Wednesday, January 18, 2012

DHS and Politics

Behind Homeland Security's monitoring of web sites from Undernews

So, why is the DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, the agency with broad scope and the disturbing name that echos of 1930's Germany, monitoring articles and comments on websites ranging from the New York Times to the Huffington Post? Your tax dollars at work,

And, doing more than monitoring "capture public reaction to major government proposals", they are also likely acting to shape and deflect political action by citizens. This is from key Obama advisor Cass Susskind

Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.

Ever notice how on some comment boards or chat rooms its almost impossible to do any effective organizing, or even to carry on an intelligent discussion. There are almost always people there who are a) trying to tell everyone the story is wrong, b) telling everyone that nothing can be done to change things, or c) generally disrupting the conversation completely with silly, irrelevant posts and supposed flame wars between two such posters of silly posts.

When you see that, it isn't an accident. Now we know, thanks to EPIC's FOIA request that the DHS is monitoring and participating in these websites, including the comment areas. We also know that various PR firms offer the same as a paid service to their corporate clients.

The end result is that a political article that should be a spark to political organizing almost never is. I used to see this sort of organizing done back when the internet was new. Not only would you get an email detailing a problem, but people would be starting to organize to do something about it. These days, you see the same sort of article online, but the comments below almost never have any serious organizing going on. If you see anyone trying to start, watch how quickly the 'trolls' jump in and usually start either screaming at the organizers, or often just screaming at each other to take away the space that would otherwise be available for a free citizenry in a democracy to comment, communicate and organize.

We now see this in several areas of public debate. The government actively telling the citizens what to think and what course should be taken, as well as steps to disrupt any activity and speech to the contrary. This is most obvious on the question of drug policy, where any alternatives to the current prohibition is almost unspeakable in the public sphere. The government and Wall Street's media arm both immediately attack and blast anyone who dares to speak of ending prohibition, and thus scaling back the huge prison-industrial complex that rests upon that policy. Its almost as bad when it comes to the wars. Again, the government and the media have both tended to gang up on anyone questioning whether spending billions to kill sheepherders in Afghanistan really enhances the security of Americans in any real way.

Now it appears that we'll see more and more of this, as the government not only monitors but participates in the online discussions of our supposedly free society. Whenever you look at a string of comments on the internet and see a confusing mess that isn't really a discussion, remember that DHS is probably monitoring and participating in that website. And if not DHS, then a variety of PR firms and security companies that offer the same service.

How to get around this? Spot like-minded people on the internet, and then try to find a way to talk directly to them. Swap email addresses. Remember that you can create closed memberships on websites and forums to keep the trolls out. And, remember that email itself was the first mass-communication tool on the internet. An email list where the trolls aren't allowed to post is still an effective tool.

OK, Back to the SOPA/PIPA blackout. Sorry to interrupt, but I thought an article about government monitoring and interference in the internet was relevant enough to put out even on blackout day.

SOPA - Internet Blackout

If I had an easy way to black out this blog today, I'd join the 7,000 other websites that are going black today in protest of the proposed Internet censorship bills known as SOPA and PIPA currently in the Congress.

The good news is that massed public opposition seems to be at least slowing down and temporarily preventing these awful bills from going forward.

What a stretch. First we've seen Congress say that having the military can indefinitely detain anyone they want just by pointing at them and saying "terrorist". Now we've got Congress proposing broad powers to censor the internet, joining such other bastions of freedom such as China in the desire to control what people see and hear. I truly do get the feeling that now I know what it must have been like to have lived in Germany in the early 1930's.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Lieberman Manuever

In 2006, a leftist rebellion during the Connecticut Senatorial primaries defeated Joe Lieberman and instead nominated Ned Lamont to be the Democratic nominee for US Senate. However, today Joe Lieberman is still the Senator from Connecticut. This is because he immediately ran as an "independent". The Republicans basically abandoned their own candidate, and threw their support behind Lieberman, joining the pro-war, pro-Wall Street Democrats who backed Lieberman.

If Ron Paul wins the Republican nomination for President, expect to see something similar. The pro-war, pro-Wall Street faction of the Republican party will likely throw their support to some prominent Republican who suddenly decides to run as an "Independent". I'd doubt they'd support the pro-war, pro-Wall Street Obama campaign, despite the obvious alignment of interests. But, they wouldn't mind running an 'Independent' campaign that would take Republican votes away from a Republican Paul for President campaign. Even the end result of that was four more years of Obama. The Republicans would still get a Republican president who's following Reagan's economic policies and Dubya's foreign policy, and the tactical advantage of four more years of playing the outsider pretending to oppose Obama's policies.

No matter. The opposition forces in this country would still have a major candidate in a campaign for President. Wall Street's media arm will of course present Mr. Paul as dangerous and will undoubtedly give the Wall Street "Independent" campaign a huge amount of free publicity. But still, a Paul Republican campaign for President would have an opportunity to talk to the people of this country about the assault on the Constitution and the Bill of Rights that has been going on in this country especially since 9-11. It would be hard to impossible to ban the Republican nominee from the debates. And while the Paul's campaign exposure to major media would be diminished by a general hostile tone and a relative lack of money (compared to the Wall Street financed campaigns), it would still have a presence that campaigns like Nader for President never reached.

America has an opportunity before it. There's a major candidate running in the primaries who's finished 3rd and 2nd in the early Iowa and New Hampshire primaries. This is an opportunity. And its an opportunity that the left especially needs to seize. Ron Paul may not be the ideal candidate for a leftist to support, but he's honest and he'd work to restore the Constitution. And among other things, that would undoubtedly include stopping FBI and other federal infiltration of leftist groups, the use of Homeland Security and the FBI against domestic US protesters like the Occupy movement, and the end of harassing legal cases like the grand jury attacks on mid-western anti-war protesters.

There is currently a massive propaganda out from Wall Street and their political parties to tell the left that Ron Paul is dangerous and can't be supported. Pay attention to this when you see it. It tells you two things. One is you learn who out there pushes out the Wall Street line. The other is that you learn to go the opposite direction. If there is suddenly a lot of voices in the left-wing echo chamber telling you that Ron Paul is dangerous, then the best thing to do is to ask why.

And, then maybe, you might remember which of those voices also told you that electing the pro-war and pro-Wall Street candidate Obama. How'd that work out? At some point, when do people learn to do the OPPOSITE of what these voices are telling you. Or to at least check it out. Go out on the internet, and find some LONG, unedited videos of Ron Paul speaking. That's the best way to learn about a candidate. Listen to them in length. Not in the easily manipulated sound-bites that you get from Wall Street's media, but let them speak to you ... and then you decide what you think.

And ask yourself this. Can we really afford four more years of war? Can we really afford four more years of assaults on privacy and civil liberties? Can we really afford four more years of turning the economy and the justice system entirely over to Wall Street?

A Ron Paul Presidency might not create a leftist wonderland, but it would be an important victory for all opposition forces in America, left or right. Wouldn't it be easier to be a leftist activist in America if the FBI was under the control of an honest President who believes strongly in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. So, why does everyone want to try so very, very hard to keep you from supporting Mr. Paul?

10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free

10 reasons the U.S. is no longer the land of the free by Jonathan Turley, a professor of law at George Washington University.

  • Assassination of U.S. citizens (in company with Nigeria, Iran and Syria)
  • Indefinite Detention (in company with China and Cambodia)
  • Arbitrary Justice (in company with China and Egypt)
  • Warrantless Searches (in company with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan)
  • Secret Evidence
  • War Crimes (in company with China, Syria, Serbia and Pinochet's Chile)
  • Secret Court (in company with Pakistan)
  • Immunity from Judicial Review (in company with China)
  • Continual Monitoring of Citizens (in company with Saudi Arabia and Cuba)
  • Extraordinary Renditions
Somehow, I don't think this is the America that the Founding Fathers fought a revolution to create. In fact, it reads much more like the list of reasons that those same Founding Fathers gave as to why they considered King George III a tyrant in the Declaration of Independence.
Or, as professor Turley puts it ...
The framers lived under autocratic rule and understood this danger better than we do. James Madison famously warned that we needed a system that did not depend on the good intentions or motivations of our rulers: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”
Benjamin Franklin was more direct. In 1787, a Mrs. Powel confronted Franklin after the signing of the Constitution and asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got — a republic or a monarchy?” His response was a bit chilling: “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”
Since 9/11, we have created the very government the framers feared: a government with sweeping and largely unchecked powers resting on the hope that they will be used wisely.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reality Check

If you want to know the real chances of something happening, check the Vegas odds. Of course, the Vegas odds don't really reflect those real chances, but just what is needed to get the betting money spread across the choices. But, in politics, where perception is everything, the public perceptions of reality as reflected by the odds the bookmakers offer to get the bets is probably a better indicator than any poll.

As of January 2012 ...

Obama - 2/3
Romney - 7/5
Paul - 25/1
Gingrich - 30/1
Santorum - 35/1
Huntsman - 50 /1

Since Perry is running behind a candidate that isn't even running (Hillary), I'll stop typing there.

Interesting is that Paul has moved up into 3rd place. reports that the Wall Street money is splitting so far between Romney and Obama. With Obama still the obvious favorite, they don't want to abandon him. And they appear to be succeeding in pushing Romney to the top of the Republican table. Thus creating what Wall Street always love is a non-contest between two politicians they've already bought.

The fly in this ointment is Ron Paul. He isn't bought by Wall Street, he opposes the wars, and he'd fight to restore civil liberties. He's not my perfect candidate, but he's in the race and running strong and has positioned himself as the one viable choice in these big party nomination fights that would end Wall Street rule in America.

If you oppose the wars. If you don't like having candidates who've been bought by Wall Street running everything. If you actually think the Bill of Rights is a good thing and we need to get back to honoring and respecting the deal that formed this government and approved this Constitution, then the only choice is to do everything you can to support Ron Paul. Vote for him if you can. Volunteer for him, help make phone calls, do whatever else you can do to support him too.

Its Obama, Romney and Paul. Two of the three represent no real change. One does represent change. And failing to support the candidate that does represent change is also a vote that you like things right now just fine and don't want any change from our endlessly expanding wars and rule by Wall Street all enforced by an ever growing surveillance state.