Friday, December 2, 2016

Technology Pressures On The Mass Media. Semper Fi - Go Mattis. Goal Driven Donald.

Interesting take on what the mass media is now subjected to and who can predict what will be the impact of technology and the decline in respect for the mass media on our Republic? The ball is in their court and changes toward balance and objectivity are long overdue.(See 1 below.)
Semper Fi, Gen Mattis.  Right man at the right time? Appears to be so. (See 2 below.)

Trump has put together a solid team of professionals up to this point.  I certainly have no way of knowing how the rest of his choices will go but I suspect,his appointment of Mattis , leaves Romney in a good position as well as Bolton.  I still see Rudy for The Supreme Court, Gingrich an outside advisor and maybe Chairman of a commission to revise government operations.

Whom Trump finally selects for The V.A and for Homeland Security will be critical because he made strong commitments to solve medical care problems pertaining to veterans and border security.

Sessions may be given a strong grilling in order to extract some compromises down the road but Trump's Cabinet and other appointments should fly through confirmation.

It will be interesting to see whether The Democrats nail their coffin shut with Ellison.

I listened to Trump while he was in Indiana visiting The Carrier plant and he is not an orator.  There are no soaring lines like from Stevenson, Reagan, Kennedy or even GW , for that matter.  However, we did not elect Donald for his speech making ability but for his effectiveness as president. Yet, it would be nice if he could inspire because we will be listening to him for the next four years.

His arm twisting of Carrier is good theater but government arm twisting can only go so far.  What must be done is changing policies so capitalism is unleashed to work and corrupt capitalists should be held accountable for breaking laws and punished accordingly.

So far Trump is proving  to be just what I thought he might be - a take charge, energetic businessman who will make some mistakes along the way but we will get more than we bargained for and his detractors will be left gasping for air and continually off balance because he is goal not orthodox driven. There is a good bit of government china that needs to be broken.
You know better than to believe me when I said in yesterday's memo no more til I return from Orlando.
1) Voted for Hillary.  And Now I’m Going to Write for Breitbart.
We can’t ignore the voices that put Trump in the White House.  But maybe we can persuade them.


The 2016 election was a turning point for me as a writer. Like many of my fellow journalists, I felt that Donald Trump’s campaign was such a threat to the civic order that I set aside the norms of objectivity and actively wrote in favor of Hillary Clinton, arguing for instance, in one piece, why the business community should enthusiastically support her. I was in pretty good company; media outlets ranging from the Atlantic to the Arizona Republic made historic endorsements for a Democratic candidate.

Then, as the election results poured in on November 8, I was forced to reflect on a very (very) difficult realization: Much of my work last year was, electorally speaking, worthless. I, evidently, needed to start writing for publications that were trusted by Trump supporters.

So, two weeks ago, I emailed my contacts at Breitbart News to tell them I would be happy to start contributing.

My reasoning is very simple: I believe we are living in a new political order, where populism is a permanent fixture in our democracy. I might vehemently disagree with some of the anti-immigration and militaristic beliefs that Trump used to excite his supporters. But if I want to persuade those supporters—and I do—I have to reach them on the platform where they are getting their ideas. In the meantime, I just might be persuaded a bit myself.

It wasn’t always this way. In the golden era of the gatekeeper model, journalists could just scrub the news of ideas they found offensive and quickly marginalize “abnormal” candidates. But the internet eradicated the mainstream media’s gatekeeper power. Today, anyone can publish an idea and, if it’s popular, will garner an overwhelmingly powerful following. In this new media world, I believe we're going to have to practice journalism through persuasion rather than censorship.

Fortunately, my previous experience with Breitbart leaves me optimistic. A year ago, Breitbart began syndicating some of my reporting on tech and politics, under my media company, the Ferenstein Wire. I’ll admit I was skeptical at first. There’s an old notion of social psychology, outgroup homogeneity, that says we tend to see people like us as nuanced and those unlike us as one big bland mass of sameness. But writing for Breitbart has taught me that there are complexities to conservative populism that I didn’t fully understand.

For starters, what I learned from the commenters is that Breitbart’s audience isn’t stereotypically racist, as in believing one ethnicity is better than another. Rather, the general sentiment is one of fear and distrust. They’re angry at a political establishment that is trying to tell them how to live and appears not to care about the erosion of their culture.

I might not agree with how these readers are expressing their anger, but as small-town middle America sinks, this anti-establishment response is not unreasonable. I, and perhaps many of my colleagues, discounted this election how much pain middle America was experiencing. And I don’t want that to happen again.

I live in San Francisco. I am surrounded by cosmopolitan people who embrace rapid disruption. But Breitbart's audience keeps me connected to the rest of the country and teaches me that I should pay much more attention to policies that can protect American culture while promoting global expansion. For instance, I’m a big proponent of immigration and free trade, but evidence from Mathematica research suggests that government-run retraining programs do a pretty inadequate job of making up declining wages for those who lose their jobs. If we are going to commit to those globalist goals, the country also needs to make sure it's protecting American workers.

At the same time, I’m hoping that my writing on Breitbart can help persuade some of its readers that globalization isn’t all bad. After all, certain aspects of globalization, such as an economy that is resilient to automation and cheaper goods, help struggling Americans.

To Breitbart’s credit, they’ve never been anything but fully supportive of all the things I wanted to write. The editorial staff has never pressured me—in any way—to support Donald Trump or the policies he promotes. In fact, they didn't bat an eye when I published some pro-immigration pieces, arguing that the Republican Party was going to have to embrace the Hispanic community to win elections.

I've learned that Breitbart's editors, rather than being blindly ideological as critics assume, are quite comfortable with an unencumbered marketplace of ideas. Breitbart will accept a wide range of opinions. Yes, this includes opinions that many find intolerant, among them, "There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women in Tech, They Just Suck at Interviews” and "Bill Kristol: Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.” There’s no question that Breitbart errs towards the strident. Strident op-eds are its weapon of choice for fighting against what it fears is a dangerous tendency toward idea suppression.

Indeed, it’s traditional newsrooms that scrub their editorial pages of offensive material, while their readers publicly shame any notable figure for expressing abnormal opinions. This traditional editorial policy is based on a well-intentioned philosophy: Publishing offensive ideas legitimizes them. But, in the post-gatekeeper world of the 21st century, Breitbart’s editorial philosophy may be much healthier for democracy. Rather than labeling ideas taboo, we try to persuade one another.

I know many, if not most, readers will strongly disagree with this point; they believe that there should be some ideas that are off-limits. I want to be very clear: My argument is that we don’t have an option to censor taboo ideas from mainstream discourse. And, my faith in democracy leaves me optimistic that it is possible to resolve our differences through dialogue.

And, I’m not alone. Ro Khanna, a newly minted congressman from Silicon Valley, recently gave an interview with Breitbart on his plan for term limits. He has received static from colleagues for talking to the publication but writes to me that he thinks it’s worth it. “People in Silicon Valley sent me to Washington to get something done on American competitiveness and bringing back jobs. I will not achieve that by just talking to an echo chamber,” he explains. “I want to get some of the Valley’s novel proposals out to every media outlet, and make the case to every American of what we need to do to tackle globalization and automation. That is the challenge of our time.”

Breitbart is now a major player in our democracy. So, that’s where I and others are going.

Gregory Ferenstein is editor of the Ferenstein Wire, and author of a book on Silicon Valley politics, The Age of Optimists. He also taught math to journalists through the Knight Center at the University of Texas, Austin.
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A Wise Choice for Defense Secretary

The nomination of the retired Gen. Jim Mattis to be secretary of defense is not without controversy. The reasons are multifarious, ranging from his fairly recent retirement from the Marine Corps (which would necessitate a Congressional waiver of the requirement that any military officer must wait seven years to become secretary of defense) to his disparaging comments over Israel’s settlement activities. But the arguments for selecting him are far stronger. Trump has made a great Cabinet choice— his best yet.
I first met Mattis in the summer of 2003. He was then in command of the 1st Marine Division after its rapid march up from Kuwait to Iraq. Our meeting was on the grounds of one of Saddam Hussein’s old palaces where he had established his headquarters. 

Here is how I summed up my initial impressions of him inThe Weekly Standard :Relatively short and trim, with a silver crew cut and owlish spectacles, Mattis doesn’t look particularly imposing. But when he opens his mouth it becomes apparent that he’s cut from the George S. Patton mold. Funny, blunt, erudite, inspiring, and profane, he takes no guff and tolerates no inefficiency. At nightly briefings with his staff, he dissected PowerPoint presentations with laser-like questions that got to the heart of every problem. The issues he dealt with were more appropriate to an imperial proconsul than to a general: how to combat Islamic extremists, win over ordinary people, distribute fuel, enforce law and order, and a thousand other matters. Mattis was not the least bit fazed by the challenge.

In the succeeding 13 years, he advanced to become the four-star commander of the now-defunct Joint Forces Command and the Central Command. He was forced to retire early from the latter position in 2014 because the Obama administration didn’t appreciate his preoccupation with the Iranian threat—a controversy I described in a COMMENTARY article entitled “How America Lost Its Four Great Generals.”

Mattis has become known for his salty sayings, some of which have become legendary: “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.” “I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. But I’m pleading with you, with tears in my eyes: If you f—k with me, I’ll kill you all.” “The first time you blow someone away is not an insignificant event. That said, there are some assholes in the world that just need to be shot.”

Taken out of context, those quotes may make him sound like a “mad-dog” militarist (and indeed one of his Marine Corps nicknames is “Mad Dog”). But Mattis has also said that “the most important six inches on the battlefield is between your ears.” And: “You are part of the world’s most feared and trusted force. Engage your brain before you engage your weapon.” Those quotes hint at the fact that he is more than a just an inspiring battlefield leader—although he is that. He is also an uncommonly thoughtful military strategist and a well-read student of military history who understands the limitations as well as the uses of force.

Beyond all of that, Mattis is simply a good man who always put his Marines first. When I first met him, he was sleeping on a cot in a tent behind his command post in Iraq, even though there were much nicer quarters available. He always put his own comforts last. A lifelong bachelor, he became legendary in the Corps for taking over Christmas guard duty from junior officers so they could enjoy the holiday with their families. That’s not something that general officers normally do, to put it mildly. And he has also spent months traveling around the United States meeting with the families of his fallen Marines.
It was Mattis’s devotion to his troopers that inspired a similar devotion to him. He is one of the best-regarded generals in the modern history of the Marine Corps. No doubt, as secretary of defense, he would show similar regard for all of the forces under his command.

The fact that Mattis would require a congressional waiver to serve as secretary of defense would not be a problem; he is so well-liked on Capitol Hill that such legislation will breeze through. (John McCain, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been a particularly strong advocate of the Mattis appointment.) Given that Mattis has always been a critical thinker who is keenly aware of the limitations of existing Pentagon policies, he would not be a yes-man for any branch of the military, not even his own Marine Corps. In fact, Pentagon bureaucrats should be afraid of Mattis precisely because he has such a deep knowledge of the military and all of its faults, as well as it strengths.

Mattis has also been criticized by the strategic analyst Erin Simpson for being the wrong choice because he is above all an operational commander who hates paperwork. “Budgets, white papers, and service rivalries, not to mention the interagency meetings and White House meddling—these tasks are not what you go to Jim Mattis for,” Simpson writes. “Not only does the role of secretary of defense not play to Mattis’ strengths, but success in that role would compromise much that we admire most in him: his bluntness, clarity, and single-minded focus on war fighting.”

In truth, as a four-star combatant commander, Mattis had plenty of experience with paperwork and bureaucracy. The fact that he has a “single- minded focus on war fighting” will actually be a big advantage because he will press the military bureaucracy to win the wars of the moment instead of endlessly preparing for conflicts that may never arrive (always the bureaucracy’s default position).

The most serious criticism of Mattis concerns infelicitous comments he made about Israel at a security conference shortly after stepping down as CentCom commander in 2013. “I paid a military security price every day as the commander of CentCom because the Americans were seen as biased in support of Israel,” he said. He also complained that Israel’s settlements supposedly threaten peace with the Palestinians: “If I’m in Jerusalem, and I put 500 Jewish settlers out here to the east, and there’s 10,000 Arab settlers in here, if we draw the border to include them, either it ceases to be a Jewish state or you say the Arabs don’t get to vote — apartheid.”

These remarks go over the line—in particular, his suggestion that Israel could be guilty of apartheid, given that there are 1.6 million Arab citizens of Israel who enjoy more rights than Arabs do in any Arab state. Israel has already shown its willingness to disband settlements (e.g., in the Gaza Strip) if it thought that doing so would help the cause. The real stumbling block has been the unwillingness or inability of Palestinian leaders to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state.

But it would be a big mistake to assume based on these one-time comments that Mattis is somehow hostile to Israel. The conservative Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) reported that its “experiences with General Mattis have been very positive, including many private discussions in the last few years on the Middle East.” JINSA went on to note: “General Mattis has notably and indisputably distinguished himself in advocating for a more robust U.S. military posture to counter, contain and deter Iran, even at the peril of his military career... General Mattis’ outlook on these issues aligns perfectly with Israel’s, which considers an aggressive Iran its greatest strategic threat, and a nuclear Iran to be an existential threat.”
I’ve known Mattis for 13 years and have never heard him say a disparaging word about Israel. To the contrary, he has spoken of his close relationships with, and admiration for, senior Israeli military officers. I am confident that Israel has nothing to fear from Mattis and that the security of Israel and America’s other allies in the Middle East will be enhanced by the tough-on-Iran approach that he advocates. How his outlook will mesh with President-elect Trump’s desire to cooperate with Russia in supporting Bashar Assad—an Iranian client—remains more of an open question.

As secretary of defense, Mattis will bring an intellectual rigor, an understanding of military affairs, a sympathy for the grunts who fight our wars, and a strong ethical grounding that will serve the new administration well.

Indeed Mattis has already made a positive impact by convincing Trump, during their job interview, to take another look at the issue of torture. He told Trump: “I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.” After spending the last year advocating torture “worse than waterboarding,” Trump professed himself “surprised” and “impressed” by that answer.
Let’s hope that President Trump will continue to listen carefully to the advice he will receive from his defense secretary. Jim Mattis has a lot of wisdom to impart. 

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