Hillary: Fire Your Campaign

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Disclaimer: The thoughts and views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Democrats for Progress or its members.

I am angry. Hillary needs to fire her campaign. The unnamed advisors and managers, the . . . → Read More: Hillary: Fire Your Campaign

“Today I Know I’m Living But Tomorrow Could Make the Past”

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Super-PAC Commericals, Why President Obama Should Appoint Himself to the Open Seat, the GOP Legacy of No

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More Republican candidates for President have meant more political commercials in Charleston, sometimes running right after each other in no . . . → Read More: Super-PAC Commericals, Why President Obama Should Appoint Himself to the Open Seat, the GOP Legacy of No

“Them’s Years:” 3 Montages on America’s Political Promise

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The Creepy Things

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The creepy things are starting to creep into the Republican campaigns; the things so ugly and wrong they shut us down and leave us dispirited. How can Democrats find a path to victory through . . . → Read More: The Creepy Things

Ego Flashes: The Surreal Side of the Campaign

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American television has an ego bigger than Donald Trump’s: why else would an industry run video replays of the same 30 seconds endlessly and pretend it is news? And . . . → Read More: Ego Flashes: The Surreal Side of The Campaign

At the GOP Debate: The Evidence of Things Unseen

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Has everybody has noticed that the media is treating last night’s three hour unscripted but predictable appearance as a major source of content and performance for determining which . . . → Read More: At the GOP Debate: The Evidence of Things Unseen

Media's Direct Reporting Omits Deep Background

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DDGrowing frustration exists about the role of global media in sharing the truth and facts about politics. Even the media’s cherished idea of balance has taken a slant. The American media’s direct reporting omits deep backgrounds. In print and broadcast, anonymous sources are assigned the duty of representing an ideology and attacking those who disagree. In live reports, face time is more important than oral intelligence. And no news broadcast is complete without a YouTube clip.

What recent stories has the media missed and how have the omissions affected the country?

The biggest missing story is about the media itself: it has abandoned analysis. Instead of being shaped by insights and history, or by conflict and values, stories are “blocked.” They are packaged for immediacy rather than viable information, and immediacy has come to mean any story which zooms in on a crisis in the social order, a threat to well-being or life.

Blocking a story means it will be limited to reviewing events without examining causes; limited by sensationalism that ignores the mainstream; limited by the next big story without any follow-up on the previous big story. But the story’s limits always include speculation, no-rules chatter about what happens next. Speculation, and its inaccurate prophecies, unleashed fears and violations of logic and common sense, is featured without critical review. By offering speculation, media abandons the idea of wrong or right; its stories are blocked to show who is for and who is against.

For example, in one recent big story about Ebola, a deadly, contagious virus spreading in three West African countries, media helped generated mass fear and hysteria in America. Justified by media stories, rather than experience, experts and successful protocol, civil liberties went flying out of the window faster than domestic cases of the disease, amid calls for restricted travel to and from the region.

States demanded medical professionals be quarantined even when displaying no obvious symptoms of fever and coughing. Twice-a-day telephone monitoring was put in place for persons returning from countries experiencing the Ebola epidemic. Hours of hard news time were devoted to tracking each single potential threat as the source of an impeding holocaust. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie bad-mouthed a nurse who had demonstrated the courage to travel to the medical front to fight the disease by caring for infected patients.

In the midst of the Ebola fear, Congress members proclaimed the likelihood of legions of Ebola-infected terrorists arriving in Mexico, walking like zombies across unsecured borders—yet so heavily monitored by manpower and technology that enforcement agents intercepted nearly 40,000 unescorted children last year. Many of the same Congress members who conjured a deadly and imminent link between terrorists and Ebola believed this undocumented children’s crusade also had come to destroy the American way of life, stain the American Promise, and end freedom as we know it—by busting public budgets and demanding the right to education. Continue reading Media’s Direct Reporting Omits Deep Background

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We Know Tar Sands, But Why Don't We Know Biomass?

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DDThe US Congress perseverates. Its new leaders, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, have it bad. John McCain holds its longest recognized precondition. It is incurable and resists every treatment. Perseveration is a state of thought and speech, a mindset on a loop that repeats and repeats and prolongs an action long after the stimulus that prompted it has ceased. Think Keystone XL. Think Keystone. A political mutation from the perseveration of Obamacare.

Perseveration is a dangerous condition. It is a frequent condition that infects terrorist leadership who carry it to inhuman extremes. At home, perseveration often occurs as a host/carrier relationship between politicians and the media. Media is highly susceptible to its effects and has created recent epidemics and panics that stem from the main condition. Fears of Ebola’s spread to US soil is one such recent incident. The grand jury verdict in Ferguson is now another.

Congressional Republicans are single-minded and love to perseverate. About the XL, they ring memes: “thousands of jobs,” thousands of jobs,” “thousand of jobs;” the loud repetition masking that the pipeline has many dirty little flaws—beginning with the misleading jobs claim. Perseverating Republicans have a wild XL jobs math that includes school crossing guards anywhere near trucks with XL equipment, the counter and register workers at the doughnut shops where the truck drivers have coffee, and the supermarket worker who sells the bread for their sandwiches and the banker who receives their mortgage.

Here’s a more accurate picture: As we know, XL pipeline construction jobs will be less than the number on any NJ-NY highrise, less than those involved in building the new Tappan Zee Bridge.

The XL requires infrastructure (mainly grading, bed prep including stone and rock beds, drainage, installing braces), but is easy construction (mainly bolting and welding); these jobs will turn over swiftly as it builds out. The main impact will be in transportation and heavy equipment jobs (engaged hauling pipe sections, parts and instruments; then in lifting and positioning sections for installation, transferring and moving equipment and parts along the pipeline). Total new jobs: less than 500! New jobs lasting for more than six months: 150. Permanent jobs added to the economy: 50. Mainly for pipeline monitors, reading instruments and driving along to visually inspect the pipeline for damage and leaks.

The impact on refineries? The Texas Gulf refineries aren’t empty or idle. And no one proposes building new capacity. Net result: Jobs will remain constant; output will increase. China benefits. No tanker leaves Houston or Port Arthur empty.

The Washington Post says the economy adds the numbers of jobs provided by the XL every 10 minutes and nine seconds. Exactly the time it takes Republicans to perseverate about their lie of thousands.

The danger of perseveration is not only its exaggerated realities, but it how it pushes out new ideas and solutions and keeps them away from public attention.

Biomass is perhaps the most important green energy technology no one has heard of and for which Congress has not taken up a banner of support.

At its most basic, biomass is producing energy from organic matter; burning wood in a stove or fireplace, for example. At its most advanced, biomass energy is sustainable and an efficient recycler of bio products considered waste and left abandoned by lumber and agricultural industries. It is one of the most scalable of green technologies, and breakthroughs are happening swiftly, improving the process and dropping the costs of production and transmission.

biomass_graphic

Beaver Wood Energy, a Vermont company, reclaims forest waste from logging operations. Within a 50-mile circumference of its facilities site, 2.6 million tons of logs are harvested annually, leaving behind nearly a million tons of waste, mainly in the form of tree tops and branches stripped from the stem trucks to be used as timber in construction and craft. Continue reading We Know Tar Sands, But Why Don’t We Know Biomass?

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The Lena Dunham Press

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I didn’t know the Season 2 premier of HBO’s Girls was a monumental political event until it was covered like one by my favorite progressive magazines, TV shows, and national blogs. I was confused about why there was an avalanche of stories in political publications that don’t usually focus on entertainment.

Then I started looking at the bios of the writers. They were nearly all women in their 20s from New York, Massachusetts, and occasionally California, all with degrees from an Ivy League school or a similarly exclusive, expensive college where the wealthy send their children for finishing school. That’s, understandably, who you would expect to write a story about Girls, but I also noticed that the vast majority of stories I read in those publications come from people who share a similar background.

It’s no wonder. The shrinking news industry lays off experienced writers and reporters who are then replaced by more recent graduates at lower wages. With very few positions in the national press available, the top jobs go to writers with Ivy League degrees and the most impressive internship their parents’ connections could get them. Journalism is a fluid, fiercely competitive profession that increasingly appeals only to those who have the privilege of not needing to worry about job stability or supporting a family on their income.

Consequently, we have a national press and pundit corps filled with excellent, well-educated writers with relatively little experience and a background unlike most of their readers. They find it completely relateable and realistic to watch a show about a young woman living in the nation’s most expensive apartment market, whose major life crisis is that her parents might cut her off, making it marginally more difficult to live a lifestyle completely out of reach for 99% of the country.

The national press based in NYC and DC have long had trouble covering stories in “flyover country” and anything related to organized labor. It’s hard to see that getting better with a press corps who are more likely to have visited Denmark than a factory in the small town South. It might be why, for example, I see a string of national stories about fracking in New York, but rarely anything about the much more damaging impacts of coal mining in rural Illinois and Kentucky. Continue reading The Lena Dunham Press

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