Category Archives: Media

The GOP’s descent into authoritarianism

This is not your father’s GOP. The carcass of the Republican Party has been hollowed-out by the parasitic radical extremist fringe elements of the far-right. These are the “double high authoritarians” that John Dean warned about in his 2006 book, Conservatives Without Conscience. See Michael Bryan’s 2006 book review, John W. Dean, “Conservatives Without Conscience”.

They have now coalesced around a demagogue, a professional grifter and con man given to conspiracy theories and appealing to the worst human instincts: racism, bigotry and fear of others and the unknown. Add white nationalism, fundamentalism and political party tribalism, and it forms a toxic brew.

Supporters of Donald Trump are willing to allow him to fulfill his dream of becoming an authoritarian despot, like his pal Vladimir Putin, and rejecting American democracy in favor of “Dear Leader,” according to two new polls taken this week.

Laurie Roberts writes at the Arizona Republic, Would Trump supporters really nix free speech and democracy?

Just how far are Republicans willing to go in their support of President Donald Trump?

Pretty darn far, it seems. Scary far.

They actually believe Trump’s spiel

According to a recent academic survey of 650 Americans who identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, nearly half (47 percent) say Trump won the popular vote in 2016. Sixty eight percent believe that millions of illegal immigrants voted.

Meanwhile, 52 percent said they would support postponing the 2020 election if Trump said it needed to be delayed until the country can make sure that only eligible American citizens are voting.

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The new Whiny Right (Updated)

I posted about this topic last year, The secret to Trump’s success: the GOP is the party of white identity and white grievances.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow now has a must-read column, America’s Whiniest ‘Victim’:

Donald Trump is the reigning king of American victimhood.

He is unceasingly pained, injured, aggrieved.

The primaries were unfair. The debates were unfair. The general election was unfair.

“No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly,” he laments.

People refuse to reach past his flaws — which are legion! — and pat him on the back. People refuse to praise his minimal effort and minimal efficacy. They refuse to ignore that the legend he created about himself is a lie. People’s insistence on truth and honest appraisal is so annoying. It’s all so terribly unfair.

It is in this near perfect state of perpetual aggrievement that Trump gives voice to a faction of America that also feels aggrieved. Trump won because he whines. He whines in a way that makes the weak feel less vulnerable and more vicious. He makes feeling sorry for himself feel like fighting back.

In this way he was a perfect reflection of the new Whiny Right. Trump is its instrument, articulation, embodiment. He’s not so much representative of it but of an idea — the waning power of whiteness, privilege, patriarchy, access, and the cultural and economic surety that accrues to the possessors of such. Trump represents their emerging status of victims-in-their-own-minds.

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‘Trump TV’ parrots RT network with state propaganda

In December of last year, there was a concern that the the National Defense Authorization Act now allowed Voice of America access to U.S. audiences (previously banned by law). This was stoking fears that Donald Trump could wield a powerful new propaganda arm. From fake news to the Trump ministry of propaganda. Those particular fears have not (yet) come to fruition.

In January, POLITICO reported Pro-Trump TV Network Has Big-League Dreams:

The clunky, black Panasonic PS2 belonging to Right Side Broadcasting Network (RSBN), a year-old conservative media startup based in Alabama, made a habit of filming the teeming crowds at Trump rallies and developed a cult following in the process, with Trump supporters regularly holding up makeshift “I love RSBN” signs and seeking out the RSBN cameramen to wave.

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The RSBN operation, which now employs 14 full-time employees and three contractors, began in July 2015, when Seales, a stay-at-home father at the time, grew frustrated with the lack of raw Trump rally footage online. He hired a freelancer to film what became the network’s first Trump rally broadcast and posted it on YouTube. When the video quickly amassed a million views, Seales realized that there was a robust demand for pure Trump footage—a feed that wasn’t clipped or talked over by mainstream outlets . . . That was when, borrowing from a phrase he’s fond of using—“being on the right side of history”—Seales started Right Side Broadcasting Network, originally a livestream operation airing on YouTube. He later added two call-in talk shows to the network’s YouTube channel, one hosted by conservative commentator Wayne Dupree, the other hosted by televangelist Pastor Mark Burns, a Trump surrogate.

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At the same time, the openly pro-Trump RSBN—which bills itself as a “ragtag bunch of media outsiders” seeking to deliver news to the common man—has been quietly attempting to transform itself from a small live-stream operation into a major and diverse digital media outlet, just in time to cover the Trump White House.

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The rehabilitation of Martha McSally as a mythical moderate Republican begins

Oh, this is rich. Rep. Martha McSally, who rallied House GOP members to pass House Speaker Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act in the House with the battle cry of “Let’s get this fucking thing done!”, has now joined a bipartisan House group to stabilize “Obamacare.”

This is like the arsonist who burns your house to the ground and then pretends to be a hero by rescuing you from the fire she set. And the GOP-friendly media in Arizona is playing along with McSally’s attempt to rehabilitate her image by again pretending that McSally is a mythical moderate Republican when she votes with Donald Trump’s agenda nearly 100% of the time.

The Arizona Republic reports, With GOP health-care efforts in tatters, 3 Arizona lawmakers want a bipartisan fix:

[T]hree Arizona members of Congress have joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers trying to shore up a portion of the nation’s insurance system.

A proposal released Monday by the 43-member Problem Solvers Caucus would effectively guarantee insurance subsidies for the individual markets and exempt more businesses from mandated health coverage.

U.S. Rep. Martha McSally helped craft the bipartisan plan for the Republicans as a way to help stabilize the individual markets, which face a deadline next month for setting premium levels even as President Donald Trump has suggested he may withhold subsidies to them.

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The purges begin in the Trump White House

Last week, Sean Spicer Resigned as White House Press Secretary, after he vehemently disagreed with the appointment of Anthony “Mooch” Scaramucci, a New York financier, as his new communications director.

Spicer expressed his belief that Scaramucci’s hiring would add to the confusion and uncertainty already engulfing the White House.

Spicer’s concerns were prescient and proved accurate on Thursday. Mark Sumner at Daily Kos has a good summary of a most unusual day:

Overnight, White House communications director Tony “Mooch” Scaramucci threatened to sic the FBI on chief of staff Reince Priebus for supposedly stealing documents that turned out to be available in the public domain. That kind of royal screw up might be expected to produce a bit of contrition, but that would be back in the world where people still have some modicum of dignity or some scrap of humility.

Instead, when Scaramucci learned that Donald Trump’s dining arrangements had appeared on the internet, he went … insane seems too kind. As told by Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker, Scaramucci called him up to demand the scalp of whoever leaked this vital information.

“Who leaked that to you?” he asked. I said I couldn’t give him that information. He responded by threatening to fire the entire White House communications staff. “What I’m going to do is, I will eliminate everyone in the comms team and we’ll start over,” he said. … “I ask these guys not to leak anything and they can’t help themselves,” he said. “You’re an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American country. So I’m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it.”

Again, the contents of this “major catastrophe” were the names of Trump’s dinner companions.

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The Yin & Yang of Public Policy: Can We Achieve Balance?

The Yin and Yang mosaic

The Yin and Yang.

On one hand, the news media often tells us that we are a country divided. Social media fuels this idea with countless stories of political and ideological intransigence despite mounting societal needs.

On the other hand, the news media also often tells us how much the general population agrees on certain topics. For example, although Congressional Republicans have been working for seven years to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA or “Obamacare”) and return to the glory days of market-driven health insurance, polls show an increasing majority of Americans “believe the federal government has a responsibility to make sure all Americans have health care coverage.”

An Associated Press story published today reported that “Americans overwhelmingly want lawmakers of both parties to work out health-care changes, with only 13 percent supporting Republican moves to repeal ‘Obamacare’ absent a replacement.”

“Nearly everyone wants changes to the Obama law, while hardly anyone wants to see it abolished without a substitute in place,” according to the AP. If 80-90% of Americans think Republicans and Democrats should work together on healthcare insurance reform, why not do this? Why the complete disconnect between what the people want, what’s good for the health of the population, and what the Republicans in Congress are doing?

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