China’s Paid Trolls: Meet the 50-Cent Party (Includes Hong Kong SAR)

China’s Paid Trolls: Meet the 50-Cent Party

The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.

By Ai Weiwei [1] Published 17 October 2012

The Chinese government hires people to distort or deflect conversations on the web. Ai Weiwei persuades an “online commentator” to tell all.

New Statesman
(PHOTO: Marcus Bleasdale VII)

In February 2011, Ai Weiwei tweeted that he would like to conduct an interview with an “online commentator”. Commentators are hired by the Chinese government or the Communist Party of China to post comments favourable towards party policies and to shape public opinion on internet message boards and forums. The commentators are known as the 50-Cent Party, as they are said to be paid 50 cents for every post that steers a discussion away from anti-party content or that advances the Communist Party line.

Below is the transcript of Ai’s interview with an online commentator. As requested, an iPad was given as compensation for the interview. To protect the interviewee, relevant personal information has been concealed in this script.

Question: What’s your name, age, city of residence and online username?

Answer: I cannot make my name public. I’m 26. I have too many usernames. If I want to use one, I just register it. I won’t mention them here.

What do you call the work you do now?

It doesn’t matter what you call it: online commentator, public opinion guide, or even “the 50-Cent Party” that everyone’s heard of.

What is your level of education and work experience? How did you begin the work of guiding public opinion?

I graduated from university and studied media. I once worked for a TV channel, then in online media. I’ve always been in the news media industry, for four or five years now.Over a year ago, a friend asked me if I wanted to be an online commentator, to earn some extra money. I said I’d give it a try. Later, I discovered it was very easy.

When and from where will you receive directives for work?

Almost every morning at 9am I receive an email from my superiors – the internet publicity office of the local government – telling me about the news we’re to comment on for the day. Sometimes it specifies the website to comment on, but most of the time it’s not limited to certain websites: you just find relevant news and comment on it.

Can you describe your work in detail?

The process has three steps – receive task, search for topic, post comments to guide public opinion. Receiving a task mainly involves ensuring you open your email box every day. Usually after an event has happened, or even before the news has come out, we’ll receive an email telling us what the event is, then instructions on which direction to guide the netizens’ thoughts, to blur their focus, or to fan their enthusiasm for certain ideas. After we’ve found the relevant articles or news on a website, according to the overall direction given by our superiors we start to write articles, post or reply to comments. This requires a lot of skill. You can’t write in a very official manner, you must conceal your identity, write articles in many dif­ferent styles, sometimes even have a dialogue with yourself, argue, debate. In sum, you want to create illusions to attract the attention and comments of netizens.

In a forum, there are three roles for you to play: the leader, the follower, the onlooker or unsuspecting member of the public. The leader is the relatively authoritative speaker, who usually appears after a controversy and speaks with powerful evidence. The public usually finds such users very convincing. There are two opposing groups of followers. The role they play is to continuously debate, argue, or even swear on the forum. This will attract attention from observers. At the end of the argument, the leader appears, brings out some powerful evidence, makes public opinion align with him and the objective is achieved. The third type is the onlookers, the netizens. They are our true target “clients”. We influence the third group mainly through role-playing between the other two kinds of identity. You could say we’re like directors, influencing the audience through our own writing, directing and acting. Sometimes I feel like I have a split personality.

Regarding the three roles that you play, is that a common tactic? Or are there other ways?

There are too many ways. It’s kind of psychological. Netizens nowadays are more thoughtful than before. We have many ways. You can make a bad thing sound even worse, make an elaborate account, and make people think it’s nonsense when they see it. In fact, it’s like two negatives make a positive. When it’s reached a certain degree of mediocrity, they’ll think it might not be all that bad.

What is the guiding principle of your work?

The principle is to understand the guiding thought of superiors, the direction of public opinion desired, then to start your own work.

Can you reveal the content of a “task” email?

For example, “Don’t spread rumours, don’t believe in rumours”, or “Influence public understanding of X event”, “Promote the correct direction of public opinion on XXXX”, “Explain and clarify XX event; avoid the appearance of untrue or illegal remarks”, “For the detrimental social effect created by the recent XX event, focus on guiding the thoughts of netizens in the correct direction of XXXX”.

What are the categories of information that you usually receive?

They are mainly local events. They cover over 60 to 70 per cent of local instructions – for example, people who are filing complaints or petitioning.

For countrywide events, such as the Jasmine Revolution [the pro-democracy protests that took place across the country in 2011], do you get involved?

For popular online events like the Jasmine Revolution, we have never received a related task. I also thought it was quite strange. Perhaps we aren’t senior enough.

Can you tell us the content of the commentary you usually write?

The netizens are used to seeing unskilled comments that simply say the government is great or so and so is a traitor. They know what is behind it at a glance. The principle I observe is: don’t directly praise the government or criticise negative news. Moreover, the tone of speech, identity and stance of speech must look as if it’s an unsuspecting member of public; only then can it resonate with netizens. To sum up, you want to guide netizens obliquely and let them change their focus without realising it.

Can you go off the topic?

Of course you can go off the topic. When transferring the attention of netizens and

blurring the public focus, going off the topic is very effective. For example, during the census, everyone will be talking about its truthfulness or necessity; then I’ll post jokes that appeared in the census. Or, in other instances, I would publish adverts to take up space on political news reports.

Can you tell us a specific, typical process of “guiding public opinion”?

For example, each time the oil price is about to go up, we’ll receive a notification to “stabilise the emotions of netizens and divert public attention”. The next day, when news of the rise comes out, netizens will definitely be condemning the state, CNPC and Sinopec. At this point, I register an ID and post a comment: “Rise, rise however you want, I don’t care. Best if it rises to 50 yuan per litre: it serves you right if you’re too poor to drive. Only those with money should be allowed to drive on the roads . . .”

This sounds like I’m inviting attacks but the aim is to anger netizens and divert the anger and attention on oil prices to me. I would then change my identity several times and start to condemn myself. This will attract more attention. After many people have seen it, they start to attack me directly. Slowly, the content of the whole page has also changed from oil price to what I’ve said. It is very effective.

What’s your area of work? Which websites do you comment on? Which netizens do you target?

There’s no limit on which websites I visit. I mainly deal with local websites, or work on Tencent. There are too many commentators on Sohu, Sina, etc. As far as I know, these websites have dedicated internal departments for commenting.

Can you tell which online comments are by online commentators?

Because I do this, I can tell at a glance that about 10 to 20 per cent out of the tens of thousands of comments posted on a forum are made by online commentators.

Will you debate with other people online? What sorts of conflicts do you have? How do you control and disperse emotion?

Most of the time we’re debating with ourselves. I usually never debate with netizens and I’ll never say I’ve been angered by a netizen or an event. You could say that usually when I’m working, I stay rational.

When the government says, “Don’t believe in rumours, don’t spread rumours,” it achieves the opposite effect. For example, when Sars and the melamine in milk case broke out, people tended to choose not to trust the government when faced with the choices of “Don’t trust rumours” and “Don’t trust the government”.

I think this country and government have got into a rather embarrassing situation. No matter what happens – for example, if a person commits a crime, or there’s a traffic accident – as long as it’s a bad event and it’s publicised online, there will be people who condemn the government. I think this is very strange.

This is inevitable, because the government encompasses all. When all honour is attributed to you, all mistakes are also attributed to you. Apart from targeted events, are individuals targeted? Would there be this kind of directive?

There should be. I think for the Dalai Lama, there must be guidance throughout the country. All people in China hate the Dalai Lama and Falun Gong somewhat. According to my understanding, the government has truly gone a bit over the top. Before I got involved in this circle, I didn’t know anything. So I believe that wherever public opinion has been controlled relatively well, there will always have been commentators involved.

How do your superiors inspect and assess your work?

The superiors will arrange dedicated auditors who do random checks according to the links we provide. Auditors usually don’t assess, because they always make work requirements very clear. We just have to do as they say and there won’t be any mistakes.

How is your compensation decided?

It’s calculated on a monthly basis, according to quantity and quality. It’s basically calculated at 50 yuan per 100 comments. When there’s an unexpected event, the compensation might be higher. If you work together to guide public opinion on a hot topic and several dozen people are posting, the compensation for those days counts for more. Basically, the compensation is very low. I work part-time. On average, the monthly pay is about 500-600 yuan. There are people who work full-time on this. It’s possible they could earn thousands of yuan a month.

Do you like your work?

I wouldn’t say I like it or hate it. It’s just a bit more to do each day. A bit more pocket money each month, that’s all.

What’s the biggest difficulty in the work?

Perhaps it’s that you have to guess the psychology of netizens. You have to learn a lot of writing skills. You have to know how to imitate another person’s writing style. You need to understand how to gain the trust of the public and influence their thoughts.

Why can’t you reveal your identity? Why do you think it’s sensitive?

Do you want me to lose my job? Whatever form or name we use to post on any forums or blogs is absolutely confidential. We can’t reveal our identity, and I definitely wouldn’t reveal that I’m a professional online commentator.

If we do, what would be the purpose of our existence? Exposure would affect not just me, it would create an even greater negative effect on our “superiors”.

What do you mean by “superiors”?

Our superior leaders – above that should be the propaganda department.

Is your identity known to your family? Your friends?

No. I haven’t revealed it to my family or friends. If people knew I was doing this, it might have a negative effect on my reputation.

You say: “If I reveal inside information, without exaggeration this could lead to fatality.” Do you think that the consequence would be so serious?

With my identity, I’m involved in the media and also the internet. If I really reveal my identity or let something slip, it could have an incalculable effect on me.

If you say you want to quit, will there be resistance? Are there any strings attached?

Not at all. This industry is already very transparent. For me, it’s just a part-time job. It’s like any other job. It’s not as dark as you think.

How many hours do you go online each day and on which sites? Do you rest at the weekend?

I go online for six to eight hours nearly every day. I’m mainly active on our local BBS and some large mainstream internet media and microblogs. I don’t work over weekends, but I’ll sign in to my email account and see if there’s any important instruction.

In daily life, will you still be thinking about your online work?

Now and then. For example, when I see a piece of news, I’ll think about which direction the superiors will request it to be guided in and how I would go about it. It’s a bit of an occupational hazard.

Do you watch CCTV News and read the People’s Daily?

I usually follow all the news, particularly the local news. But I generally don’t watch CCTV News, because it’s too much about harmony.

Do you go on Twitter? Who do you follow?

Yes. I follow a few interesting people, including Ai Weiwei. But I don’t speak on Twitter, just read and learn.

How big a role do you think this industry plays in guiding public opinion in China?

Truthfully speaking, I think the role is quite big. The majority of netizens in China are actually very stupid. Sometimes, if you don’t guide them, they really will believe in rumours.

Because their information is limited to begin with. So, with limited information, it’s very difficult for them to express a political view.

I think they can be incited very easily. I can control them very easily. Depending on how I want them to be, I use a little bit of thought and that’s enough. It’s very easy. So I think the effect should be quite significant.

Do you think the government has the right to guide public opinion?

Personally, I think absolutely not. But in China, the government absolutely must interfere and guide public opinion. The majority of Chinese netizens are incited too easily, don’t think for themselves and are deceived and incited too easily by false news.

Do you have to believe in the viewpoints you express? Are you concerned about politics and the future?

I don’t have to believe in them. Sometimes you know well that what you say is false or untrue. But you still have to say it, because it’s your job. I’m not too concerned about Chinese politics. There’s nothing to be concerned about in Chinese politics.

The Asian-American Experience & How to Deal With It

Asian-American is a constructed demographic by some California-based Asian-American activists and promoted by the majority group in the US of A.  However, a collective Asian-American experience doesn’t exist and never did despite being promoted by vocal Asian activists in an effort to unite the various ethnic Asian groups living in the US of A for greater recognition, greater rights, and greater social mobility.

In reality, ethnic Asians in America are broken up based on their language, nationality and sometimes religion. First generation immigrants separate themselves into their local ethnic communities, and their children partly define their racial identities from their original cultures.   On the other hand, descendants of first generation immigrants become disconnected with their ancestral cultures and start to think of themselves are “Americans”.  Regardless of generations, many Asian-Americans will make friends outside of their own little cultural group and often feel necessary to compromise their own identity, culture, second language to fit in.

Because there are Asian-Americans who are willing to compromise themselves and their self-respect to fit in, many non-Asian Americans believe that it is more socially acceptable to disparage Asians because they are a “model minority” and will not assert themselves for fear of being excluded in American society.  As a result, Americans believe they can get away with producing racist garbage such as the Asian Girls music video and song with excuses that it was done with an Asian model and because they have a “cute” token Indonesian-American as a band member.

I was also told by many White, Black and Latinos that the Asian Girlz video is not a big deal because it has incoherent humour and to just “lighten up“.  At the same time, they would change their tune by complaining that the George Zimmerman acquittal is racist and unfair. Despite what some people say, Asian-Americans are expected to tolerate this kind of abuse as they are compliant model minorities while others such as Blacks or Latinos are expected to assert themselves in the face of abuse or racism.  This perception in America is simply a blatant example of double standards yet it is somehow accepted in society.

Over time, these ongoing stereotypes give the majority population the impression they can get away with casual racism against Asians and arbitrarily judge Asian-Americans on an abnormally higher standard than other ethnicities. While the racial discrimination is nowhere near the levels of Chinese exclusion and Japanese internment during the 19th and 20th centuries, Asians are still seen as perpetual foreigners or by historic stereotypes.

With all these problems surrounding Asian-Americans whether it is culture shock, discrimination or a lack of clear identity, much of the ongoing dialogue in this so-called community are ultimately tied to racism or identity issues.  This is because the core of the Asian-American experience is the ongoing frustration of not being accepted in American society regardless of how hard they try to fit in whether that involves compromising one’s original identity; jettisoning the family’s native language or culture; or screwing over fellow Asians in a misguided attempt to avoid being seen as disloyal towards America. The point is no matter how hard Asian-Americans try, they will never fit in and it is better to be happy with who they are and accept their multicultural background.

Latinos had these kinds of problems for decades and managed to gradually destroy these labels by asserting and actually retaining their dual cultures regardless of stereotypes and without generally compromising to fit in.  These problems facing Asian-Americans were faced by Latinos living in America whether they are natural citizens or immigrants and eventually became an accepted and defining part of American society.

While other Asian-Americans claim they have little to learn from the Latino experience because they also face discrimination and because Asians have a supposed advantage via the “model minority” stereotype, Latinos did change America’s perception of being perpetual foreigners to being considered an integral part of American society.  Many Latinos have been increasing their presence in media, government, and in the workplace at various levels.  They are valued due to their multicultural background, many are functionally bilingual and most of all they are free from the “bamboo ceiling” that keeps Asians from reaching management levels due to ongoing perceptions by Americans that Asians are uncreative, compliant and lack individuality, which they believe is not the case with non-Asians.

Latinos who are US citizens are able to assert themselves and become recognised for being a major economic contributor and voting group in the country.  At the same time, I do not see this kind of solidarity among Asian-Americans in the US of A since it has become too easy for US politicians whether they are Democrat, Republican, Tea Party, Racist Party or Green party to divide and conquer the Asian-American community when it comes to elections (eg Taiwanese-Americans support any politician who gives lip service to Taiwan Independence and demonising China, Vietnamese-Americans support any politician who claims to demonise Communists, Laotian-Americans support anyone who claims to care about the overseas or Hmong community, Tibetan-Americans will throw their lot with any politician ranting about evil Chinese Commies or how they love the Dalai Lama, etc).

As long as the Asian community is divided and easily fractured, they will never have a voice in the American government and society at large. Also, Latinos generally assert themselves when they are mistreated or when they receive citizenship, which is not truly the case with Asian-Americans as seen by how Levy Tran took the gig without complaining about the Asian Girlz subject matter or when Marcello Lalopua, the band’s Indonesian member, did not speak out when the racist Asian Girlz song was being produced.

Most of all, many Latinos have learned they will never fit in American society no matter how they tried ranging from passing as white or abandoning Spanish as their second or foreign language. This is why many of them maintain a working knowledge of Spanish or express pride in their multicultural background unlike many in the Asian community. I still see the heavily Americanised Asians distancing themselves from the less Americanised Asians and labelling them as FOBs, weirdos, or Unamericans or becoming ignorant of their parents’ culture.

At the same time, I’ve also seen some Asian-Americans gravitating towards other Asian cultures that seem more popular than their own home cultures such as Chinese or Filipino-Americans learning Japanese and Japanese culture to the point they know more Japanese culture and history than their own or to the point Japanese becomes their second language instead of Chinese or Tagalog. This also applies to Asian-Americans who lean towards Korean culture or try to integrate themselves into the Korean-American community when they are not and never will be Korean.

I don’t see Cuban-Americans or Chicanos trying to pass themselves off as Puerto Ricans; or Colombians knowing more about Mexican culture and history than their own. I also don’t see many Latinos railing against other Latinos who recently moved into the US of A as FOBS or outsiders.

This is why it is would be better to look at how the Latino community went from being seen as perpetual foreigners to being considered part of America rather than dwelling on Asian-American frustration in a cultural bubble. It’s time Asians in the US learn from them and their struggles and victories to benefit the Asian-American community and to stop dwelling on these issues in a bubble.

On Obama vs Obama – The First American Presidential Debate

All this debate hoopla between Willard “Mitt aka Obama 2.0″ Romney and Barack “Socialist Kenyan Muslim” Obama has really gotten out of hand. Sure, I enjoyed the memes about angry Big Birds, the Jim Lehrer incompetence rants, and the fact everyone was getting so worked up on Obama 2.0 supposedly beating Prez Obama to a pulp in last night’s debate.

But to be honest, I was more excited that the New York Yankees are going to the World Series again and how Ben Bernanke‘s QE3+ is causing inflation in Hong Kong. Since QE3+ was announced with the intention of propping up the stagnant American economy until unemployment drops to 5.5% (ROFL), inflation in Hong Kong has increased around 5-10% and the real estate bubble has gotten to the point where the government is getting involved to deflate it. Also, the price of food has increased and the HKD is going to lose more value against the Renminbi.

Note to self: begin splitting half of my HKD holdings in the bank into RMB to hedge against more damage from QE3+.

For all the theatrics and political WWF-style wrestling in the debate, neither Romney nor Obama really said anything substantial. Obama was just being passive as usual while Romney just pulled numbers out of nowhere and made them real with his confidence and photogenic smile. And yes, we now know Romney is a capable multitasker because he was able to both moderate the debate and hand Obama his ass at the same time.

I can say all these things while others are getting worked up over comments on their debate posts to the point of deleting either the comments, posts or even dropping a contact or two because I am not going to vote in November. Yes, I am not going to vote. No absentee ballots, no online voting and no write-ins for you-know-who and that Johnson fellow. Full disclosure, I voted for Obama in 2008 and it didn’t seem to pay off in any way so I am not voting for him or his Obama 2.0 (Romney) tool presented by the GOP. Even if I voted, my vote would be just filtered down to a handful of electoral votes that would go to Obama and my supposed absentee ballot will take its sweet time to pass customs to be added to the totals.

So no, I am not going to vote on November 6th. Conversely, I have no plans to play Halo4 that day either. I am just going to go to work, focus on the work, attend a few client meetings, have lunch with colleagues, and then head home to exercise and read a William Gibson novel or even one from Phillip K. Dick. Not voting on election day by choice will be one of the most American things I will do since becoming a naturalised citizen of the United States of America.

Thank you and I love Big Bird too.

14 reasons why Rick Perry would be a bad President


The following are 14 reasons why Rick Perry would be a really, really bad president….

#1 Rick Perry is a “big government” politician.  When Rick Perry became the governor of Texas in 2000, the total spending by the Texas state government was about $49 billion.  Ten years later it was about $90 billion.  That is not exactly reducing the size of government.

#2 The debt of the state of Texas is out of control.  According to usdebtclock.org, the debt to GDP ratio in Texas is 22.9% and the debt per citizen is $10,645.  In California (a total financial basket case), the debt to GDP ratio is just 18.7% and the debt per citizen is only $9932.  If Rick Perry runs for president these are numbers he will want to keep well hidden.

#3 The total debt of the Texas government has more than doubled since Rick Perry became governor.  So what would the U.S. national debt look like after four (or eight) years of Rick Perry?

#4 Rick Perry has spearheaded the effort to lease roads in Texas to foreign companies, to turn roads that are already free to drive on into toll roads, and to develop the Trans-Texas Corridor which would be part of the planned NAFTA superhighway system.  If you really do deep research on this whole Trans-Texas Corridor nonsense you will see why no American should ever cast a single vote for Rick Perry.

#5 Rick Perry claims that he has a “track record” of not raising taxes.  That is a false claim.  Rick Perry has repeatedly raised taxes and fees while he has been governor.  Today, Texans are faced with much higher taxes and fees than they were before Rick Perry was elected.

#6 Even with the oil boom in Texas, 23 states have a lower unemployment rate than Texas does.

#7 Back in 1988, Rick Perry supported Al Gore for president.  In fact, Rick Perry actually served as Al Gore’s campaign chairman in the state of Texas that year.

#8 Between December 2007 and April 2011, weekly wages in the U.S. increased by about 5 percent.  In the state of Texas they increased by just 0.6% over that same time period.

#9 Texas now has one of the worst education systems in the nation.  The following is from an opinion piece that was actually authored by Barbara Bush earlier this year….

•  We rank 36th in the nation in high school graduation rates. An estimated 3.8 million Texans do not have a high school diploma.

•  We rank 49th in verbal SAT scores, 47th in literacy and 46th in average math SAT scores.

•  We rank 33rd in the nation on teacher salaries.

 

#10 Rick Perry attended the Bilderberg Group meetings in 2007.  Associating himself with that organization should be a red flag for all American voters.

#11 Texas has the highest percentage of workers making minimum wage out of all 50 states.

#12 Rick Perry often gives speeches about illegal immigration, but when you look at the facts, he has been incredibly soft on the issue.  If Rick Perry does not plan to secure the border, then he should not be president because illegal immigration is absolutely devastating many areas of the southwest United States.

#13 In 2007, 221,000 residents of Texas were making minimum wage or less.  By 2010, that number had risen to 550,000.

#14 Rick Perry actually issued an executive order in 2007 that would have forced almost every single girl in the state of Texas to receive the Gardasil vaccine before entering the sixth grade.  Perry would have put parents in a position where they would have had to fill out an application and beg the government not to inject their child with an untested and unproven vaccine. Since then, very serious safety issues regarding this vaccine have come to light.  Fortunately, lawmakers in Texas blocked what Perry was trying to do.  According to Wikipedia, many were troubled when “apparent financial connections between Merck and Perry were reported by news outlets, such as a $6,000 campaign contribution and Merck’s hiring of former Perry Chief of Staff Mike Toomey to handle its Texas lobbying work.”

Rick Perry has a record that should make all Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and Independents cringe.

He is not the “conservative Republican” that he is trying to claim that he is.  He is simply another in a long line of “RINOs” (Republicans in name only).

If Rick Perry becomes president, he will probably be very similar to George W. Bush.  He will explode the size of the U.S. government and U.S. government debt, he will find sneaky ways to raise taxes, he will do nothing about the Federal Reserve or corruption in our financial system and he will push the agenda of the globalists at every turn.

Look, the truth is that another four years of Barack Obama would be a complete and total nightmare.

But so would four years of Rick Perry.

America deserves better than the “lesser of two evils”.

Unfortunately, the American people have been dead asleep and have sent incompetents, con men and charlatans to Washington D.C. for decades.

Hopefully things will be different in 2012.

Why 9/11 Truth-Seekers Will Never Go Away, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love America

CORY

Cory Chu-Keenan is a father and a proponent of getting Civics back into American schools. He is an activist for Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Media Reform, and Restoration of Civil Rights. He will be debuting a Politically Conscious Hip-Hop Album in 2012 entitled Technofetishistic Psychodrama under the emcee name, Cory the Keen One.

We don’t teach Civics in America anymore. We teach Literature, Mathematics, and, ahem, History, but we don’t teach our youth how to keep a Democratic Republic. We’ve gotten to the point where we no longer understand what it means to do civic duty.

America was designed as an experiment. It was the first time in human history where the People, the citizenry, were called upon to govern themselves. And this system, designed by the framers of the Constitution, became a beacon of freedom for the rest of the world.

What freedom meant to our founding fathers was chiefly freedom from tyranny. But they couldn’t just say, “Okay, from now on, no more tyranny.” They had to replace monarchical rule with a different form of rule: Rule by the People, for the People.

Oh, by the way, when’s the last time you read the Constitution? Or the Declaration of Independence? Or how about the Bill of Rights?

Middle School? Or maybe you heard all about it in a Schoolhouse Rock song one Saturday morning after The Smurfs.

I’m not going to challenge you to read these documents or anything, simply because I know you wouldn’t do it anyway. Hell, have I ever read any of these? But I do hope you contemplate the power that these words hold for our nation and realize that you are here, with the rights that you hold, and the freedoms you enjoy, because of this ink. Period.

It’s good to be you.

Why is it good to be you?

Because the freedom that you have provides you with many choices. Our inalienable rights allow us to vote, assemble, lobby, and even run for public office. As a citizen of the USA, you are allowed to participate in your own government.

Or not! :D

You can choose to kick back and enjoy all the bread and circus this land of milk and honey provides for your leisure and entertainment, and let all the experts figure out the boring foreign policy stuff. God bless you, citizen!

But, ahhh, therein lies the paradox of success: material gain has an inverted relationship to happiness and feelings of satisfaction. Being the lone superpower standing after the Cold War ended in 1991 was fun for a minute, until skyscrapers started exploding one beautiful morning in Manhattan.

Let’s pause here for a sec before I get ahead of myself. I’m going to make a deal with you: I promise not to talk about World Trade Center Building 7, what the features of controlled demolition look like, the fact that Osama Bin Laden was never placed on the FBI’s most wanted list after 9/11 because they said they had no evidence linking him to it, or that the Secret Service failed to evacuate Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida where President Bush sat at a highly publicized location (read: target for terror) but instead decided to stay put in order to read a book about a goat and then afterwards hold a press conference at the same location!

I’m not going to talk about any of these things or the hundreds of other holes, discrepancies, fabrications, and omissions in the official story of 9/11, the majority of which the Kean Commission innocently overlooked. I’m not going to talk about any of these things!

I’m going to leave it up to you to do your own due diligence. Because that’s what civic duty and being an American is all about. Deal?

What I am going to talk about here is how America grows weaker and weaker the more and more we see ourselves as a nation divided.

We’ve come to an unfortunate, and illusory, political climate in America where we believe that we only have two choices: Red or Blue.

Not the Crips or the Bloods. Not Snoop or Weezy. I’m talking about Red States and Blue States. Left or Right. Liberal or Conservative. Blanket Pacifism or Reactionary War-Making.

We’re told that, as Americans, we must choose a team and play for it. And anyone who questions this dialectic is a nut-job, crackpot, or worse, a terrorist. -Thanks there, Patriot Act, recently grandfathered through the congressional backdoor! :D

And speaking of patriotism, there are two kinds, you know. There’s Patriotism, and then there’s “patriotism.” The former, with the capital “P” is the kind where you actually take action on performing your civic duty (there’s that phrase again) of thinking critically about your government by questioning the direction the American Experiment is taking. The latter, lowercase-in-air-quotes, form happens to be the emotional variety that’s spoon-fed to you on a nightly basis via the established corporate media. Thanks, Media Saturation, made up of five corporations that own 85% of all media! :/

Anyhoo, I’m not trying to get all college professor on you or anything. We don’t live in the University of Wisconsin or anything weird like that. We live in the real world. And in the real world, the Law of Attraction will someday give me a Lamborghini if I paste together a vision board and think only positive thoughts.

I mean, take for example The Project for a New American Century, a manifesto-ish document penned by the Neo-Conservative think-tank consisting of Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Jeb Bush, and other students of the late Machiavellian Professor Leo Strauss. PNAC is the Law of Attraction in action!

These guys literally wished into existence a New Pearl Harbor in the form of 9/11, which resulted in “rapid transformation” of our military and foreign policy.

“It’s just what I wanted! Yay!!!” shrieked Richard Perle. Clap clap clap clap.

Regardless of what I think of the official story of 9/11, and regardless of what you think about it, ten years later I think we can all agree that we’re in bad shape as a result of our actions taken as a nation in reaction to the event.

I’m not going to mention the loss of life of American soldiers, the use of exotic weaponry the likes of depleted uranium, the torture photos, or gas prices. You can form your own opinions on those topics.

What I am going to mention is that 2012 is fast approaching, and seeing as how I’m considered a “conspiracy theorist” and all (a term originating within a CIA declassified document designed to discredit and ridicule dissenters during the COINTELPRO era), it would be irresponsible of me to pass up the opportunity to tell you my take on the end of the world. So here it goes:

Much like 9/11, the end of the Mayan calendar long count is going to result in a psychological shift. But instead of fear and insecurity, we’re going to finally discover the true meaning of self-governance and personal freedom. Not only in America, but on a global scale.

The true New World Order is the revolution that takes place in your own mind. All you have to do is turn off the TV and let it happen.

That being said, I’m going to end on a high note here just so that you don’t turn off your computer and go blow your brains out.

Here it goes:

Back in the 1960’s there was a guy named Huey Newton and a guy named Bobby Seale. They would go on to found The Black Panther Party right here in Oakland, CA, Bay Area.

Well it just so happens that there were six Asian guys in the Black Panther Party who were known as the Yellow Panthers.

Inspired yet?

Peace and Love,

God Bless America, forreal, forreal

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Barack H. Obama & George W. Bush

http://27.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lmi43gyVNg1qk0ocoo1_500.jpg

Talking to several democrats, I have noticed that the crowd who liked Obama in 2008 still can’t accept that he has kept very few of his campaign promises. They claim that he is doing great, and is a better president than Bush. I will here point out some basic facts about Obama, and why he IS Bush.

Ron Paul: Unbelievable

The response to the grassroots R3VOLUTION v. RomneyCare Money Bomb is unbelievable.

As this email is being put together, the Money Bomb has raised over $637,000!

And every dollar will go toward building winning operations in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

www.ronpaul2012.com

If you have already contributed to this effort, I thank you.

If you have not yet made a contribution, now is your chance to show establishment candidates like Mitt Romney that the path to the GOP nomination is through grassroots support, and not millions of dollars in campaign contributions from bailed-out bankers on Wall Street.

So please, click here to make a contribution of $20.12, $35, $50, $100, $250, or maybe even the legal maximum of $2,500 ($5,000 per couple).

You and I have the opportunity to send a powerful message to the establishment that my campaign is top-tier, and that grassroots conservatives hold the key to the Republican nomination.

I thank you for all that you have done in the name of liberty.

For Liberty,

Ron Paul

P.S.  The Republican primary is wide open, and the nomination is there for the taking.

Establishment candidate Mitt Romney is hitting up Wall Street bankers for millions of dollars.

And now you can send a message to the establishment by contributing to the grassroots R3VOLUTION v. RomneyCare Money Bomb so I can put a top-flight operation on the ground in early voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Click here to make a generous contribution of $20.12, $35, $50, $100, $250, or maybe even the legal maximum of $2,500 ($5,000 per couple).

National Inflation Association (NIA) Scam Warning from Peter Schiff

Their primary newsletters basically steal credit from Peter Schiff’s commentary or views while their follow-up newsletters are the ones with pump-and-dump stock recommendations.  Some NIA primary newsletters on current economic and social concerns were posted in the past in this site and are in line with views from Peter Schiff, Ron Paul and to a lesser extent, Jim Rogers.  However, I was unfamiliar with the fact that this is a scam until recently with the help of concerned readers.  Watch this video to learn more about NIA and for more rational advice on current economic issues.  It is true that America is going through an inflationary crisis but it is nowhere near the levels NIA claims to be.

Osama bin Laden is Dead

My father had colleagues working in the World Trade Centre before they were brought down in 9/11. He told me stories about how one colleague survived because he was late to his commute while another literally ran for his life as the towers collapsed, only losing a shoe in the process. My father never did mention what happened to the rest of his coworkers.

Fastforward to May 2011 with Obama announcing the killing of Osama bin Laden by American special forces. From news reports, bin Laden was killed by headshots in his custom mansion along with his family and some associates in Abbottabad, which is about 60km from Islamabad, Pakistan. Initial reaction was a sense of closure, but most Americans used this as an excuse to revel in a military kill mission.

The victims of 9/11 should feel relief knowing that bin Laden is dead given his attack and the grief it caused in America.  Bin Laden’s death was well-deserved in the same sense as a death row inmate being sentenced to die by a firing squad. In a prison execution, the victims or the victim’s families tend to feel a sense of closure, relief, and sadness that the criminal is dead but will live knowing it doesn’t change what had happened. However, when bin Laden was confirmed to be killed, the 9/11 victims were finally at peace, while the rest of the country, which was indirectly affected by 9/11, was celebrating as if they all won the lottery and a major sports championship.

The images shown in New York City and Washington DC had people climbing polls, cheering and chanting “USA! USA! USA!”. Somehow this mindless celebration seems to be in poor taste given that Americans were angered when foreigners celebrated 9/11 and the fact that bin Laden’s death is a Pyrrhic victory knowing that it took almost 10 years, nearly a million lives in collateral damage, and the deep financial costs from invading two countries.

Watching the domestic reaction to bin Laden’s death was almost unreal. The people I saw on TV were either drunken college kids who were just children when 9/11 happened and grew up with nothing but sensationalised accounts of terrorism and with no real emotional connection to the real tragedy. While the other group on TV were mostly out-of-state tourists, who also did not have a real connection to the people in NYC, showing their misguided patriotism by gloating around Ground Zero and Times Square. This type of behaviour towards Osama’s death sends the wrong signal to the world and really shows the trashier side of America (if shows like “Jersey Shore” and “Real Housewives” weren’t enough). It’s only a matter of time before this behavior is unfairly compared to the mob mentality in the Muslim world by California liberals and critics outside of America.

I simply find it sad that a country used to be looked up as a moral and honorable society has fallen to such a dumbed-down existence.  It’s nice to see happy Americans post Toby Keith videos online and chant “USA” but this changes little except closure for 9/11 victims. For me, I really won’t feel real closure until I see a verified photo of his corpse knowing that the government has been misleading the world since the War of Terror started.  His death will only have meaning if it gets American troops home, ends the PATRIOT ACT, and brings back the quality of life that sounds mythical in our current situation. Unfortunately, bin Laden has succeeded in weakening America with attacks designed to restrict freedom, spread terror to the Muslim world, and reduce American society into reactionaries.

With all this in mind, only the 9/11 victims were the real winners from bin Laden’s death while others will use it to advance their petty agendas.

Posted from WordPress for Android

Thoughts on Arab Revolts and Japanese Tsunami/Meltdown

There isn’t too much going on in the world except for the Arab Revolts. So far Egypt and Tunisia have changed their rulers while it is still in process in Libya and Yemen. Things are just getting started in Syria while the revolt in Bahrain is crushed with the help of some Saudi and Emirati forces. The other countries like Jordan and Morocco are proactively avoiding a revolt by appeasing the disgruntled citizens. It would be nice to see changes in Yemen and Libya with as little violence as possible but it looks like those uprisings are simply beyond the point of nonviolence.

And how does this affect any of us? For one, the price of petrol has already gone up as a result of the instability and it will make it less appealing for foreign investment to go into places where the revolts are ongoing or brutally crushed. On the other hand, it is a boon to oil speculators and the cause of short-term shocks in the financial markets. I can only hope that the people’s revolutions in Yemen and Libya sort themselves out before it starts attracting more unwanted elements.

The Japanese earthquake and tsunami was just devastating. This earthquake was the “big one” pundits, geologists, and survivalists always feared in Japan. It is fortunate that only northeast Japan was affected and I’m glad that 2 of my former classmates and a former instructor are out of danger. Even my penpal who I have not spoken to in over a year is no longer in danger. The major complaints from them are the trains running late or being cancelled (just like with NJTransit trains) and making a strange effort to adjust despite all the loss of life and potential nuclear meltdown.

The people of Japan, like America, are generally pleasant and poorly informed and their government, like America, is run by a group of semi-corrupt idiots. These parallels help explain how Japan, despite all its might and sophistication, could have allowed itself to suffer a devastating tsunami that wiped out its historic communities and leave themselves open to a potential nuclear meltdown. Like Japan, for all its might and ability to wage a War of Terror on the Muslim World, America also allowed itself to suffer a devastating hurricane that ravaged historic regions and left themselves without the means to properly rebuild. There are some similarities to America and Japan and it would be no surprise if America lurches into a Lost Decade like its Japanese friend, but I digress.

In the past, I found it easy to simply repost an article and give a running commentary on the various points written in the article. Now, I find I lost the drive that allowed me to write paragraphs of coherent and focused commentary that made parts of this blog popular in the first place. It will take me some time to get back into that state of mind after being ravaged by a thankless relationship, a thankless jobs, and a thankless circle of friends.

This cartoon made my day:

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