No rubles for old men.


You will forgive me if I remain skeptical of this whole story about Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election by buying ads on Facebook.

I’m not skeptical about Russian meddling anymore than I doubt Israeli or Saudi meddling in our elections.

That is one of the prices we pay for Citizens United. Who knows where all that secret bundled campaign money comes from?

We don’t know who the domestic billionaires who fund campaigns are and we don’t know who the foreign ones are. Like capitalism in general, election meddling is a global affair.

I don’t have any doubts about U.S. meddling in other countries’ elections.

The U.S. has more than just meddled. I believe we have had a policy of regime change now and again.

But watching U.S. Senators like Diane Feinstein wagging her finger at the Big Five internet companies made me more than a little concerned.

My first concern on the one hand is that the internet has now turned into a thing run basically by five multi-billion dollar monopolies that function as a kind of Big Brother. They can all sit at a single table and be lectured to by the likes of Senator Al Franken.

Have you ever tried to talk to somebody at Facebook?

Unlike network television, the internet remains mainly unregulated by the government. To the degree that it remains open and accessible to all, it should remain unregulated.

Any government regulations should be aimed at breaking up monopoly power, not restricting access with the excuse that the Russians may have bought a Facebook ad with rubles or posted on Twitter as a phony organization.

Yesterday the radio station that hosts our Hitting Left with the Klonsky Brothers radio show celebrated its first birthday. Because it broadcasts as a licensed radio station, it falls under the rules of the FCC.

We can’t say dirty words.

As a non-profit community station we can’t plug or promote certain things.

We live with those rules in order to preserve the incredible value of this important Chicago community asset.

Unlike the radio show, on this blog I can say pretty much what I please, But behind it is always the shadow of the giant monopolies that have quickly gained control of the internet.

Can they shut me down? Of course they can.

But I remain skeptical and concerned that those in Washington will use this stuff about rubles and Russians to stifle what still remains of the wide-open web of our early days.


4 thoughts on “No rubles for old men.

  1. Van Jones recently pointed out that Republican gerrymandering, which enabled widespread voter suppression, accounts for a much more significant and long-lasting reason for Republican election successes than anything to do with advertising. As to the Internet and its power, after more than a decade as an advocate for technology use in schools, which I then saw as a way to empower student voice and advocacy, I got depressed about the hijacking of computer use by testing companies and their administrative lackeys. Now I teach kids how to identify with their own ancestors and a truly global community of humans through learning string figures. It’s hard fun, and so gratifying for kids to have a real skill literally at their fingertips, requiring nothing but a loop of cordage. Meat space, not cyberspace.

  2. My concern is hacking the machines. We need paper trails and simpler recount proceedures. I also share those concerns of Van Jones. But I am concerned about Russia and China. These wall Street types that once made money off our pensions suddenly turned right about the time we began getting Russian money flows and these investment partnerships and there fees exploded. At the same time Putin friendly sites like zero hedge became obsessed with our pensions. There is no doubt these attacks on pensions have hurt state government and we know Russia enjoys choas in the country that it stashed its cash in. I will try to link the next one. As to the Saudis CALSTERs CEO said they need to be in theses investment vehicles because the Saudis were. He told it to Barrons. I found that a strange reason.

  3. We must always remember that there are those who seek control of anything that will bring them money and power. We try to counter these people with laws, rules and regulations. They just look for a different way to achieve their self serving intentions. This is why we promote critical thinking, logic and reason.

  4. The internet once held great promise. The thought of having access to the Library of Congres without leaving home was incredible. Today, the internet is devolving a commercial junkyard, larded with advertising and increasingly blocked by paywalls. Changing algorithms (per Google) to weed out “fake news” have actually resulted in progressive, left-leaning sites disappearing from first-page google searches. And once you look at a product online, Amazon and google follow you as you work at separating the wheat from the chaff.

    I think some regulation is needed, as FB and Google are becoming de facto arbiters of the news. Breaking up their monopolies and mandating public disclosure of their algorithms can be the start. Otherwise, we as a nation will continue our descent into being the least-informed populace in history, despite the enormous potential and information surrounding us.

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