“The Dumbing Down of Democracy” or “The Continuing Death Spiral of the Corporate Media”

(Note in advance: I do not vote. I am not a member of any political party. I don’t care whether your favorite party, candidate, or policy takes a flying leap off of a bridge tomorrow while whistling Dixie.)

I don’t post in this category often. The longer I live, the more convinced I am that unless you have the power to make policy, arguing over politics is just masturbation with more headaches and fewer rewards.

With that in mind, I present to you “The Dumbing Down of Democracy”, written by Timothy Egan of the New York Times. Like any good niche masturbation aid, it satisfies its fetishists and baffles the hell out of people with different tastes. In this case, it gives TEAM Blue some more mental lubricant with which to pleasure themselves to the notion that they are more intellectually rigorous than any given TEAM Red member in general and Trump supporters in particular. Mostly, it’s just a lot of effete snobbery aimed at people who actually work for a living and don’t have the time or the interest to keep with the latest nonsense from the Versailles on the Potomac, Washington D.C.

Are you smarter than an immigrant?

Smarter than some, dumber than others.

Can you name, say, all three branches of government or a single Supreme Court justice?

Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary. And do you mean the United States Supreme Court? One of the Supreme Courts of the states?

I’ll go ahead and name the current eight, just for shits and giggles: Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Breyer, Kennedy, Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Kagan. (R.I.P. Antonin Scalia)

Most Americans, those born here, those about to make the most momentous decision in civic life this November, cannot. And most cannot pass the simple test aced by 90 percent of new citizens.

I imagine most couldn’t ace a simple high school geometry test either and for the same two reasons: First, the 90% who aced the test studied diligently to retain the information and were motivated to know it in order to obtain citizenship. Second, political trivia is not relevant to most people’s daily lives.

Well, then: Who controlled the Senate during the 2014 election, when control of the upper chamber was at stake?

The Democrat Party, specifically Harry Reid.

If you answered Dunno at the time, you were with a majority of Americans in the clueless category.

Is this screed actually going somewhere? Or will we just continue to thumb our noses at the filthy, unwashed peasants?

But surely now, when election news saturation is thicker than the humidity around Lady Liberty’s lip, we’ve become a bit more clue-full. I give you Texas. A recent survey of Donald Trump supporters there found that 40 percent of them believe that Acorn will steal the upcoming election.

Acorn? News flash: That community-organizing group has been out of existence for six years. Acorn is gone, disbanded, dead. It can no more steal an election than Donald Trump can pole vault over his Mexican wall.

Dead in the same way the zombies from the Walking Dead. An exerpt from an article published in Winter 2014 issue of Non-Profit Quarterly entitled “Death or Reincarnation? The Story of ACORN”:

What does one do when an organization is getting ready to close yet the issues it addressed in the community are still unresolved? This is the question many ACORN chapters began asking in 2010, when the organization readied to close its doors. Two of ACORN’s largest chapters, in New York and California, were the first to separate from the umbrella organization, with many others following suit shortly thereafter.

ACORN’s California chapter, which represented about an eighth of ACORN’s national membership, changed its name to Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE) in January 2010. The newly founded group supported a comparable mission, was staffed by many of the same employees who had worked for ACORN, and was mostly funded by the same donors. The former head organizer for the California chapter, Amy Schur, was named executive director of ACCE.10

Suspicions abound that ACORN is still alive and well, hiding behind alternative names of the “new” organizations. Darrell Issa, California Republican representative on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a written statement to Fox News likening these metamorphoses to a “criminal” who changes his or her name but continues to operate much as before. Issa described the new entities as remaining, when it came down to it, the same corporation with the same board, staff, and people—in other words, with having changed in name only.11

Issa was not alone in declaring his concern. The Capital Research Center reported that ACORN is still being led by Wade Rathke at ACORN International (under the name Communities Organized International [COI]) since 2005.12 Additionally, Cause of Action, a nonprofit that focuses on government accountability, keeps a list of rebranded former ACORN entities, still-active ACORN entities, and ACORN allies on its website. As of August 2012, the website listed 174 active organizations.13 (The list has not been updated since that time.) Two of the active organizations, Affordable Housing Centers of Pennsylvania (AHCOPA) and ACTION United, are currently housed where the former ACORN chapter of Pennsylvania called home. While AHCOPA’s executive director Kenneth Bigos says that the organization does not have direct ties to ACORN, AHCOPA’s website states that the organization has been operating since 1985, which is the same year that ACORN’s housing branch started operations.14 In contrast, ACTION United’s website puts its establishment date as 2010.15 AHCOPA’s website lacks any information linking it to ACORN, while ACTION United’s website clearly acknowledges the link: “ACTION United was formed in April 2010 by staff and former leaders of Pennsylvania ACORN, which was destroyed by right wing forces angry at the 1 Million voters registered by ACORN nationally in 2008 and the results of that voter engagement. Seeing a strong need to continue the work done by PA ACORN for over 30 years, ACTION United has continued to employ much the same organizing model as ACORN.”16

Dead in name perhaps, but its dubious work is apparently being carried out by a host of successor organizations.

We know that at least 30 million American adults cannot read. But the current presidential election may yet prove that an even bigger part of the citizenry is politically illiterate — and functional. Which is to say, they will vote despite being unable to accept basic facts needed to process this American life.

Interesting point. Let’s look a little closer at that 30 million figure. The number comes from some statistics done in April 2014 by the Department of Indoctrination…excuse me, EDUCATION in conjunction with the National Institute for Literacy. According to the numbers, it’s actually 32 million (14% of the adult population).

Here’s where it gets fun.

Of that 32 million 41% are Hispanic, 24% are Black, 9% are White, and 13% are “Other.”

Shame on you, Timothy. Picking on likely Hillary voters like that. Because that is the narrative, right? TEAM Blue loves the brown people, which is why the brown people owe TEAM Blue all their votes. But TEAM Blue doesn’t love them enough to teach them how to read.

Shame, shame, shame.

“There’s got to be a reckoning on all this,” said Charlie Sykes, the influential conservative radio host, in a soul-searching interview with Business Insider. “We’ve created this monster.”

Way to cut a quote out of context, Timothy. Charlie Sykes, another jilted Cruz lover from Wisconsin and one of the founding fathers of the mercifully short-lived #NEVERTRUMP hashtag-cum-movement among business-as-usual TEAM Red, clarified and elaborated on his actual point after the interview:

This is, of course, only part of the story: the media itself has contributed mightily to the destruction of its own credibility by its bias and often curdling contempt for conservative ideas and conservatives themselves. They have spent years crying wolf, and now should not be surprised that a large portion of the electorate simply no longer pays attention, even when the wolf turns out to be real. My point was that rather than simply attacking the instances of bias in the media, we have succeeded in de-legitimizing the media altogether. Unfortunately, this means that there are few, if any trusted referees at a moment when we most need independent, credible arbiters of truth.

I agree with Sykes only partially: The wounds on the credibility of the Corporate Media (ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FOX, etc.) have almost been entirely self-inflicted. Talk radio, the internet, social media, and independent/guerrilla journalism were just the instruments of their self-inflicted wounds. The corporate media propagandists, drunk on self-importance and delusions of Government by Journalism, have expended more blood and ink in defense of the Statist-Progressive narrative than their own credibility. When caught, they issue terse non-apologies or, as Dan Rather famously declared before his shaming and ouster from CBS, that their propaganda was “fake but accurate.”

Trump, who says he doesn’t read much at all, is both a product of the epidemic of ignorance and a main producer of it. He can litter the campaign trail with hundreds of easily debunked falsehoods because conservative media has spent more than two decades tearing down the idea of objective fact.

If Trump supporters knew that illegal immigration peaked in 2007, or that violent crime has been on a steady downward spiral nationwide for more than 20 years, they would scoff when Trump says Mexican rapists are surging across the border and crime is out of control.

That’s right. Illegal immigration did peak in 2007 at 12 million. The current number is estimated at approximately 11.3 million, even with Obama taking a victory lap on the grounds that he has deported more illegal immigrants than any other President in history.

And I do scoff because it is somewhat dishonest to state that violent crime across the board has decreased for the last 20 years (which it has), without offering the caveat that the decline is less pronounced depending on geography (Usually urban areas in which Democrats hold policymaking power).

If more than 16 percent of Americans could locate Ukraine on a map, it would have been a Really Big Deal when Trump said that Russia was not going to invade it — two years after they had, in fact, invaded it.

One man’s invasion is another man’s annexation (of Crimea).

If basic civics was still taught, and required, for high school graduation, Trump could not claim that judges “sign bills.”

Wow, Trump said “bill” instead of “ruling,” or “opinion.” Somebody stop the freaking presses. This layman’s misunderstanding makes him makes him a thousand times worse than a trained attorney who has spent the last 24 years actively undermining the Constitution and the rule of law to her own profit (looking at you, Hillary).

The dumbing down of this democracy has been gradual, and then — this year — all at once. The Princeton Review found that the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 were engaged at roughly a high school senior level. A century later, the presidential debate of 1960 was a notch below, at a 10th grade level. By the year 2000, the two contenders were speaking like sixth graders. And in the upcoming debates — “Crooked Hillary” against “Don the Con” — we’ll be lucky to get beyond preschool potty talk.

And Timothy Egan and the rest of the eunuchs of the political chattering classes will dutifully lap it up, dissect it, analyze it, psychoanalyze it, then issue solemn pronouncements about the length and depth of this potty talk.

I plan to do something productive: Make myself a pizza and watch a movie.

How did this happen, when the populace was so less educated in the days when most families didn’t even have an indoor potty to talk about? You can look at one calculated loop of misinformation over the last two weeks to find some of the answer.

A big political lie often starts on the Drudge Report, home of Obama-as-Muslim stories.

Uh-huh.

Oh, I’m sorry. Are we only jumping on misstatements/gaffes when TEAM Red does it? Do I need to refer you back to that Charlie Sykes statement about media “credibility”?

He jump-started a recent smear with pictures of Hillary Clinton losing her balance — proof that something was very wrong with her. Fox News then went big with it, using the Trump adviser and free-media enabler Sean Hannity as the village gossip. Then Rudy Giuliani, the internet diagnostician, urged people to Google “Hillary Clinton illness” for evidence of her malady. This forced Clinton to prove her stamina, in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel, by opening a jar of pickles.

Grip strength is not stamina. When I was an innocent, naive young schoolboy, anyone of us could have beaten the old nuns in a foot-race easily. But if one of those old brides of Christ got a good hold on you, it was like trying to free your arm from an alligator’s jaws.

Just saying.

The only good thing to come out of this is that now, when you Google “Hillary Clinton illness” what pops up are scathing stories about a skeletal-faced rumormonger named Rudy Giuliani, and a terrific Stephen Colbert takedown of this awful man.

The awful man who contributed to that declining rate of violent crime you were just babbling about. Compare that to all of the lives saved by Clown Nose Colbert and his equally putrid forebearer in non-comedy, Clown Nose Stewart.

Please, continue.

But what you don’t know really can hurt you. Last year was the hottest on record. And the July just passed was earth’s warmest month in the modern era. Still, Gallup found that 45 percent of Republicans don’t believe the temperature. We’re not talking about doubt over whether the latest spike was human-caused — they don’t accept the numbers, from all those lying meteorologists.

Blessed be Mother Gaia and all Her works.

Of late, almost half of Floridians have done something to protect themselves from the Zika virus, heeding government warnings. But the other half cannot wish it away, as the anti-vaccine crowd on the far left does for serious and preventable illnesses.

Wasn’t the Zika virus vaccine just approved for human trials two months ago? I didn’t know that I was part of the anti-vaccine crowd on the far left, but I’m not inclined to put experimental genetically modified inactive virii in my body until someone can wave some papers in my face that reasonably assure me that I won’t die from it or my balls won’t turn black and fall off in the toilet bowl.

I’m sorry that my once-surging Seattle Mariners dropped two out of three games to the Yankees this week. I just prefer not to believe it. And look — now my guys are in first place, no matter what the skewed “standings” show. In my own universe, surrounded by junk fact and junk conclusions, I feel better already.

Pretty weak closing. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot of persuasive, thoughtful rhetoric from the Old Grey Whore. It serves its purpose, which is to give an emotional booster shot to TEAM Blue that they are so much smarter and better than those EVIL TEAM Red types voting for that EVIL Donald Trump. This op-ed met me at the level of my expectations.

What’s exasperating is that the author indulges in no introspection, especially with respect to the meatiest topic of this op-ed: the lack of credibility of the corporate media. He does a nice head-fake with the Charlie Sykes quote, which serves to indict him and the rest of the corporate media in the rise and prospering of alternative news media. Timothy Egan, like others who make their living churning out hit-pieces and propaganda for pay, failed to acknowledge, or even address, that the producers and consumers of alternative news media have a legitimate grievance when the criticize the corporate media distorting facts and misrepresenting people, going back to 1964.

Barry Goldwater wasn’t a racist. That didn’t stop the corporate media from doing everything in its collective power to paint him as such for the crime of suggesting that maybe, just MAYBE, there are some things outside of the scope of the federal government’s power. Crazy, I know. The New York Times, the Old Gray Whore, the paper of record has taken numerous shots to chin, based on slipshod reporting, misquotations, failure to fact-check, and the paper’s response has not been to reflect and say, “maybe we need to bring some ideological balance into our newsroom and editorial board, or at the very least, put some more procedures into place so that we can appear objective”; their answer has largely been “fuck you for catching us while we were trying to manipulate you.” And it’s not limited to the New York Times. Just recently, CNN was caught editing video of Sherrell Smith, sister of recently killed Sylville Smith and claiming that she was “calling for peace.” The entire video showed that she told the howling mob to go burn down the suburbs (and how much black women need weave).

The point (and thankfully, the conclusion) is that if the electorate is having trouble accepting your “facts,” it’s not because they are dumber. They have just gotten more skeptical and wary of the stories they are being told because experience has taught them that the media rarely, if ever, tells them the entire truth, or gives them the facts and let’s them decide for themselves.

Media credibility died on the altar of the Progressive narrative. If the people don’t trust you and don’t believe what you tell them, maybe the problem is you, not them.

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