Bad News – Bullying Is Working

Source: Politico

New Orleans   No matter what any of us would want to believe or have taught our children about bullying, we’re going to have to think again or say it louder for those who aren’t getting the message. We’ve always said it was just a mask for cowardice and insecurity, and a slap back or a shout out would send a bully cowering. Maybe that’s still right, but we need to work harder to teach that lesson outside of the schoolyard, because President-elect Trump seems to be proving over and over again that being a bully still scares people, including mighty corporations, trade associations, and a lot of other big dogs as well.

Big automakers are at least pretending to lay back and re-position some of their plans for fear of a Twitter barrage. Certainly, they are claiming, “Hey, we were going to do this anyway,” and absolutely Trump is claiming credit for more than he’s doing, but there seems to be no way to deny that they are looking for cover from the chief Twitter-finger.

They aren’t the only ones. Reportedly H&R Block’s ads this tax season are in reaction to Trump having taken them on during the campaign by claiming he was going to make the tax code so simple he’d put them out of business. Boeing, Vanity Fair, Lockheed Martin have all been under a tweet-attack, and other brands are worried about what might come their way.

Hey, maybe they deserved it, we might say, but how does that explain the chicken clucking from the health care industry even as 30 million Americans are on the verge of losing health care coverage with the coming assault on the Affordable Care Act. Where are the industry voices from hospitals, doctors, and even big pharma that would loud and strong during the passage of the act?

Robert Pear of the New York Times quotes California-based, but nationally operating, Kaiser, a leader for Obamacare:

Kaiser Permanente, the managed care company that serves more than 10 million people, declined to comment specifically on Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Instead, it offered a statement of general principles saying that people should have access to health care and that “we must continue to accommodate those who have pre-existing conditions.”

More tellingly, Pear writes:

Some companies, anxious about changes in health policy, said they were afraid to speak out because they feared that Mr. Trump would attack them on Twitter, as he has badgered Boeing, Ford, General Motors, Lockheed Martin and Toyota.

See what I mean, bullying is working. Rather than seeing the healthcare industry stand up for their patients, most of them are trying to roll under the radar hoping to save themselves and somehow make it through the killing field that may disgorge millions without protection. Even the bully can’t seem to control what he has set in motion. He’s now tweeting that a replacement for Obamacare needs to be ready when it is repealed, while most Republicans in Congress are saying, “What, what did you tweet? I can’t hear you?” and propelling people into a disaster.

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Trump is a Twitter Troll

screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-10-07-44-amNew Orleans   I’ll admit it. No matter what I had thought was possible with Donald Trump, when my companera told me he had been tweeting before dawn about a sex tape of some kind, I was incredulous. I answered her skeptically, saying I hadn’t seen anything on the web editions of the papers I had checked before leaving the office. Was she sure? She confidently told me it was all over the news. I ended up changing the subject by saying this had to be a first ever and only time that a presidential candidate was tweeting during a campaign about a sex tape for some unknown minor celebrity.

But, I had tricked myself into believing that there was a limit somewhere to Trump’s outrageousness. I had believed deep down that there has a bottom of the well somewhere in the Trump tower which would trigger some level of self-control somehow. But, I was wrong.

Sure enough, Trump was tweeting before dawn. Oh, brothers and sisters, understand it wasn’t just one slip of the thumb, but a series of tweets. All of them ranting about this former beauty queen from the Miss Universe pageant he owned named Alicia Machado, who he and Hillary Clinton made famous in the recent debate. He seems to have had a problem with her weight gain or something while she was the queen at some point ten or fifteen years ago, and he definitely has not gotten over it. Somehow she reminds him of Rosy O’Donnell or some other fixation he has that I’m frankly unable – and unwilling – to try and explain.

Hillary got his goat by mentioning Machado and his fat-shaming, misogyny during the debate, and Trump took the bait, hook, line and sinker, and seems not to have spit it out yet from the evidence of his tweets. The incident may have hardened the position of independent women voters against him to 80% and pushed another more than 30% away from him after the debate. No matter to the Donald. Now he’s running for the most famous Twitter troll on the internet, not president I guess. He wants us to look at a sex tape, which already sounds disgusting. How do we explain that to youngsters living through their first presidential campaign? He also invented a new issue to rival the birther-lies, saying that Clinton must have pulled straws for Machado to become a US-citizen so she could be used to gig Trump.

I thought everyone had learned that Twitter was a dying tool and a dangerous one in the hands of many. Marc Andreessen who is a big-time Silicon Valley tech-investor and super Twitter man with more than 100,000 tweets to his name, usually averaging 100 a day, put himself on a Twitter moratorium recently and pushed pause. He’s quoted as saying that doing so was like “taking a 50 pound weight” off of his chest. He says going tweet-less has made him feel “free as a bird.”

Before this campaign gets any more X-rated, maybe Trump’s handlers need to take away his Twitter account and tie his thumbs behind his back until there’s sunlight at the least. You know, for his own good, and that of the whole country.

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Twitter is Not Going to Make It: Too Passive, Too Clunky

you can still follow me @ACORNGlobal

you can still follow me @ACORNGlobal

Dallas     The number two guy at Twitter resigned to no one’s surprise, since he had been selling off his stock like there was no tomorrow.  He had been promoted to try to expand their markets and audience and get some growth going, but given the disappointing growth on the micro-blogging site, his job was the only thing going.

Twitter is not worthless.  Many value it, and its numbers still make it something worth some notice and attention.  The site claims 255 million monthly users, but its growth is marginal, even as Facebook has passed a billion and keeps chugging.  Its users are not so much in love with the service as flirting with it from time to time.  Research analysts find only 22% of Twitter’s millions visit the site more than one a month compared to 72% for Facebook.   I’ve got to admit that I’ve joined the number who don’t even visit monthly.  It’s not worth my time and, frankly, Twitter makes it too hard to keep up.

I raised this question at our recent international organizers meeting.  The ACORN Canada organizers are still totally committed to the service and find it valuable in dealing with labor and other allies, but none of the other countries or organizations except for KABF radio really use it much at all.  Worse, even as we are often surprised to see the number of our members and leaders who are on Facebook and some of them continually, we just don’t find that they use Twitter at all.

I started thinking about this when an app I was using to try to both post and keep up with my various organizational accounts called TweetDeck radically changed, and I was no longer able to rebuild the site, largely because of Twitter’s difficult password and email access system.  Unlike Facebook, Twitter requires a different email address for each account along with a different password.  Worse, when you can’t remember which email address or password you used, you are totally stuck and frozen out of your own account.  Because another app allows my blog to automatically be posted to the ACORN International twitter account that still happens so they probably count me as “in,” but I’m out.  I managed to rebuild individual access to most of my Twitter accounts, but there’s no time in the day or, frankly, in life to reopen each individual site to post, much less to “follow” anything.  And, Twitter is no help in solving the problem.  Because music and radio are cousins to entertainment, KABF still sees Twitter as valuable, but at radio station the old KABF account is long gone, created by some volunteer, and living in webspace, and given the way Twitter works, KABF as an entity can’t even reclaim it, which is ridiculous.

Once I was off, it was surprising how little it mattered.  No one says to me, did you see x, y, or z on Twitter.  It’s a passive feed.  No one can really follow all of the posts.  Worse the followers and the posters are often joined by the thinnest links.  Celebrities and others actually pay people to boost their followers by the tens of thousands.  The simple trick was always if you want lots of followers, then you have to follow lots of people.  Such volume loading obscures any folks you really WANT to follow, and dilutes the value to little more than passivity.

In the world of entertainment, Hollywood, sports, and politics, all of which have become more alike than different in modern life, Twitter seems to have some small value as prescribed communications within the 140 characters of control, but that’s also a passive engagement for the “follower.” As an organizing tool, rather than a simple information outlet, Twitter seems to be failing and to not be capable of mass appeal in the way that organizations like ACORN would embrace.  In a limited way it will survive in all likelihood, in the same way that People magazine and press releases continue, but otherwise tweets seem to be fading more and more into the distance, far away from all of us in the maddening crowd.

With too much effort for a negligible yield, Twitter’s just not worth it.  The only question for me at this point will be whether its decline will be as rapid as its ascent.

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Opposition Building to FCC on Net Neutrality and Comcast Monopoly

12217_large_neutral-bitsNew Orleans    Finally, the 1% of 1% out in Silicon Valley is coming out of its stupor and scarey-cat stance in dealing with the Federal Communications Commission to stand with the rest of us in the 99% to oppose former industry lobbyist and new chair Tom Wheeler’s efforts to gut net neutrality on the internet and maybe even stand up to Comcast monopoly proposals.  Amazon, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, and a mess of other high-techers came together in a coalition to write the chairman stating in no uncertain terms that the proposals he is advancing will end net neutrality no matter how smoothly he spins it.

According to New York Times media columnist, David Carr,

The signatories did not mince words, calling the proposal “a grave threat to the Internet.”  The letter goes on: “The commission’s longstanding commitment and actions undertaken to protect the open Internet are a central reason why the Internet remains an engine of entrepreneurship and economic growth,” it reads, continuing, “This commission should take the necessary steps to ensure that the Internet remains an open platform for speech and commerce so that America continues to lead the world in technology markets.”  Translation: You are about to break the Internet and you will be deeply sorry if you do.

Reportedly the chairmen is hurriedly trying to make some amendments and include some assurances that the FCC will look at each and every one of these deals to separate the internet into a high road and low road, a fast and slow lane, but given the continued cozy industry club, toothless way the FCC has regulated, no one buys this for a either a New York minute or a South Dakota stroll.   Netflix has already cut deals with both Comcast and AT&T to make sure its streaming gets priority on the “last mile” even while voicing skepticism.  A drumbeat of opposition from Silicon Valley matched with other almost universal calls to delay issuing these new rules and step back and do better may be enough for the tone deaf FCC to actually get the message.

In other reports with $150 billion of cash reserves in the bank Apple has more cash on hand than Britain and Israel combined.  Adobe, Intel, and Google have another $80 billion in reserves as well.  Needless to say those kinds of bank balances get a lot of attention in the no-campaign contribution limits Washington, DC, so when any of them even sniffle everyone from the White House on down says, “God Bless You!”  Makes me wonder why there are reports that all of them are privately saying they also oppose the Comcast monopoly merger acquisition of Times-Warner cable, and only Netflix is willing to come out in public and oppose the merger so far.

Net neutrality could finally be the muscle flex from the Valley that we need to elbow Comcast back, rather than foolishly believing them and their faux regulator, the FCC, that their monopoly will work out OK for America.  Even Tom Wheeler seems to be getting the message.  In the wake of the building firestorm on his gutting net neutrality, he is offering to hold hearings on facing reality and finally making the internet a public utility, which most of America already believes it is and should be.

People get ready!

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Privacy? Hah! Not on the Internet in America

New Orleans Remember Wikileaks?  Yes, I know that seems so “yesterday,” but even with Julian Assange under “luxury arrest” and Wikileaks itself supposedly at death’s door because of financial attacks by its donation enablers like PayPal, the reverberations for all of us continue in our own homes and offices, and not just on the front pages of the globe’s papers.  A US judge ruled against Twitter’s efforts to protect the privacy of computer location and identity information, clearing a big obstacle in the legal path of the U. S. Department of Justice attempts (without search warrant incidentally) to investigate the accounts of one US computer expert, a Green politician and activist from Iceland, and a Dutch citizen, all of whom the DOJ wanted to determine if they aided Private Manning, Wikileaks, or anyone else in moving and divulging secrets to the press.

The Judge’s decision is chilling to all of us, as reported in the Times:

“Judge Liam O’Grady, from the United States District Court in Alexandria, Va., wrote in his opinion that “the information sought was clearly material to establishing key facts related to an ongoing investigation and would have assisted a grand jury in conducting an inquiry into the particular matters under investigation.”

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Cyber-Communication Crackdowns Continue

social networking logosLafayette The notion that whole governments including ostensibly liberal democracies like the United Kingdom would simply throw all pretense about freedom of speech out the window when it comes to social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter, and various instant messaging services proves that all of the freedoms we take for granted are just that, taken for granted and as fragile as an egg shell.

Police and government officials in the UK asked Twitter if they could eliminate this nuisance of using Twitter names that were not real name, so that it would be easier for them to bust people  Twitter luckily in this case demurred.

The Blackberry people with Research in Motion in Waterloo, Canada seemed from these reports to be read to fold as easily as a cheap suit to virtually any government request, which was disconcerting since so many of us are (were?) hanging on as Blackberry users and fans.  Luckily, I don’t use whatever Blackberry Messenger is, but I found myself reaching out to colleagues in Toronto with ACORN Canada pretty damned quickly after reading about their weak knees to make sure that was the case.

The Iranian government is having a bit of fun with this and offered to send a human rights delegation to London to investigate abuses, since the UK had offered to do much the same when they shut down Twitter and Facebook during protests a couple of years ago.  Ha-ha-not!

In San Francisco reputedly a bastion of both freedom and certainly speech, the BART rapid transit system has been stubbornly defending their willingness to cut off all access to the internet to block protests.  There are now reports on stalking based on pejorative tweets within the Buddhist community in the USA.

Do we really want this?  I don’t think so, and I say this as someone who has gotten a good share of flaming, threatening, and violently abusive messages over the internet transom at different times.  I worry less about those crazies than the ones hiding behind doors, if you know what I mean.  As long as there is a Delete button, I’m able to weather all of those storms with“sticks and stones” vigilance while letting the “words” roll off, like water off a duck’s back.

We have to have the ability to organize and associate, even when others go over the line.  It’s easier to say we’re sorry in such circumstances, than to imagine the lack of freedom involved in having to ask permission to be able to speak to ourselves much less our governments about our interests and issues.

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