Friday, November 3, 2017

"We Want Information"

Despite what they claim, the congressional inquisitors who browbeat Silicon Valley executives this week are not particularly interested in suppressing those amateur-hour political ads coming out of "troll farms" with easily manipulated Russian I.P. addresses. Haven't any of them ever heard of proxy servers?

Their real goal seems to be gaslighting the American public into wondering whether that next protest march they join, or the next independent news site they click on is "legitimate" -- or as even the Democratic inquisitors put it, "real American."  And to make sure that the US public is getting the stern message, the committees are demanding that the tech giants Google, Facebook and Twitter willingly hand over information about their posters and users to Congress and, by implied extension, to the CIA and the FBI. And that is so weird. Because their demand simply reveals that the NSA, which was outed by Edward Snowden as the collector of every bit of Internet info on every man, woman and child in the world, is apparently not too adept at actually filtering out the mounds and mounds of cyber-information they continue to vacuum up, willy-nilly, for storage in a massive facility out in the Utah desert.

Watching Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Mark Warner (D-VA) machine-gun out his accusatory questions at the bemused-looking tech lawyers and executives unpleasantly reminded me of the opening scene of the surreal British TV series called The Prisoner.

The co-equal partners of Congress and the "intelligence community" desperately want the private information on social media users which the tech giants have scooped up for their own purposes of advertising and endless profits. Reactionary politicians are using the contrived RussiaGate scare and "national security" concerns as the pretext to get what they want out of the sub-nation of Silicon Valley. "You have transformed the way we do everything from shopping for groceries to growing our small businesses," Warner, who made his own millions in tech and private equity, railed in righteous fury. "But Russia’s actions are further exposing the dark underbelly of the ecosystem you have created!"

Pop Quiz: Find the Dark Underbelly For Extra Points

"And if you won't do it, we will," vowed Dianne Feinstein (D-CIA), with the requisite scare-mongering about "us" being at war with Russia, and accusing the Kremlin of being the major sower of social divisions in the United States, simply by pasting up a bunch of truly cheesy-looking ads on the Internet.

This One Swayed Bernie-Supporting Atheists & Convinced Ted Cruz True Believers 

The aim of the congress-critters could not be any more transparent. By accusing a foreign power of creating social unrest in the most unequal advanced country on earth, they save themselves the trouble of exploring the true, historical roots of these social problems, not to mention doing anything about them. It all boils down to government of, by, and for an oligarchy which has replaced representative democracy.

It's easier for them to crazily claim that 10 million American citizens, or roughly one-thirtieth of the entire population, have been hypnotized into eyeballing an estimated 3,000 ads emanating from Petersburg. Even crazier is the claim by Facebook that more than 100 million - meaning one out of three Americans - viewed the ads. This exposure allegedly has caused people to start hating individuals and groups they would not otherwise have hated, and voting for a reality show huckster they would not otherwise have even noticed outside the $5 billion worth wall-to-wall free coverage of his hate-speech granted him by the domestic mainstream media. These claims simply beggar belief.  

  Despite carefully labeling their witch-hunt a patriotic effort to weed out Putinesque propaganda, committee members did slip up a few times during their series of hearings, admitting that they're also trying to suppress or weed out left-leaning domestic news sites and blogs and social justice organizations. During the House's own separate fishing expedition, Intelligence Committee Co-Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) groused that search engine algorithms don't do enough to cull any kind of content that is "fear-based, or anger-based." In other words, this is any content not sponsored by corporations, such as on the fear-mongering terror channel, CNN, or the anger-spreading, lie-spreading Fox News.

Why doesn't Schiff just cut to the chase and add some more oomph to the Congress-enabled opioid epidemic by giving every American a lifetime prescription for Xanax or Valium? We simply can't have the poor, the overworked, the underpaid, the jobless and the uninsured getting so damned mad all the time about their all-American allotted stations in life.

On the one hand, elected officials bitch and moan that people are too dumb to figure out that a primitive cartoon ad which casts Hillary Clinton as the devil attacking Jesus isn't really Hillary Clinton. On the other hand, they bitch and moan that people are too smart for their own good, and know only too well how badly their leaders are screwing them over. 

Congress wants to have it both ways. They want a populace smart enough to track down approved sources of information, and then limit their consumption to six major media conglomerates. They also want a populace dumb enough to actually believe what these six major conglomerates spoon out to them.

Meanwhile, they act out their drama of disingenuous confusion over this whole contrived chicken and egg dilemma. Which came first: the social unrest fueling the inflammatory content, or the inflammatory content fueling the social unrest? They might as well ask which came first: the pamphlets of the Sans-Culottes inflaming hatred for the French monarchy, or the French monarchy inflaming the hatred of the revolutionary masses? Congress is suddenly pretending that this question is not as old as humankind itself. Maybe they've been spending too much time watching and appearing on corporate propaganda-cum-news shows.

This latest inquisition might look like a mere fishing expedition for a relative handful of Russian trolls. What it is in reality is a shot across the bow against the First Amendment itself.

"We're just getting started," huffs Adam Schiff.  He's gung-ho for a brand new piece of legislation, oxymoronically called the "Honest Ads Act," or HAA. 

The Don Drapers of Madison Avenue must be laughing their asses off on that one, as they market the painkillers along with the drugs to counter opioid constipation. Be very afraid of cartoon Trumps and Clintons and pay proper attention to the diet scams, the local dark money political attacks, the banks, the airlines, the luxury cars, and the military recruitment come-ons produced for your viewing and reading pleasure by the six major media conglomerates. Join the defense of capitalism on steroids. It may not be truthful or just, but it's definitely the all-American way.


Jamie said...

“I woke up election morning and it felt like maybe what the Apostles experienced on Good Friday. Their leader, master, and savior was dead and gone and they didn’t know what to do.”

- Rev. Bill Shillady, Crooked Hillary's Pastor

Anne said...

What a sham. The Powers-That-Be are genuinely panicked, but not because the Russians influenced any votes. Rather, it's because the PTB failed to successfully influence the election despite major efforts. They did everything in their power to help elect their Chosen One, [genuflect] Hillary Clinton and hurt Trump. Nearly unanimous national print media endorsements, Hollywood celebrities, the Intelligence Community, Neocons, Neolibs, and Wall St. all chimed in and put their money where their mouths were, but all that money and power didn't work. That's what REALLY scares them. Not only that, but they never saw it coming. They won't allow that to happen again, and that's why they're engaged in a power grab with Silicone Valley.

The DNC created the superdelegate/lobbyist/insider system for the same reason - to ensure that Democratic voters never again elected a George McGovern type. This election is resulting in another shakeup, not of the electoral college but more basic elements they can control or buy involving media and official propaganda. It's an information power grab.

The PTB have far too much invested in the political system to allow 'folks' to risk undermining it democratically and corporate capitalists ending up the dreaded 'Uncertainty', the enemy of Markets and businessmen everywhere. While Trump is currently playing ball, there is no certainty about him.

Hillary, on the other hand, was a sure bet for certainty. She had already been pre-paid for her performance, just as Obama had been (even being given a list of Citigroup appointees). They must realize by now that their confidence in Madame Secretary and her judgement was misplaced, with her half-baked 'Pied Piper' strategy to help Trump win the nomination with media overexposure which ended up helping him get elected President. The monster that Dr. Frankenstein and her complicit media created couldn't be controlled.

So now Russia! is being used to inflame the masses in support of the soft coup to replace Trump and justify morphing the 'Collect It All' Big Brother into 'Control It All' Big Daddy. Social media is being drafted into the propaganda and censorship army, like it or not, for National $ecurity reasons to protect us from dissent, division, and discord before the next Presidential election. It's no wonder the Donkeys are so on board with this. They don't believe in legitimate elections either.

Social media has already been free-lancing in the censorship racket, so they'll not resist becoming more officially involved, especially if they are promised compensation. Last summer there was widespread suspicion that Twitter blacked out tweets about DNC and Podesta emails. Recently that 'conspiracy theory' was confirmed when the Twitter CEO testified that he did indeed hide 50% of all the #DNCleaks, and 25% of all the #PodestaEmails, despite the fact that only 2% were of suspicious origin. And that was just one confirmed venue (looking at you, NYT), and evidently not coordinated with the State Department's new Global Engagement Center, aka Ministry of Truth.

No power player needs to be told what to censor by some sinister leader or new federal agency for domestic propaganda. They already know because they have the same mindset as, and the same ownership by, the corporate Powers-That-Be.

Electoral surprises are a risk to the national intere$t because they threaten the Certainty which is the lubricant for the global economy. Nothing can be allowed to jeopardize that, not even democracy.

voice-in-wilderness said...

The NSA does seem adept at vacuuming up all communications by legal and illegal means, with a huge (unlimited?) black budget. Which comes to the question of what their 30,000+ employees are doing with the data. For example, are they just collectors who savor the data for its own sake, with no intention of sharing it with other three-letter spy agencies? Or are they just not very good at figuring out what is important? Or some combination? We are left to speculate, with our elected officials disinterested in these questions.

Jay–Ottawa said...

"The elites have no counterargument to their anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist critics. The attempt to blame the electoral insurgencies in the United States’ two ruling political parties on Russian interference, rather than massive social inequality—the worst in the industrialized world—is a desperate ploy. The courtiers in the corporate press are working feverishly, day and night, to distract us from reality. The moment the elites are forced to acknowledge social inequality as the root of our discontent is the moment they are forced to acknowledge their role in orchestrating this inequality. This terrifies them."

Will said...

Here's a video tweeted by Margaret Kimberley on Saturday that dovetails quite nicely with Jay's excerpt from the truthdig article above: Russia's Plot to Make America Racist


Anne said...


Welcome back, Yuk Yuk. Thanks for more laughs!

Jay–Ottawa said...

Geez, Will, it's almost Tuesday and you've been sitting on this news since Saturday?