Self-proclaimed “genius” reaches new highs in stupidity: Trump puts his incompetence on full display

Donald Trump (Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri)

SALON

Trump’s candidacy is an ugly joke — but insidious racism and media idiocy have kept him within striking distance

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is a former United States senator and secretary of state with decades of experience as a public servant. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is a real estate developer and reality TV star. He has never held public office. According to new national polling data on the 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton and Trump are in a virtual tie. How did this happen?

There are many reasons. Primarily, both candidates are viewed negatively by large segments of the American public. The U.S. economy has also experienced a relatively anemic recovery (in terms of wages and wealth) from the Great Recession of the George W. Bush years.

Furthermore, the American electorate is highly partisan and polarized. As Election Day in November approaches — and despite whatever misgivings voters may feel — it is much more likely than not that individuals will solidify their support for their political party’s chosen candidate.

These foundational factors have combined to create a close presidential race.

The American news media, much of it owned and controlled by large corporations, has also played a significant role in keeping Hillary Clinton within reach of Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is an atypical presidential candidate who has utter disregard for the standing norms of American politics and even less respect for the Fourth Estate. This has allowed him to outmaneuver and manipulate many journalists and pundits. They feel beholden, or perhaps enslaved, to norms of “objectivity,” “fairness” and “balance.” Trump feels no such limitations.

By some estimates, the American media has given Trump at least $3 billion worth of free coverage. The 24/7 cable news cycle and the media’s corporate culture have fueled an obsession with creating a “horse race” and a willingness to massage, distort and misrepresent events in order to sustain that narrative. For example, the media continues to manufacture “scandals” about Clinton’s emails while ignoring or underplaying Trump’s misdeeds, from the buying of political influence and various documented acts of political corruption to his encouragement of election tampering by a foreign power, his questionable business practices and other instances ofunethical behavior.

The sum effect of these dynamics (aided by no small amount of cowardice among the pundit classes) is that the American corporate news media has buttressed and legitimated Trump. In all, this amounts to grading on a curve. Hillary Clinton is an A student being held to an impossibly high standard and punished for minor mistakes. Donald Trump is a D student, at best, who is being marked up to an A minus because the teacher is afraid of his parents.

The impact of white racism and racial resentment on American politics also plays a large role in explaining why Clinton and Trump are so close in the polls. Donald Trump is a racist, a bigot, a nativist and a fascist. The Republican Party in the post-Civil Rights era has become the United States’ largest de facto white identity organization. It also attracts white authoritarians. Trump’s selection as the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nominee is the nearly inevitable outcome of almost five decades of the “Southern strategy” pioneered by Pat Buchanan in 1968, as well as a broader right-wing electoral politics that is based first and foremost on mobilizing white voters and demobilizing nonwhites.

Moreover, despite the media’s discussion of the so-called alt-right, which is little more than an ideological smoke screen, Trump and his supporters are not outliers or aberrations in the Republican Party. They are its unapologetic base and its political id. Right-wing elites may be turned off by Trump’s lack of polish, but his core message, attitudes and values resonate among mainstream Republicans. This gives Trump a deep reservoir of preexisting support.

In some ways, Trump began his 2016 political foray in 2011 with the racist conspiracy known as “birtherism.” Five years later, 72 percent of Republicans still express doubtthat Barack Obama was born in the United States.

During the Republican campaign, Trump proposed banning all Muslim noncitizens from entering the United States. Seventy-one percent of Republicans supported it.

Social scientists have demonstrated that “old-fashioned” racism is resurgent in America and can now be used to predict whether a given white voter will support the Republican Party. Anti-black animus is also highly correlated with hostility to Barack Obama. Other work has demonstrated that racial animus has a “hangover” effect that can impact a given white person’s attitudes and beliefs about ostensibly race-neutral policy issues, like public transit and infrastructure projects, which may be perceived as benefiting blacks.

The ascendancy of Donald Trump has also empowered white supremacists and other hate groups to bolster their recruitment efforts. The Independent reports that white nationalist groups are growing at a higher rate than ISIS, at least in terms of social-media presence.

These are abstract facts and the results of social science research. They are essential and extremely important. The passions and rage that Donald Trump has summoned, however, also help to explain why he is able to be so competitive with Hillary Clinton.

Trump is the beneficiary of a populist moment of discontent in American and global politics. While Bernie Sanders’ progressive version of populism was inclusive, cosmopolitan and forward-thinking, Trump’s populism appeals to racism, tribalism and reactionary thinking. Trump is also a political necromancer, deftly skilled in manipulating white conservatives’ anxieties and fears of both generational and cultural obsolescence.

This political moment and broader atmosphere has resulted in some ugly events. Trump supporters have attacked and beaten immigrants. Violence against protesters at Trump rallies has become commonplace. Several weeks ago  a Trump supporter stabbed an interracial couple at a restaurant in Olympia, Washington. White supremacists have been emboldened by Trump’s rise to power in the Republican Party. They openly attend his rallies and other events and see him as a champion for their cause. In August a white supremacist killed a 19-year-old black teenager by running him over with a vehicle. Trump has embraced the implicit racist sentiment channeled by “All Lives Matter” and has described Black Lives Matter members as thugs and criminals who are a threat to public order. Paul LePage, the Trump-like governor of Maine, recently suggested that blacks and Latinos were the “enemy” of police and deserved to be shot.

While many political observers like to pretend that the racially toxic civic atmosphere that spawned Donald Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party was an unexpected surprise, it was foreshadowed during Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign in 2008. While this factor may seem almost irrelevant at the end of his two successful terms in office, it is estimated that white racism cost Barack Obama 3 to 5 percentage points in the final presidential vote that year.

Obama’s election spawned a vicious reaction on the right. Racially resentful white conservatives flocked to the Tea Party faction. To undermine Obama’s constitutional powers, congressional Republicans refused to follow through on basic responsibilities of governance (such as raising the debt ceiling so that the government could continue to operate). Right-wing media outlets made increasingly inflammatory, racist and bizarre claims about the country’s first black president. Movement conservatives and the broader Republican Party openly discussed a second American Civil War with overtones of Southern slave owners’ beliefs in their right to “nullification” and “secession.”

At its core, politics is a struggle over resources and values. These struggles and their outcomes can be described as “push and pull factors,” “continuity and change” or “thesis and antithesis.” Political struggles, even in a democracy, do not usually result in a type of equilibrium where all parties benefit equally. Shorter version: There are winners and losers.

Donald Trump has been made competitive with Hillary Clinton because of a complicit media, the structural and institutional features of America’s two-party system and political culture and the power of white identity politics and racism. This will get Trump close to the finish line but not over it. Clinton has substantial leads in crucial swing states, and many more paths to victory in the Electoral College. Ultimately, Donald Trump burned all his racist, nativist and pseudo-fascist fuel in order to reach political orbit. He cannot sustain his altitude and will soon come crashing down. The question then becomes who gets caught in the political conflagration and what level of collateral damage will follow.

Chauncey DeVega

The media (ironically) overlooked the most chilling, Orwellian revelation of the Ben Rhodes controversy

The media (ironically) overlooked the most chilling, Orwellian revelation of the Ben Rhodes controversy

Barack Obama, Ben Rhodes (Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

SALON

There is something deeply ironic about the controversy that exploded this week around Ben Rhodes and his remarks in a New York Times magazine feature.

Rhodes, President Obama’s right-hand man on foreign policy, briefly discussed in a roughly 10,000-word article how the White House carefully crafted a polished PR campaign to sell the Iran deal to legislators and the public.

The media exploded. Countless news outlets and magazines (particularly on the rightwing of the political spectrum) turned the story into a scandal that revolved aroundthe Iran deal — while largely overlooking myriad other issues the article addressed.

Yet a closer read shows that there is a much more important, and chilling, revelation to be drawn from the Times story, and the Iran deal is only one small part of it.

David Samuels’ May 5 article, “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru,” is a kind of case study of the relationship between the U.S. government and media in the 21st century — a relationship that should be antagonistic, but is instead more and more cozy.

The piece offers a detailed look into a brave new world of journalism, one comprised of reporters who are ever-dwindling in number, and who are increasingly ignorant, rushed and susceptible to dexterous government spin campaigns — what some might call public relations, and what others might call propaganda.

The line between PR and propaganda has always been a thin one. When a government is involved, this is doubly true. What is most dangerous of all is when this line is thin between the government and the press.

There is often talk of the separation of church and state, but much less so of the separation of press and state. The New York Times’ Rhodes feature — and the media response that so ironically reflected the very problems it exposes — demonstrates just how precarious the situation is today.

“People construct their own sense of source and credibility”

As the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, Ben Rhodes’ job is to help the White House craft and nurture favorable media narratives, and then use them to sell policies to the public.

The Times referred to Rhodes as the “Boy Wonder of the Obama White House” and the virtual voice of America. He has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches.

In one of the article’s most disturbing anecdotes, Rhodes’ assistant Ned Price explained to the Times that the easiest way for the White House to shape the news is with its press briefings, and with the help of its “force multipliers” and “compadres” in the media.

He “tick[ed] off a few names of prominent Washington reporters and columnists who often tweet in sync with White House messaging,” the Times wrote.

“I’ll give them some color,” Price added, “and the next thing I know, lots of these guys are in the dot-com publishing space, and have huge Twitter followings, and they’ll be putting this message out on their own.”

These putative journalists are technically independent, but they work in tandem with the U.S. government. They don’t need to be on the state’s payroll; they are putting the messages “out on their own.”

Times reporter David Samuels followed up, noting how this 21st-century form of journalistic manipulation “is something different from old-fashioned spin, which tended to be an art best practiced in person.”

In the past, “In a world where experienced reporters competed for scoops and where carrying water for the White House was a cause for shame, no matter which party was in power, it was much harder to sustain a ‘narrative’ over any serious period of time.”

Today, Samuels continued, “the most effectively weaponized 140-character idea or quote will almost always carry the day, and it is very difficult for even good reporters to necessarily know where the spin is coming from or why.”

The Times calls this “the soft Orwellian vibe of an information space where old media structures and hierarchies have been erased by Silicon Valley billionaires who convinced the suckers that information was ‘free’ and everyone with access to Google was now a reporter.”

Yet the most shockingly Orwellian moment in the article is when Tanya Somanader, the director of digital response for the White House Office of Digital Strategy, openly insisted to the Times, “People construct their own sense of source and credibility now… They elect who they’re going to believe.”

This view, that source and credibility, and perhaps even facts themselves, are individual and arbitrary is the death knell for journalism.

Manufacturing consent

In their 1988 opus “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” intellectual juggernaut Noam Chomsky and co-author Edward Herman detailed how U.S. news outlets frequently serve as a handmaiden of government, military and corporate interests.

Chomsky and Herman posited a “propaganda model” in which “the media serve, and propagandize on behalf of, the powerful societal interests that control and finance them. The representatives of these interests have important agendas and principles that they want to advance, and they are well positioned to shape and constrain media policy.”

The scholars explained how structural factors such as ownership, funding and advertisements exert enormous influence on media coverage. “The same underlying power sources that own the media and fund them as advertisers, that serve as primary definers of the news, and that produce flak and proper-thinking experts, also, play a key role in fixing basic principles and the dominant ideologies,” Chomsky and Herman wrote.

Perhaps the biggest influence on media narratives, “Manufacturing Consent” shows, is the policy of the U.S. government. Chomsky famously wrote extensively on the examples of U.S. policy in Vietnam, Indonesia, East Timor and more. But the disciplining apparatus the government uses with the press was never as explicitly spelled out in the 1980s, when Chomsky and Herman were closely analyzing it, as it has been today, in articles like the New York Times’ Ben Rhodes feature.

The Times detailed how “Rhodes’s war room did its work on Capitol Hill and with reporters,” ensuring that “legions of arms-control experts began popping up at think tanks and on social media, and then became key sources for hundreds of often-clueless reporters.”

“We created an echo chamber,” Rhodes stated openly. “They were saying things that validated what we had given them to say.”

It is precisely this media disciplining apparatus, this manufacturing of consent, that allowed the Obama administration to spread blatant lies about the killing of Osama bin Laden. As Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh exposed, the U.S. government’s internally inconsistent narrative of events had little basis in reality, but the compliant press ate it up.

To be clear, the Iran deal was likely a good decision. For anyone concerned with the U.S.’s hyper-militarist policies, taking a peaceful, diplomatic step toward rapprochement with Iran, one of the Middle East’s major superpowers, is a historic breakthrough, and could help quell some of the violence in the region.

But the danger lies in the method used to sell the deal. Rhodes and the Obama administration as a whole are setting an incredibly dangerous precedent with this manufacturing consent 2.0 strategy — just like the precedent the administration has set with secretive undeclared drone wars and extrajudicial assassinations.

These policies will be continued in the future, and will be justified by pointing to the policies of the Obama administration. If a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton insists the U.S. must invade Syria or re-invade Iraq, her White House will use these same strategies and tools to shape media narratives and to sell policies to the public — just as, if a hypothetical President Trump insists the U.S. must extrajudicially assassinate dissidents, he has a drone program that can do so. President Obama will have established the precedent future commanders in chief will need to justify such actions.

Rhodes himself is aware of this. When the Times asked him “whether the prospect of this same kind of far-reaching spin campaign being run by a different administration is something that scares him,” Rhodes “admitted that it does.”

CONTINUED>>>

 

Activist Perfectly Exposes CNN’s Racist Double Standard (VIDEO)

 ADDICTING INFO

It’s not a terribly difficult concept to grasp: White crime is treated verrrrrry differently than black crime by the “liberal” media. But, for some strange reason, (white) people seem shocked and dismayed when activists mention this glaring discrepancy. It’s almost like they don’t want to know about it.

Well, tough noogies because it’s not going away. #BlackLivesMatter has a very long set of legs and shows no signs of slowing down. More importantly, a large part of that movement is changing how the media presents white and black crime. This particular instance of challenging the “liberal” media’s narrative came during an interview with Brian Stelter on CNN as activist Deray McKesson (no stranger to kicking ass on CNN) dissected the news network for the unbalanced depiction of black protests being mostly about violence:

“I wonder, are you saying the press should automatically assume the worst about the officers, about the authorities?, Stelter asked, to which McKesson responded, “I’m saying there should be balance in the way that the critique is spread, and there isn’t.”

McKibbon goes on:

“So when I see broadcasts, news articles that present the police narrative as true,”McKesson added before being interrupted.

“But it is oftentimes true,” Stelter insisted.

“Is it true?” McKesson asked. “I don’t know if it was true with Mike Brown. Maybe we differ on what true means.”

“You’re talking about anecdotes as opposed to statistics,” Stelter replied. “Are you saying the majority of statement by police officers in the U.S. are not true, public statements, press releases.”

If you look carefully, you’ll notice a rather ugly strawman inserted into that exchange. At no point does McKesson say the police are lying all or even most of the time. He simply says that they should be treated with the same critical eye that minorities get. In other words, the media’s narrative is that minorities are always guilty and cops are always right. Or did you think it was a coincidence that the “liberal” media puts so much effort into finding pictures of the dead black person drinking a beer or flashing a “gang sign” to prove that he “had it coming”? It’s pretty obvious what McKesson was saying but Stelter dutifully tried to stick to his narrative anyway.

Aside from that, it’s pretty funny that Stelter has the nerve to talk about statistics. If we’re talking about statistics, we could take a look at all of the cases in which the police kill someone and see how many of those were ruled as “justified”. Oh wait, we can’t because the police deliberately do not keep comprehensive records of that. Imagine that for a second. The police, who happily keep your criminal record on file for decades in case they need to send you to jail again, don’t seem to be able to keep track of how many people they shoot every year. A cynical person would suggest that maybe the police don’t want to leave a record of the trail of dead bodies they’ve left behind. An even more cynical person would suggest that they don’t want to have a record of how many cops were subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing. Considering how few cops ever wind up in court, much less convicted, I feel pretty confidant in stating that the percentage of cops whose shootings are labeled justified (or only worthy of administrative punishment instead of jail time) approaches 99%.

I don’t know about you, but I find that to be about as likely the KKK allowing the entire lineup of the New York Knicks to become members. Still, Mr. Stetler seems amazed at the idea of suggesting that cops might lie.

Another fun bit of statistics is the fact that the “liberal” media in markets like New York somehow still manage to over-report black crime. And this is precisely the kind of media narrative that McKesson is pushing back against. A perfect example of this double-standard is how both the police and the “liberal” media reacted to the biker shoot-out in Texas:

“What we didn’t see [in Waco, Texas] were any dead bodies,” McKesson said. “Nine people were dead, there were 18 people injured and the media didn’t show any of that spectacle of blood. Right? And not that I want to see bloody bodies, but there was a stark difference.”

“And you also saw the bikers chilling [after the shootout],” he remarked. “They are in gangs. This is organized crime. And they are just like hanging out at the police line after nine people are killed, and they’re now saying they might have recovered 1,000 weapons. That context would not happen if those bodies were dark skinned.”

“What’s interesting about Waco is that there was also this nuance suddenly. Because whiteness gets nuance and blackness doesn’t. So you saw with Waco, ‘These are bikers, this is just like a biker group. It’s a biker shootout.’”

I’ve said this many times before: When a white man commits a crime, he’s an individual. When a black man commits a crime, he magically represents ALL black people, everywhere. That’s why the not-at-all-racist talking heads on Fox demand to know where the leaders of the black community are when blacks riot over police brutality, but don’t say a goddamn thing when white kids riot at a freaking pumpkin festival.

‘Murika.

Here’s the video from CNN:

~

SCARBOROUGH’S SAD “APOLOGY”

MSNBC Screen Capture

SALON

Morning Joe’s namesake is a very busy and important man who can’t be bothered to get things right the first time

Last week, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough went on TV and said something false. Reacting to the inflammatory (and often dubious) allegations in Peter Schweizer’s new book, Clinton Cash, Scarborough posited that the government of Algeria made donations to the Clinton Foundation as a way to buy its way off the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. “The Clinton Foundation takes the check, and then just, out of nowhere the State Department then decides, well, they are going to take Algeria off the list,” Scarborough said. As Politifact and (my former employer) Media Matters pointed out, such an arrangement would have been impossible, given that Algeria has never been on the State Department’s list of terrorism sponsors.

So Scarborough was wrong. And today on Morning Joe, he offered a sneering, sarcastic “apology” to Politifact for having the temerity to point out how wrong he was.

I’m struggling to recall an instance in which a pundit has so self-indulgently wallowed in his own arrogance and sense of entitlement. Everyone gets something wrong every now and then, and the proper thing to do when those things happen is to correct the record, apologize, and move on. For Scarborough, though, the act of correction is an assault on the misbegotten pride he feels in hosting a low-rated and unwatchable morning news program.

First things first: Joe Scarborough seems to believe that because he puts on an “ad-libbed” show that lasts many hours, he enjoys some leeway when it comes to just making shit up. “Last week, in the course of this three-hour, ad-libbed show, I suggested Algeria may have been giving unreported donations to the Clinton Foundation in an effort to change their status on the State Department’s terror list.” Here’s a thought: maybe put a little more planning into what you say on cable news every day. “I do a long show that I put little to no forethought into” is not a justification for getting things wrong: it’s an admission that your show’s format is bad and should be changed to minimize these sorts of errors.

Scarborough also faulted Politifact for not noting that before he launched into this made-up nonsense about Algeria, he offered a disclaimer that he didn’t know what he was talking about. “Now, never mind that I prefaced my statement by saying that all the specifics may not be perfectly lined up. These are the realities, after all, of all of us doing a three-hour rolling conversation without teleprompters or scripts, the very things that every other news show in America is chained to but we aren’t. But still I prefaced my remark, but that prefaced remark mattered little to the Clinton arm of Politifact.” Yes, how dare Politifact not do Joe Scarborough the courtesy of highlighting his admission that he was talking out his ass.

Having begged off any sort of responsibility for the things he says on his own program, Scarborough then lashed out at Politifact, claiming that they were just picking nits (which, of course, absolves Scarborough from any blame).

VIDEO

SCARBOROUGH: So Politifact, let me get this straight. The Clinton Foundation was taking the money, hold on, not to get off the terror list. They were throwing them money at the same time they wanted to the State Department to get them off a list for their gross human rights abuses towards women. I hope I’ve cleared that up. Because I’ve got more. Have I cleared that part up? Because I don’t want to get it wrong! And any time Politifact calls me out on a footnote, I promise I’m going to come out here and let you know that instead of talking about the Clinton Foundation getting money to possibly get Algeria off the terror list, it would possibly be to whitewash gross human rights violations against women. I’m glad I got that off my chest.

Politifact actually noted all of that in their correction of Scarborough – they had a whole section of the fact-check headlined “Human rights violations hamper relations.” But this isn’t a dispute over a “footnote,” as Scarborough’s weaselly, sarcastic rebuttal put it. Inclusion on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror is not a small thing. Once the U.S. government identifies a country as a sponsor of terrorism, they’re immediately subject to a whole host of economic sanctions. If, as Scarborough had posited, the Clinton Foundation had been part of a quid pro quo scheme to let Algeria buy its way off that list and out of those sanctions, that would have been a massive scandal.

But whatever, Scarborough was just “ad-libbing,” so it’s no big deal. It’s not Joe Scarborough’s responsibility to be right the first time; it’s Politifact’s responsibility to cut him as much slack as he needs because “Morning Joe” isn’t about facts, it’s about “conversation.”

And that leads to the most important question: why does “Morning Joe” still exist? Scarborough is clearly very proud of the ad-libbed, thrown-together format that permits him and his pundit pals to make stuff up in a consequence-free environment, but nobody actually watches the show. Its ratings are abysmal, and yet it soldiers on as a monument to Joe Scarborough’s insufferable arrogance.

– 

Russell Brand absolutely demolishes Fox News over Ferguson coverage

Russell Brand absolutely demolishes Fox News over Ferguson coverage
Russell Brand (Credit: AP/Ellis O’Brien) 

Say what you will about Russell Brand but that fact is, every now and then he makes salient points on his video program.  This is just one example…

Salon

On the latest episode of his Web series, the British comedian takes Fox to task for its one-sidedness

Russell Brand eviscerated Fox News’ coverage of the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, on Thursday, blasting the network for its one-sidedness.

“It’s so outrageous,” Brand said on the latest episode of  his show, “The Trews.”

“It’s almost art.”

Brand criticized Fox News for its nearly unanimous support of Darren Wilson, the white Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown earlier this month, and for its deeply negative attitude toward protesters in the Missouri city.

“I think what’s interesting about Fox News’ coverage is the complete evisceration of any compassion in the argument,” Brand said. “Pain and suffering is the lifeblood of their channel. There’s no one so disadvantaged, so oppressed, that Fox News can’t get some mileage out of exploiting or condemning them.”

Beginning his takedown, Brand homed in on Greg Gutfeld’s comments on “Red Eye,” where the host said that “the media, like humanity, can only handle two sides to a story, and they almost always flock to one side — and it’s David, never Goliath.”

Cutting in, Brand cannily responded: “Yeah … When you look at the Bible, you think, ‘Hang on here! Should we revise this clearly allegorical story about David and Goliath? What about Goliath — the hapless, lovable giant?’ No, you don’t — Goliath is clearly there to demonstrate oppressive power, isn’t he?”

Brand continued his assault on Gutfield, playing a segment where Gutfield called the overwhelming support for Brown whom the “Red Eye” host deemed the “underdog” the result of “decades of pop culture, deeming what’s cool and what isn’t.”

Interjecting, Brand offered his rebuttal.

“It’s not ‘cool’ to stick up for the people of Ferguson, who after a century of oppression and the only limited success of the civil rights movement, have decided that after the killing of an unarmed man to protest. They’re doing it because they like some of their trainers,” Brand said, referring to expensive athletic shoes.

Brand also took aim at Fox News contributor Jason L. Riley, author of the book “Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed.” Riley, who consistently has attempted to explain black crime as a pathological deficiency, recently lambasted President Barack Obama for his comments that “black crime stems from poverty, or a racist criminal justice system, which is nonsense!”

Brand wouldn’t stand for it.

“That’s outrageous,” Brand said. “Of course there’s an economic aspect to the argument. Of course there’s a social aspect. You can’t just bring out the author of the book ‘We Deserve to Be Shot’ to bring out arguments just so Fox News can keep being as they are.”

He continued: “People don’t just spontaneously have an attitude toward the criminal justice system …Like the same way you might not have an attitude to your dishwasher. If your dishwasher doesn’t do anything except wash the dishes, you won’t just suddenly wonder one day, ‘You know, it’s really unjust the way that dishwasher keeps shooting unarmed black men!’”

Watch the whole clip here:

Paul Krugman slams Wall Street for “undermining our economy and our society”

Paul Krugman slams Wall Street for "undermining our economy and our society"
Paul Krugman (Credit: AP/Lai Seng Sin)

I know this is the second consecutive Salon article, but economist, Paul Krugman has something to say and I wanted to share it…

Salon

The New York Times columnist argues that America’s large financial sector has done more harm than good

In his latest column for the New York Times, best-selling author and award-winning economist Paul Krugman argues that the financial sector of the American economy is not only outsized but that it’s hurting the economy and making Americans’ lives worse.

Citing journalist Michael Lewis’ new book on high-frequency trading — which opens with a story about an expensive tunnel being drilled for fiber-optic cable to cut down the communication time between Chicago’s futures markets and the stock market in NYC by three milliseconds — Krugman argues that American public policy has become overly influenced by high finance, with inequality and economic instability as a result. “[American] society,” Krugman writes, “is devoting an ever-growing share of its resources to financial wheeling and dealing, while getting little or nothing in return.”

After claiming that the large financial sector in the U.S. doesn’t increase overall prosperity and doesn’t promote economic stability, Krugman writes that its primary function seems to be to prey off of less powerful economic actors. “[Wall Street’s] playing small investors for suckers,” Krugman says, “causing them to waste huge sums in a vain effort to beat the market.” The result, Krugman posits, is a select few Wall Street players making a lot of private profits while contributing little to the overall public.

Krugman continues:



In short, we’re giving huge sums to the financial industry while receiving little or nothing — maybe less than nothing — in return. [NYU Professor Thomas] Philippon puts the waste at 2 percent of G.D.P. Yet even that figure, I’d argue, understates the true cost of our bloated financial industry. For there is a clear correlation between the rise of modern finance and America’s return to Gilded Age levels of inequality.

So never mind the debate about exactly how much damage high-frequency trading does. It’s the whole financial industry, not just that piece, that’s undermining our economy and our society.

 

‘I WANT TO ELECT THE NEXT PRESIDENT’

fox news roger ailes
Fox News CEO Roger Ailes poses at Fox News studio in New York in this 2006 file photo. (AP Photo/Jim Cooper) | ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Huffington Post

How Fox News Chief Roger Ailes Tried To Win Republicans The White House

Around 5 p.m. on Election Day 2012, Fox News chief Roger Ailes realized that Mitt Romney would not make it to the White House. “Thank you, Chris Christie,” Ailes groused.

Ailes was frustrated that the New Jersey governor appeared alongside President Barack Obama days earlier to survey the damage of Hurricane Sandy. When Ailes was told polling data suggested the incident hadn’t hurt the Republican Party’s chances, he responded: “Well, hugging the guy couldn’t help people feel good about Romney, either.”

This wasn’t how the race was supposed to end. During an afternoon meeting before the 2010 midterm elections, Ailes told executives he wanted “to elect the next president.”

Fox News already ruled the ratings and boasts annual earnings of around $1 billion. Most network chiefs would be ecstatic. But Ailes isn’t like most –- or really, any -– other top cable news executives. A visionary in the world of political messaging on television, Ailes had advised three past Republican presidents on how to use the medium to their advantage. And now he planned to use his talents for the party once more.

With the exception of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Ailes had privately knocked the 2008 Republican field as the “seven dwarves” and wasn’t impressed with the crop of 2012 contenders. He unsuccessfully tried twice to convince Christie to run in 2012 and sent an emissary to Afghanistan with hopes that Gen. David Petraeus would enter the race.

During a meeting at Fox, Ailes told candidate Jon Huntsman, who had a solid conservative record as Utah governor, he was “not of our orthodoxy” because of his views on climate change. He grew frustrated with Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, who ended up sitting out the 2012 race, and had misgivings about the party’s eventual nominee, Mitt Romney. Ailes once privately told a Fox host that Romney is “like Chinese food — 20 minutes after you eat it, you can’t remember what you had.”

How Ailes tried to get a Republican president elected in 2012 is revealed in The Loudest Voice In The Room, author Gabriel Sherman’s sweeping biography of the television luminary, from his humble Warren, Ohio, roots to becoming the “most powerful opposition figure in the country.” The book will be on sale Tuesday.

Sherman recalls Ailes’ early days as a young hot-shot producer on the “Mike Douglas Show” and his entrance into politics in 1968 as a media adviser to then-presidential candidate Richard Nixon, who had faltered eight years earlier in the first televised president debate against the telegenic John F. Kennedy. Sherman exhaustively covers Ailes’ career, from an upstate New York newspaper war to building the lucrative cable network where his TV instincts, ability to frame political narratives and conservative worldview all coalesced: Fox News.

Continue reading here…

Stephen Colbert Calls Out Don Lemon For Obama, Rob Ford Comparison (VIDEO)

The Huffington Post

Stephen Colbert poked fun at the various comparisons that pundits are making about the failure of the Obamacare rollout on Monday, specifically CNN Don Lemon’s recent argument that Rob Ford and Obama are in a similar boat.

The glitches in the president’s health care exchange system have been defined as the worst thing to happen to the country “since slavery,” and have been compared to numerous past disasters like Hurricane Katrina.

But Colbert’s favorite Obamacare comparison as of late was CNN anchor Don Lemon’s recent statement pinning President Obama and Toronto’s crack-smoking mayor Rob Ford side-by-side.

Lemon stated on CNN’s “NewsRoom” that “you won’t find two politicians who’ve had worse weeks…. President Obama saying ‘I’m Sorry’ over and over for his so-called signature achievement Obamacare, Rob Ford though admitting to crack– to be a crack smoker.”

To this, Colbert was completely perplexed, and called out what he believed was the absurdity in “comparing the first black president to the first blackout mayor.”

“Yeah, they’re both in trouble. Therefore it’s an entirely fair comparison,” he mocked. “The same way that since they’re both on video, it’s fair to compare Don Lemon’s reporting to this dog milking a goat.”

Watch the video for the full clip. 

WAPO COLUMNIST SMEARS INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE!

richard cohen
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 20: Exterior view of the Washington Post building on L street on February, 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images) | TDB

Some people are stubbornly myopic when it comes to accepting *social norms.  However, Cohen’s article is pure vitriolic dribble.

The Huffington Post

Richard Cohen Writes Yet Another Racist Column

Richard Cohen is back at it again, this time with incendiary comments about interracial marriage and lesbians.

In his November 11 column in the Washington Post entitled “Christie’s tea-party problem,” Cohen said that the GOP has had trouble embracing some of the country’s cultural shifts. He wrote:

Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.

deBlasio campaign ad…

*In fact, according to a Gallup poll conducted earlier this year, 87 percent of Americans approve of interracial marriage between blacks and whites.

Two scandals deflated, one persists

Salon – Joan Walsh

The Obama administration started Tuesday mired in three scandals the GOP seemed able to tie “into one ‘Big Brother Obama’ storyline,” in the words of Greg Sargent, and ended it appearing to face political culpability on only one, the Department of Justice’s broad subpoenas obtaining phone records from the Associated Press. It’s not to say Benghazi or the IRS mess went away, but the GOP’s creepy plot line got a whole lot less plausible.

The Benghazi “scandal” lost velocity thanks to CNN’s Jake Tapper reporting that an email key to the notion that the White House doctored talking points to protect the State Department didn’t at all read the way ABC’s Jonathan Karl reported it. Karl quoted White House national security communications advisor Ben Rhodes’ email specifically saying the talking points should “reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department,” but the actual email obtained by Tapper didn’t mention the State Department at all. Karl ended the day with the shocking admission that while he’d reported on air that he’d “obtained” the emails in question, and wrote online that he’d “reviewed” them, in fact he’d only heard about them from the notes of a source – presumed to be a House GOP staffer.

Amazingly, Karl insisted Tapper’s reporting didn’t challenge the basic facts of his story, even though he acknowledged for the first time that he hadn’t actually “obtained” or “reviewed” the actual emails, but rather had notes about them read to him by his source. The fact that Karl put the purported email from Rhodes within quotation marks – which in actual journalism means you’re reading a direct quote from someone – seriously damages his credibility. But the ABC reporter reported concluded his self-defense by blaming the White House for failing to release all the emails – rather than blaming his source for misleading him, or himself for misleading his readers by using quotes around the Rhodes email.

Here’s hoping ABC News explains why the paraphrased depiction of notes about an email from a hostile source wound up within quotation marks attributed to Rhodes, and whether that’s the news organization’s policy.

On the IRS mess, the day closed with the release of the Inspector General’s report on the improper review of applications by Tea Party-related groups for tax-exempt “social welfare” status. The report blamed “inadequate management” for the review process, which began under Bush-appointed leadership, and it reads like everyone’s worst nightmare of incompetent government. But it finds no evidence that anyone higher than middle management was responsible for the review. Moreover, although it’s clear that groups with Tea Party or Patriot in their names came in for more scrutiny and delay than most liberal groups,  more than two thirds of the groups flagged for review had nothing to do with the Tea Party. And none of the conservatives were denied tax-exempt status, though many faced long delays.  Ironically, the only group that saw its status denied (for 10 of its chapters) was Emerge America, which works to elect Democratic women to office.

Within hours, President Obama sent a scathing statement about the IG’s findings, calling them “intolerable and inexcusable” and promising that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew would make sure all of its recommendations to correct the flaws in the IRS’s review process were implemented.

It’s the DOJ’s subpoena of phone records for 20 AP phone lines used by at least 100 reporters, in pursuit of a government official who leaked information about the U.S. foiling another al Qaida underwear-bomb plot, that has the capacity to damage the Obama administration. This White House is already shadowed by the fact that it has prosecuted more government “leakers” – also known as whistleblowers – than all previous administrations put together.

As Marcy Wheeler explained in Salon, the DOJ’s own guidelines require it to go directly to the news agency in question with its subpoena, which would have given AP the right to negotiate over it, or challenge it in court. The DOJ may subvert that requirement if going to the news agency would “pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation.” Since the investigation into the identity of the leaker was already big news – in fact, congressional leaders in both parties had demanded it – it hardly constituted a secret operation that would be blown by negotiating with the AP.

So did Tuesday’s developments on the Benghazi and IRS fronts break scandal fever in the Beltway? Sadly, no. On Wednesday MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” remained scandal central, setting the day’s agenda. The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank’s wispy, fact-light “President Passerby” seems to be the top talking point: Even if some of the smoke is clearing, Obama hasn’t done enough personally to put out the fires. That’s leading the Drudge Report as I write.

Obama is not without blame here; the AP scandal particularly seems to stem from his administration’s overall approach to secrecy. With hindsight, he probably should have directed Jack Lew to take bolder steps on Friday night, when the IRS story broke. On Benghazi, the Beltway is determined to punish the president for insisting the talking points scandal is a “sideshow” – when that’s exactly what it is.

As I wrote Monday, before the AP news, some of the same bad actors who paralyzed the country during the Clinton years over phony scandals are getting ready to do it again. It’s too bad the genuine overreach by the DOJ is going to give some progressives understandable pause about wholeheartedly defending the administration. But people need to acknowledge that two of these three scandals were concocted by the GOP outrage machine.

Meanwhile, the headline crawl on “Morning Joe” announced: “U.S. deficit shrinks far faster than expected.” But the words sat there silently, drowned out by noise about mostly made-up scandals.