Google News Presents Two Equal Realities (But Only One Of Them Can Be Real)

Here, Fox displays a small truth as something sinister. Unfortunately, the New York Times also didn’t get called on, so there goes the conspiracy theory.

Sometimes, it’s necessary to get above the fray in order to see what’s happening around you. So, let’s do that today, as we look at the continued failure of our culture to stop the nonsense emanating from what’s known as Fox News.

Never has the division between the haves and the have-nots been so large and so crystal clear as it is today in the United States. The silk stocking Republican elites seek absolute license when it comes to profiting off the labor of others, while the have-nots argue on behalf of themselves and their families, many of whom are at or below the poverty level. One seeks avarice; the other wants to feed their families. It’s the most visible depiction we have of the hierarchy that runs the country from the shadows.

However, the ideological meshing of working class people with the silk stockings is necessary for the Republican Party to win elections. It’s because the real matter of profit drives only business owners, but ideology can move masses, with the key conservative ideologies today being abortion, school prayer, religious freedom, and gender. This is not by accident. These people can be convinced to side with even their own oppressors in fighting what they believe to be sin. This group, we’ve learned, is easy to manipulate in the name of ideology, but let’s always remember that the party’s primary aim is license for business practices that lead to profit. That will NEVER change.

And let’s never forget January 6, 2021, for it revealed the end game of all this manipulation.

A lot of people think that right-wing Supreme Court justices are chosen by their views on abortion, but the truth is that the real litmus test for the high court is their views on business and government. So, no matter how loudly any Republican is screaming about morality, it’s a straw man shield against talking about their self-centered values, because those values are most certainly not about you and me.

The silk stocking’s wants and needs are the real issues as we try to make sense of politics — and especially media — in the months after Trump. Trump was all business, all the time. His transparent business bias, visible through his lies about anything and anyone in opposition, was rejected by the electorate last November. America is in a state of recovery now, but those lies are finding traction through the lens of so-called right-wing media, namely Fox News.

The problem is that these propaganda arms of the GOP are finding a strange form of equality with traditional media companies even though they present another reality altogether. The last time I looked, there was only one reality, so this is a bit more than problematic.

Google News, that massive news aggregator presenting an overview of important, link-worthy stories 24/7, does a massive and destructive disservice to humanity by including Fox News in its aggregator. As I noted in my book The Gospel of Self, Fox isn’t really a news organization. Just as we weren’t at The 700 Club back in the 80s, Fox is a propaganda platform for the extreme Right. Nobody seems to argue with this, but it’s very difficult to find anybody who’s actually fighting against its participation with the form of the press that has served our democracy well since the beginning. You know, the press that’s protected by our First Amendment.

The Washington Post recently offered an opinion piece with the headline: “Fox News would be in trouble without ‘actual malice’ standard.” The article references the legal defense of the press that one offended in the press must prove actual malice and not merely the presence of the offensive item in the press. It is very difficult — and deliberately so — to sue the press over libel and slander and win.

The problem with this premise is that Fox — as a propaganda arm of the Republican Party — doesn’t qualify for the standard. It is not and doesn’t even try to be a member of the press. Therefore, it is not afforded the same rights and privileges granted the press. You can’t claim to be one and then behave in a manner that says otherwise. The Fox narrative assumes that the press is the propaganda arm of the Democratic Party, which is arguably false. Nevertheless, this is foundational stuff, and their “news gathering” process is based on it.

The issues with our Southern Border are referenced by Fox as “The Biden Border Crisis.” See what I mean?

They’re treating Biden and the Democrats as they view the mainstream press treated Trump and Republicans when he was in office. Let me repeat that. Fox is treating Biden and the Democrats as they view the mainstream press treated Trump and Republicans when he was in office. This is an extreme version of false equivalency. For example, the mainstream press noted that Trump had trouble walking down ramps, so Fox makes a HUGE deal out of Biden slipping on the steps of Air Force One. It was their lead story, for crying out loud. The assertion in this false equivalence is that Biden is weak and frail (and out of touch). Anything that they view as a mainstream news political strategy (there’s no such thing) presented while Trump was in office, they are applying to Biden and the Democrats. And this is deliberate, for the worldview they espouse is one in which north is south and light is dark.

Fox and its clones are hammering Democrats over border issues left after years of fence-building bravado from the right. The assertion here is that the border is a HUGE problem that Republicans got right and Democrats have wrong. This storyline will continue for the foreseeable future. But, here’s the thing. We don’t ever talk about why the right hates immigrants. The GOP wants immigrants out, because when they are assimilated into our culture, they vote for Democrats, so the reality is that this is actually a strategy of voter manipulation. Georgia’s Republican governor signed into law a bill last week that was designed from the get-go to make it more difficult for the black population to vote. GOP leaders know they can’t win elections without help, which has been the core motivation for gerrymandering throughout our voting history.

And, let’s face it, as long as the white folks refuse to do the crummier jobs in our culture, immigrants will more than serve our society as a whole. It’s always been that way, folks.

But the drumbeat from the right is steady and strong:

  • Democrats are the socialist enemy
  • The media is liberal politically
  • The press is the enemy of the people
  • Liberals are the enemy of the people
  • Socialists are the enemy of the people
  • In politics, everybody does the same things
  • Pro-choice is pro-abortion
  • Anti religious freedom is anti-God
  • Evangelicalism is the true Christianity
  • Capitalism is the true provider of America’s greatness
  • The New World Order is anti-American

Here’s a statement that comes up in “discussions” with extreme right-wingers. “Obama got a free pass from the press (because they’re liberal).” Actually, this is quite absurd, because it assumes Rush Limbaugh’s fallacious narrative is truth, and it’s just not. Obama’s disdain for Fox News was explained in a FactCheck.org article that fact-checked the complaint.

Anita Dunn, who was then the White House director of communications, told the New York Times in an interview on Oct. 11, 2009, that Fox News was not a legitimate news organization.

“We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent,” Dunn told the Times. “As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

She also said, when asked about snubbing “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, “we’re not going to legitimize them as a news organization.”

This is the “fray” of which I wrote that we must rise above. We must view every daily drumbeat through this reality, and it’s doubly difficult due to the symbiotic relationship between the news and the business community. Simply put, you don’t see a lot of news investigations of car dealerships, right? Car dealers are BIG local advertisers, and news entities in their markets can’t afford to lose all that revenue. Practicality, it would seem, wins out in the end, and the hell with ethics.

It’s bad but not nearly as bad as deliberately presenting falsehood as news in order to manipulate consumers (and voters). How far are you willing to go in trusting anybody who spins the news for profit?

I view this as a huge question, because the generation after me will have to deal with the results.

Robert Jeffress is a Dick!

Image result for robert jeffress
Courtesy Politico

So, that didn’t take long.

America’s pastor of the white evangelical branch of Christianity, Robert Jeffress (Q) Dallas, has taken less than a month to shift the focus of his narrative away from the insurrection and back onto the good, old, unforgivable sinners of the political left. You know, those awful liberals and their socialist, communist, wealth-redistribution ideas of taking from the well-off to give to the lesser-thans, to say nothing about killing babies and forcing clean Americans to fellowship with the dirtiest kind of poor beggars and filthy sinners.

“I’m glad I’m not like that Publican over there.”

On the surface, the recent Jeffress essay on Fox Populi is about the dangers of holding on to bitterness, and Jeffress feels his followers are filled with bitterness for having been “offended” by the election results and in need of forgiveness, presumably from God. In essence, he’s saying:

I’ve forgiven myself and so has God. That means you should you, too. I’ve already turned the page on that, and look how happy I am as a result? That’s because I’ve let go of my bitterness over the election. You, too, could be happy, because we’ve got righteous work to do in making God a part of the way we ALL live 24/7. Now, let’s get to work doing the exact same things that we’ve always done.

Folks, this has nothing to do with the church, and it certainly has nothing to do with God. It is a political land grab by dangerous forces that his false witness drags along with it. It would be nice if Jeffress had bothered to mention the word “repentance” as part of the deal, but he sees his followers as having nothing for which they need to repent, except possibly bitterness in their hearts.

…if we feel justice has not been served, we trust God to ultimately right the wrong…While God doesn’t always settle the score immediately, He will settle it ultimately.

Republicans certainly have the right to believe that the election was stolen, but after they have exhausted their appeals it is time to move forward and try to win the next election.

Did you see that? By talking about his followers’ “relationship” with God, he’s able to slide in political views as if they are the same thing. Read on:

It is no secret that I was, and continue to be, an enthusiastic supporter and friend of President Trump.

I believe Donald Trump’s presidency made our nation’s laws more just by protecting unborn life and promoting religious freedom.

I was disappointed by the results of the election. During his first two weeks in office President Biden signed a number of executive orders that I find deeply troubling and wrong.

I have every intention of pushing back against the torrent of ungodly policies that I believe the Biden/ Harris administration will unleash on our country. But I refuse to allow that determination to devolve into an all-consuming anger that poisons my spirit and infects everyone close to me.

I would encourage my fellow Trump supporters to do the same. As the writer of Proverbs warned, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life” (Proverbs 4:23, The New Living Translation).

My concern about next week’s impeachment trial is that once the expected acquittal comes half of the country will refuse to accept it, giving Democrats the ammunition they need to continue their relentless attacks on the former president. This will be akin to continually picking at a scab, ensuring that it never heals.

Jeffress wants our attention redirected away from January 6th, which is necessary for these Christian Nationalists to be granted a mulligan. No thank you, Dickhead. We know how this ends. Here’s a great response to such from Dan Rather:

“January 6 is not ancient history. And neither are the lies that brought us to the brink. Those who peddled in these lies (or even just excused them) and thus stoked an insurrectionist mob, should not be allowed to slink back into credible discourse without a serious reckoning.”

It’s truly amazing how these people think they did nothing wrong, that God is very happy with them, and that their job is to simply continue the pressure that comes with the arrogance of self-righteousness.

Fox Populi tweeted their own view, hoping perhaps to get back the thousands of followers they’ve lost since the insurrection: “Liberal media, CNN try to paint QAnon loons as new face of Republican Party.” What other options do we have? That’s the facts, ma’am, and I’m sorry that your prodding and promotion of lies has put you on the precipice, but behavior has consequences, so kindly go screw yourself!

I’ve lost all patience for this. It’s a flat-out manipulation by false witness, and Pastor Jeffress can go directly to hell for all I care. (Careful with that bitterness, Terry)

We must be diligent and never allow ourselves to be fooled again that this religious zeal is anything other than the Republican-sanctioned overthrow of the U.S. Government.

NASA and SpaceX: A Conflict of Business Personalities

Image result for nasa spacex
Image by The Infographics Show, Jul 10, 2017

For those who care, here’s another great illustration of the difference between managers and leaders in the business world of the U.S. Those familiar with my writing know of the fascinating theories of former Harvard Business School Professor Abraham Zaleznik that were first published in a 1977 Harvard Business Review article called “Managers and Leaders: Are They Different?

To review, in Zaleznik’s view, managers get things done through processes and systems, while leaders accomplish tasks through creativity and exploration. One insists upon order; the other is comfortable with what seems like chaos to some.

I’m a staunch supporter of Elon Musk and his way of doing things. Musk is a leader, one who simply points his company in the direction of his vision in order to see what happens. Risk is a familiar friend to people like Musk, because they know instinctively that answers to complex problems can’t always be determined ahead of time. Instead, they require experimentation. And risk.

Enter NASA into the equation. To be sure, NASA is manager-heavy, as are all government bureaucracies. Read this simple statement in an article by Futurism from new NASA administrator Steve Jurczyk when asked about NASA’s support for Elon Musk’s Starship program. Jurczyk seems to be saying “no thanks,” but it’s his reasoning that reveals the real problem for NASA with SpaceX.

“I know what the timelines are for the [Space Launch System], but it’s hard to determine what the timeline is and capabilities are for the Starship,” Jurczyk said in a new interview with Futurism. He added that it’s “just hard for me to determine how we would leverage capabilities like Starship and the Super Heavy that would launch Starship without understanding their timeline, their capabilities, and a lot more detail.”

As a result, Jurczyk points to NASA’s own system as better prepared for real manned space missions.

“What I can say now is that the Space Launch System is farther along than the Starship or any other commercial [project] with respect to a super heavy-lift capability that’s purpose-built for human spaceflight missions,” he said.

Jurczyk wants to see SpaceX’s plan. Moreover, he wants to govern that plan. However, SpaceX doesn’t really have an elaborate plan until they figure out a few things first. This is an insurmountable conflict between the basic methods of getting things done, because Musk literally cannot provide a true business plan with timelines that Jurczyk and his other managers could and would pick apart based on their understanding of how space exploration must proceed. They want their checklists and their timelines. They’re in no hurry either, and that has to gall Elon Musk.

The chilling thing is that our government has authority over private sector practices in the name of public safety, which they are already using to slow the momentum that Musk has with Starship. Headlines of violations of the FAA rules governing rocket launches cost SpaceX nearly an entire week before resolution. During that time, Musk criticized the FAA for its outdated approach to spaceflight testing. What he was really angry with was being hand strapped by rules that seem unnecessary to SpaceX in the accomplishment of its goals. Musk isn’t being arrogant when he makes such claims, and Jurczyk isn’t being foolish in asking for Musk’s detailed plans. They are simply two different approaches to doing business.

The question is always which one should be in charge?

NASAspaceflight.com: A shining example of new media

Starship SN9 loses a Raptor during flip. RUD comes as future Starships line  up - NASASpaceFlight.com
Remarkable photo of SN9 by Jack Beyer just prior to crashing

I spent much of my day Tuesday with YouTube watching the drama at the SpaceX testing facility in Boca Chica Texas as the company successfully launched its prototype Starship SN9. The drama, of course, was centered around whether SpaceX would stick the landing, which it didn’t. The drama ended quickly, and now it’s on to version SN10, for SpaceX is a company determined to rewrite everything when it comes to rockets and space exploration. For a guy from Huntsville, Alabama — also known as Rocket City — this is great fun.

I watched this with 300 thousand others worldwide via the live stream of one of the most shining examples of everything that’s new in news coverage these days, NASASpaceflight.com. I need to talk about this, because it’s a model of how to do live coverage of news events in 2021, and my hat’s off to Chris Bergin and the entire NASASpaceflight.com team.

Back in my early days of writing about how the internet would change media, one of the most obvious trends to people like me was what J.D. Lasica termed “the personal media revolution.” This group of observers included people like Dan Gillmor, Jeff Jarvis, Jay Rosen, Dave Winer, Doc Searls, David Weinberger, Michael Rosenblum, and a host of others who shared the vision. But, NASASpaceflight.com has laid the foundation for something so completely new that it challenges all forms of existing media for supremacy in covering space and the companies vying for a piece of the revenue pie involving outer space.

Here’s what they do so well.

NASASpaceflight.com is a virtual company, employing several experts from different parts of the world. They are not affiliated with NASA whatsoever. It was founded 15 year ago by Chris Bergin, a British journalist who cut his teeth during the shuttle period of space travel. Others are scattered around the U.S. They have only one reporter on the ground in Boca Chica, but their best source of information at the SpaceX complex comes from a Boca Chica photographer referred to only as Mary (@bocachicagal). To cover the entire area, NASASpaceflight uses robotic cameras controlled by the anchor team themselves from various points around the country.

Without a single direct source from SpaceX, they’ve developed their own launch sequence based solely on observations of the various stages of fueling and launching a Starship. The point is that rocket experts, through direct observation via robotic cameras, are able to build their own loose countdown based purely on observation. They simply don’t need an official countdown to do their job, and that’s part of the charm they bring to television news.

But it is the anchor team itself that brings everything home to viewers, for these people are serious students of science with a touch of nerd humor. It’s their genuine love of rockets that drives their business and their narrative. They are absolutely over-the-top when it comes to science, and it gives the viewers a chance to interact with genuine experts during the long hours of waiting via the chat and super chat functions of YouTube. They lovingly refer to their work as “roadside rocket science.” Their work is expensive but is paid for in a large part by crowd-funding from those viewers they serve so well. The size of the donations — in nearly every currency of the world — is truly staggering, and it’s a model that could be scaled to handle other news niches.

And, there’s no doubting that NASASpaceflight has a very narrow niche, which is another one of the many factors that make hours and hours of live coverage so watchable. They know what they’re talking about.

Another factor is the humor that develops and is continued throughout their coverage. They have an online store of merchandise created from these humorous thoughts, and the biggest problem they have is with their site crashing as so many people rush to buy the shirts, hats, etcetera. There are a great many inside jokes that the newcomer to the coverage are taught through clever mentions of those jokes.

I found myself laughing out loud many times throughout the coverage. It’s fascinating how well humor works in a time of extremely dramatic events. The team has no problem just being themselves, and they often joke about how they could never be stiff-shirted network correspondents. The transparency of this actually adds to the authority of their observations, because it feels exactly like it’s intended to feel — like being invited to watch the launch with a group of extremely intelligent and knowledgable friends.

And, make no mistake, these people know photography, cameras, live-streaming, and video technology better than most so-called professional news people. If you don’t mind the lousy pun, it isn’t rocket science, and smart people can easily outdo the pros who are locked into their systems and deadlines. It’s far more logical to hire scientists and let them practice journalism than to hire journalists and try to make them scientists.

Another thing that’s noteworthy is how well the NASASpaceflight.com team works with YouTube. Google has put in place the tools that the company needs to present their work — at no cost to them — and help them raise money. It’s truly remarkable, but an example of how the personal media revolution has helped itself to the goodies that used to be reserved only for the pros.

So, now it’s on to Starship SN10, but don’t worry. NASASpaceflight.com will put in place a reminder for you when they plan to go live.

I just love it.

How the Trump Revolt Was Funded

EDITORS NOTE: The below is over-simplified, but it helps me make an important point. I simply lack the resources and the energy to dig deeper. I’ll leave that to somebody else. The charts were made from IRS data.

Now that Joe Biden is being sworn in as President, it’s time to turn our attention to preventing another attempted take over of the U.S. Government by an authoritarian ignoramus downstream. That effort needs to begin with the IRS and the tax-exempt organizations who funded the Trump menace from the get-go and even paid travel expenses for the mob that stormed the Capital Building on January 6.

It begins with my old boss Pat Robertson and the mixing of politics with religion in the early 1980s. Pat ran for President in 1988, during an IRS Criminal Investigative Division investigation into criminal activity under our tax exemption. They had us nailed cold, but the investigation was halted when Pat threw his support to then Vice-President George H.W. Bush. I can’t prove it, but it’s my belief that Pat cut a deal with Bush to drop the investigation in trade for Pat’s support of Bush at the Republican Convention.

Years later, after Bill Clinton took office, the investigation was reopened, and CBN lost its tax exemption for the years 1986 and 1987 and paid a significant fine. That was followed by a ruling from the Federal Election Commission that CBN had broken FEC laws regarding campaign contributions. That fine was nearly $400,000.

The IRS allows very little political activity among those benefitting from this particular tax exemption. However, Anne Nelson’s brilliant book Shadow Network reveals the depth of the tax exempt organizations working under the auspices of the Council for National Policy, itself a tax exempt organization. These are almost entirely made up of 501©3 groups.

This graph represents organizations filing IRS form 990 between 1988 and 2017. There is a significant drop-off that occurred during the 2008 banking crisis, when it appears a number of organizations simply quit. The number of returns rebounded, but the interesting revelation here is that the fastest growing group in terms of sheer assets is found with those whose assets are over $50 million, an indication that the wealthiest charitable organizations are the ones growing.

Overall, the number of groups filing returns under the 501©3 designation has exploded over the last 40 years, but what’s really staggering in studying IRS data is the growth in total assets reported by these organizations. Here, the blue line represents the number of tax returns (which has gone from roughly 100,000 in 1985 to 300,000 by 2015), and the orange line represents total assets of those groups.

Clearly, the growth here represents a couple of things. One, the wealthy are increasingly hip to how tax-exempt foundations, for example, can be used to save/hide their otherwise taxable income. Two, those on the political right — the extreme political right — have used their tax-exempt statuses to raise money for their causes. Many of these groups use the “education” exemption to hide their real intent, which was and remains the overthrow of the U.S. Government in favor of some form of Christian Nation.

It’s scary how close they came.

But, now it’s time to pay for their illegal activities, and there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The White Christian Narrative is the Problem

The MAGA Riot in Washington Was the Culmination of Trump's Influence -  Variety

As the Biden Presidency begins to take over, White Evangelicals who support Trump are slowly returning to their caves to regroup and fight again in four years. You can tell by statements from their leaders, like this tweet from Franklin Graham:

“@JoeBiden has warned of a ‘dark winter’ for our nation. But the dark winter we’re facing is not due just to #COVID19, it’s due to the moral decline & the political corruption we see throughout the US. My prayer is that truth will prevail in the political crisis we’re facing,”

I ask sincerely, what makes anybody think that White Evangelicals with a political mission can rightly judge the culture? They can’t, because they are driven by a false gospel, the idolatrous gospel of self. This renders their religious views of the culture irrelevant, for they have chosen the side of the oppressors. They support the rich and the powerful, and that clearly wasn’t the mission of Jesus Christ.

It’s amazing to me — a former player in evangelical television’s heyday of the 80s — the predictability of Christianity when it’s blended with right-wing politics. They are simply incapable of considering the possibility that God is judging THEM, not the culture. I mean, it’s been on vivid display the past four years, and Christians would be well-advised to look in the mirror, because even your salvation (as proclaimed by you) is in question today.

How could you ever believe that this monster you foisted on all of us was of God. The only way Donald Trump could’ve been “of God” is if God was judging the church, because the ends never justified the means. God’s heart is with the poor and the afflicted, but you cast your lot with the wealthy. And for what? Trust me, this has all been about money, money for these rich preachers who’ve been bilking the church for the last 40 years.

I know they do good. I know their followers certainly demonstrate love and kindness in their dealings with each other. I know that they have deep fears about losing what they have or not getting what they deserve. I know they “feel” oppressed, because the culture rejects them. They get around this by proclaiming that the One they serve suffered even greater rejection and warned that they would, too.

This is not going away with a single election.

Even after the seditious behavior of yesterday, which evangelical leaders are now publicly repudiating, these Christians are clinging to their manufactured narrative of life circa 2021. Through false equivalence, projection, and other logical fallacies, they maintain that they are the ones trying to save America, one assumes, from the devil. My old boss, Pat Robertson, made this remarkable statement yesterday morning:

(Referring to the Democrat Senate victories in Georgia) These are two of the most radical Senators you can imagine. I mean, Warnock was guilty of some really horrible things and Osscoff (sic) was somewhat on the fringe, and yet this is Georgia. And I can’t believe it. I mean, it’s happening, and what we have to ask ourselves is there some kind of a delusion that has come upon the entire electorate in America?

There it is. America is under a delusion. This white horse narrative must be destroyed, for it’s separating these people farther and farther from the truth, and I’m afraid we’re only seeing the very beginnings of the insurrection and cultural upheaval as a result. They. Believe. Their. Narrative. They believe it, that their “truth” is more true than anybody else’s, and religious zealotry — I don’t care what it represents — is the very beginning of evil.

I’ll agree with Pat that’s there’s a mass delusion at play here, but it’s exactly the opposite of what he’s thinking. The delusion is over this sect of Christianity, who’ve been taught for 40 years that God is not only a Republican, but that He favors the likes of a mob boss like Donald Trump.

These folks will now go back to their caves and regroup, but their narrative will remain. We used to arrogantly proclaim at CBN that we were “the sons of Issachar, men with knowledge of the times.” We did this to Biblically validate (at least in our minds) our role in whipping our viewers into a frenzy of giving. We, in fact, created the narrative that Fox News simply followed, and look at what that’s gotten us now!

Whether you have secular or Christian authority, I beg you to understand that this false narrative is the real problem. I helped create it, and I’m so very sorry for that.

Finally, we’ll never be able to count on the press to present this argument, for as far as they are concerned, it’s all deviant and doesn’t matter in the big picture anyway.

How wrong they are. How horribly wrong they are.