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.

It’s OK to discriminate against Asians (for high school admissions)

When is a minority not a minority?

NEW YORK, NY – Last year, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a civil rights lawsuit with the federal government to eliminate testing as the sole basis for admissions to top public schools in New York City, such as Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and Stuyvesant, since it discriminated against ethnic minorities. They argued that factors such as school grades, teacher recommendations and personal experience be taken into account, which would make the admissions process similar to university admissions. However, the majority of students admitted to these top NYC public schools are ethnic minorities. They’re Asians.

According to the New York Times, approximately 59% of the students enrolled in the eight specialized high schools are Asian. In 1971, the Stuyvesant High School student body was 10% Black, 4% Hispanic, and 6% Asian with the rest being White but is 72% Asian and around 4% percent are Black or Hispanic in 2012. Based on concerns about the lack of test preparation from minority groups, the city initially offered a free test-prep program to Black and Hispanic students and later to all students. However, it was still an issue because the majority of students enrolled in the public test program are Asians.

The Times article exploring this controversy spent considerable time profiling the Asian students who were accepted into the top NYC high schools. One account was about a son of Chinese immigrants who often sacrificed weekends studying for the high school entrance exam. He rarely saw his parents because they worked long shifts.

Other Asian students profiled came from families that either lived in Third World conditions or emigrated from countries experiencing violence. These families managed to pool their limited resources to ensure their kids had the time and money needed to do well in school and pass the high school entrance exam.

Although the writer made efforts to show these students made sacrifices and worked hard to be in these schools, he also made a point of emphasizing their “foreignness”. In the same article, the writer quoted Jerome Krase, a professor emeritus in sociology at Brooklyn College, suggesting Asian students are culturally obligated to do well since “[They] hold the honor of the family in their hands“, which implies they are different from Americans.

Moreover, the interviews with non-Asian parents were critical of the current admissions process. One parent agreed with expanding admissions to consider more than just the entrance exam results while another parent felt that it was abnormal for students to sacrifice weekends just to prepare for the entrance exam. Despite these criticisms, both parents have children who are preparing for the entrance exam.

While it is true that Asians make up the majority of students in the top specialized high schools in New York City, other groups such as Blacks, Hispanics and Whites also successfully passed the tests. Instead of just profiling Asian students and emphasizing their ‘foreignness’ and their family’s limited links to American culture, the writer should have also profiled Black and Hispanic students who successfully passed the exam to show that success is not limited to Asians.

Interviewing parents of successful Black or Hispanic students would give readers ideas of how non-Asian parents and their children worked around their respective challenges to succeed since they might be more relatable to readers than the Asian students and families profiled in the article. As a result, the article appears to perpetuate the idea that Asians are undermining the perceived character of New York City’s top public schools and unintentionally promoting tensions with other ethnic groups in the city due to their “foreign values”.

Another area the writer should have explored is the root cause for test prep programs.

It is strange that students have to enroll in test preparation programs to prepare for a high school admission exam that supposedly tests students on items they should have learned in the city’s primary and middle schools. If the primary and middle public schools are properly teaching their students, then there should not be a disparity between students enrolled in test prep programs and those that are not since the exam is based on things they should have learned in school.

Sadly, these disparities suggest there is an issue with the quality of public school education in the city, not of the race of students in the city’s top high schools.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund believes that changing the current admissions process into a holistic process would solve the problems with the current system that allegedly gives wealthier families an advantage due to their abilities to get better test preparation. However, this change would actually harm many poor immigrant Asian families and may not necessarily help the intended Black or Hispanic students in high school admissions.

If the city switches to a holistic approach, wealthier parents would still find ways to ensure their children have the means to join extracurricular activities, enroll in better primary or middle schools for improved grades, hire admissions counselors to develop strong admissions essays, and still send their children to test preparation programs. The less well-off, regardless if they are Black, Hispanic and Asian would still be at a disadvantage in the admissions process just like for university admissions. Most of all, in the midst of this controversy, the status quo for many wealthy families and their children would still be preserved.

Read more at TLR: It’s OK to discriminate against Asians (for high school admissions) | The Libertarian Republic http://thelibertarianrepublic.com/ok-discriminate-asians-high-school-admissions/#ixzz2jk3XymkV
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If You Love Security, Become a “Romney Democrat” (Just for a Year)

If You Love Security, Become a “Romney Democrat” (Just for a Year)
By Dan O’Malley

The United States began its decline when Americans voted for Barack Obama in 2008.

After two years, we now see that Obama 1) phases out operations  against countries that have Muslims (Yemen, Pakistan and Iraq) 2) oversees class warfare against businesses that have promoted American exceptionalism throughout the world (e.g. Goldman Sachs), 3) supports the legal framework for undermining security from terrorists, drug dealers and pedophiles (e.g. Patriot Act), and 4) is growing a deficit by pushing useless stimulus packages that are unpopular with the American people.

Put another way, when it comes to such things as the killing of evil terrorists, preventing class warfare, and increasing security to make our lives worth living, we had the hope, but we haven’t had the change.

Just as in 2000, Bush hadn’t shown his true colors, in 2008, Obama had not either. A vote for either in those years was fair enough. But in 2012, if you vote for the Democratic nominee for president, you better have a moral justification that is SO good that it is not worth a) having collateral damage to kill terrorists who threaten you, b) protecting the free markets, and c) tolerating your child from being touched by a government official with the full force of the law behind him as he just follows his orders to protect him or her from terrorism.

Do I labor the point?  Good.

I believe that such a justification exists.  I’m having difficulty seeing how a Democrat who voted for Obama (whom I supported) for the right reasons in 2008 can in good conscience do so again given that there is another candidate who has been more consistent in his support to these things — not just in words but in deeds.

If you’ve read my other pieces, you already know who he is.  But if not, you should also know that Mitt Romney has opposed abortion, gay marriage etc. and to promote accepted social values on the country — even when he is unsure with them (as he has shown uncertainty on some of these issues). In other words, he is consistent in his beliefs in a strong, secure, and exceptional America.

If you are a Democrat, and you sit tight and vote Democrat again “because you’ve always been a Democrat” or because you think that some group with which you identity will benefit more from Democrat programs than a Republican one, then that is up to you, and I wish you well. However, don’t you dare pretend that you are motivated primarily by security, American values, or a government that knows how to fight.

That Mitt Romney who has stood up for these principles quietly during his lifetime, happens to be a member of the Republican party is a lot less important than the principles that we should be voting on. The fact that he is not just a party guy should be obvious from his extensive differences in policy from his peers and the fact that many think, given his views, he should not run as a Republican at all.

As Romney often points out, however, we live in a country that is exceptional… and the history that is rich and stacked against anyone who would dare oppose it.  Therefore, he is doing what he has to do.  Moreover, so should we as Americans who love security and freedom.  It really is not complicated.

Now, I know that the Republican party stinks to many Democrats and Independents who care about security and freedom, but we all need to be smart and play the system to get the political outcomes we seek: you don’t have to like a party or even identify with it to sign up as a Republican for a year to help make sure that the Republican primaries are won by the one governor who has always been for security, has always voted against socialism, and has always opposed the reach of government into your business, your taxes and your person.

In addition, if you are a Democrat or a socially progressive Independent, you cannot tell me you were not hoping for all that from Obama.

Perhaps you see too much small-mindedness, or mean spirit or religious craziness in the Republican party.  Sure you do.  You can find all of them in spades. But since you can’t change the Democrat ticket for 2012, why not act where you can make a positive change — by telling the Republican party where you really want it to go… in the direction of security and freedom (both of which, if you go back just a little way, can be found in the traditions of republicanism).

Just in case you need to make it absolutely clear for your friends at work that you have not gone to the dark side, I offer you a special moniker to set yourselves apart and give yourself a way back once you’ve done what needs to be done — the “Romney Democrat” — to signify, of course, your American sensibilities and perhaps even your history as a Democratic voter.  (On the other hand, why not just tell your friends that Cindy Crawford and Scott Brown seem to have already gotten the message?)

I am aware that the main objection to Mitt Romney from the left concerns his belief that private corporations are more effective in maintaining social welfare than the government.  To this I ask one question.  Do you believe so much in the effectiveness of our current centralized delivery of social welfare that it is worth the bailouts and the feel-good speeches supported by both Bush and Obama’s administrations?  Moreover, while Mitt Romney would look to privatize the huge federally run welfare programs in the end, which is not where he wants to start: his immediate fight would be to bring more forces to the terror-infested Middle East and to make laws to treat corporations with greater dignity.

Mitt Romney’s electoral weakness is not a difficulty in winning a Republican Primary.  It is in winning a presidential election in a country with a constituency that includes the far-left and Independents. An influx of security-loving and Muslim-hating independents and Democrats would change the math on the Republican side and potentially the future of America by setting up a presidential contest with a security-minded, pro-business candidate (who could outflank Obama on those issues).

Again, this is not an endorsement of the Republican Party or a claim that the Republican record is better than the Democrat on any of the issues discussed in this article.  (It is not.)  It is not even a statement that Governor Romney is a panacea of American politics.  Rather, it is to recognize simply that the one potential Presidential candidate who wishes to stop terrorists from killing innocent Americans and stop transferring the wealth Americans earned to the undeserving poor happens to be — this time around — a Republican.

It is also to recognize that any other political choice is for things as they are in which all the issues that really matter (terrorism, free markets) are settled for the socialists and the interests of the foreigners over Americans.

Therefore, what will it be — same old team allegiance or new, Romney Democrats?

Why I support Ron Paul

Last night I attended the Ron Paul Webster Hall grassroots rally as both an attendee and as a volunteer for the NYC Liberty HQ grassroots organisation. There was some issues leading the event, such as Pras being delayed and the last-minute additions of speakers, but overall it went will with a final count is over 1800+ in the audience and reasonable coverage from the national media outlets.

It was not always like this. Back in college, I was passionately against George W. Bush, his collaborators and his War of Terror. The people I met who mindlessly supported Bush did so with the assumption that he could do the following: protect Americans from a terrorist attack, get revenge on so-called “dirty Jesus-hating Muslims” for 9/11, stop Sharia Law from subverting Western Civilisation or because the liberals were pro-Al-Qaeda. The war to supposedly liberate Iraq from Saddam Hussein and give the Iraqis peace of mind resulted in that country being divided among religious sects, and culture along with reducing the country into a pro-Iranian proxy state.

In 2004, I supported John Kerry with the hope that he would put a stop to all the excesses of the Bush administration that took hold after 9/11 and went to new heights during the invasion of Iraq. Sadly, the majority of Americans backed Bush because they supported his new war against gay marriage, and were still out for revenge over 9/11 despite the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with the terrorist attack. It was after the elections I lost faith in Americans, believing them to have a hard-on for simple answers to complicated issues and will simply throw away their vote to anyone who says what they want to hear whether it is a lie or fabrication. It did not even help when many Republicans tolerated voter fraud simply for the sake of keeping their “Patriot” as President.

Bush’s 2004 election by the people was simply depressing. It was as if the entire country had decided to stop thinking and voted out of misguided fears and faith in a backwards and corrupt administration. I once said to a group of my classmates that Bush’s election was going to “Bring the country down to hell” and I even mentioned voting for Hilary in 2008 since I had lost that much faith in America at that time. This questionable election by questionable voters in an already rough period of my college life just made matters worse.

2007 came and I was glad that the bastard George W. Bush was going to leave power after seeding America’s decline during his years in power. I didn’t watch any of the early debates but I kept hearing on the news that the frontrunners for both the GOP and Democrats was going to be Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton months before the primary campaigns started. I did not expect much from Republicans at the time so I automatically assumed Giuliani was going to be their nominee while the Democrats would just pick Hillary out of recognition. There was some guy named Barack Obama that seemed intelligent and progressive yet he lacked the influence a Clinton had. In addition, my boss at the time felt that Obama had no chance despite being well spoken and intelligent and implied it was because Americans were incapable of having a “Black President”. Ironically, I had similar thoughts since my expectation for Americans was so low that I did not think they were capable of having an ethnic minority for a President.

Then at one of the debates, a Congressman named Ron Paul got into a heated exchange with “frontrunner” Rudy Giuliani over the root causes of 9/11 and foreign policy. I was shocked to see someone in the Republican Party who actually used reason, persuasion, and logic to explain his views and make a sincere effort to educate the audience and viewers. This was something that was out of the ordinary in an American Presidential debate that usually consists of oversimplified talking points or rants about Islamofascism and 9/11. Many others felt the same way and started their own Ron Paul grassroots campaigns despite having little to no experience in the political process. I was able to find my way to a few of these events in New York City and even voted for the first time in Super Tuesday.

Ron Paul would eventually dropout after the frontrunner Rudy Giuliani, resulting in the nominee being John McCain who won because he was unscathed by his rivals. It was over for the GOP Primary but at the same time, Barack Obama somehow beat Hillary Clinton to secure the nomination as the Democratic Presidential Candidate. To be honest, I really did not follow the Democratic Primaries since I was under the assumption it was going to be Hillary like most Americans and the big media. Because Ron Paul was knocked out, I wanted to punish the GOP for being idiots and for allowing someone like Bush to reduce the country into a cesspool. This was why I voted for Barack Obama like most people who wanted something radically different, make history, and punish the GOP for being stupid.

With a leap of faith, Barack Obama because our next President and a symbol of change that so many needed after nearly 8 years of misrule by George W. Bush. Obama was so popular with the world that the Nobel Prize Committee decided to pass Liu Xiaobo over to prematurely give Obama a Nobel Peace Prize despite being just less than a month on the job. The first 100 days were exciting seeing Obama declare closing the prisons at Guantanamo Bay, getting a stimulus package passed to insulate the American-engineered Global Recession, and wind down the War of Terror.

After those 100 days, I realised nothing was getting better in my life and that very little was actually done despite all the nice speeches Obama made. Some of his fans were rabid fanboys claiming Obama is our generation’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt and that he is the culmination of years of progressive development. I became increasingly disillusioned, realising he was slow to withdraw from Iraq while at the same time escalating the conflict in Afghanistan. I was angry when Obama decided to expand Bush’s TARP bailout programme to mismanaged car companies such as GM and Chrysler. Most of all, what really lost my support was Obama’s need to keep making feel good speeches and allowing his advisers and Congressional counterparts to regularly undermine him instead of asserting himself.

Obama is a very weak President who is so afraid to take bold steps that he prefers to do next to nothing instead of offending anyone. He handpicked advisers that either defied his orders or undermined him, which resulted in administrative deadlock while the entire country continued to suffer. He decided to delegate his defining healthcare reform to Congress instead of leading its development as leader of his party and when he had a majority in Congress. This lack of leadership brought Americans a healthcare reform package resembling Romney’s Massachusetts healthcare reform with its flawed individual mandates and more regulations that increased healthcare costs.

When I keep bringing up all these problems that happened under Obama’s watch, his fans either downplay it or make personal attacks on me. In one instance when I criticised the GM/Chrysler bailout as a plan that rewarded bad management and as a loss for taxpayers, one fan kept making personal attacks claiming that I make a meager income and that I am a disgrace to my university instead of explaining why the bailout was a good plan other than because it was “Obama’s idea”, when that’s not even true. Another fan told me that economics was not a big deal since Obama still has the support of other world leaders and “isn’t Bush” despite ongoing criticisms that the stimulus was misspent or was adding to an already bloated national debt.

Other issues I had with Obama involved his need to keep Guantanamo Bay’s prisons in service, his decision to persecute Wikileaks despite their efforts to expose America’s questionable past and present actions, Obama’s move to renew the PATRIOT ACT, waging war in Libya with NATO assets despite not getting approval from Congress, and his inability to work with Congress on fiscal policy, which resulted in America’s credit downgrade. Although Obama did make some progress in appointing two female minorities into the Supreme Court, improving foreign relations, and “getting” Bin Laden, he failed in translating these achievements into tangible benefits for Americans. In addition, it seemed like despite these missteps, Obama and his fans did not seem to care because they expect everyone to reelect him with the impression that the GOP is incapable of nominating someone who would take him on.

This was true until Gary Johnson first announced his 2012 campaign and later when Ron Paul announced he was also running. I once told a friend that I felt I did not do enough in the 2008 election and that I would be actively engaged in the 2012 election if Ron Paul decided to run again since I was disillusioned with Obama’s lip service to “Hope & Change”. In addition, I told him that I would regret it if I just sat around and allowed the primary elections to result with a lying, shifty personality running against an already disappointing President. With Paul’s official announcement, I began working with the local grassroots movement and taking a role contributing in social media outreach in the NY state and NYC metro area.

I know there are many out there who think the other Republicans candidates are better than Ron Paul is and this is because they believe either the other candidates are a guarantee in helping Obama be reelected or they have serious misconceptions about Dr. Ron Paul. This is something I plan to discuss in a later post.

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.

Not about 9/11

Today is the 10th Anniversary of September 11 in America, and rapper Ludacris’ birthday.  In Chile, it was the day when Allende was overthrown and replaced by Augusto Pinochet with help from the CIA.  Today is another day where they opened the 9/11 Memorial to honour the victims of that day and to show off the in-progress “Freedom Tower”, which in all honestly pales compared to the original towers.  In about 4 years or 2015, the new World Trade Center 1 building or “Freedom Tower” will be ready for commercial use and for tourists.  Seriously, the only people I see around Lower Manhattan are mostly tourists, regularly visiting the mass grave site and the death of the America many of them either hardly cared for or took for granted.

Since that fateful day in 2001, America has exploited this human tragedy to engage in a modern-day crusade against Arabs, to grab more power from the people in the name of security, and to promote a culture of short-term thinking. The War of Terror as it is known in the rest of the world, has resulted in a weak Iraq that is now run by an Iranian puppet, an Afghanistan that is now our version of the Soviet occupation of the country, and it has encouraged average Arab citizens in the region to take matters into their own hands after realising that America does not care for them despite paying lip service over democratic rights.  Since 9/11, the government has now taken more control over the people with the implementation of the PATRIOT ACT that undermines due process, healthcare reform that only benefits the healthcare providers, and blanket bailouts that reward businesses for bad behaviour.  Even worse, is the growing  trend of Americans simply living in the present with the assumption that there is no bright future, which results in actions that are rooted in a narrow worldview.

The one question that we all need to ask is: “Are we better off than we were 10 years ago”? In my view, despite all the advances in electronics, web 2.0, and the fact an ethnic minority can become President in America, overall things are worse than they are a decade ago.  The country called the United States of America is now reaching a breaking point with a government based on “checks and balances” stonewalling the other for fickle votes, an economy that is now becoming increasingly locked into a Lost Decade, and a culture that celebrates people not based on their merits but on their abilities to be vulgar on camera.

All of this hoopla over the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 has reached the point where I stopped caring about it. Yes, 9/11 was a gross human tragedy that was the result of bureaucratic incompetence from both the Federal government and the Bush Administration.  Yes, many people who died that day did not deserve to be attacked by a bunch of confused, ignorant and weak-minded men with ties to an anti-American Saudi named Osama Bin Laden.  Yes, America did have a right to go into Afghanistan to get Al-Qaida and Bin Laden after what had happened in 9/11.  However, all of this was undermined by Bush’s need to exploit the tragedy to invade Iraq for its resources and its strategic location in the Middle East and Bush’s handling of the tragedy, in addition to invading Iraq, only created more distrust towards America and its government.

The oversimplified explanation that 9/11 happened because “Muslims hated America’s Freedoms” was a great answer for many Americans but it fueled distrust and anger from others.  This answer and the general handling of the tragedy was why a “9/11 Truth” movement emerged in response to anger at Bush’s invasion of Iraq and the distrust in government.  Most of these Truthers only believe the conspiracy because they are ignorant of the real science behind the attacks while some are in the movement to protest the Bush Administration or use it to find answers about the attacks on their own terms.  These people are not crazy, loony, or outcasts as the American media portrays them but rather people who are confused, angry, and distrustful of the government and their exploitation of the 9/11 tragedy for political and economic gains.  I think the 9/11 attacks occurred as they were presented but there was most likely a cover-up to mask any instances of incompetence from the Bush Administration in preventing or reducing the real attacks themselves.

The death of Osama Bin Laden should have brought closure to the tragedy on 9/11 but it was used as a cheap excuse to celebrate in the midst of an American decline.  Also, as a result of the poor handling of the Bin Laden Kill Mission by the Obama Administration, people now have started questioning the exact circumstances of the mission, and whether there was any real confirmation of his death.  None of this was made any better by the media’s acceptance of the official account at face value instead of investigating or asking tough questions of what really happened.  The media is also at fault for turning today’s 10-year anniversary into a celebration of sorts when it is nothing but a gross American tragedy that brought the country in the wrong direction at the cost of its people.

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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Ron Paul Campaign Presses Perry on Big Government Record and Fake Rhetoric

Issues open letter knocking Perry’s liberal record

LAKE JACKSON, Texas– 2012 Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul’s campaign continues to challenge Rick Perry in the lead up to tonight’s Republican presidential debate. Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton released an open letter to Gov. Perry focusing on his record as Texas head of state, pointing out inconsistencies with his new Tea Party rhetoric. See text of letter below.

Subject: Rick Perry Can’t Handle the Truth

An open letter from Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton

Dear Governor Perry,

After our campaign’s first ad highlighting your Big Government record and support for liberal Al Gore, your campaign is attacking Dr. Paul – missing the point of why your past is important.

We don’t think the fact that you used to be a Democrat is the big problem here. The real problem is that, too often, you still act like one. Even you yourself, Governor Perry, said of your party switch, “I will still vote the same principles, only with an R after my name.”

That’s the kind of thinking that has our country teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. We cannot afford to nominate someone who thinks the letter next to their name is more important than what they believe.

Governor Perry, let me be clear: It is not that you supported Al Gore that worries us.

It is that you supported Hillary Clinton’s health care plan.

You pushed for federal bailout and stimulus funds.

You support welfare for illegal immigrants.

You tried to forcibly vaccinate12-year-old girls against sexually transmitted diseases by executive order.

You raised taxes twice.

And, state debt has more than doubled in your tenure as governor, pushing Texas to the brink of our constitutional debt limit.

It’s that you supported ALL of these bad ideas that are inconsistent with how most Republicans understand conservatism, yet you now try to swagger your way into the Tea Party.

Governor Perry, with all due respect, you have used great rhetoric. But you will have to answer to the voters of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and across the country as to why that rhetoric does not match your record.

For Liberty,

Jesse Benton
Campaign Chairman
Ron Paul 2012

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.

Strange times

It’s been months since I have started blogging. Blogs from years past focused on personal subjects,  commentary on current events and random reviews.

The blog stopped after a representative/marketing manager from Michael Page international went out of their way to track me down and pressured me in a passive-aggressive way to delete a post detailing my poor experiences dealing with their reps in 2007. The comments from that blog gradually became a hotbed for disgruntled MPI reps and immature reps that supported their company. In any event, mixed reviews of this boutique recruiting firm are all over glassdoor.com if they are out to remove any real or imagined criticisms of their company.

Another reason I stopped blogging was the busy work schedule that kept me from putting time into blogging. Then there was the failed relationship that I involved in but ultimately nothing was ever enough.  These issues lead to a void in my thoughts, feelings and interests.

Recently, I resumed my interests in world events after the people’s revolutions in Egypt and the Middle East. The success in people power and al-Jazeera in contributing to this success gave me a sense of hope and optimism that faded when Obama took office. It really gave people hope that they can make change if they had the means to do so. Some friends expected the uprising to fail and for protests to result in jihadis taking power, but nothing is for certain.  I can only hope that the rebellion in Libya is just as successful as the Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings.

In terms of my social life I am really not sure who my friends in NYC really are. It’s been said that friends come and go but my circle of so-called friends is like a revolving door. Some of them simply cut off contact over changes in Facebook while some distance themselves once I switched jobs.  Then there are those who simply disappoint when it mattered and those who will only hang out only if a “cool” mutual friend is there. This is one of the more unpleasant realisations of my time in the city.

My childhood friends are accessible and can be counted. My high school era buddies are good company.  My college friends are one of my core circle of friends. Friends I’ve met around NJ are also good company.  I only wish they were less busy and more accessible.

This is an unpleasant feeling and the only way to get around it is going out and meeting new people. My previous social circle in NYC is not what I thought it was.

There are some things I needed to change now. I will need to start with my Gmats now I have more leisure time that was taken because of an unproductive start-up and issues with my previous job.  I also started exercising again after being in poor shape for months.

I need to keep changing even if people like Obama and my fake NYC friends disappoint me.

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