Nov 15, 2016

For the right wing media, the blood is already in the water.  Not least for Marc Levin and Michael Savage, who on Monday declared his "bromance" over with Trump.  His argument: Too many kind remarks to Obama.  Already too much ambiguity about how "alt.right" Trump will be.  Savage is the fellow, a little gray poodle of a man, who has licked and yapped at Trump for months and went to any end to have him on his show once a week, where he could faun to his heart’s content, but now it seems the savage is being discarded.  Not even an invitation to the inauguration.

And so the right wing media is beginning to feed on itself. Glenn Beck's attack on Bannon is also noteworthy. Of course, Savage and his ilk have always needed hatred to survive, no matter how manufactured, no matter the source, and now, we see the chemical proof....

But here's the point. The strategy to deal with Hate Radio, among traditional news outlets, has always been to ignore it, to undignify it, to block it with silence... Unless there was something particularly outrageous. But I would argue that's no longer effective. The obligation now is to call these people on their lies and misinformation relentlessly, and down to the smallest detail. Because this is what lead so many people to live in an alternate universe of opinion. Hate Radio has never really been seen as the threat that it is.... 

Of course, what’s remarkable is that Limbaugh would have his audience believe — with some success clearly — that his own doubts about global warming outweigh the analysis and judgment of  97 percent of climate scientists, above all, NASA’s Goddard Institute, whose scientists, have eliminated the other possibilities…..


So catch them on everything, and spread the news everywhere, attack their advertisers and their sponsors... Focus on their collusions and manipulations.... On the Internet and in everyday conversation.. Of course, Politifact does much of this; and there are some others, but that cannot be the whole effort.... The information war needs to begin in earnest.

Nov 10, 2016

A note in a time bottle...  To record the moment that seems of such extraordinary importance just now.  But maybe I have it all wrong.  Could it be nothing? — just a trompe l'oeil, a trump l'oeil, merely a software bug.

A note for Claire and Finn, at least.  And others unknown or born: I am struck dead by the definition and weight of this moment in American history.  The immediate effect of this, the day after, is not slight or pretend.  It's real and physical.  As though there's been some kind of an explosion.  A precursor of dirty bombs? Never felt before.

(On that note, is it possible that this atavistic warrior will frighten the North Koreans, ISIS, and the like into submission, just because he is so rash and unpredictable....  Could that be a good to come out of this?  Or the reverse....)

No matter. Right now the sensation is a sense of personal failure, and failure in the aggregate — of my generation, my race, my country....

Others have summed up the social and political explanations much better than I.  Nevertheless, for me the horror is tied tight to the low quality of opinion. It's not just that people have learned how not to think critically, helped by the demonstration of uncritical thinking in the media every day, day in and day out; it's that everything is working together against thought, much less noble thought.

The 140-character speed with which we live inevitably ends in reaction not reflection.  The misperception of things is ubiquitous; and of course the inability to filter truth from fiction.  The two are entwined everywhere in the culture and no one teaches you how to recognize one from the other. Once upon a time people knew the difference between a novel and a report...

Add a readiness to dismiss people for no good reason, to kill them off metaphorically most times, and for the slightest reason; and then the murky and deceptive notion of entitlement, for high and low; and an impatience with taking things apart and putting them back together.

In sum, a low quality of opinion, which leads people to lack of discernment and finally blindness.

Add to that a sense there's been real progress in the last 8 years and now with the flick of a broom handle, it's all swept out the back door.  How can that be?

And so right now, the day after, I am seething at the stupidity of my fellow citizens, seething at their careless and selfishness, all the worst qualities, which I share, but am able to control and repair.   That's my solace. I've been thrown overboard but I can see land; and I have a plan.  That's my conceit.  Even if I have forsaken 'we'.

A Syrian was quoted in a New York Times Sunday Magazine piece in August called, "Fractured lands", to say, roughly, that the fighting will not stop until all the people who have fought in these civil wars are dead.  "It will take a decade", the man guessed.

How long for this civil war to end....



Nov 9, 2016

Julia Whitty, the environmental writer for Mother Jones Magazine, was recently interviewed once more about the catastrophe caused by the destruction of Deepwater Horizon, the BP oil rig that exploded in April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. The hook for the interview was the new film, which apparently gives short shrift to the ecological damage caused by the explosion.

Whitty noted that among the lingering effects are large bubbles filled with chemicals used to seal the well heads. These bubbles are huge and drift endlessly through the gulf and beyond, blocking the path of certain fish who every day migrate from the ocean depths to the surface, in some places beyond the gulf, a distance of some 25 miles.

I heard the interview while driving from San Francisco to Santa Barbara and so adopted the metaphor to my trip.  I was on my way to watch my younger son in his last college soccer game. He is a fifth year, redshirt senior at UC Davis playing the last game of the season against UC Santa Barbara. UCSB is the perennial soccer power in the Big West Conference and had won seven league games, tied 2 and lost none. At one point in the season they were ranked in the top 15 nationally. For its part, UC Davis was playing just below 500, a very talented if unpredictable team that had lost three straight, each by a single goal.  One of the losses had been just a week earlier to Santa Barbara.

The drive down 101 is about 5 and a half hours, along a two-lane great wall of cement winding down through the Salinas Valley,  past Paso Robles and the turn off to the Hearst Castle, past San Luis Obispo, that debutante of a town now with it's own Sephora and Apple stores.  Down through Pismo Beach, with its faux Monaco visage, past Santa Maria and finally down to the Los Caneros exit to Harder Field.

It was raining much of the way, and so perfect for an introspection. For some water boarding as it were....  And so you've spent all these years going to soccer games, I said to myself, and before that with the older boy, football games (he was a two-time all NESCAC wideout).  What is it about that need to watch your children perform.  What is it about that excitement of watching these games.  God knows I haven't missed many.  What a distraction.  What lunacy.  What a diversion from the real work to be done.... Or not....  (an idea to be continued ...   or not)