Political Articles from 2018

Cloak and Data: The Real Story Behind Cambridge Analytica’s Rise and Fall

[Media]
Cloak and Data: The Real Story Behind Cambridge Analytica’s Rise and Fall
by Andy Kroll
Posteed May 7, 2018

The secretive data firm said it could move the minds of American voters. That wasn’t its real victory.

Cambridge Analytica manipulation The blowback from the Cambridge Analytica scandals also hit Facebook, which faced a torrent of criticism for its lax handling of users’ data. The company’s stock price tumbled by 7 percent, losing more than $50 billion in value, and the Federal Trade Commission reportedly launched an investigation into its data practices. The hashtag #DeleteFacebook trended on Twitter. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg finally broke his silence, issuing a statement admitting to a “breach of trust” between Facebook and its users.

Yet, critics wondered, just how many times had their trust been breached? Cambridge Analytica was hardly alone in hoovering up user data. And how exactly were Cambridge Analytica’s psychographic techniques different from Facebook’s core business model—tapping into the vast amounts of data it collects on its users to guide hypertargeted advertising, be it for shoe companies or political campaigns or dubious fake news sites. More…

How the Military Controls America

[Politics]
How the Military Controls America
By Eric Zuesse
Posted May 5, 2018

military controls AmericaBecause America (unlike Russia) privatized the weapons-industry (and even privatizes to mercenaries some of its battlefield killing and dying), there are, in America, profits for investors to make in invasions and in military occupations of foreign countries; and the billionaires who control these corporations can and do — and, for their financial purposes, they must — buy Congress and the President, so as to keep those profits flowing to themselves.

That’s the nature of the war-business, since its markets are governments — but not those governments that the aristocracy want to overthrow and replace. The foreign governments that are to be overthrown are not markets, but are instead targets. The bloodshed and misery go to those unfortunate lands. But if you control these corporations, then you need these invasions and occupations, and you certainly aren’t concerned about any of the victims, who (unlike those profits) are irrelevant to your business. In fact, to the exact contrary: killing people and destroying buildings etc., are what you sell — that’s what you (as a billionaire with a controlling interest in one of the 100 top contractors to the US Government) are selling to your own government. More…

Unmitigated Failure: Operation Iraqi Freedom, 15 Years Later

[Politics]
Unmitigated Failure: Operation Iraqi Freedom, 15 Years Later
by Major Danny Sjursen
Posted April 30, 2018

Iraq war utter failureThe story has been told so many times, that the tragedy doesn’t warrant a full recounting. Here’s the short version: poor intelligence and dubious evidence was used by gang of neocon ideologues to sell Americans on the need for regime change in Iraq (a country that had not been involved in the 9/11 attacks). Frightened, naïve, and ill-informed, the American people – and esteemed outlets like the New York Times – went along for the ride. We were told it’d be easy (a “cakewalk”) and self-financing. It was neither.

A civil war broke out. Tens of thousands of civilians and thousands of US troopers died. By the time I arrived, in October 2006, the place was aflame. Fear not, we were told: Bush and his new, brainy general – some Petraeus guy – would “surge” troops and win the day after all. Violence did – briefly – decline; the Iraqi government, however, failed to garner legitimacy. Still, we were told we’d won. More…

The Palestine Exception to Free Speech

[Justice]
The Palestine Exception to Free Speech
by Center for Constitutional Rights
Posted April 29, 2018

anti Israeli speech under attackOver the last decade, a dynamic movement in support of Palestinian human rights, particularly active in US colleges and universities, has helped raise public awareness regarding the Israeli government’s violations of international law, as well as the role of corporations and the US government in facilitating these abuses. This activism, fueled by Israel’s increasingly destructive assaults on Gaza, presents a robust and sustainable challenge to the longstanding orthodoxy in the United States that excuses, justifies, and otherwise supports discriminatory Israeli government policies.

Fearful of a shift in domestic public opinion, Israel’s fiercest defenders in the United States — a network of advocacy organizations, public relations firms, and think tanks—have intensified their efforts to stifle criticism of Israeli government policies. Rather than engage such criticism on its merits, these groups leverage their significant resources and lobbying power to pressure universities, government actors, and other institutions to censor or punish advocacy in support of Palestinian rights. More…

Top 2 to Top 5? New Ranked Choice Voting Option on the Table

[Political]
Top 2 to Top 5? New Ranked Choice Voting Option on the Table
by John E. Palmer
Posted April 28, 2018

ranked choice voting breaks the duopolyOur plurality-winner-takes-all system works such that the most votes wins even if it’s less than 50%. This dooms the independents and minor parties to be spoilers. Experts tell us that gives us two viable parties — no expert required to tell us that is precisely what America has.

Ranked choice voting (RCV) is another voting method that moves away from plurality winners. Voters rank their choices, top choice, second choice, etc. — ideally of all candidates on the ballot. If no candidate gets a majority of first-choice votes, the ranked ballots then allow the field of candidates to be winnowed methodically through a series of instant runoffs.

In successive rounds, the lowest vote getter is eliminated, and his or her votes are transferred to the next remaining candidate ranked by the voter. A majority winner ultimately emerges, arguably with the broadest support. More…

Six Things We Can Learn About US Plutocracy By Looking At Jeff Bezos

[Social]
Six Things We Can Learn About US Plutocracy By Looking At Jeff Bezos
By Caitlin Johnstone
Posted April 26, 2018

Jeff Bezoz, symptom of a sociopathic systemPlutocrats necessarily rule such an oligarchic system as surely as kings rule a kingdom. But if everyone is king, then no one is king. If your entire empire is built on a system where money equals power, then you are necessarily incentivized to keep money out of the hands of the public while amassing as much as possible for yourself.

Power is relative and money is power, so the poorer you are, the more powerful the plutocrats become.

In a system where money rewards sociopathy and money equals power, that means we necessarily wind up in a system that is ruled by sociopaths. Those plutocrats form alliances with each other and with defense and intelligence agencies to ensure the continuation and expansion of their empires, and that alliance is currently king of America. More…

The 4 Biggest Banks Have Already Made $2.3 Billion Off Trump’s Tax Law

[Economic]
The 4 Biggest Banks Have Already Made $2.3 Billion Off Trump’s Tax Law
by Eric Levitz
Posted April 25, 2018

Trump tax bill is a windfall for big banksIn Donald Trump’s final campaign ad, the GOP nominee informed America that “those who control the levers of power in Washington” do not “have your good in mind,” as a sign reading Wall St. flickered across the screen. Moments later, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs appeared, cast as an embodiment of the global elite that has “robbed our working class.”

In the first quarter of 2018, President Trump’s signature legislative achievement made America’s four biggest banks $2.3 billion richer, according to a new analysis from The Wall Street Journal.

Last fall, Trump made an “explicit commitment that tax reform will protect low-income and middle-income households, not the wealthy and well-connected. They can call me all they want; I’m doing the right thing.” In February, House Speaker Paul Ryan boasted that his party’s tax law had given a “secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, PA” an extra “$1.50 a week” — a windfall that would “more than cover her Costco membership for the year.” More…

The Rise of the New McCarthyism

[Social]
The Rise of the New McCarthyism
by Robert Parry
Posted April 25,2018

we have enetered a new of McCarthyismMake no mistake about it: the United States has entered an era of a New McCarthyism that blames nearly every political problem on Russia and has begun targeting American citizens who don’t go along with this New Cold War propaganda.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wisconsin, who led the “Red Scare” hearings of the 1950s.

A difference, however, from the McCarthyism of the 1950s is that this New McCarthyism has enlisted Democrats, liberals and even progressives in the cause because of their disgust with President Trump; the 1950s version was driven by Republicans and the Right with much of the Left on the receiving end, maligned by the likes of Sen. Joe McCarthy as “un-American” and as Communism’s “fellow travelers.”

The real winners in this New McCarthyism appear to be the neoconservatives who have leveraged the Democratic/liberal hatred of Trump to draw much of the Left into the political hysteria that sees the controversy over alleged Russian political “meddling” as an opportunity to “get Trump.” More…

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