How to win hearts and minds

Winning hearts and minds would be a LOT easier if the Left controlled more media. The Right has Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting, Breitbart, AM talk radio, etc. Nationally there are a few lefty media outlets. We need local ones that we control. The numerous lefty and Democratic interests should band together and organize a news and opinion website and/or radio station that is owned by no single group but is managed by a nonprofit aligned with liberal/progressive values.

There are plenty of wealthy progressives in Washington State. Funding such a non-profit should be feasible.

Crowd-funded journalism is needed, because newspapers are closing and down-sizing.

Facebook is a business. People try to use it for sharing with friends and for political organizing.

I spend a lot of time on facebook, and I notice many of my friends spend time there too.

Mostly I use facebook to share political content: either content that I’ve found interesting or content that I myself created (articles, animations, witticisms, or images).

I also use facebook for fun: cat photos, silly memes, etc.

When one posts something on facebook, one never knows how many people will view the post. Facebook prompts you to pay money to promote the content.

In this podcast, Sam Harris mentions that he sometimes pays facebook money to promote his posts — in cases where he really wants his followers to know about the content.

It’s obvious that facebook is a business whose purpose is to earn money. Nor can we expect them to be entirely philanthropic.

But given the widespread reliance on facebook for education and sharing of information, it behooves us to be aware of the platform’s limitations and to work towards open source alternatives that will better server our needs.

One way to work around facebook’s limitations is to proactively visit the pages of people and groups that we are interested in. Another way is to mention people by name in our posts if we want those people to notice our content. (That feature could be abused and has been abused by some of my friends.)

alternativeTo lists some open source alternatives to facebook.

The issues involved with creating a social network are not at all straightforward, as the issue of fake news demonstrates. People want to use facebook as a soapbox to promote their own ideas. Some of the content is nutty or misinformed. The technical difficulties and the cost are significant too.

But I strongly feel that we need a wikipedia-like open source alternative to facebook that makes the algorithms and choices visible and customizable.

How the Seattle Times could prosper

I’ve never subscribed to the Seattle Times. The reason is that, as a progressive, I disagree with many of the political endorsements by the editorial board.

Yet when I speak with conservatives they often say they dislike the Seattle Times because it’s too liberal! The Seattle Times gets hit from both sides of the political aisle.

Admittedly, the editorial board is more libertarian than conservative. That is, they’re generally liberal on social and foreign policy issues and conservative on tax and fiscal issues.

And it sure is sad and dangerous that journalism is struggling and that the news room and the public have to pay the price.

Yet I have a suggestion about how the Seattle Times and other news outlets can win back subscribers: Stop endorsing candidates and policies. The main purpose of a newspaper should be to present the news as objectively and fairly as humanly possible. The editorial page can still be used to present opposing viewpoints by outside commentators, but except in cases of obvious incompetence or political extremism, the board should avoid partisan politicking.

Will Wikileaks help the Republicans and the military-industrial complex?

It will be ironic if Wikileaks — which was supposed to expose and undercut the power of the military-industrial complex — helps Republicans win the 2016 election.

The revelations about the DNC, about Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, and about private emails may flip the election to Trump. At the very least, the revelations will harm down-ticket Democrats and progressives.

There are plenty of embarrassing stories about Trump and Republicans, and about corruption in the military-industrial complex. But rather than using the Wikileaks revelations to undermine Republican interest and the military, the Obama administration went after Wikileaks and its members.   The Republicans, on the other hand, are successfully using the Wikileaks emails to make Clinton and the DNC appear corrupt.

In general, Republicans are better at exploiting and spinning the news. Partly this is because too many Democrats partake of the corruption and hawkishness. Partly it’s because Republicans have fewer qualms about twisting the truth. Mostly it’s because the GOP has a powerful right wing media to broadcast their talking points.

The only reason Trump has a chance of winning — and the only reason why so many people are attracted to Republican ideology — is the prevalence of right wing media: Fox News, AM talk radio, and Internet trolls. On AM radio the conservative slant is relentless and well-orchestrated.  They manufacture an alternate reality in which Sadaam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks, Obama is a Muslim from Kenya, global climate change is a hoax, and Hillary more corrupt than Bush or Trump.  The hatred of Hillary is deep and visceral.

The Republican Noise Machine molds public opinion and has succeeded in elevating the Clinton email issue to an election-deciding scandal. The fact that George W. Bush had a private email server with much more serious repercussions is ignored. As reported in Newsweek’s article The George W. Bush White House ‘Lost’ 22 Million Emails:

Clinton’s email habits look positively transparent when compared with the subpoena-dodging, email-hiding, private-server-using George W. Bush administration. Between 2003 and 2009, the Bush White House “lost” 22 million emails. This correspondence included millions of emails written during the darkest period in America’s recent history, when the Bush administration was ginning up support for what turned out to be a disastrous war in Iraq with false claims that the country possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and, later, when it was firing U.S. attorneys for political reasons.

Like Clinton, the Bush White House used a private email server—its was owned by the Republican National Committee. And the Bush administration failed to store its emails, as required by law, and then refused to comply with a congressional subpoena seeking some of those emails.

Why can’t Democrats exploit such stories to undercut Republicans? Trump should be 20 points behind in this election.

As Bernie Sanders said, the American public is fed up with hearing about Clinton’s “damn emails.”  The emails should be a footnote issue. Instead, Republicans have largely succeeded at elevating it to an election-deciding issue that supposedly illustrates Clinton’s criminality and unreliability.

How can Wikipedia prevent liars and miscreants from suppressing the truth?

Someone on facebook posted, with apparent approval, a link to the an announcement DOCTORS’ GROUP VOTES TO OPPOSE VACCINE MANDATES. The doctor’s group is the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AARP). It’s webpages (including the announcement above) look official.

But the wikipedia article on AAPS says

The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a politically conservative non-profit association founded in 1943 to “fight socialized medicine and to fight the government takeover of medicine.”[1][2] The group was reported to have approximately 4,000 members in 2005, and 5,000 in 2014.[3][4][5] Notable members include Ron Paul and John Cooksey.[6] Ron Paul’s son, Rand Paul, was a member for over two decades until his election to the U.S. Senate.[7] The executive director is Jane Orient, an internist and a member of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. The AAPS motto, “omnia pro aegroto” is Latin for “all for the patient.”[8] AAPS also publishes the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (formerly known as the Medical Sentinel).

The association is generally recognized as politically conservative or ultra-conservative, and its publication advocates a range of scientifically discredited theories, including the belief that HIV does not cause AIDS, that being gay reduces life expectancy, that there is a link between abortion and breast cancer, and that there are links between autism and vaccinations.

I commend wikipedia for being able to maintain that entry in the face of the expected efforts by supporters of AAPS to edit away the truth.  How do they manage to do it?

Republican Talking Heads Claim Talk has no Power to Influence Beliefs and Behavior

Who incited Christian terrorism?  Not me.  Couldn’t be.

In what could be the greatest hypocrisy in a season of head-spinners, Christianist Republicans—from presidential candidates to congressmen to Fox News bimbos to sleazy video-splicers and wild-eyed sidewalk ranters-with-rosaries—are scrambling to deny that what they say actually matters.

Specifically they claim that they had nothing to do with a shooting rampage at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.

Never mind that conservative Christians in high places have been fanning flames for months, calling women and care providers murderers, pretending to believe Planned Parenthood kills big-eyed babies and sells body parts for profit. Never mind that we call such language “incendiary” because it is incendiary. They are shocked-shocked-I-say, that some wingnut in Colorado actually took their becking at face value and opened fire in a family planning clinic.  Who could have possibly known that all that posturing and lying for political gain might affect someone’s behavior?!  Uh, I mean, it didn’t! It couldn’t. It was just talk!

Did anyone other than the guilty parties themselves fail to notice the bizarre irony here?  The people now hastening to assure us that talk doesn’t matter are people who earn big salaries talking. We refer to them as talking heads because that’s what they do, day in and day out, month in and month out.  Talk, talk, talk. Why?  Because like all bullies they (and the folks who bankroll them) are betting that words actually can hurt you.

Those most carefully denying any relation between talk and murder are politicians who spend years speechifying in order to change voter behavior, assisted by well-paid communications experts who the big bucks because tweaking words slightly might affect what voters do. They are pulpit pounders who siphon off 10 percent of churchgoer earnings on the premise that by talking to and for God they can influence beliefs, attitudes and behavior. Talk can save souls. In fact, in the Iron Age mythology of the Bible, it can bring whole worlds into existence.  In the beginning was the word. 

But a bloodbath incited by mere words? Stochastic terrorism? A crazy lone wolf who reacts predictably to the fear and fury of the pack? Words erupting into violent action and reaction? Words shattering into the staccato of gun fire, into screams of terror and anguish? Words slurring into the soft gurgle of the dying? Couldn’t be.

Someone should tell America’s politicians, ad men, preachers and campaign consultants to pack up and get jobs where they actually have some influence. If, as they claim, they’re not capable of getting one crazed wingnut among millions to pick up a gun and open fire after months of professionally crafted goading and millions of dollars of airtime, they don’t deserve their big salaries.

Originally published at ValerieTarico.com

Successful Climate Justice Activism

Look what we have accomplished together! (see the media roundup below)
Paddle In Seattle
Together we were:

Paddle in Seattle Stranger CoverLed by the beauty and spirit of the moment,

Emboldened by the drums and wise words of the Duwamish and Native Canoe families and the voices of those on the front-lines of the climate crisis,

D
riven by a moral obligation to take principled and bold action in service of a habitable planet and younger generations.

300+ people (and countless others on land) took to the water, paddling straight to Shell’s Arctic destroyer to demand climate justice.

It is in these moments that we solidify the courage to act upon our convictions. The Paddle In Seattle has seized headlines across the world and has inspired others to join the movements for climate justice.

Thank you for sharing in our vision and for striving to manifest it. Collectively we have done something truly beautiful and powerful.

Kayaktivists confront artic destructionNow, we must use this momentum and spotlight to push onward.

Right now, we are resuming kayaktivist trainings and organizing a rapid response network for when Shell dares to leave for the Arctic. We’re also connecting the solar powered People’s Platform with upcoming night-time paddle actions.

 

 

Media Round-Up:

Chief Seattle is Watching banner at Jack Block with Native      Canoes by Alex GarlandThe news from the weekend made national and global headlines in addition to completely saturating Seattle media (best- KOMO 4 TV, KIRO 7 TV, Q13 Fox TV, Stranger, Seattle PI, West Seattle Herald) This has completely changed the conversation around Arctic drilling and rocketed it to being a top national and even international issue. Even Obama found himself extolling the virtues of protecting the Arctic at a USCG Academy commencement address.

Here are a few highlights: on Saturday, the protest was #3 on BBC World News (right beneath the ISIS raid and Morsi’s death sentence, to give you perspective). The Guardian went wild with coverage as well (here, here, here, and here) and it even reached Australia!

The Associated Press story was picked up in nearly every major paper across the country from Atlanta to Minneapolis to Dallas and on ABC and Yahoo news.

The coverage from the NBC affiliate, King 5 TV, was picked up nationally.

The photos were particularly well-traveled with even Leonardo Dicaprio posting the aerial kayak photos on his Instagram.
Paddle In Seattle
Here is a roundup of the photos from Grist.

The speeches all came from native and impacted people telling us powerful truths. In fact, after traveling to Seattle from the North Slope, Mae Hank and Faith Gemmill-Fredson – founder and executive director of the grassroots indigenous network REDOIL- confronted Shell at the AGM meeting in London. Faith spoke directly to Shell shareholders saying “The moral and financial burden of the irresponsible decision to drill in the Arctic is too risky to consider.”

Paddle In SeattleArctic drilling dominated the coverage of the meeting, casting serious investor doubt on the project.

Earlier in the week, Kayaktivists were live on MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, followed by an amazing segment on Rachel Maddow during which she spent several minutes reading out-loud the riveting and terrifying piece “The Wreck of the Kulluk.”

The Monday following the actions, there was even more national coverage. Here are just a few of the highlights: USA Today, NPR, Slate.

Lastly, #ShellNo and “Arctic drilling” were trending on Twitter and Facebook, respectively!

Floating Banner Defend The Arctic Climate Justice Now

New Kayaktivism Training Dates:

 

 

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!

Donate online HERE or send checks to PO BOX 278, Vashon, WA 98070

Brouhaha about Freedom Socialist Ad

On a right-wing email list I monitor I saw a message claiming that the Freedom Socialists in Seattle we’re offering $13/hour for a web developer position while, at the same time, demanding $20 for a minimum wage. I found the source of the email: this article: Minimum wage group offers pay that undercuts the wage they’re demanding. Here’s what the email and the article say:

In another case of reality trumping idealism, a progressive group advocating for a dramatic bump in the federal mandatory minimum wage has inadvertently revealed a bit on unintentional hypocrisy.

The Seattle-based Freedom Socialist Party needed a Web developer, so it put out an online job posting. It describes the necessary qualifications and job responsibilities, and it even clearly states the hourly wage.

Problem is the Freedom Socialist Party isn’t offering its future Web developer nearly as much as the minimum wage it’s demanding from the government. The party wants a $20 mandatory minimum wage, but it’s willing to pay a Web developer only $13 per hour.

A similar article has links to the ads, at Indeed.com and at Craigslist.

But when I visit the ads, all I see is “Compensation: DOE, plus benefits.” No mention of $13/hr. What’s the DOE rate?  Is this a brouhaha about nothing?

Future of Independent Media:

Independent journalist Mark Taylor-Canfield talks with Norman Goldman about efforts to bring back progressive and independent voices to the Northwest US media. KPTK(Seattle) & KPOJ(Portland) went off the air, sparking groups like Progressive Radio Northwest and KRXY to launch campaigns to establish new broadcast stations and networks in Washington and Oregon.