The Future of Democracy and the Planet Are On the Line, and It's a Scary Future – New American Journal
Climate activists on George Square in Glasgow on Thursday. The climate summit in the city begins on Sunday: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Up before the sun on Halloween 2021, viewing the world through a computer screen hooked up to the internet and a big TV connected to a broadcast antenna, we can see clearly what’s going on here and all over the world, even in Glasgow, Scotland.
That’s a pretty amazing trick when you think about it.
When I first got into the news business, you could read the UPI wire and watch CBS News. Now anybody with an interest in news can go online and read all night long, like my old friend David Underhill used to do in Mobile, Alabama.
The top story this morning is from Scotland, where presidents and prime ministers arrive in Glasgow for the climate summit.
“The future is on the line,” according to The New York Times. “…the outcome will determine, to a large extent, how the world’s seven billion people will survive on a hotter planet and whether far worse levels of warming can be averted for future generations.”
Of course the outcome is far from certain. And the political complications are as scary as any horror flick or spooky house.
“… the need for collective action to tackle such an urgent, existential global threat comes at a time of rising nationalism. This makes the talks in Glasgow a test of whether global cooperation is even possible to confront a crisis that does not recognize national borders.”
“The science is clear on what needs to be done. Emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases driving up global temperatures need to be cut by nearly half by 2030, less than a decade. In fact, they are continuing to grow. The World Meteorological Organization warned last week that the amount of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had reached a record high in 2020 despite the pandemic and is rising again this year.”
Rising nationalism. Right. Even in the United States.
Which means fighting this political insurrection is as important right now as passing a bill in Congress to fund alternative green energy sources and defund dirty coal, oil and gas.
Which is why it is imperative that the Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Congress and the Department of Justice pursue Steve Bannon for contempt of Congress and lock him up for awhile, to take him out of the equation in the 2022 elections, as well as 2024.
Select Committee on Capitol Attack Moves to Hold Trump Adviser Steve Bannon in Criminal Contempt
Simply watching the news about this on TeeVee, which has been all over every channel in the past week, is not quite enough to understand just how important Bannon is in the struggle to save democracy and the planet. The brand of white nationalism he is pushing is more subtle than Hitler’s fantasy of a “superior Anglo-Saxon race.” But it is just as dangerous.
Bannon is the most important behind the scenes adviser to every Republican running for office today, including Glenn Youngkin, the Republican in Virginia who has pulled even with Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the governor’s race.
A Washington Post-Schar School poll shows the race for governor of Virginia as a dead heat ahead of Tuesday’s election.
“Everything is now at the margins and small changes in the shape of the electorate compared with recent elections will determine the winner,” according to an analysis by The Washington Post.
The latest poll shows McAuliffe barely leading with 49 percent among likely voters and Youngkin at 48 percent, well within the margin of error.
But the closeness of the contest masks differences in the way groups of voters see the candidates, according to Chief Correspondent Dan Balz.
“The Virginia electorate is fractured in all kinds of ways that speak to the current state of politics nationally: men vs. women, younger voters vs. older voters, college-educated vs. those without college degrees, urban vs. rural, vaccinated vs. unvaccinated.”
But why is the electorate so divided, still?
Yes, the American electorate was somewhat divided back when Karl Rove was the chief rat fucker for the Republican Party, back when he helped orchestrate election victories in Texas and then the country for George W. Bush.
As dangerous as Rove was back when, Bannon is far more dangerous. Rove was just a conservative, Republican political animal trying to win elections by coming up with catchy slogans and pushing rumors about opponents behind the scenes.
Bannon is a Frankenstein monster for American democracy and the world.
His limited view of world history and willingness to exploit the power of social media to push confusing, fake propaganda to manipulate the masses is as close as anything we have ever seen to pure evil that could destroy the world, at least since Hitler.
Trump might have remained a national joke on the Republican clown car if he had not hired Bannon in August, 2016. Then with the right-wing online news site Breitbart News, funded by billionaires Robert and Rebecca Mercer, they exploited the largest trove of Facebook data ever gathered by Cambridge Analytica and used it to manipulate public opinion on Facebook, destroying the reputation of Hillary Clinton and dooming her chances of becoming the first ever woman president.
And so far, as recent reports have shown in great detail, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is perfectly willing to go along with Bannon — as long as it keeps the billions coming in fake advertising.
Let me let you in on a dirty little secret. Most advertising doesn’t actually work. People and corporations spend fortunes to promote products and services, but only a few campaigns are actually successful. This has been true since the early days of ads in newspapers, but at least that money funded the gathering and publishing of news, which is critical to creating an informed electorate and for a democratic form of government to succeed and survive.
Over the past few years, much of the advertising dollars that used to fund news has shifted to social media, mainly Facebook and Google. It is no longer being used to fund paying reporters to gather and report the news. That is a very big problem for democracy and the planet. It is why the few newspaper publishing companies left are desperately appealing to readers to fund the news.
After years of suffering financial losses in this new economy, The New York Times and The Washington Post finally figured out how to survive by forcing readers to pay to read the content. In many ways, they have Trump to thank for that. The existential threat he posed scarred people into paying for a digital subscription.
Good news for them. But that leaves many people out who can’t afford to pay or simply won’t pay for news. It has further shifted news viewership to cable television, which is still to some extent dependent on print-trained reporters. Broadcasters still read the news wires and the Times and Post for much of what they put on the air, with the notable exception of those dramatic standups they do live covering the growing number of violent storms due to climate change.
So far much of the public seem quite willing to go along with this system, since seeing someone on TeeVee automatically transfers celebrity status onto the weather teams and anchors. Clearly it’s not just about what’s on TV anymore either. People can catch the news clips on Facebook, if they can figure out how to get them to show up on the so-called news feed.
So on an individual level, many people are satisfied for now with the Facebook delivery system. It was the first successful web interface just about anybody could use to become “somebody” online. Now there is also Twitter, SnapChat, TikTok, WeChat and Instagram (also owned by the company formerly known as Facebook, which changed its name to Meta this week).
But none of those social media companies are paying news reporters. In fact, news companies are being forced to pay Facebook just for their content to show up on the news feed.
This is not a sustainable model for news. Something must give.
I’ve offered to sue Google to try to level the playing field and get them to pay news outlets more for advertising, but so far no law firm has agreed to take the case. And I’ve offered to build something better than Facebook for pushing and funding news and political activism on the web.
So far people just seem satisfied to play on the toy that is Facebook, to watch the infotainment on cable, and force real news reporters into the poor house.
I’ve managed to figure out how to survive and tell the truth, at least so far. I do not know what the future holds. I just know that we must keep trying to save democracy and the planet. That is our mission here. Compare it to the mission of Meta. Then decide what you are willing support.
Tags:and It’s a Scary Future The Future of Democracy and the Planet Are On the Line
United We Stand, Divided We Fall
This has been true throughout history, and is more true today. To combat the coronavirus pandemic and get the economy going again, we need to come together like never before.
Senator Doug Jones knows this better than most. In his race for the United States Senate he is calling on all Alabamians of good will — Democrats, Republicans and independents — to join him in this altruistic campaign to bring people together to begin healing the nation.
He needs your help to make sure he can keep fighting for you and all of us in Washington. Will you join in?
Please chip in to help Doug Jones in his campaign today!
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To learn how Doug Jones beat Roy Moore in the Senate election in 2017, read the new chapter in this updated book by author Glynn Wilson and download the Kindle book or buy the paperback here.
Facebook doesn’t want news. Real news junkies use Twitter:
“Everyone must decide whether they will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.” – MLK
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