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    • How to Stop Russian Election Interference
      Let us take as a given that Russia interfered in the last US election (though many of the accusations are unconvincing, some appear to be be true). I’m pushing this back to the top, for what I assume are obvious reasons. Originally published Feb 1, 2018. Why did they interfere? They most likely did so […]
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Podcast alert: Defending the Internet

Fire up your iPod!

As you may know, I am a podcast junky.

(“I can stop any time I want to.”

Then Stop

“I don’t want to.”)

For the past several months, the monkeys on my back have been This Week in Tech (TWIT) and This Week in Google (TWIG).  The latest episode of TWIG focuses on the battle between the free internet peoples, er, that would be *us*, and the forces of corporatism (neo-feudalism) that are threatening our freedom of speech around the world.  Jeff Jarvis reports on his latest trip to Germany, where privacy laws are strict in the extreme, but is probably an understandable psychological response to the history of fascism during WWII, followed by Soviet repression and the Stasi in East Germany.  From there, the panel discusses the opposite extreme in China where no internet company operating there is allowed privacy outside of the dictates of the Communist government.  Jarvis makes a persuasive case that Google, by pulling out of China in order to protect the anonymity of its users, is standing alone in the world right now and making a political statement similar to the ones we used to make over Apartheid in South Africa.

Whatever your opinion of Google or whether you agree with Jeff Jarvis’ assessment, this is a situation that should be getting a lot more attention than it has recently.  Recall that not too long ago, Hillary Clinton (Oh, no, not HER again), made a strong defense of freedom of speech, freedom of Internet speech in particular.  TWIG host Leo Laporte suggests that we should be discussing the issue with more urgency.  I agree with him.  Without sufficient attention, Google stands alone against a country that as Jarvis points out, has more internet users than we have people in the United States.  It’s a huge and lucrative market that Google is pulling out of and they aren’t getting enough coverage for taking such a bold and courageous move.   There’s a principle involved here and we at The Confluence like bold, principled moves.

But there’s more.  Britain is about to ram a bill through Parliament that will allow copyright holders to disconnect violators from the internet.  Yep, violate a copyright, lose your right to surf.  Quick and painless, for them.  For you?  Ehhh, not so much.  The bill is poorly written and not getting the thorough overview it needs.  It sounds like a shortcut to booting people you don’t like off of their ISP.  Sort of a shoot-now-ask-questions-later thing. It’s being rushed through the legislative process without enough overview, just before an election cycle when people are distracted.  Jeez, that sounds so familiar…  So to kick off the conversation on Internet Freedom here, I am linking to TWIG’s latest podcast on the subject: Self-aggrandizing Jerks.

One other note:  I love Gina Trapani.  Her commentary and tips are really excellent.  But she has been working with the Obama Administration on a White House Twitter project to collect user feedback and opinions on different issues.  Gina, I wouldn’t trust Obama’s White House with a 10 foot poll.  For all I know, they will use the information to shape their next round of propaganda.  She is way too optimistic about this White House.  Maybe it’s because she’s young but she just doesn’t seem to have developed the right level of wariness.  Or I’m reading too much into this project or something.  I dunno.  Proceed with caution with the White House talk thingie.

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Common Sense and the sensus communis: anatomy of an American pressure cooker

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Gay-Lussac

The pressure of a fixed mass and fixed volume of a gas is directly proportional to the gas’s temperature.

This relationship is known as the Gay-Lussac’s Law and a pressure cooker is an example of the law in practice. Cooking under pressure creates the possibility of cooking with high temperature liquids because the boiling point of a liquid increases as its pressure increases. High pressure and high heat can result in delectable dishes.

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Cooking under pressure can be also dangerous because as liquids change phase into gases their volume expands greatly. For example, at atmospheric pressure the volume of steam is about 1700 times greater than the volume of water. To prevent pressure cookers from becoming bombs, relief devices (pop safety valves) are employed that are capable of relieving all of the steam the vessel is capable of producing.

America the Beautiful Pressure Cooker

The political pressure cooker is beginning to heat up. The power brokers and institutions that drive the nation have arrived unannounced on the doorsteps of America like a gaggle of unwanted, high maintenance relatives that demand hospitality for an unforeseeable time and that won’t take no for answer. Furthermore, they’ve announced that more relatives are on the way. Whatever plans America’s householders had, they’ve just gone out the window, with their household budgie and the relatives’ cat in hot pursuit.

People are justifiably angry with this incursion. Their budgie might not have been much, but it was “their budgie”, nurtured from birth into what it had become. Justifiably angry householders are trying to work out why the relatives arrived on their doorsteps and why they brought their fucking cat. Continue reading

Left Behind

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“Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man,

in whom there is no help” – Psalm 146:3

Two pieces of news this week – Bill Clinton meets with some bloggers and tells them to apply pressure to Congress and the Obama administration from the left and the Washington Post fires liberal columnist Dan Froomkin who was pressuring Congress and the Obama administration from the left.

Last week the LGBT community got a lump of coal in their stocking and this week it was healthcare reform advocates’ turn in the barrel.  Since he became the “presumptive nominee” Obama has broken so many promises that Arthur Silber advises:

Don’t try to keep a list of all of Obama’s broken “promises.” Instead, keep a list of the promises you think he made that he’s kept. In this manner, your work will be brief and undemanding.

So what are the nutroots focused on?  Getting religion.

From PZ Meyers:

Netroots Nation, the big lefty political/blogging meeting, is organizing sessions for their conference in August. Unfortunately, they seem have given up on the idea of a secular nation, because this one session on A New Progressive Vision for Church and State has a bizarre description.

The old liberal vision of a total separation of religion from politics has been discredited. Despite growing secularization, a secular progressive majority is still impossible, and a new two-part approach is needed–one that first admits that there is no political wall of separation. Voters must be allowed, without criticism, to propose policies based on religious belief. (emphasis added)

I wonder if Carrie Prejean will be on the panel for that discussion.

Times are tough in the Kool-aid Kingdom.  It’s like the epitaph on the hypochondriac’s tombstone says:

“I expected this, but not so soon.

What I didn’t expect was that we would be left behind in Left Blogistan.  Richard Nixon described the secret to getting elected President as a Republican as “run to the right as far and as quickly as possible in the primaries, then run back to the center as quickly as possible in the general election.”

Obama’s theory appears to be “run to the left in the primaries and then run to the center in the general election and keep on heading right after you’re elected.”  Obama hasn’t just broken campaign promises, he has betrayed some of his earliest and most loyal supporters.  Well, maybe not his earliest supporters and certainly not his biggest donors.  His moneybags backers should be really happy since they got exactly what they paid for – a conservative wolf in a liberal sheep’s clothing empty suit.

Despite the fact that Obama quickly morphed into Bush III, the Republicans kept calling him a socialist and threatened to obstruct pretty much everything he proposed.  This caused the sippy-kup kidz to rush to Obama’s defense, heedless of the fact that they crossed the border separating moonbat from wingnut, dragging the Overton window with them.

Those of us that never jumped on the Obama bandwagon Kool-aid kart are sitting here all alone in Liberal territory watching “progressive Democrats” defend the same policies for which they wanted to impeach Bush II, such as torture, indefinite detention and domestic spying.

Now, five months into Obama’s administration (and over a year since we warned them) some progressives are starting to wake up and smell the arugula.  But are they apologetic and contrite, humbly admitting that we were right all along?  Hell no!  They have nothing but contempt for our “paranoid band of shrieking holdouts” and act shocked and surprised as they wail that “nobody could have foreseen” what is happening.  They still think we are traitors for not supporting the man who betrayed them.  Go figure.

For years I used to get so frustrated by the way Democrats capitulated to the GOP when it really counted.  It was after the 2006 electoral tsunami that the truth begin to penetrate my think skull.  Even though they had just finished kicking ass and taking names in November, the first thing Nancy Botoxi did in January 2007 was take impeachment “off the table.”

The 2006 exit polling showed that the voters wanted to end the war in Iraq.  So what did the Democrats do?  They voted to fund it with nary a whimper.  All the GOP had to do in the Senate was threaten to filibuster and Dirty Harry Reid would fold like a cheap suit.  “We need bigger majorities and the White House too!” was their excuse.  Then Harry and Nancy (and Barack) led the stampede to pass the FISA revision with retroactive immunity in it.

Finally I realized the truth.  With the Democratic Party, failure is a feature not a bug.  They don’t want to win.  That’s why they hate Bill Clinton so much – he screwed up and won.  Twice. The Democratic victories in 2006 had more to do with the failure of the Republicans and the efforts of non-Villagers than it had to do with the DLC or DNC.

Now the Democrats have huge majorities in Congress and the White House but we’re still supposed to take an old cold tater and wait.  Meanwhile they want mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money.

The lesson here is : You can’t trust any politician.

Not any of them, not even Hillary or the Big Dawg.  Put your trust in principles and ideology and advocate for the policies that reflect them.  Support only those candidates that will commit to what you believe in.  Demand promises from them before giving them your vote and then accept no excuses once they are in office.

Never cut politicians or political parties any slack.  Keep up the pressure – even if they did good in the past, keep asking them “What have you done for me lately?”

___________________________________________________


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Monday: Getting the goods on Harman

Remember when Pelosi took up the Speaker’s gavel and we all breathed a collective sigh of relief because finally *something* was going to get done in Congress to curb the Bushies worst instincts?  We waited and waited while congresscritter after congresscritter did absolutely nothing but cave to the Republicans demands for, well, just about everything.  And we all started scratching our heads and got all tin-foily thinking that Karl Rove must be surveilling our reps and senators and had evidence of dead girls and live boys?

hahahahah!  That would be CRAZY!  We were just letting our paranoia get the better of us.

Well, you’d better sit down for this one.  It turns out that the Bushies *were* doing high tech surveillance on Congress members and one who got caught was Jane Harman.  Here’s the basic story:  Jane wanted to lead the House Intelligence Committee.  She had the seniority.  But she needed support so she made a deal with AIPAC.  She would try to do something about charges of spying against Israeli agents if AIPAC would lobby Pelosi for the job of head of the committee.  As part of a “routine” wiretap investigation on the spying allegation, the Justice department had Jane’s phone conversations tapped (how conveeeeenient) and learned about the deal.  Now, apparently, this quid pro quo arrangement that Jane was trying to swing crossed the line legally (I’ll say) and she could have faced some serious charges of a “completed crime”, meaning she made the deal and there is evidence she tried to fulfill her part of it.    But the Bushies protected Harman because…

(wait for it)

… they needed her support for warantless wiretapping.

What’s that about karma?

Then-CIA Director Porter J. Goss reviewed the Harman transcript and signed off on the Justice Department’s FISA application. He also decided that, under a protocol involving the separation of powers, it was time to notify then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Minority Leader Pelosi, of the FBI’s impending national security investigation of a member of Congress — to wit, Harman.

Goss, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, deemed the matter particularly urgent because of Harman’s rank as the panel’s top Democrat.

But that’s when, according to knowledgeable officials, Attorney General Gonzales intervened.

According to two officials privy to the events, Gonzales said he “needed Jane” to help support the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the New York Times.

Harman, he told Goss, had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story before, on the eve of the 2004 elections. And although it was too late to stop the Times from publishing now, she could be counted on again to help defend the program

He was right.

On Dec. 21, 2005, in the midst of a firestorm of criticism about the wiretaps, Harman issued a statement defending the operation and slamming the Times, saying, “I believe it essential to U.S. national security, and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities.”

Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.  Amazing.  There have to be dozens of stories like this that explain weird voting records.  The Bushies were very, very busy.  Of course, Harman should have known her phone would be tapped so maybe she wasn’t cut out for a leadership appointment anyway.

(BTW, as I was searching for an image on wiretapping, I found this interesting post about Skype.  Apparently, it’s harder to crack the encryption on Skype.  Good to know.)

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the Bushies were busily waterboarding.  They did it 266 times.  On 2 people.  Now, that’s dedication to the job.  You’d think after the first 3 dozen times of getting faulty information they might have moved on to something a little more effective.  You’d be wrong.  But Obama is willing to let this all be so much water under the bridge. It’s all in the past.  Let us not quibble over a little drowning.  It would require a fight and potential loss of political capital, which he will need when he goes to Capitol Hill to fight the members of his party who are in the majority for the things he wants.

Changeity! Change! Hope! Change!


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