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Fri May 06, 2011 at 05:07 PM PDT

Invasion of the Neocons

by Happy Rockefeller

It's incredible some of the arguments I'm seeing here. They remind precisely of the right wing, warmongering propaganda preceding the Iraq war. Complete with sanctimonious condemnation of anyone who holds a dissenting view and a big dose of Rah Rah jingoism thrown in.

It's as though we've been invaded by the Fratboy Brigade. A bunch of real cowboys playing the self righteous / permanent victim card mixed with that mindless, testosterone induced mob phenomenon seen after some sporting events. It's a mix only a neoliberal could concoct.

"How dare you question my perverse, serial killer like bloodlust and right for vengeance ."

"How dare you challenge my right to use Dick Cheney's own talking points about why human rights don't apply for someone is so super duper scary as Osama bin Laden."

"How dare you question my stupidity as I hang my dick out and shoot my pistol in the air shouting USA USA USA as I celebrate the deliberate death of arguably the most valuable intelligence asset on the planet in terms of counter-terrorism."

That's right. Even if you can't pluck from your soul the decency to comprehend why some of us think murdering anyone, al Qaeda, Nazis, Charlie Manson, no matter how evil, is wrong, then perhaps you can muster the cognition of recognizing that in your War on Terra, you are celebrating the loss of probably the most important sourse of useful intelligence there is.

Morans. I don't know who these people are. There are only 50-100 of them as far as I can tell. But they are in every single diary, flaming away, trying every low tactic to bully people into submission. Which would be funny except it seems to be working.

I simply find it impossible to believe that there aren't at least a majority of people here who actually agree with Michael Moore that targeted assassinations without a right to trial is beneath us and un-American.

Who are these right wing thugs running around claiming we're soft on terror and OBL didn't deserve a trial. That's fascism. And where the fuck are all the fighting liberals on this board who would stand up to that shit?

"I would have cut his throat" someone bravely typed from behind his anonymous firewall connection. What a joke. He would have most likely wet himself.

Of course what this is all really about is this is supposed to be Barack Obama's coup. An event so definitive, so ground breakingly spectacular that all us doubters of his supreme magnificence should just fall in line.

This is why the roving mob, HR-ing and yelling "fuck you" to anyone who isn't 100% in line with GI Obama Action Figure's new preeminence is almost exactly the same people who appear to live on Daily Kos for the sole purpose of vitriolically attacking anyone who is dissatisfied with the president.

I wonder will the evil nemesis Osama bin Laden Action Figure come with the dialysis machine, or will that be sold separately.

Discuss

"The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused is the undoubted law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law." The Supreme Court; Coffin v. United States, 156 U.S. 432 (1895)

Regardless what you believe about Osama bin Laden's guilt or innocence regarding the attacks of September 11, 2001, under U.S. law, he was innocent.

The presumption of innocence is a fundamental right, recognized internationally by individual states and in international treaties. The Court did not overstate its significance as axiomatic and elemental to the administration of criminal law.

Dick Cheney and others have argued that the threat of terrorism is so grave as to demand the abrogation of such rights in service to its prevention. Are they right?

Continue Reading

I'm sorry I just can't join in on the blood lust I'm seeing displayed here and elsewhere over the killing of Osama bin Laden. One guy, a 911 "family member"/Bush supporter I saw streaming on ABC News, when asked how the news made him feel, described a tingling feeling all over his body. I find that disturbing.

It's not that I'm a pacifist. I own a gun and I would shoot someone who threatened my family. But I wouldn't feel joy from it. I guess my spiritual beliefs just prevent me from ever enjoying the deliberate taking of human life.

I also saw a crowd gathered in front of the white house rah rahing like we had just had all of our fraudulent mortgages paid off. It all seemed staged to me. They all looked like young interns. Reminded me of the Brooks Brother's Riot.

I can't judge anyone though. Osama bin Laden was a psycho who killed a lot of people who were just trying earn a paycheck one morning. So I am sympathetic with the sentiments. Celebrate by all means. But keep in mind who else is celebrating. Here's a short list:

*Wall Street. Anything that keeps them and their continuous pillaging of the Commonwealth off the TV is good news for them. They hoped a good war like Libya was going to do it but the whole foreign war thing is getting really old.

*The Military Intelligence Industrial Complex. This little stunt just gave them the green light to raise the threat levels to HIGH!!! again. God it's been so long since we had that hasn't it. How they've longed for the days when the Congressional checkbook had the Twin Towers printed on it. They needed a big PR show and they've got it now. Expect to see a lot of Neocon retreads make the cable circuit for the next month or so. Terrorism is back baby. It's gonna be a big summer for those General Atomics' stocks (even though no drones were apparently used in the operation, it hasn't stopped a few "analysts" on TV tonight plugging their success).

*Radical Jihadists. Those Jihadists love their martyrs. And we've just delivered them a big one all wrapped in an unmistakably red, white and blue ribbon. As far as I could tell, OBL had become an increasingly irrelevant artifact of the Bush era, hiding out in bunkers, occasionally releasing video tapes, and very much off the minds of the Middle Easterners. I've spent the last three months practically studying the uprisings across the Muslim world and I didn't see OBL or al Qaeda anywhere among those movements.

The only people who think anything good will come of this are fools. It will not, as one guy on C-SPAN said tonight, bring "foreclosure" to the victims of 911. It will not bring peace. And it will not "strike fear into the hearts of our enemies" as one asshole idiot opined.

In fact, you wanna know who very much is not celebrating the killing of Osama bin Laden? Hypthetical Gandhi.

Hypothetical Gandhi is the person I look to whenever I'm struck with the question, "What would Gandhi do?" More often than not, this is a difficult question to answer and Hypothetical Gandhi only speaks to me in soft, sometimes unintelligible whispers.

But on this one, it's a slam dunk. "Killing only begets killing."

Discuss
"The President as a candidate was never a lefty. He actually ran to the right of Hillary Clinton."

This was a comment I read today. It's an argument I've seen made many times before. And it's patently false.

The president not only ran as a lefty, but he ran as an exceptional lefty. He was the first Democratic candidate to truly define the core principles of both the traditional Democratic party and liberalism/progressivism in general since John Kennedy.

Read this excerpt from Obama's keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention closely. It's one of the most inspiring things an American politician has said in my lifetime. It still gives me goosebumps and makes me choke up to read it. Seriously.

And he knows that it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper -- for alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga,  a belief that we’re all connected as one people. If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there is a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription drugs, and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

It is that fundamental belief -- It is that fundamental belief: I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams and yet still come together as one American family.

E pluribus unum: "Out of many, one."

He repeated this theme throughout his campaign. Now, what do you think he was saying here? This isn't just the expression of sentiment towards old people and poor children. This is the essential refutation of conservatism, in all its Randian glory. This is an affirmation of what it actually means to be a liberal, FDR Democrat.

'We are all in this together.'

I can assure you, while this may sound like pleasant rhetoric to progressives, to the neoliberal establishment, these are fighting words.

The Right has spent 60 years trying to destroy the idea that government can be used as a force for good, a force for economic justice, equality, and common welfare. And for them, to have a politician, a member of the US Senate, get on national television advocating the use of government as an instrument with which to pursue such public good, such common purpose was bound to be interpreted as a frontal attack. No wonder they think he's a secret socialist.

What was it he told Joe the Plumber? We have to "spread the wealth around a little bit"?

Commiespeak. But hey, talk is cheap right? Politicians say things to get elected right? But Obama didn't just talk. He actually had a specific plan to socialize medicine. It was called the public option. And had it gone into effect, it would have been a pretty dramatic, institutionalized expression of that 'we're all in this together' idea Obama was pushing throughout his campaign.

It's true. Obama ran as a Unity 08 ticket all built in to one. (Remember Unity 08? The push for a bi-partisan ticket with the Law and Order guy on TV?)

But don't tell me he didn't run as a liberal/progressive. As George Lakoff noted in "The Obama Code", he ran as a True Progressive:

Obama has consistently maintained that what I, in my writings, have called "progressive" values are fundamental American values. From his perspective, he is not a progressive; he is just an American. That is a crucial intellectual move.

Those empathy-based [my brother's keeper] moral values are the opposite of the conservative focus on individual responsibility without social responsibility.

...

Empathy-based values are opposed to the pure self-interest of a laissez-faire "free market," which assumes that greed is good and that seeking self-interest will magically maximize everyone's interests.

...

How are such values expressed? Take a look at the inaugural speech. Empathy: "the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job, the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child..." Responsibility to ourselves and others: "We have duties to ourselves, the nation, and the world." The ethic of excellence: "there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of character, than giving our all to a difficult task." They define our democracy: "This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed."

Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. Not since Kennedy.

I will not address the degree to which Obama has or has not fulfilled the promise of this message. But I will point out here that since the president took office, he has not to my knowledge uttered once the sentiment expressed in the cited passage of his 2004 inauguration speech, and repeated throughout the 2008 campaign, until two weeks ago during his post re-election campaign kickoff speech on the budget where he said this:

But there has always been another thread running throughout our history – a belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.  We believe, in the words of our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves.

That Obama would suddenly resurrect this theme only days after the launch of his re-election campaign  was seen as a positive sign by many, including some who have been highly critical of the president in the past. I believe, in the context of his presidency, it should be taken with a great degree of skepticism.

But putting that aside for now, I think it's important to remember that Obama ran a very complex, calculated campaign that had many "code" phrases, to use Lakoff's term, that appealed to many positions along the ideological spectrum. He also said he was a big "free market guy" at one point, for example.

But all through it, even as he tacked right after the primary, and even after he selected truly Randian (in the Alan Greenspan tradition) disciples to run his economic team, I held on to those words he uttered that night in 2004, when he would deliver the only inspiring speech of the entire Kerry campaign. That is, until I didn't.

Discuss

Wed Mar 30, 2011 at 08:45 PM PDT

Barack Obama

by Happy Rockefeller

I am losing my patience with my fellow "true progressives" ( a label I am more than proud to wear) who just can't seem to get it through their heads that Obama's campaign was a performance, he was never remotely progressive, and has been playing for the other team the whole time. By team I don't mean the Republicans. I mean the Plutocrats both parties play for.

Day after day I see people trying to reconcile the Obama they came to love on the campaign trail, and the Obama we see now, repeatedly defying belief with his willingness to out-ronald-reagan Ronald Reagan. And I am constantly bewildered by the creativity of the concoctions used to try and dispose of these internal inconsistencies.

So strip away the speeches and the campaign image and what is left? Zero evidence that Obama is really a progressive (as he claimed to be twice, once to the NY Times) who is in a compromised situation or is somehow secretly working in the shadows to advance a progressive agenda.

No 11D chess. No brilliant strategy to defeat the forces of darkness by stealth. No other bullshit fantasy dreamt up by shills, propagandists, and believers to make people accept his utterly and incontrovertibly right wing agenda.

This should have been obvious in January 2009, when Obama suddenly shifted so far and so fast to the right I thought the Earth might move off its axis.

Go back and reread some of the exposes from 06-08 that people did on Obama. Watch the Frontline piece where they visited his tenure at the Harvard Law Review and how, to many of his colleague's dismay, as soon as Obama became editor, he took up with the wingnuts instead of his "fellow liberals" there.

The guy was a Randian neoliberal from the start. His campaign was a fraud. As soon as the election was over, he proceeded to assemble a veritable mafia of banksters and cronies or, left in place Bush's banksters and cronies.

His campaign wasn't just a fraud, it was a brilliant fraud, which is why his campaign team won a best marketing campaign of the year award.

His loyalist defenders will revise that he never ran as a progressive Democrat in the first place. This is a lie. He not only ran as a progressive Democrat, he ran as a great progressive Democrat, striking at the core of what it actually means to be a Democrat: "I am my brother's keeper".

He won my vote with these magic words:

If there is a child on the south side of Chicago who can't read, that matters to me, even if it's not my child. If there's a senior citizen somewhere who can't pay for their prescription drugs, and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it's not my grandparent. If there's an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

Obama repeated this theme throughout his campaign. And then upon taking office, completely abandoned it as though he never said it.

Obama is one of the most cynical, conniving politicians I have ever witnessed. He is a Trojan horse. Selected and installed by Wall Street to continue what Reagan, Clinton  and both Bushs started - the complete dismantling of the FDR welfare state - replaced by a corporatist one.

If you had been told in 2008 that we would be fighting for Social Security by now under our "Democratic" president, would you have even believed it?

Our country is under attack. Our people are under attack. As is our very way of life. This is war. But not between Democrats and Republicans. Between the corporate plutocracy and the people.

The Democrat Republican show we're fed on TV every night is just a theatrical diversion. Divide and conquer. Feed on people's fear and resentment, distort their minds with advanced propaganda techniques, and turn a nation on itself while the corporations loot all of our wealth.

That's the real play. And Obama has a starring role.

Progressives need to adjust and see through the brand that was created around Obama, the "community organizer."

Obama is just another elite, Ivy League technocrat. They're a dime a dozen on Wall Street. He, like most of them, believes that democracy cannot be trusted, that democratic government is completely incompetent, that market forces are a better governance system than democracy, and that all those elites from fancy schools are best suited to rule the world.

He believes this because he, like so many high IQs who have been assimilated into the plutocratic class, is an idiot.

Only a complete idiot can look at the world we live in, created by those very same elites, and still believe that they should have any say at all in governing the world.

Just like only an idiot could believe that Larry Summers and all the other Rubinites Obama has surrounded himself with are the best ones to get us out of the financial disaster they themselves created.

How can such smart people be so stupid? Assimilation. That's what Ivy League schools are in the business of now. They don't, except on rare occasions, turn out brilliant, independent thinkers.

They turn out technocratic clones who, upon completion of their programming, are simply incapable of having a truly original thought.

Now, I know good people who come from "good schools". And I know a lot more who drop out just in time. But this trend is unmistakable. And more and more, these student are taught a very different set of values than their grandparent were.

Values like, preserve The Establishment first. Be loyal to that Establishment and you may, if you can show that you can serve that Establishment, become a permanent member.

And believe me, the draw to membership is a seductive enticement.

These people need to be removed from leadership positions in our society. Before they destroy us all. Nothing matters more than their membership. And they are destroying the planet, the future of humanity to preserve it.

 

Discuss

I first noticed the problem with mothership diaries during the summer of BP. Usually, I can come to Daily Kos and get the latest relevant news, as determined by my fellow progressive bloggers, by scanning the Recommended Diary list. If something really important has broken, one can usually find it there. And if it's not there, you can write it yourself.

It's a great system. It has a kind of buzz, where when a story is really big, there will sometimes be multiple diaries on the rec list at once, usually each with its own different take or bit of useful information.

It's also democratic. If enough people find a particular story important enough, then they will recommend it, even if there are other similar stories already up. Sometimes it can be redundant. But people have always been quite good at deleting redundant diaries.

But some people complained that there were too many similar diaries and somehow convinced everyone that the democratic nature of the rec list was not to be trusted to know what content should or should not make the rec list, so the mothership was born.

So now, when a big story happens, instead of a buz of interesting diaries on the rec list covering various aspects of that story, which is incredibly useful for the vast majority of people who don't have hours to spend at Daily Kos and just want to see what the latest big news is, we get one diary called the mothership.

OK. If someone is willing to aggregate a bunch of the best diaries on the big story and post them in near real time so we can get the latest big news as it happens, I can live with that.

But that's not how the mothership works. When you click on it, instead of getting the latest greatest, you get NO NEWS AT ALL. You get a link to another diary. The ROV.

OK. I'm down with that. Let's go to the ROV and see what's new on the BP oil spill or, the Egyptian Revolution or, now, the nuclear crisis in Japan.

Nothing. I've now clicked two diaries and have not found one single news story or analysis.

Oh, I get it. To get the latest news on Japan's nuclear crisis, I should scroll down through the comments. That's where the good information will be right?

Wrong. You can find relevant information in the comments of an ROV diary. But it is tedious and time consuming because most of the comments ARE NOT relevant  and even when you find one that is, it's not in a useful context or presented in a narrative like a good diary or news article is.

I continually try to extract the talents of this community by scanning the ROV comments section. But it's like fishing. You never know what your going to catch, or even if you will catch anything at all. And if you don't have all day, then it's a big effing waste of time.

Now, the ROV diaries DO link to other diaries that people have written on a subject. This, I suppose, is supposed to function like the rec list. But it doesn't function like the rec list. The rec list is democratically populated. Maybe that doesn't mean much to some people. But it means a whole hell of a lot to me. Especially when I'm short on time.

When I come to Daily Kos, I check the rec list first. Why? Because I value the opinions of Kossaks and if enough of you vote to put a story up in the rec list, I figure it probably deserves clicking on at least.

BUT THE WORST? The mothership system actually deters people from writing good diaries on the big story in the first place. Why spend 4 hours writing a great diary on Egypt when no one will recommend it anyway? Because of the freakin mothership?

The mothership system overrides the democratic system of the rec list. It kills the buzz, and takes what should be a booming big story and throws it into a black hole.

I have seen repeatedly people comment that they would have written a diary about something but for the mothership system. I have seen important breaking news during big stories go unreported here because of the mothership system.

It's anti-democratic, it stifles discussion, and, most importantly, it greatly reduces the profile of important topics on the site.

Please. Reject the mothership system. Continue recommending important stories. And let the rec list be all that it can be.

Discuss

Fri Mar 11, 2011 at 08:59 AM PST

Reaching Our Egyptian Moment

by Happy Rockefeller

Actually, I'm quite happy with the way things are turning out in Wisconsin, Ohio, and around the country. You can always count on the Republicans to overreach. And for the first time in years, decades even, the left is finally getting off its collective ass and fighting back. A movement is emerging that transcends two party politics and frames the fight as it really exists: corporations versus the people.

Hypothetically, what if you discovered that a Democratic candidate for president or for the Senate was actually a secret Wall Street plant, who will run as a lefty, but once in office, work solely in the interest of bringing about the Wall Street agenda of privatizing schools, lowering wages, destroying unions, dismantling environmental regulations, and generally turning the United States into a full blown corporate subsidiary. Would you still support that candidate?

That is the question Progressives need to ask themselves because that is exactly what has happened to the Democratic party. We have been infiltrated. They talk a good game during the campaign. But once in office, they quietly chip away at everything real Democrats built since the Great Depression.

I would rather purge the corporate shills from the Democratic party and fight the corporatists directly than continue supporting Democrats in name only while they achieve the same things the Republicans are trying to only slower and more subversively.

At least Republicans are honest about their treasonous agenda - selling out the working people of this country for the benefit of an international corporatacracy.

With Democrats, you only know you've been stabbed in the back after it's too late to do anything about it.

Our country is under attack on all fronts.

Political warfare, where the institutions of our democracy are being subverted at every level from bribery to election fraud.

Information warfare, where all of our main channels of communication, internet, newspapers, television, radio, our own airwaves are being used against us.

Economic warfare where only a few "elite" bankers can hijack the entire economy and hold it for trillions of our grandchildren's money in ransom.

Environmental warfare where these same thieves are pillaging and destroying the natural world for their own enrichment.

And now we're even subjected to classical warfare methods as dissenters are rounded up and put in prison and our personal communications and information are being surveilled and collected in ways Orwell could never have imagined.

This is a fucking attack. It's not class war. It's war, pure and simple. The monied elites who rule our country are enemies of democracy. And they are using everything they have to keep the will of the people from being manifest.

This is not Sarajevo during the Bosnian war. This is an American city. It wasn't destroyed by Republicans. It was destroyed by a bipartisan consensus that Alan Greenspan, acolyte of Ayn Rand, purveyor of the idea that free markets could replace democracy, and even law enforcement, is a really smart guy.

I still believe in the Democratic party. But only a Democratic party that is willing to choose sides. For in this war, there is no in between. You are either working for the people. Or you are working for the corporatacracy.

There is no "moderate" response to the full scale attack we are suffering. No "centrist" position. The situation doesn't allow it.

We have to have our Egyptian moment, or our children will grow up in a very different America then we did. They will grow up in a world with no viable working, middle class. Where corporations run our schools, prisons, even our roads. There will be no parks or libraries or community centers. Our drinking water, which is already reaching crisis levels of scarcity, will have been poisoned by the insane practice of hydrofracking as fossil fuel supplies grow more and more scarce. More oil spills, more extinct species. More droughts and more freak weather. More insanity by an increasingly deformed and impervious parasite class.

They will grow up in a world like Detroit. Except much, much worse. We all know it. We see the writing on the wall. It is only a severe cognitive dissonance that compels us to continue on the same path, to continue buying into this charade we call the American political system, hoping for change and relief from politicians who can't even tell the truth about the most fundamental issue of our time: global warming.

Even if we have our Egyptian moment, there will be no change or relief unless we fundamentally alter our political system in two ways:

1. We must completely remove the influence of money on our political system. No other remedy is possible, on any issue, until we make it a crime to bribe a politician. And that's all a campaign contribution is. Bribery. As other have said many times before, how we finance our elections is a separate issue. There are a thousand ways to do it that will serve the public interest. But first, we must criminalize bribing politicians with campaign contributions. Period.

2. We must remove the control of our public airwaves from private interests. We have to get over the notion that our public airwaves are private property to be used against us. Our democracy has, essentially, ceased to function under the influence of the corporatist dominance of our national media.

Restoring the Fairness Clause is not enough. We the people license our airwaves to private corporations with the expectation that those corporations use those airwaves in the public interest. They are ours. And we have every right to ensure that they never again be used as a weapon against us.

Bribing our politicians, or more accurately, owning our politicians, and controlling the mass media are the two primary methods by which the corporations have seized control of our country. Until we remedy these two, change will be impossible.

Bringing about these two fundamental changes should be the singular focus of any people's movement, progressive or otherwise. Anything else is just entertainment. We're about to enter another presidential election season. It will be between two candidate who are chosen for us by the "serious people." Billions will be spent, or close to it. The networks will launch new dazzling visual devices. The sleeping industry of pundits and pollsters and anyone able to get a TV gig spouting daily drivel will reawaken. The political class of Democrats and Republicans will stock up on their popcorn for the Big Show. And it will be a big show.

There will be endless, two week cycles of manufactured scandals, gotcha moments, and Breaking News!!! EVERYTHING will be discussed. From who looks presidential to who can appeal to white middle class males in the South, no stone will be unturned. Except of course those that concern what really matters to real people.

Sure, there will be big discussion on how to "grow" the economy and "create jobs". But neither candidate will actually discuss why we have over 20% unemployment. Hell, they won't even acknowledge that we have over 20% unemployment. They won't discuss the renormalization of our labor "market" to that of China's. They won't discuss that almost all new jobs are in the video rental industry, or McDonalds. They won't discuss the privatization of the commonwealth or how we're selling our roadways to foreign countries.

They won't discuss that in order for our planet to survive we need to not just stop pumping the atmosphere with greenhouse gasses, but actually figure out a way to remove them. Or that the idea that trying to continuously grow our economy as though we live on an infinite planet is suicide and that growing our economy in the fossil fuel age is like growing a giant fossil fuel bonfire the size of Rhode Island.

And they won't discuss that our country is under attack from a corporatacracy that has no national loyalties or loyalty to anyone or anything other than devouring and accumulating.

And when it's all said and done, and the last vote has been cast, the trajectory of our nation towards imminent demise will not have altered one bit. It is true that there is a difference between the two parties. Velocity. One party will get us to our demise much quicker than the other. One party is more insane than the other.

But it is also true that the more insane the party, the more likely the people will be to rise up against that insanity. It's a boiling frog thing. The Republicans are at least honest about their insanity. They hang it out there for all to see, and revolt against.

To be sure, what we're seeing in Wisconsin and elsewhere, is just the same agenda, sped up. Like watching a fast forwarded video. But it's the same free market, Greenspanian, neoliberal agenda the Democrats have been acquiescing to for decades. Ever since they made the deal, way back in the 80s. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

Ever since they've been only two degrees of separation from Ayn Rand. First was trade policy where they, the Democrats, fucked labor, by opening up China and any other little country that allowed slave labor and allowed American businesses to move all the jobs overseas. And then slowly but steadily, they, the Democrats, acquiesced on social programs, school funding, and the general Greenspanian philosophy that our democratic government, the only check against despotism our Founders left us, is "the problem." The Democrats did all this. And they knew what they were doing, fucking the middle and working class, when they did it.

The real fight is between the corporatacracy and working people. Never has that distinction been more vivid than it is now. We are literally fighting for our lives against a tangible, identifiable enemy. And it's high time for Democrats to pick a side.

Discuss

As I  wrote yesterday , there is a leaked email that has gotten surprisingly little attention around here. It's the one where Aaron Barr discusses his intention to post at Daily Kos - presumably something negative about Anonymous, the hacking group. But that's not the email I'm talking about here.

As I also mentioned yesterday, in some of the emails, HBGary people are talking about creating "personas", what we would call sockpuppets. This is not new. PR firms have been using fake "people" to promote products and other things for a while now, both online and even in bars and coffee houses.

But for a defense contractor with ties to the federal government, Hunton & Williams, DOD, NSA, and the CIA -  whose enemies are labor unions, progressive organizations,  journalists, and progressive bloggers,  a persona apparently goes far beyond creating a mere sockpuppet.

According to an embedded MS Word document found in one of the HBGary emails, it involves creating an army of sockpuppets, with sophisticated "persona management" software that allows a small team of only a few people to appear to be many, while keeping the personas from accidentally cross-contaminating each other. Then, to top it off, the team can actually automate some functions so one persona can appear to be an entire Brooks Brothers riot online.

Persona management entails not just the deconfliction of persona artifacts such as names, email addresses, landing pages, and associated content.  It also requires providing the human actors technology that takes the decision process out of the loop when using a specific persona.  For this purpose we custom developed either virtual machines or thumb drives for each persona.  This allowed the human actor to open a virtual machine or thumb drive with an associated persona and have all the appropriate email accounts, associations, web pages, social media accounts, etc. pre-established and configured with visual cues to remind the actor which persona he/she is using so as not to accidentally cross-contaminate personas during use.

And all of this is for the purposes of infiltration, data mining, and (here's the one that really worries me) ganging up on bloggers, commenters  and otherwise "real" people to smear enemies and distort the truth.

This is an excerpt from one of the Word Documents, which was sent as an attachment by Aaron Barr, CEO of HBGary's Federal subsidiary, to several of his colleagues to present to clients:

To build this capability we will create a set of personas on twitter,‭ ‬blogs,‭ ‬forums,‭ ‬buzz,‭ ‬and myspace under created names that fit the profile‭ (‬satellitejockey,‭ ‬hack3rman,‭ ‬etc‭)‬.‭  ‬These accounts are maintained and updated automatically through RSS feeds,‭ ‬retweets,‭ ‬and linking together social media commenting between platforms.‭  ‬With a pool of these accounts to choose from,‭ ‬once you have a real name persona you create a Facebook and LinkedIn account using the given name,‭ ‬lock those accounts down and link these accounts to a selected‭ ‬#‭ ‬of previously created social media accounts,‭ ‬automatically pre-aging the real accounts.

Yes!!! That's how democracy and the first amendment are supposed to work.

In another Word document, one of the team spells out how automation can work so one person can be many personas:

Using the assigned social media accounts we can automate the posting of content that is relevant to the persona.  In this case there are specific social media strategy website RSS feeds we can subscribe to and then repost content on twitter with the appropriate hashtags.  In fact using hashtags and gaming some location based check-in services we can make it appear as if a persona was actually at a conference and introduce himself/herself to key individuals as part of the exercise, as one example.  There are a variety of social media tricks we can use to add a level of realness to all fictitious personas

I don't know about you, but this concerns me greatly. It goes far beyond the mere ability for a government stooge, corporation or PR firm to hire people to post on sites like this one. They are talking about creating  the illusion of consensus. And consensus is a powerful persuader. What has more effect, one guy saying BP is not at fault? Or 20 people saying it? For the weak minded, the number can make all the difference.

And another thing, this is just one little company of assholes. I can't believe there aren't others doing this already. From oil companies, political campaigns, PR firms, you name it. Public opinion means big bucks. And let's face it, what these guys are talking about is easy.

Just today I was listening to Stand Up with Pete Dominic on XM's POTUS channel. He was talking about the Wisconsin labor attack and how he had seen a lot of people email and contact the show in support of the Teachers there. Then he added a "but": "I've also seen a lot of anti-labor people on Twitter..."

Really? I thought. How do we know if those are real people? Twitter has to be the easiest thing to fake and to automate with retweets and 180 characrer max sentences. To the extent that the propaganda technique known as "Bandwagon" is an effective form of persuasion, which it definitely is, the ability for a few people to infiltrate a blog or social media site and appear to be many people, all taking one position in a debate, all agreeing, for example, that so and so is not credible, or a crook, is an incredibly powerful weapon.

How many times have you seen a diary get posted that reports some revelatory yet unfavorable tidbit about someone only to see a swarm of commenters arrive who hijack the thread, distract with a bunch of irrelevant nonsense, start throwing unsubstantiated accusations and ad hominem attacks to where before you know it, everyone's pretty much forgotten what the diary said in the first place.

Some times diaries deserve to be swarmed. But what if a diary is swarmed and it's really just one asshole working for a law firm that represents the oil company your diary was attacking?

I don't know about you, but it matters to me what fellow progressives think. I consider all views. And if there appears to be a consensus that some reporter isn't credible, for example, or some candidate for congress in another state can't be trusted, I won't base my entire judgment on it, but it carries some weight.

That's me. I believe there are many people though who will base their judgment on rumors and mob attacks. And for those people, a fake mob can be really effective.

I have no idea what to do about this problem, except just make sure everyone knows its possible, and so watches out for it.

-------------------------------------

Lastly, some here are falling for the meme that HBGary personel, and especially Aaron Barr himself, are incompetent buffoons. This is a mistake. While Mr Barr may be a fool, he was not the one who fell for a spear fishing attack that allow an, apparently, 16 year old girl to gain access to their servers.

I have rummaged through the leaked email, some of which contain resumes for employees there. These guys are recruiting people with incredibly advanced skills from many different agencies and top universities like MIT.

HBGary and its subsidiary, HBGary Federal, as well as Berinco and Palantir, employed a lot of extremely qualified people with backgrounds in the NSA and ATT and other major organizations/corporations. These guys are pros.

Aaron Barr may be a mockery to Anonymous for running his mouth off. As he should be. But he's not an idiot and he wasn't the one who gave out the company's keys to a 16 yo girl.

I wanted to make this clear because it is in the interests of government and propagandists, and anyone else who wants this story to go away to try and blow all this off as one little company who wrote a proposal no one even read and who isn't even competent enough to protect its own servers so no one should pay any attention at all to what they were up to.

That is the narrative being spun, even here on this site, and it is entirely fictitious.

We are under attack. And the attackers are damn good at what they do. Pretending they're not, or that this isn't happening isn't going to make it better.

I do believe there are limitation to the effectiveness of such an attack on this site and others like it. This isn't twitter, and bullshit only goes so far, no matter how many personas are spreading it.

But everyone needs to be aware that not only are sites like this a target of attack, but that Daily Kos has been mentioned specifically as a target of attack.

Maybe this whole thing will be liberating. Maybe people will develop stronger spines and not be so easily swayed by raving mobs.

UPDATE: From another email, I found a  government solicitation for this "Persona Management Software".

This confirms that in fact, the US Gov. is attempting to use this kind of technology. But it appears from the solicitation it is contracted for use in foreign theaters like Afghanistan and Iraq. I can't imagine why this is posted on an open site. And whenthis was discovered by a couple of HBGary staffers, they weren't too happy about it either:

The first email just had the title, "WTF Dude?"
The response email said, "This is posted on open source.  Are you fucking serious?"

Here's the link to the solicitation at website "FedBizOps.gov". Yes, that name doesn't sound like cronyism at all...

 Link

Solicitation Number:
RTB220610
Notice Type:
Sources Sought
Synopsis:
Added: Jun 22, 2010 1:42 pm Modified: Jun 22, 2010 2:07 pmTrack Changes
0001- Online Persona Management Service. 50 User Licenses, 10 Personas per user.
Software will allow 10 personas per user, replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent. Individual applications will enable an operator to exercise a number of different online persons from the same workstation and without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries. Personas must be able to appear to originate in nearly any part of the world and can interact through conventional online services and social media platforms. The service includes a user friendly application environment to maximize the user's situational awareness by displaying real-time local information.

0002- Secure Virtual Private Network (VPN). 1 each
VPN provides the ability for users to daily and automatically obtain randomly selected
IP addresses through which they can access the internet. The daily rotation of
the user s IP address prevents compromise during observation of likely or
targeted web sites or services, while hiding the existence of the operation. In
addition, may provide traffic mixing, blending the user s traffic with traffic from
multitudes of users from outside the organization. This traffic blending provides
excellent cover and powerful deniability. Anonymizer Enterprise Chameleon or equal

0003- Static IP Address Management. 50 each
Licence protects the identity of government agencies and enterprise
organizations. Enables organizations to manage their persistent online personas
by assigning static IP addresses to each persona. Individuals can perform
static impersonations, which allow them to look like the same person over time.
Also allows organizations that frequent same site/service often to easily switch IP
addresses to look like ordinary users as opposed to one organization. Anonymizer IP Mapper License or equal

0004- Virtual Private Servers, CONUS. 1 each
Provides CONUS or OCONUS points of presence locations that are setup for
each customer based on the geographic area of operations the customer is
operating within and which allow a customer?s online persona(s) to appear to
originate from. Ability to provide virtual private servers that are procured using
commercial hosting centers around the world and which are established
anonymously. Once procured, the geosite is incorporated into the network and
integrated within the customers environment and ready for use by the customer.
Unless specifically designated as shared, locations are dedicated for use by
each customer and never shared among other customers. Anonymizer Annual Dedicated CONUS Light Geosite or equal

0005- Virtual Private Servers, OCONUS. 8 Each
Provides CONUS or OCONUS points of presence locations that are setup for
each customer based on the geographic area of operations the customer is
operating within and which allow a customer?s online persona(s) to appear to
originate from. Ability to provide virtual private servers that are procured using
commercial hosting centers around the world and which are established
anonymously. Once procured, the geosite is incorporated into the network and
integrated within the customers environment and ready for use by the customer.
Unless specifically designated as shared, locations are dedicated for use by
each customer and never shared among other customers. Anonymizer Annual Dedicated OCONUS Light Geosite or equal

0006- Remote Access Secure Virtual Private Network. 1 each
Secure Operating Environment provides a reliable and protected computing
environment from which to stage and conduct operations. Every session uses a
clean Virtual Machine (VM) image. The solution is accessed through sets of
Virtual Private Network (VPN) devices located at each Customer facility. The
fully-managed VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) is an environment that allows
users remote access from their desktop into a VM. Upon session termination,
the VM is deleted and any virus, worm, or malicious software that the user inadvertently downloaded is destroyed. Anonymizer Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) Solution or equal.

Contracting Office Address:
2606 Brown Pelican Ave.
MacDill AFB, Florida 33621-5000
United States

Place of Performance:
Performance will be at MacDIll AFB, Kabul, Afghanistan and Baghdad, Iraq.
MacDill AFB , Florida 33679
United States

Discuss

This story is just amazing. There is so much to it and so many highly incriminating revelations that it's like a candy store of sunshine.

Take the surprisingly overlooked revelation that Aaron Barr, CEO of HB Gary Federal, told a colleague that he intended to "post on the HBGary Fed and HBGary website, Daily Kos, tweet, and post on the anonymous FB page.” Here's the whole excerpt as posted by Crowdleaks.org :

Aaron Barr “They still don’t get it. They think all I know is their irc names!!!!! I know their real fing names.” he brags to a colleague. “My plan is to post on the HBGary Fed and HBGary website, Daily Kos, tweet, and post on the anonymous FB page.” He goes on to reiterate “No they are not freaked out. They don’t get it…Greg will tell you. They think I have nothing but a heirarchy based on IRC aliases!”

Now, if we take this at purely face value, we could infer that Barr may already have a Daily Kos account, and may have posted here before. It would be interesting, when the DK3 archives are back up, to sniff out commenters who are posting anti-Anonymous (the hacking group he was referring to who "don't get it") diatribes etc.

If you will recall, in the big proposal for Hunton & Williams law firm on how to go after the Chamber of Commerce's enemies (i.e. us), one of the ideas was to create two fake "personas":

5. If needed, create two fake insider personas, using one as leverage to discredit the other while confirming the legitimacy of the second.

In another proposal, the one dealing with Wikileaks, they talk about "feed[ing] the fuel between feuding groups", creating "disinformation", and creating "messages around actions to sabotage or discredit the opposing organizations".

Many of us have long suspected that our various community sites have been infiltrated by "personas". So in a sense, this is not surprising. But it at least this gives verification to our paranoia.

We on the left, from labor unions to environmental activists to bloggers, we are all under a full scale information warfare attack. This particular episode is just a glimpse. The tip of the iceberg. But let there be no doubt. It did not start here. This is not an aberration. And all of the parties that are claiming ignorance and feigning outrage are lying.

These operations involve corporate law firms like Hunton & Williams, PR firms, intelligence contractors like HB Gary Federal who, as was also revealed in the leaked emails, has ties with the NSA and other government agencies, and members of the press.

For evidence of the latter, look no further than the New York Times. In their only article to date covering this bombshell scandal, which may as well be titled "Nothing to See Here, Move Along", the writers, Eric Lipton and Charlie Savage, open with a big fat lie.

WASHINGTON — A fight between a group of pro-WikiLeaks hackers and a California-based Internet security business has opened a window onto the secretive world of private companies that offer to help corporations investigate and discredit their critics.

This hilarious line, highlighted in bold, sets up the deceptive narrative that will drive this story throughout - that these "private companies" acted on their own and Hunton & Williams knew nothing about it.

This is, of course, false. As reported by Think Progress , emails clearly establish that Hunton & Williams attorneys were, at the very least, involved in the planning process from the beginning, and were almost certainly the solicitors of the contract. Even Lipton and Savage's article confirms that the writers were aware of Hunton & Williams attorneys communicating back and forth with the contractors as early as Nov. 2010.

Now, before anyone thinks I'm accusing Charlie Savage of being a disinfo operative, let me make clear, that I don't. And I don't believe the New York Times or its reporters are involved in some mass conspiracy to coverup the Hunton & Williams incident. This is just the establishment press being the establishment press - always covering for their own class, playing fealty to power.

But it is widely known that some " reporters " are actually operatives working for interests other than their readers or their own papers. Who knows who they are? But when you have a story like this, where the main parties are so completely busted, it's a good opportunity to see where the establishment press lands on the issue.

So what I'm looking for to see where journalists, pundits, or editors are at on this story is threefold:

1. who is and isn't covering this story at all. So far, the establishment press has been a no show except for a few exceptions. I wouldn't call it a blackout, like the 2007 one following the David Barstow story in the Times about military analysts on network TV payrolls who were merely mouthpieces for Bush talking points. But it's close. Maybe the Times will put Barstow on this story as well and redeem themselves somewhat.

2. Does their coverage capture the hugeness of this story, that it reveals how one of the oldest and most prestigious law firms in the country was hired upon the recommendation of the Justice Department to assemble a team of DEFENSE CONTRACTORS to engage in criminal and loathsome acts against American citizens?

3. Will that coverage be honest or will it following the footsteps of Eric Lipton and Charlie Savage and deceive its readers about the nature and facts of this story?

Discuss

After 5 years of lurking here, I actually registered so I could write a diary imploring Kos et al not to screw up this website. But just as I was gearing up for it, a couple of other people addressed a lot of the problems I had.

One was "How I'd design the new DailyKos (and why DK4 doesn't work), by cartwrightdale and the other was "Let Me Show You What Bothers Me About DKos 4.0" by Geenius at Wrok.

Both of these diaries addressed fundamental design flaws and both were incredibly popular. The latter even included a poll and received a whopping 81% support.

Great, I thought. This will send them back to the drawing board and I won't have to worry about it for a while. Then I just found out that, after only slight modifications, DK4 is going ahead and will be forced on us in the near future.

Continue Reading

In case you were wondering what that silliness was yesterday with the horses, camels and whips, this is what it was all about:

 title=

Images like this one were all over the corporate media yesterday. Images that depicted the protesters, who only the day before were jubilant, peaceful, even responsible as they cleaned up the trash on the streets, as dangerous and violent.

Continue Reading

Let's get real. The real state of our union is that we are in the process of destroying ourselves. We are probably already past the point of no return on climate change. Our addiction to oil has long since become lethal.

Our economic  and monetary system is an abject failure. The constant need to grow the economy just to service a choking debt to parasitic bankers is destroying our society and the global ecosystem. Under capitalism we are like locust, devouring everything we touch. Consuming it, poisoning it.

We are running out of oil with absolutely no plan or incentive to replace it. And we are running out of fresh potable water in many regions of the civilized word including large areas of the United States.

Continue Reading
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