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by spocko

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

8:37 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

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

4:41 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

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.

by spocko

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

6:17 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

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: Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

Let’s Stop Letting Bundy Supporters Off the Hook

2:34 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

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.

Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

Crow Gets Two Cats to Fight or Care2 gets Microsoft to Attack Google on Privacy Violations

1:03 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Microsoft Attacks Google for Privacy violationsWhile clicking on a story about Republicans being bribed (old news, yawn) I got a pop-up ad that said, “Tell Google to stop going through your email to sell ads.” (link) It was sponsored by Microsoft’s Outlook.com. I clicked on it and was taken to Care2 to sign the petition.

I found this petition fascinating, because it represents one corporation attacking another corporation with the intent to force the second corporation into a making a change in their privacy policy. (I should point out that of course Microsoft ALSO goes though your Outlook mail to provide ads. How are they different? You get to choose how targeted your ad is. If you give them no info they send you generic ads.)

There is an old saying, “Let’s you and him go fight.” Setting two corporations up to fight each other to get a result that you want is pretty clever. We aren’t the only species that thinks so. Here is a video of a crow prodding two cats to fight each other, for entertainment.

 Now I don’t know if this petition was Care2′s idea and they sold it to Microsoft or the idea came from Microsoft. Care2 is an interesting company and they have clearly put a lot of thought into how to use corporations’ power and money for good. They are also a B Corporation which is a excellent choice for a company. Care2 says their goal is to, “Make it easy for everyone to live a healthy, green lifestyle and impact the causes they care about most.” They have lots of non-profit partners like Sierra Club, Union of Concerned Scientists and NRDC as well as for-profit partners, like PepsiCo’s Gatorade, Ares Management’s Beauty Rest  Mattresses and Pfizer’s ADHD drugs.

One of components to the Spocko Method is pitting one corporation against another by using Corporation A’s stated values or brand against Corporation B. We contacted an advertiser at Corporation A and pointed out that their brand was being tainted by the comments of a RW radio host employed by Advertiser B. Note, this is NOT a boycott. We didn’t threaten to stop buying product. We convinced one corporation to follow their own stated values and they did.

The Spocko Method has been wildly successful. Corporations and syndicators of RW radio hosts have lost 10s of millions of dollars when it was used on them. It is what lead to Glenn Beck getting fired by Fox. It caused Rush Limbaugh’s syndicator to take a massive revenue hit and Rush to lose WABC in NYC.

I want to encourage this new activity of getting one corporation to attack another corporation over their policies and suggest to my friends in the progressive activism business to figure out more ways to make this happen. I also think it’s smart to make money off of one company challenging another company to be better. It’s leverage with a pay off. I wish I had figured it out.

Cross posted at Spocko’s Brain

by spocko

Is Jimmy Carter the Reincarnation of Eleanor Roosevelt? Exclusive Photo Proof!

8:01 am in Uncategorized by spocko

Jimmy Carter Reincarnation of Eleanor-Roosevelt

(Photo Comparison Exclusive, MUST CREDIT SPOCKO’S BRAIN! Creative commons license)

I spotted this photo of Eleanor Roosevelt on her pistol permit for New York State. I noticed a similarity with Former President Jimmy Carter so I put his photo on the card next to her so you can see it too.

Her getting a pistol permit reminds me that some people hated her. Did they hate her for her ideas or just because she was a woman? My Dad’s family didn’t like her at all. I don’t know why, but ever since I found out I’ve been reading up on Eleanor and her role in helping America get through the Depression with our soul and with new social solidarity systems in place. Systems like Social Security.

On Friday the Social Security Trustee’s report came out. We found out yet again that Social Security is in good shape. So is Medicaid. Yet people like Pete Peterson still think it is a problem. For more detail on just how full of it that the Social Security attackers are, listen to this interesting segment with my friend Alex Lawson of Social Security Works while talking to Sam Seder on Monday. (Sam was filling in for Thom Hartmann)

I was struck by the fact that there are a group of people whose job it is destroy aspects of America that help keep us healthy, fed, housed and connected. Why do they hate other Americans so much? Is it because they want the Social Security money to go to Wall Street or do they also want to see others suffer? Is it because they don’t see their own connection with others? 

This weekend I was reading Noam Chomsky book Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire. (I just love to name drop this book, yeah I not only read it, but did it at the beach! Look at me, I’m a badass intellectual!) In the book Chomsky talked about this fear the elite have of social solidarity systems like public education and Social Security.

‘[Social Security is] a system based on the concept that you should care for others, that you should care whether elderly people you don’t know can live decent lives. You can’t have that sort of thing. If a widow somewhere doesn’t have food, it’s her problem. She married the wrong husband or didn’t invest properly. In a society in which everyone is out just for themselves, you don’t pay attention to anyone else. ”

-Noam Chomsky Power Systems, p. 157

So how do you position yourself to people if your goal is to destroy the concept of caring for others? You do things like:

1) Downplay the real information.  

So did you hear about this Social Security Trustee report? Was in all over the news you follow? On Twitter? Facebook? Did Fox have on multiple people from the Social Security Trustees to explain how they are doing? Why not?

2) Keep pushing lies. 

FYI. There is not a team of people working for the Social Security Administration actively going out to shoot down the lies spread by the RW belief tanks. I’m not talking about spokespeople “being made available” to discuss Social Security on PBS’ News Hour. I’m talking about an active debunking team in DefCon 1 mode demanding to get on Fox News shows. Maybe someone at Social Security Works does some of this, but not with the kind of PR budget AEI, Cato, Heritage and Pete Peterson’s foundation does.

In today’s media environment the truth is not good enough in the face of active mischaracterization and misinterpretation of information.  Today we have a “The truth lies somewhere in the middle” reporting style. Pete Peterson and his foundations spend millions, ‘educating’ the press (sometimes by paying them to write on the topic they select in special supplemental sections of the Washington Post).

People are “Swiftboating” social security. And the Social Security administration doesn’t feel it is their job to actively go after their attackers. However, if nobody fights back, the lies spread. They become “conventional wisdom.”

3) Encourage people who stoke hate of others.

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by spocko

9 questions the press won’t ask about Cumulus vs. a Flaming Gasbag

11:27 am in Uncategorized by spocko

Have you noticed the Cumulus v. Rush stories in the press lately? What makes me crazy is thinking about all the questions that could be asked of the distributors, media corporations and the people who have made money or spent money on right wing media. Sadly they won’t be asked, although if they were asked I suspect the answers would range from, “No comment.” to, “We don’t have to tell you nothin’ Poindexter” and include lots of, ” We are a private company! Now drop and give me 20 stories on missing white women!”Day 252 - blowing up WildCamp 2011

Although public companies like Cumulus will answer a few questions, those answers will mostly be bullshit. I also know that no one in the press will call them on their doublespeak because shut up. But if I was an old timey journalist, wearing a fedora with PRESS in the hat band I would ask ‘em. I know I wouldn’t get any good answers of course, but it would be fun to watch the squirming. Today’s journalists aren’t about making anyone squirm. Not their job. Getting deeper truthful answers? Not their job. Reporting what they say exactly as they say it? That’s their job.

Here are a few questions I would ask of media companies that syndicate Rush or make money from the ads they sell during the show. I’d start with my natural wide-eyed innocence and then proceed to my grizzled, impatient self and finally ask sarcastic, cynical questions.

1) Why don’t you treat Rush like any other poorly performing asset and dump him for something better?
Answer: [mumble mumble.] He’s a fine asset, he still has the highest ratings in the industry! Frumpy, frumpy, frumpy. There is no one better! Next question.

2) Why don’t you renegotiate his contract?
Answer: We aren’t in a position at this time to discuss contract terms.

They will compare Rush to an athlete with two broken legs. He has to be paid even if he can’t play until the contract is over. As we know from the banking industry only the little people can never walk away from an asset that is under-performing. The big boys do it all the time, why aren’t they now?.

3) Why don’t you find a way out of the contract?
Answer: [ Something, something, pause] At this juncture we don’t have that option.

Translation, “We are trying to figure something out, unfortunately his lawyers are smarter than our lawyers and they removed all the loopholes to get out of it.”

4) Why don’t you demand that Rush find a way to return to profitability? Why don’t you demand that Rush “stop insulting women” so you can reach out to advertisers other than herbal boner pill makers?
Answer: Our conversations with Mr. Limbaugh aren’t subject to public disclosure.

[Behind the scenes with ad sales guys: That fat bastard didn't even return our calls! We've GOLFED with him! I laughed at his stupid dirty jokes! We kept him on when he was popping Oxy like doughnut holes! Oh, his "people" say, "This will blow over. Advertisers will come back." we are tired of waiting Rushbo. Unlike him we have to work and live with real women . Women who put up with him when he made us money but now won't buy our line, "Sure he is a pig, but he's our pig and he's making us a butt load of money".]

If you have to ask you aren’t part of the boys’ club, questions.

The following questions should be asked but the answers are usually unstated. Everybody just “knows” the answer. To even mention them is considered naive. Questions such as:
Read the rest of this entry →

by spocko

The Cost to Destroy a Left-Wing Institution? For ACORN It’s Under $300,000, so far

3:57 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

James O'Keefe - Caricature

Fired ACORN Worker Wins $100,000 Settlement From Republican Con-Artist James O’Keefe

Former San Diego ACORN worker, Juan Carlos Vera will receive $100,000 in a settlement from federal criminal and professional liar James O’Keefe, after being secretly video-taped in violation of California law by the Rightwing propagandist. The tape was just one in a series of similar videos, all deceptively edited as part of his 2009 ACORN “pimp” hoax series.

The story of the settlement was originally broken by Wonkette, which published the 3-page settlement document [PDF], yesterday.

    -Brad Friedman, Brad Blog

I was listening to the Emmy award winning comedian David Feldman’s show yesterday talking about the great new film “Janeane From Des Moines” and Feldman kept asking questions about the Presidential candidates that the film maker met and filmed during the Iowa caucus.  He wanted to know, “How can they sleep at night?” specifically he wanted to know how they reconcile in their minds their actions and policies they promoted and their proclaimed Christian beliefs. Jane Wilson, the film maker, had a very insightful response.

People who are quote unquote evil never see themselves as [evil]

- Jane Edith Wilson, Film Maker Janeane From Des Moines

For years people asked me about right wing radio hosts,  ”Do they really believe what they say or is it just an act for the money?” My response is, “Does it matter? I can’t see into their soul, all I know is what they publicly say, and what they do. And what they say is nasty. I will act to lessen their impact, because I think it is the right thing to do.” Then I proceeded to develop a program to separate them from their sponsors and their money. That was my way to go after an institution and individuals that I believe are bad for our democracy and our country.

If you are someone in power, who believes that a left-wing institution, group or person is bad for your goals there are a number of ways you can go about destroying them.  If you need to act quickly one shortcut is to manufacture “evidence” of wrong doings at that institution or from that person. This is useful when you can’t find any real wrong doings. For a price someone will do this for you. It’s good to get someone who believes in your same cause, so they can think they are doing good. But if you can’t find that person, get an actor who will pretend they are doing good. Another trick is to play the journalism “free speech” card so that you can get support from people who love journalism and free speech.

Last year I attended what I called “James O’Keefe University” to learn his techniques and methods. He talked about his real desire to be an actor and how his editing of videos was just like the editing of videos TV news shows do all the time. He encouraged people to do what he did. He then showed clips from the Daily Show from before they were revealed to be deceptively EDITED.  It was all presented as great fun. Stickin’ it to those hypocritical liberals!  I found the entire seminar profoundly depressing for a number of reasons.

First, the people funding O’Keefe, the Koch’s via Americans For Prosperity, understood just how powerful O’Keefe’s deceptive practices were, especially when teamed with the RW media and the more little O’Keefes they can unleash the better.

Second, AFP easily filled rooms with hard core right wingers whose internal beliefs convinced them they were doing heroic work taking down “bad guys” like ACORN. One of their biggest targets? Unions!

Third, and this was the one that hit me the hardest, there was nobody on the left who would fund me to go after Right-Wing institutions like O’Keefe did ACORN, but in an ethically and legal fashion. I have a track record, I have skills, but unlike O’Keefe, I didn’t have a Koch sugar daddy to support me taking on right wing institutions and media.

The AFP  seminar a.k.a “O’Keefe University” pushed the idea of “Citizen Journalist” while using the O’Keefe’s deceptively edited videos as a model for winning. And why not? As far as the Kochs and AFP is concerned O’Keefe was wildly successful.  As Brad Friedman put it:

Thousands of ACORN workers were left unemployed by the O’Keefe/Giles/Breitbart stunt after the U.S. Congress also fell for it. In 2009, shortly after the deceptively edited tapes were released, they passed legislation, signed by President Obama, that federally defunded the four-decade old community organization which had advocated to end predatory lending practices and helped millions of low- and middle-income Americans obtain housing loans and legally register to vote. The group was forced to shut its doors in the wake of the manufactured scandal.

O’Keefe achieved Koch’s and AFPs goals, and it was cheap.  Based on what O’Keefe has said I estimate it cost 70K for the cross country, illegal-taping tour of ACORN offices, 100K for this current settlement and let’s say 130K for those high-priced Republican lawyers. $300,000 to destroy ACORN. What a bargain!  Of course hopefully this settlement will lead to more.

If you knew you could take down Fox News or the Heritage Foundation for $300,000 would you? What if you didn’t have to manufacture evidence to do it? Would you do it then?

Many of you might remember the Book Salon that I hosted with Martin Hickman who wrote the book, “Dial M for Murdoch” In the book he described how a small team consisting mostly of a politician, some journalists and a lawyer exposed the phone hacking scandal at News of the World which led to it being shut down. They did the work legally using real journalism, the legal system and political pressure on a merger deal. I’m pretty confident that something similar could be used on New Corps properties here in the US.  But will anyone? Since Obama won the election does that mean that we stop focusing on right wing media institutions and get back to helping people? It would be nice, and that is the attitude of a number of funders, they really don’t want to fight the right. I think that’s a mistake, because the RW media and institutions are more vulnerable now than they have been in awhile.  Shall we let them regroup? Did they back off attacking us when they had the White House and the senate?

The right has to fund liars and deceivers like O’Keefe because they know they need to cheat to win. We don’t have to, but we do need the will to fight. One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that the mainsteam media will not go after the right wing media. They hate to cover them, they would rather ignore them. As Cenk Uygur said on The Young Turks the other day, one reason nobody on cable goes after Fox is because they either have friends who work there or they expect to work there some day. 

Here’s the deal, the ideas and attitudes of the right wing media and their belief tanks are killing our country. They are the ones who push the failed austerity ideas. They push cuts to earned benefits as a “shared sacrifice” instead of demanding raising revenue. They push ideas that the economy is a deity who must be sated with the lives of your friends and neighbors to support the profits of the one percent. They attack our values and ideals. They support the destruction of our democratic institutions.  And some of them get rich doing it. It doesn’t have to be that way.

I don’t want O’Keefe’s fine to scare off people who want to do real journalism and activism against corrupt institutions and people. If we have the goods we don’t have to deceptively edit. We also have to be smart about the law. I would hate for someone to have good video that could not be used because they didn’t know the law. Here is a link to “Can We Tape?” put out by Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

My friend, Angelo Carusone, at Media Matters wrote an article about the impact of the campaign to separate advertiser’s money from Rush Limbaugh one year after his attack on Sandra Fluke. Nobody is going to jail for alerting advertisers about the vile things Limbaugh has said and continues to say.  Dial Global, a radio syndication company, reported roughly $100 million in losses for 2012 and publicly cited Limbaugh as a significant contributing factor.  I celebrate this success. It was done legally and ethically.  Let’s keep pushing our success and learn from their success and failures.  The country is counting on us.

Creative Commons Attribution image by DonkeyHotey 

by spocko

Why We Should Politicize #Sandy

1:04 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

Starting Monday I’ve been politicizing #Sandy. Specifically I tweeted.Who is to blame2

I can almost hear in my head the right wing radio blowhards responding to this comment with their mocking strawman  “The left want you to believe that WE are responsible for hurricane Sandy! Preposterous! It’s like when they blamed Bush for Katrina! My friends, these are “Acts of God! We had nothing to do with it!”

My second tweet was in response to their probably response:

Climate change is an Act of Humans and it contributed to #Sandy therefore #Sandy is no longer just an Act of God.

Monday, , the science writer at Boing Boing, wrote this wonderful post:  Did climate change cause Hurricane Sandy? The answer depends on why you’re asking. It really is a brilliant piece and I encourage you to read it. It addresses the questions that many have as well as the innocent and not so innocent reasons people ask.  (BTW Maggie owes me some Boing Boing swag for a contest I won, if you see her tell her I’m still waiting. Her excuse was she was busy with her book tour Before the Lights Go Out but it’s over now. P.S. I take an XL.)

 Was this [hurricane Sandy] an unavoidable act of nature? Or was this something caused directly by changes to Earth’s climate that have happened because we burn fossil fuels which increase the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

Again, there’s not an easy answer. And, again, part of the problem here is that we’re expecting science to operate on the scale of American media news cycles, which doesn’t really work. We want to talk about this while the storm is raging or, barring that, at least immediately afterwards. But scientists aren’t really going to have anything particularly deep to say about this specific storm for months, if not years. During that time, data will be analyzed and compared, and other events will happen, and that’s really the stuff that we need in order to say much of anything other than, “We don’t know for certain.” In some ways, expecting anything else means forcing scientists to speculate and extrapolate in ways they aren’t usually comfortable with and that aren’t a terribly great way to understand the big picture.

[Emphasis mine because that is a really important insight.]

I was once explaining the American media to a Ph.D. in physics I was working with, he got very annoyed with the way the media worked. “But Spocko, in science things rarely are 100% certain, yes there is a high correlation of this cause with that effect, but it is only one factor in a complex system.”   Another creator of high-end technology didn’t like the way his comments about scientific reality got twisted by his competition and picked up by the media. I helped them both find metaphors they felt comfortable with and then helped them switch to teaching mode to educate the different media outlets they were going to talk to.  But they both wanted the media to be something it wasn’t and something they wished it was.

Later in Koerth-Baker’ s piece she quotes Greg Laden, an anthropologist who does some very good blogging on climate science, had a lot to say on this topic — particularly, the fact that even though we can’t say “Hurricane Sandy was caused solely by climate change”, we can say that climate change is probably affecting several factors that probably influence the development, growth, and movement of hurricanes.

She makes the case that weather is complex, “Hurricane Sandy could be both a completely natural occurrence and a product of climate change. Simultaneously. Some of the factors that caused this storm might be nature-made. Others might be man-made. And teasing apart which factors were responsible for which aspect of the storm’s damage is incredibly hard.”

So if scientists can’t  tell you whether Sandy, specifically, was caused by climate change does that mean we just wait for the all the data to come out years from now? No. Because in the mean time the people who want to deny that climate change is real and impacts us will exploit anything less than 100% certainty. That’s what they do. That is their job. That is why they are getting paid millions.

If you knew that a group of people – through their attitudes, actions and policies, led to the death of someone you loved would you want to tell people about this group? Would you want to talk about them and what they are doing right now, when you are feeling the anger and pain of loss? Would you demand change? Or would you listen to the same group of  people telling you, “Now is not the time for recrimination and blame.”

Anger can change the configuration of your thoughts. If moves people. It gets people to change their attitudes, actions and sometimes their politics. And if you are on the other side of righteous anger you will use all sorts of methods to calm the angry people down. Because angry people demand change.

One of the games the right plays is when something happens that they know could lead to change, “in the heat of the moment”  they start screaming.”Let’s not politicize this tragedy!”  I see it after every single mass shooting. Why do they do that? Does it really come from their deep feelings of respect for the family of the dead?  I’m sure there are some who think this way. But I think it is more about using “respect for the family of the dead” as a shield to prevent change.

The other group of people who worry about talking about the root cause of some event are people who think that change happens only with reasoned debate “in the cold light of day.”  They don’t want to be accused of exploiting the tragedy. They believe that it is distasteful and disrespectful or that it dishonors the death of the person.  This works out great for the people who want the status quo to continue.  Personally, if someone can use my death to make changes so others don’t die I say, “Do it! Make it so! Engage!”

So how can we actually politicize #Sandy? I’m starting by calling them out.

 ”Hey right wingers who deny climate change, blood from this storm  is on your hands. This is not a simple “Act of God”. Men and woman who have your attitudes, have taken your actions and implemented your policies have led to this. Changes need to be made.

 Might there have been a hurricane without their involvement? Yes. Might people have died in that hurricane? Yes. Weather is complex, but it is a scientific fact that the human-caused temperature increases have led to intensity of storms.  And now it’s time to stop lying and quit passing  policies that lead to climate change.”

If you aren’t the kind of person who gets angry and makes demands for change there is still something you can do. Keep linking climate change  to extreme weather events and specifically the human related actions that lead to it.  Because as Maggie concludes, climate change is real and we need to care about it.  I say, let’s do something about it.

by spocko

Read Next Week’s Occupy Stories Today! Spocko Exclusive!

8:58 pm in Uncategorized by spocko

(photo: edenpictures / flickr)

Last year I used my time-travel capability to describe what to look for in the Occupy Wall Street movement, how the media will cover it, how opponents will try to destroy it,  with suggestions on how to change the narrative by understanding the media. I’ll do it again this year. So, back to the future, today!

97.3 percent of the time the media are as predictable as Borgovian Land worms*. They are attracted to movement or noise. Like mina birds and toddlers they like shiny objects. Like Klingons they like a fight and conflict. They look for novelty because they are bored. And of course TV media love action – bonus coverage for blood! “Holy crap, the cops are throwing flash bang grenades? Scramble the Action News van, we’ve got our lead story!”

Occupy Wall Street is coming up on an anniversary and the media LOVE anniversaries, they can revisit the action with ‘perspective’ which is often a rehash of their conventional wisdom.  Here are some of stories you will see, and not see.

Overarching Story Line: “What has Occupy Wall Street accomplished?”

On one hand this seems a natural story line, but the problem is that the MSM looks at accomplishments only through certain narrow lenses.  Advertisers and marketing people have drummed into their thin skins and thick heads to only look at certain metrics by category such as:

Numbers and dollars: If you are selling a product they want to know how many cap snafflers were sold. What is the profit per cap snaffler?The media will pick the metrics that they think are important or have been told is important.

Expect stories about how much the Oakland Occupy cost the city in police overtime and clean up.

The media will contact the police and city public information people because they are easy to reach. What they won’t be doing is calling them liars when they exaggerate numbers because they will need to talk to them again in the future. They don’t know if they will ever talk to Ketchup again. 

They won’t be covering how much the financial sector’s illegal activities have cost the city in revenue. For example, how much more money would the city have if the LIBOR scandal didn’t hurt them? How much did the foreclosure misdealings cost the city in revenue? Did they back the state’s Attorney General in cases against banks? How much did the city lose in revenue compared to what the states got back for them?

Who is impacted? Say you are a TV show like Leverage, it’s good to have lots of people watching but it’s better to have the “right kind” of people tuned in.  Expect the media to categorize the Occupy attendees as “real Americans” with jobs vs. hippies in a drum circle. 

They won’t be explaining how the Wall Street financial crisis impacted employment. I was asked by one reporter. “How many of the Occupy people are unemployed?”  The MSM has this idea that “real Americans” with jobs protesting trumps students or unemployed. You don’t become less of an American when you lose your job. Unemployment driven by the financial lawbreaking and misdealing of Wall Street is an essential part of the protest. How lucky for the protestors that economic destruction has lead to having “free time” to protest! Read the rest of this entry →