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Speak Ill of the Pre-Dead: Prepare Your Obits Now!

By: spocko Tuesday May 20, 2014 8:37 pm
Dick Cheney against a flag backdrop

Not dead. Yet.

In the post, “Cheney is Confronted About Imprisoned Torture Whistleblower John Kiriakou,“ jamesjoyce made a comment.

Upon R. Cheney’s death my flag will not be lowered to half mast. May he rot in hell.

I was going to make a snarky comment about him never dying. But he will. And, for the first 24 hours of his death the right wing will chastise anyone who uses the opportunity to vilify him. This tactic is primarily directed to empathetic humans. The right will scour tweets, comments, news programs, Facebook posts and video clips to find anyone who shows happiness at someone else’s death, no matter how vile that person has been in life. “The libs can barely contain themselves, they are jumping for joy, it’s disgusting!”

There will also be a lot of self censorship on the left. Official commentators will want to rise above it all and hope that by being civil, the other side will display the same civility upon the death of an icon of the left. Still others will admonish people, “Don’t sink to their level.” A number of people see dancing on anyone’s grave as tasteless, no matter how vile the person was.

So, here’s an idea: Let’s speak ill of the pre-dead now. Before they die.

Pretend you are a time traveler and this is a loophole. You can share your thoughts, emotions and potential actions before the event you know will happen. In the process you can now worry about external criticism and or self censorship.

Here is how it would work.

  1. Write the obit you would want to see, “He had a black heart and he lead the country into a dark place where our values and our constitution were destroyed in these ways…”
  2. Describe the sadness or joy that you might be experiencing. “When he dies I will be very sad. That means that he will no long have the possibility of being prosecuted for war crimes.” Or “I will be happy when he dies because Satan needs more demons.”
  3. Finally, we could talk about the actions you will take, like James Joyce did, upon his death. “As a response to this man’s actions, I will donate money and time to “The Military Profiteering Crimes Investigation Fund, two organizations that support journalists doing research on torture documents, and purchase a sticker of Calvin peeing on the head of Dick Cheney for my pick up truck”

During the first 24 hours following his death you link back to your thoughts about the dead person. Technically you can say, “Hey, I’m not saying anything bad about him NOW. I wrote this months ago.”

The MSM always prepare their obits in advance, they know what they are going to say and will use careful neutral language like, “A polarizing figure,” “controversial” and  ”arguably the most powerful Vice President in modern history” but your future obits don’t have to be that way. You can detail actions that you think need to be included that might get left out of neutral speak. It might also get you to fund that profiteering crimes fund now so that qui tam laws can be applied by the time he crumps. Then the official obit can include the multi-million dollar judgement against Halliburton that impacted it’s stock and profits in the weeks before he died. That would be a nice send off, especially when the judgement nets you 15%.

The recreation of the legacy of powerful figures in America is a full time job for some people. Did you know that there is a group of people who want to have monuments or buildings named after Reagan in all 50 states? That doesn’t even count St. Reagan’s deification on Fox News nightly.

 

Rove Knows What The Media Likes: ABC Radio’s Case Study

By: spocko Wednesday May 14, 2014 4:41 pm

I know what boys like
I know what guys want
I know what boys like
I’ve got what boys like
The Waitresses, from “Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful?”

A week before Dr. Karl Rove’s comment about Hillary Clinton’s medical status some friends and I were discussing how the left doesn’t aggressively pursue certain media strategies. I responded with a rant about all the roadblocks that are in place or thrown up by organizations and individuals to block certain ideas. They might be happy to benefit from the results but don’t want to hire, pay for or provide legal and technical support for people who can pull it off. Then they see what Rove did and bemoan their inability to do the same.

I’ve told my clients in the past, “You want to make headlines? Burn down your building.” They laugh, but file that nugget away. If I was an arsonist, and they wanted to collect insurance money and help the stock tank, that might have been some excellent and profitable advice.

If you want to, you can create all sorts of stories that are media friendly and move an idea or story forward. But your side, company or cause has to have the right personality to do it. I’ve pretty much given up on suggesting how to create certain types of stories to some groups. They don’t want the risk. Great, I get that, but later when they are talking about how the right is great with messaging and the media I want to say, “No they aren’t. They just know what the media likes and gives it to them. You could too. But it takes brains, courage and support.”

If you aren’t going to make your own news, can you beat back their news? Yes! Follow my friends at Media Matters. But trying to get the media to be better is not as effective as using their needs for your own purposes. But it might weaken the next story the right wing pushes. They might look up a second source or reframe a story.

Here is today’s case study. This morning I heard ABC Radio News at 10:00 on the right wing station KSFO in SF. It was about Karl Rove’s comment about Hillary Clinton. I tried to find the audio on line, but it was not up yet in SF. However, the same story was up on the ABC Radio website. The story had a very different tone than the one I heard on KSFO. Later, I got the audio from the KSFO broadcast. I was right. Although it was the same story, the intros were very different. One was tailored to the right wing station, the other for a more mainstream audience. I put them together in a video so you can hear the differences. Then, if you are so inclined you can tweet at ABCradio and ask, “Hey what’s the deal?”

Will calling their attention to this have any impact for the next time the right wing feeds them the kind of juicy stories they like? Maybe. Remember, they have a reporter dedicated to Hillary. Or maybe they will just wonder why we haven’t figured out what they like.

Which US-made Internet Routers Did the NSA Tamper With?

By: spocko Monday May 12, 2014 3:59 pm

Today in the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald has an excerpt from his new book No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State He reveals how the NSA tampers with exported US-made internet routers, servers and other computer networking devices.
Kitteh Lovez Teh Interweb

 A June 2010 report from the head of the NSA’s Access and Target Development department is shockingly explicit. The NSA routinely receives – or intercepts – routers, servers and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers.

The agency then implants backdoor surveillance tools, repackages the devices with a factory seal and sends them on. The NSA thus gains access to entire networks and all their users. The document gleefully observes that some “SIGINT tradecraft … is very hands-on (literally!)”.

Over at Boing Boing. Joel Moore asks a couple of great questions.

Two questions immediately come to my mind:

national-lampoon-march-1983

1) How exactly does the NSA “interdict” these shipments? Hijacking? Bribery? Willing cooperation of someone in the supply chain?

2) How deeply embedded is this software? Can it be wiped by reinstalling firmware downloaded directly from the vendor?

These are great questions. They really should be addressed by the manufacturers. There are only handful of major manufacturers of the products in question and tech journalists know who they are. Cisco, Juniper and a few others. 

But who is going to ask them? For all we know they are all cooperating under NSA security letters so they can’t talk about it. They can’t even tell people that they have a security letter. Would they welcome a chance to address this issue as a way to clear their name? Reassure customers?

One of the parts about this story that I find fascinating is that the US accused the Chinese of doing this to the routers they were sending here. In this regard they are like the RW media. Whatever they accuse the left of doing, THEY are doing. Based on this principle, what else did the US intelligence community accuse foreign intelligence agencies of doing?

Speaking of the intelligence community, today on Fresh Air is a great interview with two from NSA analysts talking about an upcoming Front Line show, United States of Secrets. where they discuss how the spying program was developed.

Once again I see just how horrible the system is, and how people who want to do the right thing and go through channels are ignored. Then, when someone finally goes to the outside, the government viciously attacks them.

How can insiders fix things that are wrong? How can outsiders help them? One way might be to look at stories like this and use them as a window of opportunity. Hopefully management will not be as pig headed as the US government when it comes to listening to internal voices. After all, their silence has now hurt their profits.  We all know that the most important thing is maintaining profits. Silence is no longer golden.

Speak now or forever hold your tweets.

How Will Fox React to a Post-Snowden Terrorist Attack? Hint: Think Benghazi Not 9/11

By: spocko Wednesday May 7, 2014 9:49 pm

After 9/11 I remember predicting another attack. Yet in the US it didn’t happen. (Of course we don’t count the anthrax attack because reasons. That also happened on the Bush/Cheney/Rice watch, but never mind.)

Suppose a third attack had happened under Bush/Cheney. How would Fox News have responded? They would rally around the President. It would be clear it wasn’t Bush/Cheney’s fault, even if it was. They would have a million excuses. Then they would shift the blame to anyone who got in the way of a “gloves off” torture program or the “we’ll surveil everyone” mindset. Anyone who wasn’t in favor of their new martial law was palling around with terrorists and responsible for the last attack.

Fox would target us, people who believe torture is wrong and ineffective, war is not the answer and who think maintaining our civil liberties make us stronger, not weaker. We would be blamed. Even if we could show that all the things that Bush/Cheney did that sacrificed our civil liberties still didn’t keep us safe. So let’s prepare now for this.

Imagine an attack under Obama. An attack where supposedly the NSA is now forced to ‘blind’ themselves and the CIA have had to “put the gloves back on” and not torture people. How will Fox News respond? Will they rally around the President? Will they point out that the NSA surveillance is still on but it still didn’t stop and the attack? Will they remind people that torture doesn’t work, is morally wrong and ‘enhanced interrogation’ still went on under Obama, and it still didn’t catch the terrorists? Don’t make me laugh, I have chapped lips.

Fox News will lose their minds! And they will try to take the country with them against us. Not the terrorists. Against the people who might have thought there was another way to deal with the threats, especially the threats that were created by the rights’ over reactions. I can hear Fox anchors screaming now:

Because of the Snowden revelations the NSA couldn’t do their job! The terrorists knew how to evade capture! The CIA couldn’t get good intelligence out of suspects because they wouldn’t use enhanced interrogation! Dick Cheney and George Bush kept us safe! Obama is soft on terrorism! 

All sorts of worthless and horrific programs and structures that “kept us safe” under Bush/Cheney/Obama/Biden will be given a bigger budget. Even if those programs could never have caught the perpetrators.

I though of all this while watching Person of Interest. It is one of the finest TV shows on network television. Don’t go slumming into 24 for your fighting terrorism fix, check out PoI.

At 18:16 into the show the person who is responsible for the AI program “Northern Lights” explains how it has kept us safe from terrorism in the PoI world. This is the speech that I’ll bet the NSA is still giving today if anyone dares to question how effective they are. As Kevin Gosztola and others have pointed out, their success are mostly an illusion. As a secret agency with no oversight, they can always play the,”We really DID save you, but it’s classified” card. 

In the video clip shown, I really like speech by Control talking about the terrorist plot they busted. I also wonder if, during all this back and forth about Northern Lights (the NSA-like surveillance AI program) a terrorist attack happens. The Fox News in their world would be all over it! “Obama shuts off machine protecting us! Anti-surveillance group has innocent blood on their hands!” The head of the NSA will be seen as a hero, and people whining about their “civil liberties’ are making America unsafe. “That attack could have been stopped.” Is what the head of the Northern Lights program will say, “But we were told to shut it down. If the American public wants to be safe again, they need to let us turn it back on. ”

So when the next attack happens, how will we respond? We already know how Fox News will. We are the real enemy to them. Obama is not their President. In a time of crisis I would like to think they would stand with the President of the United States like many of us did with Bush. But look at what they are doing with Benghazi, and ask. “What would Roger Ailes do?”

UPDATED.

We are seeing votes to ‘rein in the NSA‘ will future votes split on partisan lines?  Then when the next attack happens they can say, “I didn’t want to rein them in!”

What to Tweet When You See a “Both Sides Do It” Story UPDATED

By: spocko Monday May 5, 2014 6:17 pm

When I’m sick and tired of certain media conventions, I write a post about it. If you are like my friend Jimmy Dore you write a funny comedy bit about it. Stewart, Colbert and Oliver all mock the media, but is it making the media change? Is there something we can do besides point and laugh?

Today’s sick and tired media phrase is “Both sides do it.” This phrase is designed as a preemptive answer to the right wing’s screaming about a story and to help show that ”the liberal media doesn’t have a liberal bias.” The idea has become internalized by the MSM. My friend Eric Boehlert at Media Matters has written about this sliver in the heart of the MSM for years. Atrios makes a pithy comment about it every few months.

Why “Both Sides Do It” Short Circuits Brains

The magic phrase is destructive because it breaks down math and evidence in the heads of journalists. It converts a complex equation into 50-50!  For example, this magic phrase can take a $5 BILLION dollar multi-decade program and make it equal to a $5 Million five year program with the simple incantation, “Both sides do it.” Shazam!  The readers can now indulge in a “pox on both their houses” thought and move onto The Amazing Spider-man 2: Chock Full O’ Villains

  • $5,000,000,000 DOESN’T Equal $5,000,000 in real world math.
  • However, in “Both Sides Do It” math 5,000,000,000 = 5,000,000 because 50% = 50%

How do we, the non-very serious people, who don’t get invited to “nerd prom” force a break up of this destructive short hand?

What to Do: Read, Laugh then Point and Tweet.

I want to suggest to people that when you see these “both sides do it” pieces directly tweet to the reporters asking for metrics, ratios and names. This doesn’t have to be mean or rude, just persistent. That’s it.

They might engage you and have a 140 character “discussion,” but the point is to start fixing in their mind that the BSDI shorthand comes with a price.

Let me give you an example to practice on.

Today over a Gawker, Adam Weinstein (@AdamWeinstein) wrote this piece. “Conservative Money Front Is Behind Princeton’s “White Privilege“ About Tal Fortgang

“—the privileged white Princeton freshman who wrote so passionately about how he’s not a privileged white guy—no one, not even the New York Times, noted that his post was made possible by a conservative group that bankrolls and grooms college kids for right-wing leadership.”

It was a nice piece. He did research and asked questions other journalists didn’t. Like, “Who helped get Tal Fortgang’s message out there?” He pointed out that the piece was in the “Princeton Tory, an independent campus publication that’s just one of about 80 bankrolled by the Collegiate Network and its parent group, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute.”

As part of his piece he said, ”to be fair” which is usually used after someone has listed a litany of offences from one side.

To be fair, the campus wars aren’t all one-sided: This is a game that liberals have learned to play recently, too. The Center for American Progress, through its Campus Progress and Generation Progress programs, similarly funds left-leaning independent campus publications and grooms fellow travelers for punditing and politics.

Since he felt obligated to check the “Both Sides Do It” box, I felt obligated to write this in the comments

Interesting piece, but could you please include a ratio of the money of one group to the other? As you know quantity, quality and type of support vary greatly between both sides.

Please provide data proving how this is ”similarly funded.” on the left.

He won’t easily be able to for two reasons:

This Is How Gun Loving Radicals Shut Up Gun Using Moderates

By: spocko Friday May 2, 2014 8:25 pm

How do you maintain message discipline in a group? Behold one method.

Recently a Maryland gun dealer, who was planning to sell a smart gun, got death threats from gun-rights activists. The threats worked! He dropped his plan to sell smart guns. This is why the government tippy toes around their activists at Bundy protests and locks up ours at Occupy events.

Here is the video, cued up to the point where he talks about the response he got from the gun loving radicals in charge of messaging: Warning Strong Fucking Language.

“Obviously I received numerous death threats today. I really fucking appreciate that. That’s fucking classy. That’s a great thing for gun rights when you threaten to shoot somebody. That was really splendid.

“If you’re going to kill somebody, shoot the politicians who make these fucking [gun violence prevention] laws. If that’s who you want to fucking go at, shoot the people who make these laws. Take ‘em out in the street, and gun ‘em the fuck down. There’s a goddamn reason why we got these fucking things [guns]. There’s a fucking reason why we got ‘em. And that’s to defend our fucking freedom. Don’t fucking come at me with this shit. That’s to the people who called up and threatened to fucking kill me.”
– Andy Raymond, owner of Engage Armament LLC in Rockville, Maryland

Here is a piece with some back story from the Washington Post. and here is a piece from the Chris Hayes show that should air this evening where they talk about how smart gun technology will have an impact in New Jersey. (I’ll link to it when the video is up.)

If you watch the whole video you can hear him explain how he was for smart guns as a way to bring people on the fence into the fold. He saw this as a way to make money, and convert some people. You see his anger at people he thought would be supporters.  He’s saying “Take the bulls eye off of me! Why not put it on the people who are the real threat? If you are so eager to threaten and kill, why not do it and see what that gets you?”

He starts the video explaining “I’ve been drinking” and says he doesn’t know how to edit the video. That’s bad for him, but insightful for us. Who knows how this will hurt him, but it is helpful to us to see the kind of pressure moderates are in in the gun culture. Remember when we heard RW radio and TV hosts complaining that the moderate Muslims should “reign in” the radical Muslims?  Maybe people who are moderates have more stories to tell but afraid. I don’t blame them.

It’s too bad that he didn’t capture some of the death threat calls with phone numbers or identifying IP information. I suppose ‘ratting out’ those people is seen as less honorable than shooting yourself in the foot on video before the nation.  Besides, who would he turn the information over too? The FBI? Local law enforcement? What would they do to them? Take away their guns?

Each and every step he might take would repudiate what these people stand for. Sometimes I envy the hierarchical right with their “everything is on the table” discipline options for people who don’t toe the party line. But most of the time I don’t. I’m not a death threat kind of guy. I think it’s illegal, but don’t quote me.

Oh and by the way, if you want to help out the people who are trying to deescalate the violence? Take these actions suggested by my friends at the Center to Prevent Gun Violence.   But I won’t threaten you if you don’t.  That’s not how I roll.

Breaking: NBA Bans Clippers Owner Donald Sterling for Life

By: spocko Tuesday April 29, 2014 10:56 am

NBA commissioner Adam Silver today held a news conference to discuss Clippers owner Donald Sterling and the racist comments he allegedly made in a recorded conversation. Silver announced the league is banning Sterling for life from the NBA. The league is also handing down the maximum fine of $2.5 million. –David Cohen, WWL “NBA bans Clippers owner for life”


After watching how the rich get out of crimes and Crisis Management PR people are engaged right along with high-powered defense lawyers, I’m sure that Sterling will be able to come back from this. It will just take enough money and the right strategy of whitewashing his racist rep.

Of course the LA NAACP did cancel his 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award, but will they rescind his 2008 NAACP Presidents Award?

I’m also wondering, are there rehab facilities for racists? Who would run them? Oprah? Rev. Al Sharpton? How long would it take to rehab Bundy or Donald Sterling?

In America these days money solves everything, so how much will Donald Sterling need to spend now to whitewash his racist rep? Will the proceeds of a Clippers sale donated to groups other than the NAACP be enough? Which PR firm will pick him up as a client?

Let’s all keep an eye out for the various ways that people like Bundy and Sterling work to rehabilitate their reps. It will be instructive.

Will he apologize? Or will he simply get in trouble for not being media trained? I was going to write a long post about media training and the right wings’ belief in it but I think Andy Borowitz said it best with this story.

Republicans Blast Nevada Rancher for Failing to Use Commonly Accepted Racial Code Words.”

Let’s Stop Letting Bundy Supporters Off the Hook

By: spocko Thursday April 24, 2014 2:34 pm

Today Joan Walsh and David Atkins have talked about how politicians and others are distancing themselves from Bundy.

Roger Ailes owns Cliven Bundy now: How dumb opportunism became a right-wing nightmare. – Salon, Walsh

Republicans lie down with racist welfare rancher Bundy, wake up with racist fleas – Hullabaloo, Atkins

Chompers by drainhookHere is something I’d like everyone to notice, and I want you to think about different ways to handle this in the future.

When someone that the Right or the Left has embraced is caught doing or saying something bad the MSM go to the supporters and ask, “So, is he still your guy?” Depending on the offense, and the skill of the people being asked the question, the MSM often let them off the hook. For example, “Here is the statement from their office, saying they deplore racism.” Story over.

Now, if the person who made or said the offensive thing is on the Left, the MSM will give their supporters an opportunity to distance themselves. However, the RW media keep using that offense as a club… forever.  They don’t care if the supporters distanced themselves, the offense wasn’t even that offensive, or was a lie like how they framed Shirley Sherrod.

The few left wing media outlets that actually exists, also often accept the statements and let them off the hook. We use reason and logic and treat them fairly, although we might question the seriousness of the statement. Eventually we say, “They denounced the statement, no need to keep bringing it up.”

Fine. Good for us! But the activist in me wonders:

  • Is a simple denouncement statement good enough?
  • How else can we use their earlier uncritical embracing of the person to drag them down?
  • Do they secretly still get credit from their base if they “dog whistle” the denouncement?
  • Can we go to the people who still are embracing Bundy in his racism and ask them about the denouncements? Example:

Nevada Sen. Heller’s office has immediately condemned the ‘appalling and racist statements’ and have distanced themselves from Bundy, how do you feel about Heller now? Was it a cowardly thing to do, to throw Bundy under the bus?

It appears the racist views in Bundy are integrated into his world view. It’s not something easily carved out. But the statements condemning him make it appear the comments and the person live in separate worlds. (This is actually a feature of the RW authoritarian mindset, the ability to never “merge the files” as Bob Altemeyers says in The Authoritarians.

If we don’t want to hold their feet to the fire, because we are rational and compassionate, who can we get to do it for us?  I suggest we set up the right to do it for us.