Signing up for the Taylor Swift Fan Club

Grenoble     I haven’t been a big Taylor Swift fan.  Even when she was country, she was poppy.  Now that she’s all pop, I can’t really keep up.  I know she sells a lot of music, and that she is often mentioned in the same breath as Beyonce, but who can tell from day to day.  Beyonce seemed to have some politics, but Taylor Swift had seemed all bubble gum and whatever.  Now, I may have to re-examine this whole thing given the fact that Swift has jumped into Tennessee – and therefore national — politics with her boots on and is kicking it.

If you were on the moon or just reading the front pages you may have missed this.  Swift came out of nowhere with an announcement that she was going to vote Democratic in the midterm elections.  At first it was just a bit of a blip on the screen coming from the right wing.  For some reason, many in the right-side media had just assumed Swift was a gun-toting, card-carrying “one of them.”  This out of nowhere Demo-thing caught them off guard, though there was no evidence that it was a betrayal, since Swift had never come out from behind the pomp and glitter and declared herself one way or another.

Turned out that was nothing.  She then clearly injected herself into the elections in Tennessee where this Pennsylvania girl now lives as a woman.  She didn’t pull any punches in her endorsement for the Senate seat to replace Bob Corker by opposing far right Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn by saying to her more than 100 million Instagram followers,

“Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.  She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values.”

Then she dropped the microphone and according to there was a record surge of more than 166,000 new registrants among young people 16 to 24 in 48 hours after her posting, including 6200 in Tennessee.

`Did she take a risk?  I doubt it.  Swift is smart.  She stood up to a stalker in court in Colorado and won.  She can afford to have a poll.  She kept within the lines by focusing on women’s issues in a time when women are hyper-aware, and given her history confronting stalkers her position on the Violence Against Women Act was something that no one could argue is not an issue where she was an expert.  Even her position on gay rights is solidly within the majoritarian views of Americans.  She wasn’t trying to be Jane Fonda in Vietnam or the Dixie Chicks on Iraq where some Americans could claim she had no business.  She was walking closely on her marks on the stage where she sings and that includes about women’s empowerment.

I’m not knocking her.  I’m just saying she knew what she was doing, and she did the right thing by speaking up and telling her public and the rest of us where she stood.

We need a lot more people like Taylor Swift standing up for what they believe, and not just counting followers, but actually proving they know when and where to lead them.


Harder to Cover-up State Sanctioned Killing and to Hide

facial recognition software

Grenoble         Monkey, see.  Monkey, do.

First from what the British and others have pieced together, Russian state operatives tracked down former spies and used weapons-grade, government access only chemicals to poison them on British soil.  As they say in the UK, that’s not even fully sorted yet, but then here come the Saudi’s.  With even more bold recklessness, they seem to have lured a Saudi Arabian, once close to the crown but not now fawning and currently a columnist for the Washington Post, into their own embassy in Turkey to clear a marriage license, and then killed and butchered him.

Yes, their own embassy for goodness sakes.  As if Turkey didn’t have cameras on a foreign embassy, just at the British have CCTV literally everywhere.  And, cameras on the airport where a Saudi plane landed and then took off later in the day.  And, pictures of all fifteen of the Saudis and of course the victim going into the embassy and never leaving.  At least from the story that’s emerging now, never leaving “in one piece.”

You’ll never see this in the movies or on Netflix or HBO.  No one could ever write a script like this, because viewers would not be able to fathom governments that are this stupid and have this much impunity.  But, I won’t go into how appallingly pathetic it is to see the US government and the Secretary of State assisting in coming up with a cover story for Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince, our rogue, but wealthy ally, much less President Trump, though our expectations for him are so low that nothing surprises.

What is interesting for ALL of us is how the New York Times was able to finger the close connection between one of his bumbling, but deadly, team and the crown prince using facial recognition software.  This is a “you can run, but you may not be able to hide” story for everyone, if not today, very, very soon.  As they reported,

The Times gathered more information about the suspects using facial recognition, publicly available records, social media profiles, a database of Saudi cellphone numbers, Saudi news reports, leaked Saudi government documents and in some cases the accounts of witnesses in Saudi Arabia and countries the crown prince has visited.

In one picture after another they were able to put one of the Prince’s security detail next to him in Houston, Dallas, Paris and Madrid.

Ok, they don’t have all of that information on all of us but, think about it, they do have a lot of it now:  facial recognition, public records, social media profiles, and cell numbers if they want them.  It’s really a case where what they don’t have, they don’t have YET, and don’t bet on the fact that they won’t have it soon.

Sure, nation states and their security have this apparatus now, so if any of you were in denial, wake up and smell the roses.  But, as the Times is proving, so do others, and so may almost anyone soon.

I’m not saying any of you were thinking about joining a state-sponsored hit squad.  Learn from Russia and Saudi Arabia.  It’s stupid, but they are countries, and it seems other countries, including the US, may let them get away with it.  You wouldn’t be that lucky.

But, get a grip.  The day is coming where anything you do will be available and known to everyone everywhere.  I’m not sure any of us are ready for that day, but it’s dawning.  You can read it in-between the lines in the Times.