It’s the sum of collective greed and evil

American media, particularly its DC/NY political media, has many virtues: doggedness like David Fahrentold who uncovered Trump’s grifting, righteousness like Eugene Robinson and Mike Barnicle whose opeds are useful chronicles of our “interesting times”. What it fundamentally lacks is the ability to think outside itself and to call out, forcefully, how we got here, with a Trumpified GOP and Roger Stone calling for Trump to imprison the Clintons, Mark Zuckerberg and even Gen. Mattis.

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Rupert Murdoch looks at one of the first copies of the new Sun newspaper, November 1969. Photograph: Pa/PA Archive/Press Association Images via The Guardian

Murdoch destabilized democracy on 3 continents

Rupert Murdoch will be remembered as the man whose greed and cunning destabilized and upended democracy in the English language world, save for Canada. His vulgar tabloidization of the news in the UK, Australia and the US over 6 decades has contributed to sapping the public good that was the news in the post WWII era. Murdoch’s wily manipulation of naive politicians on 3 continents remains a case study in how a captain of industry can become more powerful than titular heads of government. Since 2017 the leaks of his post-Trump phone calls says everything one needs to know: as recorded by Michael Wolff “I can’t get the asshole off the phone” or “What a fucking idiot”. No President of the United States before Trump has been similarly insulted by the great puppetmaster of right wing media. In the UK Tony Blair’s infamous suckup to Murdoch in 1997 all but guaranteed the Sun newspaper’s endorsement and therefore the keys to Downing Street. The systematic right wing deconstruction, Jacques Derrida-style, of the American center right will also remain a case study in an Oz-like behind the scenes orchestration. This writer has already detailed how Murdoch’s puppetmaster ways have neutered debate on the right, where Congresspeople audition in the US Capitol for a few years before their real “job”: paid commentator on Fox News. …

The rise of the true multipolar world

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Future analysts of the first two decades of the 21st century might wonder how 2 of the most powerful countries in the world, China and the US, managed to elevate to the highest office bombastic and flawed sons of privilege, seemingly determined in running their societies into the ground.

Current analysts also wonder how China’s supposed 5,000 year old civilization, having adhered up to now to Deng Xiaoping’s genius political system, is letting a mini Mao concentrate all power in his hands. The last time China lived under a single man dictatorship it cost millions of lives and maintained it as a backwards country. …

A manifesto for curators, mediators and moderators

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Photo by William Iven on Unsplash

It’s historical fact that starting in the 15th century Gutenberg’s press liberated the propagation of ideas vs monk-copied enluminures and directly affected societies’ very structures. The cumulative effects of mass access to broadband, mobile access to the internet and participation in social media such as blogging and tweeting are not yet fully analyzed but the past 5 years are a good indicator.

“Social” media is an oxymoron

So-called social media is an oxymoron: social implies a modicum of interaction rules, sorely lacking on Facebook and Twitter, and media implies a mediation performed by newspapers, radio and broadcast and cable tv networks, which Big Tech has mostly refused to take on. In a recent conversation a good friend of mine reflected on the perils of leaving social media networks to pugilistic extremists from both sides. …

Yes, as it always does

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Sunrise neer Deerfield, Kansas, November 2018

VP Biden’s stirring rhetoric last night put it simply: light and darkness are pitted against each other in November. This choice has been put before America before, and in most instances, its people chose light.

What’s the source of my realistic optimism ? It’s part personal experience, part History. In previous articles I wrote about my American upbringing amid the Reagan revolution where the Great Communicator channeled “the shining city on the hill” and “morning in America”. In the weeks before the 2018 midterms I wrote about the forces that are fundamentally reshaping America and its role in the world.

The dark side has chosen a full-on negative stance and spends its time whining and victimizing itself. …

2020 looking like an echo of 2016

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A young Joseph Stalin, circa 1902, when he was detained as a terrorist by the Tsarist police

The US Senate finally published its report on how the 2016 election was in effect polluted and worse by Russian interests, in cahoots with the Trump campaign. Putin will have been revealed as the ultimate asymmetric terrorist, and he’s at it again in 2020.

Webster’s defines terrorism as “ the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion”. Vladimir Putin acceded to the top of Russia’s power structure through outright terrorism in 1999 — the FSB-sponsored attacks on Moscow area residential buildings later blamed on Chechen rebels — and he has kept his power through coercion and corruption.

His 2005 speech is too often dismissed or misread, yet it contains all you need to know about Putin’s…

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Bob Lefsetz is worth quoting, again, as he echoes Umair Haque’s daily warnings to Americans who’ve lived too long removed from History. Democrats are not, yet, rising to the moment posed by Trump’s constant knifing of the US Constitution and as ably noted by Lefsetz, their threat of hearings is ridiculous bordering on dangerous. What Americans are too slow to realize is that Pax Americana in its 1945 format is dead and will not be resurrected as it was.

Pax Americana and the 1945 world order (NATO, Bretton Woods et al) had its heart attack in 1968 in Vietnam, its second in 1989 and is clinically dead as of January 2017 and the ascent of Trump-the-isolationist. He has proceeded to methodically kill off all meaningful transatlantic and transpacific alliances that so benefited America for decades. He managed to turn American soft power into global mistrust and actual hatred in pockets of the world. US passports are now basically worthless and Americans are just starting to realize that their way of life is at best disdained, at worst detested. …

The party should be preparing a coalition for 2050

By Frederic Guarino

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A number of French soldiers wore red trousers at the start of WWI, owing to tradition. The color was changed to blue only after major losses at the outset of the war.

Bob Lefsetz is not your garden variety political reporter, he’s a music industry veteran and a keen observer of the tectonic shifts in American society. One his latest email missives is a doozy and a must-read, here’s the key quote IMHO:

“the DNC and the media couldn’t take the temperature of the country and realize that the Republicans had tarred Hillary’s reputation to the point where not only those on the right, but many on the left, despised her. If you actually spoke with Americans, you weren’t surprised when Trump won. But the DNC and the media are in a bubble. Give Trump credit, at least he spoke to the downtrodden, he even said he liked the uneducated. [..] Once again, the DNC is playing defense, making it about the other candidate as opposed to their own. And you cannot win if you don’t score points. …

The TikTok/WeChat ban is the canary in the coal mine

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Photo by Mike Von on Unsplash

The Tik Tok and WeChat/Tencent ban, delivered by Trump in the form of a near tweeted oukase is the canary of the coal mine, potentially ending the era of laissez faire capitalism in the West, and first and foremost in America. The deafening silence of American business leaders and business media when Trump demands, Godfather style, a “cut” of the sale of Tik Tok to US interests for the US Treasury, is a testament to the shift we’re about to witness.

1980–2020 will be remembered as 40 years of a pendulum swing to less state intervention with Reagan’s “the government is the problem” quip as a rallying cry. 2020 marks the start of a return to high handed government involvement in the global economy, with the Covid-19 crisis as the perfect vehicle for a return to FDR-style politics. …

Picking winners in Trumpian America

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Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

It’s worth going beyond the headlines in “l’affaire TikTok” to put into context the underpinnings of Friday July 31’s blustering Air Force 1 edict. Two core axes paint the backdrop: digital diplomacy and crony capitalism aka “picking winners”.

21st century digital diplomacy

Various laws and raw political power allow the US President to maintain large and widespread powers as it relates to national security and Tik Tok falls squarely in this category. Trump’s “we will ban Tik Tok” is rooted in Zuckerberg’s series of telephone conversations, as well as in the Tulsa rally debacle and Sarah Cooper’s extraordinary lip syncs. The world has lived through an atypical epoch since 2015 and hearing a US President call for the ban of a social network is very much 2020. While Immediate historical parallels seem difficult to find, a global empire claiming jurisdiction over communications within its borders is not remotely new. Tik Tok is another episode in the new “Great Game” between imperial powers, which has added the digital world to the battlefield. …

A 2030 outlook on McLuhan’s prophecies

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Marshall McLuhan (right) in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall

University of Toronto Professor Marshall McLuhan’s genius “the medium is the message” axiom is a formidable sum up of mid 20th Century media analysis. In essence, McLuhan tells us that the powers of media technology in radio, television are so immense that they supersede words themselves. This axiom is worth revisiting with an updated frame of reference and with an eye towards 2030.

The message is the media

2030 will mark 40 years of the internet age, for comparison, radio’s 40th anniversary as a mass medium occurred in the mid-1960s when McLuhan shot to fame. “Invented” by 2 shrewd NYC PR operators, he came at the perfect time to magnify television’s raw societal power. 1960’s extremely close election of a telegenic JFK, who defeated a less-made-for-studio-lights Nixon, has been heralded as the initial “eureka” moment of the television age. Dependable profit margins produced by local media monopolies the world over lasted until atomization accompanied digitization in the last years of the 20th century. …


Frederic Guarino

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