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Two Forms of Governance: Big Corporations Want to Snoop about Your Internet Behavior
3/27/2017 6:15:11 PM
It is important to realize that we really have two forms of governance in this society. The first is the elected government (president,congress, courts) and the second is the large corporate government. The latter likes to claim it is "private" and the law even allows the fiction that they can be viewed legally as "individuals" but the fact is that they are a kind of governing structure of society.
They are not in a "marketplace" of small businesses. For example, the entire food industry in this country is controlled by a handful of huge companies. Same with the communications industry and so many others. Right now, the corporate government has completely taken over the elected government. The corporate government has bought itself the communications agents by which to control the voters for the elected government.
One proof of this is that the Republican Senate just overturned an FCC rule requiring internet service providers to get permission from internet users before they are able to sell their browsing history to other advertisers. So now, many voters who thought they were voting for "less government" have voted into office representatives who are allowing big business to sell your own personal information to other big companies so they can know more about who you are and what you do so they can better control you.
This is, of course, the opposite of the "libertarianism" that so many conservatives claim to be these days, the opposite of what right wing radio hates big government for doing. The House will be voting on this on Tuesday. The Electronic Frontier Foundation wants you to call your representatives right away if you don't want big corporate government snooping around your personal internet behavior.
Go To EFF
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An Avalanche of Absurdities: Chris Hedges on the Rise of Trump and American Fascism
3/21/2017 5:44:49 PM
Recorded March 3, 2017, at the program ďAfter Trump and the Pussy HatsĒ sponsored by the Vancouver Rape Relief and Womenís Shelter and the Asian Womenís Coalition Against Prostitution in Vancouver, Canada.
Listen to Chris Hedges
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Robert Mercer and Big Money Chose Trump to be President, not the People
3/17/2017 4:48:04 PM
I am finding "The New Yorker" magazine to be an excellent source of background information concerning our political system. It presents longer, more detailed articles which show connections among major players. These are not "conspiracies" but descriptions of how particular individuals engage in relationships to get things done.
Jane Mayer has just published an outstanding article which shows how Robert Mercer and his daughter were able to take over the Trump campaign last summer and install their own people in key positions, including Steve Bannon.
In other words, Trump is just a stand-in politician for a big-money, libertarian family which has used its hedge fund money to dominate American politics. For those of you who think that Trump won the election fairly, here is proof otherwise. The election was bought and paid for. Trump voters have been manipulated to vote for him.
And we are now beginning to suffer the consequences. There is really bad stuff coming unless something is done to remove this guy from office.
The Washington Post today (3/18/17) has a long piece on the Mercers also.
Here is a comment at the end of this article: "America is finished. A long list of enemies have tried to destroy America since its inception. Wars have been fought and millions have died. The fate of America is now in the hands of a wealthy class of ideologues and avaricious snobs with no allegiance to America or its people."
Another comment: "There is something very wrong with a system that elevates people like the Mercer's to the level of influence they are at. What is wrong with people that can't support a clean environment and a basically happy population, why do they have to ruin everything good about this country because they have some weird beliefs about how things should be."
Since writing this I have been thinking more and more about it. Just imagine what it means for the country to be controlled by a very few people who have created their own media network and have used psychological/data techniques by which to manipulate the minds of people so they will vote in a particular way for a president or other office holder who will not do what he/she says.
I think the Protestant Church must begin to think of itself as a source of public truth for the masses of the people in this country. This is what Jesus did in his time. "Tell the truth."
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Stirring Up Muslim Hatred; The Need for a New Election
3/16/2017 3:56:54 PM
I watched Donald Trump as he went back out on the campaign trail again yesterday. He spoke to rallies in Michigan and Tennessee just as a judge in Hawaii struck down implementation of his second executive order disallowing refugees into the country from six Muslim countries.
I heard directly the president use hostile and angry language against this judge. He, Trump, wanted to "protect" the American people from terrorists and this judge wants to let them in, was the message.
His followers were hooting and hollering. What do you suppose this kind of talk does? It creates what can be called a "moral environment" where it is all right to express outright hostility to Muslim people.
I do not know how many television outlets presented the president's remarks. But I do know that it is this kind of thing which creates the public atmosphere for personal attacks on Muslims and efforts to bomb mosques.
The kind of hatred Trump is drumming up against Muslims is just one part of his general effort to literally destroy the structure of society as we have known it for the past seventy years, since the second world war, pretty much my own lifetime. Trump and his people literally want to wreck things. Those who voted for him have no idea what they have done.
Just yesterday I read in the paper about farm owners in eastern Oregon and Washington who voted for Trump are now having huge fears they won't get their crops harvested for lack of migrant workers. They didn't think Trump would do something so dumb as to try to deport these workers even though he attacked immigrants in his political rhetoric. Why these farmers would vote for someone like this is a little hard for me to understand. On the one hand you hate the immigrant as a cultural "other", on the other hand you need the immigrant to work in your fields.
My wife just came back from the grocery store. She said she can't believe how fast prices are going up. Thanks Trump. It may get really, really bad really, really fast.
Like I say, many who voted for Trump have no idea what they were really doing. In his new budget, Trump wants to reduce support for smaller airports in rural areas. He wants to close down long range train service. In fact, rural areas under Trump are going to lose their local post offices, their local hospitals, their local schools. It is those terrible "liberals" who believe that the whole community should support these things. But Trump, elected by those very rural conservatives, will close their institutions. They know not what they did. This is what happens when you believe people who lie to you.
A terrible mistake has been made with the election of Trump, unlike ever before in the history of the country. Impeachment is not the answer. His whole government has to go. We need a new election. We need someone to invent a new means by which the people, who are the ultimate sovereign of this country, can themselves create a state of emergency and hold a new election within three months.
Update: After I wrote the above I saw on the Foreign Policy website an excellent article by Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian with the title "The Making of Islamophobia Inc.: A well-funded network is trying to strip the right to speak away from American Muslims and fanning the politics of fear." This network includes such people as Ann Coulter, Robert Spencer, and Milo Yiannopoulos. Donald Trump is speaking to these sorts of angry white nationalists in his rhetoric, trying to make racial and religious hatred a political tactic. He is being successful at that, exciting a small group of violence prone racists, which is the very reason why he is so dangerous and must be removed as president.
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Public Trust: Post-truth is Pre-fascim
3/8/2017 6:10:40 PM
A couple summers ago we were invited to watch the July 4th fireworks from the top of a large old tugboat on the Willamette River in downtown Portland, Oregon, where we live. Coming along with us was the son of our friends who had a doctorate in political science and was finishing up teaching in Toronto, Canada, before taking a new assignment at Oxford in England. So here was my chance to talk with a bright young intellectual about the issues of the day. Sitting next to one another we were so engaged in conversation that all of a sudden it was announced that the fireworks were over. We missed them.
He was as interested in my own thoughts as I was of his. He asked me what I considered to be my most important concern in modern politics and I said the single word "trust". He seemed taken aback and not sure what I meant. I said that people were not trusting one another anymore, especially not politicians. They can no longer trust that a person will do what they say. And that makes everything uncertain. And the more fearful people are the more hesitant they will be to trust others. Basic trust in human relations is fundamental. Without it there is no relationship with others, no society, no social or political life together.
Donald Trump is now acting in ways that make it impossible to place any trust in him as president. He has lied again and again. Yesterday he tweeted that President Obama had released 122 Guantanamo Bay detainees who had gone back to the battlefield to kill Americans. The fact is that Obama had released only nine, the rest had been released by George W. Bush. And whether these detainees had gone back to the battlefield is not clear. You cannot explain this away. Trump doesn't care whether he is telling the truth or not. Or, he knows he is lying. Or, he is so psychological fixated on Obama that he thinks what he is saying is true. But any of these explanations are damning.
Imagine having a father or mother, or a boss, or a teacher, or a pastor, or any other person of authority, and you learn that you cannot rely on what that person says is the truth. In fact, you learn over time that most of what that person says is untrue. You will not be able to trust that person. It would be folly to allow yourself to believe anything the person said. That really changes your whole life. And that's what's going on now with Trump. He is making it impossible to trust anything he says and does as president. And this is terribly serious for the country as a whole.
Yale historian Timothy Snyder is the author of the book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. He talks about trust in this interview where he talks about his idea that "post-truth is pre-fascim." Notice when he uses the term trust related to the rule of law in the following quote:
Democracy only has substance if thereís the rule of law. That is, if people believe that the votes are going to be counted and they are counted. If they believe that thereís a judiciary out there that will make sense of things if thereís some challenge. If there isnít rule of law, people will be afraid to vote the way they want to vote. They'll vote for their own safety as opposed to their convictions. So the thing we call democracy depends on the rule of law. And the things we call the rule of law depends upon trust. Law functions 99 percent of the time automatically. It functions because we think itís out there. And that, in turn, depends on the sense of truth. So thereís a mechanism here. You can get right to heart of the matter if you can convince people that there is no truth. Which is why the stuff that we characterize as post-modern and might dismiss is actually really, really essential.I would like to emphasize here that we all depend on leaders and professionals in this modern world, a very complex, interdependent, mechanical world that binds us together in many different ways difficult to know and understand. If we cannot trust what these leaders say our lives will become chaos. It is no small thing that Donald Trump has installed a person as his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who is known to believe in breaking up administrative structures, in creating chaos and uncertainty so that people will have little sense of what is happening so they can be controlled.
There is a name for this. It is fascism. It is how Hitler took power. When people can't trust anyone they follow the leader even when the leader is irrational. Trump is acting so irrational today and will continue to do so and some continue to follow him, unthinkingly. He must be removed from office by whatever means necessary.
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