Sinclair Buys Tribune; Boot Synergistically Crushes Independent Media, Forever

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I’m not going to romanticize Tribune, Inc, they of the TRONC-ish nightmare and the propensity to lose their damn mind, but being bought by Sinclair Media is a disaster.  This is the type of media consolidation that is the death-knell of democracy.

Part of it is, of course, that Sinclair leans very hard to the right, having made a deal with the Trump campaign for interviews across the board in exchange for favorable coverage and softball questions. This friendship was rewarded with even deeper ties (something I missed until just now).

The conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group’s announcement that it hired former White House aide Boris Epshteyn as its chief political analyst suggests a move to deepen its ties with President Donald Trump’s administration.

So I’m guessing we aren’t exactly going to get in-depth coverage of this administration out of the nation’s largest media company, who own at least one affiliate in every media market, and now have bought one of the nation’s other largest media company.

Their ties to a hideous right-wing admin are bad enough, but it might not be useful to think of them simply as right-wing. They are in a way more insidious. Their entire corporate ethos is aligned against thought, against inquiry, and against anything that doesn’t support the bottom line. They are the quintessence of corporate media, perpetuating a thoughtless status quo. Actual journalism is anathema.

You can see that in their radio empire, which has helped to make every other station in America dental-office bland, with the exact same DJ teams playing the exact same songs (when they even have DJs, that is) across the country, an endless aural strip mall. That’s their vision of the media. It is inherently right wing, because it enforces conformity. It might not be the ravaging alt-right horde or embrace the racism of Jeff Sessions (indeed, it embraces the bland multicultural appeal of a Coke commercial), but by destroying independent media and actual journalistic inquiry, and by embracing ties to the powerful as a means of profit-driving leverage, it allows for shameless goons like Trump to flourish.

The beige boot of corporate conformity is embodied in this almost-parodic statement, which might as well serve as the epitaph for American journalism.

“This is a transformational acquisition for Sinclair that will open up a myriad of opportunities for the company,” said Chris Ripley, president-CEO of Sinclair. “The Tribune stations are highly complementary to Sinclair’s existing footprint and will create a leading nationwide media platform that includes our country’s largest markets. The acquisition will enable Sinclair to build ATSC 3.0 (Next Generation Broadcast Platform) advanced services, scale emerging networks and national sales, and integrate content verticals. The acquisition will also create substantial synergistic value through operating efficiencies, revenue streams, programming strategies and digital platforms.”

EPA Replaces Scientists With Industry; Embraces Cartoon Villainy

 

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“Yeah, but those regulations were super onerous…”

 

The phrase “you can’t make this up” is overused, since these days, all you have to do is imagine the worst possible idea being enacted by the worst possible people, and you have a pretty close approximation of reality. Right, NY Times?

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has dismissed at least five members of a major scientific review board, the latest signal of what critics call a campaign by the Trump administration to shrink the agency’s regulatory reach by reducing the role of academic research.

A spokesman for the E.P.A. administrator, Scott Pruitt, said he would consider replacing the academic scientists with representatives from industries whose pollution the agency is supposed to regulate, as part of the wide net it plans to cast. “The administrator believes we should have people on this board who understand the impact of regulations on the regulated community,” said the spokesman, J. P. Freire.

What’s interesting here is how they don’t even pretend to be talking about citizens anymore. Normally, they say things like “those egghead bureaucrat scientists in Washington DC don’t understand the kind of water that we enjoy here in Mudville. Our citizens are just fine with a little bit of cadmium in their soup.” But that’s not even what J.P. Freire is saying. He’s talking about the “regulated community”, i.e., the businesses themselves. It might be a different definition of “community” than you or I understand, but remember, my friend: corporations are people.

There’s not even anything to unpack here; there’s not even the tribute vice pays to virtue. They are straight-up saying that any regulations will be vetted by the people whose profits are impacted by regulations, and how that is the only concern.

It’s a pretty clear baseline. What matters is the impact regulations have on the bottom line of the company. The baseline isn’t what deregulated pollutions has on the humans who lives around the company. That is, at best, secondary. That’s not the impact that matters.

So it doesn’t matter, just to take a quick jaunt around recent headlines, that:

None of that matters (the attack on indigenous rights might actually be a bonus for these jackals). What we need are fewer regulations, and they should be vetted by the industries themselves.

It’s easy to see the counterarguments. More regulations are job-killing, and these plants and factories and industries are the lifeblood of the community, and if those science pinheads continue to ram their globalist climate-hysteric ideologies down our throats, we’ll be forced to close shop and go pollute Mexico. And why should the Mexicans get all our good pollution?

It’s a seductive argument, except it is also a completely phony one. The choice isn’t between “pollution and jobs”; it is between “pollution or slightly reduced profits.” It’s always been a lie that a company can’t follow simple environmental regulations. They made the same argument when smokestacks were regulated to reduce deadly smog, and industry didn’t collapse. It’s a choice made by companies to chase greater profits by moving to deregulated countries.

Reducing or eliminating regulations doesn’t actually help anyone. There will always be a place that cares even less about its citizens, that slashes regulations, that lets you dump paint right into the well. That the US is rushing to join these countries isn’t pro-worker; it is showing absolute contempt for the worker. It’s saying “you can keep your job, but only if we can lower wages, kill your collective bargaining rights, and poison you and your family, working you until you die young or are too broken to be of use.”

That’s Scott Pruitt’s vision of the future. It’s another reason why this administration has to be resisted at every step. Everything they do is carcinogenic. That’s unfortunately too often literal.

Sociopaths Celebrate Human Immiseration: The Healthcare Repeal in Three Images

We did it, boys! 

What I can’t get over is how happy they are with themselves. With their cheering and backslapping, the popping open of Bud Lights, and the sense of a job well done. These are people who are thrilled with today’s work of rushing through a terrible bill that will take healthcare away from tens of millions of people, leading to more sickness, bankruptcy, and death. They honestly could not be more pleased.

Part of it, of course, is because their ideology makes them want to hurt everyone who isn’t rich so the wealthy can become even more so, even if it is, for them, just a rounding error. Putting a cool couple of million in the pockets of billionaires is worth destroying the lives of poor, regardless of race.

But of course, the main reason they are so happy, is because they think this sticks it to Obama, their literal bete noire. They want to tear him down, destroy his legacy, and trample the progress that he represented (not to mention, for ideological reasons, the progress he actually achieved). He was an aberration to their sense of what the country should be (run by, and to the benefit of, white men). They want to make him a distasteful footnote.

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We did it, Paul. Me and you. Linked together forever. 

And that’s why Trump is so important. He’s a useful idiot, to be sure, one whose mental sickness is perfectly aligned with the GOP. He hates Obama, because Obama is the opposite of Trump in every single way. Obama is the living example of merit, of intelligence, of class and dignity. He is the best of us, and Trump is the worst. He’s a man who earned nothing his coddled life. The GOP might find him obnoxious, but more than being someone who will help them save the rich, he’s a living rebuke to Obama.

That’s why this quote is so telling.

“I don’t know if you remember what [then-Vice President Joe] Biden whispered in the President’s ear back when he was signing [the Affordable Care Act],” Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX) asked reporters, referring to Biden’s “this is a big f-cking deal” hot mic moment.

“This is a bigger deal than that,” Flores said before Thursday’s vote.

Now, obviously, in a real sense there is no way today’s vote is a bigger deal. Already, their bill is mooted. The Senate is going to write their own, and then they are going to parlay and compromise and the House lunatics will cry traitor and Ted Cruz will grandstand and Lindsay Graham will say some thing, and maybe there will be a bill that can pass both houses, but mabe not. In a real sense, for the GOP, this isn’t something to celebrate. They’ve barely started, despite what our idiot President claims when he says “It’s dead. It’s essentially dead.”

But look at that closer. Joe Biden said something was a big fucking deal when we came closer to having full coverage than ever before, when we expanded health care. Biden said it was a big fucking deal because we came closer to the day when people could live without fear that a bit of bad luck, a sickness, or an accident at work, an open pothole, someone’s foot slipping off their brake and ramming into you because you happened to be at that intersection at that one second instead of any of the other seconds of your life, could ruin that life. Could send someone spiraling into bankruptcy and a lifetime of pain. Biden, bless him, was excited to help people get away from that. He was excited because the richest country in the world was trying to use that wealth to help each other, to unite in a common bond.

Flores thinks it is a much bigger fucking deal to get rid of that. That’s what gets him excited.

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God damn them

Look at this picture. Look at these monsters. Trump is excited because he has a “win”, regardless of what that means, and in his tiny self-obsessed mind thinks he stuck it to Obama. He thinks this means history will remember him above Obama, as a real victor. He doesn’t comprehend what he is doing to people, because people don’t exist.  This gloating, preening, self-satisfied manchild gave the sea of mayonnaise he’s facing exactly what they want. A chance to destroy the common good and the bonds that unite us as a self-governing nation.

Paul Ryan is so smugly happy about this. He’s oozing joy, with his insincere sincerity about being able to do this with Donald Trump. Louis Gohmert can barely believe his good fortune to be here at this moment. The rest of them just as excited. They’re craning their neck to hoot and holler in unison, hoping that Trump sees just how happy they are to be there with them. How happy they are to please him.

They are so eager to give him a win. To celebrate unearned wealth and undeserved fortune, and the luck they have to be born who they are in this country, to have a chance to rise up and serve the rich, and to trample on the bones of the unlucky. This image is the perfect symbol of why our country–vast and unruly and diverse, a nation that pins its hopes on luck and fears that the chasm is opening up underneath us–is doomed. The pettiest can pass something almost nobody wants. Complacency about progress is foolhardy. It can be smashed underfoot by the trampling hatred of the minority.

Obamacare might not be dead, but GOP decency had its final burial today. They made clear that they are content being the fetchservant of plutocracy, and are eager to make the rest of us suffer and die. Anyone who thinks differently isn’t looking at the same pictures.

High Risk Pools: Not Solving a Self-Created Problem

 

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High-risk pools are never good

 

I am far from an expert on (or even super knowledgeable about) health care, so I’m not exactly speaking ex cathedra here, but this to me seems like the perfect example of idiotic and deeply cruel Republican non-governance.

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders planned to hold a showdown vote Thursday on their bill to repeal and replace large portions of the Affordable Care Act after adding $8 billion to the measure to help cover insurance costs for people with pre-existing conditions…

Democrats and health care groups tried to slow that momentum. The liberal health advocacy group Families USA said another $8 billion would do little to improve the “high-risk pools” that could be set up by states to provide coverage to people with pre-existing medical conditions who could not find affordable insurance in the open market.

The American Medical Association and 10 organizations representing patients, including the American Heart Association and the advocacy arm of the American Cancer Society, reiterated their opposition to the House Republican bill on Wednesday, as did the retirees’ lobby AARP…

Mr. Upton and Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said they believed that the money in the bill would be adequate. “It’s our understanding that the $8 billion over the five years will more than cover those that might be impacted and, as a consequence, keeps our pledge for those that, in fact, would be otherwise denied because of pre-existing illnesses,” Mr. Upton said at the White House.

So, essentially, millions of Americans are counting on the math skills of Sean Spicer.

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The Ivanka Irritation in Two NYTimes Articles

 

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“Female empowerment is more than a slogan for me–it’s a brand!”

 

I actually don’t really want to focus on Ivanka Trump, but it is also sort of weird not to, in a way that reflects the grotesque weirdness of our current political moment. I keep thinking, ugh, just ignore her, she’s a self-empowerment facade, a rich kid with smooth PR, a platitudinous ghost-person who is just some barely-earned dignity above any other fake celebrity. Famous for being famous. Before 2016, I doubt I spent more than four total minutes of my life thinking about Ivanka Trump.

But then, this person is a top advisor to the President of the United States. Ignoring her because she’s a political nobody is to ignore the central problem of America at the moment: we’re being run by reality show idiots. Our country has fully empowered our idol worship, celebrity obsession, and anti-intellectual pitchforking. And while Ivanka may be pretty and say nice things, she’s as much to blame as anyone else, and in her own way as much an embodiment of what is happening to us.

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Reuters Exclusive: Trump Had Literally No Idea What Being President Was

 

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This dummy thought this was the hardest job in the world. 

 

If you polled 100 million Americans, making sure you got a cross-sample of ages, genders, races, ethnicities, income levels, political beliefs, religions, professional affiliations, and all that, and asked them: “Which do you think is a harder job? Being a reality show celebrity who sometimes calls into Fox News to talk about himself, or being the President of the United States?”, the latter would win 100,000,000 to 0, with a margin of error of one fucking guy.

And sadly, that guy is the President.

President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House.

“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

Well, live and learn! Or, live and destroy the necessary fundamentals of liberal democracy. Whatever.