Sunday, August 6, 2017

Last Call For You Never Go The Full Goebbels

Meanwhile, the Trump regime position of White House Communications Director Minister Of Propaganda Mouth of Sauron is still open, and it looks like Tang the Conqueror has found just the guy jackass neo-Nazi fascist for the job.

Stephen Miller, a senior policy adviser to President Trump, is reportedly under consideration to succeed Anthony Scaramucci as White House communications director.

Miller isn't the frontrunner for the job, Axios reported Saturday. But White House chief strategist Steve Bannon reportedly likes the idea.

Miller, a former staffer to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), received praise from his colleagues after sparring with CNN reporter Jim Acosta during a press briefing Wednesday.

In that exchange, Miller fiercely defended a White House-backed bill that would establish a merit-based immigration system and accused Acosta of having a "cosmopolitan bias."

Trump applauded Miller's performance at the press briefing, according to Axios. The president was also pleased with Miller's combative performance during a series of appearances on the Sunday news show circuit earlier this year.

We go back to the end of May and Bill Cohan's Vanity Fair profile on Miller for a reason, here's a guy whose claim to fame was the unwavering defense of Duke's lacrosse team a decade ago.

Into this conflagration of economic, racial, and sexual politics came Stephen Miller, a 20-year-old Duke junior from Santa Monica, California, who wouldn’t have known a lacrosse stick if he were hit over the head with one. A columnist for The Chronicle, the Duke student newspaper, Miller defended the lacrosse players in print, despite nearly universal condemnation of them by others on campus and in the media. His outspoken support for the players—even before the indictments were handed up—got him plenty of national media attention, which he enthusiastically embraced. As he expounded nightly on CNN and on The O’Reilly Factor, among other television shows, it became apparent that the sordid allegations surrounding the case gave Miller the perfect opportunity to hone the right-wing political views he had espoused since adolescence. His passion for American exceptionalism and racial superiority eventually led him to jobs in Washington, D.C., first as a spokesperson for two right-wing members of Congress, Michele Bachmann and John Shadegg, and then as a policy adviser and communications director for conservative Alabama senator Jeff Sessions, now the U.S. attorney general. Sessions, with Miller at his side, almost single-handedly killed the 2013 bipartisan immigration-reform bill that would have created a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Now, at 31, the still-single Miller is President Trump’s youngest senior policy adviser, with his own office in the West Wing and a seat at the table during crucial decisions.
His most visible act in that job so far was helping his friend Steve Bannon, for the moment Trump’s chief strategist, to craft and roll out the Trump administration’s first try at instituting a travel ban on the citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. In the wake of a federal judge’s decision to strike down the ban, Miller was ubiquitous on television news shows. In one astonishing interview, dressed in his trademark dark suit and skinny tie, Miller told CBS’s John Dickerson, without irony, “Our opponents, the media and the whole world, will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.”

It was a jaw-dropping statement, even by Trumpian standards. “Horrendous” and “embarrassing” was how Joe Scarborough, the co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, described Miller’s claims, adding for good measure, “[The president’s decisions] will be questioned, my young, little Miller. They will be questioned by the court. It’s called judicial review. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote about it in the Federalist Papers. It was enshrined in Madison’s Constitution.”

Since then, despite winning Trump’s approval for his bravura performance—“Great job!” the president tweeted—Miller has been kept under wraps, more seen than heard, although he was in the Mar-a-Lago photo of Trump and his advisers authorizing the April missile strike on an air base in Syria.

And now this card-carrying white supremacist asshole will almost certainly be running the White House's propaganda mill.  The fact that he's even employed by the federal government is insulting, let alone the White House, but in 2017 the executive branch has decided that only white, male landowning Americans count (just like our founding fathers, heyo!) and there's no better face for this than Miller.

Look at the people Trump has surrounded himself with.  That's all you need to know.

Oh, and Trump TV is beefing up its anchor staff as CNN's Kayleigh McEnany has now joined the weekly state-run social media broadcast praising Dear Leader.

More of this is coming, folks.  A lot more. And it will be coming sooner and closer than you think.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is expanding its conservative-leaning television empire into nearly three-quarters of American households — but its aggressive takeover of the airwaves wouldn’t have been possible without help from President Donald Trump's chief at the Federal Communications Commission.

Sinclair, already the nation’s largest TV broadcaster, plans to buy 42 stations from Tribune Media in cities such as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, on top of the more than 170 stations it already owns. It got a critical assist this spring from Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who revived a decades-old regulatory loophole that will keep Sinclair from vastly exceeding federal limits on media ownership.

The change will allow Sinclair — a company known for injecting "must run" conservative segments into its local programming — to reach 72 percent of U.S. households after buying Tribune’s stations. That’s nearly double the congressionally imposed nationwide audience cap of 39 percent.

The FCC and the company both say the agency wasn’t giving Sinclair any special favors by reviving the loophole, known as the “UHF discount,” which has long been considered technologically obsolete. But the Tribune deal would not have been viable if not for Pai’s intervention: Sinclair already reaches an estimated 38 percent of U.S. households without the discount, leaving it almost no room for growth.

The loophole is a throwback to the days when the ultra-high-frequency TV spectrum —the part higher than Channel 13 — was filled with low-budget stations with often-scratchy reception over analog rabbit ears. That quality gap no longer exists in today's world of digital television, but under the policy that Pai revived, the commission does not fully count those stations’ market size when tallying a broadcaster's national reach.

The stage is being set for state-run, pro-Trump media. Sinclair will now be able to reach every home east of the Oklahoma panhandle with their mandated "local news" segments on how great Trump is.  The White House can reach everyone else with social media and Trump TV.  All this is happening within just six months of him taking office, and it will only get worse.

Stay tuned, as they say.

You may not have a choice much longer on that, by the way.

That's Real White Of You, Donny, Con't

Emory professor of African American Studies and author Carol Anderson pens an op-ed in the NYT today on Trump, how he got there, and why he's not going anywhere soon: white resentment and identity politics fully rule our political landscape now, cemented by the backlash against Barack Obama, and the country will continue down this dark path for some time.

White resentment put Donald Trump in the White House. And there is every indication that it will keep him there, especially as he continues to transform that seething, irrational fear about an increasingly diverse America into policies that feed his supporters’ worst racial anxieties.

If there is one consistent thread through Mr. Trump’s political career, it is his overt connection to white resentment and white nationalism
. Mr. Trump’s fixation on Barack Obama’s birth certificate gave him the white nationalist street cred that no other Republican candidate could match, and that credibility has sustained him in office — no amount of scandal or evidence of incompetence will undermine his followers’ belief that he, and he alone, could Make America White Again.

The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage — that calculated mechanism of executive orders, laws and agency directives that undermines and punishes minority achievement and aspiration. No wonder that, even while his White House sinks deeper into chaos, scandal and legislative mismanagement, Mr. Trump’s approval rating among whites (and only whites) has remained unnaturally high. Washington may obsess over Obamacare repeal, Russian sanctions and the debt ceiling, but Mr. Trump’s base sees something different — and, to them, inspiring.

Like on Christmas morning, every day brings his supporters presents: travel bans against Muslims, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Hispanic communities and brutal, family-gutting deportations, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, an Election Integrity Commission stacked with notorious vote suppressors, announcements of a ban on transgender personnel in the military, approval of police brutality against “thugs,” a denial of citizenship to immigrants who serve in the armed forces and a renewed war on drugs that, if it is anything like the last one, will single out African-Americans and Latinos although they are not the primary drug users in this country. Last week, Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions put the latest package under the tree: a staffing call for a case on reverse discrimination in college admissions, likely the first step in a federal assault on affirmative action and a determination to hunt for colleges and universities that discriminate against white applicants.

That so many of these policies are based on perception and lies rather than reality is nothing new. White resentment has long thrived on the fantasy of being under siege and having to fight back, as the mass lynchings and destruction of thriving, politically active black communities in Colfax, La. (1873), Wilmington, N.C. (1898), Ocoee, Fla. (1920), and Tulsa, Okla. (1921), attest. White resentment needs the boogeyman of job-taking, maiden-ravaging, tax-evading, criminally inclined others to justify the policies that thwart the upward mobility and success of people of color.

The last half-century hasn’t changed that. The war on drugs, for example, branded African-Americans and Latinos as felons, which stripped them of voting rights and access to housing and education just when the civil rights movement had pushed open the doors to those opportunities in the United States.

Similarly, the intensified war on immigrants comes, not coincidentally, at the moment when Latinos have gained visible political power, asserted their place in American society and achieved greater access to schools and colleges. The ICE raids have terrorized these communities, led to attendance drop-offs in schools and silenced many from even seeking their legal rights when abused.

And it's my generation who is happily embracing this.  We grew up with improving race relations, but all of that was dismantled as Republicans out of power went back to the oldest trick in the book to win back two-thirds of the states, Congress, and the White House.  At this point the Trump regime is actively hostile to the civil rights of anyone who isn't white and male, and Millennials are discovering a heady cocktail of power indeed.

And so it goes.  We're still fighting the same civil rights battles of 50 years ago because the people who needed to change didn't.

Sunday Long Read: These Kids Are Liable To Snap(chat)

This week's Sunday Long Read comes from The Atlantic with an excerpt from sociologist Jean Twenge's book on the post-Millennial generation.  Twenge calls them the iGen, the first generation completely connected to the world of social media, and they are as different from Millennials as Millennials are from Generation X.

The big thing for iGen is the smartphone, as the PC was to my generation and the TV was to my parents, and while Twenge finds iGen teens are far less likely to drink, smoke, have sex or even drive then Millennials or their Gen X parents, Twenge cautions that coming of age in the world where Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook are available 24/7 is putting today's kids at serious risk of mental health issues.

Around 2012, I noticed abrupt shifts in teen behaviors and emotional states. The gentle slopes of the line graphs became steep mountains and sheer cliffs, and many of the distinctive characteristics of the Millennial generation began to disappear. In all my analyses of generational data—some reaching back to the 1930s—I had never seen anything like it. 
At first I presumed these might be blips, but the trends persisted, across several years and a series of national surveys. The changes weren’t just in degree, but in kind. The biggest difference between the Millennials and their predecessors was in how they viewed the world; teens today differ from the Millennials not just in their views but in how they spend their time. The experiences they have every day are radically different from those of the generation that came of age just a few years before them.

What happened in 2012 to cause such dramatic shifts in behavior? It was after the Great Recession, which officially lasted from 2007 to 2009 and had a starker effect on Millennials trying to find a place in a sputtering economy. But it was exactly the moment when the proportion of Americans who owned a smartphone surpassed 50 percent. 
The more I pored over yearly surveys of teen attitudes and behaviors, and the more I talked with young people like Athena, the clearer it became that theirs is a generation shaped by the smartphone and by the concomitant rise of social media. I call them iGen. 
Born between 1995 and 2012, members of this generation are growing up with smartphones, have an Instagram account before they start high school, and do not remember a time before the internet. The Millennials grew up with the web as well, but it wasn’t ever-present in their lives, at hand at all times, day and night. iGen’s oldest members were early adolescents when the iPhone was introduced, in 2007, and high-school students when the iPad entered the scene, in 2010. A 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone
The advent of the smartphone and its cousin the tablet was followed quickly by hand-wringing about the deleterious effects of “screen time.” But the impact of these devices has not been fully appreciated, and goes far beyond the usual concerns about curtailed attention spans. The arrival of the smartphone has radically changed every aspect of teenagers’ lives, from the nature of their social interactions to their mental health. These changes have affected young people in every corner of the nation and in every type of household. The trends appear among teens poor and rich; of every ethnic background; in cities, suburbs, and small towns. Where there are cell towers, there are teens living their lives on their smartphone.

To those of us who fondly recall a more analog adolescence, this may seem foreign and troubling. The aim of generational study, however, is not to succumb to nostalgia for the way things used to be; it’s to understand how they are now. Some generational changes are positive, some are negative, and many are both. More comfortable in their bedrooms than in a car or at a party, today’s teens are physically safer than teens have ever been. They’re markedly less likely to get into a car accident and, having less of a taste for alcohol than their predecessors, are less susceptible to drinking’s attendant ills. 
Psychologically, however, they are more vulnerable than Millennials were: Rates of teen depression and suicide have skyrocketed since 2011. It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades. Much of this deterioration can be traced to their phones. 
Even when a seismic event—a war, a technological leap, a free concert in the mud—plays an outsize role in shaping a group of young people, no single factor ever defines a generation. Parenting styles continue to change, as do school curricula and culture, and these things matter. But the twin rise of the smartphone and social media has caused an earthquake of a magnitude we’ve not seen in a very long time, if ever. There is compelling evidence that the devices we’ve placed in young people’s hands are having profound effects on their lives—and making them seriously unhappy.

I'm going to say that having been around computers since I was in grade school and the internet since high school, (the glorious days of telnet, VAX terminals, America Online and my first IT job at a dial-up ISP) that the problem is less the technology and more of the people using it.  Kids can be cruel, that part hasn't changed. Kids given a platform and someone to pick on with other kids watching can be awful. Kids given the power of social media and a global audience can be lethal.

Giving that power to kids is a bad idea, but at the same time in 2017 I've made the argument on a number of occasions that the internet should be treated as a public utility, like power, water and sanitation.  You need it in order to function as a member of society, full stop.

What the solution is, parents that get involved in their kids' lives, still applies.

Our Little Domestic Terror Problem Hasn't Gone Away

This time in Bloomington, Minnesota, where "Minnesota nice" has turned into an IED through the window of an Islamic center and detonating.

A blast caused by what the FBI called “an improvised explosive device” rocked a Bloomington Islamic center before dawn Saturday, just as a small group of Muslim worshipers had gathered for the day’s first round of prayers.

No one was hurt in the explosion, which heavily damaged an imam’s office at the Dar Al Farooq Center and sent smoke wafting through the large building. Windows in the office were shattered, either by the blast or by an object thrown through them.

The blast was reported at 5:05 a.m. as about a dozen people gathered in a room nearby for morning prayers and jolted awake many residents of the neighborhood. Congregants and neighbors expressed relief that there were no injuries, but also reacted with shock and dismay.

When police arrived, they found smoke and fire damage to the building, said Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts. Agents from the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives soon joined the investigation. A large area outside the center was taped off as investigators, including members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, combed through the grass.

At an early evening news conference, Special Agent in Charge Richard Thornton said an “improvised explosive device” caused the blast, but that investigators still must determine “who and why.”

“The post-blast environment is very detailed,” he said. “You search the wide area in an attempt to find as many components as you can of the device to help us understand how the device was made. That process is substantially complete. … It was an improvised explosive device that was set off early this morning.”

Hopefully the FBI will track this bastard down, but as to the why, well, welcome to Trump's America, where both immigrants and Muslims are targets for ongoing violence sanctioned by the man currently on a 17-day golf vacation.
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