Sisters are doing it for themselves

For the past few days, I’ve wanted to invest some time in writing a comprehensive post about Trump’s former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, and his former top Russia advisor, Fiona Hill, both of whom defied the administration’s non-cooperation edict, and agreed to tell their stories behind closed doors on Capital Hill, demonstrating the kind of character we’ve not seen to date from other former members of the administration, like former White House counsel Don McGahn.

Unfortunately, though, I just haven’t had the time. And, because of this, I feel as though I may have now missed my opportunity to make the case that women are far superior to men, as some of the less fair sex, like Michael McKinley, a former senior adviser to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are finally starting to come forward and provide testimony, perhaps inspired by the actions of Hill and Yovanovitch.

But, a few days ago, reading about Yovanovitch and Hill, I was really struck by this sense that, if we’re ever going to make it though this chapter in American history, it’ll be thanks to women, who, unlike their male counterparts, have proven more willing to come forward and speak the truth when confronted by the kind of illegal activities that this President has clearly been engaged in.

I don’t know how true this narrative is, as it’s being reported, for instance, that the national security whistleblower who set all of this in motion, is in fact a male, but I really like the idea of Donald “grab ’em by the pussy” Trump being besieged by growing army of courageous women of character. Again, I know it’s not that simple of a narrative, and I’m aware that, for every female member of the administration testifying, there are probably dozens of Kellyanne Conway types who would never stop doing the bidding of this horribly corrupt president, and countless women like Senator Susan Collins, who are happy to just look the other way, but I want to believe that, when all is said and done, it’ll be the women who made the difference, and I’m curious as to what others think.

Speaking of the strong women standing up to the bullying of Donald Trump, did you happen to see that the President posted a photo of Nancy Pelosi earlier today with the intention of demonstrating her to be “unhinged”?

He went on, in a following tweet, to say, “Nancy Pelosi needs help fast! There is either something wrong with her ‘upstairs,’ or she just plain doesn’t like our great Country. She had a total meltdown in the White House today. It was very sad to watch. Pray for her, she is a very sick person!”

Well, judging from the response I’m seeing, most people perceive this particular Rorschach test a little differently than Donald Trump. They aren’t seeing a mad-woman who had the audacity to stand up in a room full of men, but a powerful woman willing to stand toe-to-toe with the most corrupt leader in American history, and say to his face that she intends to have him removed from office… And then, apparently, go back to her office and update the image on her Twitter page.

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Debate open thread

I don’t have anything to say, but I thought that I’d start a thread, in case anyone else wanted to weigh in… With that said, I do find it interesting how everyone is lining up to take a whack at Elizabeth Warren, though. It’s like the slapping scene in Airplane.

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THE TRUMP DOCTRINE: Appeasing Tyrants, Freeing terrorists and Endangering Allies to Achieve Maximum Chaos in a Post-Diplomacy World

When Donald Trump announced last week that, at the request of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, he would be pulling back American troops stationed in Syria, everyone knew exactly what would happen. We knew that our allies, the Kurds, would be wiped out by the Turks. And that’s exactly what’s happening right now.

Richard Engel, from NBC News, reported yesterday that Turkish-backed Arab militias had apparently started executing Kurds. And, today, we’re starting to see footage of the ethnic cleansing campaign… Dead children. People being ambushed and murdered in cold blood… I was tempted to share photos, as I think everyone should see what we’ve allowed to happen in our names as Americans, but, out of respect for the dead, I’ll leave it to you to search on-line. If you’re so inclined, though, I’d encourage you to look for images of Havrin Khalaf, the General Secretary of the Syria Future Party, who was murdered yesterday in an ambush by jihadi mercenaries in the employ of Turkey. The car of the civil rights leader was attacked in Ahrar as-Sharqiya on the M4 road near Qamishli.

That, in itself, should be enough, I would hope, to get most Americans to stand behind Senator Schumer tomorrow, when he demands a Senate vote to reject Trump’s reckless and shortsighted troop withdrawal. But, it’s not just that Trump, for whatever reason, has decided to forgo the counsel of foreign policy experts, and remove U.S. troops so that our allies can be killed. In doing so, he’s also making us less save here at home. As Schumer said in his press conference this morning, Donald Trump “(is) undoing years of work to curb ISIS, and making America much more susceptible to terrorism by his actions.” And, here, with more on that, is a excerpt from today’s New York Times story about how Trump’s hasty withdrawal of U.S. troops led to the escape of several hundred imprisoned ISIS combatants and sympathizers.

But, fear not, America. Donald Trump says that they’ll be killing our allies, and not us… “They’re going to be escaping to Europe,” not the U.S., he told members of the press yesterday.

For those of you who still aren’t convinced, Stephen Miller says that these escaped ISIS terrorists can’t hurt us as our border is impenetrable.

[In related news, here’s footage of teenage girls scaling Trump’s new, magical border fence in 15 seconds.]

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point… We are in a very bad place as a nation, and things are rapidly getting worse. Donald Trump has made it his mission to acquiesce to every dictator and strongman in the word, putting aside any consideration for the wellbeing of our allies, the safety of our citizens, or the strategic interests of the United States. If we’re lucky enough to live through this, it’s going to take generations to reconstruct our democratic institutions, as our State Department has been gutted, and our Department of Justice turned into an extension Trump crime syndicate. Our credibility as a nation is gone. Our allies are in disarray. And authoritarianism is on the rise across the globe. Donald Trump has done in three short years what Nazi Germany and the USSR could not. He’s almost brought the ambitious American experiment to an end.

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The creation of a global movement for preserving life on earth… right here, right now

In a perfect word, people would do the right thing just because it was the right thing. They would give money to the people of Bangladesh without George Harrison having to produce a concert, and they would have marched to demand clean drinking water for the citizens of Flint without Mark Ruffalo calling them into the streets. We don’t live in a perfect world, though, and big, successful social moments have always been driven, to a large extent, by popular culture. People don’t just do the right thing because it’s the right thing. For most folks, there also has to be something in it for them, even if it’s just the possibility of meeting someone cute, or getting a cool selfie. At the very least, you have to offer them something interesting. The Yippies, for example, made it fun to protest the Vietnam War by attempting to levitate the Pentagon. And the Kent State massacre stayed in the hearts and minds of Americans in large part because Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young were inspired to create an anthem for the masses.

I don’t get the sense that things are happening in the same way right now, though. Maybe it’s because of how fractured things are these days, and how we no longer consume media from the same sources, but it doesn’t feel as though culture is really driving big issues the way it once did. I mean, Will and Grace and Ellen get a lot of credit for bringing us to a point in American history where we were able to embrace the idea of gay marriage, but one wonders why, for instance, we’re not seeing more movement on the popular culture front when it comes to the subject of climate change. Al Gore made waves with An Inconvenient Truth, and celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio are doing some things, but I just don’t get the sense that anything is really breaking through the way that it did in the past, with gay rights, civil rights, the Vietnam War, or even our response as a nation to Apartheid in South Africa. On those fronts, it felt like popular culture was unified in pushing us in the right direction.

Maybe the topics were easier for people to wrap their heads around. Or maybe, with the three big networks giving way to political media companies like Fox, there just aren’t the same opportunities. Or maybe it’s just because Donald Trump demands so much of our damned attention. Whatever it is, it just doesn’t feel like the same opportunities exist. Or, who knows, maybe it is happening and I’m just not seeing it, as I don’t really buy new music, watch TV, or even listen to the radio anymore.

Maybe the kids, inspired by people like Greta Thunberg, and emboldened by the Climate Strike, will begin forcing culture to give them what they want. Or, better yet, maybe folks will begin making their own media, and taking everything out of the hands of our corporate gatekeepers, who clearly don’t care all that much about climate change. And there are encouraging signs… Take this brilliant new Fatboy Slim remix of the song “Right Here, Right Now”.

I want more of this. And I want it everywhere. I want zines. I want music. I was teach-ins. I want civil disobedience. I want a TV show about a young, pissed-off, wise-cracking solar panel installer in rural America… I want engagement on every level. And I want it to be fun… Speaking of which, have you heard the term “civil discobedience” yet?

Posted in energy, Environment, Mark's Life, Media, Observations, Pop Culture, Rants, Sustainability, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Elizabeth Warren’s response to Facebook’s refusal to stop running false political ads

A few days ago, as you may have heard, Facebook made the decision to run an ad produced by the Trump campaign which had been proven to be false. While other media companies, like CNN, made the decision not to run the ad, which falsely suggested that Joe Biden, while Vice President of the United States, had offered Ukraine $1 billion in foreign aid in exchange for firing a prosecutor that was investigating a company tied to his son, Facebook made the call to accept nearly $718,000 in ad revenue from the Trump campaign, and run it.

Facebook, when asked to remove the ad by the Biden campaign, pointed to corporate policies, instituted this past September. According to those policies, the company no longer prohibits ads that contain “deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers, or methods.” While Facebook does bar ads that have been “debunked by third-party fact checkers” or “organizations with particular expertise,” they said, that does not extend to political advertisements. “Ads from political candidates,” the company says, “are ineligible for fact-checking.”

Well, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren — taking advantage of this Facebook policy allowing lie-filled political ads — just initiated a campaign of her own on the social media site. The ad calls attention to the fact (not really) that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had officially endorsed Donald Trump in the 2020 race.

Obama administration staffer Ben Rhodes had the following to say about the Warren ad. “This is so smart,” he said. “It’s past time for more scrutiny of how FB puts profit over democracy while hiding behind empty language about openness when it’s a media and advertising platform.

I was hopeful that Facebook, in the wake of what happened in 2016, would put systems in place to ensure that they’d never again be put in a position where their platform was being used to spread disinformation campaigns intended to sew discord in the United States. But, clearly, that’s not going to happen.

It would take me some time to do it, and it wouldn’t be easy, but I’ve almost made up my mind to disentangle my life from Facebook once and for all. I know it’ll mean that I’ll get left out of social things even more often, and probably lose track of what my family members and old friends are up to, but I can no longer be a party to Facebook’s continued refusal to step up, take responsibility, and do the right thing. [If broadcast television networks can find a way not to run false political ads, how can it be that a company that makes $16.6 billion a quarter in ad sales, can’t put systems in place?] And it pains me to say this, not just because I know it’ll make my mother sad to see me disappear from Facebook, but because, by not being on Facebook, I’ll no longer be able to step in when people I know are sharing debunked conspiracy theories about things like Elizabeth Warren’s fondness of male prostitutes and the like, but, at some point, you just have to walk away, and stop being part of the system.

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