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Media oversight

trump20Couldn’t have said it better than the following, myself, and at the risk of appearing conceited I note that I don’t type that very often. The reason I’m passing it along here is that it’s been absolutely true, for a long time, for every major news outlet – TV, radio, print, and online – in Minnesota. And I’m sorry to have to note that that includes MPR and TPT.

Hundreds of newspapers across the country ran editorials Thursday pushing back on Donald Trump’s slur against the media as the “enemy of the people.” These are the very same newspapers that offer a litany of mealymouthed excuses for not labeling Trump’s lies as lies and helped put him in the White House by focusing on imaginary Hillary Clinton scandals while ignoring real Trump scandals, but now that he’s openly campaigning against the free press, they are bringing the weight of their editorial pages, if not their news coverage, to push back…
The media continue to bend over backward to both-sides every issue that can possibly be both-sidesed and to avoid that L word that comes up so much when Trump opens his mouth.
(Daily Kos)


school2A couple of items.

So evidence that charter schools have yielded academic gains in New Orleans or anywhere else are muddled at best. Nevertheless, establishment Democrats…argue charter school skeptics are the ones driven by ideology and twisting of facts.
There’s a reason for the desperate arguments promoted by…charter school proponents.
Just as the general public supports progressive proposals for universal health care and minimum wage, surveys find that Americans have increased confidence in public schools while support for charter schools has dropped by double digit percentages among Democrats and Republicans.
Now there’s some facts for you.
(Jeff Bryant/

There has never been more opposition to high stakes standardized testing.
Yet the corporate controlled media is pretending that the resistance is over.
Parents are refusing to let their kids take these tests at the same or even greater numbers than ever.
Fewer states require high stakes tests as graduation exams and/or use them to evaluate their teachers. Across the nation, states are cutting the size of standardized tests or eliminating them altogether. And more state legislatures passed laws explicitly allowing parents to opt their children out of the tests.
Yet Education Week published an article a few days ago called “Anti-Test Movement Slows to a Crawl.”

Comment below fold.

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lewisI suppose it’s a good thing that outlets like CNN are looking like maybe, just maybe, they’ll be perhaps a little more honest and reality-based in talking about Republican pols, incumbents and otherwise, this time around. Even “maybe, a little” would be a big improvement over 2016.

A Republican congressman from Minnesota has a long history of making deeply misogynistic comments on the radio, including lamenting that women can no longer be called “sluts.”
CNN’s KFile reviewed several months of audio from Rep. Jason Lewis on the “Jason Lewis Show,” a syndicated radio program Lewis hosted from 2009 until 2014 with the tagline “America’s Mr. Right.” In one instance, while arguing that “young single women” vote based on coverage of birth control pills, Lewis said those women were not human beings and were without brains…
“Well, the thing is, can we call anybody a slut? This is what begs the question. Take this woman out of it, take Rush out of it for a moment,” Lewis said in a March 2012 episode. “Does a woman now have the right to behave — and I know there’s a double standard between the way men chase women and running and running around — you know, I’m not going to get there, but you know what I’m talking about. But it used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard. We required modesty from women. Now, are we beyond those days where a woman can behave as a slut, but you can’t call her a slut?”

As far as his campaign, so far Lewis seems to be essentially playing a sort of prevent defense, not saying much in public and not doing anything too high-profile as a legislator. That could well change, at least as far as him running his mouth goes, if his seat continues to look like a fairly likely flip. Or perhaps he’s already just pretty much given up. It doesn’t appear to me that he likes being in Congress as much as he did his previous gigs.

And that was followed up on June 14th, when Congressman Lewis tweeted after his taking part in the “Can opioids save the GOP from losing the midterms?“ event.
Gosh, a new “Advisory Committee” ?
Does President Trump think he needs another “Advisory Committee” ?
Let us remember that President Trump already issued an executive order on March 29, 2017, establishing the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. As such, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has begun instituting procedures aimed at monitoring and managing opioid prescription usage but Congressman Lewis wants a “Advisory Committee” to provide them guidance.
(MN Political Roundtable)

Update: CNN has released more. I do feel for the people assigned to listen to those tapes of Lewis’s show. It’s gotta be an ordeal. But they’re making a sacrifice for the greater good.

That same month, Lewis added the welfare state has in some ways been worse for the black community than Jim Crow, calling black people “addicted” to government programs.
“What the welfare state has done to the black community, a hundred years of racism could not do,” he said. “A hundred years of racism could not break it up, it could not destroy black families. Jim Crow could not do it. But what dependency has done, is has caused unwanted pregnancy, illegitimacy. It has told young black males that they are dispensable, they don’t need to hang around when mom needs support or whatever and it has destroyed — and not just black communities, but any urban community, and so what you’ve got here is now they’re addicted. Large swaths of Hispanic communities, black communities are addicted to these, these subsidies.”

Comment below fold.

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trump33I know, “good one!” But a guy can dream.


All of that points to one conclusion: North Korea lied about its nuclear program — and its intentions to dismantle it — to keep extracting concessions from the US. “Work is ongoing to deceive us on the number of facilities, the number of weapons, the number of missiles,” an unnamed senior intelligence official told NBC News.
That plan may have already worked. Last month, Trump canceled a key military exercise with South Korea, one of America’s top allies. Pyongyang certainly liked that since it claims the joint drills are both a pretext and rehearsal for a US-led invasion of North Korea. After Trump met with Kim in Singapore on June 12, the president decided he wanted to stop what he calls “war games” in order to lower the tension…
What makes the decision even more surprising is that US intelligence agencies are pretty unanimous on one crucial point: North Korea will not give up its nuclear weapons program.


trump18Yeah, can’t wait.

Donald Trump will make his first visit to Minnesota as president next week for a rally in Duluth, the battleground for the open and highly competitive 8th Congressional District seat.
Trump will come to Duluth June 20, his campaign announced Monday.

It is instructive to consider what just happened in one of our neighboring states. (The author’s home blog is Dakota Free Press.)

Lots of votes in South Dakota suggested a skin-deep weakness to Trumpism in our rural corner of Trumplandia. Neal Tapio demonstrated most vividly that the only guy who can turn Trumpism into votes is the unique monster that is Donald Trump. Trump wasn’t on any South Dakota ballot Tuesday, and Trumpism helped few if any candidates win.
(Daily Kos)

Some people, including (especially?) in corporate media, still can’t seem to get their heads around the possibility that a huge chunk of the citizenry really does have a problem with racist, misogynistic, horrifically corrupt, easily played and suckered, traitorous filth in the White House. But that’s their problem.
Update: In support of that last part, a Democrat accomplished yet another 20+ point swing for a state legislative special election win, yesterday, in Wisconsin.


What next for the Farm Bill?

by Dan Burns on May 22, 2018 · 0 comments

Manure_spreader_Record_2Much as I loathe linking the Washington Examiner, it’s the only source that came up right away just now that had anything directly addressing that question.

Democrats voted in unison against the bill because they opposed increased work requirements for food stamps that were included in the measure. A group of conservatives also voted no, but their opposition had nothing to do with the legislation. They want the House to bring a passable immigration reform bill to the House floor, which is something that has eluded the House GOP for years.
Without support from Democrats and the faction of conservatives, the farm bill is stuck in limbo, at least for now and perhaps until the fall, if the floor schedule gets jammed with spending bills in the coming weeks, as it typically does this time of year.
The current farm bill does not expire until Sept. 30, which gives lawmakers months to find a path to pass the bill.
“What we can do now is take the next days, weeks, month, and really work with moderates to find a solution we can pass,” an aide to a GOP conservative negotiating on immigration told the Washington Examiner.
(Washington Examiner)

A couple of points:
– A big reason that right-wingers are pushing “work requirements” (for non-whites, anyway) for support programs like SNAP is to try to flood the job market with desperate low-wage workers, and therefore undercut any kind of upward pressure on wages overall. This point is rarely made in corporate media.
Here is an interesting piece on the political history of farm bills. It misses, though, that rural, mostly white, heavily right-wing areas are now most dependent on SNAP and other benefits.


15th anniversary of a crime against humanity

by Dan Burns on March 20, 2018 · 0 comments

None of the perpetrators of this have been held at all accountable. Nor is there any real chance that they ever will be.

First came the lies — so many, it was impossible to keep up with them. Then came the shock and awe, the crudely invented Iraqi jubilation, the extraordinary renditions, the secret prisons, the indefinite detentions, the relentless torture, the deluge of unaccounted-for cash, the no-bid contracts, the flaccid media, the spectacle of “mission accomplished,” the lousy armor, the occupation …
The endless flow of blood.
There is now a long list of the dead who would not be dead were it not for this war of choice initiated out of bravado, rancid ideology, and doctored “evidence.”
…Come March 2003, shock and awe was delivered to Baghdad, soon followed by more of the torture that had been going on since the first terror suspects had been grabbed off the streets of Europe and elsewhere. Billions of shrink-wrapped dollars poured into Iraq, great gobs of it never since accounted for. Halliburton and other war profiteers made fortunes off no-bid contracts and frequently shoddy work. The media excelled as a pipeline for brazen propaganda.
(Daily Kos)

I didn’t have a computer then, and I must note with considerable embarrassment that I had CNN on, quite often. I remember before the invasion how they were constantly running the same documentaries about being a fighter jet pilot, and life aboard an aircraft carrier – the USS Ronald Reagan, of course. And all of that “embedded” reporting, once it started – though certainly such arrant, contrived cheerleading didn’t deserve to be called “reporting,” or legitimate journalism of any kind. Memories of that make it all the more nauseating to see now how c. media, facing attacks by Trump, claims to be a key “defender of democracy” and so on, these days. What a farce.
That said, I don’t think that corporate media will behave in quite as contemptible a fashion, this time around, if the Trump administration starts to really push a “case for war.” But I’m not at all sure about that.
This is a pretty great song, from 2007. “Dad” is short for Baghdad.



trump18For some reason I just can’t get enough of people effectively bashing corporate media, these days.

This is going to turn into one of those things like the Iraq War, no doubt, where a great many people who do not have columns in the New York Times are all pointing out the looming catastrophe in real time but it is only after every prediction is proven right that the important wags in the papers and in Congress begrudgingly start to admit that no, flagrant lying in service of plainly crooked ends was not merely a side note to the story, but the whole damn story. They will then congratulate their boldness in coming to this conclusion, while pretending there was no possible way anyone could have predicted that Trump was in up to his strangely puffy eyeballs in Russian conspiracies, and in-office bribe-seeking, and the remnants of the Republican Party will act concerned and surprised for exactly as long as it takes to convince dullards they’re very sorry for all of that, rinse, repeat.
(Daily Kos)

I admit that on the whole c. media hasn’t entirely been quite as bad as I expected, in the matter of automatically downplaying Trump’s most egregious sayings and doings. But all in all they have still been constantly plumbing atrocious new depths of false equivalence, just like during the campaign.


This is the best thing I’ve read online, in any context, lately.

American mass media journalism is broken. There are some simple elements of US journalistic practice that have proved easy for special interests to hack, and the editors at least have allowed themselves to be used by sinister forces. (I am speaking primarily of television news here, and primarily of the 24 hour channels).
Despite the impression that Trump hates the press and forms a danger to it, the mass media actually has fallen for him, hard…
This news model also allowed climate denialists and before them cigarette cancer denialists to manipulate the system. If every story has two points of view and they are equal, then you have to present both. But where one side in this debate is factually incorrect, it means you are doing the opposite of journalism. You are diluting the truth with false, paid-for propaganda.
There aren’t two factually correct sides of every issue. Racism is not a legitimate explanation for anything. Immigrants are mostly law-abiding and do not take jobs from native-born people because they compete in different labor markets. There isn’t a fixed amount of labor (a “lump of labor”) in an economy– economies can expand precisely because there are more workers available than before.
Cable news is now pumping out Trump talking points hourly to millions of people around the globe, because of their broken business model. It is degrading our society and our human values.
(Informed Comment)

I remember the endless “debates” on cable news, when I used to watch it. They’re pretty much scripted, and it’s obvious that Rule #1 is that you never, ever humiliate the conservative, no matter how utterly idiotic the right-wing talking points being bloviated. It makes that crap especially annoying to deal with, and unfortunately it seems to be the case at outlets like TPT’s “Almanac” as well.


OK, so most of the consumers of the “news” on corporate media are older people, who more likely than not lean conservative, and are watching/reading/listening/clicking in part to find reinforcement for their own right-wing motivated reasoning. And it could be argued from there that if corporate news wants to stay in business, they have no choice but to pander to that.
But I don’t buy it. Most of their older audience is there primarily out of lifelong habit, and they’re not going to split just because corporate news outlets clean up their act a little. In any case, there is no excuse for the likes of this:

Researchers reviewed more than 800 local and national news stories and commentary pieces published or aired between January 2015 and December 2016, randomly sampling the most highly rated news programs for each of the major broadcast and cable networks. Those included ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
Also included in the study: newspapers of national influence such as The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune as well as regional newspapers, conservative websites such as Breitbart, and Christian news sources like the Christian Post.
The study concluded both ideologically driven news sources as well as traditional newspapers and broadcasts furthered false narratives about black families, helping to shape public assumptions that they are “uniquely and irrevocably pathological and undeserving,” Dixon said.
Black families represent 59 percent of the poor portrayed in the media, according to the analysis, but account for just 27 percent of Americans in poverty. Whites families make up 17 percent of the poor depicted in news media, but make up 66 percent of the American poor, the study said.
(Washington Post)