2.10.2020

Lying Dog Face Pony Soldier

So said Democratic candidate for President Joe Biden this week.  It is a slip up that disqualifies him for public office.  Any public office.  Would you want a mayor or school board member so out of control they can't even insult people right? Or a register of wills?

Calling a young woman names on the campaign trail is always ill-advised, just as a general rule.  Making up your own insults can show cleverness.  But insults that come out of nowhere and make no sense show something else: cognitive problems.  

The entire media should be screaming about Joe Biden's weird comment to a polite and rational question.  But they are not.  This and many other reasons explain why mainstream media outlets do not have the credibility of yore.


2.09.2020

Agenda-Free TV

Facebook is down.
Massive power outage in parts of the country.
Virginia gun rights rally.
Hurricane Dorian.
Live breaking news without an agenda.

Steve Lookner has gained a cult following in the livestream world. His YouTube channel, Agenda-Free TV, covers breaking news happening in the United States and outside of it.  Increasingly, it is news being missed by larger media outlets that focus on Russiagate or impeachment obsessively. 

When Facebook and WhatsApp went down for half of the United States, Agenda-Free TV was the only outlet covering it.  At the beginning of the China Virus outbreak, Steve saw its importance and began daily coverage - a week before other news outlets.

His value to the information marketplace is critical thinking and a wide net.  When Steve Lookner covers a topic in the news, he gathers information from vetted sources and frequently rejects information if the claims can’t be substantiated elsewhere.  When viewers bring new information to his attention, he puts it through analysis as to whether it fits with other information, whether it is from a verified source, whether the source has first-hand knowledge or an expertise in the area or if it just doesn’t make sense.

An excellent example is how he covers the China Virus.  He cites official Chinese statistics while noting the comments from epidemiologists in other countries who suspect the number of sick are much higher.  What he doesn't do is create a sensational headline with panic-inducing infection rates.  It would be so easy to do.  Very reputable scientists and doctors have given estimates that the China Virus infected ten times the official Chinese count.  But Steve won't do it.  It gives him credibility.

As a host, Steve Lookner is like a homeroom teacher for restless seniors about to graduate. He's always setting boundaries and reminding us why we are there when we veer too far off course.  Yet he is likable.  So much so,  he gets viewers who just want to see what he is up to.  That's when he gets complaints about the news he chooses to cover.  "What is Steve upset about now?" asks my husband only half sarcastically.  

And they do complain. Exasperated, Steve tells everyone they are not obliged to watch.  They can just turn it off if they don't like what he is covering, he reminds them.  It speaks to his appeal to his audience that they would watch him despite his topic.

He has strict rules for his audience:  no trolling, no conspiracies, manners at all times.  If you violate one of these rules too much, you are put on time-out.  Yes, that’s right.  Which is how this senior citizen was put on a time-out for hurricane jokes.  If you continue to act up, you can be banned for the day or permanently.  He doesn’t put up with racism or fake news or conspiracies.

Interestingly, Agenda-Free TV has not covered the impeachment trial.  Frankly, that is a relief.  Every news outlet in the country is pointed in the same direction at the same time.  After two years of Russiagate ending with a doddering Special Prosecutor's testimony of nothing, basically; a fresh angle on current events is needed and refreshing.




1.22.2020

The Tulsi Strategy

Got to hand it to Tulsi Gabbard, she is scary and smart.

The punditry is yammering on about how her lawsuit against Hilary Clinton can't be won when that is not the point.

Tulsi's goal is the document discovery that will come along with the trial.

When you file a lawsuit, you get a chance to ask for copies of any records, bank statements, writings, phone calls, emails or anything else to make your case.  The same applies if you are being sued.

By filing a lawsuit, Tulsi Gabbard is giving herself the power to review Hilary Clinton's life.  That is her endgame.  She probably already has a target in mind.  And I'll bet she will never agree to settle.

Hilary Clinton is playing a 90s game.  She really thought that Tulsi Gabbard would just outrage and then simmer down after a while.  Nope. Lee Atwater did this kind of garbage in the 80s.  It is not a new play.

What Hilary Clinton doesn't understand is the Information Age.  She is no longer doing battle with one person while supported by her media friends.  Everyone on Earth can weigh into the discussion now.  Her message cannot be predictably chewed into cud by the predictable writers of the major media outlets.  She has to answer to more people now.  There is no more control of the medium, by anyone.  Clinton's reporter pals can't steer the message anymore.  She doesn't see the new reality.

So now Tulsi Gabbard is going to tear Clinton apart slowly over the next few years.  Drip by drip, Clinton's relevance will disappear.  And she can't even see it.

1.10.2020

The Frontrunner Curse

Have you noticed that whoever the press puts forward as the presumptive winner of a Presidential primary, loses?

At the start of his Presidential run, Jeb Bush was the anointed candidate.  At least by the press.  And they were wrong.  The same with Hilary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential election.  In this Presidential primary, the media has picked one candidate after another.  And each one failed.  

It almost looks like the coveted place to be when running for President is in the background.  Popular enough to get on the debate stage, smart or lucky enough not to say anything stupid, without a Klan robe in your attic, and you have a much better chance of becoming your party's nominee than any early hoopla will give you.

The media focus on Presidential elections is about ratings.  So rather than choose a multi-faceted, nuanced style of reporting, the mass media covers the leadership and vision competition for our nation like it was a football game.  Up the field! Sacked! Good! Bad!  No critical thinking required.

It would be one thing if this approach gave good results, but it does not.  It does not predict anything well, and certainly does not inform voters.  It leads to an attachment to premature predictions and warped reporting to not look stupid when they turn out to be wrong. 

The football approach to political analysis hurts the Presidential candidates the talking heads are trying to prop up.  As in, they don't win. There could be many reasons for this: declaring a frontrunner too early may just invite tougher vetting in general.  So just announcing a Presidential candidate may invite a scrutiny no one could survive.  Maybe voters just get mad that someone is telling what to do.  It also could get all the other candidates to shoot at one target: the presumptive frontrunner.

When will they realize this? Probably never.  Football games do not reflect Presidential elections, but it takes out the work a reporter has to do.

12.08.2019

My Magnificat

Our minister this week has challenged us to write our own Magnificat.  Yes, I am Jewish and go to both church and synagogue.  So there.

Rejoice

I rejoice that I have found the love of my life and a sober way of living that is useful to society and others.

Glorify G-d

I glorify G-d for swooping me up as I was falling down a black hole, devoid of even gravity or light, no hope, no vision, no purpose.  I hadn't hesitated on the edge, I had jumped off, willingly, into this condition.  Worthless, throwing away everything for nothing, I called for help, and You were there.  What a messy inconvenience to calculate where I was in my fall, reach out, grab me and lift me up.  You did it anyway.  It is a debt I repay every day.

Look forward to the works of G-d

World transformation barely seems worth it, but then neither was I when it happened for me.  Regardless, You still love us.  That love will help us see the love of our siblings and rivals.  That love will cull destruction and violence among us.  That love shines on to each of us, waiting for us to open our eyes.  With You, G-d, we will.

Exalt G-d because

A catalog our Your magnifigance is beyond any mortal.  Great and small, seen and unseen, you try to guide us with daily miracles.  The founding of the state of Israel in the shadow of the Holocaust; the parting of the Sea of Reeds with the Egyptian army at our backs; the aim and power of David’s stone all testament to You, O G-d.  Still, we ignore you whenever we get a chance.  The Call of Abraham, promising to make of us a great nation, has been fulfilled.  Still, we turn our heads away from you.  There is a verified faith you have maintained over and over again, and we have no reason to doubt you now.  I have faith in that.  I have faith in that.

11.29.2019

The Drug Dealer of Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris has a drug dealer.  She has publicly admitted to smoking pot.  That means she got possession of pot, somehow.  She either bought it, or someone else bought it and gave it to her.  Both options have serious implications because someone, somewhere is Kamala Harris’ drug dealer.

Kamala Harris has a drug dealer
Kamala Harris has a drug dealer
As Attorney General of California, Kamala Harris prosecuted drug dealers because it is a crime to deal drugs there.  Even marijuana.  This whole thing is funny since she really pushed the “justice should be the same for everyone” idea during the last Democratic debate when she is a perfect example of it NOT happening.

The obvious first point is her dishonesty and hypocrisy.  How can voters believe what she promises to do when her actions cross her words so starkly?  Basically, they can’t.

Not so clear is the cost to families to have a family member incarcerated.  Not Kamala Harris’ family, of course.  But many other ones.  Picture a family with someone in prison.  The family is missing an income.  Less money means more evictions and foreclosures.  Young family members will feel the tension and fear.  Their education and development will be disrupted, and even their living situations.

Children are growing and learning with half the guidance and support in the home.

Another serious concern is her lack of self-control. She couldn’t stop herself from committing a crime while an officer of the court and part of law enforcement herself.  She knew smoking - and buying - pot is illegal.  She also knew the professional cost of smoking pot.

And most importantly, who is this drug dealer?

Why is it funny that you put people in jail for smoking pot or selling pot, when you smoke pot yourself?

Did you arrest your drug dealer?  Does your drug dealer feel somewhat safe from prosecution because they are YOUR drug dealer?  These are serious questions Kamala Harris has to answer for the American public to judge her fitness to be President of the United States.





11.16.2019

Cenk Uygur Running for Congress

Well, that's it.  I am cancelling my Hulu and Netflix subscriptions.  Nothing is going to be more entertaining than watching Cenk Uygur in the congressional race in California's 25th district.

Cenk Uygur is an extremely intelligent person who has built a media platform on YouTube called The Young Turks that is very strong, very supportive and vocal.  There, Uygur has been calling out the leaders of the Democratic Party in the U.S. Congress for many years and just got sick of waiting for change, I guess.  It is not my congressional district, but I will give him some money anyway.  This show will be worth it. His other accomplishments include starting a political action committee, giving a platform for progressive candidates across the country, and siccing his audience on groups.

Uygur's insightful political commentary was always a reason to watch The Young Turks.  It will be great to see him use his command of facts and policy in debates.  He excels at breaking down issues to explain to his YouTube viewers.  He also delights in exposing the political back-scratching behind policy decisions.  Listening to Uygur's analysis creates a picture in my mind of competing factions, interests and resources, which makes it much easier to understand the dynamics of what is really going on.

The Young Turks' viewers trend younger, which will be an advantage as younger voters are often overlooked in polling data.  Uygur's progressive politics resonate with a generation of people who feel cut up by the current economic system.  His vision will offer hope, but more than the mere slogan of Obama.  When he speaks about laws, it is often with specifics.  When Obama ran on "hope and change" and "yes, we can" it was like buying a soda or a pair of sneakers, only instead America voted for a box that we could not see inside.  Later, we found out what was in it: surveillance, foreclosures, mass deportations and assassination of American citizens, and to be fair, an attempt at universal health care.  Uygur is not vague in his policy positions.  He has years of commentary outlining his views.  Nobody is voting for a mystery box when they vote for him.

But one of Uygur's strengths, strong feelings about policy, could also cause him problems.  He is very excitable and can start yelling when he feels strongly about a topic.  That may not translate very well on the campaign trail, but it will make great t.v.

And his t.v. advertising promises to be very watchable.  Remember his anti- Ted Cruz ad?  He told Texas voters that Cruz had been unmanned by Trump.  That kind of campaign rhetoric is what California voters will enjoy once this race really gets started.

In the end, win or lose, the race for California's 25th Congressional seat will be high entertainment.

11.04.2019

My Media Diet and Vivid Dreams

I forgot about this:  when you temper your media intake, you start to get very vivid dreams.  It’s been happening to me every night now.  When I wake for my morning meditation and fill in my bullet journal, I write my latest dream.  Wow.  Some doozies that I do not want all over the internet.

Consuming media without a media diet plan puts a big fuzzy wall between me and my reactions to events in my life.  I don’t understand all these dreams or what they mean, but something is waking up inside me and kicking my insides.  And it was there all the time, just not being heard.  That’s the scary part.

Like any dreams, if they are not written down, they are forgotten.  And each morning I try to convince myself that this dream will be remembered.  It is different today - but it isn’t.

If you follow this plan, be prepared for all manner of weirdness in dreams.  Not scary, just odd.

11.02.2019

My Social Media Diet or Creating a Mind Sculpture

We Need a Social Media Diet  

Don’t flinch just yet.  Everyone needs to think about and plan what our minds and attention will consume.  So much content is available:  YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and more.

I read online that the last hour before going to bed and the first hour getting up should be without any electronic screen time.  Before going to bed, lay out your clothes and prepare for the next day.  Sounds like the habit of a winner, so let’s include that as part of the plan.

The guy also talks about spending his time creating content, rather than consuming it.  Not everybody is up for that, but with three blogs and a podcast and two YouTube channels, I have no excuses.

Goals of a Social Media Diet

So what would be the goal for a media diet?  For a food diet, there is a weight goal.  For a media diet, there should be goals, too.  Like hobbies, interests, entertainment, education.  Historical videos are fun.  Shouldn’t there also be production goals?  If you have them, that is.

We make a choice about what to eat, and how that will make us feel.  Shouldn’t we also do the same thing for our minds and mood?  Wouldn’t it be a good idea to step outside ourselves and take a meta look at what we want out of our life before deciding what to watch or read?

My Social Media Diet

I don’t know what is right for anyone else, but my social media diet will be one part production for four parts consumption.  It will be split into one fifth pure fun with animals and jokes and silliness.  Everyone needs that in their lives.  Another three fifths will be news and politics - from all sides.  I enjoy listening to Ben Shapiro and Jimmy Dore.  So what.  The last fifth will be hobbies: ham radio, knitting and making soap.

“Social Media Diet” 

Maybe “diet” is the wrong word.  Diets are notoriously ineffective in the long run.  “Media Plan” sounds too corporate.  “Media sculpting” means you are doing the creating.  “Media sculpture?”  There are some artists out there who already claimed that phrase.

I hesitate to use the term “information” since it is so long and cumbersome to say.  We need to make this snappy.  “Brain food” comes to mind, but its already been taken.  Or “Brain growth plan.”  Too long.  OK.  “Mind sculpture.”  Yes, that’s it!

By consciously deciding what I feed my visual senses, I have a “Mind Sculpture” plan.  I think about what I want the end result to be, and plan, roughly, how that will happen.

Let’s see how this goes.  Will keep you updated.

10.20.2019

Tulsi Gabbard For President

Tulsi Gabbard for President

The recent "Tulsi works for Putin" schtick can be understood best as a fight between old media and new media.  A classic power fight between wheezing old talking heads, their younger clones, and new media power brokers will show where the new election lines are drawn.  Newsflash: Tulsi will win.

Hillary Clinton is running a '90s media smear campaign that really worked for her and her husband in the past - the way past.  Clinton whispers her vengeful stories to stooges on cable tv and foolish New York Time op ed writers.  Feeling safe, they repeat them without fearing real consequences.

Old Media and The Clinton Playbook


Why not?  It is the same playbook Clinton used in her failed 2016 election campaign:
  1. court mass media, 
  2. take voters for granted, 
  3. rely on proxies to say nasty things for you, 
  4. insult and dismiss half of the electorate. 
It didn't work last time, but as Clinton apparently never took responsibility for her role in her own defeat, she blindly uses the same approach again.

Court Mass Media

The '90s media landscape was exclusively mass media, so a strategy targeting those influencers was smart.  Prescient was Bill Clinton's focus on alternate paths to voter attention, like talk shows. It was how he got around the universal dismissal of him as a serious candidate by the "serious" political press after his sex scandals.  

But this approach is outdated.  There are thousands of information sources for voters now.  The personal relationship approach will not control political watchers because there are simply too many thinkers in the political space.  The rah-rah for the "weapons of mass destruction" leading to the Gulf War and Russiagate undermined credibility for mass media outlets anyway, and people look to other voices to trust.

Take Voters for Granted

Hillary Clinton neglected Michigan and other rust belt states during the 2016 Presidential election.  She dismissed HALF OF AMERICA as "deplorables."  Not very persuasive.  Clinton took the voters of the rust belt for granted because of their union affiliation, not learning the lesson that Reagan taught:  people make up their own minds.

In the frame of this Tulsi Gabbard dialogue, Clinton assumes that the support of the media "elites" will lead to the sheeplike support of Americans.

Rely on Proxies To Say Nasty Things For You

Bakari Sellers accused Tulsi Gabbard of treason on CNN.  This charge has been supported by Hillary Clinton by getting other people to repeat the accusation.

Tulsi Gabbard shows her understanding of modern media when she pins the "Russian asset" smear directly on Hillary Clinton.  Clinton is used to dodging the stench of a shit show by getting others to say her insults.  Part of that tactic was the pretense of cable t.v. hosts that she didn't really say it at all, but that somebody else did.  Now, Tulsi Gabbard's voice can appeal directly to voters, much like Bill Clinton did in playing the saxophone on late night television.

Insult and Dismiss Half of the Electorate


Clinton also insults everyone in the military by implying that one of them would betray their country with treason.

In this message struggle with Tulsi Gabbard, Clinton is dismissing anyone under the age of 50.  Younger voters don't believe that the New York Times is always right.  They don't have t.v.'s or watch cable "news."

The Tulsi Gabbard Winning Strategy

Tulsi Gabbard takes a sniper shot approach to a crowded Presidential candidate field.  One by one, she takes out a frontrunner.  It worked for Trump, and it is working for her.  

Tusli Gabbard is an underestimated candidate.  She won't be the Democratic nominee, but she will beat out almost everybody else that is running.  Her best weapon are her deadly barbs that really stick.  Ask Kamala "I put people in prison for doing what I did" Harris.  Gabbard is better at this tactic than even Trump.  

Tulsi Gabbard knows how the current information ecosystem works. When she hits something, it reverberates.  All the Clinton machine can do is get their flying monkeys on cable television and op-ed pages to repeat what she tells them to say.  Too bad they are no longer influencers like in the '90s.  

Tulsi Gabbard will beat the Democratic Party machine because its relevance and power are sliding out from under them.  They are using a playbook of a bygone day.  What is supposed to be a kill shot will only show everybody their irrelevance.

The Democratic Party relies on big donors, reporter relationships and endorsements.  Stronger tools have been forged, and they are about to find out the hard way.

As I like to say to people I hate:  "I wish you the best of luck."