Day 30/31/32/33/34/35: I Call the Thimble

Last week Facebook announced and released a new mission statement. If the debate of Facebook as an utility was iffy before it certainly is no longer. It envisions itself as the global social infrastructure and its billionaire owner has climbed down to re-educate us the user in his own image. Making users effectively citizens in a dictatorship no one asked for.

By streamlining our old tech communication tools (aim, group email, evites, rss feeds, etc), weyy have concentrated power. Facebook is one of mine only remaining social apps as it has become for others. I knew the cost in privacy for myself but not in terms of ad revenues and other economic standards. I will most likely be deleting my account soon. I try not to support Monopoly.
Barry C. Lynn published a piece in Washington Monthly illustrating that robber barons are indeed back just not perhaps as always visible as the old captains of industry. Yet even Sanders, the Good Socialist himself, ignored the inherent monopolistic tendencies of the modern internet. At what point does a social network become infrastructure and what power does that give the people. The tech stewards of course believe their souls to be pure and thus they are their own best watchman. The hidden algorithms that both feed their wallets and manipulate our realities cannot simply be transparent as the code is the only value of the network itself besides the data it sells. The debate of de-concentrating the web isn’t simple. Concentration is most of any one sites power not the content as some contest. Perhaps it should be treated like the national grid but nationalizing an international network isn’t possible. Breaking up the railroads challenged a previous generation, today we must grapple with the importance that the virtual has become. The Man has come for Liberty Valance.
-E.C. Fiori

Day 27/28/29: Not all Immigrants

By conflating legal and illegal immigrants as the NY Times did in this editorial, they fall into Trump’s trap. It is criminal to enter any country without permission. There are laws and processes. To say they are not criminals is untrue. 

There are many reasons to fight for a pathway to citizenship but to argue that they haven’t done anything wrong is incorrect. It chips away at the standard of the Grey Lady.

-E.C. Fiori

Day 24/25: Guilty as Charged

I’ve been reading a lot of folks state their resistance support as how will you account for your life. I want to know the askers answer.
One is a good friend, but a straw man of the left. To quote “I know social issues but I don’t know anything about economics.” They believed Sanders would become Speaker of the House if Clinton won. This is a graduate of a respected liberal arts university. Outside their job, they binge television. Besides the leftist “prestige” series, their time is spent consuming “reality” television and social media.
Orwellian devices wrapped in Huxley packaging. “Reality” television is no less staged than other genres just staring people who will only audition to play a single role (one that is not bound by the series). Social media is a community that others profit off of. This isn’t a piece about whose terrible future is more accurate. Reality is much greater than imagined. Anyone telling you otherwise is selling you something. Probably a book. This is about the modern American lifestyle. How we forgive ourselves without repentance. I’m speaking about guilty pleasures. The most common hypocrisy. When we fill our time with distractions as shameless as our current president, we support it. 
I don’t suggest that we walk about dour at all times. I support moderate desserts but we have become too decadent in our excesses. There must be limits, not by federal statute but through etiquette. Manners are not a sin. Civility is a start not a goal. We live in an immodest age. We profess one set of ideals but devote significant portions of our time to intellectualizing trash. Irony the simpler excuse as I’ve written before has its limits. Our media consumption impacts if not creates our perception. If we want a more educated discussion on issues, we have to support those who are having it. All the time. Every choice matters.We must be the city on the hill. That is our manifest destiny.
-E.C. Fiori

Day 20/21/22/23:The Battle not Fought

The current power of the right is their insight that today isn’t a peak but a valley and your children’s tomorrows are unknowable but there is little positive potential. The Democrats boilerplate the public: “education”. A post union silver bullet. One that fails to address both the current Education system failures and the dawning of a new employment age, one in which well paying work is drifting away. The Democratic leadership and public intellectuals push that tomorrows are going getting better if you move thousands of miles and relearn everything. People save the thousands of dollars and do it all the time. Some can’t. Either way their vision entails the deaths of thousands of communities for those individuals to struggle as lower middle class against the rising rents in today’s cities. For those communities, they need a narrative where they survive. Automation is not slowing. Democrats need to solve the future with bold and wide action. They need to live their proclaimed values. Run companies that pay equal both in diversity and in hierarchy. Welcome others as much as they want to be welcomed. We don’t need the government to make us good people.
-E.C. Fiori

Day 17/18/19: An Empty Olympus 

Shame on Republicans especially Rubio, McCain, and Graham on supporting DeVos to become Sec. of Education. Even if you agree with her ideologies, she proved herself to be completely ignorant of her duties in her hearing. Not to mention the confirmation of Tillerson. The story of the Justice Department is equally shameful. Sessions confirmation vote has been delayed to allow him to push through other nominations as a sitting senator leaving the Justice department leaderless as serious court battles befall the executive branch. 
America is without a doubt broken. Congress should be a body to itself and long before Trump gave up their own integrity rubber stamping presidential agendas. Each senator receives a mandate in their election to uphold the constitution and represent their constituents interests. By allowing harmful and incompetent cabinet choices, Congress has seceded their right to advise. With the Wall coming through executive order, they have seceded border control. Each refusal to govern whether by obstruction or blind agreement bleeds our republic and aids the birth of the coming Monarchy. 
This morning has proven to me the easy of the autocracy. Reading about Eric Trump’s recent 2 day business trip cost us $100,000 in secret service and state department costs. Including possible charges for staying and eating in Trump hotels. That’s right the Trump family might be charging us to put their security detail up and making money off it again. This happened during the campaign. For a man who says he is too rich to be bought, his company seems desperate to steal any dime possible from the taxpayer. Granted without his tax returns, we’ll never know anything about his money. The entire Trump cover for the business separation relies on one believing that Trump and his sons don’t talk and Trump is okay losing it all in order to put America first. An impossible position. 
Meanwhile Trump has delayed the ACA replacement until after 2018 midterms. Will he undo his executive order against it? Or will GOP congressman reverse their budget vote? No of course not, so the holes in ACA just got larger. I bet it is an attempt to keep the spectre of the law in play for the midterms. Will it work? They sure weren’t punished for the gov. shutdown. Going back to why elections only work with an informed voter base.
Trump’s defense of Russia keeps getting stranger. I don’t think Putin denies that he is a killer himself, he was KGB. Trump’s belief in the kindness of Putin must stem from the election interference because Putin doesn’t care about non Russians maybe no one other than himself. Trump’s reliance on Putin’s friendship is at least rightfully making waves among the GOP leadership.
In Rome, the shadow president is attempting another halfass coup against Francis. It is foolish because Francis isn’t some global elite pushing an agenda but a humble servant of the Lord simply caring for the poor and other sufferers. It is hard not to see the hand of God in the rise of Francis. His needed shift from the bedroom of believers to the whole of their life. The people have responded I do not believe that Bannon can stop the wave.
In Yemen, Trump’s first authorized raid was so bungled that US ground forces no longer have Yemen’s permission to operate. Iran has used Trump’s provocations to strengthen their totalitarian state. 
Back home Melania is suing over the concept of paid First Lady endorsements in a slander suit. Those are her words “had the unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as an extremely famous and well-known person, as well as a former professional model and brand spokesperson, and successful businesswoman, to launch a broad-based commercial brand in multiple product categories, each of which could have garnered multimillion-dollar business relationships for a multiyear term during which plaintiff is one of the most photographed women in the world.” She shouldn’t worry all press is good press for the Trumps no? 
All this begs the question is anyone running America? Trump’s hiring freeze to further shrink a diminishing federal work force. A task the GOP congress would love to finish. 
Not that it matters because the grand new scheme of the left is a Rosie O’Donnell Bannon on SNL as Trump would hate it so much he would get rid of Bannon. This assumes that Trump is manipulated by television and not that television is manipulated by Trump. An argument I don’t believe. The man knows his medium of choice probably better than the Ivied offices of SNL. It never faced Nixon. Go ask the Smother Brothers.
In the 19 days in office, Trump has been busy raising a lot of dirt. Will it amount to anything great? That’s still anyone’s guess. 
-E.C. Fiori 

Day 15: How Do We Rise From the Carnage

We are not the Nation that crushed the horrors of Germany anymore. We aren’t the nation that build with our hands the largest roadway system in the world (at the time). We aren’t the Nation that illuminated the alternative to communism. We just live in it’s shadow.

We chose to be a smaller nation long before Trump announced his candidacy. The American Century is defined by our commitment to our values and holding our partners abroad to the same high standard. Instead we lowered our expectations for ourselves and ignored the violations for luxury. We all know how the iPhone gets made and that sausage pales in comparison. Yet when we discuss the impact of technology we only ask if the screen hurts our own eyes and communities. The American Century was never measured by trade profits, how many census checkboxes our elected officials can fill, or our ability to kill: it was how we embraced our better angels.
We left the information age and entered the post information age I believe with the widespread adoption of the internet. The experts who once maintained knowledge have seceded that role to servers. Information no longer is knowledge in the sense that it can be believed as true. It also comes through as too much information. History has split into a billion threads and we as a nation are left adrift. We don’t teach who we are anymore. My education consisted of a litany of our sins and ways to repent for the creation of the greatest country/empire the world has been blessed with. The wonder that is America and its founding seems to have become unfashionable for the cosmopolitan teachers filling the classrooms. There isn’t a national narrative or wasn’t until Trump appeared on the Horizon. You can disagree with the content but you can’t argue it isn’t a single thread. The left jumps trying to recognize each individual as civilization, the trees over forest.
An example is the recent op-ed by Senator Merkley (D-Oregon) that Democrats should force the nuclear option over Gorsuch because “This is certainly a possibility, since the Republicans have already shown such disregard for Senate tradition and the integrity of the Supreme Court”. This statement ignores it was the Democrats who first went nuclear. One could counter Republican obstructionism forced their hands. That narrative was worn out in 2011. For as big of a tent the Democrats claim to represent, they seem to have a hard time communicating. Instead they turn to condescension when denied. They don’t reach out to those who question and even if they are the future as they claim. Their worldview isn’t any more free than Trump’s. We can vehemently disagree without silencing. When violent protests counter a speaking engagement and people justify preventing words the American Spirit is lost. We must defend the rights of those who make our blood boil. There is no wavering in that ideal. There are no self expression values without that social contract.

To rebuild from the carnage, we need trust. That requires a single narrative that contains all voices.
-E.C. Fiori

Day 13 + 14: The Flat Circle

There have been a number of pieces lately actually investigating the rise and cause of the modern populist movement.
In France. In America.

People want less freedom can be one take away. Mine is that inequality makes us desperate for the necessities. When grocery shopping is about what you can do without. When your waking hours belong to someone else and you don’t get enough in return and their kids go to Europe to find themselves and rehab. Your kid got jail and an OD and you visit him every Sunday. Maybe it was your brother or parent but everyone else you know is there too. At some point it must end.

We made a faustian bargain in neoliberalism and the devil has come to collect.

-E.C. Fiori