If this doesn’t move progressives to vote, I don’t know what will

When I was in college, my first year at University of New Orleans, I was a soda pop junkie.

I always had a Coke waiting for me in the morning.

My dorm roommate was an Appleton, Wisc. native who, of course, was also a dead head and Phish fan.  Needless to say, she was a neo-hippie.

Anyhoo, shortly after we began cohabitating, she noticed my ‘Coke’ habit.  And, there are two things I learned from her, the second we’ll get to in a second.

I need a lot of time to wake up, so, at that time I used the snooze alarm … A LOT.  Considering our living space was the size of a child’s bedroom with two twin beds, built in desks, and a shared bathroom, I couldn’t blame her when she said one or two times: “Turn the alarm off or GET UP!”

Well, I still need three alarms (two with the snooze) to wake up in the wee hours (8ish. Yes, I’m that hard to wake up unless I’m fully rested).  So, that lesson was unlearned.

The Coke, however, is different (I now, finally, rarely drink soda).  A great comment from her, and one I remember very well – along with the other – is: “Well, that’s a GREAT way to RIP OPEN YOUR THROAT first thing in the morning.”

She was right.  She is right.

So, progressives, here’s something to rip open your throat first thing in the morning.

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CORRECTED: Wikileaks ‘spokesman’ confirms my suspicions

This is what I get for writing late at night, and this also corrects Spiegel to read Schmitt.  My apologies.

I’m not going to work too hard on this one, I’m just going to cut and paste what Schmitt said with what I wrote. It’s just easier that way:

This development is being blocked internally. It is no longer clear even to me who is actually making decisions and who is answerable to them. Because of the high pressure we have all been under following the publication of the American military documents, we have not been able to restructure our organization accordingly. This has created a situation in which not all of the work is being done correctly, and that is overwhelming the project.

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Wikileaks should stick to leaking, because folks who are so scared of exposure shouldn’t hang out in the sun.
  • The news organizations that the organization leaked the data dump to have inside knowledge on terminology, and history, and ranks, and locations … all of which I think Wikileaks had no clue about – or a marginal understanding of it.

In the past we processed and published smaller submissions that were only of local importance the same way that we did more comprehensive documents that are of national or even international importance.

  • I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Wikileaks should stick to leaking, because folks who are so scared of exposure shouldn’t hang out in the sun.

Julian Assange reacted to any criticism with the allegation that I was disobedient to him and disloyal to the project. Four weeks ago, he suspended me– acting as the prosecutor, judge and hangman in one person.

  • Wikileaks, as an organization are attention whores.

Mistakes happened, which is okay, as long as people learn from them. For that to happen, though, one has to admit them.

  • It has proven itself nothing more than what it is:  a big ole truck of crap for everyone else to figure out.

I worked on WikiLeaks because I considered the idea to be right and important. We tried numerous times to discuss all of the issues mentioned with Julian, without success.

  • … still failed to answer key questions that Wikileaks’ skills could have brought us. I think their skills could be put to better use.

… through our rising recognition in the last six months, we have again received a lot of material that urgently needs to be processed and published.

  • … still failed to answer key questions that Wikileaks’ skills could have brought us. I think their skills could be put to better use.

… this one-dimensional confrontation with the USA is not what we set out to do.

  • … still failed to answer key questions that Wikileaks’ skills could have brought us. I think their skills could be put to better use.

The idea behind WikiLeaks is too important for that.

  • … still failed to answer key questions that Wikileaks’ skills could have brought us. I think their skills could be put to better use.

Bottom line. Wikileaks could provide a useful service to those seeking information, instead, and why I assume Scmitt left … it didn’t.


More Tommy Christopher Heart Attack Oversharing

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 days since I live-tweeted my heart attack, and I’ve been meaning to do a post updating folks on my condition. There are a few problems with that. Even at my best, this is an overwhelming subject, but in my current state, it’s that much harder to make any sense. While I’m recovering well, it is really tough to think straight.  Aside from the exhaustion and the pain pills, I just don’t feel like myself. Still, so many people have been so gracious in their well-wishes, I feel I owe it the old college try. Spoiler alert! After the jump, there will be a gross picture of my scar. Continue reading

Kate’s Corner – A “Banana Split” for the Ambassador

By Kate Doak.

It’s not often one gets the opportunity to meet with a close, long-term friend of a sitting US President, a US Ambassador or one of the finest legal minds around. So when I was offered the chance to interview US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich just before he addressed the Media 140 conference in Canberra earlier this week, it was an experience well worth savouring.

Audio Interview with US Ambassador to Australia – Jeffrey Bleich – Media140 – 23-9-2010

Having known President Barack Hussein Obama since attempting to recruit him as a Clerk to the US Appellate Court from Harvard Law School, Ambassador Bleich has an insight on one of the most powerful men in the world that not many people have. When asked about how he first met the future President, the Ambassador responded with a genuine level of fondness in his voice for a time that would have been considerably less stressful for the both of them. This is important as it shows the level of humanity behind politics, that the public often either isn’t exposed to by the media or refuses to acknowledge.

With even the Ambassador himself admitting that during his youth he thought that Diplomats only drank beverages on verandahs in foreign locations, it’s evident that not many people are familiar with ins and outs of diplomatic service. Not only does the Ambassador have to be the US representative to the Australian Government, he also has to keep himself apprised of the well-being of all Americans whom are currently residing within Australia, business negotiations which are taking place between various multi-national organisations that might influence the Australian-US relationship and the perspectives of the President on various issues. It is due to this the Ambassador argued, that Diplomats will retain their status as extremely important people, as reassuring factors in foreign affairs such as a firm handshake, direct eye-contact and confident body language can’t be reproduced by electronic means.

Ambassador Bleich also offered a key insight into American politics and the unique role that the media plays during US elections. Unlike the US, Australia requires all of it’s citizens of voting age to participate in State and Federal elections. That means that everyone has to vote in Australian elections, whether they are disenfranchised with the political climate or not.

In saying that there are things that the United States could learn from Australia’s use of Compulsory Voting, the Ambassador inadvertently touched upon the role that the media has upon the US electoral system. Under the “Voluntary Voting” system, the Public can easily become disenfranchised with an incumbent Politician and refuse to vote if a given media outlet within their electorate decides not to report on the Politician’s accomplishments. Like-wise, the public can quickly become enfranchised with a politician if the media only reports upon their accomplishments. This in turn could create a situation where a media outlet and the advertisers that support them can directly influence the result of an election, by manipulating their audience to support a specific type of candidate.

By briefly stating his interest in studying Australia’s electoral system, it is also evident that the Ambassador is interested in learning from Australia’s democratic experience. Given that democracy always needs to be nurtured if it is going to survive, both Conservatives and Progressives within the United States and Australia alike would benefit from the insight that Academics with “Real-World” knowledge such as Ambassador Bleich have to offer.

In closing, I asked the Ambassador if he could define his position as an Ice Cream flavour. Needless to say, I doubt that the US State Department has ever been described as a Banana Split, with sauce covering Vanilla Ice cream, on top of a layer of Rocky Road and Fudge.

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Kate Doak is a Postgraduate student at the University of New England, Australia. Since 2004 she’s changed career paths twice, genders once and has developed a major interest in radio. These days, Kate mostly focuses on Modern History and International Politics.

Kate’s Corner – Social Media: Political Tools or Campaign Nightmares?

By Kate Doak.

During the Media 140 conference in Canberra this week, I had the privilege of hearing US Ambassador to Australia Jeffrey Bleich, give a lecture on the impact of Social Media on the 2008 US Presidential Campaign. Given the Ambassador’s role as a key organiser of the “Obama for America” movement , his close friendship of over 20 years with President Obama, not to mention his previous position of Special Legal Advisor to the President in the Obama Administration, it was a non-partisan lecture on campaign politics that was well worth attending.

Note: Podcast of Ambassador Bleich’s speech and all “Media 140 Canberra” panels available here

With the media being dominated by organisations like Fox News on the right, the Gay media on the left, as well as NBC, CBS, CNN and ABC somewhere in-between, it is evident that there is a healthy range of voices present within the United States. By highlighting the pros and cons of the conventional media, as well as those of social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and online Bloggers, Ambassador Bleich was able to describe how Obama was able to use both forms of media to their utmost advantage during the campaign. By calling upon his experience as a Community Organiser, Bleich stated that Obama was able to rally those around him to accomplish feats using Social Media that seasoned Campaign Strategists on all sides of politics had previously thought impossible.

This in turn explains why the Obama Campaign used Social Media so heavily during the lead-up to the 2008 Presidential Election. Unlike in previous campaigns, social media gave the Democrats the opportunity to counter many of the stories that were being released by conservative elements of the campaign, while championing the stories that were promoting their cause. This not only strengthened support for Obama within the Democratic base, but also provided an open-resource for any swinging Independents who were interested in fact checking stories before they went to the Polls. In contrast, the McCain-Palin campaign had relatively few interests in online media, culminating in McCain saying that he doesn’t even know how to turn a computer on.

In a strange twist of fate, Ambassador Bleich then highlighted the emergence of Social Media as being one of the key reasons as to why some Democrats are now disenfranchised with the Obama administration in the lead-up to the Congressional Mid-term Elections. To paraphrase the Ambassador: The 2008 Democratic Presidential campaign had a “High School Friendship” effect upon the Democratic base and various Independents. Just as High School friends drift apart over time, so do some relationships in politics. While such political relationships are easy to maintain in a campaign, it’s harder to do so once in government.

No-where is this fact more evident than in the Democratic faction of the Lesbian and Gay Community. Even though President Obama promoted LGBT personnel into key positions within the US Government, while also helping pass an amendment to the Hate Crimes Act, he has experienced a drop in popularity amongst LGBT activists. Due to the “Glass Half Empty” mentality that’s rampant within parts of the Gay community, this is to be expected given the fact that their agenda hasn’t been fulfilled within the short span of two years. This has been particularly evident within prominent Gay blogs such as Pam’s House Blend, AmericaBlog and Towleroad, as well as Gay rights organisations such as SLDN, Servicemembers United and GetEqual over the issue of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.   As a result, many of the President’s victories on issues surrounding Transgender rights and Equal Opportunity within civilian Federal organisations have either been ignored, or criticised as only being enough to promote fund-raising.

Ambassador Bleich also stated that while some people may act abusively online, the fact that there are others there to challenge such behaviour from all sides of politics equals things out. In an effort to protect the President for the 2012 Campaign, maybe this more than anything explains why the Obama Administration have rarely challenged their critics, or had interviews with members of the LGBT media who would otherwise force them to do so.

___________________________

Kate Doak is a Postgraduate student at the University of New England, Australia. Since 2004 she’s changed career paths twice, genders once and has developed a major interest in radio. These days, Kate mostly focuses on Modern History and International Politics.

Yes National Parks have rules, no you don’t have to be obvious about breaking them

Here we go again.

Local Florida reporter Dan Thomas, as aired by CNN,  shows what may seem outrageous if you don’t really know the laws for national parks and preserves, and then goes on to ruin what could be a perfectly interesting story by making into, well, nothing.

Now, while it’s tragic, horrible, deceptive, and disgusting what has happened with the handling of the Deepwater Horizon disaster and BP’s mismanagement and maybe even outright fraud, park services are doing what they are there to do.  Manage, preserve, and maintain the safety of the park.

If I were to pick a single flower and get caught on the wildlife preserve near me, I could not only be reprimanded, but fined.

This particular item from the Gulf Islands National Seashore may seem vague, but is actually applicable when digging below a certain level of the sand, and those who patrol the areas doubtfully are trying to cover anything up since even the BP crew presumably was not supposed to dig below six or so inches.  It states:

Plants and animals are protected within the Seashore.

Well, that’s pretty clear – and, just because BP is a scofflaw outfit, uncaring for the environment, doesn’t mean everyone else should be. During oil spill clean up, thousands of sea turtles were relocated before hatching. Imagine the damage that could have been done if before relocation tons and tons of reporters just decided to go digging around for oil, but instead unearthed turtles that could have been moved to safer sands.  Potentially as tragic as the disaster itself.

But, that doesn’t only apply to turtles. There is much more sea life out there – and much more wildlife that is protected – that maybe, just maybe, is not about reporters.

That said.  Reporters can, with some research and assistance by people who just may not be your enemy, go safely in and film whatever they want.  Perhaps it was just as easy to pick up the phone and call “Pat Gonzalez of U.S. Fish and Wildlife.”  On top of that, why bring a film crew?  You can’t bring a handheld and take it back to the studio?  No, instead, make a spectacle of yourself and then wonder why you didn’t quite get the scandalous story you wanted to.

Attention seeking Wikileaks

That is the fact. Wikileaks, as an organization are attention whores.

There’s a certain amount of important information there, but with Julian Assange – an admitted liability – that’s about it.

Wikileaks has proven itself useless for disseminating information. It has proven itself UNABLE to figure out heads or tails.

It has proven itself nothing more than what it is:  a big ole truck of crap for everyone else to figure out.

And, that’s okay with me.  However, what I wish Wikileaks would do is STAY OUT OF MY NEWS!

The group doesn’t belong there, the group is not schooled in figuring this out (clearly) and they have no concept of storytelling to complete a picture.

Wikileaks is NOT journalism. IT.IS.NOT.JOURNALISM.

It is a (sometimes) means to an end.  It grasps at straws, it flails in the dark, and it has no clue where to go until someone says … ‘GO!’

In the past 24 hours, Wikileaks has tweeted that there is Iraqi prisoner abuse (shocker); it’s interestingly posted this which explicitly states it : “believes that  new media  –  including WikiLeaks and similar sites, should follow good ethical practices to ensure that the information made available is accurate, fairly presented and does not substantially harm other persons.”

Wikileaks has publicly proven it does not care about the afformentioned.

I’m afraid that anytime, in any circumstance, that you say ‘an official said’ when you cannot provide backup for that statement, is tantamount to blatant lying – and this includes any publication such as the New York Times or Washington Post.  You could at least find a backup RESOURCE. But, no.

This could be real, but I’d like to know the original URL or scan for it.  Wikileaks doesn’t provide it, but it seems a little rudimentary for CIA.  I mean, it links to a bunch of CIA stuff, but how much do you think CIA posts online LOL.

I’m not even gonna try and translate this. I don’t care.

Then, of course, Iceland.

THEN, Wikileaks expresses and claps its hands in delight that Jon Stewart reports that there is nothing new to see here … which is correct, since there is nothing new to see here (back in July .. a post tweeted just this month).

Debating on this is pointless: “Nick Turse speaking on our US Marines 20-country invasion predictions http://antiwar.com/radio/2010/09/13/nick-turse-3/

Here, cute how everything’s redacted: http://historyanarchy.blogspot.com/2010/09/wikileaks-extremist-website.html

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Wikileaks should stick to leaking, because folks who are so scared of exposure shouldn’t hang out in the sun.