Archive for August, 2018

Increasingly Unbearable

August 24, 2018

8-22-18 Dear Leader tweeted “I have asked Secretary of State @SecPompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.” @TuckerCarlson @FoxNews”. What is this all about? “Large scale killings of farmers”?? Analysis is not alone. Many news sources have pondered this as there is no indication of mass killings in this part of the world. Corruption in government, yes. Mass killings, no. The South African government was outraged by this reference to something that is not (remember the illegal voters and the president’s electoral commission which, along with the claims for the biggest inauguration crowd in history, just got replaced by other newer non events?). But asking the Secretary of State to closely study a non event is quite another matter (especially when you’ve recalled him from continued talks with North Korea after signaling that the breakthrough merited a Nobel Prize for the POTUS). The Washington Post gave some background to a very prickly situation in Zimbabwe and South Africa: “stretches back to the early 20th century, when South Africa’s Natives Land Act of 1913 stripped black people of the right to own land outside specific plots set aside for them. The restriction tightened during the apartheid era, as the governing National Party created desolate ‘homelands’ for black people.” Although a legal framework for land restitution emerged with the end of apartheid in 1994, the process has been “slow and riddled with bureaucratic uncertainty.”” Salon’s Chauncy Devega cites “In the Huffington Post, Jessica Schulberg and Akbar Shahid Ahmed explain that 25 years after the end of apartheid, South African whites (about 8 percent of the population) still own 72 percent of privately-held farmland, while about 10 percent of the total population — overwhelmingly but not exclusively white — control 90 percent of South Africa’s wealth.” (Trump goes full white supremacy with South Africa tweet: Does he want a “race war”? 8-24-18). Devega goes on to reference that “Meanwhile the Guardian’s Jason Burke debunks the claim that white farmers are being singled out for racist violence, writing that murders of farmers are at a 20-year low, and have declined consistently since the late 1990s. These lower numbers “contradict recent reports in Australian and other western media describing white farmers in South Africa facing ‘a surge in violence,’” he writes, adding that dozens of nonwhite farmers have also been killed in recent years.” Devega, being interested in the white supremacy motivation of the POTUS policy, disregards the global implication. Burke’s colleague at The Gaurdian takes up where Devega fails to go. The banner line of Jason Wilson’s in depth study reveals the story – White farmers: how a far-right idea was planted in Donald Trump’s mind. The far right: The idea that there is a ‘genocide’ of white farmers in South Africa was once the province of conspiracy theorists but, thanks to News Corp’s media promotion, it has moved into the policy realm (8-24-18). The incestuous relationship between News Corp, white supremacist groups and Donald Trump becomes apparent. “The Charleston shooter Dylann Roof was obsessed, like many other white supremacists, with “Rhodesia”, as Zimbabwe was known under white minority rule. As the Christian Science Monitor reported in the wake of his massacre, the fates of the two countries are “held up as proof of the racial inferiority of blacks; and the diminished stature of whites is presented as an ongoing genocide that must be fought”.” The POTUS connection lies with the former Australian immigrant, now American citizen, and loyal friend of the prez, Rupert Murdoch (founder/owner of News Corp, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, etc.). “In March, the alleged plight of the farmers became the subject of a campaign by News Corp tabloids in Australia. In a preview of Trump’s response, the News Corp intervention led the then home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, to float a short-lived proposal to give preferential immigration treatment to farmers. The move was praised by white nationalists on forums like Stormfront, and cited by rightwingers of all kinds as evidence of the issue’s importance.” “But, as in Australia, the crucial step in creating a policy proposal issue appears to have been advocacy by a News Corp outlet, in this case Tucker Carlson’s program. Indeed, News Corp now appears to be a crucial conduit for far-right ideas to reach governments. This development has been celebrated overnight by the racist far right, but so too has the whole process by which “white genocide” has become a matter of broader public debate. Earlier this year, an anonymous podcaster on the white genocide-focused “White Rabbit Radio” said: “This was the province of Stormfront five, 10 years ago, white genocide in South Africa. Now it is mainstream.”” The human toll of this collaboration of manufactured non-existent issues and episodes, and their strong armed dissemination can be evidenced by an unrelated report of the same day. Salon’s Rachel Leah headlines: Why are Fox News reporters fleeing the network? Two reporters reportedly cited objections to the direction of the network since Donald Trump became president (8-24-18). “Two Fox News reporters in the last three weeks have departed from the network, reportedly after feeling frustrated with the cable news giant’s direction and tone in the Trump era. Adam Housley, a Los Angeles-based reporter who had been a part of the network since 2001, plans to depart the network soon. Two former Fox News employees told Politico that Housley complained of a decline in opportunity for non-pundit personalities.” “Conor Powell, who served as Middle East correspondent at Fox News for nine years, reportedly left Fox News for similar reasons. Powell’s former colleague and friend told Politico that the reporter felt like network had moved away from news in favor of opinion. Both Powell and Housley’s reasons for leaving the network after years of working there, signal frustration over a network that seemed to marginalize the news and those who were reporting it, a problem that has become increasingly unbearable with President Donald Trump in office.”

The Quality Of Enabling Is Not Strained

August 17, 2018

In a recent NY Times Op Ed (The Debt-Shaming of Stacey Abrams: Our pernicious double standard on politicians who owe money. 8-17-18) Michelle Goldberg elaborates the blatant class bias found within our democracy regarding debt. This is of interest after considering Abrams’ run for Georgia Governor in the 7-29-18 posting entitled Unspoken.  Analysis isn’t considering the national debt soaring to over a trillion here. More something along the lines of the previous posting (How Sausage Is made). Goldberg writes: “But Republicans think they can damage Abrams by going after her on the issue of her personal debt, which totals more than $200,000.” She goes on to mention other candidates receiving like treatment during this midterm year, NY’s Jumaane Williams (“for owing money on a failed restaurant venture and for losing a house to foreclosure”) and Wisconsin’s Randy Brice (“faced criticism for his debt, including $1,257 in late child support that he paid off last year, as well as a 1999 bankruptcy”). The reasons for the debt are various: Abrams for her education and caring for family crisis while Brice struggled with cancer without insurance, a personal crisis. Goldberg goes on to point out that our president had 6 bankruptcies on record when he ran, his son-in-law “paid a record-setting $1.8 billion for a tower at 666 Fifth Avenue in 2007, near the height of New York City’s real estate market. His family’s company struggled to deal with the resulting debt before being bailed out this month by Brookfield, a real estate company whose investors include the Qatar Investment Authority. Any ordinary person who repeatedly squandered family money on bad bets the way Kushner has would most likely be seen as a deadbeat and a loser.” and Abrams’ GOP opponent, Brian Kemp, “a multimillionaire who is being sued for allegedly failing to repay a $500,000 loan used to buy supplies for an agricultural company he invested in.” In a nutshell, “This line of attack throws a pernicious political dynamic into high relief. The financial problems of poor and middle-class people are treated as moral failings, while rich people’s debt is either ignored or spun as a sign of intrepid entrepreneurialism.” But Goldberg’s assessment is pretty topical – class and race. “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface; of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.” (Andy Warhol) This seems to satisfy most people. Digging a little deeper we have the unspoken, but recurrent, theme of solving Ohio’s (and the nation’s) substance abuse and addiction problem – to solve a problem requires actually recognizing and admitting there is one! Analysis can’t disregard the 1%, 99% dichotomy that is America. Not included in the economic statistic of 1%, but considered as such by the SCOTUS (Citizen United ascribes personhood), would be corporate accountability, which deals with enormous sums of electronically available wealth. Recent revelations, disclosed with the Paul Manafort trial, reveal corporate eagerness to make jumbo loans (and indebtedness) to those who travel in the upper echelons of the 1%. Locally we find the 7-24-18 Newark Advocate headlining Park National announces increased income for quarter, year. The corporate person’s accountability of assets and debits is impeccable. Can as much be said for the human persons charged with running the corporate entity? ““We continue to focus on long-term plans to fuel and sustain loan growth and strong overall performance,” Park CEO David Trautman said.”” “Park National Corporation had $7.5 billion in total assets, as of June 30.” Goldberg’s double standard is rooted in a single fundamental economic standard – a bank’s assets primarily consist of the loans it has extended, the money it is owed, the interest and fees it collects. Even the POTUS mouths support for suing the enablers of addiction. What about the enablers of debt? To quote Abrams: “it’s hard for people to believe that change happens.”

How Sausage Is Made

August 11, 2018

As Analysis has repeatedly revealed, news media and journalism are for the most part fueled by ads. True, true, true, some news sources have various other means of financing their operations – religious affiliation (Christian Science monitor), grants (NPR and PBS) or hefty subscriber funding. Still, source advertising stains the news, from whatever source. A hefty source of revenue in election years are political ads, something the outlets try to disown on the Zuckerberg model of “we’re only a platform.” So the news becomes the news unwittingly and inadvertently. There appears to be no “outside” this Catch 22 pact with the devil. Yet there is good journalism that pervades this environment of easily dismissed bias. Julie Carr Smyth’s recent AP report (Democrat Richard Cordray says GOP ads in governor race false, 8-10-18) performs the balancing act marvelously. “Lawyers for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray demanded on Friday that Ohio television stations pull a Republican Governors Association ad alleging a consumer agency Cordray led secretly collected and left vulnerable Americans’ personal financial data.” “Spokesman [for the RGA] Jon Thompson said, “We stand by the ad.”” Just another example of the alt right’s victimization by a conspiracy assault on the 1stamendment? Long time news junkies will recall an analogous situation with the John Kerry swift boat ads (recent junkies ought to Google/Wiki this). Veracity of the claims hinged on the opinion of the witnesses, something implicated by time, money and political leanings. He said, she said? Older junkies will recall the sinking of the John McCain challenge to George W’s anointment as GOP presidential standard bearer. Innuendo that McCain was the biological father of a child of color spread throughout South Carolina before the 2000 primary. DNA takes time. The existence/non-existence of truth becomes irrelevant in the short span of a primary. The racist damage left a stench. Guilt by association? Classically, this is referred to as “My opponent’s sister is a thespian.” political smear from the 19thcentury. Thespian “sounds” like lesbian. And the beat goes on, damage done, when accompanied by rhythmic bible thumping. The new and improved digitalized 21stcentury version is called “fake news.” News or “fake news”? Carr Smyth is careful to point this out without actually calling it that. “The ads, paid for by the RGA Right Direction PAC, say Cordray “secretly collected personal information from hundreds of millions of accounts” and didn’t protect it. They also claim the consumer bureau was “hacked over 200 times,” presumably under Cordray’s watch though that’s not directly stated. Cordray’s lawyers wrote station managers that the claims are not true.” “The letter [from Cordray’s lawyers to the stations] notes that Cordray’s successor, Mick Mulvaney, ordered a review of the bureau’s “externally facing” systems when he took over in May and concluded they were well secured and ordered data collection to continue. The letter says the bureau was never “hacked.” Cordray’s lawyers further argue that the bureau’s collection of consumer information was not a secret but extensively debated, including at a public hearing. Cordray also wrote about it in the American Banker, noting in a 2013 op-ed that much of the data the bureau collects was already publicly available.” Carr Smyth is an excellent journalist. In our “everything is up to date in Kansas City” age, data collection and hacking go together like a horse and carriage. “Fake news”, news, or just a reminder of how sausage is made?

 

The Girl Next Door

August 5, 2018

Absent (again) from any coverage in the August 5, 2018 Newark Advocate was any news of the big event held the previous day in Genoa township (home of Newark’s former US congressman, Pat Tiberi). That evening the POTUS came to the area to hold one of his massive campaign rallies. This one was to stump for the GOP candidate anointed to fill the vacancy left by Mr. Tiberi. Multiple national media sources provided coverage. Analysis even found photos of the “faceless majority” provided by Jeremy Pelzer of cleveland.com (Here’s who we saw at Donald Trump’s Ohio rally, 8-4-18). Image perusal left one with a déjà vu all over again sensation; retro in the sense of being overwhelmed into the era and culture surrounding the origins of Hugh Hefner and the phrase “the girl next door.” Only lending credence to the creation myth was the remarkable double take of the POTUS on stage before the adulating crowd, face covered in sweat, bearing an uncanny resemblance to “The King” in his white rhinestone encrusted jumpsuit, also covered in sweat surrounded by adoring fans. Speaking of “The King,” that was likewise part of the news explosion during this same period (also not covered by Newark’s hometown media outlet). The Prez tweeted derisively about LeBron James, somewhat unexpectedly as in the past he has only had all good things to say (or tweet) about his equal, er, fellow millionaire (Donald Trump has repeatedly made it clear he has no equal). But then again, no surprise there as King James said the President was a bit divisive in a recent interview with CNN’s Don Lemon.  The Pres doubled down on his derogatory diatribe (tweet) according to one of the coverage articles of the Delaware rally by The Hill’s Morgan Gstalter (Trump: I ‘destroy’ careers of Republicans who say bad things about me, 8-4-18). Gstalter witnesses, and writes “”I only destroy their career because they said bad things about me and you fight back and they go down the tubes and that’s OK,” he [Donald Trump] added.” From the Pelzer cleveland.com article: “Philip said he and his 7-year-old son Thomas drove from Indianapolis just to attend the rally and “show support” for the president. Asked why he supports Trump, Philip said, “He says what he thinks. I mean, he’s really blunt and to the point.” Thomas chimed in: “And he’s kind of funny, too!”” James Alicie and Richard M Birchfield were pictured wearing identical “I’d rather be a Russian than Democrat” Tee shirts. “The two friends from the city of Delaware said they came out to the rally because they’ve never seen a president in person before. Asked about their shirts, Alicie (left) said he didn’t understand why Trump is getting so much criticism about Russia when Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama weren’t similarly scrutinized. Asked what he would tell Democrats, Alicie said, “To jump on board this train and give him a chance.”” Given half the chance, being OK to destroy someone because they said “bad things” is just a hop and a skip from destroying someone because they disagree with you. Gstalter shows just that by elucidating the various human detritus left in the wake of the President’s policy (after all, careers are human aspirational characteristics). Analysis finds it to be a slippery slope to eventually simply justifying the destruction of those who disagree with the central authority, who in this case happens to be the POTUS; something found in totalitarian regimes like Russia. Sigh. The imperative becomes one of only having all good things to say about “the girl next door.” Failing that, Analysis concludes the choice becomes “the girl next door,” or no girl at all.