Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaign ad

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shocked everyone last night with her huge upset the in New York’s 14th congressional district primary. The 28-year-old newcomer unseated Democrat Joe Crowley, a 10-term incumbent and one of the more powerful old guards of the party. Not only that, headlines screamed, she was a socialist.

She was outspent 18-to-1 and Congressman Crowley didn’t even bother to show up to two of the debates. By giving her something to push against, her supporters found purpose and Alexandria brought them along for the ride.

Here campaign video is powerful and gives me hope because it lays out a vision which is one that has been missing. She speaks to her voters because she is one of them in a way that the establishment is not.

We’ve all seen the “my story” candidate ads (some of which are powerful and mold-breaking). But there was something decidedly different, intoxicatingly defiant but also accessible in this film. The aforementioned, fleeting hallmarks of empathy and authenticity are everywhere in this work. For all the talk of storytelling, the little more than two minutes in the film is a master class in compacting passion, honesty and, yes, empathy and authenticity into a compelling package. Ocasio-Cortez isn’t merely telling her story; she’s telling everyone’s story in the district.

One could very easily deconstruct the tight copy, the beautiful film craft, the pacing leading to an anthemic crescendo, the excellent structure. Yes, there are the trappings of political ads, but what makes this ad special is that there isn’t a full-service ad agency behind it. Ocasio-Cortez wrote it, and she relied on volunteers to coordinate the shoot and real people, including the candidate’s campaign workers, are present throughout.

AdWeek

Border Wall

My twitter feed blew up last weekend. I had to turn off notifications and, even now, four days later, the number of retweets, likes, and responses are still coming in above the usual trickle. I clearly touched a nerve.

The original story is really quite amazing and has to be read to be believed.

Responses ranged from outrage from people that have been to the border fighting with people that were incredulous there was no kind of fence or marking of the Canada/US border. . .

. . . to those that felt the runner was the victim of selective enforcement because of the color of her skin. There were a surprising number of doubters and others who thought the whole story was made up fake news. Several people misread my tweet and dismissed the whole thing as bogus because,  “No one could jog all the way to Canada from France!”

The best replies came from those that pointed out that back in 2016 when 1,500 partying inner-tubers were blown off-course into Canadian waters our Northern neighbors scooped up the cold, wet, and tired into 19 buses to bring them back over the border. On top of that, “Sarnia city spokeswoman Katarina Ovens said workers spent several hours cleaning up after the invasion, picking up beer cans, coolers and even picnic tables that had washed up on the shore.”

I miss those innocent times before “zero tolerance”

Zuck goes to Washington

Sure you could watch 9 hours of testimony (Day 1 on CSPAN, Day 2 on CSPAN) but just to put it in one place, here are the takes that I found insightful. I’ll add to this post when I find things so please add something in the comments too.

The New York Times’ Podcast The Daily had a great wrap-up of each day and are worth listening to in order.

Congress vs. Mark Zuckerberg covers the Senate hearings on Day One
Questioning the Business of Facebook covers the House on Day Two.

For a historical context, here’s a 2003 post in The Harvard Crimson about another site that was more popular than anticipated and drew criticism.

Anil Dash, central to the creation of early blogger communities, speaks the wiseman in a short video addressed to Facebook employees. “We can’t have it both ways. We can’t say we’re able to change the world and pretend it’s not our fault when we do.”

There were many photos, here are some of my favorites.

Leah Mills/Reuters

One photographer got a photo of Mark’s notes which was picked apart and dissected for insights.

Then there were the memes

Zuck in his booster seat

Zuck’s testimony in DC even reverberated all the way over to the TED conference that was being held in Vancouver. Here’s early internet pioneer talking about the Internet’s Original Sin.

The World We Live In

Things have gotten so crazy and divisive lately that it’s now increasingly obvious that people are living in alternate realities. Our filter bubbles have become so completely isolating that they are impervious to commonly understood baseline facts such as science and reason. Some examples:

And today Vox has a terrifying piece which imagines a world where even a well-documented case of malfeasance by the current administration might be rejected out of hand by a misinformed and untrusting public.

That insular partisan far-right media is also full of nonsense like Pizzagate that leaves the base continuously pumped up — outraged, infuriated, terrified, and misled. At this point, as the stories above show, the conservative base will believe anything. And they are pissed about all of it.

At least the stock market is still breaking new records. I shudder to think what will happen if the economy takes a turn for the worse.

Hillary Clinton on Trump

HRC is on tour to promote her book, What Happened. She was on the popular liberal podcast, Pod Save America and shared this snipped which I’ve transcribed and linked to below.

I wrote this book to come to try to come to grips with what happened but also to sound the alarm about what I think could still and may well happen.

I think Trump, left to his own devices, unchecked, would become even more authoritarian than he has tried to be. Also remember, the right wing, aided and funded by Mercers, Koch brothers, etc, is very serious about calling a Constitutional Convention. They need 34 states, last I checked they were at 28, 29.

Part of their gerrymandering is to control state legislatures, elect republican governors and to call a Constitutional Convention. If you really get deep into what they’re advocating, limits on First Amendment, no limits on the Second Amendment, limits on criminal justice, there is a very insidious right wing agenda.

So when I say that he doesn’t just like Putin, that we wants to be Putin. I’m not saying he’s going to start killing journalists but I am saying he likes the idea of unaccountable, unchecked power. We’ve never had to face that in a serious way in our country.

https://breaker.audio/e/22734699 (jump to 35:54, I have also left a comment on the page)

Everyone’s Neighbor on the Chopping Block

The late-Mr. Rogers melted hearts in 1969 before the Senate Commerce Committee stressing the need for publicly-funded educational television and defend funding for the nascent Corporation for Public Broadcasting (the main source of funding for PBS and NPR).

This speech is all the more poignant in light of the proposed elimination of CPB to help fund the expansion of the military and fund the proposed Trump wall in the latest draft budget.

h/t Mashable

Truth to Power

It’s no secret that the disinformation swirling around our new president and how he got elected have been a boon for the troubled media business. Americans have taken a new interest in good journalism and are looking more carefully at where they get their information.

Subscriptions are up at places like the New York Times and New Yorker and we’ve been seeing record activity here at SmartNews. People want the truth.

Hollywood is getting in on the boom. Today, Steven Spielberg announced that he will direct The Post, a film about the Washington Post’s role in the release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Tom Hanks will play Ben Bradlee, the paper’s editor and Meryl Streep will play Kay Graham, the publisher.

In an age in which a sitting president loudly and routinely attacks the media and dubs credible outlets the “enemy of the people,” it’s more vital than ever to remember the lessons that history has already taught us. – Vanity Fair

To get a sense of the epic battle that is brewing, check out this conversation between Walt Mossberg, Kara Swisher and Marty Baron, the current editor of  the Washington Post (Baron played a central role in the reporting that led to the film Spotlight). The entire 45-minute talk is worth listening but I’ve called out some memorable quotes.

When asked, to respond to Trump’s criticism that he has a “running war” with the media, Marty replies,

The way I view it is, we’re not at war with the administration, we’re at work. We’re doing our jobs.

Replying to the comment that the media is an, “opposition party,”

We don’t act like a party, the press doesn’t coordinate with each other, we compete. We like a party but we’re not a party. We’re not the opposition, we’re independent.

And about “alternative facts”

We have to understand that the alternative to facts is not alternative facts. It’s fiction…I think this is a really concerning development, that we seem to say there is no such thing as an objective fact. It’s all just a matter of personal opinion.

Times like these will produce great journalists.

Caught in the Crossfire

The hastily announced executive order banning people from several Middle Eastern countries for 90 days and all refugees for four months caused confusion, anguish, and anger across the United States this past weekend. As I monitored the stories that were coming in from airports across the nation, it was the stories of innocent people caught up in the mess that drove home the cruelty of this most “un-American” regulation.

5-year old boy separated from his mother at Dulles Airport


Raya Bidshahri studies neuroscience at Boston University. Because her parents are Iranian, she is worried that they will not be able to visit to see her graduation. Once she is out of school, her visa expires and she fears she will not be able to stay in the United States.


Meanwhile, Ivanka Trump shows off her new dress on social media which results in howls of protest


Luca Freschi, an Italian microbial geneticist at Laval University, in Québec, Canada, had planned to move to Harvard Medical School in March. But the US immigration ban has disrupted those plans, because his Iranian wife Maryam will not be able to come with him. She has encouraged Freschi to go without her. – Nature


Suha Abushamma, who is also a Sudanese citizen, was given the choice of withdrawing her visa application “voluntarily” or being forcibly deported and not allowed back to the U.S. for at least five years. – ProPublica


Even BART was getting snarky – suggesting that you could take their train directly to the protests at SFO.

And just in case they weren’t clear enough,


“They called the husband, he’s from Minnesota,” Abi explained to ABC, “They told him that you have to get your children because they’re U.S. citizens, but your wife we will deport to Africa — we’ll send her back to Africa today at 10 a.m. So if you don’t come by 10 a.m. we’ll deport her.” – Woman And Her 2 Children Held At Dulles Airport for 20 Hours With No Food


At 11:45pm Senator Cory Booker showed up and pushed through the crowd to talk with the Customs & Border Patrol agents who, despite a federal court order suspending the detainments, still held several people for questioning.

“I am now of the belief that though this was issued by the judicial branch, that it was violated tonight,” he said. “And so one of the things I will be doing is fighting to make sure that the executive branch abides by the law as it was issued in this state and around the nation. This will be an ongoing battle.”


Then there’s this story of told in a series of tweets from a vet who served in Iraq.


Echoing Gov. Jerry Brown’s remembrance of Woody Guthrie’s anthem, This Land is Your Land, protesters in Philadelphia broke out into song.


Want to do something? Here’s a continually updated list of resources for those in trouble and those that want to help.