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Post How Does Populism Arise?
Created by John Eipper on 06/29/18 3:29 PM

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How Does Populism Arise? (Tor Guimaraes, USA, 06/29/18 3:29 pm)

In my WAIS post of June 24th, I stated that to counter the slow but pernicious destruction of democracy in America and many other nations, our nation must find the common sense and will to stop some of the primary surreptitious methods used by special interests to undermine democracy, such as corporate welfare, obscene disparity in income and wealth acquisition, decreasing income taxes for the wealthy, Citizens United enabling the buying of elections. gerrymandering, and the many ways for vote suppression.

It is also undeniable that democracy has died and is dying in many nations, because by definition governments are not being representative of people's interests and aspirations. Instead their governments have sold out to a few wealthy and influential private interests. This trend seems to be getting stronger and unstoppable.

John Eipper commented that "authoritarian populism is on the rise around the world, and the populists win precisely because they pander to the people's interests and aspirations." My reply is that there is a big difference between politicians pandering to segments of the population interested in a few single issues (abortion, gay marriages, etc.) and representing the long-term social, economic interests of the nation as a whole (healthy economy providing decent jobs, a strong education system, a decent health care system for all citizens, etc.).

Indeed, a strong hypothesis is that once a nation has destroyed its democracy far enough to openly live with the obvious symptoms I listed above, significant segments of the population become uneducated, distracted and brainwashed enough to become easy targets for extremist leaders and authoritarian populism. Democracy does not come easy.  It requires vigilant, thoughtful, well-educated, long-term oriented citizens, capable of electing political representatives showing such characteristics and broad minded enough to accept compromises for the long term good of the nation as a whole.

Finally, a little anecdote. Last time I was in Washington DC, we went to this weekly farmers' market. I was surprised to see a booth of the Republican Party. It had a list of very desirable ideological underpinnings for the party. I read the list and told the manager that I agreed with every word and the overall ideology. The only problem was it was just words and the real challenge is how to implement each item in the list. For example, I believe in having a strong military but for self-defense only, not to start pre-emptive wars, enrich the military/industrial complex, and replace governments democratically elected in other nations.

JE comments:  And how did the folks in the booth respond, Tor?

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  • The ThinThread Saga (Tor Guimaraes, USA 07/04/18 6:46 AM)
    I have stated many times before that democracy is dead in our nation because the symptoms only get worse and our representatives do nothing about them or actually participate freely.

    Thus special interests increasingly undermine democracy by enlisting the help of our elected/appointed officials to perpetrate crimes like massive financial fraud, open corporate welfare, obscene disparity in income and wealth acquisition, decreasing income taxes for the wealthy, Citizens United openly enabling the buying of elections, the many ways for vote suppression, etc. But that is not the worst of it.

    In my last visit to DC, I became aware first hand of another symptom that we all complain about and do nothing: government run amok. I was interested in learning about a fantastic technology for managing extremely large databases.  It was dreamed up and developed by Bill Binney working for the NSA over many years. After a few trials it became obvious to a few NSA administrators that the ThinThread system worked well in managing the incredible task of keeping tabs on the activities of 7 billion people in the world. Perfect for fighting terrorism. I was interested in the possibility of using it in business to manage big data.  Instead, I hit a sh-- storm.

    The story goes that at first things were going very well. Bill and his team were asked what they could do with $1.2 billion but they only needed about $300 million. Then a new NSA director came in in 2001: General Michael Hayden. Soon he hired Bill Black and San Visner from a private company (SAIC) who wanted to kill ThinThread and replace it with their own system TRAILBLASER. After some administrative push and shove, Maureen Baginski, the 3rd in NSA command, killed ThinThread on August 2001. Needless to say, TRAILBLASER was useless to stop 9/11 but Tom Drake from NSA ran ThinThread on the NSA databases and clearly established that it would have provided the information needed to stop the disaster. TRAILBLASER after costing $600 million, plus many more millions for related salaries and expenses, was finally killed in 2005 as a major failure.

    In frustration Bill and his team resigned and filed a formal complaint with the DoD Inspector General. In 2007 Bill and his team were considered whistleblowers/traitors and the FBI raided their homes at gunpoint to retrieve any and all vestiges of ThinThread. The FBI fabricated evidence to get the warrant for home invasion, and a judge dismissed the case and saved Bill and his team from Guantanamo. Can we still call our country the land of the free and brave? I am scared to death by this case.

    P.S.: General Hayden got promoted twice since 9/11 for his excellent administrative abilities.

    JE comments:  What a disturbing story.  Perhaps ThinThread needed a beefier name, like HammerBlow?  The amount of money squandered on official IT must be astronomical.  They need the lean and mean capabilities of WAIS and our computer guru, Roman Zhovtulya of WebServiceCenter.

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