Tag: Politics

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You’ve Been Misled About Fake News

I am ashamed and embarrassed to be a journalist. This past week’s coordinated attacks on so-called fake news sites—largely orchestrated by the mainstream media and supported by Internet gatekeepers like Google and social media consorts such as Facebook or Twitter—is nothing less than an assault on free speech by organizations that should protect it.

They blame so-called fake news sites for influencing the 2016 Presidential election in favor of real-estate mogul Donald Trump and seek to extinguish them. But the Fourth Estate really responds to a perceived threat that looks to upend the mainstream media status quo. More appalling is the rampant advocacy journalism wrapped in cloak of objectivity from news orgs like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Meaning: Anti-Trump editorial policy and reporting slants are as biased as the labeled fakers. Worst of all: Many, if not most, media outlets fail to acknowledge, if even see, how they failed the American public during the campaign. Their accusations should point inwardly, not outwardly to other information disseminators.

So there is no misunderstanding: I am not a rabid Trump supporter, but a journalist who separates personal sentiments from my ethical responsibilities. More of my peers should do likewise.

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Facebook, Mainstream Media, Confirmation Bias, and the Trump Trauma

Lots of Americans, like those out here in liberal-leaning, Hillary Clinton-supporting California, are suffering what I call the “Trump Trauma”. They were sure she would win, easily, and are shocked at the unexpected outcome. It’s all disbelief, like someone suddenly died without warning. They were unprepared and now mourn the death of the Clinton candidacy. How could this come to be?

During our pre-election Frak That! podcast, on Nov. 7, 2016, cohost Randall Kennedy and I discussed the social media election. He expressed surprise at the “speed with which information travels”. I interrupted: “The speed with which disinformation travels now”, later describing social media interaction as something like “Borg sentience”, in context of phenomenon “confirmation bias“. The group mind—perpetuated by Facebook, news media reports, and political polls over-weighted to fit the narrative booming from the Echo Chamber—led many Americans, regardless of party affiliation, to misguided expectations about whom would be President-elect.

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The Problem with post-Brexit UK isn’t Leave but Remain

The government of David Cameron and the British intelligentsia will ruin the United Kingdom if they stay the course of their post-Brexit rhetoric. The tone is abysmal. Catastrophic—like a family’s patriarch has unexpectedly died and the women left behind must abandon their estate. Think Sense and Sensibility, where the Dashwood mother and daughters are exiled to the English countryside following the master’s death. They are outcasts. They have no rights to inheritance. They have no future.

But the story’s ending is quite different than its beginning. The UK’s future can be great—better, apart from the European Union than being one of its members. But that chapter may never be written should sour grapes of doom and gloom dominate the post-Brexit narrative. As I often say: In business, perception is everything. Same applies to government, and the image that nations put forth. Too much of the story being written about the UK’s future, which no one without a time machine can predict, is negative. The narrative conveys no confidence that the islands can stand alone. 

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Trump Brings Mayhem to San Diego

The #DumpTrump crowd clashed with the candidate’s supporters here in San Diego this afternoon. Ha! I didn’t know he had come to speak—at the convention center. Trouble started around 4 p.m. local time, following his speech.

I’m more taken back by the police presence than what actually happened. As I write, about two-and-a-half hours later, there are 500 cops in full riot gear and bulletproof vests outside San Diego Convention Center. The area is closed, with an order making it illegal for anyone to remain in the area. Hey, is Trump still around? Run before you get arrested, Donald. 😉 

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If You Can Vote for American Idol on Smartphones, Why Not Presidents?

Over the weekend, my 94 year-old father-in-law asked what I would do to assure that every American who could vote would do so. That was an unexpected question, but one I addressed gingerly. This post is my answer restated for a public venue.

Simple answer: Smartphone. According to PewResearchCenter, nearly 70 percent of Americans own one of the devices, but the number among voting age adults tops 80 percent, according to other estimates. Surely a program could be in place by the 2020 Presidential race, and if lawmakers were truly serious about universal suffrage, a Manhattan-like project could make it happen by the next Mid-terms. 

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Bernie Sanders DMCA burns Wikipedia

I have a whopping “WTF?” headache this fine Saturday over a Wikipedia report that the Bernie Sanders campaign filed a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) request demanding removal of the Presidential hopeful’s logos. Seriously? From an encyclopedia? If this is the future under so-called Democratic Socialism, run for cover. The Police State pounds the door! He talks the good talk—gentile Uncle promising freedom for all—but I look where he walks, and that’s with a club beating baby seals of free speech. Yikes!

I am decidedly non-partisan, meaning: All politicians are fair game for our bow and arrows to shoot and Bowie knife to gut. (Got a taxidermist on contract to stuff them, too!) The Donald is easy prey, but I never expected Bernie to gloriously trump Trump! The take-down notice’s absurdity outdoes the proposed Wall protecting Americans from Mexicans south and Canadians north. 

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What Do Amazon, Google, and Twitter Share in Common?

Let’s spin some wild conspiracy theories—because it’s fun. You can choose whether or not to take them seriously, as nothing makes better hay than a presidential election year.  So I look fondly on the Obama Administration’s preparations for the president’s last State of the Union address—nearly a year before Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, or some other soulless political pretend maven—boots him from the White House. Also, as a long-time tech journalist, what goes on behind the prep interests me.

Our Commander in Chief wants you to get the message whenever or wherever you may be. That’s an admirable ambition. But I can’t help wonder if the buddy-rule still applies; I suppose it could be coincidence that the tech that will bring you President Obama’s speech and followup conversations with the Veep, First Lady, and others is provided by people/companies close to the Administration. Hehe, a crony by any other name is still a crony, just not the same. 

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Hey, Washington Post (and Other Investigators), How About Comparing Candidate Spending Habits?

Let me preface: this is not a political endorsement for Donald Trump or anyone else. But the comedy and drama of this early campaign cycle sure is interesting. Among yesterday’s dramedy stories catching my attention: Washington Post on Mr. Trump telling super PACs to return contributions gathered in his name.

The presidential hopeful finances the campaign from his wealth and smaller donations from individual contributors. I got to wondering: Wouldn’t a candidate largely using his own money spend differently from someone getting to what amounts to free cash? There’s a stereotype that people spend their own (say, savings) more prudentially than what comes easily and freely (like credit). Is there a difference this early on among the would-be nominees in how or where they spend on the respective campaigns? 

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Google, Give Thanks!

It wouldn’t be U.S. Thanksgiving without my writing about gratitude, and why some tech company’s executives, employees, and partners should prostrate and pray “Thanks”.

This year I to Google, which continues a great run that started with Larry Page’s return as CEO in April 2011. If he’s not all smiles this Turkey Day, someone should slap that man aside the head. I could tick off a hundred things for which he should give thanks. For brevity’s sake, so you can get back to the big game and bigger bird, I select some things that might not come to mind. 

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Maine Decides Whether to Shoot Bear Like Ducks in a Barrel

On this election day, I long to be back in Maine, so that I could vote on the initiative to ban bear barrels. It’s a practice unfamiliar to me. I grew up in a family of hunters, which killed for sport and food. They tracked the animals, not lured them with sweet throwaways.

I only learned about the referendum this morning, from a news story in my RSS feeds. National Geographic violates Betteridge’s Law of Headlines by asking question: “Should We Bait Black Bears With Doughnuts?” I am embarrassed for being so out of touch with important issues and politics in the Pine Tree State—they matter to family there, and to me. I may be long-time removed, but Maine will always be home. I identity myself as a Mainer, more than by any other measure.