Oh, Jeez, Mom, not Context Again!

Amy Goodman reports today that Facebook stocks plummeted when it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica, a right-wing psy-ops for hire outfit founded by reclusive right wing billionaire Robert Mercer, had harvested the unguarded personal information of 50,000,000 Facebook users.   The data was used to target personalized messages to those leaning toward voting Trump.  As it turned out, they only needed to swing less than 80,000 votes in a handful of states to win the Electoral College [1].   A genius of data mining, like Robert Mercer, would have no trouble doing the calculations, district by district.  The data from Facebook, and the ability to reach millions for free on the ‘social media’ platform, was apparently essential to moving just enough votes to the MAGA column.

Personally, I’d love to see Facebook go into the toilet, for its insidious role in the 2016 election and its ongoing role in society, but a CEO who has acquired $74,000,000,000 before his 34th birthday ain’t going to let that happen to his creation.  He beat the odds by monetizing Facebook beyond the wildest wet dreams of the Koch brothers.   He’s thinking of running for president himself, people have said, so he will definitely fix this, and find a way to make even more money off the loneliness and disconnection of most of the people on the planet.  Winners win, it’s just what they do.

The Cambridge Analytica story, while truly horrifying, will be around for a day or two before Cambridge Analytica slithers back into the shadows where they do their important and lucrative work.   People are too harried these days, notifications from their phones dinging every few seconds, to much remember what happened three months ago, or last week, let alone recognize any larger context.  Besides, much of the conversation is just too ugly to want to listen to.

It is said that the genius of our current president is that he is a master exploiter of chaos.  While he sends out his daily shit streams over a handy app called Twitter, and fights off the investigator who appears to be closing in on some of the businessman president’s more intractable financial crimes, he has already done plenty of irreversible mischief by quietly setting a record for lifetime appointments to the federal courts.  Read this headline, see if you can keep the vomit in your mouth.

Melania Trump told the nation when she became First Lady that she was going to launch a campaign to fight bullying.   By the looks of it she was bullied out of it.  I can picture her loving husband, supportive as always “listen to me, you whore, you signed a prenup I can very easily fuck you with.   As you know, I have the best lawyers and I have never, EVER lost any of the 4,000 lawsuits I’ve been involved in– not one, NEVER.  If you want to be a poor Slovenian girl again, go ahead, make my day, try to launch your program to make people like me look bad.”   With all the other shit that has splattered against the fan, and come rippling out at us, how many Americans even remember Melania’s idealistic vow?

How many have heard of Convict Leasing?  It was a common practice in the former Confederacy, for around a hundred years.   Devilishly simple program that provided slave labor for southerners who had a few bucks in their pockets.  Slavery was outlawed by the Thirteenth Amendment the former Confederate states were forced to ratify, basically at gunpoint.   There was a nice loophole, see if you can spot it: 

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.[1]

Very good, yes:  except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.   Opposition to the Thirteenth Amendment was not based, God forbid, on the idea that slavery was moral.   Supporters of slavery in Congress made numerous other arguments about the awful harms a blanket outlawing of slavery would cause [2] .  Once the damned thing became an amendment, it was time to line up the Mac Trucks to drive through that loophole there.  There is an excellent documentary on Netflix called Thirteenth, where you can learn the full history and see American slave laborers in American prisons, at work today, for some of our greatest corporations. 

The original idea of how to control, and continue to profit from the unpaid labor of your inferiors was not long in coming, after the Thirteenth Amendment was rammed down the craws of the former slave owners.   Here you go: create a crime, like vagrancy, which is defined as, say, being on the street without fifty bucks on your person.   Nobody you like is ever stopped and forced to turn out his pockets so no decent person need ever feel threatened by such laws.  Like the drug laws today, they are selectively enforced, in the interests of “quality of life” and “Law and Order”.  The police will tip their hats to people in the fancy part of town and say “good afternoon, ma’am.  How are you today, sir?”   You only stop and frisk people you hate or fear, better if they’re big and strong and capable of hard physical work. Thankfully, you, as the lawman, have the gun, taser and billy club, and backup, when you stop these potentially savage criminals.

Across the former Confederacy these laws, part of the Black Codes, supported a system of perfectly legal slavery for a hundred years after the barbaric practice was outlawed by a constitutional amendment following the bloodiest war in American history.   It worked in two ways.   Before anyone was convicted of anything you could now go down to the local jail, pay the bond for a group of Negro detainees, essentially post some portion of the sum that would free them from a vagrancy charge, and let them work off their debt to you.  You could rent this work crew out to anyone you wanted, you basically owned them, until they paid off what they owed you.  With food, clothing, rent and sundry expenses deducted from their minimal pay, well, shoot, it could take them a lifetime or more to pay off their debt.  

You could also lease a convict work crew directly from a warden who’d send ’em over in leg irons to work your fields.   There was little danger in this, you had a few white men with guns in charge and, to keep the convicts in line, the most dangerous and brutal prisoners on horseback, trustees, armed and ready to ruthlessly enforce order among the workers.  Life is bad for the criminal class, and why should it not be?  Parchman Farm was one notorious prison/plantation where the old ways, from back when America was first great, were considered the best ways.   Prisoners died there regularly, sure, but, you know, bad shit happens to you when you’re a criminal.

Speaking of criminals and prisoners, I’ll show you a chart (reproduced in Matt Tabibi’s excellent, sickening The Divide), before I shuffle off to make myself some lunch:

20180320_144919.jpg

Locking up drug addicts and low level drug dealers does not seem to be halting the illegal drug trade or reducing the numbers of Americans with drug problems.  In 2017 we set a new record, on the way to making America great again, 67,000 dead of drug overdoses.   They have been calling it the Opioid Epidemic, Jared Kushner was supposed to solve it in his spare time.   Driven by wildly profitable Big Pharma players like the Sacklers, owners of Perdue Pharma (inventors and marketers of the lucrative, “non-addictive” time-released painkiller OxyContin) the craving for such drugs has been exploited by criminals now, too. Our president has a solution he is starting to speak of regularly:  Kill the motherfuckers who sell the drugs.  The death penalty, the only thing that can possibly stop them.

It’s the only way, as history has shown over and over, the deterrent power of the death penalty will discourage anyone who is not insane, desperate or very wealthy, from engaging in illegal behavior that will result in execution.    It will certainly work as well as the trickle down economics that are at the heart of the president’s plan for the masses of American losers, even if it doesn’t put a dime into the pocket of the selfless CEO of our once great nation.  It will work as well as mass deportations and protective tariffs, let’s be honest here.

By the way, thinking of some of the Stable Genius’s recent moves to Keep America First, two big initiatives Hebert Hoover used to try to stave off The Great Depression were  mass deportations of illegal immigrants and protective tariffs for American-made goods. He imposed tariffs on thousands of imported products and, while deporting a lot of ‘undesirables’, manfully avoided any impact on Americans from the worldwide economic Depression that followed from a decade of wild speculation and record profits for entrepreneurs and organized crime alike, (coupled with the ongoing demand on Germany to pay all costs associated with protecting the world for democracy during World War One).  Herbert Hoover, a truly great president, rolled up his sleeves and fucking solved the fucking crisis.  You could look it up.  Or simply check your phone, that notification is from one of your 20,000 closest Facebook friends.

 

 

[1]  The U.S Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear the appeal of aggrieved parties in Pennsylvania who want to overturn the ruling that Pennsylvania’s gerrymandered electoral districts must be redrawn because they impermissibly favor Republican candidates.   Trump won the electoral votes of Pennsylvania by a whopping almost 47,000 votes, a robust 0.7% of the votes cast there.     source

 

[2]  With no Southern states represented, few members of Congress pushed moral and religious arguments in favor of slavery. Democrats who opposed the amendment generally made arguments based on federalism and states’ rights.[29] Some argued that the proposed change so violated the spirit of the Constitution that it would not be a valid “amendment” but would instead constitute “revolution”.[30] Representative White, among other opponents, warned that the amendment would lead to full citizenship for blacks.[31]

Note that current American politicians, guys like our beleaguered Attorney General, make identical arguments, one hundred and fifty years later.  USA!  USA!!!

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