I Give Up

Last night I listened to Sean Hannity.

I’d been hiking, listening to the “Daily” from the “New York Times” and the “Daily 202” from the “Washington Post.” The “Daily 202” is better. It’s shorter. It’s one big idea, plus a few short riffs every weekday. And it’s only as long as there’s information. As in it could be six minutes or thirty, depending upon what is going on. But the main host, James Hohmann, is on vacation for two weeks, so if you want the full experience, wait until Monday July 20th to tune in.

So, the big story this week is the coronavirus. The latest question is whether we need to shut down the country again. Now if we do, that may save some lives, but what is our plan after everybody is home for awhile, do we just reopen once again? That’s been proven to be a bad strategy. Without testing and contact tracing we’re just going to replicate the present situation. Sure, if people wore masks, that would help, but masks kill, as you know, they stifle your freedom and your oxygen and impinge upon your freedom. It’s just like George Floyd saying he can’t breathe. Republicans can die too.

And speaking of podcasts, you should check out the “New York Times”‘s “1619.” In this era of Black Lives Matter, the truth is very few white people know black history, which is excavated in this podcast. Lincoln may have freed the slaves, but he wanted them to emigrate to other countries, because he didn’t believe whites and blacks could live together. Rutherford made a deal with the Democrats to remove overseers in the south in order to become president. The end result? Jim Crow.

So, I was going to stream more of “1619” on my drive home, but pushing the buttons on SiriusXM first, I came across Sean Hannity, who said he was going to have Trump on. This was a repeat of his show, I’d already read the news, I figured I’d give it a shot. But I never made it to Trump, because for twenty minutes, the entirety of my drive home, Hannity excoriated Biden and the Democrats. It’s an alternative universe. If Biden wins, there will be riots in the street, socialism will reign, our great American experiment, our country, will come to an end, you will not recognize it. Huh? Isn’t that what is going on now? But if you listen to Fox, there’s no way you’d know that.

And speaking of Fox, today in the “Washington Post,” Max Boot, a conservative, takes down the cancel culture of the right:  He says:

Conservatives have a ‘cancel culture’ of their own

“The rest of the conservative movement can be just as intolerant of dissent. I learned this the hard way when I was the op-ed editor of the Wall Street Journal from 1997 to 2002. As I recount in my book ‘The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right,’ I was nearly fired for trying to run an op-ed critical of supply-side economics by Paul Krugman, a future Nobel laureate in economics. The editorial-page philosophy was that it would run one liberal column a week; if readers wanted more, they could turn to the New York Times.”

I get the “Wall Street Journal.” My worry is people who read only it have a skewed, one-sided opinion. I have an educated friend who refuses to read the “New York Times,” he just spews the viewpoint of the “Journal,” intensely. And when the courts go the other way…he weasels out of it. And now, with the courts packed with Republican judges, it will go his way more often.

And then there’s yesterday’s Supreme Court decision. If Trump’s taxes are not released before the election it makes no difference, it won’t have an effect, and that’s the way it’s gonna play out.

That’s one thing that bugs me about the left, it will not acknowledge that Trump wins each and every time, with almost no exceptions. The left drily prints his heinous activity, talking heads rail on MSNBC, and nothing changes. The country may not be winning, but the Donald most certainly is, again and again and again.

Vindman talks and ends up having to resign. Canceling whistleblower conduct. Sure, billionaires can blow the whistle, but the average person needs the paycheck!

I could go on and on, but I don’t think it would make any difference.

First and foremost, most people get their news from the internet, which is so skewed, if it’s not outright false. If you surfed you’d believe that vaccinations are the problem with America, if we just eradicated them everybody would be healthy, and the greatest threat to our country is George Soros, as if anybody had that much power in today’s society.

But they want bogeymen.

And the truth is it’s nearly impossible to get an abortion in a red state anyway. If you’ve got money, you can travel, even to another state. Many people can’t afford the process of getting an abortion, never mind the abortion itself. The travel, the hotels, the multiple visits.

And I thought the United States was founded upon the separation of church and state. I don’t need God to bless us, I just need some rationality and foresight. And you may be saved by the Rapture, but for the rest of us, can we do something about climate change? Hell, if we can’t even fight Covid-19, I guess not.

The truth is the people on television are paid to bloviate.

And the truth is all their bloviation is based on the “New York Times” and “Washington Post” anyway, you could just buy subscriptions to those papers and give up TV completely. And it’s not only the left, but the right. Tune into Laura Ingraham or Tucker Carlson, they usually lead with a story from the “Times.” Sure, they annihilate it, but there’s no independent reporting done whatsoever.

And video can be altered and…

Did you read the latest issue of “Bloomberg Businessweek,” “The Heist Issue”? You’ve got to read

“How the American Worker Got Fleeced”

It will depress you to no end. Unions got busted, wages stayed stagnant, the National Labor Relations Board sides with the corporations and if you express your opinion you get fired. Furthermore, you’re not even working for the company itself, you’re a contractor, with no benefits.

“At Google parent Alphabet Inc., which counts more than 110,000 employees, the contract workers have overtaken the direct workforce.”

That’d be like more than half of the Yankees making less, being able to be fired at will with no recourse. And if they refused to play in the Covid-19 era, they’d sacrifice their paychecks.

You’re on your own in America.

As for Biden… What bugs me is a lot of what the right says is true. He does bungle, he does make gaffes, he is out of touch, and he lost every single debate with his counterparts in the primary season.

So, Thomas Friedman comes up with an excellent strategy:

“Biden Should Not Debate Trump Unless… – Here are two conditions the Democrat should set.”

Friedman wants Trump to release his taxes and to agree to having a fact-checking team on site.

So, what happens?

Crickets on the left, because progressives hate Friedman. Biden won’t take a stand, his goal is to take no stand, to let Trump self-immolate, not knowing we’re voting for a leader. As for the right…THEY’RE SAYING BIDEN IS AFRAID TO DEBATE TRUMP! Get this straight, Biden has said nothing, it’s only Tom Friedman who has weighed in, and now the right is defining the debate and winning it as the left fiddles as Rome burns.

And the right keeps hammering the foibles and excesses of the left. Such that if you’re only exposed to the right wing viewpoint, it makes sense. And the truth is the left is made up of politicians who do what is expedient and are in the pork game too. But, the left doesn’t fight back, it just complains about Trump, to no effect.

This is the America we are living in. There’s no leadership. All we’ve got is a game, which you want to believe is a simulation, but is deadly real.

The right aligns with an agenda, the left just goes on like it’s business as usual. The right hammers a story endlessly, just check out the “Wall Street Journal” op-ed pages. But the left moves on from the crisis. But the truth is America is not moving on.

Be afraid, be very afraid. The right has defined the left as takers…who will take away your freedom, even to wear a mask, never mind your money, which you need in this challenging era, all the while giving power to the government, which no one has faith in. As for the left…it’s got few attack dogs, it won’t support those who are, AOC is an enemy on both the right and the left. The left doesn’t hammer right wing foibles again and again. It feels they’re self-evident. But they’re not to many. This is a war, and if you watched “Hamilton” you know that the States won despite having a smaller army, despite being a much-lesser power. Which is why you should be wary of the polls saying Trump is losing. Many people are afraid to admit they’re voting for Trump, worried about the blowback, like with the Goya bean company CEO…but they want to keep their money and they’ve got no time for people of color and…

This is where we are today.

I feel powerless.

Peter Rudge-This Week’s Podcast

Peter Rudge started out with the Who, and then went on to manage the Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more. Tune in to hear what it’s like at the pinnacle of rock and roll.

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Facebook

Who is more powerful, Facebook or the people?

In the pre-cable era, networks were deathly afraid of advertisers. If only a few people complained, content was changed, no one could be alienated. Now the opposite is true.

Major and minor corporations have banded together to get Facebook to police content on its sites. What has Facebook done in responses? Given the middle finger.

Let’s start at the beginning. This is not an issue of free speech. Facebook is a corporation, the First Amendment does not apply. As for those rulings long ago that malls couldn’t ban protesters…in the pre-internet era, the mall took the place of the town square, it was the only place to reach people, and therefore it was adjudged that speech be allowed.

But if you’re not on Facebook, there are plenty of other places online to spout your nonsense. Hell, you can even start your own site. And one thing is for sure, the hatred and disinformation of today would never be tolerated at the malls of yesteryear, no way.

So, in the old top-down economy, it was all about corporations.

Now it’s about individuals. And those who used to wield power based on their bucks, their spending power, no longer have the same influence. To wit, Mark Zuckerberg said publicly that he does not care if major advertisers boycott Facebook, because most of its ad revenue comes from small entities. Like those Google ads you see. Targeted directly at specific customers. The big corporations play with broad strokes. The internet promised advertising could be targeted only to those who wanted to see it, or the likeliest customers, and that’s all you had to pay for, which is why Facebook and Google are so powerful, they control this advertising.

So, it’s only the public, the little people, who can fight Facebook. The big corporations can wail all they want, Zuckerberg is not budging. He’s just like Trump. He feels all powerful, beyond scrutiny, he can do what he wants with no penalty.

In other words, Facebook is more powerful than the TV networks of yore. Facebook is more powerful than any newspaper, as a matter of fact, Facebook is where many people get their news, which Facebook delivers via its own algorithmic secret sauce. Talk about too big to fail, Wall Street is a joke compared to Facebook.

You see Facebook and Instagram and WhatsApp are now firmly entrenched in the lives of seemingly everybody worldwide. They’re how you communicate. With both important and unimportant messages. And since human beings are social creatures, these social media sites are empires.

So, if Zuckerberg can’t be swayed by the big money corporations, who are small money to him. If the government is in gridlock and can’t accomplish almost anything, good or bad, in addition being far from internet-savvy, who can put a spanner in the works in the Facebook juggernaut?

The people. You and me. We have to stop using Facebook and Instagram, bring them to their knees, that’s the only way they’ll change.

Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg met with the boycotting advertisers today, and what was accomplished, what did the Facebook twins concede…ESSENTIALLY NOTHING!

“Facebook Fails to Appease Organizers of Ad Boycott – Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s top executives, engaged in ‘spin’ during a meeting over hate speech, civil rights groups said.”

It’s funny, because Zuckerberg and Sandberg are Jews, as am I. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, there are still clubs Zuckerberg and Sandberg can’t get into, but they’re going to turn a blind eye to misinformation and hatred on their sites? Do they think they’re immune?

And speaking of immune, the media decided to trumpet Sheryl Sandberg and her precepts, believing by boosting a female tech exec they had done their duty to equality.

But Sandberg was not the right one to elevate. Irrelevant of her skills, she made it through Harvard and her connections, she didn’t even start in tech, but even worse, she’s been complicit in this nonsense just like Zuckerberg. And only after her husband tragically died did she understand and admit that many women could not have it all, couldn’t lean in, she’s just another cloistered member of the elite dictating to the hoi polloi whilst having no clue.

Yes, I want to shame Sheryl Sandberg, Mark Zuckerberg too. That doesn’t work with Trump, but it might with these two.

But the one thing they absolutely understand is money. And if we could make it so they take in less…they’d come to the table.

So, what do we want?

Some veracity, some facts. Every day reasonable people e-mail me conspiracy theories. Forget the insane nincompoops, even educated people see the posts and they’re swayed. As for the newspapers… That battle was lost years ago. Other than the biggies, the rest are owned by hedge funds who are cutting them to the bone, they have little news in them. And TV news does almost no reporting. And after being talked down to for decades, many average citizens don’t trust big media, it’s been a concerted right wing campaign to denigrate big news, especially since Sarah Palin. You trust the people you know, the ones they know, before you trust the established figure.

As a result, information, truth, is in chaos in America. There’s no there there. Everybody is operating from a different set of “facts,” and as a result of the algorithms, they may not even be exposed to contrary opinions.

This is a monster problem. The newspaper war was lost, by ignorant news entities who thought more about their margins than the future, cutting their newsholes to the point customers were no longer interested. But Facebook…we can still turn back the tide.

Facebook’s sites are the most influential distributors of news in the world. Digest that. And then factor in that news can be made up out of thin air. He who can talk most and spend for ads most can win the war of information. Even worse, the algorithm makes it so other viewpoints are squeezed out.

Facebook is not a neutral site. It’s a media company. And it’s built on the people’s content. It needs the people to post and surf to survive. Therefore, only the people can bring it to its knees.

This is not Trump complaining about bad press, this is reasonable people saying Facebook is a sewer that might make you sick without even realizing it, might make you racist, might make you anti-Semitic, might turn you into a member of the Taliban all the while believing you’re part of a major movement, even when you’re not.

And without facts, our democracy is doomed. If we can’t agree what’s going on, we can’t fix problems, we can’t move forward.

So, the corporations protesting Facebook’s policies must enlist the public in their effort. Start advertising for their cause, not on Facebook sites, maybe get other internet powers to cough up space and links for free. We’ve got to get the public on board, we’ve got to get them to stop using Facebook sites.

Can we do that?

To be honest, it’s hard. Facebook is like sex, but even more available and more addictive. But if we had a concerted effort for a limited period of time we could foment change.

Let’s be clear, Facebook knows what it is doing. If it focuses on honesty, the right wing will go ballistic, as will the rest of the bad actors, and they’re serious advertisers. We must teach Facebook truth is more important than money.

Because it is.

Lesbian TikTok

For Lesbians, TikTok Is ‘the Next Tinder’

The code phrase is “Girl in Red.”

In the seventies it was “Holly Near.”

But in the seventies everybody knew who Holly Near was, I doubt you’ve even heard of Girl in Red, never mind heard the music.

There’s been a cornucopia of TikTok news in the past few weeks, this article is not about that. Whether you can use the service in India, whether the U.S. government wants to ban it, what is going on in Hong Kong.

But one thing is for sure, TikTok now owns participatory video. If you’ve got something to say in moving images, it’s where you go. Facebook was caught flat-footed. The original service is for oldsters, but by buying Instagram and stealing the stories idea from Snapchat, the company ended up ruling the social media landscape anyway.

As for YouTube… It was so busy trying to replicate Hollywood that it didn’t realize the future was coming from the bottom up, not the top down. This is the same thinking that felled Quibi. The story of the internet is that those without a voice now have one and those who used to dominate have much less impact. And, the internet is all about niches whereas conventional media is about dictating to the masses.

Do you see newspapers touting the TV ratings anymore? No. They’re irrelevant, because they don’t include streaming services, Netflix refuses to be rated, so who cares what’s number one on network when network is a sideshow. Same deal in music, a thin layer of single-genre music is hyped and the rest is deemed irrelevant, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Now one of the problems with the internet is algorithms. Not only do different people get different results from the same Google search, the more you participate on Instagram and TikTok the narrower the range of voices that will be served up. In other words, these social media services are narrowing the niches, to the point where participants don’t even know about other genres, to the point where some women thought TikTok was only for lesbians!

So, if you’re not sure if a woman plays on your team, you ask if she likes Girl in Red.

She’s from Norway.

We’ve got an international business, even though the American industry wants to deny this. Tracks are monstrous outside of the U.S., but their American labels won’t push them here, because they didn’t sign them or they don’t believe they fit into the narrow construct that hit radio promotes.

So I decided to listen to Girl in Red.

I started with the most obvious, “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend.”

This sounds NOTHING like hip-hop, pop or country. Sounds closer to Liz Phair than Ariana Grande, but it’s got 80 million streams on Spotify, and almost 10 million on YouTube (proving that YouTube is not the pariah it is labeled by the music industry, turns out most people want to go to a dedicated music streaming service and even pay for it).

So, at first “I Wanna Be Your Girlfriend” sounds garagey, second-rate. But the more you listen to it you become endeared to it, you’ll find you nodding your head, when it finishes you want to hear it again, assuming you made it through the first time, which many people won’t, but when was it deemed that music must appeal to everybody, that paradigm died with MTV. Also, there’s no doubt that Girl in Red is singing from her heart, that she’s not influenced and abused by the system, insisting upon cowriters and featured performers and sweetening…if anything the music is raw, and that’s part of the appeal.

And, as for the politically correct police…

I don’t wanna be your friend
I wanna be your bitch

This is what music used to be, cutting edge in its own world those not clued-in are unaware of while it changes the culture.

And there’s no hidden meaning here, she wants to be the girlfriend of Hannah. There’s no way you can see this as boy/girl love, it’s single sex only.

Now the song referenced in the “Times” article above is “We Fell in Love in October.” It’s less raw, more dreamy as opposed to in-your-face.

Smoking cigarettes on the roof
You look so pretty and I love this view

This is not brand-building, this is mind-releasing, mood, making you remember those reflective moments that felt so good.

We fell in love in October
That’s why I love fall

Fall is the reflective season, and you always remember when you first connected, when your relationship started.

“We Fell in Love in October” has 88 million streams on Spotify, almost 20 million on YouTube.

Marie Ulven Ringheim, aka Girl in Red, stylized as “girl in red,” is only 21. She hasn’t even put out an album! Her first will come out via AWAL this year. But she’s released two EPs and a seeming plethora of singles. Enough to gain attention, enough to win awards.

Weren’t you supposed to labor for a year or two on your album and then promote it for two or three?

Maybe in the seventies. Actually, youngsters aren’t even aware of that game.

And Girl in Red is no Billie Eilish, with a stylist dictating her look and a major record company grooming her for years for her big break for the big industry. Girl in Red is positively cottage industry.

Doesn’t matter whether you like the music or not. Doesn’t even matter whether you listen to it. What Girl in Red demonstrates is despite the charts/radio playlists getting ever-narrower, the truth is music is exploding, there are few limits, and audiences for so much, and by only focusing on what will hit immediately on Spotify and radio the major labels are missing the plot, are out of the loop, are marginalizing themselves.

The success of Girl in Red is organic. It’s for those who care. Who are dedicated. Who don’t care what you think.

ISN’T THAT GREAT?