What are you doing?

This past weekend we saw thousands of protestors and volunteers, commit their time and energy in fighting the injustice that is Trump’s executive order on immigration. Maybe you participated. Maybe not. In any case. Now is a time of action.

As you may remember, the first goal from my recent plan to live in a post-truth world is:

1. Understand and articulate the things about which I care most so that I know where to focus my energy.

Before this self-awareness, I would churn from issue to issue, outrage to outrage until I either tired or spun out into an online tirade against some internet troll, who was immune to truth and logic anyway. I needed better tactics.

You may also remember that the issues I identified—those things I care about most—turned out to be pretty basic:

  • Ensuring Equal Human Rights for All
  • Protecting the Environment
  • Reforming Campaign Finance and Improving Elections

Even so, there is still a long way from those broad statements, to concrete actions I could take daily/weekly. That’s where I turned to the internet for help. They have action plans covered. Here are the ways I am going to turn my (over)informed outrage passion into progress and deeds. I encourage you to do the same.


For those who really just want directed actions, there are a few options to get email “to-do” lists each week. Be forewarned, you’re going to have to call people to be most effective. I was surprised to learn that conservative activists out-call progressives 4:1. This needs to change. Choose one, or sign up for them all. Action is what is called for today.

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Goodbye, America. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.

Jena and I are leaving the country tonight and won’t return until the middle of November*. By that time, a new President will have been chosen by the people of this country and we can finally move on from this nightmarish campaign that started years ago.**

I have faith in the people of this country despite some of the recent ugliness we have seen at rallies or in the streets, that they will not follow the historic election of the first black President, with a man who treats women, minorities, the disabled, veterans, the families of veterans, and everyday people, the way Donald Trump does.

People say Trump, speaks his mind, tells it like it is, and isn’t politically correct. Not accounting for the childish way he acts and speaks, he also lies more than any politician.  Look at the fact checking of a “typical politician” and you can see that they tell half-truths and outright lies about half the time. Compare that with Trump who can only manage to tell the truth or mostly the truth 15% of the time. How can anyone believe anything from him? He is not trustworthy.

This is not an election between two similar candidates despite how the press may treat it. This is an election between a man who would be extremely dangerous for all of us and a highly qualified person who has spent the majority of her life in the service of others***. Don’t fall for the false equivalence in the way these two candidates are presented. The media is failing us all.

Let me say repeat how dangerous Trump is. Electing Donald Trump would endanger us all fiscally, emotionally, and physically.

So what we need from everyone is simple. Don’t fuck this up. Send a message by voting—whether in a “blue state” or a “red state” or a “battleground state” or even overseas—and clearly declare that the types of attitudes and behaviors exhibited by Trump and his most fervent  supporters are not acceptable in the USA and that we, as a nation, are better than that.

Trump won’t win the election, but he shouldn’t even get 10% of the vote. Don’t be one of the people who cast a vote for this small, angry man. History will not judge you kindly.****

Kia ora.

*We’re headed to New Zealand and Australia. Our gracious friends Luke and Jenny are watching our cats and our house while we are gone. We’ll post more on this as we go.
**We’re voting by mail
***You won’t see any such list like that about Trump as he is only interested in making money and putting his name on things.
****Neither will I. In fact, if you are a friend or family member that cares so little for yourself and for your country that you would cast a vote for this man, then I do not want to know about it. Seriously. Do not tell me. I won’t respect you and I sorta need that for our relationship to continue.

Marketing ideas as a means of social change

For whatever reason I was not motivated to post yesterday. I wanted to post, but I couldn’t get myself to do it. What I wanted to do was to post a positive story about Arabs and/or Arab Americans and make that sort of a tradition on this anniversary, here at Alt Text.

When this idea was conceived I was thinking in these specific terms but wanted to change the way people thought of this day – a day now linked to a war that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda or making us safer. I wasn’t looking to start a meme or actively market my idea, just post some positive news.

Reading Seth Godin’s site today I came across his post about how we can market our way closer to an end to terrorism. In the post Seth writes how you cannot beat terrorism with guns and prisons – those consequences do little to affect the terrorist’s mind and could do even more to fuel the creation of new terrorists. After all, terrorists are just people who subscribe to a particular idea – an idea that America and the West are immoral – heathens that are bent on destroying their culture and robbing them with the resources.

For all I know, we may never be able to eliminate terrorism and animosity towards us (especially as we are sitting atop the world in terms of wealth and consumption). But what we can do is try to create another idea that can combat those to which the terrorists subscribe.

We have not been very successful invading and bombing our way to changing minds but we do know how to market our ideas. The problem right now is that somewhere along the line, our leaders decided that the time for crafting this sort of idea, had passed and they have been busy reinforcing the old ideas that terrorists have of us.

We are already at a place in time where many people are fearful of expressing racist thoughts and that may eventually give way to the idea of racism finally disappearing. In the same way, maybe some day, the idea of attacking innocents as a means of affecting change an the idea that the Western countries only want to hold down and plunder the rest of the world may seem crazy. Unfortunately, for now, there are far too many people willing to do participate in the former and far too much truth to the latter. Even powerfully crafted and marketed ideas need to eventually mirror reality.

FNB Politics

FNB politics can be tricky to write about, and to pin down, because it relies on surfacing deep-seated anxieties and archetypes that, when revealed to the light of day, appear ridiculous.

To a large extent my perceptions of public figures is based only upon how the news media (a term used very loosely here) chooses to present them. I have been too naive to realize or too stubborn to admit it, but I just have not known the extent to which political parties use back-channels and media-types to conduct swift-boat style attacks on the character of their “enemies” and just how effective such attacks have been. While I admit to being oblivious to Edwards’ manhood being called into question (for the most-part), I have known about the attacks on Hillary as far back as before she was first lady. The attacks on Barrack are a little more covert, but comments by Rush Limbaugh (shown below), while appearing humorous at first, are no doubt attempting to bring up (in some people) antiquated fears of black men “stealing” “our” white women. It is outrageous!

One of Limbaugh’s ongoing jabs is that white female reporters find him sexually irresistible. “Snerdley is convinced Maureen [Dowd] wants Barack Obama,” he sighs. “I don’t even want to go there.” He depicted Time’s Ana Marie Cox as helpless before Obama’s overpowering sexuality, putting the following thoughts into her head: “Well, there’s no question the power is crackling through his jeans!”

Does the public need a GOP tipping point?

The Republicans are falling all over themselves trying to figure out how to deal with their latest scandal.

But reading the front-page headlines and watching the breathless TV coverage five weeks before the election, one could glibly assume that the fallout from the Foley frenzy will be the tipping point that will produce a Democratic sweep in the House. Especially seeing the Republicans in full meltdown, vacillating between fetal-position defeatism and a desperate effort to find a scapegoat.

Really? This is the tipping point? What about all the things the American people now know about Bush and the the Republican congress that allowed all of this? What about…

…the National Intelligence Estimate tells us that the invasion of Iraq has created a greater worldwide terrorist threat, making us less safe.

…and Bob Woodward’s 60 Minutes interview and new book, State of Denial that each outline a “ruinous mix of arrogance and naiveté” within the Bush administration – the direct cause of the Iraq mess.

…and those are just in the last week! If you go over the last six years there are so many more, but is America listening?

…but the key question here is, how much bad news can the Republicans take? Sooner rather than later the weight of the evidence should tilt the scale against Republican control of Congress. For given the way things are going for Hastert and the White House, it can’t take much of a tipping point for the Democrats to get those 15 needed seats.

Here is one strategy they could use: label Foley as a Democrat as Fox “News” did during the O’Reilly Factor.

How long will the American people allow this type of crap from their “leaders”? From their press? Clinton made a strong showing but the Republicans have corruption and deviant behavior down to an art form.

The design of dissent

Having cancelled my DirecTV service some months back and with the summer network schedule lull I have had a good deal of time away from the TV. Because shows like Lost, 24, and Arrested Development don’t resume again until fall, there is nothing to watch, which is generally good, it being summer and all. This break has given me a chance to rediscover some of the great PBS programming that I have been neglecting. In addition to some excellent travel and cooking shows, and of course NOVA, there’s the weekly news show: NOW – previously NOW with Bill Moyers – currently just Now.

Last week’s show, NOW: The Design of Dissent was an interview with graphic designer Milton Glaser – famous for designing the I (heart) NY imagery, the buttons created for The Nation (and shown at right) and more. Amidst some political waxings, Glaser mostly discusses how graphic design can and does change people’s perspectives.

That’s the thing that makes you most crazy the idea of this passive acceptance of an authority. We thought we weren’t that kind of people.

The show’s themes correspond with a like-named exhibit at the School of Visual Arts and a similarly like-named new book by Glazer.

I think it’s a rather simple-minded idea that if you examine government, those that have the least dissent are those that are most totalitarian. That is, in fact, the manifestation of dissent that defines democracy, (because) it means that there are oppositions to power that are freely expressed and that minority opinion is also considered to be worthwhile. Generally speaking, dissent comes out of a sense of fairness that something is wrong. Power is being used unfairly, and there has to be some manifestation or complaint about it.

I’ll try not to quote the entire interview and instead encourage you to read the full interview transcript. I will mention however, that this is what I have always believed – that dissent does not equal disdain. On both a national level and in terms of jobs I have had, I always felt the greatest need to voice dissent, when I cared the most. It isn’t worth arguing for thing A to improve, if you don’t give a damn about thing A. It surprises me upon how many people this point is lost.

Another interview with Glaser on a similar topic.