Tweet surrender

Government by headline. That’s what we get with Trump. It’s another innovative way to avoid the real work of communicating policies and positions on issues. And damned convenient if one is an intellectually-challenged ignoramus who actually has very little to say that the citizenry might find instructive or informative.

Twitter was made for people of limited wit to make comments of limited depth to people with limited understanding of their world. If Oscar Wilde were alive then such a “platform” might have limited utility, since he, at least, understood how to spend very few words to express thoughts and opinions of very great value.

But Wilde is dead. Most public discourse is dead, too, if measured by the number of thoughtful readers and participants. What are called “social media” are actually anti-social media. The internet, which those of us nerds who worked for decades to enable now must condemn, has become a communications vehicle for misinformation instead of the global educational and research platform we dreamed of. Instead of being a shared tool for learning and community intellectual growth, the web is now primarily a weapon of mass defamation, and for the waylaying of constructive dialog. The instantaneous channels of web communication have become an end run around social intelligence and responsibility.

And most online users love it. They love the name-calling, the celebrity humiliation, the visual excitement, the sexual titillation, the shopping, the hate-fests, the surfing, the porn.

If you build it, they will succumb.

A great wave of ignorance is what social media and the fake reality websites has become, the perfect communications channel for Trump and his endless stream of mindless tweets, which stick to any issue or enemy like spewed bird shit.

A perfect vehicle for the television news media as well, who can now replace journalism with six minute long twitter-based “debates” by angry birds and other feather-weight commentators. A perfect platform, too, for the reactionary conservative movements around the world, whose radically regressive agendas benefit not from meaningful, critical, rational public discussion, but a shouted riot of short, take it or leave it statements.

What we have demanded we have been given: the greatest liar in political history riding madly on the greatest anti-truth spreading machine ever, and backed up by a Republican Party built upon lying, anti-scientific ignorance, religious intolerance, racial bigotry, misogyny, and guns. And greed, yes. A perfect storm of undemocracy, presided over by the richest of the One Percenters, and the world-dominating corporations they control.

Your Truthteller is concerned with understanding and explaining reality, so does not tweet, nor “follow” anyone who does. But if I were going to tweet as we approach January 20th, it would say this:

Welcome to 2017, America, and the last American Presidency. Or will it be the first four years of the Trump dictatorship? Take your pick.

One hundred thirty-seven characters, including correct unTwittery punctuation, but not counting the tears between the words.

No one knows…

Says Trump about climate change. As if we needed any more evidence, it’s now apparent how well the right-wing anti-science whisperers who surround the bloated renegade wannabe President-Elect have succeeded in leading the about-to-be dumbass in chief to the poisoned well of the climate change denialists. Like Alice, all they had to do was hand Trump a bottle of “Drink Me” and his already tiny brain shrank down to the size of a pea. Now, all of us who voted and failed to vote alike are collectively headed down the deepest, scariest rabbit hole in human history. And we’re taking the rest of humanity with us.

With the triumph of Mercer-inspired, Koch Brothers disseminated, Religious conservative approved ignorance, our government is about to wage carbon-powered war on the rest of the nations and peoples of the beleaguered Earth. To those of us who have worked or reported on global warming and called out the energy industries that are causing it, this is by far the worst of the many terrible policy shifts that loom on the post-Inaugural horizon.

The approaching battles of the re-invigorated Republican War on Women will be fierce, cruel, and fanatic, reaping horrendous consequences on our wives and sisters and daughters and granddaughters. But at least we can hope for a post-2024 reversal of the misogynistic wave.

The crushing of our minorities under the Law and Order banner of a racist Attorney General and the boots of Trump’s policemen will lead to a generation or more of continued injustice, misery, and brutalization by those responsible for protecting our freedoms, and the further loss of voting rights as Republican state governments suppress the civil rights of those too weak to stop them.

The ongoing assault on the incomes of the 99% will drive most of our people even further away from economic and social equity. In betraying the rest of us, Trump’s unthinking supporters have betrayed themselves, but it will take at least a generation to educate them and begin to stop the unrelenting accumulation of wealth by the greediest among us.

Ryan and his army of sycophants will strip the security from Social Security, and rip the care out of Medicare. Even these regressive, backward looking “achievements” of the stooges of the rich can someday be reversed. But the someday may be a day so far in the future only some among us can hope to see it dawn.

But all these anti-progressive results of the Trump Administration that will soon assume total working control of the most powerful nation on Earth pale before the calculated destruction of every single attempt to mitigate climate change. Unlike all the damage Trump’s goons and gorillas will do, the attack on science cannot be simply halted and reversed by a future administration. We are already on the very edge of the human-caused climate disaster. Once a bunch of greed-driven energy industries and their Trumpian puppets take us over it, there is no going back.

 

 

Breaking news? Or just broken news?

In the midst of the angst and drama and rage over fake news, Twitter-casting, and Facebook feeds full of lies and useless crap, we would do well to remember that the driving force behind the rapid evolution of online platforms as a substitute for news is our obsessive demand for constant updates on anything that might just possibly prove to be worthy of mass public attention. Led by America’s interactive media industry, the entire world seems bent upon drowning itself in a churning sea of “information”, 99% of which is non-informative in any meaningful or useful way.

Although the interactive platforms are the principal originators of the flood of forgettable info-trash, other parts of the media industry have played a supporting role in the rapid degradation of our public information resources from news suppliers to mass audience manipulation machines. The cable news channels in the US have largely turned into instant reaction puppets, as they attempt to maintain their audience’s attention by assembling mini-panels of topical “experts”, journalists, and public officials or politicians to provide about five minutes of collective perspective on the latest hint of a “breaking news” story. Even MSNBC, which is the sole reliable TV source of news relevant to progressives, now goes whole weeks without any significant mention of major news stories like climate change, over-population, or the relentless concentration of economic wealth in the hands of a tiny minority of the earth’s people.

The vaunted print media are not immune to this pressure to feed the public demand monster with bits and pieces of basically irrelevant or repetitive “news”. The main guardians of our freedom like the Washington Post and the New York Times have become large websites backed up by their print publications. These websites need to be updated with every passing whisper or rumor, and thus fall into the panic-to-publish syndrome.

As the Trump takeover demonstrates, we are more reliant than ever on a free press to protect us from the assault on truth led by the President-Elect and his partners in lying. But a free press that is busy chasing the fickle, largely ignorant, easily bored digital audience is easily distracted from doing its vital job as our public truthtellers. The news media has become the latest victim of the web’s “everything should be free” dictum. When readers and viewers won’t pay to learn the truth, only the “truths” that are free will attract massive audiences. The real journalists, the courageous ones who tell us what we’d prefer not to hear, will be drowned in a rip tide of clickbait, lies, and mindless entertainment. The information we consume may be free, but freedom itself will be diminished.

 

It’s not over until this Democratic Party is over

Sorry to rain on the parade of professors, political scientists, pollsters and pundits, but all this debating over a percentage point here or a population sub-segment there; all the excuse-mongering; all the “if only she’d done that!” wailing and flailing; the (well-deserved) Comey-shaming; all the blame gaming, in short, is missing what this Truthteller suggests is the main question.

Instead of trying to justify, explain, excuse, or condemn the Democrat loss by a few votes in a few states, the real issue is NOT why this contest was won by the Republicans with so few strategically-located votes, but why it was not won by the Democrats with a ten-million (or more) vote plurality and a 50 (or more) edge in the Electoral College.

What enabled the coalition of the ignorant, the religious right, the Hillary haters, the rabid Tea Party and all the other anti-progressives, and, most tellingly, the millions of voters who stayed home in 2008 and 2012 rather than vote for a Black man, to go out and support the worst educated, least qualified, most dangerous, most despicable candidate in our history?

How did what should have been a nation-wide mass rejection of this oafish lout by all the real patriots and serious, educated, issue-conscious citizens turn into a sullen victory by the minority of Americans who hate the very idea of a rational, informed, fact-based approach to governing and public policy?

How did a no-brainer choice, the *obvious* win over ignorance, become literally a no brainer: the victory of a mindless minority composed of only about 25% of our neighbors? We are talking here, fellow losers, of what should have been a historically massive victory of rationality and public spiritedness over a mob.

The answer will not be found in the nit-picking of exit polls, or the insidious vote suppression schemes of the Republicans. The answer will be in understanding why, when faced with a looming disastrous overthrow of our country’s slow march to a progressive society, fully 45% of our citizens would not care enough to vote.

The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind. We are a country, not a collection of population samples. Our government has failed *everyone*, not just the angry white men. Seniors, minorities, women, and immigrants have been pushed aside in our relentless march to a brave new progressive world. The Democratic Party has been a significant part of this failure. The party has mainly focused on local or regional causes and written off whole sections of the country along with most of the unfortunate people who happen to reside in them.

We in our coveted Blue liberal safe zones forget too easily that the people in the disaffected class include millions of Democrats, independents, minorities, frustrated young persons, and ignored seniors. More stupidly, we who are living the educated, employed, progressive good life seem to have forgotten there are millions of less-fortunates living in the slums and ghettos and forgotten rural regions of our Blue states and urban areas.

We assume that, just because a person is ignorant, they cannot think. Too many young progressives assume that seniors are out of touch with reality, when many of these same seniors are distraught at the prospects of their grandchildren coming face-to-face with climate change, in a country impoverished by Republican financial excesses. Too many of us assume that, just because a person is white and poor, they must be a racist, or anti-progressive, or unsympathetic to, or even resentful of, the plight of Black and Latino people, their fellow-sufferers in poverty.

We claim to be the champions of public education, but have done nothing as a party to educate the public.

We lost this election because we failed to mobilize all the people from ALL the population segments who want a progressive future for their children. Drunk with our own clever numbers, we ignored the more important ones:

  • Two thirds of Americans fear global warming and want our government to take action to mitigate it
  • More than 80% of our citizens want gun safety implemented
  • More than 80% of our citizens want a fair, universal, comprehensive national health insurance scheme
  • More than 80% of our people accept the principles of women’s equality, voting rights, LGBT rights, and criminal justice reform
  • Most of our people want employment in all the country, not just the thriving pockets of the educated class.

Instead of forcefully and consistently pressing these issues, we allowed our candidate and leadership to campaign on the singular theme of “We’re not him, or the Deplorables, morally bankrupt Republicans, and hypocritical Christians who support him.” We let our political leadership run away from the real issues for fear of offending some small population segment or special interest group.

We sat back and mocked Trump and his rally-goers, sure that all the other rational folks would crush him and his misogynistic, White Nationalist, anti-science, jingoistic followers. We gave them no reason to get off their duffs and go out and stop him. We simply said, “We’re not him.”

And guess what!? The vast majority already knew that they were not “him”, either. They obviously felt that we’re so much “stronger together” that they need not do anything unpleasant, like voting. Or assumed they could fritter away their vote on ineffectual independent candidates.

The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind, an answer for all Americans. And it needs to be based on the commitment of the Democratic Party to utterly reform itself, top to bottom.

We do not need a Democratic Party led by career politicians who are committed to a Democratic party, instead of to democratic principles. We will not win with a party that is reformed in name only, after ideological cosmetic surgery. It needs to become the natural and national party for all those who want a progressive future for their children. It has to include fierce progressives, independents, seniors, and millennials alike, of all colors and cultures. It needs to include the struggling poor as well as the successful professionals. It needs to work, in every sense of the word. It needs to become the Progressive Democratic Alliance.

For days, recently, I’ve listened to good people like Joy Reid of MSNBC hound their pundit and political party guests with one question: “What is the message that can reform, revitalize, and redirect the Democratic Party? What is the one thing 65, 75, even 85% of the people can agree with and take to their mind and hearts, and carry to their polling place?”

It’s this, for me: “Change that works”, period.