Hotel Review: DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh, Green Tree

This hotel is nestled into lush, green hills in Pittsburgh’s Green Tree neighborhood with perfect location, accommodations and property assets and amenities. Needing to be near this location for a recent trip, I booked here as against downtown Pittsburgh, where I recently stayed at the Fairmont, primarily because Pittsburgh’s newest Hilton hotel has an airport shuttle, which I needed to use.

DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh | Green Tree

The courtesy shuttle turned out to be a hassle. I phoned when my flight landed as instructed, spoke to someone who spoke with broken English who told me that a shuttle was waiting for me or would be dispatched. Neither was the case. I went to the designated spot, waited for a while and called again. I was told that a driver had been dispatched. No shuttle arrived. I made two more calls while waiting for over an hour — each time, I was informed that the driver was nearby and on the way — and, after being told that the shuttle had to wait for a flight crew which was causing the delay, I finally pieced together that the driver wanted to wait to pick up a flight crew that had been booked at the hotel. I would’ve taken and paid for my own ride but the front desk clerk kept telling me that a shuttle was coming soon. I saw seven Parking Spot shuttles come and go during the hour plus-wait. When driver Norman finally showed up over an hour after the initial call, one other passenger — the airline flight crew he’d been waiting for — boarded. The other passenger proceeded to play hip hop on his device without headphones. Norman said nothing during the entire drive. So, expect confusion and a long wait for the hotel shuttle. This was not the best door to door service.

DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh | Green Tree

The hotel was apologetic, however. So, I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt that this was the shuttle service having a bad day. The front desk clerk gave me a generous voucher (and, upon checkout, the clerk added extra Hilton Honors loyalty rewards points). It’s a convenient location and I’d stay at this hotel again. I won’t be taking the shuttle if I can avoid it. But the room, with a comfortable bed and desk, chair and closet with safe, iron and ironing board, is neatly appointed. There’s also an in-room coffeemaker with Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf coffee and tea. The bathroom had what I need, though its door closed too close to the toilet, and the warm cookie upon check-in and bottled water in the room were nice and convenient.

Front desk staff, with the exception of that first night before checking in, were friendly, attentive and helpful.

DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh | Green Tree

A bistro marketplace sells Starbucks coffee and various types of food including pizza. The bistro also stocks small grocery, souvenir and toiletry items. An adjacent gathering area with tables and chairs near two large screen TVs tuned to cable sports and news makes it easy to have a snack and catch up on headlines and games. Unfortunately, bistro hours vary, so it was closed one morning when I wanted to buy something.

The restaurant, which offers buffet service, is very good. Service is attentive and food is fresh and delicious. The spacious bar also features big screen high-definition TVs and serves happy hour specials. DoubleTree by Hilton Pittsburgh at Green Tree also features a shared workspace with printers, computers and supplies and a fitness room off the lobby and a swimming pool with separate hot tub.

Hotel Review: Parc 55 San Francisco

A short weekend stay at the Parc 55 San Francisco, a Hilton hotel, was pleasant. Located near Union Square, the high-rise hotel afforded a terrific view (pictured here) of the skyline, convenience to public transportation, landmarks and conference venues, such as Moscone Center, and overall access to the city by the bay.

San Francisco | Photo by Scott Holleran © Copyright 2018 Scott Holleran. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without the permission of Scott Holleran.

Check-in and checkout were a breeze. The room is nicely appointed, with Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf coffee brews and tea and a two-cup machine, comfortable bed and decent bathroom, outlets and seating. It’s not the fanciest and the desk space is tight once the ice bucket and coffee trays are factored, though these can always be moved to make room for serious workspace. A mini-refigerator was a welcome addition but may not be available in every room. I was upgraded upon check-in when reserved room specifications weren’t available. The usual amenities were on hand.

The downside to almost any San Francisco hotel stay including Parc 55 San Francisco is the parking, which is valet parking for $76 per night (no self-parking available). This price is high, though standard for Hilton’s and other downtown or adjacent hotels, and the city’s 14 percent tax is part of the cause. Some area hotels offer self-parking — the Grand Hyatt at Union Square, a fine hotel where I’ve also stayed, offers “assisted” self-parking for $39 per night — and many do not, and the Westin St. Francis estimates that downtown’s average overnight Union Square garage self-parking fee is $32.

The lobby-level restaurant offers handy self-serve, buffet or service options for breakfast and a view of the surrounding bustle on the streets. Of course, what’s convenient for guests also makes the location prone to the city’s notoriously aggressive homeless population, so it’s a good idea to hold kids and valuables close and stay alert. San Francisco Police were heavily on patrol during my visit.

San Francisco is a great walking city, Union Square is delightful and I’ve always enjoyed my visits. The Parc 55 San Francisco makes working, networking and dining with friends, colleagues and locals easy and convenient. I did want to see the statue at the public park in Union Square, which was closed to the public to accommodate broadcast coverage of a Chinese New Year parade, and there’s construction in and around the Union Square/financial district area. I didn’t have spare time to explore, but there were some interesting city history-themed exterior reliefs by the valet parking (I’ll try to post pictures on social media) and, oddly, an Alcatraz-themed exhibit making the rounds dominates the lobby, complete with a jail cell, gigantic photos of prisoners and a gun on display. Like the Fairmont Pittsburgh, which I recently reviewed, the hotel’s atmosphere and staff demeanor is relaxed, professional and businesslike. Despite downsides, it’s still a lovely little city on the bay. Staying at Parc 55 San Francisco worked out fine.

Hotel Review: Fairmont Pittsburgh

For superior hospitality in downtown Pittsburgh, I recommend the Fairmont Pittsburgh. Having stayed at other area hotels over time during various visits, including one last summer for OCON Pittsburgh, when I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Pittsburgh Airport, which was great, and the Sheraton at Station Square, which was not, I listened this time to friends and family who suggested visiting the Fairmont hotel. Accommodations were exemplary for my needs and tastes. Expectations were rarely exceeded and mostly met. I took advantage of the downtown location, a block from Market Square, near Point State Park and close to everything in Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle, walking to cafes, museums and skyscrapers, all while taking in the city’s architecture, bridges and industry.

Speaking of the Fairmont Pittsburgh‘s location, I could’ve taken the T (rail transit) to meet a friend for breakfast at the Dor-Stop Restaurant in Dormont, though since it was cold, I summoned an Uber car instead, which was fine (and I found that Uber is easier than Lyft, at least in this city). I arrived a bit early.

Returning later to a perfectly appointed room overlooking PNC Park where the Pirates play baseball, called a parkview room here, I was very pleased with the 15th floor room. Robes, slippers, old-fashioned alarm clock, coffee, tea, cordless phones, ink and paper — the clean, quiet, spacious room had everything I needed and the best part was the silence. Overlooking city streets, the Allegheny River, skyscrapers — with a view of the Gulf Oil Building tucked between glass towers — during a winter storm was a wonderful sight. The room is functional, with a generously sized desk, plenty of smartly placed outlets for my gear, a swiveling flat screen television and safe, ironing board and deadbolt on the door. I use a Verismo machine for coffee at home, so the Keurig coffee machine was new to me. Though I figured it out, the Keurig’s instructional drawings left out a step, which is why I prefer written, as against pictorial, directions. I was surprised to find that the room lacks a general hotel guide, though this may have been an oversight. A daily newspaper is available in the lobby but it’s a New York paper, not the local Post-Gazette.

The bathroom is also spacious and generously appointed, though someone forgot to include shampoo and conditioner, which were promptly sent upon request. I did notice and report what I suspect is a design flaw in the glass shower door, which persistenly left a puddle when I exited the tiled shower. With a ledge, corner caddy for soap and rain-style shower, plus a bath and separate toilet area, accessories and quality towels, I was satisfied.

Fairmont Pittsburgh advertises itself as a luxury hotel and I found that it’s worth what I paid (county taxes are highest among the multiple taxes) for its location, quality and relaxed, businesslike atmosphere. In fact, it’s connected to business offices, so the relatively small hotel staff is happily welcoming and not overzealous. That said, a couple of front desk clerks weren’t the most attentive, failing to make eye contact, but generally staff were friendly and responsive. Check in and check out were both swift and professional. I really like that staff mostly left me alone to do business and come and go while nodding in recognition or extending a short greeting. They usually knew the answers to my questions, i.e., about the area, facilities, etc., when asked. Doorman Ron offered a tip that I walk to Heinz History Center, which I did in spite of the cold, rainy weather. I needed the exercise, though the fitness center’s very functional, too, so I’m glad I did.

I ate at the main restaurant twice. I first went for a solo breakfast, which was served exactly and promptly as I ordered (crisp, not limp or overcooked, bacon, eggs scrambled easy and fresh tomatoes) which was delicious, and again when I met someone for lunch. I ordered the salad and a pot of tea and both were fine. The restaurant, which my luncheon guest, who’s a longtime Pittsburgher, knew by its former name Habitat, is unfortunately called fl.2 (that’s the name). There’s a bar there, too, with a happy hour, which I would’ve enjoyed trying out if I’d had the time. The restaurant wallpaper shows wear and tear; again, not the best for what ought to be a four or five-star hotel. But fl.2 and its excellent staff really is a top property asset. The second floor place is perfect for conversation, conferences and catching up. I think this is because it’s removed from the main hotel traffic and action and, while there’s a partial view overlooking the Fairmont Pittsburgh‘s unique location near where major avenues converge at an angle toward Point State Park and where the Monongahela River and Allegheny River merge into the Ohio River, the view does not dominate the experience.

In summary, I think the secret of the Fairmont Pittsburgh success is its understated air, which emanates from a downtown business approach matched by its removal from potentially hectic surroundings due to its island-like setback and trim, elegant design. This is not a showcase hotel, so its guests and staff are probably disinclined to strut and show off. Andy’s, a casual bar off the lobby which is probably named for Pittsburgh artist Andy Warhol though I’d like to think is named for Pittsburgh capitalists Andrew Mellon and Andrew Carnegie, offers a DJ and live jazz band on certain nights. Both sounded terrific as I walked by, giving Andy’s and the Fairmont an inviting and not too solicitous sense that guests can relax, mingle and achieve solitude.

An Objectivist in Pittsburgh

Blake Scholl addresses Objectivists in Pittsburgh. (Photo by Scott Holleran)

Watching Boom Supersonic founder and CEO Blake Scholl address this summer’s Objectivist Conference in Pittsburgh, I was struck by the newness, youth and growth of the movement to advance Ayn Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism. Blake is a friend whom I’ve known since he was a student at Pittsburgh’s distinguished university named for two great American capitalists — Andrew Mellon and Andrew Carnegie — at the end of the 20th century. Today, Blake’s a leading new voice for capitalism, seeking to reclaim and restore supersonic air travel.

As the only philosophy to advocate capitalism on the ethics of egoism, which Ayn Rand (1905-1982) reduced to what she boldly and, I think, rightly called the virtue of selfishness, Objectivism is perfect for attracting, inspiring and guiding productive achievers such as Blake Scholl, who departed after his talk in Pittsburgh to Paris, where he tripled orders for Boom Supersonic’s new jet (its XB-1 Supersonic Demonstrator is scheduled to fly at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California in 2019). The system of ideas created by the author of Atlas Shrugged is bound to foster businessmen such as Blake Scholl, who presented his vision for aviation based on speed, convenience and quality before what the Ayn Rand Institute claims is its largest annual Objectivist Conference.

Pittsburgh

The city of steel, bridges and exemplary education, Pittsburgh, too, is the perfect place to exhibit an enticing preview of the manmade. Pittsburgh was at the crux of creating the world’s single, greatest period of productive achievement, the Industrial Revolution. This magnificent city, where pioneering soldiers, frontiersmen, industrialists, doctors and artists protected and forged the nation’s most enduring new enterprises — in medicine, engineering, energy, movies, television and the arts — continues to be underestimated. Just like America, Ayn Rand and the best minds.

Certainly, Boom’s Blake Scholl is not infallible; he may make mistakes in executing his vision. However, with Blake’s presentation, the Objectivist movement reaches a higher point — fittingly, in a tower located next to railroad tracks at the south bank of the Monongahela River in a proudly industrialized metropolis which climaxes at a golden triangle pointing West, stretching into lush, green hills. This year’s OCON included lectures on intellectual property, stoicism and the gold standard. Ayn Rand biographer Shoshana Milgram delivered insightful talks on Rand’s interviews with industrialists and an examination of Rand’s favorite novel, which is about building a grain elevator. There was a screening and discussion of the Oscar-nominated documentary Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, trivia and talent events and a panel discussion on free speech with Flemming Rose, a journalist who once published a Mohammed cartoon and still needs police protection. Pittsburgh doctor Amesh Adalja spoke on the history of infectious disease in the city where his heroes, Drs. Thomas Starzl and Jonas Salk, made medical history. OCON Pittsburgh — during which the Pittsburgh Penguins won hockey’s Stanley Cup and I visited family and friends and saw the Pittsburgh Pirates defeat the Colorado Rockies at PNC Park — included tours of the Homestead blast furnace once owned by Andrew Carnegie‘s U.S. Steel, Henry Clay Frick’s (1849-1919) home and owned works of art and Fallingwater, the home Frank Lloyd Wright designed for Pittsburgh department store owner Edgar Kaufmann in 1936. I was writing TV scripts on deadline during the conference and missed some talks, events and mixers. And, while certain conference services, staff and events failed, fell flat or need improvement, others were good, new or interesting.

Blake Scholl’s talk stands out as an Objectivist hallmark. That this Carnegie Mellon University graduate stood as a businessman against the cynicism and anti-intellectualism of our times to demonstrate that the good is possible and that air transportation can and ought to be grand, fast and glorious realizes Ayn Rand’s depiction of man as a heroic being. That he did it in Pittsburgh is perfectly rational. So, here comes evidence that the potential for the gleaming, industrialized future Ayn Rand’s idealistic novels envision, promise and dramatize can be made real. Whatever happens on the day after tomorrow, to paraphrase a condensed description of Atlas Shrugged — a novel, it must be recognized, which also depicts a dramatic episode of aviation adventure — this is true, which is cause for all thinkers to want more of what Objectivism explains and offers for living here on earth.

Review: Dodger Stadium

I hadn’t been to Dodger Stadium for years when I decided to watch a baseball game during daytime like I did when I was a kid.

Having childhood memories of watching men play ball from the bleachers at Wrigley Field and with my best friend at Comiskey Park in Chicago, I first came to the home of the legendary Los Angeles Dodgers with high expectations long ago with my friend Randy, who now runs a baseball academy.

I was not disappointed. The place, which opened for business on April 10, 1962, had become less than ideal, however, under previous ownership. Though I live and work close to Dodger Stadium (and I’ve covered sports, including baseball, for newspapers), I hadn’t attended a Dodger game since before I created this blog.

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Dodger Stadium exterior Summer 2016. Photo by Scott Holleran © Copyright 2016 Scott Holleran. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without the permission of Scott Holleran.

Seeing this summer’s games at Dodger Stadium brings back the joy of attending a baseball game. Los Angeles is the second largest city in America and LA’s Southern California ethos is distinctly American. But the challenge of modern living here is the same as anywhere in the deteriorating United States. Anything run by the government—hospitals, schools, roads—is a bureaucratic mess. This fact only makes a day at Dodger Stadium more of a marvel.

While I’m sorry to say that the ballpark was built after LA’s government demanded that Brooklyn Dodgers’ owner Walter O’Malley grant the deed to LA’s Wrigley Field in order to move the team to Los Angeles—and Los Angeles violated property rights, invoking eminent domain, to build it—Dodger Stadium remains an outstanding achievement.

Designed, engineered and constructed with tiered levels and entrances and convenient parking for each area, it’s easily accessible, so I choose to drive, park and walk. It is better to arrive early for a chance to explore the clubs, bars, grills, shops, playgrounds and picture spots. Nestled in the hills of northeast LA, Dodger Stadium affords sweeping views. A seat in the upper reserve section puts the Hollywood sign in plain view. Sights of LA’s skyline, hillsides, suburbs, palm trees and surrounding mountain ranges are all included in the price of admission and the sight lines of the playing field are fine. There really isn’t a bad view of the field, though the creep of sponsor signage is obstructive, especially in right field.

Buying tickets online is relatively painless and the admission process is simple. After a security check, show your smart phone ticket and parking pass or print them and follow the signs to your seat. After a safety announcement, ceremonial balls, pitches and the national anthem, and broadcaster Vin Scully’s context-setting pre-game clip, the Dodgers and opponents take the field. Before the game’s over, whenever that happens, visitors are treated to songs (Rodgers’ & Hammerstein’s “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from Oklahoma!, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame”), short promotions, occasional gifts and gambling, cheers, replays on ballpark monitors everywhere and the seventh inning stretch. Alcohol is served for a limited time during the game. Concession prices are inflated, of course, though guests can bring regular sized bottled water, snacks and backpacks. Making a video of the game violates team rules and fans can visit Dodgers.com for details and information on tours, etc. If you don’t want to eat Dodger Dogs ($6), healthy food pretty much means eating a salad (they’re good).

Dodger Stadium Summer 2016. Photo by Scott Holleran © Copyright 2016 Scott Holleran. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without the permission of Scott Holleran.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are rightly focused on athletic improvement (and taking care of Corey Seaver after he was beaned in the right wrist during yesterday’s game against the Phillies) but, judging by my recent game attendance, the stadium meets the ownership’s goal of restoring a safe, family-friendly spectator sports experience. From upper decks to club, premium and box seating, Dodger Stadium offers a terrific game day of baseball. With driving and exclusive Uber deal options, as well as shuttle bus and bicycling accommodations, transportation is relatively accessible. Seats are comfortable, restrooms are spotless, ushers are helpful and everyone is excited to be there.

The reason: to cheer for men of ability to play this wonderful sport with its sense of being suspended in time—and to watch LA’s Major League baseball team play to win. This season, the Dodgers have been in and out of first place and, from group gatherings of co-workers and families to school field trip students, celebrity guests and honored war veterans, the range of spectators primarily come for the grace, thrill and playfulness of the game.

Big screens show player statistics, trivia games, kiss and tot camera shots, welcome historical clips of Dodgers’ numbers 55 (Orel Hershiser), 42 (Jackie Robinson) and six (Steve Garvey) and, of course, those sharp, pre-game roundups courtesy of reporter Vin Scully in his final broadcasting season. Dodgers’ pride shows, from attentive custodians and parking attendants to vendors, cashiers and on-site Los Angeles Policemen. They make the 56,000-seat Dodger Stadium, the nation’s first privately financed ballpark since Yankee Stadium in 1923, a relaxed, friendly and rational refuge from modern madness.

As with any great American city’s baseball team, Dodger fans make attending baseball at the stadium a unique experience. My favorite part of seeing the Dodgers compete at Dodger Stadium, besides getting seriously if temporarily away from the egalitarian rot wasting the world, is being among decent, hardworking and happy Southern Californians who cheer for the Dodgers to win. Baseball is still the great American sport. LA’s renewed Dodger Stadium is once again one of the best places to watch men play ball.


Related link

The History of Dodger Stadium (April 10, 1962)

Nationalism, Statism and Propaganda

Nationalism, Statism and Propaganda

This month’s major political conventions will be historic. Nationalist Donald Trump, presumptive nominee of the philosophically bankrupt Republican Party, and welfare-statist Hillary Clinton, presumptive nominee of the New Left-dominated Democratic Party, are the most untrusted and, incidentally, unpopular presidential candidates in modern history. Clinton, exonerated this week by the Obama administration under a cloud of suspicion after the attorney general met with her spouse, the ex-president Bill Clinton, will be the first woman nominated for the presidency by a major party. Trump, generating controversy as always and this time by re-posting a Star of David superimposed on a pile of money via social media, will be the first non-Republican and explicit anti-capitalist nominated by the party which once advocated some degree of capitalism and individual rights. Both will be nominated in American states which were once great industrial centers; Clinton in America’s first capital, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Trump in Cleveland, Ohio.

Look for what today’s digital public relations, marketing and social media types call optics at the GOP (July 18-21) and Democratic (July 25-28) conventions. Halting, hair-splitting, cackling Clinton may try to come off as softer, less harsh and hostile and more easygoing as a leader; the safer choice. Spewing, ear-splitting, rambling Trump may try to pass himself off as essentially charismatic and strong, less harsh and hostile and more decisive as a leader; the stronger choice. He will try to be a man of the people, an unapologetic village crier and throwback to pre-Obama days, undoing Obama’s legacy by throwing up tougher, state-sponsored fixes at the strongman’s sole discretion. She will try to appear as a woman of the people, a servant carrying on the Obama presidency’s New Left agenda while silently signalling that the age of statism and egalitarianism—policy dictates defining one’s identity by race, sex or culture—has just begun. The next few weeks will be heavy on optics for two power-lusting frauds in American politics.

Look closer for signs of propaganda, however. Whether at the statist’s or the nationalist’s convention, despite whatever riots, anarchy and attack may be carried out, the coming conventions and 2016 will be filled with symbolism and signs of what’s to come. Trump is a master of this—Clinton is not—as he demonstrates by tagging media personalities, streams and channels to generate greater exposure and attract new followers (read my post on The Circus Cycle). Though Trump polls as a loser, polls have been wrong for years, from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s upset loss to this summer’s Brexit victory. I suspect the Trump voter conceals his planned vote from others. Watch for propaganda to foreshadow (unless Libertarian Gary Johnson is elected president) the new presidency.

TCOHG

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Propaganda, as shown at a recent exhibit at the Richard Riordan Central Library in Downtown Los Angeles, has the power to push a civilized nation to dictatorship. Through visual manipulation, such as digital memes, cartoons and posters, especially in today’s increasingly anti-conceptual, perceptual-level culture, the public can more easily be persuaded of certain assertions. National Socialist propaganda, including promotions for Hitler’s Mein Kampf (which translates as My Struggle), was thoroughly premeditated. Read Leonard Peikoff’s The Cause of Hitler’s Germany for a fundamental explanation of Nazi Germany.

As displayed in “State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda”, which runs at the Downtown LA library through August 21 (read about the traveling exhibition here), the Fuhrer (“leader”) and his top Nazis clearly grasped the importance of graphic arts in disseminating their philosophy of duty to the state and submission of the individual to serving others, i.e., altruism, in the name of the god-state-people-race. In certain cases, graphics and images glorify the upshot of National Socialism in practice: mass death and total government control of the individual’s life.

The exhibitionproduced by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, shows how “the Nazis used propaganda to win broad voter support in Germany, implement radical programs, and justify war and mass murder”. The exhibit continues in Texas and Louisiana (see the schedule here).

Nazi Propaganda Poster LAPLNazi propaganda posters, movies, art and designs also illustrate attacks on Jews, capitalism and profit. There are other lessons, too. Note the cult of personality employed to foster worship of the charismatic leader. Observe similarities to recent U.S. campaign themes, such as Obama’s “hope and change” paraphernalia, the controversial “Ready for Hillary” capital H with its arrow, and, of course, Trump’s chronic emphasis on himself as the charismatic leader for nationalism, bellowing against others—illegal immigrants, Moslems, Apple, businesses that trade with China—as causing America’s downfall. Clinton, and especially Sanders, target others, too—businesses, Apple, traders on Wall Street, the wealthy—and both sides explicitly target the individual for persecution.

What is so alarming about the 2016 presidential election, and what makes National Socialist propaganda particularly relevant, is the erosion of freedom of speech in America. Obama’s administration attacks free speech, from censoring news to censoring movies and intimidating Americans who would exercise free speech (read Obama Vs. Free Speech). Clinton, who once proposed outlawing divorce for couples with children, has been a part of Obama’s assault on the First Amendment and she sought to evade public and press scrutiny during her entire four years as secretary of state while denouncing an American film as the cause of an Islamic terrorist act of war on the United States. Trump, who cuts off microphones at press conferences, proposes eliminating free speech by weakening libel law and jokes, then says he means it seriously, about having journalists targeted for state-sponsored death.

NaziFlowChartThese are explicit policy ideas, plans and actions. Insidious state sponsorship of media and the arts, like something emanating from the Nazi flow chart pictured here, includes quasi government control of the Oscars (Michelle Obama Ruins the Oscars) and arts and technology conferences (SXSW).

As the free press, too, diminishes with the spread of quasi-government control of industry, subsidizing state-favored cable TV monopolies like Time Warner and Comcast which own and operate major media (CNN, HBO, Warner Bros. Pictures, MSNBC, NBC, Universal Studios), coupled with the dumbing down of American education and culture, it becomes both easier and less apparent for the state to impose controls, cronyism and influence, i.e., blacklists. Only this summer did Tribune Publishing, which owns the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times and Baltimore Sun, change its name to the term “tronc” (without the quotation marks but with the bad punctuation), an amalgamation of “Tribune online content” in what appears to be a bid to seem modern, generic and anti-conceptual.

Convergence of today’s aggregated, dumbed down media with secretive, oppressive censorship cannot be far behind.

Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, whom the world lost last week, lived his entire life warning of the danger of staying silent while ominous government insidiously gains the power to destroy life. As the summer of ’16—with Clinton, tronc and Trump—goes down shoveling propaganda in conventions and toward a darker history, this is the moment to stay tuned, call statist and nationalist propaganda what it is and speak out.