A pox upon the media
On this St. Valentine's Day, I feel as if I should be addressing the issue of love, the most powerful force on earth. Kayleen gave me a lovely Valentine card this morning; I took her to the Chocolate Bar last night (which hardly makes it a special occasion, we're kinda regulars there). Instead, I'm thinking about a song from 1980, recorded just after Joe Jackson's "Sunday Papers" and well before Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry."
On both occasions I've seen Robyn Hitchcock perform live, he has made winking references to his admiration for Bryan Ferry. Ferry co-founded Roxy Music with Brian Eno and a guitarist named Phil Manzanera, who was born in London but spent part of his childhood in Venezuela. So there's the connection, I guess.
Allow me to confess right here that I have never been to Venezuela. I have known a few people from that oil-rich country, all of them from relatively privileged backgrounds. From them I have heard varying opinions on Hugo Chávez and the Bolívarian Revolution, as well as varying impressions on the economic situation there. What they have said certainly varies more than what I've been able to glimpse from mainstream media and analyses of MSM coverage.
From my cushy middle-class existence in the US, I have been rooting for the Revolution to succeed since its beginnings, despite misgivings about Chávez's autocratic tendencies. Since crude oil prices dropped six years ago, a drop from which they have yet to rebound, Team Bolívar isn't doing so well. Why have I been rooting for it? Why do I even care? Because I remember.
I work in IT, which, as most modern Americans are aware, stands for Information Technology. But my particular focus is a different IT, Instructional Technology. I work at a small university, helping instructors build online courses.
In post-secondary education, one of the hot terms is flipped classroom. The first time I heard someone use it, I had a pretty good idea of what it meant: student-centered or student-directed learning. I've known since my earliest teaching days that one of the most effective ways to learn facts and concepts involves teaching them to others.
In political wonkery, one of my hobbies, I have only recently become acquainted with yet another IT: Inverted Totalitarianism. The true meaning of that term, I thought I could guess. But I could also guess incorrectly, and I did. Until today, I didn't even bother to look up inverted totalitarianism, because the implications of putting those two words scared me. It's actually way more complex and way scarier than I originally thought.
Last night I watched most of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka's one-hour appearance on C-SPAN with Steve Scully. As I mentioned in the preceding post, I am 100% behind the Green Party's presidential ticket, and not just because I find the other parties and candidates abhorrent. Stein's Power to the People Plan, and the Green Party's national platform, are the blueprints for the world I want for my extended family, friends, and descendants.
This does not mean that I refrain from criticizing my preferred candidates' performance in the rare media opportunities they receive. Jill does not do media as well as a presidential candidate ought to. She has improved with practice, but she's not where she needs to be. In the way she educates interviewers with hardball questions, she's literally awesome, as a recent video demonstrates. But she has some habits that are irritating to someone like me who watches her regularly and has a background in public speaking.
Yesterday, I observed that the Green Party ticket has yet to experience any post-convention "bounce." The bounce phenomenon isn't usually associated with minor parties, but this is not a normal election year. Let's see if, after tonight, the poll numbers Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka show a bit more elasticity.
Tonight, Stein and Baraka get more than the standard five-minute interview on CNN. The fun begins at 8 pm Central Daylight Time, and lasts an hour minus commercial breaks (so probably 35 minutes). Harris County Greens & Green-leaners will gather at Midtown Bar & Grill, 415 West Gray Avenue, beginning at 7 pm for a watch party.
What to Watch For: Wow, this item actually mentions Instant Runoff Voting as the cure for the "spoiler effect."
Jill Anti-Science? Like the "spoiler" accusations, this trope refuses to die. It was cute when it was confined to clickbait sites and social media; it is far less cute when CNN and other major news sources decide to repeat it, even if to explore it from both sides. Saying "just because we can doesn't mean we should" about a scientific advance or practice is not opposition to science in general, but to unwise applications of science.
Keyword searches on CNN for Jill+Stein and Ajamu+Baraka include the original announcement of the Town Hall broadcast.
During summers, Houston's TORSO (Thirty and Over Recreational Soccer Organization) runs 8-v-8, short-field soccer games on Sunday evenings. Yesterday I played some midfield for my team, in an attacking role on the left wing (fancy that). I'm normally a defensive player or goalkeeper, but we've just recruited a keeper who knows the craft. As I took the field in the first half, a teammate told me, "Be as offensive as possible—without talking politics."
LOL. I'm proud to say that our team, Houston International FC, wears green jerseys, and I was the first to suggest it. We have almost as much ideological diversity on the team as cultural diversity, but I don't think any of us is a fan of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
I got through the rest of the game and afterward without even a sideways joke about politics. There are better things to talk about with a crew like this one: football (of any kind) and beer are always winning topics.
My Sunday began, however, with a look at Facebook. The first item that I saw was a posting of Keith Olbermann's tweet about Jill Stein.
Good ol' Keith, a man too passionate and intelligent to hold a job on any network, has tweeted that Jill Stein is a "threat," whose very presence in the presidential race puts us at risk of a Trump presidency, and asked her to "please withdraw." As a Green, I see that as progress.
You know the Gandhi litany: "First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win." We're already at the "fight" stage. This year, the Democratic establishment is actually doing all three at once.
It certainly wouldn't do for Hillary Clinton herself, or even her staff, to acknowledge in words the existence of the Stein campaign. That's the "ignore" tactic. The odds are pretty tall against anyone on camera uttering the words "Jill Stein" or "Green Party" at this week's Democratic National Convention. The speakers will focus their attention on burnishing the Democrats' tarnished image and attacking the Trump-Pence ticket.
The laughing-at (Stephen Colbert & his ilk) and fighting (Olbermann et alii) come from hatcheteers in the liberal wing of the Media-Industrial Complex. (I'm eager to see whether Samantha Bee actually mentions Jill Stein by name in the coming weeks.)
If reputable polls were showing that Stein was making the horse race uncomfortably close in too many swing states, Olbermann might have a point. But it's discouraging how many smart people, those who know how the Electoral College works, conveniently forget their Electoral College education when they smell "spoilers." Even Bernie Sanders has fallen victim to that. Don't EVEN mention Nader-2000-Florida, cuz I've had to Greensplain that myth-conception far too many times in the past 16 years.
Folks, the greater evil isn't Donald J. Trump, as horrendous as he may be. The real evil is this tyrannical corporatist duopoly known as the two-party system. Forcing voters to choose between center-right and fringe-right does not add up to democracy. More choices, and some form of Instant Runoff Voting, would help inject more robust democracy into this republic.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.