The Messaging Game

We like to complain about the corporate media, but too few of us support independent media. Across the internet, low power AM and FM stations, cable access and in publishing a great many have risen to take up the challenge first heralded more than 40 years ago by Gil Scott Herron’s “The Revolution will not be televised,” and reinvigorated by the Occupy Movement.

There are reasons for that. The high profile so-called Progressive media sources, like Al Gore, NPR, MSNBC and others on an all too short list have either betrayed true progressives and liberals, or attempted to co-opt them altogether for nakedly partisan purposes. Discontent among young voters who flocked to groups like Occupy, or environmental groups, or the I can’t breathe justice rights issue was abandoned or mocked by the democrats, revealing pure political motivations while abandoning the real base of the Progressive and Political movements.

Commentator Thom Hartmann has brought a pale indignation, and who can sit through another ill-prepared debate he holds with a right winger who reveals Hartmann’s willingness to go to great links in bending to the illusion of “gentlemanly” dialogue. Leslie Marshall couldn’t suck up to right wing propagandist Sean Hannity more in her desire for face time on FOX. Ed Schultz, who during the Madison protests in 2010-11, emerged as possibly challenging the media hegemony of the right is now all but…no, he’s forgotten. Stephanie Miller’s cogent arguments, when she attempts to make one at all largely amounts to her saying “Duh!” MSNBC simply is moving the nation to the right more slowly and under the costume of progressivism. The nominally progressive WCPT recently lost the only environmental show in Chicago, hosted by Mike Nowak, creating a monumental void in an already underrepresented segment of the market. NPR and the local Chicago community channel WTTW have all swung decidely to the right, wishing not to confront or run afoul of the right wing, corporate coup in washington DC.

Nowhere in this so-called liberal media are substantive discussions on climate change, race and immigrant justice, XL keystone, Enbridge, net neutrality or the TPP. the abandonment of those issues by the dems, I believe, has driven many from the party.

Hopeless? Not so much. Messaging however requires the involvement of citizens on several fronts. The first is in fighting to protect internet neutrality. It is the last true media still available for the unfettered, unfiltered voice of the people. Second, is to support and engage local, non-corporate and alternative media. Tune in. It is easier than you can imagine now. Access to Q4 radio can be done now from virtually any device. I listen daily in the car from my smart phone. There are others in Chicago as well, creating some of the most interesting, best informed and innovative programming on the air. Or you could listen to the same old boring crap on Chicago radio; all of it careful scripted and crafted to follow editorial dictates by media magnates in bed with one of the two political parties dominating power and money and messaging in America.

Finally, the Left muust learn to message like the right. Here is where we win. Here is the perfect opportunity to be a smart ass, because behind our sarcasm are deep truths and realities. Behind their flimsy bumper sticker lines are veiled ideals of greed and privilage, and a fundamental inhumanity that leaves the poor, the minorities, the elderly and the handicapped depserate, forgotten and abandoned.

They like phrases like Reagan’s smug retort, as he and his administration laid the groundwork for the slow and careful corporate take over of our nation and the theft of its wealth-from the mouths and pockets of the people. “The scriest words in the English language, I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” Hmm, you mean like FEMA, the CDC, Social Security, the FAA, paved roads and safe food?

maybe if we shot back with equal disdain and smarminess, like: “I’m from the government and I’ve been sold to the highest bidder!”

How about, I’m from the corporation and I’m selling you what you once got for your tax dollars.”

Perhaps this, I’m from the corporation and I get paid twice, once in subsidies and also from you!”

Or there’s this: I’m from the mega-church and I’m here to help; please surrender your soul.”

And my favorite: “I’m from the media and I’m the millionaire who speaks for the middle class.”

Listen Saturday’s from 11am-1pm to WC Turck, Brian Murray and guests on Chicago’s real alternative media, AM1680, Q4 radio, streaming at
CAM00236WC Turck is an author, artist, playwright and talk radio host in Chicago. He has been called the most dangerous voice on the Left. He is currently working on a new book “Shoot Down: An unflinching look at the events leading up to the shooting down of Malaysia Air Flight 17.” His first novel, “Broken” was recommended by NAMI for its treatment of PTSD. In 2006 he published “Everything for Love,” a memoir of his experiences during the siege of Sarajevo. He wrote and produced two critically acclaimed plays, “Occupy my Heart” and “The People’s Republic of Edward Snowden.” He works with the homeless and foreclosure victims in Chicago. He partners in a weekly radio show dedicated to issues, society and politics with cohost, activist and artist Brian Murray For more information, past shows, videos and articles, visit

The Illinois Policy Institute (IPI) is a conservative think tank with offices in Chicago and Springfield, Illinois, and member of the State Policy Network. IPI is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) as of 2011. IPI is also a member of ALEC’s Health and Human Services Task Force and Education Task Force. Senior Budget and Tax Policy Analyst, Amanda Griffin-Johnson, presented model legislation (the “State Employee Health Savings Account Act”) to the HHS task force at ALEC’s 2011 annual meeting.[4] Collin Hitt, Director of Education Policy, is a private sector member of the Education Task Force representing IPI. He sponsored the “Local Government Transparency Act” at the ALEC 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit. In its 2006 annual report the Cato Institute states that it made a grant of $50,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute. The Cato Institute is a libertarian think tank founded by Charles G. Koch and funded by the Koch brothers.

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Syria: The Left has lost its way(The right never knew the way)

Marketing. Modern activism has become the victim of the same obtuse and hysterical marketing that has plagued the rest of our culture, particularly our friends on the right. The looming debacle over the Syrian civil war is a sublime case in point. I am stunned by a loss of idealism and integrity by many on the left. Not for their opposition to the possibility of war or a limited attack against Syria’s Assad regime, advertised as an effort to degrade his ability to launch Chemical attacks on his own civilians, but by the chicken crap reasons the Left eschews action in Syria.

From Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fl.) to Ed Schultz there is this refrain about angering Assad, or the fear that he might hit us back. Not sure that many police officers have the luxury of refusing to answer calls because a perp might lash out. If you get into a fight, you are in the fight to win, even if winning is letting some would-be bully, like Assad, that every time he gets out of line, or crosses a line, he knows that someone bigger and meaner will give him a bust in the chops. If that bigger and meaner guy is acting to protect someone smaller and weaker, what could be a nobler cause? If you know someone is beating his children and you do nothing, and cop the attitude that it is their fight, and why should I get involved, well, that says more about you than about the abuser.

And that may be the most dangerous revelation of all of this, that we are not afraid of principles, only to stand for them. We are afraid of the fight, the just and righteous fight. That betrays to the world a dreadful lack of resolve, courage and confidence.

The left is also pushing a panic narrative describing how there is controversy over who fired the latest chemical weapon that killed scores of Syrian civilians. There is no serious debate that Assad was responsible. First and foremost, the Assad regime has not denied using them. Citing the Alternative media only goes so far. So-called Alternative media, where one could also find stories about an SAS hit squad offing Lady Diana, Black seeds can cure anything, the ongoing prediction of imminent American collapse(Always two years away), something insipid from Glenn Beck, Aliens living among us and Russian pictures of a soul leaving a body, has its own issues with accuracy and reality. Anything in the Alternative media, like the corporate and status quo media should come with heaping scoops of skepticism.

And what happened to my fellow Lefties who long cried and advocated for a world without borders? Suddenly those same Lefties have retreated to a defense of stateism, and retreated from the ideals of going to the aid of our fellow human being? Where are my lefty pals who dreamed of one world and a brotherhood of all people? Their argument that this isn’t our fight, that it is a religious fight, a civil war, or that we need to worry about “our” people first would seem to support FOX News’ refrain that this is indeed a Center Right nation, and not at all a Progressive nation. It would seem to affirm that we do indeed have more in favor of the Ron and Rand Paul’s, and the Ayn Randian morality of self-centered culture, and that all the blathering by Progressives and Liberals the last couple of decades is as ideological and substantive as choosing up sides for a high school field hockey game.

Last is this fiction of Al Qa’eda in Syria. Certainly they are there. They are proving themselves in those small numbers as willing to stand and sacrifice for their ideals and are winning the hearts and minds of victimized and lost Syrians. We are not. Al Qa’eda, despite the hysteria over Benghazi was on the wane. They are capitalizing on this tragedy to our detriment as we cower and withdraw from the world, except where it will make us money. Again, “in our interest,” long the argument of the Right is now the chorus of the Left. But Al Qa’eda is more benefitting from pro-Assad propagandists, and the US has been tricked into their inflated presence and the fear of that terror collective. Shame on us.

Skepticism in all things is healthy, and there is ample history to support being ultimately skeptical of this government. They have not served us well, and they undermine our national credibility by acting purely on money-driven interests. But the debate should be to find the truth as a means of making decisions on doing the right thing, not in doing what benefits our protected and insulated corner of the planet. We should be the big mean guy with the big heart that is that shining city on the hill, who is that last best hope for mankind. The right won’t do it, and the Left is losing it. Find your selves again, my Leftist friends, and I pray you find yourself Progressive and not reactionary.

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.
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ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at

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Reactionary of The Week: Ed Schultz and Edward Snowden’s Media Lynch Mob

edMy grandfather was a gruff old city laborer in a small town in Northwest Iowa. I recall John Turck sitting at the end of the old Oak dining room table beneath a Depression Era portrait of Jesus on the wall above his head, usually half obscured in wispy-gray clouds of cigar smoke. He’d remained married to my grandmother better than 50 years, until she passed away in 1978. Together they raised 17 children, most born during or just after the Great Depression, all of them jostling and finding their own place in that tiny two bedroom farm house. I recall doing something rather clumsy or dumb once in front of him. Nothing altogether destructive, mind you, just one of those dopey things kids do as a matter of course. Never one to mince words, he shifted the wet end of the well-nursed cigar from one side of his mouth to the other, and retorted with a notable grin, “ain’t no cure for stupid.”

There was a lesson in that remark, dispensed with all of the brevity and efficiency and exhaustion of a man who’d raised all those kids. I never forgot those words. John Turck was a bear of a man, taking life like a cowhand might wrestle a stubborn calf to the ground; with a combination of reverence and determination. I’ll leave it there for a moment, but we’ll get back to that universal wisdom.

I tell you that to tell you this. Today the media torches and pitchforks came out, universally condemning NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden. Nearly everyone echoed the same knee jerk, status quo, sheepish refrain, that Snowden is a coward and a traitor.

Wow, no trial, no debate, no equivocation or second guessing. From FOX news to so-called Progressive hosts like Ed Schultz, Snowden was roundly condemned. Glenn Beck, the purveyor of rightwing political pornography, who had initially supported Snowden was aghast that he would take to flight via “anti-American” countries like China, Russia, Cuba, and the vehemently anti-American pariah-state Ecuador? Geez, that didn’t take long.

The news and talking heads were replete with Snowden’s travel itinerary, missed flights, his ex-blond girlfriend in Hawaii, the worry of his parents and theories about where in the world was Eddy? There was no shortage of acerbic adjectives to describe Edward Snowden, and plenty of unsubstantiated remarks about how he in fact is an agent for the imminent destruction of the American way of life, and that soon, because of Ed Snowden we’ll all shortly be speaking Russia or Chinese, or, heavens forbid…Ecuadoran! The media mob has even taken to assailing Glenn Greenwald, the reporter that broke the story. But take note, there is one thing glaringly absent from this media lynch mob.

What was missing from all media illuminati was, first, why Edward Snowden released the information and ,second, why he took to flight as he did. Ed Schultz, the Progressive talk show host, who generally I like, came out of the blocks on his show today to describe Snowden as a “coward and a traitor.” There was no true discussion of what compelled Snowden to whistle blow or to run. Several callers tried, but Mr. Schultz retreated to that fake talk show line, when they have closed themselves to the core issue in order to promulgate that status quo, pro-authoritarian agenda, “We’ll have to agree to disagree,” he told one caller with several particularly cogent points.

The caller was reminding all of us what this is actually about, and that we must keep our eye on the ball, despite all the rhetorical dust the media attempts to throw in our eyes. I’ll give you a hint, this really isn’t at all about Edward Snowden. This isn’t about the law either. This is about the ultimate enemies list by this or some future president, and what one or all of them might do with that information. We’ve talked in previous pieces that facts are not truth, and that facts can be arranged at the purview of the wicked. The calls, emails, associations you make can be skewed to create the impression of guilt for all sorts of manufactured indiscretions by a corruptible government. Dissent and patriotism are interchangeable. Your support for one administration becomes dissent to the next.

It should also be obvious to anyone who has paid even a small amount of attention to what this nation does to whistle blowers. Jeremy Hammond, whose exposure of the corporate firm STRATFOR helped set the stage for Snowden’s revelations about the extent of the government’s spying on us. Hammond spent more than a year in jail without a trial, and was refused a new judge despite that the presiding Judge’s husband was a client of STRATFOR. She went so far as to liken him to a pedophile, before trial began in some third world kangaroo court pre-trial bias. Exhausted, and perhaps understanding he was hopelessly persecuted, Hammond plead guilty and is awaiting sentencing. Bradley Manning exposed atrocities and duplicity by the government, and was tortured in prison, again before going to trial. Little wonder these men-and women must bounce around the globe for safe harbor.

As autonomous and free persons, each of us is entitled to privacy. We are entitled not to feel burdened by spiritual, ideological and intellectual censorship or worse, self-censorship. Bear in mind that the information is being stored-stored-stored and archived. If it is about stopping a terrorist attack, that happens in the present. Why the need to store emails, phone records and other e-data imperpetuity (That means forever to the Tea Party readers). And what of the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of government employees and private contractors with access to all of your personal data? True enough we blindly relinquish that to all manner of private companies, from banks to data back up companies and more, but there is at least an opportunity of redress if that data is compromised or misused. There is no such opportunity with Patriot Act-protected government data farming on the average citizen. We’ll have to defer the geo-political, diplomatic and economic impacts of intruding globally upon other nations for now.

But Ed Schultz and the rest in the media are not having those difficult and long reaching conversations. They prefer the lazy soap opera. But here is the key, argument, spirited debate, and the debate lost is the surest marker of where your-or my ignorance lays, and where the argument falls short. The antithesis, when a member of the media eschews the argument they might lose points to an agenda, laziness or something far more fundamental. As my grandfather would say, there ain’t no cure for stupid…No cigar, Ed, but I am grinning!

Catch WC Turck and Brian Murray only at Watch us every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesdays at 2:30 p.m., on Chicago Cable Channel 19. Please don’t forget to Like us on Facebook.

ACTIVISTS AND COMMUNITY ORGANIZERS: If you have a cause to champion, please let us know. We proudly stand with you in the important work of strengthening the grassroots support network for the city of Chicago.

BEER! Catch the Beer of The Week review with 900poundgorilla, along with weekly food pairings for our featured beers by Chef AJ Francisco and Simply Healthy Gourmet author Carole Cooper here. Find all of the great beers we review each week at

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