Category Archives: Media

As the name implies, essays about media.

This Can’t Be Happening

I am about to tell you something you already know. Pretend, when you read it, that you didn’t already know it and are just finding it out for the first time.

One of the two political “sides” or what used to be “parties” in the United States is telling almost 100% lies. They have chosen to not participate in reality as we know it.

Not Trump. The entire Republican Party, at least all I can see from here. Even the Never-Trumpers live so far off in a maze of untruth and outright fiction that one really cannot have a conversation with them. It is worse than not sharing a common language: Republicans refuse to acknowledge the existence of everyday reality. They have Alternative Facts. Their entire public position is One Hundred Percent Fiction, or close enough for the FDA.

***

Science is real. We’ve had that argument. We had it from about the 12th through 16th or 17th Centuries. That is a done deal. Denying science is one hundred percent a lie.

This is where I’m supposed to produce a convincing case for science, because of course the other side is worth rebutting.

No.

It’s bullshit. Even having the conversation is bullshit. A people cannot govern themselves when at least half of everything they are told is empirically false. It cannot be made to work. Presenting the opposing case is a waste of time and energy.

I’m pretty sure they all know they’re lying. They’re not that stupid. They just figure they’ll be dead before reality catches up with them. The young ones better not plan on getting very old. It’s here now.

***

Everybody knows tax cuts don’t balance the budget. There is no case in history where tax cuts can be shown to have improved an economy. The harder it is tried the worse it fails. Kansas tried it real hard, and it was an abject failure.

Republicans say, “We’re going to cut taxes to get this economy moving,” and everybody pretends there might be some truth to that. But everybody knows it’s a lie. They know it. Unfortunately not all the suckers on the sofas know it’s a lie. The reporters and talking heads know it. It’s just another lie. Alternative Facts were here a long time before Kellyanne Conway.

They are stealing your money. T-Bills provide an unending, streaming, upward redistribution of wealth.

Don’t say, “Trump.” Don’t say, “Fox.” I’ll bet you that for a thousand times various Mitch McConnells and Paul Ryans and Some Talking Heads say “tax cuts… get the economy going,” never once does the moderator say, “No it won’t. Everybody knows that. Kansas. We’re tired of your lies.”

I understand that politicians make rosy scenarios. I understand that politicians, try though they might, can’t make all their promises come true. Welcome to real life. What we are going through today is fundamentally different. One party is basing their entire position on a broad fabric of empirical lies. Denying arithmetic and the public record is not the moral equivalent of figuring out you have to raise taxes. No.

***

They lie about science. They lie about the economy. They lie about the debt. Every Republican in Congress knows Absolutely For Sure that no President ever spent one dime of that borrowed money. Congress spent it. Republican Congresses borrowed and spent it. We were in tolerable, although not great, shape regarding debts and deficits when Republicans took over Congress in 1995. Now our debt looks like Greece.  (OK not quite.) This really matters. Any sensible person would be at least concerned.

The Republicans borrowed it. All of it.

On purpose.

They cut taxes so they didn’t have enough income to run the government. They borrowed the difference.

This is the simplest arithmetic, written in the Congressional Record for all to see.

A people cannot govern themselves when one of the contestants for leadership bases every single concept of their program on out-and-out lies. It cannot be done.

***

Republicans run for government, get elected to govern, and still say government is terrible. The government can’t do anything. Government is an imposition on an otherwise blissfully unencumbered citizenry. Government is supposed to be Small. The Constitution Says So.

The government of the United States is huge, vast almost beyond comprehension. It could easily be the largest organization in the history of humankind. China might. One of the two is, almost for sure. Here is just a partial summary. At no time in their public presentations do Republicans acknowledge what government does, they just pick some one tiny thing and rave about how terrible it is that we don’t have Limited Government.

The proper scope and powers of government cannot be discussed with Republicans because they will not acknowledge the existence of the very entity they are both operating and denigrating. There is no agreed on factual basis from which to have a debate.

A people cannot rationally govern themselves when the choice they are offered is between reality and outright fiction.

Some Republicans – not all, but not just fringe loonies either, some people who are considered to be “reasonable” – have publicly said that it is acceptable and Constitutional for citizens to take up arms against their government. American citizens have been told this by sitting Senators and by widely heard and seen media figures. This is utter madness. The very concept is madness. There has never been a government in world history which has had a written policy that citizens could take up arms against it, and ours is not the first one, either.

Why do we have to waste so much time on bullshit, lies, fabrications, falsehoods, malarkey – these people are governing the United States of America. There is never a day when any one of them presents a predominantly factual position on anything to the citizens. What world is this?

I don’t know what to do. Anybody got any ideas?


I take a related look at this subject in the short essay here.

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A Call for a Liberal Media

The Democratic Party, and I believe America as well, needs one scrupulously honest, unabashedly Democratic Liberal television network.

I state the following to be empirical, provable fact: Every major media outlet in the United States delivers the Republican campaign message to their readers, listeners, or viewers at least once every day. There is no major media outlet which delivers an equivalent Democratic message on a daily basis. For the Republican worldview in operation observe the photograph below.

Three guys in suits and ties and a pretty woman with bare arms

The Republicans have a system to deliver their message, their entire message, to virtually every American all the time. Not absolutely all choose to receive it, but every American who absorbs, watches, reads, or listens to mainstream TV, radio, or news internet hears the Republican message every day. I don’t care what channel you watch.

Print media isn’t that good, either, but there are some exceptions among print. There are no exceptions to my statement among major national broadcast outlets. I specifically include the National Public Broadcasting ecosystem.

The Democrats do not have an equivalent system. If an American wants to participate in nationwide media, it’s Republicanism or nothing.

Rush the Fat Guy
The Fat Guy

Americans have a choice between an unabashedly hard right media narrative, or a namby-pamby, unassertive, make believe Centrist media narrative. Under either system, Republicans are allowed to state their position on any issue every day, at length, specifically including if that position is known in advance to be empirically, provably, a lie.

So their lie gets broadcast. Again. Then Democrats are invited to talk about… their lie. And we do. Then comes the next story. And that is called “objective journalism.”

That is blatant hooey. There is no possible definition of journalism in which factual reality is not of paramount importance. Everything else is fiction. Fiction is a legitimate art form, but it must not be sold as journalism.

The Democratic Party, and I believe America as well, needs one scrupulously honest, unabashedly Democratic Liberal television network.

There is no one-party state in the world that is socially and economically healthy. We live, today, in a one party state because we have one party media.It began while we still had a Democrat in the White House. More on that here.

We need a Democratic nationwide broadcast full spectrum network, television and radio, that is better than anything they’ve got. More entertaining. Funnier. More persuasive. I’m not talking about some fusty C-Span clone where we drone on about policies. I’m talking about complete television and radio ecosystems where the news is scrupulously honest, but where our take on it is rooted and expressed in Democratic values. For example, our network does not broadcast the viewpoint that taxes are bad and plutocrats are better or more important than other people. At all. Everybody else does that; we don’t need to. Plutocrats can be ok; they’re rich; they can afford to help out.

And we’ve got to be more fun to watch than any other network.

We ought to gather up all our stars off late night comedy, which is usually the most accurate news programming ever seen outside Rachel Maddow, and put them on one network from morning to night. John Oliver. Seth Meyers, Sam Bee, Larry Wilmore, Steven Colbert, Geeze y’all, I don’t even watch TV and I know that many names. I don’t know who else, but we’ve got 24 X 7 to fill. Radio too.

Rachel Maddow, of course, and Lawrence O’Donnel. Joy Ann Reid. Gather up all our stars on one network. Get Al Franken to do a weekly radio program. I’m serious.

Everybody crawl on their bellies to Jon Stewart and beg him to come out of retirement for a serious gig being who he is. Radio or TV, his choice.

I’m going to take the liberty here to define Democratic values. I don’t speak for every Democrat, but this is a good faith effort.

Democrats believe that a good, functioning government can solve social and economic problems that cannot be solved by any other entity.

Democrats believe that, although scientists don’t know everything there is, science is the way to bet, and that betting against science is a sure fire recipe for disaster.

Democrats believe that the very richest among us, the people who have benefited the very most from life in America, can help out the people who haven’t done as well, and can fund some other public needs like a sensible, non-carbon-based nationwide transportation system.

Democrats believe that everybody has the right to a fair shake. We don’t care where you go to church, who you love, what color you are, or what your IQ is, we believe you have a right to be warm and well fed in America and should have a realistic chance to do such work as you are capable of, and make a decent living doing it. And be left alone to live in peace.

Democrats believe that if your church says you should not do something or marry somebody then you yourself should not do that. However, nobody else is obligated to what your church believes. At all. We actually don’t care. It’s not relevant to governing.

Democrats believe that when Americans get sick they have the right to go to a doctor and get the best treatment realistically available. We also understand that everybody dies sooner or later and we should help make that transformation as easy as we can for people.

We believe that, by ratifying and agreeing to our Constitution, Americans agreed join together for our common defense and to promote our general welfare. Because that’s what it says, after which it spells out some details. Republicans stopped reading after they saw the word defense.

We don’t think government is everything, but we believe that a good functioning government is necessary for a healthy and free society. We understand that everybody everywhere lives under some government. so we think we ought to make ours the very best that we can for our people.

This latter statement is our fundamental disagreement with Republicans. We acknowledge, out loud, that government is necessary and can be good. Our viewpoint cannot be seen or heard on television or radio. And it must be if the nation is to survive. Therefore we need to own our own TV and radio network, nationwide, full time, glossy, slick, funny entertaining, and telling the news from that perspective.

On our TV network we don’t argue with Republicans. We mostly ignore Republicans. When we can’t help but notice them we make fun of them. Republicans sell their story all day every day on every TV network. We don’t help them. This country needs to hear the Democratic perspective. It is not.

Right now we Democrats discuss among ourselves whether we should maximize or minimize “identity politics”, whether we should talk to voters in red states and what we should say to them, whether we should reach out to the or a working class and which one by what color…

It makes little difference. Nobody outside the club hears a word we say. We don’t own a TV network. We don’t have a talk radio network. We are only present in the public conversation to respond to Republicans. We have no other media visibility.

We hear each other on social media. And late-night TV. We have a handful of poverty stricken, unprofessional “community” radio stations staggering awkwardly from topic to topic. They’re on our side but they’re hard to listen to.  We’ve got some obscure, nearly anonymous bloggers and essayists like me. We’ve got podcasts and YouTube channels. We reach the people who are so sure they want to hear us talk they search us out. That’s not good enough.

In America “media” means, “Television and radio.” Americans spend untold hours in their cars; radio owns that audience. The workplace environment varies widely, but there are many Americans at work at any given moment listening to radio, with a smaller number watching television. TV is king, though. The average American watches over 5 hours of television a day. Newspapers are dying like dinosaurs after the meteor.

The American mainstream media ecosystem extends from the far, hard right, to the “right of center” right. There is a fiction of objectivity which underlies this. For every Rachel Maddow there is at least one Joe Scarborough + Mika Brzeznski, and that is as good as it gets.

This essay is about the entire ecosystem known by the name Mainstream Media in America. I am emphatically not talking just about FOX. Fox is a somewhat different issue.

Regular readers know that I do not voluntarily watch, or even sit in front of while running, television. I will leave a room to get away from a television. I will sit in the hall outside the waiting room at the hospital. But I read lots of news online, which means I can’t entirely avoid TV clips. I almost never see a clip of mainstream news or near-news (the distinction is too blurry to be sure) that does not explicitly express the Republican viewpoint. If I’m seeing that much of it, the rest of you are seeing more.

Some billionaire is passing up a chance to make a ton of money here. We outnumber all the other stations’ viewers put together. Look what Maddow and O’Donnel have done, and they don’t even have strong parent company support. We desperately need one smart, liberal billionaire who’d like to earn a lot of money by saving America. Warren Buffet, got a minute?

We need a media voice that does not even pretend to treat a lie with respect. Global Warming Denier? Go away. You are too full of shit to honor with refutation. That’s been done already.

We can have panel discussions about economy, tax policy, trade policy – but no Voodoo Economists. Put Paul Krugman on a panel with two or three other economists who generally share share his worldview and discuss how to actually solve some problems. Blow off these shouting matches. Don’t you think there is a liberal audience for thoughtful discussion without shouting? Or is it Pro Wrestling as News Forever and Ever Amen?

When we report on Flynn we don’t say, “Lt. Gen. Flynn,” we say, “Registered foreign agent Flynn.” It’s equally true. In 2017 it is significantly more relevant.

Under-reported facts abound. CNN doesn’t introduce Sessions with “Perjurer.” Why not?

“Jared Kuchner, the President’s son in law…” How about “Jared Kuchner, who has twice falsified security application documents…”

Facts are facts. Somebody needs to report a few.

We need a network that airs nobody from the Republican side. Not to argue with, not to refute, not to laugh at: not. Everybody else is doing that. People want to see Republicans on TV they’ve got their whole remote to choose from. I believe it is time for a station where everybody on the air lives in reality on planet earth. I think a good marketer could sell one.

After that all we have to do is replace Google with a facts prioritized search engine.

Because it’s true: fact do have a known liberal bias. So running a no-bullshit alternative media ecosystem would be the most large-D Democratic thing we could do.

And if we don’t we’re dead.

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The Free Press Isn’t

It costs a fortune to own a media outlet in America today. Therefore, as a result, only people with fortunes own media outlets in America.

Media, plural of medium. Medium of communication. Tool for dissemination of information. Only people with fortunes are telling you anything. Any. Thing.

The various media empires are said to belong to corporations. Says so right on the website. But follow the corporate chain up, and somewhere up in the stratosphere is one billionaire or billionaire family. At the top of each media corporate chain is a billionaire. These are not faceless masses; corporations are not fungi. Every major media outlet chain in America today is primarily controlled, owned or funded by one, or a family of, very rich individual human beings.

It is not a “conspiracy theory” to say that rich people share interests, objectives, and value systems. They have things in common with one another. Rich people assign a high value to money and material wealth. That is why they are rich. Overall the richer one of them gets the richer they all get. They don’t have to hold secret meetings to agree to shield their wealth and work to make themselves richer. It is what they do. It is how they got rich; it is how they stay rich.

Every word that America has heard since the Reagan Administration has been funded by the same group of rich people. There used to be an FCC policy called the Fairness Doctrine which required that broadcast entities, in order to use the public airways, had to give roughly equal time and exposure to both sides of political questions. The Reagan Administration turned off the Fairness Doctrine. We can’t fix that. We can’t take the TV stations away from their owners, nor the radio, not even NPR. They own it all fair and square. We can’t take the newspapers away from them; most newspapers are wholly owned subsidiaries of the same media empires.

And even if we had a Fairness Doctrine it wouldn’t work anymore. Cable media do not transmit over the public airwaves. They do not have to be licensed by the FCC. The only Federal regulations affecting cable media empires have to do with how much they can charge their customers. They can say anything they want without restriction. They can lie to you all day. Fox News, for one, does exactly that.

Billionaires own or finance all the so-called “mainstream media,” including NPR / PBS. Billionaires are not going to publish and spread ideas that will cost them money. They simply are not. Billionaires are not going to give equal time to the idea that they should pay more taxes than they are now; billionaires are going to tell their audiences that taxes are bad. From their perspective taxes are bad.

Everything that the Democratic Party needs to do for the American people would require that the rich pay a fair share of taxes. If Democrats get elected it will cost billionaires money. Billionaires don’t have to conspire to give Democrats bad press. It’s in their DNA. They can’t imagine anything better.

Quit waiting for current top-level media (TV, radio, newspapers) to give Democrats a fair shake. It ain’t happening. As evidence I offer you the state and federal governments of the United States.

The Free Press, isn’t. Not the one that everybody is looking at. We can either take our minds and our destinies away from them, or we can accept the minds and destinies they give us.

The simple reality is that humans can only think with the information that is in their minds. Most of the people in North Korea really believe that they’ve got the best deal in the world. Their access to information is carefully controlled.

America’s access to information is controlled just as surely as North Korea’s is. Billionaires control it. Unlike North Korea it is legal in America to report news that does not benefit our ruling class, but Americans are so habituated to watching TV that there is little danger that ideas unwelcome to the ruling class will get a widespread audience or widespread consideration.

It goes beyond the news. Television entertainment constantly reinforces the same set of norms: rich people are better people. Poor people are pathetic, silly, and stupid. Normal families live in million dollar homes. There are no intelligent, sensible, honest, liberal working class people on television. There never will be.

The reality of American media is that they have one world view. They push it all day every day. Unless we are able to offer some alternative there will never be a Democratic majority again. Right now today it appears to me that the odds aren’t that good. I would love to be proven wrong.


The above is an edited excerpt of a longer essay in which I recommend alternatives to the media owned by the rich. If you are interested you can read the longer essay here. 

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Broken Century, Broken Reasoning

This Century Is Broken

by David Brooks

with responses by Jeff McFadden

I believe this to be fair use of an article published in the New York Times on Feb 21st, 2017

I have been reading David Brooks for years. He has a remarkable ability to see and point out the dots without ever connecting them. In this essay he has pointed out several important and real dots. I will provide the connections for you. His original text in black, my responses / annotations in blue.

Most of us came of age in the last half of the 20th century and had our perceptions of “normal” formed in that era. It was, all things considered, an unusually happy period. No world wars, no Great Depressions, fewer civil wars, fewer plagues.

He means, of course, “Most of us my age and race.” Which I am, more or less. A little older I think, but in there.

He is aware, in some vague way, that the rest of you exist, but it’s not a big deal in his world.

It’s looking like we’re not going to get to enjoy one of those times again. The 21st century is looking much nastier and bumpier: rising ethnic nationalism, falling faith in democracy, a dissolving world order.

Yup.

At the bottom of all this, perhaps, is declining economic growth. As Nicholas Eberstadt points out in his powerful essay “Our Miserable 21st Century,” in the current issue of Commentary, between 1948 and 2000 the U.S. economy grew at a per-capita rate of about 2.3 percent a year.

Yup.

But then around 2000, something shifted. Actually it started in 1980. We elected Ronald Reagan and began living according the the policies he – and David – advocate. Up where David lives they didn’t notice it for 20 years, but you could see it on the streets before spring of 1981. In the year 2000 the American system elected George W. Bush in response to his campaign promise to prevent the threat of a balanced budget via huge tax cuts on the rich. After he implemented these cuts even David Brooks could tell that the economy was in serious trouble.  In this century, per-capita growth has been less than 1 percent a year on average, and even since 2009 it’s been only 1.1 percent a year. If the U.S. had been able to maintain postwar 20th-century growth rates into this century, U.S. per-capita G.D.P. would be over 20 percent higher than it is today.

He is reporting empirical facts. It’s been rocky since the Republicans took over. He’s right. If you take the Democratic administrations out of the averages it gets even worse. Most of the growth since 1980 – and essentially all the retained growth this century – came under Democratic Party presidents. Much of that is rooted in two short intervals of Democratic Congresses and President.

There is no denying, though, that Republican tax cuts knocked the feet out from under the economy and it’s never come back. David provides clear evidence.

Slow growth strains everything else — meaning less opportunity, less optimism and more of the sort of zero-sum, grab-what-you-can thinking that Donald Trump specializes in. The slowdown has devastated American workers. Between 1985 and 2000, the total hours of paid work in America increased by 35 percent. Almost all that growth came during the Bill Clinton administration. Over the next 15 years, they increased by only 4 percent. …

Here David continues to list specific outcomes of Republican policies, from shrinking government employment, from hiring freezes and project downsizing. Those halcyon years David sees in the rear view mirror were the years when the nation built the Eisenhower Interstate System, creating jobs in every state in the Union. They were the years of reasonable taxes on the rich, which in turn funded tens of thousands of “pork barrel” projects which created jobs for the people on the bottom of the economic ladder. The sainted Ronald Reagan told the American people that “Government is the problem,” began a long process of cutting taxes on the rich, cutting spending, firing the bottom tier, cutting wages, busting unions, then going back and running through the cycle again.

David Brooks knows that consumer spending drives the economy. He knows that all those people his party and his policies have put out of work were spending money which kept the wheels spinning. He sees all the dots. In different essays on different days he points out different dots. He refuses to connect them. It is the strangest part of reading his work.

David continues with more evidence proving how his party has destroyed the United States economy for the benefit of a tiny few: For every one American man aged 25 to 55 looking for work, there are three who have dropped out of the labor force. If Americans were working at the same rates they were when this century started, over 10 million more people would have jobs. As Eberstadt puts it, “The plain fact is that 21st-century America has witnessed a dreadful collapse of work.”

Um… yeah… David’s party has controlled the House of Representatives for all but 2 years of the century so far. All revenue bills must arise in the House. For all the Bush presidency and 6 years of Obama’s 8, David’s Republican party has absolutely controlled government revenues and spending. David’s party controls an ever increasing number of states. The economy of Kansas is the shining example of unfettered Republican policies. They can’t even keep the schools open.

The Republican Party has absolutely created the economy David is writing about. He forgets his predictions of low taxes and high growth. They got exactly what they demanded. David Brooks doesn’t like how it works.

That means there’s an army of Americans semi-attached to their communities, who struggle to contribute, to realize their capacities and find their dignity. A fifty-year-old American was just entering the work force when Ronald Reagan promised that cutting taxes on “job creators” would create jobs and the wealth would “trickle down.” It never happened. An older working American today has never – never in his or her life – seen much opportunity. Clinging to the scraps they have is the best they can hope for. That or a disability check.  According to Bureau of Labor Statistics time-use studies, these labor force dropouts spend on average 2,000 hours a year watching some screen. That’s about the number of hours that usually go to a full-time job.

Fifty-seven percent of white males who have dropped out get by on some form of government disability check. About half of the men who have dropped out take pain medication on a daily basis. A survey in Ohio found that over one three-month period, 11 percent of Ohioans were prescribed opiates. One in eight American men now has a felony conviction on his record.

Yup. Republicans are Tough On Crime. They have their glorious War on Drugs. It’s easy to get locked up for drunk driving. At least the undeserving poor aren’t working on some taxpayer funded, government – subsidized high speed railway somewhere.

This is no way for our fellow citizens to live. The Eberstadt piece confirms one thought: The central task for many of us now is not to resist Donald Trump. He’ll seal his own fate. It’s to figure out how to replace him — how to respond to the slow growth and social disaffection that gave rise to him with some radically different policy mix.

The hard part is that America has to become more dynamic and more protective — both at the same time. And it’s really hard to create a dynamic economy and society when the governing party views all change to be for the worse. Most of the dynamism in the world economy today is in the renewable energy sector or high speed rail; David’s party denies the need for either. In the past, American reformers could at least count on the fact that they were working with a dynamic society that was always generating the energy required to solve the nation’s woes. In the past the American government believed in science and spent money to solve problems. The United States Government under the Republican Party denies the existence of global warming and stands foursquare for the preservation of existing industries regardless of the relationship to today’s problems. But as Tyler Cowen demonstrates in his compelling new book, “The Complacent Class,” contemporary Americans have lost their mojo. American workers have learned that it’s dangerous out there. For every Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates there are a million guys sitting behind glass windows in convenience stores, so American young people know they’d better go to college, get an MBA, get a nice safe career in finance, and vote for Republicans so immigrants don’t take what little they have.

Cowen shows that in sphere after sphere, Americans have become less adventurous and more static. For example, Americans used to move a lot to seize opportunities and transform their lives. But the rate of Americans who are migrating across state lines has plummeted by 51 percent from the levels of the 1950s and 1960s.

Americans used to be entrepreneurial, but there has been a decline in start-ups as a share of all business activity over the last generation. A handful of mega-corporations control almost all industries. The very small per-unit profit made possible by vast economies of scale make it virtually impossible to earn a livelihood doing anything on an individual human scale. As a result Millennials may be the least entrepreneurial generation in American history. The share of Americans under 30 who own a business has fallen 65 percent since the 1980s.

Americans tell themselves the old job-for-life model is over. But in fact Americans are switching jobs less than a generation ago, not more. The job reallocation rate — which measures employment turnover — is down by more than a quarter since 1990.

There are signs that America is less innovative. Accounting for population growth, Americans create 25 percent fewer major international patents than in 1999. However, virtually all Creationism and Christian Physics textbooks are American in origin. Self-identified Conservatives advocate for more, not less, replacement of hard science with Christian science denial in public schools. Every anti-science movement on earth finds its power and funding in America. There’s even less hunger to hit the open road. In 1983, 69 percent of 17-year-olds had driver’s licenses. Now only half of Americans get a license by age 18. 1983 median family income in the US was $19,647.00 and average new car price was about $6,116.00, or about 1/3 of income. 2014 median family income was $53,013.00, and a new Subaru almost $30,000.00. So a car has gone up from 1/3 an annual income to over half an annual income. Couple that with high college debt and low entry level earnings. Cars are simply unaffordable to many young people.

In different ways Eberstadt and Cowen are describing a country that is decelerating, detaching, losing hope, getting sadder. Economic slowdown, social disaffection and risk aversion reinforce one another.

It is almost as if our economy and country have become, for lack of a better term, very conservative. Fearing change, clinging to the past, and unwilling to put forward any of our wealth to solve our problems.

Of course nothing is foreordained. But where is the social movement that is thinking about the fundamentals of this century’s bad start and envisions an alternate path? Given that “conservative” means “maintaining the status quo” it’s for sure not David Brooks’s party. Who has a compelling plan to boost economic growth? If Trump is not the answer, what is?

Real Democrats are the answer. A functioning government. Franklin D. Roosevelt. Lyndon B. Johnson (without his stupid war.) Borrow a leaf from Eisenhower (a Republican President working hand-in-hand with a Democratic Congress) and build the 21st Century Interstate High Speed Railway into every state and every major city.

Peel some cash off the top of the heap and inject it at the bottom. Money doesn’t trickle down, it floats up. Everybody knows that. Hire regular people to do jobs.

Every bad thing David Brooks sees in America is real. He is right about all of it.

The Republican Party has created it all. It appears that they got exactly what they wanted.  As long as they remain in power it is not going to get any better.

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Objective Reporting

Objective reporting is the act of reporting objective fact. All other definitions are either error or falsehood.

The act of passing on known falsehood without noting so is not objective reporting. It is something, but it is emphatically not objective reporting. I don’t care what they told you in journalism school or the human resources department of your company.

I write to inform and I write to persuade. I admit it. I think humankind could always do better, and I write to suggest ways we might do so. I always hope to reach you, the reader, and to engage you with fact, with reasoning, and with opinion. All of it I do by the use of language. I am aware of my objectives when I write. Would my work be considered to be objective writing? No?

Well, then, how about this view: Objective is the opposite of subjective. To be subjective is to inject oneself into writing, to be objective is to keep oneself out of it. Most of my writing is subjective; I openly display my self, my ideas, my thoughts, and my perceptions of events in my writing. I make frequent use of the first person. So objective reporting would be reporting which carefully passes on descriptions of events and the words others say, for instance, without visible personal evaluation, sticking strictly to the third person. Is that correct?

I think most people in the news business today would say Yes, that is objective reporting. Keeping one’s self out of the picture.

This is one of the most harmful falsehoods of our time.

What American media does today is pick the wrong definition of the word “objective” and then perform to that definition. (In case you’re interested, my dictionary lists 8 separate definitions of “objective” as an adjective, plus another 4 as a noun.) Pretending to be an unbiased tape recorder, as if a human being could be such a thing, is not objective reporting.

Objective reporting is the act of reporting objective fact. All other definitions are either error or falsehood.

There is objective fact. Objective fact is, in the current buzzphrase, A Thing. There is empirical fact. Objective reporting would be reporting objective facts. How can it be that this must be said? We have people in our public conversation today (Newt Gingrich and Kellyanne Conway come immediately to mind) literally, specifically, and openly saying that empirical fact does not exist or does not matter.  Since I originally wrote this a couple of weeks ago Kellyanne Conway has introduced the concept of “Alternative fact” into the pubic dialog. Since she’s with the
“Alternative right” I suppose she felt it was acceptable.

Empirical facts empirically exist. As an extreme example, people who die are empirically, factually dead. Empirical facts are the only rational basis for making public decisions.

It is not objective reporting to go on the air and say, “Donald Trump said the murder rate is up 956%. Hillary Clinton said it was actually down 3/10 of 1%.” Not even though, yes, he did say, if not those words, others as bizarre. Objective reporting would be, “Donald Trump made a ridiculous claim about the murder rate, which nobody even bothered to refute.” Objective reporting is reporting which is based on objective fact and truth. Constant reliance on and reference to objective fact is the only form of objective reporting which has any claim to the name.

If there is a news source in America which operates on this standard – “Constant reference to and reliance upon objective fact” – I am not aware of it.

If someone is reporting something to me without strict regard for objective fact that person cannot in any way be said to be objective. I refuse to play that word game. It offends me.

Somebody show me some objective reporting.

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