Do you have faith in the American system of government? This article of faith is often invoked, left or right, and last night on Real Time with Bill Maher, Ralph Reed, a Trump supporter, invoked his faith in our constitutional democracy in response to an assertion by Adam Gopnik, a staff writer at The New Yorker.
If I asked you what it takes to get a popular web site onto the internet, what would you say? If you’re like most people, you’d probably say something about creating a site, then sprinkling relevant keywords strategically throughout (a.k.a. “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO)), and then, as people discover the site, and your audience & traffic builds, your site will move up to the top of the search page rankings making you a popular web site.
The phrase “clear and present danger” is the standard by which freedom of speech can be abridged. As the saying goes, nobody has the right to shout “fire” in a theater. The United States Supreme Court began citing this standard in 20th century rulings, reaffirming that freedom of speech stops at the point where it puts pubic safety in peril. The idea is controversial, but it should be understood that constitutional rights are not absolute. Whether you agree with this standard as it applies to freedom of speech, is of little importance here. It only matters that you understand what it means, because economic inequality is a clear and present danger to American democracy.
This should come as no surprise, but a Pew study released today shows most Republicans believe you are poor because you choose to be poor. Or in other words, the poor are simply not working hard enough. This of course echoes the sentiments of Kevin O’Leary, who I wrote about yesterday. He’s the fat cat who said it’s “fantastic” that 85 people own the same wealth as 3.5 billion people (half of Earth’s population).
What would happen if one day in the not so distant future, traditional print journalism died? I don’t mean what happens if we stop printing newspapers. I mean, what happens if “the press” is simply a collection of bloggers? I know I’m pouring gasoline on a fire with this line of questioning, most notably because I’m a blogger questioning the role of bloggers in journalism and news reporting, but is a person sitting in his bedroom or living room a journalist or a reporter?
There’s a spurious narrative about NSA leaker Edward Snowden and it goes something like this: Snowden sure picked some questionable places to flee to (China, Russia) if he’s so worried about his freedoms. Both liberal and conservative pundits have issued this narrative and comedian Bill Maher has told jokes invoking it. But the problem with this bogus anecdote is that it assumes Snowden leaked information for his own personal benefit. So far there is zero evidence that he did this for fame or did this to advance a self-serving agenda. All indications are that Edward Snowden leaked the NSA spying information, including details about the PRISM program, because he truly cares about our constitutional rights being infringed by our government.
Does anybody really believe it’s healthy for capitalism, and more importantly democracy, when one company hauls in a net income of over $40 billion a year? And do you think a company this large, with that much money and power to throw around is not going to disrupt freedom, liberty and civil rights if it suits the interests of the company? And do you think a company this large will not influence government policy, legislation and even local law enforcement? This is not conspiracy theory territory, it’s a simple truth that when you combine human beings with incredibly profitable businesses, you end up with an endless thirst for power.
Have you noticed when conservatives lose elections, they don’t really like democracy all that much? Many of them don’t even like the country they live in. The people who call themselves the true defenders of freedom and the real Americans resemble neither when they are on the short end of an election result.