And while I don't know who-all will end up in the database, I do know that Homeland Security is contracting out this creepy new job. This means that the government can declare itself totally unaccountable for the mistakes that will be made and the damage that will be done to individual psyches, careers, and livelihoods, not to mention the violations of the First Amendment.
From The Independent:
If I do nothing, say nothing, write nothing, or think nothing wrong, then I will have nothing at all to worry about! Phew. I'm so glad that got all straightened out ahead of time, because now I can safely say that Homeland Security is nothing but an out-of-control paranoid fascist state within a fascist state, and that smarmy creep Todd Houlton can kiss my grits.The DHS Media Monitoring plan would allow for “24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database, including journalist, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc” to identify “any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event.”
DHS spokesman Todd Houlton tweeted to say that despite what was being reported this was nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media.
I don't know whether the FBI's raid on Donald Trump's lawyer's office will turn up any smoking guns on graft and corruption, or whether Michael Cohen is not as dumb as his client and therefore proactively shredded, burned, ate or otherwise destroyed any incriminating evidence. But I do know that the timing of this raid is suspicious, given that the permanent political establishment is champing at the bit for an all-out war in Syria against Russia and Iran. So maybe this raid served as a not so subtle nudge to a president who only last week had uttered the blasphemy of wanting to bring the troops back from Syria.
This is a guy who on more than one occasion has been unable to tell the difference between the country and his company. So when Trump fumed that the FBI raid was "an attack on our country" and since he has a history of poor impulse control, perhaps the Neocons will succeed in manipulating his elevated adrenaline levels at the object of their own desires, a/k/a Assad the Animal. John Bolton simpering in the background behind his foamy-white mustache as Trump foamed at the mouth for the TV cameras was not a pleasant sight.
I don't know if there really was a gas attack in Syria right before the FBI raid, or whether the "unverified" footage of children foaming at the mouth was both a nudge to Trump and a clumsy means to get a war-weary American public to believe that the perfect way to avenge a hundred deaths of innocents is to kill a thousand or a million more innocents. But I do know that it's very easy to make chlorine gas. I manufactured it once myself, totally by accident, about 30 years ago. Having run out of laundry detergent one day, I thought it would be OK to mix Dawn dish detergent with bleach in the washing machine. Luckily, the laundry area was in the basement, so I was able to shut the door and evacuate the premises at the first asphyxiating whiff. So for the pols and TV news personalities to rail that Vlad Putin lied about arranging for Assad to rid his country of chemical weapons is really kind of silly.
I don't know whether Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's media circus testimony before Congress this week will result in any punishment or government control. But I do know that the senators railing about the dangers to our privacy are cynical or disingenuous at best, and as dumb as they look at worst. The government needs Facebook as much as Facebook needs the government. How else will politicians directly target their ads at us? How else will Homeland Security keep track of all our thoughts and our wildcat strikes and our dissenting opinions and protest rallies that are not directly sanctioned by the Democratic Party/Hollywood #Resistance, Inc.?
Since many if not most congress critters receive generous campaign donations from Silicon Valley and relentless visits from its lobbyists, don't look for them to impose punitive new taxes on Big Tech any time soon, either. Since we the people are only as valuable to the oligarchs as our data, perhaps a direct tax on the data he's extracted from us will hit Zuck right where it hurts. So would a law requiring him and other tech giants, like Google and Amazon, to share their secret algorithms and data-collecting tools with the public.
These billionaire nerds are acting just like impervious banks. They're misusing our information as wantonly as Wall Street gambles with its customers' money. As big as whole countries and with revenues and assets far exceeding those of most countries, these monstrosities consider themselves too big to fail. Goldman Sachs and Citigroup still own the place, of course, but Amazon and Facebook and Google are literally giving them a run for their money, if not outright usurping the throne.
"Finance capitalism will be as old-fashioned as Flower Power. Some may miss it dearly, but that fondness will be little more than nostalgia," predict Oxford economists Viktor Mayer- Schonberger and Thomas Ramge in "Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data."
"Using rich information streams is superior to relying on money alone. As the economy shifts to data-rich and thus more efficient markets, most of the information necessary for these markets to function will no longer flow through banks," they observe.
And established public companies in Silicon Valley attract more and more concentrated globs of capital, for no other reason than that they can. No wonder the media-political establishment is coming to the defense of the vampiric Amazon, which has lost billions of dollars in stock value since lesser oligarch Donald Trump decided to pick a fight with the greatest oligarch now living: Jeff Bezos. The definition of democracy is capitalism on crack, and don't let us ever forget it.
So Zuckerberg probably has as much to worry about as his fellow "thought leaders" in the East Coast division (Wall Street) did when they were hauled before Congress in 2009 and castigated for ruining the whole economy and sucking trillions of dollars from the homes and savings of ordinary people. Mistakes were made then, too, because of complex algorithms that ordinary people (including even congressional multimillionaires) couldn't possibly understand. Unaccountability is built right into their self-serving system.
The bankers lackadaisically left the hearings in their limousines and openly laughed all the way back to their banks in their Lear jets. Zuckerberg will probably be a little more circumspect. He'll probably contain his own glee behind the charming smirk and crocodile tears he's been coached to project by some of the same political operatives employed by the congressional inquisitors themselves.
It's the permanent closed feedback loop of the permanent ruling class. Money begets power begets more money begets more power. Not only are we not in their big club, they're pounding us over the head with it at every opportunity.