Relative Privation and False Moral Equivalancy

To be good, it is not enough to be better than the worst. ~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Recently, Bill O’Reilly interviewed President Donald J. Trump on Fox News’s, ‘The O’Reilly Factor’. As part of that interview, O’Reilly asserted that Putin was a killer. Trump’s response, included a statement that the media and political opponents were quick to jump on. Watch it for yourself…

“What, do you think our country’s so innocent?” ~ Donald Trump

The sum of the attack against Trump is to criticize him for making an unjust and untrue statement that establishes a moral equivalence between the U.S. and Russia. His political opposition from the establishment right attempts to create the inference that Trump created this “false moral equivalency” through what he said by issuing responses that deny the existence of such an equivalence.

Broadcast media such as CNN and MSNBC were quick to jump on the bandwagon of Republican’s criticizing Trump for challenging the traditional establishment view of American Exceptionalism. However, moral relativism and moral equivalency accusations are both absolutely false because they depend on accepting a logical fallacy as being true.

Relative Privation: The “not as bad as” fallacy, also known as the fallacy of relative privation, asserts that if something is worse than the problem currently being discussed, then the problem currently being discussed isn’t that important at all. In other words: nothing matters if it’s not literally the worst thing happening. It’s popular with people who know perfectly well they’re doing something wrong. Since they are fully aware that they’re doing something wrong, they feel compelled to attempt to justify it and do so by pointing to other (usually worse) actions.

What Trump acknowledges in his statements is clearly that the U.S. has not always acted with absolute moral authority and in adherence to it’s espoused moral superiority. In essence, this is a fundamental criticism of the moral justification for the Iraq War and the Bush Administration which is held by the Republican establishment and frequently challenged by Trump.

This acknowledgement probably more recently stems from the recent military action approved by Donald Trump in Yemen that resulted in the death of Nawar Al-Awlaki, the eight year old daughter of American citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, targeted and killed in a hellfire missile from a US drone strike by the Obama administration in Sept. of 2011 for being. The 2011 drone strike also killed Anwar’s American 16 year old son, Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki which in concert with his father’s status as an American born citizen prompted claims of civil rights violations by Obama for denying the Al-Awlaki’s due process under the constitution.

“The United States is not at war in Yemen, and the government doesn’t have a blank check to kill terrorism suspects wherever they are in the world. Among the arguments we’ll be making is that, outside actual war zones, the authority to use lethal force is narrowly circumscribed, and preserving the rule of law depends on keeping this authority narrow.”  ~ Jameel Jaffer, ACLU

While I would not assume to know what’s in Trump’s mind or heart, I would find it hard to believe that any man, especially a new president, who has ordered his very first military action under his authority which resulted in the death of not only a seal team member but also the death of a U.S. citizen who is also a child. It would take, a truly monstrous person to be unaffected by such an action. When then just days later asked about the questionable morality of Russian leader Vladamir Putin and labeling him a ‘killer’, it might not be surprising that Trump would draw a moral equivalence between his own recent actions and killing. Any person with a conscience would do that in his situation.

Trump is not so innocent anymore. He has real blood on his hands.

Just because Trump is not innocent or American is not innocent of having committed immoral actions does not mean that someone else hasn’t done worse. Just because someone has done worse doesn’t mean that there is no immorality in the actions we have, collectively, committed.

The truth is, neither is our country. However, just because we are not innocent doesn’t mean we are equivalent either. That’s where the false equivalency becomes a false accusation and an invalid, logical fallacy. America, in it’s foreign policy has both made mistakes and done things that they knew were wrong. As a country, we are also not morally equivalent to an oppressive, dictatorial, fascist tyrannical government such as Russia. Trump did not create such an equivalency in his statement and one should not be illogically inferred. Those two things are not mutually exclusive ideas but the press will do whatever it can to convince the public that Trump made that equivalency when he in fact did not because it helps to perpetuate the narrative of demagoguery they have resorted to.

They can’t allow him to have a conscience.

To acknowledge that Trump holds a negative view of previous Republican administration foreign policy would require them to acknowledge that they share even the most remote view in common with a man whom they believe to be the incarnation of pure evil.

How the “Muslim Ban” Hurts America


On Friday, January 27th, 2017, President Donald Trump issued “Executive Order: Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” which, principally, prohibits citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days and bars travel from Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Shortly thereafter, Vox Media, a D.C. based new media company released an article by Mateen Mokalla, who’s official title at Vox is “Managing Producer for Facebook Video”, declaring the executive order a “Muslim Ban.” As best as I can tell, this was the first article openly attack Trumps order. It wasn’t too long before the mainstream media followed suit with the NY Times, The Hill, The Guardian, Mother Jones, NBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and many more.

For the next two days the media hammered at every possible angle to demagogue Donald Trump and the executive order. Unsurprisingly, by Sunday, protests had formed at international airports around the nation as reports came in that people were being detained. Despite the denial by the White House that the executive order was a “Muslim Ban”, the press, with the possible exception of Fox News, has been relentlessly in support of both protesters and political opponents of the administration that it is in fact a “Muslim Ban.” Some even mocking the administration for attempting to present it as anything else was just “Alternative Facts” and “Fake News”.

So let’s look at the actual facts (Not the “alternative” kind) for a moment. There are approximately 1.6 billion Muslims in the world according to the Pew Research Center. Of that total population, the affected countries comprise approximately 199.4 million. That accounts for roughly only 13% of the global Muslim population.

So now let’s take those facts and apply some rational logic. Since the internet likes cats, we’ll use them as the example. Let’s say, you have a problem in the cat population such as a disease and 13% of those cats come from the same seven states in the U.S. Subsequently, the CDC decided to prohibit cats from those states being transported across state lines. Would it be a rational conclusion to state that it was a “Cat Ban”. The answer is no. Why? Because it simply doesn’t apply to 87% of cats.

The difference here is that we’re not talking about cats and disease. We’re talking about people and terrorism. While they may be analogous to some degree, the most important distinction is that a cat without the disease isn’t going to get infected by being made aware it is part of a “Cat Ban.” However, a Muslim, anywhere in the world, who may already have anti-American views but is not radicalized may be pushed towards radicalization when given the impression that all Muslims are no longer welcome in the United States.

One of the more common arguments made by protesters and critics of Trumps policy is that it emboldens our enemies by giving them the impression that immigrants, refugees and particularly Muslims are not welcome in America. Political opponents of the administration cry, pundits rant in outrage, activist groups shout slogans all to this effect all with one universal view that a “Muslim Ban” is fundamentally un-American.

It took less than a few hours for that view to spread across the globe. Within two days, Vox again attacked the administration claiming the “Muslim Ban” was a huge gift to ISIS.

“The Trump administration seems to be sending the message that the US doesn’t care about Muslim suffering. ISIS propagandists couldn’t have said it better themselves.” ~ Jennifer Williams, Vox.com

I would have to agree with Jennifer, that given the worldwide perception of Muslims now being that America is at War with Islam doesn’t want Muslims in the U.S. is probably a huge propaganda victory for ISIS. I would fully agree that we are likely less safe as a nation as a result of the world view over the so called “Muslim Ban.” and that it will likely marginalize Muslims in America, create political and social conflict within our nation and embolden those who revel in that result.

However I would have to disagree about whether or not that victory should be attributed to Donald Trump. Regardless of how poorly the executive order was implemented or how effective it may be in actually helping thwart terrorism in the US, to falsely characterize Trumps actions as a blanked “Muslim Ban”, might be considered treasonous in and of itself.

Propaganda is “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular cause or point of view”. The idea of a “Muslim Ban” is clearly propaganda promulgated the the leftist media that clearly believes it is more important to spread their point of view than to help ensure the safety of the American citizens. This is more than simply a betrayal of trust or inaccurate reporting. The view of a “Muslim Ban”, as Vox ascribes along with many other pundits and propagandists, grants our enemies aid.

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court. ~ The United States Constitution, Article III, Section 3

On March 10th, 1949, a federal jury convicted Mildred Gillars, AKA “Axis Sally”, an American radio broadcaster, for Treason due to her active participation in propaganda activities against the United States based on the content of one broadcast Vision Of Invasion.

She thought she was on the winning side, and all she cared about was her own selfish fame. ~ Chief Prosecutor John M. Kelly, Jr.

I am, without a doubt, a proud proponent for freedom of speech and have been an advocate for it my entire career. There is plenty of space in our dialogue for honest, reasonable and even civil descent against Trump’s executive order on Foreign Terrorist Entry into the US. I don’t even support the idea of this executive order but that’s actually beside the point. Claiming that it is a “Muslim Ban” does, the very harm that it’s critics claim the order causes.

When speech becomes aid and comfort to the enemy or when it becomes anti-American hate speech on behalf of an enemy, that treads the dread filled line of treason and sedition. When that kind of speech comes unanimously from a political party that dominates the press, I shudder. I’m not saying that journalists, pundits or media organizations should be brought up on charges of treason. However, I do believe that We the People, should demand honest coverage of the news by the press and that they should be held accountable for their actions, that in their own words, made America less safe.

Unfortunately, much like Axis Sally, the media thinks they are safely on the winning side and all they care about is their own selfish endeavors.

Editorial Cartoon by Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, Courtesy of Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

NY Times Exploits Women For Politics

Nicholas Kristof, of the NY Times just penned a great example of what is known as the Appeal to Emotion, logical fallacy. A logical fallacy is, in simpler terms, a false and misleading statement.

Press Puppets by Eric Allie, CagleCartoons.com

Trying to pass of false and misleading information is more commonly known as “fake news” and more aptly known as propaganda (information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular cause or point of view). By doing so, he not only hurts the reputation of the NY Times by betraying the public trust.

First, Kristof frames his argument in a predicating opinion that he considers the President a liar, though he admits this claim itself uses potentially false logic. That claim is known as an ad-homenim attack, meant to devalue the subject of discussion rather than the rationality of an argument. He wants you to hate before you know why to hate.

In short, Kristof, would like you to believe that because Trump reinstated the Reagan/Bush policy by issuing a Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Mexico City Policy that he is waging a “War on Women” and as a result of this single memorandum, thousands of women around the world will die.

“In fact, this is a “pro-death” approach that actually increases abortions, as well as deaths among women.” ~ Nicholas Kristof, NY Times

Let me be clear about this. He makes a direct connection and appeals on that basis that people should rise up and contact their government in opposition of this policy. What Kristof didn’t want you to do was to read the memorandum yourself because he didn’t provide a link to it, as I did.

The Mexico City Policy is a heavily debated issue going back to 1984. There’s no doubt that it is an emotional issue in part but it’s one thing to have an emotionally charged debate and to make such a unfair appeal to charge someone as being directly responsible for the deaths of others for a decision like this. Mostly because it’s flatly a false argument by only presenting one-side.

So for sake of argument, I will concede that Kristof is right and use his same logic to disprove that Trump is waging a War on Women.

When Trump signed this memorandum he did so to prevent, in part, involuntary sterilization, which is a crime against women committed to deny them the right to have children. By fighting against this memorandum, Kristof fights for involuntary sterilization.

Funding denied to organizations that do not adhere to U.S. Law, which prevents using U.S. aide for the purposes of abortion, can be withheld and then spent on other domestic programs such as Medicaid. Taken one step further, any dollar we spend on foreign aid means less money that can be used to help fight poverty in the US. Poverty is the number one contributor to death and it affects women disproportionately to men.

So by supporting funding of foreign medical services, funds are diverted from potential programs that could help women in the US. So in reality, women will die in either case, whether or not the Mexico City Policy is followed; it really just depends on whether you want to help women who are American or not.

The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is, in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith. Here let us stop. ~ George Washington, Farewell Address 1796

Nicholas Kristof, has chosen a side in a war he declared. He would rather help foreign women and let American women die. He would rather support involuntary sterilization alongside abortion than help the poor in his own country. He’s willing to use women like an object as an emotionally deceitful manipulation to support the abortion industry.

If it is a choice between helping American women or foreign women, I believe it is the duty of our government to choose American women first.

I don’t care which side of the abortion issue you stand on but I would hope that you also care honesty and integrity in media. This kind of abuse of power by a journalist hurts all of us, divides us unfairly and makes it harder to have civil, rational conversations. It’s an outright betrayal of the public trust. By demonizing those you disagree with as inhuman killers you do not build bridges, create common ground for compromises or unite us in common goals; it just divides us.

So I encourage you to contact the NY Times and complain about the propaganda and bias of this columnist. Insist that, even in opinion editorials, there be an adherence to rational, critical and logical thinking rather than a dependence on rhetoric and false manipulation.

Reference:

NyTimes.com: President Trump’s War on Women Begins

YourLogicalFallacyIs.com: Appeal to Emotion

Washington Post Defends Eco-Hactivist

Trump’s First 100 Days: Citizen Log #3

On Tuesday, a former employee of the National Park Services accessed a Twitter account he was no longer authorized to use and sent out a series of Tweets about climate change. The Washington Post came to his defense.

According to the Washington Post, this happened after the Trump administration placed a gag order on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA),  which is a false story according to Reuters, which followed the administrations memo telling the Department of Interior to halt use of social network and Twitter accounts as a result of anti-Trump tweets on inauguration day (more on that later). As it turns out, the memo sent out by the administration to the EPA was highly similar to one sent by the Obama administration as an interim procedure in 2009. So not only does the Washington Post show just how bad they are at actual journalism, they also show how bad they are at talking about sensitive and important technology issues; especially in a factual way.

What’s more alarming than the Washington Post not only spreading a false story about the Trump administration gagging the EPA is the headline used by the Washington Post to promote their anti-government story;

For a few hours, Badlands National Park was bad to the bone in defiance of Trump ~ washingtonpost.com

Just reading that headline gives the public the impression that, what is actually a hacker is a valiant hero defying a tyrannical government (which is a story I could get behind, if it were true). Think that’s going to far in an opinion? Read the article. The author, Darryl Fears, compares this hacktivist to Superman, the Lone Ranger and helped to promote the #Badasslands hashtag, showing his personal bias and support for illegal, criminal activity on behalf of his ideological beliefs.

What’s almost more offensive than the bad writing from a so-called, 10 year veteran journalist, more tragic than the false news story and more saddening than the perpetuation of bias in the media is the simple, unavoidable fact that in the process, the Washington Post had a great opportunity to do the public some real good. Rather than talk about cybersecurity, they decided to use the chance to take another public shot at the Trump administration.

It wasn’t too long ago that the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was hacked and over 20 million peoples records were pilfered from their systems. Then there was the DNC breach prior to the election. Both of these incident show how serious of an issue cybersecurity is, how unprepared we are and how uneducated the public is on such an important societal issue. You would think, with the gravity of that kind of situation, journalists would want to take a moment and do their job to actually inform the public.

For over 20 years I have been working in the tech industry and for over 20 years I have been an advocate for cybersecurity. Unfortunately, not everyone has been a geek as long as I have and for a lot of people, computer technology is a relatively new tool that is more an advent of smart phones and social networks than it is a lifestyle or a passion. As a result, a very large number of users, possibly most are the virtual equivalent of a child playing with a gun; it can end very badly.

Critics of Chelsea Manning being granted clemency by Obama during his last days in office for her conviction under the Espionage Act in 2013 for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified and sensitive documents to Wikileaks said that it could encourage more leaks and breaches. This kind of hacktivist Tweeting is quite metaphorically the virtual canary in a virtual coal-mine.

It’s widely held that Chelsea Manning’s leaks were the beginning of the revelations and social outrage that eventually led to the Arab Spring which caused major chaos all North Africa leading to civil unrest, revolution and war in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain and destabilizing Iraq, Yemen and Algeria.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the years as a parent trying to teach my son, who is now a teenager, the importance of respecting personal property both physical and virtual. As a libertarian it’s a challenge to balance the principles of freedom, liberty and privacy but respect for laws, whether you agree with them or not, needs to be a common ground we can all work from. Not breaking into buildings and ransacking the place is a pretty common ground. Not breaking into your old workplace is a pretty commonly held value. You would be surprised how of our youth simply don’t respect virtual property.

It’s hard to teach teenagers common social values in cyberspace when government employees don’t seem to share them and instead act like the trolls on 4Chan. Make no mistake, hacking to steal intellectual property is no different than burglary and theft. Likewise, unauthorized access to a computer system used as a #culturejamming tactic by activists is no different than hijacking a radio channel; which is a crime. Anyone remember Captain Midnight or Max Headroom was?

This is Max Headroom, live on Net-Net-Net-Network 23, because what I want to know is, who’s gonna stop this kind of wholesale killing-ing-ing-ing. Killing. It’s time the network took a stand – a stand – a *stand* on this kind of murder. Murder. Murder. Preferably against it. ~ Max Headroom

So what’s the teaching point that was totally missed? Clearly, the first point should have been that somebody at the National Park Services needs to do a review of their employee exit management procedures and include password and system access auditing. Maybe they should seek the advice of the Department of Homeland Security on cybersecurity as I’m sure they have an exit checklist somewhere. Simply put, if an employee has access to a social network account and they are terminated; change the frigging password. Even if you are in the middle of nowhere.

With thousands of employees leaving their positions during the transition of power to the Trump administration, this couldn’t be a more sensitive and risky time. Our country does have enemies as the OPM hack proves and they are definitely looking for vulnerabilities to exploit. This is a lesson that all governmental agencies should take to heart.

The second lesson is that this won’t be the first of this kind of activism. When you promote and encourage this kind of abhorrent behavior, you almost guarantee that it will happen again. Unfortunately, the mainstream media, especially the Washington post, proved this to be true when it was more interested in praising this activism of the National Park Services tweeting anti-Trump crowd hoax photos shortly after the inauguration. Yes, I call this a hoax because it’s been easily debunked but all of the mainstream media has stuck to the same anti-Trump story that he had a small crowd; but I digress.

The media turned what should have been a minor incident of the activist Tweets into a potential national security risk, a political dogfight and forced the hand of the government to shut down usage of all Department of Interior social network accounts temporally; which likely enraged the now ex-employee to turn hacker. This has caused faux outrage across the nation, fear of an over reaching government attempting to silence speech and weakening our virtual national security.  What’s the lesson here?

When the media betrays the public trust, they threaten your freedom of speech. They need to be held accountable for their actions, not by government, but by us, the readers, consumers and citizens; We the People. We need to voice our own outrage at their irresponsibility and immaturity. It’s a teaching moment.

Something Out of Nothing

The press’s job is to inform the public. A propagandist’s job is to convince the public what to think.

Over the weekend, post-inauguration, nearly every media outlet has run some variation of a story declaring that the Trump administration has alarmingly removed all references to climate change, Latinos, LGBT and a variety of other issues. Usually these stories focus on one individual aspect of these changes, and in the case of climate change this apparently, according to the mainstream press, sent shockwaves through the scientific community.

“Scientists fear the online deletions will extend far beyond changes to introductory websites and into the realm of government data. Climate change data gathered and stored by the United States government is considered among the most authoritative in the world. But scientists worry the data will be deleted during the Trump administration.” nytimes.com

As of this writing, there were over 120 articles all using different variations of fear-mongering titles with cautionary words like “scrubbed clean”, “disappear”, “vanish”, “no more mention of”, “critical issues go missing”, “sanitizes”, “scraps”, “dropped”, “drastic”, “axes”, and various other phrases. One thing nearly every single article has in common is it’s alarming tone. Take for example the following from the Sacramento Bee:

Trump scrubs climate change from White House web site; environmentalists fume

“IT’S TRULY DISTURBING THAT ONE OF THE FIRST ACTIONS BY THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS TO REMOVE NEARLY ALL REFERENCES TO CLIMATE CHANGE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE WEBSITE”
Sam Adams, US director of the World Resources Institute

With all the consistency in these headlines spread across social media, millions of people might be led to believe something machavelian is going on. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The insinuation that reading these headlines presents is that the Trump administration is specifically targeting climate change, Latinos and the LGBT and excluding these from the public dialogue or discriminating against them. It’s a lie the media seems desperate to convince the public of by making a story out of nothing.

While many of these articles do in fact mention that all of the previous information that was on whitehouse.gov has been moved to a new address at obamawhitehouse.archives.gov, they fail to mention that archive.gov is itself, the national archive. The National Archives operates as an independent agency and is run by a presidential appointee; currently an Obama appointee. While these pages and all of their content may have been taken off the White House’s website, this occurrence is nothing new. Since the establishment of whitehouse.gov in 1994, every administration has completely revised the website after the inauguration of a new president. Obama removed the entire website of the bush administration, which can still be found at the National Archives at georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov. What’s significant about differences between the transition from Bush to Obama and Obama to Trump isn’t the content of the website but the reaction of the media to those changes and the fact that the Trump administration actually kept in place features Obama launched, such as the petition site, We the People.

When the Obama administration launched it’s new administration’s website, it did so with change.gov, which is archived by the Library of Congress. Change.gov featured transition related content until the Obama administration was able to launch what became the new whitehouse.gov website. In essence, it completely removed all of the Bush doctrine language in exactly the same way that Trump removed the Obama doctrine content. What was missing during Obama’s transition was the outrage in the media over the removal of content related to Bush’s doctrine.

What did the media have to say about the Obama transitions changes? “Obama unveils new presidential website“, “Obama Debuts new Whitehouse.gov“, “Change comes to Whitehouse.gov“, “Whitehouse.gov Has a New Face, and a Blog” are just a few of the only articles you can even find on the subject. Did the Internet forget something or did the media just not care about the transition enough to document it.

Maybe it just wasn’t considered newsworthy by the editors at the time; likely because it really wasn’t newsworthy. Just like it really isn’t newsworthy now, unless of-course you want to sew division, outrage, fear and hatred, in which case it makes for a great dog-whistle headline for everyone already afraid that a Trump administration is out to get them because he’s a bigoted, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, climate denying, sexual predator who’s a Russian puppet who’s going to throw all the Muslims into internment camps, in which case it’s completely justifiable news because it reinforces at least more than one of those belief’s. Then again, it could just be another nail in the coffin of the mainstream media’s credibility with the public.

But it doesn’t end there. Among the current outrage over this absolutely normal transition the administrations website, the We the People site contains a petition to “Demand Trump administration add LGBT rights, climate change, and civil rights back to the list of issues on wh.giv site.” As of this writing, it still requires over 99,800 signatures to garner a response from the White House on the issue.

Take a moment and consider that between all of the authors, editors, producers, broadcasters, anchors and pundits that opined on this one issue, all added together, there are significantly more of them than the actual number of people compelled enough to actually engage directly with the white house.

One would think that if there were so many climate change scientists outraged at this event, they might be bothered enough to fill out an online form stating their outrage. Clearly, that hasn’t happened yet but who knows, maybe they just need time to recover from the shock that Donald Trump is actually president. The apparent outrage of millions of people marching on behalf of LGBT rights and women might have taken a break from holding a sign to actually sign an online petition so they can “not allow ourselves to be erased.” but maybe they were too busy marching or burning newspaper stands to notice.

If you are one of those offended by the removal of this content, maybe you should take Donald Trump’s advice to heart?

“We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action, constantly complaining, but never doing anything about it. The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.” ~ Donald Trump Inauguration Speech, January 20th 2017

The real problem with the beliefs these headlines lead people to isn’t just that they are a false cause but that perpetuating a false cause like this can lead to the extreme views, which I cited above are becoming increasingly more common, especially among the young, and politically uninformed. Those beliefs themselves are dangerous, divisive and undermine the very fabric that unifies us as a country. These are intentional, blatantly biased and false interpretations of the facts designed to create an opinion in the mind of the reader before they are informed of the facts. It depends on a simple strategy; that people don’t actually bother reading. They read the headline, it triggers their existing biased beliefs and they share it. Rinse, repeat, recycle and you have a faux viral outrage over something that actually nothing.

This kind of click-baiting is how extremists groups radicalize people to commit terrorist acts as lone wolf actors. It’s beyond fake news, dishonest journalism or poor writing. It’s derisive and it’s an intentional attempt to sew conflict in our society. It deepens the bandwagoning that leads to civil unrest by encouraging people to believe something must be true because so many other people believe it; because it’s all over the news and we should trust the news. It is an absolute betrayal by the media of the public trust.

So if the feminist activists, social justice warriors, Hollywood stars, so called journalists and climate scientists who claim to be so offended over the changes on Whitehouse.gov aren’t willing to bother filling out the petition, maybe you should think twice about how outraged you should actually be over making something out of nothing.

When the press become propagandists, our democracy fails to function properly.

Women’s Rights March For Communism

Trump’s First 100 Days: Citizen Log #2

So why are women suddenly outraged? What are they actually marching for? Watching the marches across the nation, it’s hard to actually get a real idea of what’s being protested, challenged or demanded.

In due diligence of understanding the Women’s Marches occurring in DC and across the country I’m reading the “Unity Principles” platform presented by the leadership of the protests. In essence, this is why the march is occurring and what they actually stand for.

At it’s front, the march’s objectives seems suspicious considering that the core organizers, Angela Yvonne Davis, a former leader of the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) along with Delores Huerta of the United Farm Workers, a well known communist activist organization partner with the CPUSA.

However, reading the Unity Principles, I have to say that much of what they say in their belief statements, I agree with. Some of it wholly. Though, I tend to come to odds with them as a libertarian in their objective or outcome statements. So to understand it more I read the more expanded downloadable statements, the Guiding Vision Definition of Principles. I believe it’s important to point out that this PDF download is for distribution among supporters and by not putting it on the website itself, presents a different set of arguments to the general public and another, deeper, less nuanced and more ideologically driven view that I think the general public would find appealing. This is a tactic frequently used by cults and propagandists to recruit the unsuspecting, low information supporters into a movement through incremental indoctrination.

It is, well written with a lot of very couched language that both appeals to a person’s moral sensibilities while also echoing a dog-whistle to those with more ideological extreme views. I begin to wonder if this so called movement is more than just a chaotic representation of discontent with the electoral outcome when confronted with the reality of those events or if it is in fact just a shill game to spread communist ideals on a massive scale.

Then under Worker’s Rights, I found this:

“We stand in full solidarity with the sex workers’ rights movement. We recognize that exploitation for sex and labor in all forms is a violation of human rights.”

I almost laughed out loud. Last I checked, “sex worker’s rights” are fundamentally, the right to willfully engage in prostitution and other sex related acts of commerce that are by and large, illegal in most countries. This is in direct conflict with the principle that prostitution is exploitative of women and thus a violation of human rights. So are these people marching in support of prostitution or against it? Because to me, that sounds like they want to be on both sides of the argument. So much for solidarity. This is not an issue I think most women support.

Trying not to get hung up on this dichotomy of ideology I drudged on as issue after issue became more convoluted. Then finally, their final goal was revealed.

“We recognize that to achieve any of the goals outlined within this statement, we must work together to end war and live in peace with our sisters and brothers around the world. Ending war means a cessation to the direct and indirect aggression caused by the war economy and the concentration of power in the hands of a wealthy elite who use political, social, and economic systems to safeguard and expand their power”

Let there be no confusion about this statement. The belief that conflict originates from the concentration of power in a wealthy minority is the proletariat argument against the bourgeoisie class made by Karl Marx that is the very foundation of Marxist communist ideology.

What this march is about is so convoluted and lacking in a clear objective that it really proves it’s not actually about women’s rights. It’s about politics as a whole and convincing women to sign onto a specific overall political ideology that stands in opposition of what has, for hundreds of years now been a core American principle; capitalism. It’s about equality of outcomes not inalienable rights. It is, fundamentally, anti-American in it’s core principles. It’s not about civil rights, it’s about masking a divisive political philosophy in the more publicly palatable idea of inequality and demonisation of the movement’s opposition, which is by and large the majority of America.

“To the detractors who say this march will not add up to anything; Fuck you! Fuck You!” ~ Madona, Women’s March January 21, 2017

Well, fuck me then, because I simply refuse to see any evidence that the majority of people who attended this march to show their solidarity for women’s issues would, if they bothered to read the platform they were marching for, ultimately agree with those ideas. That’s not to say that there isn’t a growing movement of anti-capitalist, Marxist ideological support within our country but ultimately it is not the unifying element. Eventually, the conflict between the totalitarianism that is necessary to support the “equality” movement will come in conflict with those who value actual freedom and liberty, many of which are themselves women, and members of liberal minority groups.

So no, this faux movement will not amount to anything because it is not about achieving anything concrete for women and eventually, women will figure that out. Moreover, it’s more likely that a Trump administration, given time, will show that it’s not the great evil this movement’s core leadership and it’s big money sponsors wants to make him out to be and as that becomes more evident, the fear-mongering will be less effective in creating the false solidarity that it currently relies on.

Maybe I’m wrong and this isn’t really about communism and instead it’s an honest movement about Women’s issues but one thing is for sure; there is no clear objective as there was with past civil rights movements like Women’s Suffrage and the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. It does however seem to be one of the largest demonstrations of anti-American, anti-capitalist, pro-Marxist ideologies to ever occur in the country. It makes the efforts of the Occupy Wall Street seem both milder and more broadly appealing, though their objectives are nearly ideologically identical. Ultimately, it’s likely to have much of the same impact on society in the end, which is little.

Either that or just a lot of people are sore losers and just hate Donald J. Trump, personally as a man and would give power to communists out of their own fear, spite and hatred for him.

Let’s hope it ends peacefully. When communists and anarchists fail to get change peacfully, they usually resort to force.

An American First

Trump’s First 100 Days – Citizen Log #1

Possibly for the first time since Millard Fillmore in 1850, we have a president who, while he may be a Republican by party, is truly an independent. There is very little about Trump’s policy platform that is actually Republican. Trump himself has been largely, for most of his life, a liberal and a Democrat. He has taken more public action in support of the LGBTQ community than any other top political figure in American History yet he is attacked by and feared by most members of the community. Fear is a powerfully strong force to overcome once people have it. It detracts from the very fact that during his inauguration something historic actually happened. For the first time, at least in my lifetime, there were four of six living U.S. Presidents in attendance. It probably would have been five, but George H. W. Bush was in the hospital. This unprecedented event wasn’t the only historic thing that happened. Trump, during his inaugural speech severely chastised the “establishment” for it’s corrupt, selfish, ineffective and ultimately criminal governance. This wasn’t a partisan attack from the right against the leadership of the left or a rhetorical demonetization of the right by those on the left, this was an refutation not only of the Obama administration but all of the sitting presidents, congressman and legislators of our government.

It was a moment I will, forever be glad that happened. Though, I’m not sure it will truly amount to much, it is a moment I think should cause everyone to stop, take a pause and ask themselves if they really know who Donald J. Trump is, what he stands for and whether or not we should really fear him or support him fully.

Trump seems on his surface to be a crass, simple-minded, egotistical, big talking, narcissist.  Comparing his speech to Hitleresque is probably the most ignorant of comparisons. Hitler possessed an eloquence and personality that was enthralling enough to entrance a nation and emboldened a unified national view of the world. Donald Trump has no where near the speaking skills that Hitler had. If anyone in our political landscape possessed those kinds of speaking abilities, one would argue Obama is likely the most powerful speaker in American political history aside from maybe Abraham Lincoln, to which he was compared to early on in his political career.

Below the surface however, Trump is a deal maker, not a businessman. He’s a pitch-man, a negotiator and a pragmatist who wants to gain from any exchange. This can be a huge asset for our country, it’s liability is that he could fail to produce and live up to expectations leaving us with only what he could deliver between two uncompromising and incompatible isles of politics.

If the far-left is wrong about Trump and he is in fact not a racist, a bigot, or a fascist, then liberals across America will get short changed by missing the opportunity to actually negotiate their positions and do the very thing that Trump states is his objective, which is to unify the country and help us move toward a more perfect union.

A lot will be written about the inauguration speech (full text), it’s lack of eloquence or poetry, it’s simplistic rhetoric, dark tone and forceful nature. The one thing that is truly unavoidable is that Trump, from his first day in office has established that he is willing to do things differently than business as usual. The theme of his speech, “America First”, hearkens back to Woodrow Wilson’s 1916 presidential campaign with principles that put American interests before international, globalist interests and challenges both parties to be more accountable to the people they govern.

So the real question will remain, if Trump, as he says, is returning power to the people, then what are you going to do with that power? Power is only meaningful when it is used. To what end will your power be used?

Citizen Log Prelude

Trump’s 100 First Days – Citizen Log: Prelude

Much of my life has been dedicated to trying to understand the world I live in. As a technologist, it’s fundamentally important to understand the scope of the human condition if you want to develop tools to enable it to progress. Part of that is understanding how we govern ourselves and one another.

Today, for better or for worse, marks what is actually a significant day in the history of that process. Today begins the first 100 of what will, at least is expected to be 1,472 days of a government administration under the presidency of Donald J. Trump. So I have decided that this deserves a bit of my own personal and completely inconsequential perspective. Why? Because for most of my own journey through the process of understanding the political landscape I have been someone who has had a tendency to explore ideologies and sociological views in ways that most people do not and maybe my experiences and perspectives can help you come to your own conclusions.

So before we begin, let’s flashback to January 20th, 1993 when our POTUS was Bill Clinton. Having grown up in an unabashedly conservative Republican household, that was patriotic enough to use our home as a local poling place, I was, without a doubt far more involved in politics than most my age. I know this because finding people my age to even discuss politics with was near impossible unless of course it was in the smoke filled, dimly lit rooms of the southern California club scene after a punk rock show or the patio of some now long gone coffee house.

I remember the overwhelming sense of hope and potential for things actually being different. My personally disenfranchised and depressingly oppressive upbringing as the son of a minister being the the only white kid in a nearly all-black church, living in a mostly Asian neighborhood always left me feeling like a black sheep. I was the token white kid who didn’t really know what it was to be a white kid. I was, for all intensive purposes, a kid who grew up constantly part of some minority group. The experience pushed me to read a lot and as a result I became fluent in a wide range of political ideologies, especially Marxism, as any intellectual, self educated, punk rocker might have been.

As the dreams of a music career dwindled and the reality of being a graphics artist gave way to the reality of it, I began a journey not only into technology but another one in philosophy. My own socialistic principles became challenged and themselves transformed, slowly but steadily into what one would call classic liberalism. My love of history however began to create a personal conflict with my new found occupation and career path in life having found myself a job working as an information security specialist and multi-media engineer for a defense contractor. Working on a daily basis in the industry of Nuclear Missile Defense and Theater Missile Defense will give you what is called; perspective.

As a result, I ended up reading a lot of the writings of the founding fathers, readings like Common Sense, the Republic of Letters and many more. This was truly when I began to think like a Libertarian even if I hadn’t fully understood it at the time. Issues like Clinton’s support for NAFTA, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act as well as the Kyoto Protocol began to present a view of the world that was something that I believe now, was part of the very real fears that our founding fathers had even in their time.

Then came the Dot Com Boom and just as it’s inevitable bubble burst, there was 9/11, followed by it’s inevitable war, overwhelming social patriotism, the centralization of political power to the globalist movements supported by progressives in both parties. Let there be no confusion, progressives, at their core are socialists Marxists who ultimately believe in the value of a globalized government, which can only occur with the ultimate demise of the existing form of government which traditional American’s believe in. I can say this with certainty because it was that very ideal that I had turned away from when I began to realize the totalitarian result that is the inevitable method of that kind of government.

George W. Bush took office under the premise to end “Nation Building” but the realities of conducting a Global War on Terror were incompatible with those ideals and the ideals of the progressives within the Republican party and their objectives of a New World Order. Now this was, at the time, a clearly conspiracy theorist point of view. I spent the better part of a decade going from being dismissed as a far leftist to a conspiracy theorist. Then came the economic crash of 2007 and globalism, the World Bank and the globalist economy began to falter. The cat was, in a sense, not only out of the bag but the politicians were trying very hard to put them back in.

Unable to do so, Barack Obama took his message of Hope and Change to the people, promising to end the era of conservative, globalist agenda and fundamentally transform America into the progressive ideal of a global member state. In reality, Obama was only really different from Bush in that he simply did much of the same thing and doubled down on it. Obama raised taxes, increased health care costs, increased the national debt. He did nothing about the decline of our aging infrastructure. Immigration reform was simply another promise as it had been for over 30 years. long-term unemployment as a result of NAFTA and technological creative destruction was misdirected to short-term employment subsidies and an increase in our dependency on internationalism and support for the globalist agenda over the interests of our citizenry. Obama failed to win the Global War on Terror despite dropping more bombs than Bush and increasing drone assassinations, enabling the rise of ISIS in the void left behind by Al-Qaeda and a destabilized Middle East.

Polarity has become the theme of nearly every aspect of society in America. Rhetoric on both sides of the isle largely revolve around charges of racism, sexism, corruption, giving rise to a new version of Goodwin’s Law, which itself is almost evidence enough that the public discourse itself has degraded in both substance and substantiation. It’s not surprising that given the public’s ignorance eventually created the demand that Goodwin’s Law worked it’s way into the mainstream media itself. After all, if racism, sexism and every other form of bigotry doesn’t defeat your socio-political opponent, why not use Hitler to paint your enemy as evil?

I however, simply do not see it. I have followed Trump’s campaign. I’m not a supporter, nor did I vote for him, but not for the reasons that he’s a misogynist, a bigot, a fascist or Russian puppet. I didn’t vote for him for a very simple reason, the National Debt. It’s the same reason I wouldn’t vote for Hillary Clinton either. But just because I didn’t vote for him doesn’t mean he isn’t my President. He is, for better or for worse, the leader of our country and I believe, if a person actually sets aside the highly out-of-context, polarized, hyperbolic, personal attacks against Trump and actually looks at his policies they will find something very different than they have likely been led to believe.

I’m going to try and keep an open mind and look at the issues as they come. Let’s see what happens.

Who’s To Blame for Fake News?

Fake news comes in a variety of forms. It can appear as seemingly harmless satire masked as real news like the Onion or The Daily Show which leans on irony to honestly differentiate itself. It can also take the form of partisan propaganda masquerading as opinion which dominates much of our broadcast network media. It can even appear as well intended journalism published with inadequate adherence to journalistic standards or even just a flat out hoax. Ultimately, all of these forms of fake news pose serious problems to the stability of our national republic and our democratic process by eroding both the confidence in our governmental system, it’s institutions as well as the 4th Estate by creating confusion within our public discourse over the fundamental common ground of facts that our civil dialogue depends on. If we can’t agree on what the truth is, it is very difficult to agree on anything else.

Whether it’s an outright fake or propaganda, false information does nothing to help our society come together. It is the engine that drives discontent, division, confusion and hatred. In the war of ideas it is easily weaponized into logical fallacies and quickly be used to rhetorically attack opponents, dismiss rational arguments, smear reputations, spread fear and ultimately undermine the very idea of our great national endeavor of working towards a more perfect union. Falsehood is an abomination and a corruption of our nations greatest freedom and most sacred right that is the foundation of our entire civilization; the right to freedom of speech. It turns our best quality as a society against us. For that, we must be compelled to look at not only at what causes the prevalence of fake news in our modern dialogue and media but ways to discourage, countermand and fight against it while at the same time protecting the very principle of freedom of speech that allows it to exist.

Much blame can be laid at the footsteps of an educational system that fails to teach our children the general knowledge in civics and society to be able to understand the difference between what is fake and what is real. Many parents have abdicated their responsibility in this to the educational system and the state, failing in themselves to teach their children enough about the world to value standards and truth over gossip and innuendo. Society at large has more children being raised by overburdened, single parents and orphans than ever before, whom legitimately depend on the help of the state in teaching their children. Editors, in an attempt to remain relevant in an extremely competitive and rapidly changing industry have abandoned a great deal of journalistic rigor and permitted their writers to publish material that, with each increasingly poor iteration lowers the bar in an ever widening downward spiral. Publishers accepted bias in order to achieve ideological goals, having long since abandoned their principles of what it really means to serve the public as guardians of the 4rth estate. The willingness to exchange the idea of their role as defenders of our constitutional representative democracy for of a salacious, catchy, clickbait headline just to attract the most readers in order to make a buck makes them either the easy villain in the real story of fake news or the unwitting partner. I would argue that they are the latter of the two.

In the days before the World Wide Web, the publishing industry operated on a synergistic relationship of the reader, editor, publisher and advertisers. The value and role of each of these is extremely important in understanding what is going on now. Editors, seeking to ensure that the readership’s best interest was met held and established journalistic standards and were responsible for both retaining and growing their audience. Their success was tied directly to their integrity as disreputable journalist drove away paying subscribers while reputable journalism helped build an audience. Publishers protected the interest of the publication in the eyes of the advertiser, ensuring that the editorial ideology didn’t run afoul and negatively affect the reputation of the advertiser with the public.

This duality of responsibility  within a publication protected both the good of the public and the profitability of the publication’s ability to provide a service to it’s advertisers. The relationship between the publications readers and the advertisers helped keep that duality in balance.  If the publication’s editorials stepped over the line of social acceptance, the public could call for a boycott of it’s advertisers. In turn, the advertisers could pressure the publisher economically by withdrawing it’s advertising dollars; thus giving power to the “invisible hand” of the public in our capitalist system.

It was by no means perfect and false news, bad journalism, propaganda, defamation and hoaxes all existed in that system too. I think it’s safe to say, those checks and balances worked better than what we have now. The public was informed, entertained and the advertisers could market their wares and both could be done with confidence in the 4th estate as a near equal partner in our society as our three branches of government. It encouraged editors to maintain journalistic standards. Reputations and empires within media were built on this model.

That is, unfortunately, no longer the case. With the rise of the Internet over the past 20 years, most media publishers have started transitioning from print to digital; many struggling to not only understand how to transition their business models but also the revenue to keep them profitable. Most have failed to do that well. As a result, the entire news industry is flailing like a sailor jumping from a sinking ship hoping they don’t freeze to death in the icy deep. More than 100 daily papers have vanished nationwide since 2004. Those that remained had only one life-raft in the tumultuous digital ocean; Google.

Between 1994 and 2014, the profession has shed over 20,000 jobs, representing a 39% decline. ~ journalism.com

Sixteen years ago, Google turned it’s novel search engine site into what has become, the largest single advertising platform in the entire existence of humanity. Starting with only 350 advertisers in 2000, it has grown to over a million advertisers and a $60 Billion annual powerhouse. As part of that evolution, Google got into the market of helping deliver advertising for publishers. In effect, digital publishers don’t need to have an internal advertising department. Google does it all for you. It finds the advertisers, collects the ads, publishes them to your website, bills the advertisers and pays you your share after they take their (sizable) cut.

One in every four dollars of ad revenue in 2015 came in the form of digital, a small bump up from 2014 and a sizable rise from the 5% of ad revenue digital sources made up in 2006. Gains in digital ad revenue, however, have not made up for the continued decline in print revenue. ~ journalism.com

As most publishers looked to transition their print to digital platforms like the web or mobile space, they looked to Google, not their advertising departments for these solutions because, in theory, it was just superior, more efficient and more cost effective. For advertisers, this was a watershed moment. Advertising online is upwards of 20 times more effective than print advertising and unlike print advertising, the advertiser can measure the effectiveness of any ad campaign at every stage, all the way to the individual sale. In print, it’s just a theory as to how much an ad campaign contributes to sales of a product while digitally it’s empirical.

With the explosion of ad networks like Google AdSense and DoubleClick, came the drive for traffic. The very nature of digital publishing is uniquely different than print. Digital mediums carry with them the ability for virility unlike print publications. The power of content sharing means that any single piece of content can drive more ad revenue. So the more viral content becomes, the more profitable it is. However, with the growth of ad networks and viral content also came sponsored content; advertising for content, to increase the viral nature of content as a way to increase views and revenue.

Because ad networks operate as an intermediary between the advertiser and the publisher, publishers are no longer easily able to sell advertising directly. More so, advertisers have little incentive to devote ad budgets to individual publishers when they can reach more consumers by spending the same dollars on an ad network. This began what could now be referred to as the “ethereal hand” of the free market. Unfortunately, without anyone really paying attention, this ethereal hand works in direct opposition to the age old principle that our 4th estate has so successfully operated under.

In the digital world, the readership of a publication no longer has any economic force with which to impact a publisher and thus influence it’s editorial bias, standards, ethics or decency. So long as publishers rely on ad networks, editors will lack the pressure from the publisher provided to them by advertisers as a result of consumer response. Moreover, because advertisers themselves, even if they block specific publishers, have little power to influence them because the ad networks can readily and easily fill these advertising slots with other advertisers ready and willing to leverage the publishers audience. The end result of this will be a continuing decline in the quality of content and an increase in an appeal to the bassist, lowest qualities of human nature. To put it simply, the power of the people has been removed. The invisible hand has been overridden by the digital ethereal hand.

Neither can we, nor should we entrust companies like Google, who operate these ad networks to function as the protectors of the 4th estate and the public interest. These intermediaries have no vested interest in the quality of the discourse, only that the discourse continues regardless of the quality. In fact, they profit more from discontent, polarity and division rather than civil discussion and the elevation of social understanding and common ground. While public outrage and blame towards companies like Google might seem, at first, like a reasonable manifestation of the invisible hand, it has very little actual influence as an agent of change. However, currently that seems to be, for the most part, the public’s only recourse. In the absence of a reasonable recourse, the public will inevitably take action through government which puts our freedom of speech in jeopardy.

There is, however, an emerging alternative; crowd-funding. Crowd-funded websites frequently replace advertisers with a direct appeal to their readers for their revenue. A model popular for sites like Wikipedia and Wikileaks. This disconnects the entire dynamic of the advertiser and removes the publisher’s traditional role as a safeguard for ensuring that the audience makes up a clear demographic for the merchants marketing, leaving the editor the freedom to ensure higher standards for content creation. After all, he only needs to make his audience happy and the companies success will be directly reflected by the audience it has. At first glance, this sounds like an amazing solution. However, this too has an innate flaw that can be just as destructive and supportive of fake news and that’s unfettered influence from contributors to the editorial prerogative. By relying on donations alone, instead of a mixture of subscriptions and advertising, the publisher becomes fully dependent on a steady stream of contributions. This could easily lead to a corruption of the press through undisclosed politically motivated contributions under a charitable guise. Step out of the politically-correct line and your bottom line suffers. Cater to the bias and you succeed more. Without the advertiser and the full dynamic of the capitalist system behind you, it’s easy to fall into being nothing more than a single-minded, propagandist echo chamber and ultimately an ideal agent of fake news.

Ultimately, there’s no one party that’s responsible for the prevalence of fake news in modern media. It is, inexplicably, the collapse of the traditional dynamic between readers, editors, publishers and advertisers and the injection of both advertising networks and social networks that creates a new dynamic. That new dynamic has yet to find it’s way of balancing the public good and the profitability of the market to ensure both have long-term stability. As a result, publishers must make a concerted effort to help restore that balance. Editors need to return to higher editorial standards, for themselves, their journalists and push back against their publishers. Ad networks, likewise must make more of an effort not to disturb that balance more than their business model inherently does. Advertisers should develop direct relationships, when practical with publishers. Readers need to become smarter users and find new ways to push past the ethereal hand with the invisible hand. With any luck, the government won’t try to solve these issues. Until these things change, we can expect fake news, propaganda and gossip to be prominent if not even dominant in the digital era.

Political Cartoons

POLITICALCARTOONS.COM is an eCommerce licensing service for Cagle Cartoons, Inc. Specializing in delivering high-resolution political cartoon images and reprint licenses from artists all over the world. It consists of the largest collection of searchable editorial cartoons with a contextual search.

Cagle Cartoons, Inc. hired me to rebuild their online presence in 2007 and we upgraded their code base from Classic ASP to Microsoft VB.Net using ASP.Net. The improvements that were made in the visual layout and new customized shopping cart brought an immediate increase in sales.

In 2010 Cagle Cartoons, Inc came to me again to work with them to redesign the front-end interface to improve sales, make it easier to use and enhance the customer experience by adding more payment options including a Pay-Per-Use Invoicing service made available to qualified customers. The new version of the site has increased sales yet again over the following quarters consistently.