Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Paid Troll Phenomenon

This interview sheds light on paid trolls who are defined as online propagandists. They help disseminate a certain outlook, discredit particular ideas, promote a brand, suppress particular ideas.... It is too bad the article does not focus also on western paid trolls. There are companies such as reputation.com which provide the service in North America. http://www.reputation.com/myreputation


Interview with a Paid Troll

Jesse Walker | May 10, 2011
In China, you can make money posting pro-government arguments in comment threads. Ai Weiwei has interviewed a man who says he's one of these online propagandists. Here's an excerpt:

I miss the human touch an analog Red Guard brought to the job.

Generally, it works with one of us, or a small group of us, being responsible for certain major websites. I principally deal with a number of our BBS (bulletin-board) sites and major news portals, and I'll often spend time in the news section at QQ.com. The work flow is generally in three major steps like this -- receive a task, then begin searching for topics, and after that begin making posts to channel public opinion. So next I'll get in to the specifics of what each step entails.

So receiving a task basically means making sure you check your e-mail every day, often checking your messages, or we set up a QQ Group. But generally we don't talk about this content in the Group. We generally just say there's work to be done, and remind everyone to check their e-mails. Generally, after something happens, and sometimes before new stories even break, we'll receive an e-mail. It will tell you first about the incident, about the news, and then tell you what orientation to take. So it tells you a general ideological orientation, and you go and channel the ideas of web users toward that orientation, or you go and blur the focus of web users, or you might go and stir the emotions of web users [over some issue]...Once you understand these instructions, you begin to select your subjects [or objectives], finding relevant news or articles on websites and then writing one's own articles, making posts [in the response  section, and responding to other responses, all along the lines of the general orientation given above. This requires a lot of skill. You must hide your own identity. And you can't write in too official a way. You have to write articles of many different styles. Sometimes this means talking, fighting and disputing with yourself. Essentially, it's about creating a facade and then channeling web users over to you. The art of doing this is actually quite profound.

Don't let this happen to you!

In fact, in a single forum you have to play three different roles. One is the leader. Another is the follower. The third is the observer, which is to say the masses ignorant of the facts. So first off is the leader. This is a speaker with relative authority. The leader generally steps into the debate later on, drawing out strong evidence with which to speak. The language from this character is relatively authoritative. Generally, the public will view this sort of person as credible. As to the second, the follower, there are basically two types, two types in opposition. These two characters are constantly debating and arguing, and even name calling, in opposition in the forum. This serves to draw the attention of observers. Then, in the end, the leader steps out, drawing on strong evidence. And ultimately, public opinion is drawn over to this third side [of the leader]. You could say we are like directors, and we write, direct and act all on our own, and in this way influence our audience. So there are times when I feel my personality is quite split.

Interview with a Paid Troll

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Trouble with Experts Part 2

Though this documentary is interesting, it is limited by the premise that all experts are questionable, and thereby belittles experts who know what they are talking about.






Alberta's electoral system ailing, says democracy watchdog

By Bill Kaufmann, Calgary Sun

First posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 04:21 PM MST | Updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 04:35 PM MST

Alberta’s electoral system is ailing under the weight of big-money influence and other inequities, charges a democracy advocate group.

After gauging Alberta’s media and campaign funding laws and electoral system, the province earned a mediocre grade of 54%, said Stephen Garvey, executive director of Calgary-based Foundation for Democratic Advancement (FDA).

“It’s very close to a fail zone — it’s not acceptable to be in that zone,” said Garvey.

In comparison, France, which Garvey says has a much more representative democratic electoral process, scores close to 100%.

Playing too big a factor in Alberta’s scenario is a $30,000 limit on single donations to a political party, compared to $6,000 in France he said.

And there’s no expenditure limit in Alberta for parties or candidates, argued Garvey, who said his group has done 30 such audits worldwide.

“It favours the more wealthy side, which favours corporations,” he said, adding that heightens the risk of corporate influence on government.

During the 2008 provincial election, the Tories acquired 36% more in campaign funding than all the other parties combined, said Garvey.

That, along with government setting election rules, he said, tilts the advantage to the 41-year-old PC dynasty.

“The root of it is, it’s a self-serving agenda,” said Garvey.

Media laws suspected of skewing election results fared worst in the group’s grading with a 45% score.

Even South America’s Bolivia had more equitable media laws, with a requirement that press ownership be divided equally between government, private business and social groups, said Garvey.

“If the media is imbalanced to one or two parties, people won’t be properly informed,” he said.

He noted Alberta’s PCs won 86.7% of the seats by garnering 52.7% of the vote in 2008, only one factor that discouraged 60% of voters from casting a ballot, said Garvey.

“A lot of people see the system for what it is,” he said.

He called Premier Alison Redford’s proposals to reform the electoral system “cosmetic.”

bill.kaufmann@sunmedia.ca

twitter@SUNbillkaufmann

 "Alberta's electoral system ailing, says democracy watchdog


Alberta electoral system borders a failed state

Main findings of the 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on Alberta: 

In terms of its legislated process, the Alberta provincial electoral system received an overall unacceptable electoral fairness score of 54 percent (out of a reasonably attainable score of 100 percent). In addition, the Alberta system received three unacceptable scores and one failing score in the four audit sections.

The FDA believes that these scores reflect both a strong core electoral process, and yet significant deficiencies in the areas of electoral finance and political content of media. The FDA argues that the Alberta electoral process, in particular, dominance by the premier and cabinet of the Legislative Assembly, non-regulation of major media, high caps on contributions and third party spending, inclusion of corporations and unions in the electoral process, and no campaign expenditure limits, undermines the legitimacy of Alberta's democracy.

The FDA believes that the Alberta electoral system requires reform in order to create a basis for an equal playing field for candidates and parties and a broad and balanced electoral discourse. The FDA believes that the implementation of its reform recommendations will create an informed electorate, competitive elections, and an Alberta Legislature that more significantly reflects the voice of the people from its districts.

2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Alberta 

Executive Summary of the 2012 FDA Electoral Fairness Report on Alberta 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Insight into the Mass Disbursement of Inaccurate, False Information

This documentary (part 1) provides insight into the mass disbursement of inaccurate information by apparent experts. One troubling aspect of this phenomenon is that inaccurate and false information can be used to justify unpopular government policy, and even be used to sway public opinion. Obviously, inaccurate and exaggerated information is part of electoral processes as a means to discredit a candidate or party, or to gain popular support. Some recent examples are the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, with ties to the Republican Party, which accused falsely US President Candidate Kerry of lying to get Vietnam war medals, or the Conservative Party of Canada's ad attacks on the former Liberal Leader Ignatieff for living excessively abroad, when in fact Mr. Ignatieff lived 35 years of his life (as of 2010) in Canada, and the Government of Canada under the Conservative Party supports study abroad....



Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dawn of the new breed of US Superdonor through Super PACs

In this somewhat biased article, Jim Rutenberg shows several recent examples of Republicans donating millions to super PACs. The FDA finds it incredulous that the Democrats have "relatively few counterparts" doing the same thing.

New breed of Superdonor

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

FDA Media Advisory on the Alberta Electoral System

The PC Party's Changes to the Alberta Election Law are Cosmetic

Just prior to the likely announcement of the 2012 Alberta elections, the Alberta PC Party has announced proposed changes to Alberta election law. (The FDA believes the timing of this release may be an attempt by the PC Party to build its credibility just prior to the election.)

The proposed changes are as follows:
  • Changing the way enumerators are appointed so that constituency associations and political parties are no longer involved.
  • Broadening the investigative powers of the chief electoral officer.
  • Opening advance polls to anyone who wishes to vote early.
  • Giving Albertans who are prisoners the right to vote.
  • Improving third-party advertising legislation.
  • Requiring campaign deficits to be paid off, with reports sent to the chief electoral officer.
  • Increasing safeguards for the list of electors.
  • Updating the types of information voters present at polling stations.
The FDA finds the changes are cosmetic, when compared to significant deficiencies in the election system, such as high caps on donations and third party spending, no regulation of the political content of media, no media ownership concentration laws, no exclusion of corporations and unions from electoral finance, premier and cabinet dominance of the Alberta legislature, no proportional representation etc.

On February 28th, the FDA will be publishing its report on the Alberta electoral system. Please compare the changes the Alberta PC Party is proposing, and what the FDA recommends.

PC Parties Proposed Changes to Election Law

FDA Media Advisory on the Alberta Electoral System 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Freedom meets Freedumb, and Freedumb Scurries Away...

In this amusing video, a student journalist questions an Arizona state senator on his policies. The student catches the senator in a lie, and the senator responds by backtracking and eventually leaves the room. Why he left the room is unknown, and it may have been simply he had to use the washroom... but his lie is clear. Was the state senator caught off guard by the student journalist? Can we infer that regular journalists don't ask reasonable questions or don't have evidential support? All we know for sure is the lie (or contradiction) by senator:



Friday, February 17, 2012

Thoughts on the Compatibility of Capitalism and Democracy

This interesting passage on Capitalism and Democracy by Kevin Carroll argues implicitly that capitalism needs to be held in check, otherwise it will run rampant over democracy. Are we seeing capitalism through lobbyists and other entities run rampant in the USA, Canada and other western countries?

"There must always be a palpable tension between government and industry. Without it, the reason for government (the care and safety of the people who comprise a given society) becomes lost to GDP numbers and issues of financial solvency (as interpreted by outside interests). Historically, societies that have failed in maintaining that tension have failed to survive, and yet it's as if we persist is believing that good government is akin to good business - which just isn't true and has historically never been the case.

Regardless of all that, what we call Capitalism is an elite government welfare system, where the moneyed and powerful siphon money and power from societies through the government bureaucracies that they built. Most of their theft is bureaucratic in nature, and is the result of managing the way that laws and regulations are specifically implemented and specifically enforced (or not enforced, as the case may be). The Executive Branch is where these manipulations occur, and deep within the bowels of each agency that is tasked with monitoring and ensuring compliance of regulatory law.

In fact, it's not that small business is regulated to death, it's that big business owns the regulatory enforcement mechanism to the detriment of emerging business competitors. Do an org chart of the CIA sometime, and it'll amaze you how often Wall St. brokerage firms are the training ground for that agency' most powerful and entrenched bureaucrats. Those seasoned pros tasked with interpreting general policies as specific and targeted action items.

In each state and federal agency, the same can be seen when doing org charts. Layers of capitalism's most stable successes firmly planted within agencies that are tasked with determining the regulatory compliance of their very own industries of origin, and directing investigations where companies within those industries have been in violation of those regulations."

Orlando Hawkins writes:

"If democracy is about the people, in which everyone is deemed to be equals, and capitalism is about the individual, then it would be pretty tough to have a system that will fulfill both needs......"

Corporations are people, and freedumb is freedom, right?

In this video, Romney states that corporations are people, because the profits corporations earn go to people; so tax the people (and not the corporations).



The meaning of "Freedumb" as opposed to "Freedom"

From the Urbandictionary, there are three listings for freedumb:

1. That the dumb should remain free. A corrupted view of freedom based in mass ignorance of what real freedom requires.

The distorted view of the majority population in the United States, who believe that it is not necessary to be intelligent and informed in order to remain free. The concept that unchecked politicians and Multi-National Corporations and NGO's will protect individual civil liberties and not impose various forms of slavery on their subjects. Not knowing the difference between freedom, and fascism is a common trait of lovers of freedumb.

2. When people excercise freedom in a stupid manner, causing negative results.'

Now that Rhonda is 18, she is excercising her sexual freedumb. She's had unprotected sex with 25 guys this year and now she has AIDS.

3. When evil rich people exploit and oppress dumb poor people and then convince them it’s all for their freedom; if dumb people believe this they are said to have “freedumb.” Also when evil rich people bomb brown people to death to steal petroleum, they say it’s because of freedom. When dumb people believe this, again you’ve got freedumb.

Oilperation Iraqi Freedumb slaughtered a quarter million of our relatives for petroleum.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Severe Conservatism in the USA and Elsewhere??

In this interesting and humorous article, Paul Krugman looks at the syndrome in the USA called severe conservatism, and in the end identifies severe conservatism and the people who espouse it as severely disconnected from the common person. 

In this video, Romney's progression in his own words from a moderate to progressive to severely conservative is documented.

Severe Conservative Syndrome




Conservative Party of Canada and Harper Mask Attempted Erosion of Canadian Civil Liberties

The Conservative Party of Canada and Harper have tabled a bill, C-30, in the House of Commons which would allow enforcement authorities free access to Canadians' personal electronic information such as emails, twitter accounts, facebook pages, cell phone records etc., The Conservatives and Harper justify this partly on the need to protect Canadian families from child porn. The FDA finds their reasoning manipulative and shallow, because it disregards the value of lawful search warrants. In a historical political context, taking a moral position to justify some form of aggression or assault on fundamental rights has been common place. For example, Hitler used a similar moral argument against Poland prior to World War II, claiming that Germany has to act against Poland, because Polish Germans were being discriminated against, harmed, and even killed. In contrast, the Conservatives and Harper use child porn as a justification to attack/erode Canadian civil liberties. The danger of the Conservatives and Harper approach is that authorities can abuse the free access to target and silence political adversaries and citizens based on ideological grounds. The Conservatives and Harper's bill is in the courts to determine if it violates Section 8 of the Canadian Charter which is against unlawful search and seizure. 

Whenever discussing the Conservative Party of Canada and Harper, it is important to remember that in the 2011 Canadian federal election, the Conservative Party received 39.6% of voter support and 24.3% of overall voter support (including non-voters), and yet they received 54% majority in the Canadian Parliament. The majority of Canadian MPs write the Canadian elections laws. These laws are a creation of the Liberal Party of Canada and Conservative Party of Canada over the last several decades.

The FDA is working hard to change in Canada and around the world who creates election laws. The FDA believes that elected officials should not write the election laws of their own election game (due to the obvious conflict of interest and strong evidence of self-serving agendas). Rather, an elected, non-partisan, independent citizen bodies should create the election laws. Also, the FDA is opposed to corporations participation in democratic processes, whether through campaign contributions or third-party spending. The FDA believes that democracy is only about the people (one vote, one person, will of the people), and that corporations have no place being involved in democratic processes.  

Conservatives and Harper Threaten Canadian Civil Liberties  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Fairness for All not Class Warfare

In the video, Nancy Pelosi, US minority leader of the US Congress says issues of rights, fairness, and democracy have nothing to do with class warfare; rather, these concepts are fundamental to the USA (at least in theory).

The FDA electoral fairness report on the USA, for instance, shows that the US federal electoral system is 70 percent unfair.




Nader on the US Corporate Bailouts

In this video, Nader makes some interesting points about the Bush and Obama billion dollar corporate bailouts in 2008. Nader questions why there weren't public hearings on such an enormous bailout, and why financial institutions based on speculation and capitalism for example aren't accountable for their own errors rather than the American tax payers? Is there any bailout of the millions of Americans who have lost their homes over five years? Is their disconnect between the US political establishment and the American people?

 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Big Money Writing the People's Laws (Politician a Talking Middle Person)

This interesting article shows at the US State level government that there are organizations funded by corporations such as ALEC, whose purpose is not only to influence state legislation in favor of member corporations and money interests, but also to write the state legislation, and the state politicians pass the legislation as their own.

The FDA does not represent big money or corporations. Yet interestingly we will be publishing shortly a universal election act, in response to the lack of election act standard and the widespread abuse and misuse of democratic processes. 

Big Money Behind State Laws

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Corporations run Alberta and for their Benefit?

Could Alberta be one of the biggest democracy fraud's in the world? Is Alberta's corporate governance structure a model for the Conservative Party of Canada and Harper at the federal level of Canada?

In this video, Alberta author Taft shows the disconnect between wealthy corporations operating in Alberta and the people of Alberta, in terms of wealth derived primarily from the Alberta tar sands. (Please note the video is self-promotional by the author of the book he had written; the FDA were unable to delete that from the video.)

In the upcoming FDA report on the Alberta electoral system, the FDA will show, among other things, the systematic infiltration of Alberta democracy by corporate interests and how the structure of the Alberta government allows for easy manipulation of the Alberta government by money interests through the Alberta cabinet which has dictatorial powers over the Alberta legislature.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

US Mortgage Crisis Linked to Disconnect Between Ruling Elite and the People?

This video captures captures the recent pervasive mortgage fraud in the USA. Interestingly, the US government under Obama soon into his presidency bailed out many US corporations and financial institutions with hundreds of billions (800 billion in total) of US tax dollars. (Obama's bailout was a continuation of the George Bush bailout policy already in place called the Trouble Asset Relief Program (TARP), not including Obama's bailout of the US auto industry with 14 billion of US tax dollars. Obama with control of the US Senate and Congress early in his presidency could have prevented the TARP bailout.)

The FDA "Money and Democracy" podcast (Part 1) discusses partly the corruption of democracies through the union of money interests and politicians.



FDA "Money and Democracy" (Part 1) 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Orman an example of cheap political talk??

Recently Suze Orman appeared on Bill Maher went on about the struggle of American homeowners and the disappearing American dream.

HBO Real Time; Suze Orman

Yet if you look at this blog, for example, Orman's statements are contradicted with evidential support from survey results:

What-is-suze-orman-talking-about?

Yet here is a video on the demise of American housing prices and the houses themselves etc,:

There goes the neighborhood

Is this a lessen that the better speakers do not necessarily have the better and more sound ideas?!

2012 FDA Audit Results on the Alberta Provincial Electoral System

On Tuesday February 7th, a five person FDA electoral audit team audited the Alberta Provincial Electoral System. The team applied research of the Alberta system to FDA matrices. These were the main results:

Electoral Finance  54.86 percent

Political content of Media  45 percent

Candidate and Party Influence  51 percent

Voter Influence  65.3 percent

Overall Score  54 percent

(The maximum score attainable for each section and overall is 100 percent (complete electoral fairness); the minimum score attainable is 0 percent (complete electoral unfairness).

The overall score means that 46 percent of the Alberta provincial electoral system is unfair. The FDA audit team factored 52 independent variables into the audit, and 127 non-independent variables. The FDA scoring is based on qualitative analysis of relevant research based on comparative soundness of facts and the application fundamental democratic principles such as one person, one vote, and the will of the people. The qualitative analysis is then converted into a quantitative component through the FDA matrices. 

The FDA Electoral Fairness Audit Report on the Alberta's Provincial Electoral System will be published shortly.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Limited Chinese Prespectives on Democracy and Society

In this video only two Chinese perspectives are displayed. One perspective supports an authoritarian regime for the apparent social stability and thereby economic gain, and the other perspective does not question the authority of government:

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Anderson from the Wildrose Cheap Words about Democracy?

In this video of the Alberta legislature on December 2, 2010, MLA Rob Anderson talks about the apparent demise of Alberta's democracy through fear, intimidation, smear campaigns, censorship by the PC party against all the other parties.

In the 2008, the Wildrose's democracy platform consisted of the following:

A Wildrose Alliance Government will institute fixed election dates for all elected officials in Alberta. MLAs will be elected to a four (4) year term. The Legislative Assembly will be able to call a vote of non-confidence at any time. A Wildrose Alliance Government will institute a Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform to assess all possible models for electing MLAs, including preferential ballots, proportional representation and our current electoral system. If the assembly recommends changes to the current electoral system the proposed changes will be put to a provincewide referendum.
A Wildrose Alliance Government will set the maximum number of terms that a Premier can serve to two consecutive four-year terms.
(Source: FDA's Full Evaluation and Ranking Document of the Nine Alberta Political Parties in the 2008 Alberta General Election)

The Wildrose Party, a more right wing party than the PC party, had no democracy reform policies on electoral finances, media laws, and who actually creates the electoral laws. In the opinion of the FDA, these three areas of reform are the most significant. In Alberta as is the case with Canada at the federal level, the majority of elected officials create the electoral laws of their own electoral game. The upcoming FDA audit report on the Alberta provincial electoral system will have concrete recommendations on advancing democratically Alberta's electoral structure/process.

    


2008 FDA Report on the Nine Alberta Political Parties

Monday, February 6, 2012

Bill Moyers echoes Americans Struggle for Democracy

In this insightful commentary, Bill Moyers states that plutocracy, the rule of the rich, has usurped American democracy, through a system of favorable market governments or marriage of money and democracy: plutocracy. See any parallels with the market friendly Harper conservative government? Is the Harper government favorable to big business or the people?

The underlying flaw of the western political systems is that the majority of elected officials write the electoral laws of their own electoral game. This blatant self-serving conflict of interest is a main cause of the demise of western democracies. The FDA recommends that non-partisan elected citizen bodies create the election laws.



Big US politicians and corporations stomp on the little people?

Ed Schultz exposes the power of big money in trampling the little people. Also, the Republican plan on closing the US Postal Service apparently has an ulterior motive of suppressing voting in states' like Oregon in which voting is based on mail voting.

The FDA recent "Money and Democracy" discusses the power in money in democracy.

The Conservative government in Canada, in line with the US republicans, has attacked the Canadian Post Office in the same fashion, and recently sided with the Corporation over the workers in a contract dispute by forcing end to negotiations and making the guidelines of the arbitrator in favor of the Corporation, and funding reports which recommend that the letter carrier, a main human component of the post office, has to go. Presently, the Canada Post is in the process of a major technology transition, in which sorting machines will replace many CPC workers.


FDA Podcast on Money and Democracy

Thursday, February 2, 2012

FDA Podcast: Money and Democracy Part 1 of 2

In this month's podcast, Mr. Stephen Garvey FDA founder and executive director chairs a seven person panel on the topic of should citizens with more money have more political say in a democratic society? This podcast is part 1 of 2. "Money" refers to an individual's wealth, and "political say" refers political influence prior to an election and during the term of a government. The panelists are comprised of Mr. Marc Power, Alberta NDP candidate for Calgary-Klein electoral division, Mr. Artur Pawlowski, member of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada and lead pastor at the Street Church Ministries based out of Calgary, Dr. Lisa Young, Political Science Professor at the University of Calgary, Mr. Dale Monette, FDA Director of Finance, Mr. Norm Kelley, Alberta Party candidate for the Calgary-Prairie electoral division, and Mr. Jim Blake member of the Christian Heritage Party of Canada and national chairman of the Concerned Christians Canada. The two political representatives were randomly selected. The views in this podcast do not necessarily represent the views of the FDA. For non-mainstream, insightful, and provocative discussion from people working in the field of international politics, listen in or download the FDA podcasts.

Money and Democracy Part 1 of 2

Eisenhower Forewarns of Threat to Democracy and the People

In his farewell speech in 1961, Eisenhower talks about the threat from the US military industrial complex to liberties and democratic processes, and he encourages Americans to be politically active and vigilant to protect their freedoms. In contrast, US politicians like Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney talks about quiet rooms and the politics of envy.