Echoes of 1984: Information Collection

By Jason Newell: 

The lasting legacy of George Orwell’s genius work 1984 is still to be determined, but it’s currently cited in countless studies and pieces regarding oppressive governmental structures. Orwell’s novel provides incredibly insightful sub-themes that relate to how a government grows and subsequently sustains power: one such mechanism being the control of information. In the book itself, Orwell creates a “Party” government that controls all sources of information. Information being defined as newspapers and historical facts. The aforementioned information types are changed to favor the all-powerful regime. Moreover, personal items, such as photos and personal documents are confiscated, and those who have them in possession are harshly penalized. Essentially, a channel for the free flow of education, whether through physical items or the internet, doesn’t exist.

Information obstructionism, however, isn’t solely confined to philosophical concepts present in his masterpiece as it’s playing out now with nations prioritizing data collection in order to combat global terrorism. But remember the old maxim, “the road to hell is built on good intentions.” Explaining further, the core premise of this maxim can be paralleled with the state’s ostensibly well-intentioned objective of fighting terrorism, but in this effort, the state may slip down a slippery-slope when it exceeds reasonable oversight mechanisms. A prime contemporary example of state overreach can be seen with America’s War on Terror.

America’s War on Terror contains a few similar characteristics between itself and the “Party” from 1984. First of all, mostly all data is being stored in giant facilities across the country. For the most part, this data is stored in the event that an individual is responsible for a major crime – if this occurs, then the data can be used to track the individual’s whereabouts and purchases. Secondly, as Snowden mentioned, the government can access user webcams on computers and cellphones in order to monitor or spy on an individual, all without a warrant. Big brother’s ability to tap a user’s webcam has an eery crossover with 1984, where the government would broadcast media directly into a person’s room.

Furthermore, the federal government controls the free flow of media by releasing covert actions decades later, e.g., withholding the JFK file’s until 2017. I presume that the government would retort with something along these lines: “the files had to be kept secret for matters of national security.” Regardless, an American’s right to sensitive information is limited and if it is in-fact released, it’s released on so long of a delay so the information becomes somewhat irrelevant.

And don’t forget warrantless phone tapping. From 2001-2007, the NSA conducted millions of warrantless wiretaps. Some government employees went so far as to listen to intimate, phone sex conversations. Even with the passage of the FISA Amendment in 2008, intended to limit government surveillance, the NSA continued to find technical loopholes inder to bypass the legislative intent of the measure. The Orwellian crossover in the aforementioned wiretapping example is an ultra-powerful, centralized government, that refuses to abide by it’s own laws. This consolidation of power seeks to limit freedoms and control society.

Here’s what’s clear: the US is emulating some of the behavior present in the novel 1984. Whether it be warrantless wiretapping, webcam spying, or data collection, the US government is using a supposed “compelling interest” to prevent terrorist attacks at home and abroad, but the question is, when does government surveillance pass the threshold of reasonability relative to the perceived threat? This is for the American people to decide, but on face value, government actions evading legal constraints can be said to tip the scales toward security over freedom. What’s key, from a balancing test point of view, is to balance out the need for security with the demand for freedom. Once a balanced point is discovered, then maybe the government will work within the parameters set forth by the American people.

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Dystopian Past, Present, & Future

By Jason Newell: 

We here at Partisan Cheese want to offer up a different type of blog. Rather than solely rely on opinion based inferences, we want to present the reader with historically accurate information in order to draw parallels between Dystopian themes, like Orwell’s novel 1984, and pressing issues facing this nation and the world. It’s simple: every week, we will extract pertinent themes from Orwell’s masterpiece, 1984 – and other dystopian writings – to highlight contemporary examples of total government control coming to fruition. Why Dystopian themes you may ask? Well, given the current world makeup in regards to its technologically-centric mindset, it permits government to intrude to varying degrees. Thirty years ago, the government would need to sift through paperwork and tangible evidence to combat external threat – nowadays, it’s as easy as following an individual’s Facebook likes, comments, interests, and locations. Basically, users of social media and email services are throwing up a lob ball pitch to the federal government. We are exposing ourselves without their assistance.


So, this is why Partisan Cheese finds it prudent to reveal how Orwell’s sage-like predictions are playing out. Our primary objective is to inform, rather than persuade with hyperbolic and propaganda based writings. It helps us sleep at night knowing that we will have provided concrete information to our users. What is life without facts? Well, it’s living a life of lies. Anyway, I hope that you enjoy our section on Dystopian themes, as we enjoy you being here.

Please check out Part 1 of our series here:

https://partisancheese.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/echoes-of-1984-information-collection/

America’s Xenophobic History

By Jason Newell: 

Introducing, Dictionary.com’s word of the year:

Xen·o·pho·bi·a –

ˌzenəˈfōbēə,ˌzēnəˈfōbēə/

noun

noun: xenophobia

  1. intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries.http://www.snopes.com/trump-sends-unpresidented-tweet/download-63

                       (Source: http://blog.dictionary.com/xenophobia/)


If one looks closely at the word usage rate of the word xenophobia, it ostensibly coincides with Trump becoming the outright leader of the Republican Party as the convention neared. And since the beginning of civilization, politicians have brought the definition of this word into use. It’s a simple political strategy: cater to to the fears and insecurities of a majority and loyalty will likely be solidified, especially during times of economic uncertainty or rapidly changing demographics. And while I don’t subscribe to the notion that half of Trump supporters are a “basket of deplorables,the majority of those with racist leanings reside within his base. This is nothing new, however, if xenophobia is analyzed and perceived through an historical lense. Therefore, in order to paint a picture of the role xenophobia plays in electing jingoistic, and at times, undemocratic-leaning despots, one need to look no further then sifting through the annals of American history.

Prior to the formation of the Union, there were slaves of various ethnicities. In particular, those from West Africa and the United Kingdom (majority Irish). Now, it’s not fair to say that these two groups, once imported, got along in a kumbaya fashion, but class consciousness did gain a foothold in the early colonies. After work, some indentured servants would congregate with African-Americans in local pubs after a day of hard labor. Indentured servants essentially contained a parallel legal standing to the newly imported African-Americans. Topics included discussions of fundamental human rights, the potentiality of freedom, and convos relating to the treatment by agricultural bosses. However, whites were concerned with, from those who were the dominant landowners, the possibility of a worker’s coalition being formed between indentured servants and slaves.

In response, white suffrage acts were instituted in order to prevent this undesired coalition from coming to fruition. From this point on, an even stronger form of “white consciousness” crystallized as both indentured servants and Caucasian immigrants were granted full citizenship, which allowed them to pursue education and work normal jobs. As for those not included in the legislation, their legal status remained the same. The bill also placed quotas on immigration by preventing immigrants coming from many non-Western European nations – in other words, it was another way in which to cleanse American society of “inferior races.” Another manner to interpret this legislative proposal is economic protectionism – Whites wanted to prevent the inclusion of other races into the standard workforce.

Another point in time whereby economic uncertainty and changing demographics contributed to restrictive racial quotas being placed on immigrant nations occurred during the early-1920s. The influx of immigrants from Eastern Europe instilled a sense of fear in wary, nationalistic Americans, who viewed unfettered capitalism as the ideal economic paradigm. American paranoia primarily stemmed from the Red Tide that made its way to Eastern Europe as communism presented those suffering from international capitalism with an alternative form of opportunity. It was not as if it was the ideal system per se, but those residing within lower socioeconomic positions saw a glimmer of hope through the lense of “class consciousness.” So, in response to the spread of the idea of communism, the United States employed these quotas in order to minimize the immigration of unwanted races, and at the same time, attempted to solidify capitalism politically with these strict quotas on nations with pro-communist sentiments. Recent historical scrutiny has labeled these restrictive measures as explicitly racist.

download (64).png

              (Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_Act_of_1924)


The palpable fear of Latino and Hispanic immigrants is misguided: undocumented workers are less likely to commit crime when compared with citizens. By using a couple examples of immigrant crime, conservatives are attempting to use a broad brush to label millions of innocent people. Don’t get me wrong, checking the backgrounds of illegal immigrants is fully justified  – we don’t want felonious individuals residing here without a way to track them. The conservative view is, in a sense, utilitarian: if we have less criminals here, then we will presumably have less crime. It’s not a bad argument in regards to “extra crime” being committed if more criminals in-fact live in the United States, but he fails to statistically prove a correlation between undocumented workers containing the propensity to commit more crime.

Secondly, a proposed religious test is also discriminatory and likely unconstitutional. The notion that asking a person about their religious beliefs, and thus using it as a mechanism to prevent immigration is absurd. However, per usual, I will provide a counterargument by invoking the Bill Maher school of politics: there are countries where large percentages of Muslims believe in the right to stone homosexuals, jail a woman for being raped, and murder nonbelievers. Due to this reality – and as a staunch secularist – I can understand the concern when immigrants aren’t screened properly; in particular, when they arrive from nations with theocratic governments. Religious theocracy is the antithesis to liberal, secular values.

Nonetheless, American Muslims are largely acclimated and far from extreme. There are a few outliers, such as what happened in Orlando and San Bernardino, but since 9/11, there have been more domestic terrorist acts committed on behalf of right-wing US citizens. However, one hole in the non-extremist American Muslim argument is the percentage of identifiers when compared to the total American population – American Muslims only account for .9% of the American population but are responsible for around 10% of domestic terrorism. This stat is a bit high compared to the total population; these stats, however, don’t justify a religious test proposal. If one wants to delve deeper into the reasoning behind the anti-Muslim stance then it’s necessary to look at current economic conditions. While the American economy is strong in some sectors, 5 million manufacturing jobs have gone overseas, or have been lost since the year 2000. Therefore, the economic uncertainty experienced by countless Caucasians is justified but being misdirected.

The correct direction to point the finger is toward corporate America and its incessant lobbying in favor of anti-worker trade deals. And yes, comparative advantage makes logical sense but it fails to take into account worker conditions and wages when one considers that corporations house company HQs within American jurisdiction. By the way, the “unions are responsible for the high cost in American manufacturing” argument is feeble as only 7% of the US population is currently a member of a union, thus their influence is quite limited. Moreover, the lower than usual participation rate is largely a consequence of retiring baby boomers and manufacturing jobs losses. All in all, immigrants shouldn’t solely be blamed for American job losses and domestic terrorism.

download (65).png(Sourcehttp://articles.latimes.com/2014/mar/05/business/la-fi-mh-are-unions-necessary-20140304)
download-66(Source  http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-01-10/people-not-labor-force-soar-record-918-million-participation-rate-plunges-1978-level)

Trump’s unprecedented (no pun intended) path to the most powerful position in the world partially relied on one of the most relevant political maxims of all time: “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd,” a quote uttered by the likes of Bertrand Russell. What’s occurring at this moment is a slight variant of herd instinct in that it’s mostly driven by the basic feeling of anger, but it’s misdirected and derives from a standpoint of bigotry and hatred. If America wants to propagate values relating to its insistence on being the “melting pot” of the world, then it should steer away from the route of racially motivated mob mentality.

Only then, will America truly represent the values it both cherishes and proudly projects.

America’s Failure to Discuss Automation

By Jason Newell:

America is facing a stark reality in the near future: automation is going to contribute to a mass displacement of the world’s manufacturing workforce. And it’s just mind boggling that this impending reality wasn’t thoroughly discussed by major candidates during the previous election cycle. If I recall correctly, there was one instance where one of the early Republican Primary candidates brought up automation: Marco Rubio mentioned the changing economic paradigm during a debate

Marco’s decision to invoke this topic echoed millennial sentiments as many of those within this demographic understand the changing nature of the world’s economy. Economic manufacturing of old is giving way to rapid technological advancement of new. I assume that it’s a tough pill to swallow for the baby boomer generation. Domestic manufacturing is becoming peripheral in terms of importance when compared with modern globalization. More specifically, comparative advantage is a more appealing  business objective because it affords companies the ability to cut cost drastically.

Furthermore, Union power is being eroded. The argument against Union power is their advocacy in favor of dues and economic protectionism. However, Unions are one of the least important reasons for companies moving overseas. In reality, overseas incentives include, but aren’t limited to, low wages, enormous tax cuts, and an overall decrease in oversight. Many of these business perks are created through pro-corporate trade deals, such as NAFTA and the TPP.  For the most part, these trade deals are cloaked under the guise of “creating new jobs,” but this is somewhat a deceitful expectation because  these deals often cause the opposite effect in developed nations like the United States. Trade deals have a strong impact on domestic job losses – this is true, but the other side of the equation brings us back to automation.

It’s estimated, that by 2021, the US will lose 6% of its entire workforce to automation. Moreover, a 2013 Oxford study anticipates that around half of the US workforce will be at risk of replacement due to automation. The main premise for the future job losses is the cognitive development of robotics. Basically, starting in 2021, robotic technology will advance to a point whereby telemarketing, manufacturing, and other well-known processes give way to rapid robotic inclusion.

Nonetheless, while this scenario appears damaging to current and future American employees, there is a way to mitigate the robotic wave. One such solution is to subsidize technical and scientific-centric education in order to retain some employees displaced by rapid automation. Automation will require individuals to oversee maintenance and functionality of robotic systems, not much different than how computer systems are managed. This strategy proved to be successful during the 1930s, through WW2 and beyond. Massive manufacturing initiatives were instituted with the growing threat of both German and Japanese aggression leading up to the Great War. In order to fulfill these more advanced positions, the federal government subsidized education revolving around manufacturing demands and necessities. This investment assisted in the development of America’s middle class workforce – along with strong unions and good pay of course.

In the end, it’s crucial for leaders on both sides of the aisle to discuss automation. A refusal to accept this potentially stark reality may lead to massive social change, or even worse, social unrest. It’s more of a “wait and see” game at this point, but hopefully a well-known visionary will come forward and inform America that it needs to put her snow tires on before she hits the mountain pass.

Please check out the following documentary on Automation:

An open letter to President-Elect Donald J. Trump

 

Dear President-Elect Trump,

We American citizens-a hopeful 62 million plus majority– extend our most heartfelt congratulations on your historic victory.

Your confident resolve throughout the prolonged and contentious campaign which led to your memorable triumph is surely a lesson in fortitude that all American citizens, and true believers of Democracy, can learn from and celebrate. Of course every American is in complete agreement that now, more than ever, our divided, divisive nation requires a determined, confident, compassionate leader who will ably reforge our fractured union and then steadfastly pave a reliable road to an American tomorrow that might be even greater for all than our American yesterday was for so many.

In short, President-Elect Trump, we need a proud Champion of our freedoms who will be wise enough to realign our diverse multitudes into one unified direction and strong enough to lift all of us into that direction of prosperity and peace as a true United States of America. The world is watching and so we must all match your example of firm resolve with our own unwavering faith that you can and will be that greatest of American Champions as we must pledge to extend you all the committed, loyal support that is and has always been due your esteemed Office, and that you will undoubtedly require.

We hold this ideal close to our hearts. 

Yet this ideal of ours must not be based on the partisan politics that have done nothing so much as drag our once robust nation down into a morass of childish political gamesmanship resulting in a dysfunctional government that serves no one but themselves, the deep pockets of their own special interests and the debilitating virus of parasitic DC lobbyists that plague our great nation’s capitol.                                                    

During your campaign President-Elect Trump, you urgently promised the American people you would- “drain the swamp…”

Along these lines the clarion call for campaign finance reform has been sounded for years and it is one plea that must not go unheeded, nor ignored any longer by the tone deaf ears of jaded career politicians. The days of the Washington insider’s one-way reliance on gullible votes from neglected constituents are over and your victory assures us of that fact. Your decisive Executive action here, President-Elect Trump, may go a long way towards restoring the faith of an impatient American people and breaking the inertia of congressional politics as usual.

As you begin this Herculean task please do not fear to judiciously employ the guidelines of our Founders- limited government aligned with individual responsibility at the service of freedom of enterprise.

We eagerly await the forceful application of your considerable energies, along with your administrative acumen, in molding this political mud into the concrete form of durable legislative bricks upon which we can build a fortress of freedom as a shining example the entire free world can turn to with hopeful reassurance.

As a transformative leader who has himself spent a lifetime building, President-Elect Trump, we have every faith that you are the Man for this job. And this is the job that the most common American so desperately relies on you to tackle.

Because, President-Elect Trump, we are not American corporations, we are American communities. 

We are not the privileged class, we are the middle class, we are the working class, we are the class that struggles and pays our taxes so that our families might someday get their chance to live their own humble American dream in their near future. And much like yourself, President-Elect Trump, our deepest most passionate desire is to give our children and our families every opportunity at American economic prosperity that we have enjoyed, and every opportunity that we have not.

The art of the deal has been your business touchstone and now we look to you to create the robust type of new deal for Americans that will benefit all of us from top to bottom and bottom to top. A brand new deal that former President FDR would be proud to enact, and a new deal that will endure, will sustain us and will rebuild the infrastructure of our nation.

Just as every Executive-in-Chief before you, doubtless you will require a sharp team of wise and compassionate advisers to assist you as you forge confidently ahead constructing this secure American future for all. Certain names have already been touted for key cabinet positions and, while we have every confidence in your decisions, we do passionately urge you to consider assembling a cabinet team that truly understands the considerable yet diverse challenges faced by all American people, as well as an empathetic team that is dedicated to representing all of us today and moving forward.

We want to be as proud of them as we will be of you President-Elect Trump, and we hope in our own small way to consider ourselves a part of your most successful team yet.

To that end, for so many of us President-Elect Trump, Senator Sanders is exactly the brand of wise, experienced, progressive mover and innovative shaker that might be of limitless benefit to your White House cabinet as well as to the success of American people everywhere. We are sure Senator Sanders is ready, willing and very able to serve this success.

Of course any idea of success must begin with good health and good health is entirely dependent on reliable healthcare for all. This is no pie-in-the-sky dream as you are well aware, and almost every industrialized nation on Earth has capably managed this most humanitarian of federal services. Thankfully our national shame ended when the previous administration established a foothold that tens of millions of American families right now gratefully rely on for their only invaluable healthcare.

It is now up to you President-Elect Trump to see that universal healthcare for all Americans becomes an even more efficient reality, as well as another Trump legacy for our children to look up to and admire with grateful pride and dignity.

It goes without saying that every American man, woman and child desires to live their lives with quiet pride and some measure of reliable dignity and in order to do so we must all depend on the surety, sanctity and integrity of the Law. During your campaign you emphatically expressed your great respect and confident belief in our sacred Rule of Law and its brave guardians. These are the reasons that your appointment of Attorney General is such a crucial decision for all of us.

As you are well aware, President-Elect Trump, in our great nation historically the Law has not always been applied with the same evenhanded righteousness which so many of us might hope for or even expect. Our most recent history informs us that, sadly in far too many cases, our system of Justice for All continues to struggle with its own virtuous ideals. Therefore, this vital appointment will send a clear signal that we are on the correct, impartial path to a truly equal Justice System that maintains liberty for all and delivers swift justice to those who would choose to threaten it.

Of course no nomination to the Halls of Justice is more vital or more far-reaching than your choice for SCOTUS.

Within your first 100 days you have promised to nominate our next Supreme Court Justice, a nomination that will affect future generations of Americans far beyond both your Presidency and our own brief time in this world. Given the gravity of this surely history-making appointment, we ask only that you exercise that exact same independent spirit bereft of partisanship which so unerringly guided you throughout your campaign when you make this fateful decision.

We trust that you will do so.

Luckily for all American citizens, there is no shortage of experienced, wise, respectful, compassionate and far-sighted legal eagles to fill this historic seat but Judge Merrick Garland had the trust and approval of the previous administration and he has the trust of Senator Sanders.

Yet what is justice if we allow barbarians to storm our gates with senseless destruction and raging violence while decent, hard working Americans of every creed, color and origin spend their own lives toiling to faithfully, selflessly build our nation’s future for all?        

You alone have properly named this nation’s- and this world’s– enemies of freedom and equality President-Elect Trump, and you have unwaveringly identified their poisonous brand of stupidity, hatred and violence. We have every trust that as Commander-in-Chief, you will bring the brightest light of Truth and the swiftest Justice to this darkest, ugliest corner of our world.

The whole world will need your strong hand and fearless guidance as well, President-Elect Trump, when it comes to more efficiently lighting our way forward towards a safer, cleaner, healthier environment.

Our planet is currently in climate crisis and this is an ecological deficit we can no longer afford to ignore or blithely burden the following generations with as we selfishly wreak our thoughtless havoc with little regard for our current responsibilities. Therefore we Americans who have always been at the forefront of creating innovative technology must once again rise to the occasion of both preserving and nurturing our most precious resources for the generations to come.

A great American President once issued a challenge that we would land an American man on the moon and then safely return him home. An inspired nation and the entire world eagerly watched in awe then celebrated with joy as that President’s proclamation became our reality. Our technological challenge is now different although no less daunting, and it is our own green Earth which we must now explore for innovative solutions then safely return as we pass it along for future generations to live and thrive on without threat of privation.

The addictive fossil fuel stopgaps of our polluted past will not take us there. We know, President-Elect Trump, that you can be the next great American President that challenges us to engage in the type of bold scientific innovation that will explore all alternatives and produce the new brand of energy that will launch us into a much more sustainable future for our children, and their children.  

We are with you President-Elect Trump. We are blessed and remain ever grateful that despite our diverse multitude of backgrounds, we have the privilege and honor of being citizens of this great, ever-hopeful nation.

Lead all of us forward.                                                                                                                      

 We are with you.

May God bless you and bless the United States of America.