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Archive for October 2012

Fusion Centers Police People Without Plots to Blow Up the US

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The US Senate subcommittee’s October 3rd report “Federal Support for and Involvement in State and Local Fusion Centers” indicates that federal intelligence agencies collaborating with state and local fusion centers “have not produced useful intelligence to support federal counterterrorism efforts”. After revelations by the 9/11 Commission that intelligence agencies at different levels were not “connecting the dots by sharing terrorism clues they had in their possession”, the Department of Homeland Security devised a new system. Fusion Centers were created to allow for the proper transmission of relevant terrorist information between all levels of intelligence and law enforcement. In effect, intelligence gathered on terrorists would be shared at the local, state and federal level.

Between 2003 and 2007 77 fusion centers were said to have been created. The US Senate subcommittee found that DHS officials’ public claims about the fusion centers were not always accurate. Five of the fusion centers listed as federal funding recipients did not in fact exist. Since their inception fusion centers have received a total of $1.4 billion in funding, a figure deemed “wasteful” in the Senate report.

Since taking office the Obama administration supported by DHS secretary Janet Napolitano have continued funding fusion centers despite the lack of evidence that they have improved national security. Fusion centers have not once been involved in discovering a terrorist plot. What fusion centers have succeeded at is producing an overwhelming amount of “irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence reporting to DHS.” As one DHS official told investigators the fusion centers “produce a bunch of crap”. Like all excrement, the crap produced by fusion centers is a dangerous byproduct.

In addition to finding the fusion centers to be a financial drain and inept at producing intelligence to thwart terrorist operations the Senate subcommittee found that intelligence gathering practices at fusion centers were done without oversight, leading to gross violations of citizens’ rights. The Code of Federal Regulations states that federally-funded surveillance projects may gather and maintain information on people “only if there is reasonable suspicion that an individual is involved in criminal conduct or activity and that information is relevant to that conduct or activity.” The Federal Regulations also provides that intelligence officers may not collect information on individuals or groups religious, political or social views nor may they monitor individuals or groups associations or activities unless their is a reasonable suspicion that the “subject of the information is or may be involved in criminal conduct or activity.”

Assembling to protest war, demonstrate against inequality or convene to discuss grievances against the government have never constituted criminal activity, at least not legally or rather according to laws that the public can see. A suit brought against the Boston Police Department and the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) which serves as Massachusetts fusion center by the ACLU reveals that surveillance and intelligence officers have been gathering extensive information on peaceful protesters and political activists in the Boston area. Electronic records known as “intelligence reports” have been on file at BRIC since 2007. Despite department guidelines that require all intelligence that does not pertain to criminal activity to be destroyed in 90 days, BRIC maintained its files on non-criminals for as long as five years. Information on protesters and their activities is being collected by a consortium of local, state and federal officers. While no connection between the protest groups activities and criminal or terrorist conduct has been demonstrated intelligence amasses on dissenting individuals. According to the ACLU report Policing Dissent: “the BRIC files list the non-violent actions of peace groups and activists under the heading “Criminal Act”, with labels such as “Extremists”, “Civil Disturbance” and “Home-Sec Domestic” in reports that track groups and people not engaged in crime but merely exercising their constitutional right to peaceful dissent.”

The implications of such records existing are troublesome, especially considering the purpose that fusion centers were created for in the first place-to share intelligence across agencies at the local, state and federal levels. Not only is surveilling citizens unsuspected of crimes a flagrant violation of the Privacy Act and civil liberties, it puts innocent citizens at risk of becoming part of federal investigations. As I reported in a post earlier this week Leah Lynn Plante is being held in federal prison not because she committed a crime, but rather because she refused to provide information to a federal grand jury about the activities of the Northwest political activists. It is conceivable that any Boston activists ensnared in one of BRIC’s intelligence dossiers could later be subpoenaed before a federal court as a material witness. If investigators thought that person may be able to provide information about a suspected criminal or “domestic terrorist” there is nothing to stop them from pursuing their investigations.

The problem with fusion centers is not that they try to intercept terrorist plots but that in so doing they ensnare innocent citizens shopping at Home Depot (watch out when purchasing home use chemicals here, you may be a dot to connect in a home made explosives investigation), visiting the Statue of Liberty or attending an Occupy protest. Without vigilant oversight these centers are operating more and more as domestic surveillance entities with vast powers to track political dissidence. Peace activist Richard Colbath-Hess, who is represented by the ACLU in a lawsuit challenging the legality of intelligence gathering on him by BRIC said “people are scared. If the police are monitoring us, who wants to take the risk.” The possibility of winding up in some secret government intelligence database is daunting and enough to discourage many people from expressing their grievances about the powers that dominate today. The chilling aspect of arbitrary intelligence gathering has a way of quelling dissent. Hilary Davis of the Rhode Island ACLU noted the fine line fusion center straddle between counterterrorism agencies and local law enforcement, “Fusion Centers by their nature bridge a perceived gap between local law enforcement and national security/counterterrorism efforts, so the information obtained by Centers has been used a number of times to deal with issues which likely do not amount to terrorism.”

Despite the Senate subcommittee’s report that DHS funding for fusion centers wastes a “crap” load of money on a programs that have proven not only impressively inept at detecting terrorist activities but have in fact flooded operable counterterrorism agencies with erroneous information their funding continues unabated. It is hard to imagine why such a wasteful and ineffective program eludes the budget cutting axe especially during the spectacle of deficit reduction debates. I asked if Ms. Davis if local law enforcement agencies were benefitting from enhanced policing capabilities as a result of fusion center funding. She responded, “The opportunity certainly exists for local law enforcement to benefit, and if the Fusion Centers were hindering law enforcement in any way I do not believe they would be quiet about it.” But they have been quiet, too quiet as they gather intelligence on innocent citizens.

Policing dissent is prototypical police state behavior. When intelligence gathering centers designed to track terrorists begin tracking you “national security” suffers a lethal attack.

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Written by yourinquirerprofoundly

October 19, 2012 at 10:06 pm

“Terrorist” Activists

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“I never once considered co-operation and never would. It is against everything I believe in. On my right arm I have a tattoo reading ‘strive to survive causing least suffering possible.’ This is something I live by every single day and will continue to live by whether I am in a cage or not.” Leah Lynn-Plante was referring to the cage should would be locked in at the Federal Detention Center Sea Tac in Seattle.

On October 11th, Plante had been remanded to a federal prison for refusing to cooperate with a grand jury investigation. In grand jury investigations the accused Fifth Amendment right to remain silent is null. Plante had been subpoenaed to testify about political activists in the region, a group federal investigators have identified as “anarchists”. Salon reporter Natasha Lennard, wrote in July that the federal grand jury subpoenas were issued by the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force. The two agencies were investigating “violent crime” that occurred at Seattle’s May Day protests. Although it is believed that the investigations pertain to “property damage” related to May Day. The FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force conducted raids of activists homes and squats in Olympia, Seattle and Portland after receiving no-knock warrants. As Lennard reported, the searches targeted computers, black clothing, phones and “anarchist literature”.

Plante’s incarceration follows a disturbing trend of federal agencies jailing political activists. Jared Chase, Brent Betterly and Brian Jacob Church, three of thousands of activists who attended the Anti-NATO protests in Chicago on May 19th were arrested and are now facing charges relating to terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and possession of explosives.

“The individuals we charged are not peaceful protesters, they are domestic terrorists,” Attorney General Anita Alvarez said of the defendants. Officials of the Chicago Police Department began investigating the three “self-described anarchists” in early May. According to prosecutors the defendants had plans to construct a pipe bomb, possessed three Molotov cocktails and had plans to purchase assault rifles. Prosecutors say they found maps listing escape routes throughout the city for a planned attack on police stations. But the defendants lawyers are circumspect.

The National Lawyers Guild voiced their concerns that the arrest was a ploy to intimidate protesters, and send a chilling message to activists as if to say these are the consequences for demonstrating: arrest, grand jury testimony, federal prison. The lawyers guild considered the arrests a case of entrapment and stated that the plans were the work of an informant while the materials for the explosives were provided by an undercover agent.

In a statement to the Tribune, Occupy Chicago activist Natalie Wahlberg said, “The charges are utterly ridiculous. CPD [Chicago police department] doesn’t know the difference between home beer-making supplies and Molotov cocktails.” The defendants lawyer said the “bomb materials” were part of a brewing kit.

The climate of intimidation and fear resonates across the country. Law enforcement agencies have a vast repertoire of counterterrorism instruments at their disposal. Surveillance devices, datamining technologies and legal tools that have been critical for identifying foreign terrorists and uncovering their plots are now being routinely utilized against “domestic terrorists” like Plante, Chase, abetterly and Church.

As early as 2002 massive surveillance campaigns, were being conducted on American citizens involved in peaceful protests. An ACLU investigation revealed the extent to which the Denver Police cooperated with other local police departments, the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force to build 3,200 files on 209 protesters. Members of Amnesty International, Quaker Organizations and individual activists were horrified to discover that personal information including their names, addresses, telephone numbers, vehicle registrations in addition to descriptions of what they were doing at a series of protests had been added to the “spy files,” the name given to the files the police held on activists.Denver Mayor Wellington Web who sided with civil rights organizations in the aftermath stated he was unaware of his police department’s activities. This is an “overly broad interpretation of established policies for intelligence gathering and the reporting on organizations that do not pose a threat,” Weber stated at a press release.

Nearly a decade after the spy files scandal, eleven years after Bush declared war against terrorists and a year and half since Bin Laden was killed America continues to wage a war on terrorism. The dynamics of that war are different today. The enemy’s face is increasingly that of a U.S citizen. While drone strikes, special ops teams and foreign intelligence agencies are still hunting the phantom al-quedaDirector, another war is being waged from within national borders.

Robert S. Mueller III of the F.B.I., offers a profile of the war on terrorism’s internal targets. “Our highest domestic terrorism priorities” are catching and prosecuting “those who commit crime and terrorism in the name of animal rights or environmental issues.” The intelligence agencies have also expended countless resources to investigate what the FBI calls “black separatists” in a 2011 domestic terrorism training course.

Leah Lynn-Plante was incarcerated for her refusal to inform the federal grand jury about the activities of the Northwest activists, political activists who have been labeled by intelligence agencies black separatists. Daniel McGowan, the Earth Liberation Front activist sentenced to 7 years in federal prison on arson and conspiracy charges also highlights the FBI’s domestic priorities. Their incarcerations like the three activists jailed in Chicago demonstrates the kind of people intelligence agencies are targeting. Author and journalist Will Potter spoke about who the FBI’s practices in an interview with The Dissenter’s Kevin Gosztola : “the history of the FBI—Its existence has been about targeting. We see from the top levels of government the targeting of the environmental rights movement, targeting anarchists as terrorists, surveillance of the Occupy Wall Street movement.”

What “domestic terrorists” targeted by America’s intelligence agencies have in common is that they are political activists. They have rallied for social justice, shut down traffic, camped out in public and in extreme cases damaged property. Criminalizing political activists for challenging the structures of authority and power is a tactic commonly used in politically repressive states. From the domestic spying programs to the secret judicial procedures of the federal grand jury, political activists in America are discovering that they are not only dissenters but terrorists.

Written by yourinquirerprofoundly

October 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Chemistry of Concepts

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A tension exists between philosophy and science. I was at the cafe working on Discipline and Punish. An older man, bearded wearing khakis and a navy windbreaker approached me at the table where I was sitting. “Is that Foucault’s Pendulum you are reading”, he asked. I told him I was reading Michele Foucault, another French guy, the post-modernist philosopher. This didn’t resonate with the older man. Curious I asked him about the book he was referring to. He explained It was about the 19th century French physicist, Leon Foucault, who demonstrated in an experiment open to the public how the earth rotates. While physicists had long understood how the earth rotated Foucault’s experiment in 1851 was the first easy-to-see proof of Earth’s rotation. Are you a physicist your inquirer profoundly inquired? No a chemist.

The chemist took a seat at the table next to me. I asked him if he worked for Monsanto (jajaja). “I’m a teacher, at Rhode Island Community College”, he corrected me. We began discussing climate change, in particular the effect of flourocarbons in the atmosphere and how the concentration of carbon molecules has been steadily rising since the onset of the industrial revolution.

The chemist started questioning the validity of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s consensus. The IPCC found that global climate change is anthrogenically driven, although to what degree and at what rate the climate will change is highly disputed. Being the irreverent jackanapes
that I am I asked him if he also did research for the American Petroleum Institute. No, he responded. I still don’t believe him.

Our conversation wound down. The chemist told me he didn’t think a philosopher would “be interested in the hard sciences because scientific discoveries can’t be, ya know, bull shitted”. He asked me if I was a student, to which I responded: not officially.

The chemist wanted to know about Foucault, about Discipline and Punish. I summarized what Foucault was up to. This book is a critique of power. It pertains specifically to bodies of knowledge, like science, I told him. I continued, Foucault explores the relationship between human bodies and the sciences, illustrating how humans become subjects of science and science inscribes knowledge on their bodies. According to the DSM IV you exhibit all of the symptoms of having ADHD. I used this diagnostic example to show the inscription of knowledge on bodies at work. Some science says this person is a leper, a cancer patient, a psychopath, a social deviant. Science is used to facilitate the categorization of many phenomena, much of which has advanced mankind immeasurably. But science has also been used to categorize human beings for political purposes. One need look no further than the pseudo-sciece phrenology and it’s application to determine criminal tendencies in the late 19th and early 20th century. Criminology is another glaring example of a politically charged science. In sum, I told the chemist, Foucault and postmodernists in general attempt to unravel how scientist/subject relations, gender, cultural bias, prejudice and unspoken assumptions effect the scientific process.

It’s all malarkey. The soft sciences don’t stand up to physics, biology or chemistry. Such critiques are attempts to halt human progress, to tear discredit remarkable discoveries. Do you believe in God he asked me.

I chuckled and told him humans invent all sorts of masters to enslave them. We shook hands and he walked off.

My exchange with the chemist brought me back to something Nietzche talks about in Human All too Human. In aphorism 6 The Spirit of Science Rules It’s Parts, Not the Whole Nietzche talks about the unconscious drive of philosophy to ascribe the greatest significance to the world. To the philosopher chemistry or physics seems so insignificant when compared to “knowledge for life”. It’s not that the philosopher deems physics or chemistry unimportant. In fact both fields respectively are part of life’s panorama of perspectives. Explaining the phenomenon of boiling water in terms of phase changes, pressure and boiling point gives indelible insight into what is happening in the pot. But so too can a poetic description. The water is boiling because the steam is trying to escape life’s cauldron of boiling motherfuckery. Something longs for escape, refuge in the cool alpine heights. And the steam dissipates out of the cauldron rising towards the peaks. Whatever…

I guess what I’m trying to say here, where I’m channelling Nietzche is that science and all it has to offer is magnificent. We’ve come so far (well?) and please my friends keep going. But in the end all we are given is this “chemistry of concepts and sensations”; a religious, moral, scientific or aesthetic way in which we create knowledge for life. And cleaving to the immediate “certainties” of this or that science, no matter how luring it’s discoveries is foolish. The chemists’ dismissal of philosophy and denunciation of critiquing science all together highlights the antagonism between philosophy and science. “Philosophy wants as art to bestow on life the greatest profundity and significance whereas science seeks knowledge and nothing further”. And science attains knowledge until some mischief maker comes along and demonstrates how that field of knowledge is bunk. A new body of knowledge emerges. A new discourse begins. But todays truth is tommorrows lie and truth has a way of serving the good and just, who all too often become tommorrows liers.

Maybe I’m reading too much into my exchange with the chemist. Perhaps our exchange was merely a standoff between a gerontocrat and an impertinent inquirer. Either way no one will ever be proven right. We are men of such a limited period of time. There are no facts, no eternal truths. “Everything has become”.

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October 13, 2012 at 2:56 am

Hugo Chavez Still Defiant

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And the president is…Hugo Chavez!

The fierce leader of Venezuela has been derided as a “populist dictator”, “drug-trafficker” and “tyrant”. Coverage of Venezuela’s recent elections have cast Chavez in a similar light. Outgoing World Bank President Robert Zoellick taunted, “Chavez’s days are numbered”. Barclay’s was prematurely overcome with joy calling the elections for center-right candidate Henrique Capriles. According to the western media the economy of Venezuela has been teetering on the brink of collapse for over a decade. Sound-bite after sound-bite someone is railing that Chavez is an enemy of freedom, a supporter of rogue states and a reckless squanderer of oil wealth.

Despite the notion propagated by the West and onanistic corporate elites that they would finally see Chavez displaced in a “too close to call” election, the reality is Chavez won by a substantial margin, 11 percent and for obvious reasons.

Before we go any further lets debunk once and for all that Chavez rigged the election. Venezuela boasts the reputation for having one of the fairest electoral systems. Canadian based Foundation for Democratic Advancement ranked Venezuelan elections number 1 in fairness (http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/6336). The International Elections Report released by the Carter Center for Peace also found Venezuelan elections to be among the fairest in the world. Capriles himself conceded that the elections were “clean”. Although he lamented that Chavez’s state resources put him at an unfair advantage. Nevertheless there was no Palm Beach County “butterfly ballot controversy” going on here.

The Chavez story you don’t hear in the western press is that of a transformational leader who took a defiant stand against western imperial forces and turned the tides for a country that suffered immensely under the neoliberal policies dictated by the Washington Consensus.

Since Chavez first came to office in 1998 he has cut poverty in half in his country and deep poverty by over 70 percent. Nationalizing the oil industry was a boon that redistributed wealth to a perennial underclass. Revenue from oil sales were used to establish an expansive health care system that today provides millions with health care for the first time. Many patients are treated by world class Cuban doctors who have come to practice in Venezuela under an initiative Chavez spearheaded. College enrollment has more than doubled. Voters re-elected the President on Monday because they have experienced substantial improvements in their lives since he was chosen as leader 16 years ago.

This election invigorates the progressive wave rolling across the Latin world. Chavez, like the other leftist leaders in his hemisphere, have pulled their countries from economic stagnation, political instability and at times, war. No wonder why his popularity shined through at the polls. Chavez is among a group of Latin American presidents that have garnered overwhelming support for challenging neoliberal orthodoxy and implementing social programs that saved millions from poverty. NY Times reporter Mark Wesbrot published this list of popularly elected leaders:

“Rafael Correa, who was reelected president of Ecuador by a wide margin in 2009; the enormously popular Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, who was reelected in 2006 and then successfully campaigned for his former chief of staff, now President Dilma Rousseff, in 2010; Evo Morales, Bolvia’s first indigenous president, who was reelected in 2009; José Mujica, who succeeded his predecessor from the same political alliance in Uruguay — the Frente Amplio — in 2009; Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who succeeded her husband, the late Néstor Kirchner, winning the 2011 Argentine presidential election by a solid margin.”

Less than a decade ago the Bush administration sought to oust Chavez for good. In a secretly backed coup, America threw its weight behind businessman Pedro Carmona. Carmona was installed. But the coup was reversed within 48 hours restoring Chavez to power. Washington’s ambitions to prop up a leader running on deregulation, privatization and hacking social programs (the typical conditions of securing US financed loans) would never materialize. Chavez bounced back bedeviling the Bush administration. Salivating foreign investors and oil tycoons lost their shot at bonanza in the resource-rich country.

Venezuela is not without it’s problems. Rampant crime plagues neighborhoods. Many complain of a lack of law enforcement. Inflation roils the economy. Poor infrastructure is also a long term economic issue that the country will have to confront.

Yet Venezuela’s economy has been growing for two and half years uninterrupted. Oil exports bring in soaring revenues. “The country has a sizeable trade surplus. Its public debt is relatively low, and so is its debt-service burden. It has plenty of room to borrow foreign currency and can borrow domestically as well at low or negative real interest.” Compared to anemic growth in the US and the financial crisises threatening the Europe, Venezeula is in outstanding shape.

In addition to economic growth Venezuela’s political influence has spread throughout the region. A financing partnership has been forged with China, priming the country for steady investment. Washington continues to isolate Venezeula, thus isolating itself from a hemisphere weary of America’s interests.The Obama administration has shown no signs of considering Chavez as anything but anathema. The threat that Chavez represents to western hegemony is real.

Lula da Silva was asked what Chavez’s re-election would mean for the country: “A victory for Chávez is not just a victory for the people of Venezuela but also a victory for all the people of Latin America … this victory will strike another blow against imperialism.”

Don’t be surprised when you hear about the other Chavez, a Chavez with pointy horns as American global influence continues to wane.

Written by yourinquirerprofoundly

October 12, 2012 at 1:03 am

Posted in Politics

Tagged with ,

Tweeting Debates

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The twitter-sphere reflects public opinion in real time. Pundits, media analysts and pollsters have this remarkable resource available to tap into how the public is thinking and feeling. As we witnessed during the first round of debates between Obama and Romney tweet trackers can be used to illustrate where tweeters stand on an issue. For instance we could see what percentage of men and women were tweeting that they would vote Republican or Democrat. The metrics appeared at the bottom of the screen if you were viewing the debates with the live tweet feed analysis. Suppose we could democratize the electoral process by actually allowing the public to weigh in on how policy should be shaped. Let’s imagine that presidential debates are equipped to incorporate popular participation. For the sake of argument we’ll imagine a live twitter feedback loop allows the public to interact with the candidates, demonstrating exactly where the public stands on a particular candidate’s policy as the two of them debate.

As the debate unfolds twitter can be used to determine if the people agree with the positions of the candidates or not. Its simple and would require only a large number of people participating in live twitter polls. They would be able to weigh in on important questions raised during debate in real time. A tweet tracker would identify and analyze tweets responding to particular questions and then post the results of how the public feels. While the candidates would not be able to garnish their responses to the moderator and the public at the same time, they would be able to see how the voting public reacted to their positions afterwards.

Questions like “Would you support an American intervention in Iran if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon capability?” or “Do you agree that U.S. military should have the right to detain prisoners indefinitely, violating rights of due process if the National Intelligence Community deems them a threat to national security?” would appear on networks airing debates compelling viewers to participate by tweeting. Discord between the candidates and their prospective voters would be immediately transparent. Obama announced that his administration would re-approve Bush-era “enhanced interrogation techniques” despite tweeters responding unfavorably to a twitter question airing at the bottom of the devices from which they were viewing Obama debate Romney on national security. Participants responses would then be aired live demonstrating to millions of viewers across the country how in tune the candidates are with public opinion.

Incorporating such an instrument into live debates could demonstrate the degree to which the candidates distance themselves from the public. A feedback from the public about how their candidates are positioning themselves would democratize America’s electoral process under three conditions:

1. Policies are actually shaped by rigorous debate
2. The public is asked to weigh in on issues they’ve already deemed most important in pre-debate polls
3. The problem of adverse selection doesn’t exist in politics

Implementing a popular participation mechanism, like a live twitter feedback loop would have little effect on political decision making as long as we live in a “managed democracy” governed by the monied interests. Of course, the debates would go on as usual much as they will tonight between Biden and Ryan. Two candidates amusingly stating they disagree with each other would avoid important issues limiting the extent of the debate to superficial descriptions of what their administrations will do in office. Imagery and rhetoric will continue to supplant content and substance and a twitter feedback loop, if implemented would circulate yays and nays to questions of exaggerated importance.

Written by yourinquirerprofoundly

October 11, 2012 at 1:57 am

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , ,

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The twitter-sphere reflects public opinion. Instant response to political events whether they are they are unfolding at a presidential debate, in the streets at Occupy, in Tahir square, Benghazi wherever demonstrates the public hive evaluating the world in real time. If organized and filtered in the right way a serious analysis of public opinion could occur, an analysis I suspect that might empirically demonstrate the gulf between public opinion and state policy.

Gigaom

According to Twitter, the presidential debate in Colorado on Wednesday night generated a maelstrom of more than 10 million messages in less than two hours, making it the most tweeted-about event in U.S. political history, and one of the most tweeted-about events ever — close to the record set during the Super Bowl. Obviously Twitter is probably happy about that, and you could argue that those kinds of numbers show that large numbers of people were at least paying attention to the debate, for better or worse. But is the kind of instantaneous commentary and snap judgement that the social network specializes in a good fit with the political process, or does it just turn it into a sideshow?

In the past, any truly public analysis of the performance of the candidates had to wait until the event was over, when the usual political operatives and pundits like former…

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Written by yourinquirerprofoundly

October 10, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

The Few & The 47 Percent

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Romney’s callus admission “my job is not to worry about those people”, referring the 47 percent of government dependent victims who don’t pay income taxes echoes the tone of the Few at another series of private meetings held nearly 230 years ago.

During the Consitutional Convention 73 delegates selected by their state governments convened in Philadelphia. It was May 1787 when this well educated group of landholders, attorneys, plantation owners, merchants and securities speculators first gathered to draft the principles that would found a nation. That vision incarnated in the U.S. Constitution and garnished by lofty ideals was in actuality “constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.” James Madison reasoned before his fellow delegates that a popular government could become the vehicle for the landless masses to appropriate the property of the rich. This would lead to an agrarian revolution threatening the long term commercial and political interests of the nation.

Hoping to establish a government less susceptible to the “turbulent and changing” masses, the Few delegates steered the convention to adopt a system more formidable against populist forces. This political force, the Few contended, was comprised of people who “seldom judge or determine right.”Alexander Hamilton was among the Few who lobbied for the protection of the venal interests of the propertied classes. Rebuking Jefferson’s appeal to the people and his faith in their “good sense…and the honesty of their leaders”, Hamilton ripped the 18th century equivalent to Romeny’s 47 percent gaffe, “Your people sir, is a beast”. Yet a major difference exists between these two contemptuous remarks about the majority of America (yesterday’s farmers and today’s lower income earners), the existence of electronic recording devices and the instantaneous worldwide spread of news, even if it comes from behind closed doors.

Romney’s private fundraiser in Boca Raton last month draws light on the shadow cast across society by elitists. The utter disregard and contempt with which elitists like Romney and his well-heeled supporters regard the masses is glaring. “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives”, Romney continued before the Few referring to Hamilton’s distrustful and Madison’s slothful people.
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At the secret meeting in Boca Raton there was no room for the Many. No Jeffersons were present. In fact the Many are excluded from such meetings by design. Admittance is too costly for this beastly social body. If you can’t afford your plate your shoulders aren’t worthy of being brushed to begin with. Yet attendance at such events, the breakfasts, luncheons and dinners where the money-access-power meetings unfold is where your voice is heard and your will is absorbed into the political agenda of the ruling elites. Whether you were vying for laws that would enhance the security of your property or protect your rights to own those tending your fields; whether you are pushing for approval of constructing a pipeline or having policies written to guarentee your tax break, a closed meeting cordoned off from the Many is required to elect representatives who run counter to the public interest. Insulating decision making in this fashion allows people like Romney to be considered for office let alone get elected by the 5 to 10 percent of the population that is “thoughtful” enough to vote against “the other, the mass of the people”. Capturing all the brazen statements and spiteful remarks in the world won’t change this. But recognizing that good sense and honest leadership may seems a starting point for a conversation open to the public.

Written by yourinquirerprofoundly

October 9, 2012 at 9:15 pm