Here it is: the Orwellian monster that is Cambridge Analytica.
Extra! Extra! Read all about it…
The Data That Turned the World Upside Down
It has a data-gathering practice called OCEAN, an acronym for openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism. It analyzes all that data to see what sort of voter you are. This corporation is behind the fascist-populist coup d’état that we are now laboring under.
How did this pertain to Donald J. Trump? Just look three-quarters of the way into the article:
Trump’s striking inconsistencies, his much-criticized fickleness, and the resulting array of contradictory messages, suddenly turned out to be his great asset: a different message for every voter. The notion that Trump acted like a perfectly opportunistic algorithm following audience reactions is something the mathematician Cathy O’Neil observed in August 2016.
These “dark posts”—sponsored Facebook posts that can only be seen by users with specific profiles—included videos aimed at African-Americans in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, for example.
“Pretty much every message that Trump put out was data-driven,” Alexander Nix remembers. On the day of the third presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, Trump’s team tested 175,000 different ad variations for his arguments, in order to find the right versions above all via Facebook. The messages differed for the most part only in microscopic details, in order to target the recipients in the optimal psychological way: different headings, colors, captions, with a photo or video. This fine-tuning reaches all the way down to the smallest groups, Nix explained in an interview with us. “We can address villages or apartment blocks in a targeted way. Even individuals.”
In the Miami district of Little Haiti, for instance, Trump’s campaign provided inhabitants with news about the failure of the Clinton Foundation following the earthquake in Haiti, in order to keep them from voting for Hillary Clinton. This was one of the goals: to keep potential Clinton voters (which include wavering left-wingers, African-Americans, and young women) away from the ballot box, to “suppress” their vote, as one senior campaign official told Bloomberg in the weeks before the election. These “dark posts”—sponsored news-feed-style ads in Facebook timelines that can only be seen by users with specific profiles—included videos aimed at African-Americans in which Hillary Clinton refers to black men as predators, for example.
Just how precisely the American population was being targeted by Trump’s digital troops at that moment was not visible, because they attacked less on mainstream TV and more with personalized messages on social media or digital TV. And while the Clinton team thought it was in the lead, based on demographic projections, Bloomberg journalist Sasha Issenberg was surprised to note on a visit to San Antonio—where Trump’s digital campaign was based—that a “second headquarters” was being created. The embedded Cambridge Analytica team, apparently only a dozen people, received $100,000 from Trump in July, $250,000 in August, and $5 million in September. According to Nix, the company earned over $15 million overall. (The company is incorporated in the US, where laws regarding the release of personal data are more lax than in European Union countries. Whereas European privacy laws require a person to “opt in” to a release of data, those in the US permit data to be released unless a user “opts out.”)
“Populism” is what’s popular – what the masses like.
When the masses are allowed to be bullies – to engage in mob rule – and are incited to do so by a bully-in-chief – we have fascism.
Out with the liberal elite, who study the issues before us all carefully, cry the populists. Liberals are evil, they aren’t like us, they are educated and calm, they include everyone in the political and social processes that make nations run, and they bother to do research. That’s not of interest to people who don’t like the answers revealed by research and study.
No…the populists – the fascists – don’t care what the research says, because it gets in the way of making money, and in the way of growth.
The trouble with following the bully is that the bully is out for himself, NOT for the individuals who make up the mass. Voter remorse is slow to kick in – so slow that the damage is always well underway by the time it is seen by the populist masses.
That is the maddening situation before us all, liberals and populists alike.
Some of us did all of the right things: think, research, plan for the long-term, vote at every opportunity (plus we weren’t stopped at the polls).
Others simply voted without researching, reacting emotionally and pulling the trigger on a reality show host, unleashing him on the world as well as on Americans.
That’s only part of the story, however.
It was on my mind for quite a while: how did this happen, exactly?!
It wasn’t simply that the Russians hacked the Democratic National Committee, sharing e-mails and a polenta recipe with the world.
That wasn’t enough. It wouldn’t get the job done – the evil job of placing an autocratic with a weak ego and a narcissistic need for constant validation in the White House.
No: a psychological manipulation, engineered by humans armed with an algorithm, was used.
Steve Bannon is a board member of Cambridge Analytica.
Just to review, Steve Bannon is that bloated bully with a propensity for alcohol who directs the Pumpkingropenfuehrer’s pen and who has inserted himself into the White House staff, supplanting the National Security Council.
He wants to destroy the current world order so that he can build up a “new” one – one that bears a suspicious resemblance to Nazi Germany. Now he’s made the cover of Time magazine, in all his vicious, bilious glory.
Steve Bannon: The unelected ‘alt-right’ figurehead running the White House
With a self-professed white supremacist running the show, one who sees problems with letting valid green card holders and other legal immigrants enter the United States, we are watching democracy commit suicide, just as John Adams predicted that it eventually would.
Republican politicians, and some Democrats, are doing end-runs around the democratic process.
They want to end protections for groups that need it most, and the effect is to incite a new world order that, for those groups, is a reign of terror. Yet they have the nerve to call others terrorists.
The day after the election, an African-American woman at a rest stop had an experience that no one should ever have – one that many of us had thought was a relic of the past. It was just one of many such incidents that have taken place since the election, as bigots everywhere have suddenly felt safe from any repercussions for criminal behavior – for terrorism. She posted about it on Facebook:
Fear-mongering about immigrants is done by racists who don’t want to share space with people from different cultures. When actual data of perpetrators of violent crimes is studied, surprise – it turns out that citizens of the United States are at fault.
This article by former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley explains the situation in detail:
The Truth Behind “Sanctuary” Cities
But never mind; this is not what “people” want to hear or read.
It doesn’t fit with their assumptions and prejudices, so it will be disregarded.
Here is another problem with this failure of facts to line up with assumptions: the 9/11 terrorists were from nations that are not on the list of nations whose citizens are blocked (or wished blocked by the Thief-in-Chief’s administration and Acting President Bannon). These nations are Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Pumpkingropenfuehrer is popular in those nations right now, but not so much in Iran, Iraq, Syria, and the others on that list.
Really, we must tremble in fear of cardiology residents from Iran who are coming to Harvard to complete their residencies, college students, interpreters from Iraq who helped U.S. soldiers, and 5-year-old children who don’t yet understand let alone care about politics.
The Farmers that I write about in my dystopian series, Nae-Née (banksters, hedge fundsters, corporatists) have bought their way into government offices. They are about to wreak havoc on the ecosystem, starting with the oil pipelines that can and will leak fossil fuels into the water supply while ripping through sacred Native American tribe’s burial grounds, as the Pumpkingropenfuehrer enables his colleagues to suck every last drop of benefit from said ecosystem as fast as they can. It’s all about profit today, with the long-term natural security of future generations deemed irrelevant.
What crop are they growing other than unquestioning cannon fodder, one wonders?
None, because there will be so little left to enjoy in the ecosystem once the Farmers are done.
They have bought politicians, gerrymandered their way to a gross imbalance of political power, and thus done an end-run around democracy.
Here is a case in point:
Marco Rubio Took Almost $100,000 From Betsy DeVos’ Family Before Confirming Her Today
Rubio has taken a total of $98,300 from DeVos and her family members, according to Federal Election Commission reports crunched by the Center for American Progress (CAP).
That’s a decent chunk of cash, even in a GOP Senate where DeVos rained nearly $1 million. And as the CAP noted, DeVos hasn’t been shy about why she donates so heavily to Republican causes.
“I have decided, however, to stop taking offense at the suggestion that we are buying influence,” DeVos told Roll Call back in the late ’90s. “Now I simply concede the point. They are right… We expect a return on our investment.”
To be fair, in that quote DeVos was referring to her wish for a conservative-dominated government, but her point still dovetails nicely with what happened: A major party donor was confirmed by the same people she funded, over loud objections from the people she’ll be in charge of.
That’s just one example, but as this Internet meme shows, there are plenty more:
Paul Ryan is in with the Farmers, who view the rest of us as a crop or a weed – to harvest and manipulate as they see fit, or to erase as we irritate them. I also think of this crew as vampires, sucking us dry of resources and life. He has parted company with his conscience, as have the others, who are for sale.
As a result, The Onion, which is famous for its satiric representation of reality, posted this:
Conscience Quietly Let Go as Paul Ryan Policy Advisor
Many individuals, both in and out of political office, refuse to acknowledge scientific data when that data conflicts with their prejudices. For example, I have chosen an issue which determines a woman’s entire future and whether or not she can avoid poverty, and enjoy the pursuit of happiness and privacy that the U.S. Constitution talks about – one which relates to human overpopulation as well.
A lump of cells in the first trimester of a pregnancy is not a baby. It has no consciousness, no awareness of itself, nor of its surroundings, because it lacks a fully formed brain. As such, it does not qualify as a person with rights. All that matters is the rights and emotions and thoughts of the woman, a person who already exists.
When I point this out, fools who are ruled by emotion immediately overlook the fact that a lump of cells is not a sentient being and tell me that they assume that I don’t have children.
Really?! You spotted that so easily, I reply with a laugh. I don’t have them by design.
I don’t want to be a parent.
It is far better than a woman deliberately refrain from motherhood than have an unwanted child.
Don’t tell me that an unwilling mother will receive any willing financial or other assistance from those who insist that she reproduce, however unwillingly, or be branded anything derogatory they can think of, all the way from selfish to a murderer.
Unwanted children know that they aren’t wanted. They don’t have the advantages that wanted children have, starting with a mother who is their relentless advocate, and continuing to deficits such as insufficient food, clothing, and educational opportunities.
(Wait until Betsy DeVos gets going with her agenda: more religiousness than education for all, separation of religion and state be damned! She wants to mingle religion with education, which is the same thing as mingling it with the state, because the education of future generations shapes future policy.)
So when I see stories such as this one, I see metaphorical red as well as GOP red:
Arkansas passes law allowing rapists to sue victims who want an abortion
This is what I thought as soon as I saw the story, and continued to think after reading it:
That’s it. Women who get raped will just have to kill their rapists during the struggle and claim self-defense, go out of state and get abortions or whatever form suits them, and ALL women must refuse to give guys ANY sex unless and until they fight to overturn this idiotic and misogynist monstrosity…and succeed at it. Unless and until then, NO sex.
Well, that’s me and my emotions. I’ll be damned if I’ll let anyone make me reproduce.
I don’t find babies cute, and I’m not obligated to do so. I don’t find parents endearing when it’s all about their offspring. That is an open declaration of a resource war as far as I’m concerned, a cancelling out of any offer, however recent, of friendship. I just don’t believe in the friendship once someone starts acting like that. “Don’t say the wrong thing or look at my offspring the wrong way,” they tend to warn, not bothering to specify what they find wrong until later. Take care of your children all by yourself, then, I say. If that is the thanks that others will get, why trust such people as friends? I want friends who will never, ever act like that.
No one is obligated to have the emotional state or response that the majority expects and requires simply because the majority sees things however it sees them. We are not all the same. We are not all meant to be parents.
What I want is to see the people of all ages who already exist being taken care of and educated – free of religious superstition to make up their own minds about what’s real and what’s mythology.
The first thing I think about when I see someone is, do they have enough for a happy, meaningful life, or not? If yes, great, I’m happy that they have a life. If not, I feel resentful on their behalf that life was inflicted upon them.
Life on any and all terms, regardless of quality, is not a gift.
Only a life in which people are assured of human rights, humanity, fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh, clean air and water, a good education, meaningful work, and some fun is life worth living.
I’m an atheist, so I have no use for nonsense about some entity governing the universe.
It’s mythology, conjured into human awareness as a means of social and political control.
I will have none of it.
Being polite and saying nothing to those who don’t respect other human being enough to assure them all that – who will treat others as a crop or a weed for mere pleasure of doing so or for profit – does not work.
So, to all politicians, Democrat and Republican alike, I have this message for you:
Is it true that you are not planning to vote against the confirmations of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General and Tom Price as Secretary of Health and Human Services?
These men are bigots: sexists and racists.
They care nothing for the long-term health of the ecosystem, only short-term economic gain.
They care nothing for the separation of religion and state.
They care nothing for democracy – only for their own power trips and immediate gain.
Therefore, you do in fact intend to vote to confirm them, I have some questions for you:
Are you on some sort of medication?
Are you insane?
Are you the sort who refuses to educate yourself?
Are you caving in to bullies?
Have you been paid off by wealthy donors?
I ask because not doing so and not saying what is on my mind doesn’t seem to be having any effect whatsoever.
Therefore, as long as holding back isn’t doing anything, I’m not going to do that.
Vote against them, or you will be on record as a traitor to your nation, to democracy, and to the people you allegedly represent.
Thank you…for something if you vote against Sessions and Price, and for absolutely nothing if you vote to confirm them.
There are all sorts of Orwellian monsters surfacing all around us right now.
They want to exert control over the rest of us.
They want to watch us, police our thoughts, take our money, our opportunities, our access to information, our freedom of movement, and more.
If being polite enables them, break social norms but not laws to say what’s on your mind.
Keep reading and researching, no matter how much work that is.
Your freedom – mental, physical, and emotional – is worth that.
If you don’t bother to insist upon that freedom, your life isn’t worth living.
Resist the Orwellian humans and machines.
The act of resistance will make it easier to stare each monster in the face, and to act in ways that their algorithms cannot predict, and cannot control.