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Trump’s and Bannon’s direction on search and social is downright progressive

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Trumps and Bannons direction on search and social is downright progressive

Many if not most politically conservative users of search engines like Google and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter feel like the biggest players on the internet are biased towards a progressive worldview. The evidence they give has been sharp and quite compelling in many cases, though there are plenty of tinfoil hat concepts floating around to muddy the waters as well.

The response from the right should be aggressive and unified. We should seek clear evidence that these private companies are expressing their political perspectives through the services they offer and apply pressure. That pressure can come in the form of boycotts, support for unbiased competing services, communications with advertisers, or any of the various tactics used by individuals and private organizations to force change.

The last thing we should do is ask for or expect the federal government to get involved, but that’s exactly what President Trump and Breitbart’s Steve Bannon are insinuating.

How Trump could hurt Google

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/08/28/trump-google-search-tweet-758110“I think what Google and what others are doing, if you look at what is going on with Twitter and if you look at what’s going on in Facebook, they better be careful because you can’t do that to people,” Trump said, adding, “I think that Google and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful.“

The president’s comments come amid growing talk in some conservative circles, led primarily by former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, that Google and other online platforms should be regulated like public utilities, bringing them under government oversight.

Search engines and social media are privilege services. They offer venues through which people can find what they seek or interact with others in their digital sphere. The main players in these two online disciplines, Google in search and Facebook and Twitter in social, are private companies. It may be unsettling that they demonstrate bias against conservative principles or right-leaning political figures and organizations, but that doesn’t mean conservatives or Federalists should dismiss their core values of limited government intervention just for the sake of making things fair online.

They’re never going to be fair online no matter what DC does. The only DC’s intervention could possibly do is make the whole situation much worse.

It’s easier said than done to force these companies to change without the government. Nevertheless, that’s exactly what must happen. If we start calling for regulations or government oversight in order to make these platforms operated by private businesses fair, then we’d be adopting the progressive values these companies protect.

There is no easy way to fix search engines or social media. Any expectations that they should be compelled to be fair is just adding to the problem. However, it’s the only righteous path available to us right now. We cannot try for the “easy” fix of government intervention. That invariably makes situations like this even worse than they already are.

Foreign Affairs

The Saudi predicament requires radical changes in our foreign affairs positions

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Saudi predicament requires radical changes in our foreign affairs positions

The United States is at a foreign affairs crossroads. One of our most important allies in the most important region in the world is being led by a man that U.S. intelligence (and pretty much everybody else) believes ordered the murder of a journalist living in our nation and writing for one of its biggest news outlets. How can we reconcile between what’s right and what’s smart?

Further evidence was leaked today that Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, ordered the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month. The CIA concluded this based on multiple pieces of circumstantial evidence, including phone calls intercepted between Khashoggi and Mohammed’s brother assuring Khashoggi’s safety if he went to the Saudi consulate where was murdered.

CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/cia-concludes-saudi-crown-prince-ordered-jamal-khashoggis-assassination/2018/11/16/98c89fe6-e9b2-11e8-a939-9469f1166f9d_story.html?utm_term=.718b2d26599cThe CIA’s conclusion about Mohammed’s role was also based on the agency’s assessment of the prince as the country’s de facto ruler who oversees even minor affairs in the kingdom. “The accepted position is that there is no way this happened without him being aware or involved,” said a U.S. official familiar with the CIA’s conclusions.

Among the intelligence assembled by the CIA is an audio recording from a listening device that the Turks placed inside the Saudi consulate, according to the people familiar with the matter. The Turks gave the CIA a copy of that audio, and the agency’s director, Gina Haspel, has listened to it.

This is much more complicated than deciding whether or not to punish Mohammed. The stakes are unfathomably high, including balance of power in the Middle East, a potential oil crisis that could cripple the world economy, and the future of a peace plan between Israel and the Palestinians.

Unfortunately, what’s right and what’s smart are diametrically opposed in this situation.

What’s right?

Every ounce of evidence points to the near-certainty that Mohammed bin Salman ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. He was a permanent residence of the United States who lived in Virginia and worked at the Washington Post. While not a citizen, he lawfully earned the right to fall under our nation’s protections.

The right thing to do is to condemn the Crown Prince, even if that will irreversibly damage our relationship with Saudi Arabia.

What’s smart?

Based on the current geopolitical status quo, Saudi Arabia is our best proxy to keep Iran in check in the Middle East. They are also the reason the dollar is still the world’s reserve currency despite efforts by Russia, China, and other nations to change that. This status allows the dollar to maintain artificial stability. There are many factors in play that could cripple the dollar if Saudi Arabia and OPEC started dealing in other currencies, bur national debt alone would be enough to catastrophically collapse our entire economy if the world had the means to turn its collective back on us.

Saudi Arabia and the so-called “petrodollar” is the force that maintains the illusion of stability.

The arms we sell Saudi Arabia account for a substantial chunk of revenue and jobs in the United States, but more importantly it gives them the technological edge they need over Iran. If the Saudis turn to Russia or China, our influence over the region would diminish greatly.

The smart thing to do is to sweep this under the rug. Throw symbolic punishment at some sacrificial Saudi lambs and move on.

Time for change

There is no way to do what’s right and still do what’s smart, so it would seem the White House has to pick between the two.

Perhaps they don’t. Perhaps there’s a third option.

Even if we do the “right” thing by condemning Saudi Arabia Mohammed, ties will not deteriorate immediately. There will be a wind down during which time the Saudis will be looking for other partners and the Americans will be trying to salvage the relationship.

What if we didn’t? What if we acknowledged for the first time that Saudi Arabia is more than just the country that murdered Khashoggi. Their human rights record is atrocious. They have directly or indirectly harmed the United States for years, including a significant role in terrorist attacks. They spread Wahhabism across the world. If you haven’t heard much about Wahhabism, it’s because the radical Islamic sect that drives the House of Saud is protected from media scrutiny. See Network, which only partially satirizes the influence the Saudis have on U.S. media.

Saudi Arabia is a horrible ally. They’re necessary because we’ve made them necessary, but if we drastically cut budgets and spending, the economic ramifications of a break with them would be mitigated. It’s time to make deals with nations that do not smile at us in public and subvert us in private. Nations that do not like us, including Brazil and Venezuela, could be brought under our wing to replace Saudi Arabia on the oil front. It’s unimaginable now, but we live in fast-moving times.

Also, build the Keystone XL pipeline.

As for stability in the Middle East, it’s time we go all-in with Israel. They are the only true democracy and the one nation in the Middle East we can count on to not stab us in the back. They are capable of being the check against Iran. Abandon all talks of a two-state solution, work with Israel as our primary proxy in the Middle East, and make Saudi Arabia turn to others for support.

All of this sounds dangerous because, well, it is. The dominoes that will fall when we take drastic measures against Saudi Arabia will be painful. But there’s one thing to consider before balking at this. We may be heading in this direction already. The difference is it wouldn’t be us initiating (and therefore prepared for) these changes. Saudi Arabia has been quietly seeking a better deal for decades. They haven’t found it yet, but someday they will. When that happens, they’ll pull the rug out from under us.

We should be the ones pulling the rug. If we’re not, the permanent repercussions will be devastating.

Radical change in our foreign affairs stance is long overdue. Saudi Arabia is the worst kind of ally to rely upon, not just because of Khashoggi but because of everything else they’ve done. None of this seems feasible now, but it may be the only path forward.

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Guns and Crime

Eric Swalwell gets 2020 attention by reasserting his gungrabbing agenda

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Eric Swalwell gets 2020 attention by reasserting his gungrabbing agenda

Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) is running for President in 2020. He hasn’t announced it, sources close to him told Politico last week that he’s running. Today, he reasserted himself into the conversation by reminding us he’s all in for a mandatory gun buyback program.

Oh, and he threatened nuclear civil war in the process.

Swalwell was being dramatic, of course. His response to people calling him out over his gungrabbing proposals was political theater at its finest. It’s actually a little impressive to see him take on prominent 2nd Amendment proponents despite making losing arguments. Lest we forget, what conservatives view as losing arguments are effective at rallying the unhinged leftist base that Swalwell hopes to get behind him.

Swalwell’s proposal is to focus on certain guns and accessories that he deems to be “military-style” and target them for confiscation, which in leftist terms is called a “gun buyback.”

Let’s discuss that for a moment. A true gun buyback is an event, usually put on by a city, that allows gun owners (legal or not) to sell their guns to the government, no questions asked. It is voluntary and often results in a decent number of guns taken off the streets. Lawful citizens have the option of getting rid of guns they no longer want while unlawful gun owners get money. It’s sometimes effective, though studies have shown lukewarm results regarding reductions in gun-related crimes.

What Swalwell is proposing is not a gun buyback. It’s compensated confiscation. When gun owners are mandated to turn in their guns or face criminal consequences, we can no longer give it cover by calling it a buyback.

This is a political ploy to plant his flag in far-left dirt ahead of announcing his presidential run. Eric Swalwell isn’t on anyone’s radar now, but stunts like this should make gun owners take notice. Leftists are getting bolder with their gungrabbing declarations.

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Foreign Affairs

Three observations about Julian Assange following charges filed against him

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Three observations about Julian Assange following charges filed against him

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been charged by the United States. The charges are sealed and were not intended to be released to the public yet. Now, there is plenty of speculation surrounding his future.

He has been holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. He sought asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape charges. He has always asserted the charges were fabricated to get him extradited to the United States, a conspiracy theory proven no longer valid since Sweden has stopped pursuing charges.

Wikileaks’ Julian Assange has been charged in US, prosecutors accidentally reveal

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/julian-assange-charged-us-wikileaks-prosecutors-court-filing-ecuador-embassy-a8636336.htmlThe Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been charged under seal with unspecified offences in the US, prosecutors have accidentally revealed in an unintentional court filing.

Federal prosecutors had hoped to keep the indictment against Mr Assange a secret “due to the sophistication of the defendant, and the publicity surrounding the case”, and so that Mr Assange would “no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter”.

There are three peculiar observations about his situation that should be noted.

  1. Sealed charges may signal the charges are related to the Mueller investigation. Most have assumed the charges are based around his leaking of classified military information and videos that started getting leaked in 2010. The timing of the “leak” might lend more to the possibility that Robert Mueller’s 2016 election interference investigation is the source. This week, Jerome Corsi said he believes he will be indicted over his association with Wikileaks. Corsi rightly “predicted” Wikileaks would release John Podesta’s emails. Did he or Roger Stone know about the emails being hacked? If so, did President Trump know as well?
  2. Ecuador hates him. If there was a honeymoon, it ended years ago. Living in the same building for six years can change a person, but it seems more likely that he really is just a jerk. Complaints have come through his stay, but they’ve ramped up recently with embassy personnel and visitors complaining about his hygiene, treatment of his cat, and a generally bitter attitude. He even sued them for violating his rights. Ecuador wants him out and these new charges might be enough to make them reverse their course. If he were extradited to the United States, a deal would probably including taking the death penalty off the table.
  3. The leak may have been intentional. Either someone is an idiot for copying and pasting information about Assange’s charges from a different document or this was supposed to get leaked. If the latter is true, the motivation could be to start pressuring Ecuador into handing him over to the United States.

Some say he’s a hero. Others call him a traitor. Whatever he is or isn’t, one thing is certain. If he ever leaves the embassy, he will be arrested.

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