Monday, December 28, 2015

Consciousness Consolidation


The effects of media consolidation amount to more than immediately comes to mind:




This graphic by frugaldad.com was posted on Daily Kos.  It's not readable here but if you go there it is.



Thursday, December 24, 2015

An Ayn Rand Christmas








Someone with nothing better to do has taken a bunch of Ayn Rand quotes and made them into Christmas cards. In a way they're funny because of the stark contrast between her diabolical social Darwinism and the kind of thoughts we normally associate with Christmas.

Until you remember that many of our politicians, including people like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the house, and people like former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, are followers of this woman and spend all their time figuring out how to translate her philosophy into innocuous sound bytes designed to disarm our natural revulsion at the naked lust for money and power so they can implement it as public policy.




Saturday, December 19, 2015

The New USA

Massive internet spying is back; our government once again has the authority it, including President Barak Obama explicitly, wanted to spy on every detail of our lives.

Innocuous sounding media reports about what's in the "cybersecurity" bill that made it into the final version of the massive omnibus spending bill that's been signed by the president reflect the fact that many people, including congress members, don't actually know what's in the bill.

“Most members of Congress still don’t understand what it will actually do, which is to dramatically expand the U.S. government’s unpopular and ineffective surveillance programs and make all of us more vulnerable to cyber attacks by letting corporations off the hook instead of holding them accountable when they fail to protect their customer’s sensitive information,” Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight For the Future, a digital rights group, told The Intercept.

Also in the bill is the repeal of a law requiring country of origin labeling on meat sold in the US. Congress repealed the law because the US recently lost a case under NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, which allows foreign countries to collect damages from the US government for such laws and would have required the US to pay out billions.

The Trans Pacific Partnership treaty, or TPP, that the president and both parties are trying to get through congress at the moment contains provisions that are worse and much further reaching.

Welcome to the New USA, where corporate interests trump US law, and where the surveillance state is in place and so are the militarily armed police, who already have official sanction to use whatever violence they deem necessary to keep the people in line. In other words, where the mechanisms are in place for it to quickly become a police state. Keep that in mind as the never ending foreign war rages on in the background of a presidential race that, intentionally or not, is conditioning peoples' minds in ways that are preparing them to accept it.

The mechanism and the willingness to submit to it are one thing. The reasons for it -- Capitalism's inability to emerge from its decade long global recession and its inability to provide a decent living standard for an increasing number of people -- are more apparent by the week.







Thursday, December 17, 2015

Internet Surveillance Is Back

Update at 12/19/15 6:03 a.m.: The president yesterday signed an omnibus spending bill with CISA in it. I had earlier posted an update saying CISA had been left out of the bill, based on an email update I received from one of the internet freedom organizations I follow, but that proved to be inaccurate.



This is exactly what I've been warning about. The internet spying bill, CISA, that we fought so hard to defeat last year is back, having been slipped into the omnibus spending bill that the new house speaker Paul Ryan is being lauded for getting past the tea baggers with Democrat's help, and this version is even worse.

This tells about it and has links for protesting to our senators and congresswomen, who have been ranked for us according to their stances on internet freedom.








Sunday, December 13, 2015

Link Me Up






This map, minus the red dots, was made up by the Washington Post for a Dec 2 story about mass shootings in 2015. They actually just updated the map after the "San Bernardino" shootings, and linked it to their original story from July.

Someone added the red dots and put it on Facebook. The graphic attributes the red dots to "data by SoundVision.com." That's a non profit that seeks to improve the image of Islam and Muslims. I don't immediately see the graphic on their web site, but some enterprising Facebook user who knows how to use the internet and computer graphics could have come up with the graphic in a few minutes. Many people post videos to web sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram directly from their cell phones now with just a few "clicks." That's the only reason people have become aware of how violent the police are, and the only reason police violence is an issue. The federal investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department likely woldn't have occurred otherwise.

If you read the Washington Post story, it used data from ShootingTracker.com, as this graphic states. Established news organizations rely heavily on the internet now. You see entire stories sometimes based on "tweets" that go out over Twitter. In many articles, several words in each sentences contain links to the news organization archives or Wikipedia.

Billionaire Jeff Bazos, founder of Amazon, bought the Washington Post a couple years ago and is being credited with vastly improving it. The new investigative news site The Intercept was founded by another internet billionaire, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

We can see locally the significance of the decline of traditional media. The Albuquerque Journal's owners make no effort to put out a balanced, fair product; they simply ignore news they don't like and use the paper to propagandize for Republican elected officials and their own Neoliberal views of economics and politics. But there are alternatives struggling to make an impact, and you can see the potential for something else and the importance of keeping the internet a free and open place. That struggle is ongoing. Almost every week lawmakers try to slip into one or another bill something that would privatize the internet. Please pay attention.


 Free Press

 Fight For The Future











 



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I Had My Hair Done And Then...





Michell Grisham, the first district US Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico, who has been hiding under her desk in her office all through the Paris massacres, the San Bernardino massacres, and the economic devastation her district has been undergoing throughout her term in office, emerged today to boldly announce she has no position on gun control or on anything.

Like all New Mexico Democrats she takes the cynically calculated, cowardly position that it's better to pass on the opportunity she's been handed to mold public opinion and lead her country in a better direction, and instead stand silently with her finger in the air waiting to see which way the wind's blowing, so as not to jeopardize her fancy title, her perks and privileges and fat paycheck, and the opportunity to improve her own bottom line, which, last I checked had doubled in the short time she'd been in office.

Meanwhile, one other New Mexico Democrat has said something about the continual outpouring of racist demagoguery from the Republican presidential candidates that's been ongoing for months now and has the public whipped into a hateful frenzy. After waiting for other Democrats, and the news media and the entire Republican national leadership to denounce Donald Trump's latest vile outburst, and checking his ass one more time to make sure it was fully covered, he quietly said we hadn't ought to say things like that. From Michelle Grisham, nothing yet, but call me and tell me what you think.





Sunday, December 6, 2015

I Am Not Amused


Albuquerque Journal/Greg Sorber photo


If you have time, read one of the articles warning about the rise of fascism in the country.

"But to even acknowledge our long, stumbling lurch to the right; the building force of corporate power; the relentless need for war; a police whose power of enforcement is divorced from law; a preening nationalism that rewards the full rights of citizenship only to those who fit an ever-narrower mold… You can’t call it fascism. People will only laugh."

And head off to the parade.