Man-Caused Perversion Of Ideas Is As Old As The Hills

Even when good ideas are presented, invariably someone appears to use them for their own self-aggrandizement, leaving the original intent and potential benefits behind. Only by constant vigilance can an idea stay true to its origin. ⁃ TN Editor

The midterm election is the most important since the creation of the US. There is a choice between successful or failed economic policies. Yes, it is that, but it is more profound because of what happens to ideas after implementation. The battle is the classic one seen throughout history between an idea, such as the one envisioned by the Founding Fathers, and the vain self-promoters who pervert the idea through control.

Everything starts with an idea, whether it is a new widget, a religion, or a country. Every year millions of ideas appear, but few ever develop into anything. The people select the ones that do if it fits their needs, satisfies their interests or improves their lives. A new phase must begin after the idea is accepted if it is to achieve wider success. An organization is necessary that takes the idea and spreads it to the world.

A classic example is the idea of Christianity. It wasn’t long before disciples appeared and travelled widely preaching the gospel and putting the idea in a written form that became the New Testament. Some of those ideas were leveraged into the creation of the Catholic Church.

 “The Roman Catholic Church sees Peter as the first pope upon whom God had chosen to build His church (Matthew 16:18). It holds that he had authority (primacy) over the other apostles. The Roman Catholic Church maintains that sometime after the recorded events of the book of Acts, the Apostle Peter became the first bishop of Rome, and that the Roman bishop was accepted by the early church as the central authority among all of the churches.”

Some disagree with this version. It doesn’t matter. What is important is that they created a structure called the Catholic Church with a human being in charge. This structure gradually grew, creating rules and positions inconsistent with the original idea of Christianity. It rapidly changed to ensure its existence and control. The self-promoting narcissists were in charge. The structure they created was rigid, but the world and society are dynamic and ever-changing. It eventually becomes so misaligned that it collapses taking the society down with it. Alternatively, the people revolt.

The drift of the Catholic Church was already evident with such things as the split in the Great Western Schism when two popes were elected, one in Avignon, France and the other in Rome. The division became so apparent that by 1517 Martin Luther (1483-1546) was driven to nail a list of the transgression to the Wittenberg Cathedral door.  The structure always becomes more important than the idea, unless a system is designed to prevent it.

The only serious attempt in history to do that was with the US Constitution, and the Declaration of Rights created by the Founding Fathers. The original idea was for a Republic with government at all levels elected and accountable to the people. We have direct insight into the thoughts behind their creation known as the Federalist Papers.

You can understand their importance when you recall the real issue in the appointment of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. When asked what he considered when making a judgment, he replied, the law as written, and precedence, that is previous judgments that stood the test of time. They then asked if he ever considered the reasoning behind the law; that is, what the legislators were thinking or what was their intent. He replied that most judges do that only helps to clear up ambiguity.

America is at the point where it must refer to the Federalist Papers. There is very little ambiguity in the Constitution, primarily because the Founding Fathers created a system of amendments to overcome rigidity. Amendments are deliberately and correctly difficult to obtain. The need to revisit the Constitution is made necessary by the creation of a rigid, unaccountable structure by the self-promoting elitists. The Founding Fathers tried to build in accountability by having more positions filled by elections than ever before, but there is an obvious limit to that idea, especially since the government has grown exponentially.

This is the critical issue at the heart of the battle between Trump and both other branches of the tripartite system. Today’s bureaucrats are mostly technocrats who control everything including their budgets, the size of their organization and the parameters of their responsibility. Here is a small example of the exploitation of such a system that I witnessed. A Captain was appointed the head of the motor pool on my base. He immediately asked for 25 more people because of work demands. The uninformed politicians agreed but said he could only have 12. That was precisely what he wanted because it increased the pool to a size that the rules required a Major in charge. As soon as he got the ruling, he applied for promotion.

The Founding Fathers considered the importance of numbers, only to reduce concentration of power. For example, they considered appointing two Presidents. Here are other salient quotes from the Founding Fathers that speak to the challenge in the US today. Most speak to power and its control.

“When all government, domestic and foreign, in little as in great things, shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another.” –Thomas Jefferson

“Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.” –James Madison

“Where an excess of power prevails, property of no sort is duly respected. No man is safe in his opinions, his person, his faculties, or his possessions.” –James Madison

“The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence. If ‘Thou shalt not covet’ and ‘Thou shalt not steal’ were not commandments of Heaven, they must be made inviolable precepts in every society before it can be civilized or made free.” –John Adams 

“In the first place, it is to be remembered, that the general government is not to be charged with the whole power of making and administering laws: its jurisdiction is limited to certain enumerated objects, which concern all the members of the republic, but which are not to be attained by the separate provisions of any.” –James Madison

 “If it be asked, what is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic? The answer would be, an inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws — the first growing out of the last.” –Alexander Hamilton

“As riches increase and accumulate in few hands, as luxury prevails in society, virtue will be in a greater degree considered as only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard. This is the real disposition of human nature.” –Alexander Hamilton

All of these concerns were accentuated and exploited by former President Barack Obama and continued by the radical left. The talent of the Founding Fathers centered on their unblinkered understanding of human nature. Benjamin Franklin demonstrated this ability when he described Barack Obama 300 years ago.

“Here comes the orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason.”

Thomas Jefferson described Obama’s drop of reason.

“To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers, have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits acquired by it.” –Thomas Jefferson

Will the unique idea of America survive the attacks and deliberate undermining, now so deeply entrenched by technocrats? They dragged the nation away from the original idea. Now, the people must know the original idea and intent. There is a glimmer of hope in the survival of the idea of Christianity: Despite the destructive actions of the Catholic Church, Christianity survives, protected from the meddling of man, in the heart and soul of the individual. The idea of the US is also there in the American people as Trump showed, which is why the narcissistic left is so blinded by hate.

Udi Greenberg: ‘The Obama Administration Was Defined By Technocracy’

This is a portion of an interview in Spiked Review. Again, Technocracy is front and center as the dominant theme in progressive and left-wing memes. Although there are similarities, it is Technocracy, not Fascism. Technocracy will continue to rise in public discussion. ⁃ TN Editor

This does not mean to say that everyone who invokes the Weimar or Nazi analogy immediately ends up an anti-democrat, but Professor Bessner and me worry that we could eventually end up in a similar place. We are both scholars of the Cold War, and we both studied how political theorists in the 1940s and 1950s claimed that in order to achieve stable democracy you need to limit political activism and people’s involvement in politics. And we were worried that the same logic might lead us in the same direction today.

In our view, the right, progressive response to the contemporary moment should be a doubling down in our commitment to democracy, limiting technocracy and increasing democratic and grassroots involvement in politics.

review: Yet it does seem that the predominant response to the populist moment, certainly in left-wing and liberal circles in both the US and the UK, has been to make a stronger appeal to technocracy, to a rule by expertise.

Greenberg: That is true for some, certainly. It has actually been developing since at least the 1990s, with the so-called left moving more and more in the direction of technocracy, and trying to achieve progress through technocracy, rather than through more popular control of the economy. And I think that is born of a deep disappointment with the masses, and a belief that the masses cannot be trusted to make the right economic decisions. And that tendency developed and deepened right through to the Obama administration, which was very much defined by technocracy.

The reason this recent development on the left stood out for us was that too many on the left today make the same argument as the militant democrats – both contend that technocracy is the best means to preserve democracy. So, if the masses are not to be trusted, then you have to transfer as much power as possible into the hands of technocrats, who know what’s good for the masses, who will make the right call. And you have to shield technocrats from democratic accountability precisely to make those calls.

We have seen this logic operating in the past two decades among centrist politicians, and political elites more generally. And we were worried that the rise of populism on the right will further exacerbate and intensify this technocratic way of thinking. We believe that the left should adopt a very different model of thinking. In some ways, we believe that the logic of militant democracy and technocracy is precisely what led us to where we are now.

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Chinese Communist Party Funds Washington Think Tanks

Chinese Technocrats are using propaganda with every nickel and opportunity to build up a positive public sentiment for China, and to influence public policy. In the U.S., they are using our own institutions against us. ⁃ TN Editor

China’s Communist Party is intensifying covert influence operations in the United States that include funding Washington think tanks and coercing Chinese Americans, according to a congressional commission report.

The influence operations are conducted by the United Front Work Department, a Central Committee organ that employs tens of thousands of operatives who seek to use both overt and covert operations to promote Communist Party policies.

The Party’s United Front strategy includes paying several Washington think tanks with the goal influencing their actions and adopting positions that support Beijing’s policies.

“The [Chinese Communist Party] has sought to influence academic discourse on China and in certain instances has infringed upon—and potentially criminally violated—rights to freedoms of speech and association that are guaranteed to Americans and those protected by U.S. laws,” the report says.

“Despite the CCP’s candid discussion of its United Front strategy, the breadth and depth of this issue remain relatively unknown to U.S. policymakers.”

The report said the Johns Hopkins School of Advance International Studies, a major foreign policy education and analysis institute, has received funding from Tung Chee-hwa, a vice chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, the party group that directs the United Front Work Department and includes a member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the collective dictatorship that rules China.

The funding for Johns Hopkins came from Tung’s non-profit group in Hong Kong, the China-U.S. Exchange Foundation, which is a registered Chinese agent.

In addition to Johns Hopkins, other think tanks linked to China and influential in American policy circles include the Brookings Institution, Atlantic Council, Center for American Progress, EastWest Institute, Carter Center, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The Exchange Foundation is tied to Chinese government influence operations and uses the same public relations firm as the Chinese embassy.

A spokesman for the Center for American Progress (CAP) said the center has received no money from China. CAP cooperated with the U.S.-China Exchange Foundation in producing a joint report in 2014 but received no financial contribution from CUSEF.

According to the commission report, CUSEF “spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying for ‘China-U.S. relations’ as a registered foreign agent.”

China’s goal in funding think tanks is to attempt to change debates on China without Beijing having to use its own voice.

China Commission member Larry Wortzel, a former military intelligence officer once posted to China, said the report is important for exposing the activities of the United Front Work Department and the China People’s Political Consultative Conference.

“Most Americans and many members of Congress have no idea of the range of activities undertaken by this Chinese Communist Party web,” Wortzel said. “It is a form of activity by Communist parties that dates back to the days of Lenin.”

Wortzel said now that Congress has been alerted to the Chinese influence operations, “Congress should consider legislation requiring anyone associated with the China People’s Political Consultative Conference, CUSEF, or the United Front Work Department to register as a foreign agent,” he said.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) has said the collusion between American groups and United Front Work Department operatives is the Chinese party using Americans to “unwittingly promote CCP ideology” in a “countering voice” in debates over China.

“Beijing seeks to outsource its messaging in part because it believes foreigners are more likely to accept propaganda if it appears to come from non-Chinese sources,” the report said.

Chinese intelligence agents also work with the United Front Work Department to recruit students who are then called on to curtail universities’ discussion of China.

China targets students through 142 Chinese Students and Scholars Associations (CSSA) in the United States.

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Technocrats Rule: Democracy Is OK As Long As The People Rubberstamp Our Leadership

Charles Hugh Smith makes the case that Technocrats are the guiding hand behind government and industry alike. If you cross them, you’re simply out of the game. The rising power of Technocrats has gone unchecked for way too long, and promises a Scientific Dictatorship if not dealt with soon. ⁃ TN Editor

Technocrats rule the world, East and West alike.

We are in a very peculiar ideological and political place in which Democracy (oh sainted Democracy) is a very good thing, unless the voters reject the technocrat class’s leadership. Then the velvet gloves come off. From the perspective of the elites and their technocrat apparatchiks, elections have only one purpose: to rubberstamp their leadership.

As a general rule, this is easily managed by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising and bribes to the cartels and insider fiefdoms who pony up most of the cash.

This is why incumbents win the vast majority of elections. Once in power, they issue the bribes and payoffs needed to guarantee funding next election cycle.

The occasional incumbent who is voted out of office made one of two mistakes:

1. He/she showed a very troubling bit of independence from the technocrat status quo, so a more orthodox candidate is selected to eliminate him/her.

2. The incumbent forgot to put on a charade of “listening to my constituency” etc.

If restive voters can’t be bamboozled into passively supporting the technocrat status quo with the usual propaganda, divide and conquer is the preferred strategy. Only voting for the technocrat class (of any party, it doesn’t really matter) will save us from the evil Other: Deplorables, socialists, commies, fascists, etc.

In extreme cases where the masses confound the status quo by voting against the technocrat class (i.e. against globalization, financialization, Empire), then the elites/technocrats will punish them with austerity or a managed recession.The technocrat’s core ideology boils down to this:

1. The masses are dangerously incapable of making wise decisions about anything, so we have to persuade them to do our bidding. Any dissent will be punished, marginalized, censored or shut down under some pretext of “protecting the public” or violation of some open-ended statute.

2. To insure this happy outcome, we must use all the powers of propaganda, up to and including rigged statistics, bogus “facts” (official fake news can’t be fake news, etc.), divide and conquer, fear-mongering, misdirection and so on.

3. We must relentlessly centralize all power, wealth and authority so the masses have no escape or independence left to threaten us. We must control everything, for their own good of course.

4. Globalization must be presented not as a gargantuan fraud that has stripmined the planet and its inhabitants, but as the sole wellspring of endless, permanent prosperity.

5. If the masses refuse to rubberstamp our leadership, they will be punished and told the source of their punishment is their rejection of globalization, financialization and Empire.

Technocrats rule the world, East and West alike. My two favorite charts of the outcome of technocrats running things to suit their elite masters are:

The state-cartel-crony-capitalist version: the top .1% skim the vast majority of the gains in income and wealth. Globalization, financialization and Empire sure do rack up impressive gains. Too bad they’re concentrated in the top 1.%.

The state-crony-socialist version: the currency is destroyed, impoverishing everyone but the top .1% who transferred their wealth to Miami, London and Zurich long ago. Hmm, do you discern a pattern here in the elite-technocrat regime?

Ideology is just a cover you slip over the machine to mask what’s really going on.

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Our Institutions Are Failing As Nation Is Plundered

Technocrats are licking their chops as politicians drive society into failure and chaos because they will ultimately wind up controlling everything in the end, scientifically, of course. A great moral hazard exists in that the Humpty Dumpty of economy and politics is at risk to be given a little push off the wall. ⁃ TN Editor

Our institutional failure reminds me of the phantom legions of Rome’s final days.

The mainstream media and its well-paid army of “authorities” / pundits would have us believe the decline in our collective trust in our institutions is the result of fake news, i.e. false narratives and data presented as factual.

If only we could rid ourselves of fake news, all would be well, as our institutions are working just fine.
This mainstream narrative is itself false: our institutions are failing, and the cause isn’t fake news or Russian hacking–the cause is insider plundering and collusion, aided and abetted by a decline in transparency and accountability and the institutionalization of incompetence.

In other words, the citizenry’s trust in institutions is declining because the failure of institutions is undeniably the fabric of everyday life in America.

When was the last time you heard the top management of a university system take responsibility for the unprecedented rise in the cost of tuition and textbooks? The short answer is “never.” The insiders benefiting from the higher-education cartel’s relentless exploitation of students and their families act as if the soaring costs are akin to cosmic radiation, a force of nature that they are powerless to control.

The same can be said of every other cartel plundering the nation: healthcare (i.e. sickcare, because profits swell from managing chronic illness, not from advancing health); the Big Pharma cartel; the military-industrial complex; banking; student loans; the governance-lobbying cartels; the war-on-drugs gulag, the FBI and so on in an endless profusion of insiders whose self-serving plunder and gross incompetence rarely generates consequences (such as being fired or indicted) due to an absence of accountability and transparency.

Incompetence has been institutionalized, and is now the accepted norm.Schools fail, municipal agencies fail, oversight agencies fail, state agencies fail, and the public feels powerless to effect any systemic change.

Changing the elected officials who are the citizens’ representatives does nothing to rid the system of incompetence or enforce accountability and transparency; the insider elites have wired the system to avoid responsibility and maintain their institutionalized skims regardless of who is in elected office.
Budgets never decline, they only expand. The system is organized to punish frugality and reward incompetence, sweetheart contracts, overtime, and ever higher public spending.

Calls to trim waste are met by gestures of powerlessness: rising costs and institutional failure are presented as the equivalent of gravity: we can’t change the system, it’s unstoppable.

The general public has largely lost the experience of public-sector/institutional competence and accountability. As a result, resignation is now the response. So the public dutifully waits in line for hours to renew a drivers license, despite having made an appointment online, to take one common example in California, which likes to pat itself on the back as the tech / progressive capital of the galaxy, if not the universe.

How is it “progressive” to rob the working stiffs who pay all the taxes hours of their life for something that should be routine and quick? Where’s the Big Data and high tech when it actually counts? If citizens had a choice to renew their drivers license at (say) Amazon or the DMV, do you reckon Amazon might not make everyone cool their heels for hours?

The list of gross institutional incompetence is truly endless in America:Universities that can’t offer enough classes so students can graduate from college in four years (oops, you have to pay another rip-off tuition fee for another semester to get those last few classes you need for your worthless diploma); finance departments that can’t track payments (so here’s your bogus late fees that will take hours to challenge), and on and on.

As for sickcare–how about the evidence-free embrace of synthetic heroin as a “safe” and “non-addictive” pain treatment? Skeptics were bulldozed or marginalized, because there was simply too much money to be made by jumping on the Oxy et al. bandwagon.

As Scientific American reported in its June 2018 issue, “Powerful drug-marketing efforts had somehow swamped science.” When a large study was finally done comparing the effectiveness of opioid and non-opioid drugs, “The results, published in March, were eye-opening. Patients given alternative drugs did just as well as those taking opioids in terms of how much pain interfered with their everyday life. In fact they reported slightly less pain and had fewer side effects.”

Yes, many transactions are more complex now than they were 30 years ago.30 years ago it took less than a day to obtain a building permit for an entire house in the rural county I lived in. Now it takes 3 to 4 months in the same county to get a permit, which must now be stamped by a licensed architect or engineer (at great expense, of course).

OK, we get it– things are more complex now. But how does a one-day process balloon into a 100-day process at best? We can understand a one-day process becoming a 3 day process, but did the complexity really rise 100-fold?

I think we all know the answer is “no.” The vast majority of the wasted time, effort and cost is the result of unaccountable insider incompetence enabled by a complete lack of accountability and transparency.

Conscientious public servants and institutional insiders are thwarted by incompetent managers, lazy co-workers and institutional bloat designed to increase costs and inefficiencies because higher budgets and inefficiencies boost payrolls and thus power. Organizations within the failing institutions are loathe to surrender their gravy trains, so they resist any change, even those which might have saved the institution from its inevitable collapse.

Our institutional failure reminds me of the phantom legions of Rome’s final days. Legions existed in the bureaucracy, and payrolls were sent to the pay masters, but the Legions were mere fictions–there were no soldiers, and no fighting force; there were only a few insiders skimming their take, confident that accountability and transparency had been irrevocably lost.

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Technocracy In India: Corporate Technocrats Infiltrate Government Structures

The source of Technocrats are corporations: “The hold of corporate power on public policy in India has many other manifestations, from the plunder of public sector banks to the appropriation of land, water, minerals” ⁃ TN Editor

Today, corporate power has not only grown to unprecedented levels, its muscular arms also reach far and wide. Representatives of private businesses sit on all sorts of government committees.

Among other major developments in Indian society and politics during the last twenty-five years or so is the steady growth of corporate power. It is not that corporate interests were devoid of influence earlier – India’s leading business houses, like the Tatas and Birlas, have had a cosy relationship with the government for a long time.

Even Dhirubhai Ambani, the icon of Indian entrepreneurs, made his fortune on the back of the Licence Raj (e.g. by getting hold of valuable import permits), with a little help from pliable bureaucrats and politicians.

In those days, however, there were some boundaries – real or pretended – between the corporate sector and state policy, and the state sometimes took decisive action (for better or worse) against corporate interests, such as the nationalisation of banks and the coal industry. Further, the concentration of wealth was still at an early stage.

Today, corporate power has not only grown to unprecedented levels, its muscular arms also reach far and wide. Representatives of private businesses sit on all sorts of government committees, oblivious of conflicts of interest.

The Sensex, tensely watched by the Finance Ministry, pronounces instant verdicts on economic policy. State governments are competing to enhance their ranking in terms of the “ease of doing business”. Public–private partnerships give private business wide powers to invade the earlier realm of the public sector with full state support. The magnitude of corporate scams (such as the 2G scam or the coal scam) keeps breaking new records. India’s largest corporate houses are also bankrupting its public-sector banks by saddling them with billions of rupees of “non-performing assets”.

The largest of them all, Reliance (headed by Dhirubhai Ambani’s sons, Mukesh and Anil), has so much power that, as India Today once put it, “when they don’t like policy, they change it”. Corporate interests increasingly drive not only the traditional areas of business but also urban planning, academic research, communications, sports, entertainment, the mass media, and much more. India is in danger of becoming a “business-driven society”, as Noam Chomsky aptly describes the United States.

We had a bitter taste of the invasion of public policy by corporate interests in the context of child nutrition programmes, especially school meals and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). With millions of children covered, a contract to supply ready-to-eat food to them under these programmes, instead of cooked food prepared by local women, can be very lucrative.

India’s food industry has not lost sight of this business opportunity, and it has persistently lobbied for the replacement of cooked food with branded products in the midday meal scheme and ICDS. One example is the biscuits industry’s attempt, in 2008, to persuade the Ministry of Human Resource Development to replace cooked midday meals with biscuits. That particular attempt was defeated, but there have been many others since, and some of them have succeeded, at the state level if not at the national level.

The hold of corporate power on public policy in India has many other manifestations, from the plunder of public sector banks to the appropriation of land, water, minerals, and (until recently) spectrum at throwaway prices. Another example is technocracy, in the broad sense of an over-influence of technology experts on public policy. Technological innovation, of course, is very important and has often made major contributions to more effective social policies.

For instance, the NREGA’s web-based monitoring and information system (MIS) has become a model of pro-active information disclosure for all government programmes in India. Sometimes, however, technology seems to become an end in itself, driven by hidden interests at the expense of the public.

There is a strong element of technocracy in India’s unique identity (UID) project, also known as Aadhaar. The project was sold to the public by claiming, firstly, that Aadhaar was a “voluntary facility”, and secondly, that its main purpose was to remove corruption from social programmes.

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China Pressuring Foreign Companies To Set Up Communist Party Cells Within Their Factories

Chinese Technocrats are exporting their autocratic dogma by requiring foreign companies to setup Communist Part Cells within their plants and offices. Also, this is obviously an attempt to keep an eye on Chinese citizens who are employed by these companies. Germany is considering pulling out of China completely.  TN Editor

A trade group has warned that members of the German business community in China are concerned about a request from the ruling Communist Party to set up cells in their companies – and some may even pull out of the market if the pressure continues.

In a statement released last week, the Delegations of German Industry and Commerce in China – which represents the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce in China – said foreign businesses faced increasing challenges in the country as the party’s influence on their operations grew.

The body said it had received reports about attempts by the party to strengthen its influence on wholly foreign-owned German companies operating in China. There is no legal basis for such companies to promote the party.

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“We do not believe that foreign-invested companies generally should be required to promote the development of any political party within company structures,” the statement said. “Should these attempts to influence foreign-invested companies continue, it cannot be ruled out that German companies might retreat from the Chinese market or reconsider investment strategies.”

The party has been trying to make inroads into foreign-funded companies since President Xi Jinping came to power and began pushing to increase its role in all aspects of life in China.

“As far as I know, some foreign-funded companies have been required to offer full pay for at least one party branch member who would deal with the company’s party branch issues,” said Liu Kaiming, head of the Institute of Contemporary Observation, a think tank based in Shenzhen.

“Operators of foreign firms usually see a Communist Party branch in their company as something set up by staff to help promote goodwill and communication with the party. But now they feel these branches are trying to extend the party’s influence within company operations,” Liu said.

“Members of these branches often meet and hold activities – it’s not a positive influence on staff. So far, the effects have been limited, but many companies are worried about whether this situation will escalate.”

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Steve Bannon

Big Data: Web Of Technocracy Is Rapidly Subverting Governments

Excellent investigative journalism produces some very disturbing links between big data, Eric Schmidt, Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon. There is a thread of Technocracy running through the entire affair, even if it is not fully understood yet. While governments agencies are limited by federal law, privately-owned, offshore corporations are not.

Note: Technocracy.News is not partisan in its pursuit of Technocracy or Technocrats, wherever it may lead. In this case, everything associated with ‘Big Data’ smacks of Technocracy!  TN Editor

“The connectivity that is the heart of globalisation can be exploited by states with hostile intent to further their aims.[…] The risks at stake are profound and represent a fundamental threat to our sovereignty.”
Alex Younger, head of MI6, December, 2016

“It’s not MI6’s job to warn of internal threats. It was a very strange speech. Was it one branch of the intelligence services sending a shot across the bows of another? Or was it pointed at Theresa May’s government? Does she know something she’s not telling us?”
Senior intelligence analyst, April 2017

In June 2013, a young American postgraduate called Sophie was passing through London when she called up the boss of a firm where she’d previously interned. The company, SCL Elections, went on to be bought by Robert Mercer, a secretive hedge fund billionaire, renamed Cambridge Analytica, and achieved a certain notoriety as the data analytics firm that played a role in both Trump and Brexit campaigns. But all of this was still to come. London in 2013 was still basking in the afterglow of the Olympics. Britain had not yet Brexited. The world had not yet turned.

“That was before we became this dark, dystopian data company that gave the world Trump,” a former Cambridge Analytica employee who I’ll call Paul tells me. “It was back when we were still just a psychological warfare firm.”

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Was that really what you called it, I ask him. Psychological warfare? “Totally. That’s what it is. Psyops. Psychological operations – the same methods the military use to effect mass sentiment change. It’s what they mean by winning ‘hearts and minds’. We were just doing it to win elections in the kind of developing countries that don’t have many rules.”

Why would anyone want to intern with a psychological warfare firm, I ask him. And he looks at me like I am mad. “It was like working for MI6. Only it’s MI6 for hire. It was very posh, very English, run by an old Etonian and you got to do some really cool things. Fly all over the world. You were working with the president of Kenya or Ghana or wherever. It’s not like election campaigns in the west. You got to do all sorts of crazy shit.”

On that day in June 2013, Sophie met up with SCL’s chief executive, Alexander Nix, and gave him the germ of an idea. “She said, ‘You really need to get into data.’ She really drummed it home to Alexander. And she suggested he meet this firm that belonged to someone she knew about through her father.”

Who’s her father?

“Eric Schmidt.”

Eric Schmidt – the chairman of Google?

“Yes. And she suggested Alexander should meet this company called Palantir.”

I had been speaking to former employees of Cambridge Analytica for months and heard dozens of hair-raising stories, but it was still a gobsmacking moment. To anyone concerned about surveillance, Palantir is practically now a trigger word. The data-mining firm has contracts with governments all over the world – including GCHQ and the NSA. It’s owned by Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of eBay and PayPal, who became Silicon Valley’s first vocal supporter of Trump.

In some ways, Eric Schmidt’s daughter showing up to make an introduction to Palantir is just another weird detail in the weirdest story I have ever researched.

A weird but telling detail. Because it goes to the heart of why the story of Cambridge Analytica is one of the most profoundly unsettling of our time. Sophie Schmidt now works for another Silicon Valley megafirm: Uber. And what’s clear is that the power and dominance of the Silicon Valley – Google and Facebook and a small handful of others – are at the centre of the global tectonic shift we are currently witnessing.

It also reveals a critical and gaping hole in the political debate in Britain. Because what is happening in America and what is happening in Britain are entwined. Brexit and Trump are entwined. The Trump administration’s links to Russia and Britain are entwined. And Cambridge Analytica is one point of focus through which we can see all these relationships in play; it also reveals the elephant in the room as we hurtle into a general election: Britain tying its future to an America that is being remade – in a radical and alarming way – by Trump.

There are three strands to this story. How the foundations of an authoritarian surveillance state are being laid in the US. How British democracy was subverted through a covert, far-reaching plan of coordination enabled by a US billionaire. And how we are in the midst of a massive land grab for power by billionaires via our data. Data which is being silently amassed, harvested and stored. Whoever owns this data owns the future.

My entry point into this story began, as so many things do, with a late-night Google. Last December, I took an unsettling tumble into a wormhole of Google autocomplete suggestions that ended with “did the holocaust happen”. And an entire page of results that claimed it didn’t.

Google’s algorithm had been gamed by extremist sites and it was Jonathan Albright, a professor of communications at Elon University, North Carolina, who helped me get to grips with what I was seeing. He was the first person to map and uncover an entire “alt-right” news and information ecosystem and he was the one who first introduced me to Cambridge Analytica.

He called the company a central point in the right’s “propaganda machine”, a line I quoted in reference to its work for the Trump election campaign and the referendum Leave campaign. That led to the second article featuring Cambridge Analytica – as a central node in the alternative news and information network that I believed Robert Mercer and Steve Bannon, the key Trump aide who is now his chief strategist, were creating. I found evidence suggesting they were on a strategic mission to smash the mainstream media and replace it with one comprising alternative facts, fake history and rightwing propaganda.

Read full story here…

Unknown soldier, Italy

Will Italy’s Post-Renzi Government Be Led By A Technocrat?

This article from the elitist London School of Economics and Political Science uses the word “technocrat” and “technocratic” 27 times. In America, the word is rarely used.  TN Editor

Already before Matteo Renzi had lost his constitutional referendum, media around the world claimed that a ‘government of technocrats’ was the most likely option to follow Renzi in case of electoral defeat. Drawing on their analysis of all technocratic governments appointed in 30 European democracies after 1977, Christopher Wratil and Giulia Pastorella estimate a rather low probability of 12-18% for the next Italian administration to be led by a technocrat. A technocratic government is therefore definitely possible but not as likely as suggested by the media.

On 24th of November, almost two weeks before Italy’s constitutional referendum, The Economist openly asked Italians to vote ‘no’ in the referendum in order to ‘cobble together a technocratic caretaker government’ – an administration largely made-up and led by non-partisan individuals with either business or public sector experience. After the referendum and Renzi’s defeat, global news outlets have been filled with the idea of a ‘technocratic government’ and many argue that it is the most likely option for the next Italian government (e.g. FT, NYT). But is it really likely considering what we know about the appointment of technocratic governments in general?

Here, we draw on research that we recently conducted, in which we investigate the factors that lead to the appointment of such governments. A government can be called technocrat-led if the prime minister is not a member of any political party nor has she/he held office for any political party before. Mario Monti, the former Italian prime minister, fulfilled these criteria and led Italy’s last technocratic government from 2011 to 2013 – in the midst of the euro crisis. In fact, we argue that technocrat-led governments are a very rare phenomenon that only occurs in times of severe political and economic crises, when parties are willing to concede the perks of the prime minister’s office in order to avoid being responsible, blamed, and electorally sanctioned for painful reforms and political mess. Analysing more than 400 governments that were appointed across 30 European democracies since 1977, we show that the probability of technocrat-led governments is strongly predicted by economic recession and previous political scandals, and to some extent by previous experience with technocratic governments. In addition, technocratic governments are more likely after cabinet dissolution during the legislative term than following a deadlock in government formation after ‘fresh’ elections.

How likely is it then that the Italian president Sergio Mattarella will appoint a technocrat as the next Italian prime minister? Let us first consider political scandals. Italy has not experienced any major political scandal during Renzi’s administration. This is especially true when comparing Renzi’s term to the 1990s when two other technocrat-led governments were appointed in Italy, Ciampi’s and Dini’s. In the days of “Bribesville” (Mani Pulite), Italian politics was a synonym for scandalous. On the other hand, considering the economy, Italy is clearly in dire times with -0.3 per cent real GDP contraction in 2014 and just 0.8 per cent growth in 2015. In fact, Italy’s economy is at best stagnating if not in a recession. Another factor that increases the probability of a technocratic government is the fact that only two partisan governments (Letta’s and Renzi’s) lie in between Monti’s government and the potential new government. Empirically, our data shows that technocratic governments tend to follow each other closely in time.

In total, our statistical model calibrated over the period 1977 to 2013 gives the new Italian government between 12-18% predicted probability of becoming technocrat-led, depending on how severe one assesses the economic situation to be. In addition, if we account for uncertainty in our prediction, a technocratic government may be as likely as 30%. Figure 1 shows for all 30 Italian cabinets since 1977 how likely technocratic governments were according to our model. This illustrates that it is about as likely that Renzi will be followed by a technocrat as it was back in 1993 that Amato I was to be followed by a technocrat, which – even though unlikely – indeed happened with Ciampi (who had a probability of about 13% to be a technocrat). Incidentally, Ciampi’s appointment likewise followed a referendum which, similarly to the one in question, clearly showed the will of the majority against the ruling political elite.


US Constitution

Republican Success Opens Door To Constitutional Convention

A Constitutional Convention (ConCon) would be the end of America, but few realize it. The first calls for ConCon were made in the 1970s by Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski; need I say more?  TN Editor

The November election put Republicans in full control of a record number of state legislatures around the country, a level of power that gives the party an unprecedented opportunity: change the U.S. Constitution.

Republicans already control Congress, the White House and more governors’ offices than they have in nearly a century. But it’s the state legislatures that hold perhaps the greatest promise for lasting change.

The GOP now holds numerical majorities in 33 legislatures, one shy of the two-thirds required to initiate a convention on constitutional amendments. There is no credible talk of using that power for amendments on hot-button social issues, such as banning abortion or gay marriage. But conservatives have a list of bread-and-butter governing issues they would like to see enshrined in the Constitution.

One, to require a balanced federal budget, is already approaching the level of support that would trigger a convention. Beyond that, a major state-level push is planned during 2017 for a constitutional convention that could also consider amendments to impose term limits on members of Congress and rein in various federal powers.

President-elect Donald Trump has pledged support for an amendment on congressional term limits.

“The possibility of constitutional change is in the air,” said law professor Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, a nonprofit museum that is hosting academic debates and symposiums about the efforts to amend the Constitution.

The U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times since it was ratified in 1788, and its Article V spells out two ways to propose amendments. By a two-thirds vote of each chamber, the U.S. House and Senate can refer an amendment to the states. Or two-thirds of the state legislatures can request that Congress call a convention of the states.

Both scenarios require three-fourths of the states – or 38 – to ratify an amendment before it takes effect.

If the supporters of a balanced budget amendment succeed, it would be the first time in the nation’s history that states initiated the process. That scenario has become more likely as a result of the November election.

It takes 34 states to trigger a convention for constitutional amendments, meaning a unified Republican push would need the help of only a few Democrats in a single state to reach the mark.

Read full story here…