public” and “private.” (b) Push school choice, vouchers, tax write-offs, tax credits, school-business partnerships, profit-driven charter chains. (c) When resistance comes, crank up fear with the, “They’re eating our lunch!” message. (d) Contribute generously to all potential resisters — academic publications, professional organizations, unions, and school support groups such as PTA. (e) Create fake “think tanks,” give them impressive names, and have them do “research” supporting privatization. (f) Encourage investment in teacher-replacer technology—internet access, iPads, virtual schooling, MOOCS, etc. (e) Pressure state legislators to make life easier for profit-seeking charter chains by taking approval decisions away from local boards and giving them to easier-to-lobby state-level bureaucrats. (g) Elect the “right” people at all levels of government. (When they’re campaigning, have them keep their privatizing agenda quiet.)
(AlterNet)

Needless to say, corporate-controlled “legacy”/”traditional”/whatever-you-want-to-call-it media (the daily papers, the nightly news broadcasts, etc.) play a big, key part in all of this.
 
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terroristThe days since the Paris attacks have been as disgracefully vile in American politics and American media as anything I’ve ever seen. A couple of items of particular interest.
 

It was well documented that during the run-up to the Iraq war there was tremendous pressure coming from the executive suite of the news networks to cheerlead for the administration. Those who resisted were marginalized and fired if they refused to go along. It’s unlikely that the word went forth on Saturday that reporters should get on a war footing and issue demands that the president use “the greatest military in the world” to “take out these bastards.” But they don’t have to say it explicitly do they? Everyone knows the drill.
 
There is no doubt the Republicans are getting ready to launch a full blown campaign of paranoid bloodlust which, if successful, would have devastating consequences. The media were willing recruits in their cause fifteen years ago. Let’s hope they gather their wits about them before they take us down that dangerous road again.
(Salon)

Billions of dollars have been spent and hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the global war on terror. At every step of the way, Western governments played directly into the hands of Islamic extremists, falling for their ploys and fueling their ambitions. As Osama Bin Laden tauntingly proclaimed back in 2004, “All that we have to do is to send two mujahadin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written Al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.”
 
For the handful of ideologues guiding the forever war, those personal and political benefits justified the price of failure. After the latest assault on Paris, it’s not surprising to see them clamoring for more force, more surveillance, more silence from progressives and more airtime for themselves. As they occupy the political center, the grayzone fades to black.
(AlterNet)

Comment below fold.
 
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clown carThe next GOP presidential debate starts tonight at 8PM central time. Yes, once again I’m skipping the “undercard” debate because it just doesn’t matter. This debate is on Fox Business, which will be the first time that channel has been watched by pretty much anyone. Fox Business: because the Wall Street shills on CNBC just aren’t conservative enough! So I’ll be simultaneously noting what the candidates say, doing some instant fact checking (no time for linking, so your own fact checking of my fact checking is advised), and maybe even providing some instant yet clever commentary.
 
So click the “read more” link if you’re reading this on the home page, and hit your browser reload button once in a while. Feel free to comment, but do understand that I may not have time to get it posted right away. Please excuse me if I miss something visual, because my eyes are on the editing page, which means essentially the debate is radio for me.
 
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