Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The U.S. military has hurried 4,000 names onto the federal list of those prohibited from buying a gun following the Sutherland Springs, Texas, massacre in November in which a former airman shot and killed more than two-dozen people. The shooter, Devin Kelley, had been discharged from the military for assaulting his wife, but the Air Force failed to enter his name into a database that would have prevented him from buying firearms from licensed gun stores. In the months since the massacre, the U.S. Department of Defense has rushed to fully update the FBI's database, which is used to track personnel kicked out of the military and banned from owning firearms. A CNN investigation found the backlog was so huge that the names of 4,284 dishonorably discharged personnel have been added to the list in just three months -- a 38 percent leap, and a total of 15,597.

Sure, Republicans are only part-time deficit hawks. It's all part of the plan. read more

We have an infrastructure crisis, and the Republicans are offering a pretend answer. On consumer protection, they aren't even pretending. read more

Monday, February 12, 2018

Even Steve Bannon recognizes that female voters will punish the President for his cavalier dismissal of assault and abuse allegations. read more

New research from the University of California Davis claims that Neanderthals' lack of drawing ability compared to other early modern humans could be connected to their hunting skills, Neanderthals had large brains and were capable of making sophisticated tools, yet never demonstrated the ability to draw recognisable images. On the other hand, early modern humans created vivid depictions of animals and other figures in cave drawings. Richard Coss, a professor of psychology from UC Davis, thinks this difference could be connected to the fact that Neanderthals hunted with thrusting spears while early humans used throwing spears. read more


"[B]y running up the deficit when we don't need it, Republicans are making it impossible to increase spending when the inevitable recession comes. The only "solution" will be brutal austerity on the poor and middle class (but never the rich!). You can already hear Paul Ryan salivating at the idea of kicking millions of people off of Medicare and Medicaid while demanding Social Security be privatized," writes Justin Rosario.

As for why they're in such a rush to explode the deficit? They have to do it now because they can't rely on Trump to do it for them when the Democrats control Congress. Faced with a massive recession and an angry public, Trump is not going to naturally seek to shred the social safety net. He's going to frantically cast about for whatever will make him the hero and austerity isn't it. Remember, Trump has no ideology beyond himself. If the Democrats put a bill in front of him that will make life better for the poor and middle class while closing tax loopholes for Wall Street bankers, he will sign it as long as it makes him look good with the public. Trump is a populist in the sense he will do anything that is popular and improving the social safety net while clawing back money from the rich is very popular across the political spectrum.

But with the deficit already at $1.5 trillion, a recession will push it close to $2 trillion if not over. Even the Democrats might quail at the thought of pushing the tried and true Keynesian solution of government spending to fight a deep recession with the price tag that high.

And that's the point. With the echo chamber of Fox News, AM Hate Radio and right wing hate sites blaring out a sudden renewal of deficit hawkishness, Republicans, aided by a "liberal" media that will have, yet again, completely forgotten the GOP's responsibility for the massive deficit, will scream at the top of their lungs that the nation is on the brink of collapse unless we cut all this bloated government spending on poor people. They'll probably even have the gall to demand more tax cuts for "job creators" because they're just that shameless.

It would be nice to be wrong. It would be nice to believe that the Republican Party doesn't actually despise the nation so much they would risk a total economic collapse just to achieve their political agenda of undoing the social safety net. But these are the same people that are literally protecting Donald Trump from an investigation into collusion with Russia to steal an election and allowing Russia to continue tampering with our elections because it benefits them. It's been clear for quite some time that the Republican Party has no moral or ethical line they will not cross with reckless abandon in the pursuit of power. They're not even hiding their hypocrisy anymore.

When the recession hits and Republicans start their braying for massive cuts "for the good of the nation", what you'll really be hearing is nothing more than the laughing mockery of soulless monsters demanding the lives of the poor and middle class be sacrificed on their altar of greed.

"There's no point in pining for a lost era when a small group of journalistic elites determined the national conversation; and the democratization of media has brought many benefits, not the least of which is empowering marginalized voices that had traditionally been ignored," Kirchick points out.

The uncomfortable truth, however, is that, while the Internet has given everyone a platform to tell their own stories, many abuse that new power. One result of this media fragmentation is that Americans today live in entirely different information spaces, where the conception of what's true or false depends upon what cable network one views, radio show one listens to, or website one reads. In this sense, America is beginning to remind me of places I have traveled to in the former Soviet Union, such as Ukraine, where part of the country yearns to join the European Union and another believes Europe is a homosexual-fascist despotism.

In 1964, when the segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace mounted a longshot bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, the TV networks didn't even cover his campaign announcement and The New York Times put the news on page eleven of an inside section. Half a century later, when another highly improbable figure -- who, unlike Wallace, had never even held elective office -- glided down the escalator of his Manhattan skyscraper to declare his presidential candidacy, the media covered him obsessively and has never looked away. It is not just that we live in a country where celebrities can become presidents, as the many, ostensibly serious people advocating that Oprah Winfrey challenge Trump indicate. We live in a country where the very archetype of the tinfoil-hat-wearing crackpot, whose claim to fame is standing on a street corner shouting obscenities, can have the ear of the most powerful person in the world.

The author asks:

Why did Trump succeed where Paul repeatedly failed? Trump's unique attributes as a famous, charismatic television personality certainly account for much of his victory. So, too, does Trump's razor-like focus on immigration, an issue where Paul did not stake out a hard-right stance. But another significant factor has to do with the way in which a changing media environment made easier the dissemination of conspiracy theories. When Ron Paul started his political career in the 1970s, Americans' understanding of the world was largely shaped by three television networks, a few national broadsheets, a handful of preeminent newsweeklies, and their local newspapers. A select priesthood of journalistic gatekeepers effectively determined what qualified as news.

"Over the course of the century, electronic mass media had come to serve an important democratic function: presenting Americans with a single shared set of facts," writes Kurt Andersen in his new book about the uniquely American penchant for magical thinking, Fantasyland. By the 1990s, however, the rise of the Internet, conservative talk radio, and Fox News "were enabling a reversion to the narrower, factional, partisan discourse that had been normal in America's earlier centuries." Whereas in Paul's era, Americans suffering under the paranoid style of politics had to subscribe to a whole patchwork of snail-mail newsletters (many of which can be found within the vast archive of right-wing extremist political literature where I located Paul's oeuvre), today, one need only to log onto Alex Jones's Infowars site or read the president of the United States' Twitter account to discover the nefarious activities of those really pulling the strings of global events.

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