The Bundys and their religious government

❝ The Bundys are Mormons who believe that the Constitution was inspired, if not more or less dictated wholesale, by God—and that the founding of the United States was the first step toward the restoration of Zion on the continent where most of the Book of Mormon takes place. They’ve taken much of this from W. Cleon Skousen, a fervent Mormon and formative figure of the postwar America extreme-right who believed in a divine America beset by internationalist conspiracies to overthrow the Constitution. The Bundys have identified parts of the Skousenite philosophy and built their own system on top of it—as much a practical guide to living as a political schema, and it’s something they teach as all their own, without citing any influences besides the Constitution and the Bible.

❝ The Constitution, for the Bundys, is an expression of certain natural rights, which are basically our rights to life, liberty, and property, with a heavy emphasis on property. These are supposed to have been implanted by God and so natively obvious that all people sense them intrinsically. Property, for them, is gotten and maintained, in a very frontier way, by your right to “claim, use, and defend” it, as they repeat ad nauseam. It’s a strange irony of the Bundys’ ability to generate media attention that this is maybe the key trio of words in their entire ideology, but that if you Google “claim, use, defend” along with the name “Bundy,” they seem to have not been able to get a single reporter to quote the phrase.

Yeah, they sound like so many of the John Birchers, Minutemen, Klan members I’ve encountered in almost 60 years of activism for civil liberties, civil rights. Including a few family members back East. Religious bigotry comes even easier than distorting the Constitution to most of these folks. Analysts who care about this crap more than I — have written, will write over and again detailed analyses of what drives this variety of populist ideology. I can’t crank up enough curiosity to drag my attention past their nutball crap. Focussing on their outlaw habits pretending to be civil disobedience is dangerous enough. More than that is deadly boring.

One scumbag responsible for 96 million robocalls

❝ Have you ever gotten a phone call from a number that looked very similar to your own, only to pick up and realize it’s a robocall trying to sell you something?

If you have, you’re not alone. This week, the Federal Communications Commission slapped its largest fines ever on a Florida man it says is responsible for more than 96 million of those dreaded robocalls.

❝ Adrian Abramovich, the Miami man behind the scheme, was ordered to pay a $120 million fine this week as punishment for scamming millions of people with more than 96 million robocalls over a three-month period in 2016.

❝ While robocalls themselves aren’t illegal, it is illegal to “spoof” caller ID information in the name of defrauding people, which is exactly what the FCC says Abramovich did. He spoofed area codes as well as the first three digits of phone numbers in order to disguise the calls as legitimate calls from local numbers.

If you can’t do the time or pay the fine – than don’t commit the crime!

Death [and beer] from the skies

❝ It has been a bloody 24 hours in Gaza after Israel Defense Force (IDF) killed at least 61 Palestinians and injured more than 2700 as some protestors attempted to cross the border into Israel…

Israeli soldiers often fire teargas en masse to dispurse protestors. It was only in March, however, that they started using drones as a method for teargas delivery.

At another more crass intersection of tech and greed…

❝ With the 2018 FIFA World Cup scheduled to start in Russia on June 14, sponsor and beer maker Budwesier launched an ad showing swarms of beer-carrying drones deliver brewskies to people while travelling through different countries. The ad was made in part of Budweiser’s global campaign, which is called “Light up The FIFA World Cup.”

Same as it ever was. Advances in technology are neither beneficial nor destructive by definition. It takes human beings to introduce decisions based on greed – or most often – yeah, it’s still greed.

Cambridge Analytica shuts down — and Emerdata is open for business!

❝ Embattled psychographics firm Cambridge Analytica and its affiliated company SCL Elections announced on 2 May 2018 they will file for insolvency following scandal over its misuse of millions of Facebook users’ data in relation to consequential elections.

Some of the firm’s key officials have migrated to a new company, Emerdata, even as questions remain about where that data might be. According to business filings in the UK, Cambridge Analytica funder Rebekah Mercer and her sister Jennifer are listed as Emerdata directors, as are former acting chief executive officers Alexander Tayler and Julian Wheatland.

Former CEO Alexander Nix was also listed as an Emerdata director, but resigned. Nix was suspended by Cambridge Analytica’s board after Britain’s Channel 4 published an undercover camera investigation in which he was caught discussing dirty election tricks like using sex workers to seduce and then blackmail candidates.

❝ New York-based investigative journalist Wendy Siegelman, who first reported on Emerdata, told us that some have expressed concern that closing some of the company’s operations could be an attempt to hinder access to data by investigators…

Like, um, CA is closed down. I guess we don’t need to keep any info anymore on who bought our dirty tricks albums, eh?

Thanks, Om Malik

American Racism — Precursor to Hitler

❝ Americans have an especially insatiable appetite for Nazi-themed books, films, television shows, documentaries, video games, and comic books. Stories of the Second World War console us with memories of the days before Vietnam, Cambodia, and Iraq, when the United States was the world’s good-hearted superpower, riding to the rescue of a Europe paralyzed by totalitarianism and appeasement. Yet an eerie continuity became visible in the postwar years, as German scientists were imported to America and began working for their former enemies; the resulting technologies of mass destruction exceeded Hitler’s darkest imaginings. The Nazis idolized many aspects of American society: the cult of sport, Hollywood production values, the mythology of the frontier. From boyhood on, Hitler devoured the Westerns of the popular German novelist Karl May. In 1928, Hitler remarked, approvingly, that white settlers in America had “gunned down the millions of redskins to a few hundred thousand.” When he spoke of Lebensraum, the German drive for “living space” in Eastern Europe, he often had America in mind.

❝ Among recent books on Nazism, the one that may prove most disquieting for American readers is James Q. Whitman’s “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law” (Princeton). On the cover, the inevitable swastika is flanked by two red stars. Whitman methodically explores how the Nazis took inspiration from American racism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He notes that, in “Mein Kampf,” Hitler praises America as the one state that has made progress toward a primarily racial conception of citizenship, by “excluding certain races from naturalization.” Whitman writes that the discussion of such influences is almost taboo, because the crimes of the Third Reich are commonly defined as “the nefandum, the unspeakable descent into what we often call ‘radical evil.’ ” But the kind of genocidal hatred that erupted in Germany had been seen before and has been seen since. Only by stripping away its national regalia and comprehending its essential human form do we have any hope of vanquishing it.

❝ …In our current age of unapologetic racism and resurgent authoritarianism, the mechanics of Hitler’s rise are a particularly pressing matter. For dismantlers of democracy, there is no better exemplar.

Often pedantic, sometimes dry, always factual – which is why conservatives ranging from Holocaust deniers to Trumplicans will hate this article as much as they hate the whole history of the fight for civil rights in America..

Trump is stealing America blind

On Inauguration Day…As the new president’s motorcade left the Capitol, rolling past knots of supporters and protesters, it suddenly stopped three blocks short of the White House. Trump, the First Lady, and the rest of his family got out of their limos and took a three-minute turn in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue.

❝ This was no random spot. The very first place Trump headed after being sworn in — his true destination all along, in a sense — was the Old Post Office and Clock Tower, which only 12 days before the election had been repurposed as the Trump International Hotel Washington. The elegant granite structure, whose architectural character Trump had promised to preserve, was now besmirched by a gaudy, faux-gold sign bearing his name. The carefully choreographed stop sent a clear signal to the foreign governments, lobbyists, and corporate interests keen on currying favor in Washington: The rewards of government would now be reaped by a single man — and the people would bear the cost…

❝ Nowhere has the self-enrichment been more evident than at his Washington hotel, which quickly filled up with the very lobbyists and swamp creatures Trump had railed against during his campaign. Oil companies, mining interests, insurance executives, foreign diplomats, and defense contractors all rushed to book their annual conferences at Trump’s hotels and resorts, where Cabinet members graciously addressed them. After hiking the nightly rate to $653 — 32 percent higher than other local luxury hotels — Trump collected $2 million in profits from the property during his first three months in office…

Draining the swamp, of course, is never going to happen. Not with the government run by a crook like our fake president. As the chumps who voted for him realize how many ways they’re being screwed by “tax reform”, as their children and grandchildren face the task of paying for the trillion$ deficit gifted by Trump and his pimps in a Republican-run Congress – perhaps, only perhaps – they may begin to learn that the slogan “as seen on TV” usually buys you overpriced crap that fails a day or two after the warranty expires.