Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tinfoil Hat Time

I don't know if I'll end up on Homeland Security's watch list of "hundreds of thousands" of journalists and bloggers. But since I do know that Google has drastically suppressed search results and traffic to this site, it might be just a little harder for even Big Brother himself to track me down. 

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:
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.
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.
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.


Anonymous said...

"I do know that Google has drastically suppressed search results and traffic to this site"

Please provide more details of that, numbers and methods.

It is very important if what is being done has the effect of chilling free speech. That is a Constitutional test used by the Supreme Court, as in NYT v Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964), establishing limits on challenging truth of statements in the press specifically to avoid such a chilling effect on political speech. This site ought to have the same protections for the same reasons, and the actions of a monopoly done in response to open government pressure ought to be subject to the same test as the right to challenge a media outlet in court.

Jay–Ottawa said...

The Security State has long been up front about its gathering a dossier on everyone. We knew that before Snowden's so-called revelations; he merely provided nerdy detail on how it's done. We were shocked, shocked, of course, but nothing changed. Our dossiers continue to swell.

Since that time I've not checked in at Sardonicky, CounterPunch, BAR and the rest. You should do likewise unless you want someday to find yourself herded into a stadium surrounded by SWAT teams and concertina wire.

I just ran a brief unscientific experiment. When I searched for Sardonicky directly from Google, I got relatively few real hits that referred me to this site, but a gazillion others that had to do mostly with the language spoken in the Czech Republic or Slovakia or someplace like that in Eastern Europe. At the top of its search, Google claimed it had dredged up over 45,000 hits in a fraction of a second. But if you skip to page 6 of its listings, you hit a wall where, after listing a few hundred hits, relevant and irrelevant, Google tells you that's all, folks, for Sardonicky." Google helpfully volunteers that the remaining hits are not worth listing because duplicative of what was already shown on the previous 5 pages. Hmm....

It was a different story with DuckDuckGo, which provided a much more satisfying algorithmic experience. There, in addition to many more listings relating to Sardonicky itself, they toss in a gazillion dissident sister sites: e.g., Truthout, Bill Moyers, The Intercept, CounterPunch, etc., etc. In other words, they've rounded up all the usual suspects including Sardonicky, dissident sites who keep pointing to each other. For instance, "The Rant" by Tom Degan lists Sardonicky in its blog roll, hence that hit. Duck Duck is both helpful and, perhaps, incriminating.

Should you be a frequent flyer in such company? I think not. The NSA is watching. Do as I do; stay away from such sites or you'll end up high on a list. Or simply do as "Anonymous" does, above; pop a magic ring in your mouth and become invisible.

The Joker said...

Did you notice the bottled water on the desk at which Zuckertorte sat testifying, and in front of Senators and staff? The labels said "United States Senate"! So, the Senate has its own brand of bottled water. A bit pretentious, no? Wonder how much each bottle costs compared to the house brand at Trader Joe's? While I'm on a roll with the sophisticated analysis, why is it that Zuckertorte testifying reminds me of a wheel of cheese? His waxy complexion? That consuming his words leads to (mental) constipation? Inquiring minds want to no. Literally, just no.

Erik Roth said...

Where is Samson when we need him?

voice-in-wilderness said...

I just wish Fox and Friends would give Trump more clear cut orders, so that he doesn't have to flip-flop on Syria, the TPP, etc!!