Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Censorship: “Everyday Liberals” Dangerously Unclear on the Concept

File under All too typical. After the horrific mass murder in Las Vegas on Sunday, voices in our liberal press are again taking up their push to control which voices can enter the public arena. The Dem-friendly media is renewing their calls for censorship, repeating the tactic they began with their bogus “Russia Russia Russia” mantra after Hillary Clinton’s upset loss last year.

The following is a Facebook thread. If I got so combative, it’s because I’m so thoroughly sick of what I’m seeing. Note this guy Jonathan Barkley. He is what I’d call an “Everyday Liberal”--to distinguish him, and the tens of millions just like him, from classical liberals, who are getting rare indeed in the populace.

Unclear on the concept. Unclear on the concept.

Eric Mader

This post linked to a Daily Wire article by Robert Kraychik. If you value free speech, go read it. The comment thread on my wall went like this:

MICHAEL A.: Censorship is the tool used by those too scared to enter into dialogue. The whys should be obvious. The hows need to be read between the lines. That takes thought and discernment.

ERIC MADER: Indeed. And who, pray tell, is clearly too scared to enter into dialogue, our free-speech right or our SJW left? It's obvious as daylight. This new fake left LOATHES dialogue.

JONATHAN BARKLEY: [friends with Michael A.] Why do you keep spreading utter bullshit like this?

Looking at ratings of various "News" agencies on a fact checking site like Politico shows, without a doubt, that mainstream "news" outlets like Fox are guilty of fabricating complete bullshit and spreading it as fact.

There are no left wing equivalents to sites like Breitbart or any of the new alt-right outlets.

Fake news is primarily a right wing disease.

As for the Russian hacking, keep talking, asshat, and the rest of us, the ones grounded in fucking reality, will laugh our asses off and the Fascists pieces of shit now running the US start getting hauled off in handcuffs.


ERIC MADER: Jonathan: Of the several bits of blathering stupidity in your comment, I'll pick out a few to focus on.

1) You need to learn to read. As in literally: You can't even read the few clear sentences of my post. I never said "CNN and MSNBC promulgate fake news, but Fox doesn't." No, if you take your head out of your ass and look at what I wrote, I said "false information is always in circulation" and that "corporate media" spreads it. Note that Fox News is also corporate media. Duh.

2) If I focus my ire on the leftward spectrum of corporate media, the reason is clear from my post. It's because it is those sources, not Breitbart or other right-leaning media, that keep using the presence of "false information" in public discourse to call for what I think is the real threat: censorship. Add to it that those sources are themselves constantly spreading false information--indeed, spreading anything that will advance their narrative, and not bothering to verify their sources. CNN and WaPo are particularly guilty of this. CNN, especially, which used to be more reliable than Fox in this regard, is now nothing but 24/7 Hillaresque propaganda.

3) An example: You mention the "Russian hacking". Do you happen to know that after EIGHT STRAIGHT MONTHS of top-of-the-hour news from CNN on "Russia Russia Russia" that the Russian hacking never occurred and has basically been proved never to have occurred? That based on the data cache with the original "hacked" emails, the supposed fact they were hacked is technologically impossible? Cf. the link below. There's a reason CNN finally gave up their daily, nearly-year-long soundbite loop on Russia. The reason is that even they finally had to acknowledge it didn't hold water. Not that they ever retracted EIGHT MONTHS of reporting on their SOLE STORY. No, they just changed the subject. 1984.

4) And so, my worry isn't false information. My worry is CENSORSHIP. I believe that freedom of speech includes the right to speak or write or post false information. If it didn't, from a philosophical view alone, we'd have to shut up most of the time, because being human we are liable to error or exaggeration. And some of us, as you prove, literally can't even read clear sentences in their own native tongue.

I don't like the term "fake news". Because it suggests a sharp dichotomy between items, as if our ability to label one news item "fake" means that other news is factual. The genre of news reporting, even if we try our best to be objective, even if we are very damn good at it, is always going to include bias and blindnesses, which are there already in what we choose to report as important and what we choose to ignore.

5) America is not a fascist state, and Trump, for all his evident flaws, is not a fascist. I'd even say he's not consistent enough, not guided enough by principles, to be a fascist. In any case, fascism isn't a very helpful term when trying to understand current American scene. The actual fascists, a few keeners on the alt-right, are nowhere near as powerful at present as our would-be SJW authoritarians. The latter are literally in control of our universities, from the Ivy Leagues down.

I can put up with stupidity and I can put up with people using vile language to insult me. What I can't put up with is both simultaneously: the grade-school beginner who thinks he can call me an "asshat" just because he can't slow down enough to actually read the sentences in front of his face. So I invite you to fuck off from my wall.

The following piece is long, Jonathan, it contains a lot of technical language, five-syllable words and such, so it may be a challenge for someone like you. But since it DOES come from a left-leaning source, at least you might be disposed to actually "read" it, in your way: About That DNC “Hack”.

JONATHAN BARKLEY: Fuck you you ignorant twat.

Simple enough for you?

ERIC MADER: Yes, very simple. Everything you manage to say is likely to prove just that: VERY simple. To the tune now: "A, B, C, D, CNN . . ."


JONATHAN BARKLEY: Holy fuck you're full of shit.

Russian interference has been proven. Fact. Now it's about who is going to jail.

Politifact disproves your entire premise.

You are the problem.

Get your head out of your ass and try facts instead of spewing up Koch Bros sponsored talking points you corporate shill.

ERIC MADER: Okay, whatever you say, little Johnny. How do you know Politifact disproves my entire premise when you still don’t even recognize what my premise is? True to form for guys like you, you answered so quickly that it didn't provide you time to "read" the linked article on your "Russian hacking".

Now how about you get off my wall? I teach Asian preteens for a living, so don't appreciate having to debate Western preteens during my off hours.

[And he got off my wall. And blocked me besides, as if I was going to bother following him to his wall. I don’t even know the guy.]

* * *

CODA: I know, I know, even blogging about an exchange like this is tedious. And so: What’s my point? My point is that this is so sickeningly characteristic. This has become the usual attempt to discuss censorship with any American to the left of Ronald Reagan. Try to talk about the First Amendment and point out that Silicon Valley or mainstream media MUST NOT be given the keys to public discourse and you are a “fascist”, an “asshat”, a “twat” or, oh-so-ironically, a “corporate shill”. These are our everyday liberals, the voters who will come out in droves to elect the next Democrats.

In short: We’re in big trouble.


Update: Mea culpa! A technically savvy commentator points out below that the Nation piece on which I base my argument on the "technical impossibility" of the DNC hack is not by any means the last word. Thanks to "nnnnn" for keeping me honest and reminding me to be humbler.

Check out my Idiocy, Ltd. at and begin the long, hard reckoning.


nnnnn said...

PSA: Eric, you should go look at the updates to that Nation article. They've walked back its major claim, that the DNC hack COULD NOT have been a hack. It's true that there's still no hard evidence available to the public that it WAS a hack, but it's incorrect to say that this article demonstrates that it COULD NOT have been a hack.

I agree with you that everyone should take care to avoid assuming that it definitely was a hack; but by the same token, your claim "that the Russian hacking never occurred and has basically been proved never to have occurred" is simply wrong. We normals just don't know, based on the information available to us.

This is exactly why there's an investigation underway! I trust you support legitimate efforts to get to the bottom of this? Guccifer 2.0 CLAIMED TO HAVE HACKED the DNC, so there's a testable claim of third-party interference in the wild. Everyone, of all political persuasions, should be intensely interested in sorting out the truth of this claim. The integrity of our democracy depends on it.

Eric Mader said...

I've only been able to find a statement by THE NATION's editor Katrina vanden Heuvel that they are reviewing the article after having received blowback from the DNC: "We believe it is important to challenge questionable conventional wisdom and to foster debate—not police it. Focusing on unreported or inadequately reported issues of major importance and raising questions that are not being asked have always been a central part of our work." Unless I'm missing something, i don't see that "They've walked back its major claim." Where have they done so? At the foot of the article itself, there are only two "Editor's note" additions.

I've already seen dissenting pieces in WaPo and elsewhere, but that's just par for the course. Especially re: WaPo, currently America's #1 "Russia Russia Russia" rag. One of THE most egregious pieces to appear yet, of the whole Russiagate epic slow-motion meltdown, was in WaPo late last year,
beautifully taken apart by Glenn Greenwald, one of the handful of real journalists still standing.

nnnnn said...

Yeah, sorry, they kind of buried the link inside the editor's note, grumble. Here's the clean link:

Particularly useful to me is the geek-speak from Nathaniel Freitas, the third item on that page. AFAIK you're not a technical person, so that may be a bit of a slog for you, but he's speaking my language. :-)


The original article was based substantially on the VIPS memo. VIPS's argument was that the data transfer rate was Very High, and that this means it's implausible that the data was transferred directly from the DNC server to a (singular) remote hacker's computer via the open Internet.

This is true, but incomplete. This rules out only one scenario: That there was a single hacker who connected directly to the DNC server and downloaded the entire data cache in one gulp to one remote computer. I agree, that scenario is out.

But that's not the only possible means of accomplishing this hack, and I don't even really think it's the most plausible scenario, given that we're talking about "professional hackers" doing illegal activities here. Freitas provides two other scenarios (of, presumably, many) that could EASILY result in the transfer speeds observed:

1. Do the initial data transfer to a temporary (virtual) cloud server in close network proximity to the DNC server (close network proximity means fast initial transfer, which would obviously be attractive if you're trying to steal something); then download it to the remote hacker's systems at leisure. Then kill the virtual server, making it seem like it never existed.

1a. Freitas doesn't mention this explicitly for some reason, but, using a swarm of virtual cloud servers attacking simultaneously would let you copy stuff much more quickly, and even further skew the apparent data transfer rate.

2. Even better: Compromise a workstation within the DNC's local network. (This is EXTREMELY EASY to do, if you're so inclined, via a phishing/spearphishing attack, or other means. I've had a Windows machine get compromised literally just sitting there....) Then copy the goods from the DNC server to that machine at high local-network speeds; then download to the remote hacker's systems at leisure.


nnnnn said...


The point here is that the VIPS memo significantly oversteps the available evidence when it makes the categorical claim that it's IMPOSSIBLE that the data was hacked by a remote hacker, that it HAD TO BE an insider copying the data and then leaking it. It COULD HAVE BEEN a leak, it COULD HAVE BEEN a hack, there's no conclusive evidence either way -- certainly not enough to support the categorical character of VIPS's claims.

Meanwhile, we have an explicit claim of responsibility from Guccifer 2.0 that it was, in fact, a hack. Without conclusive (or even particularly compelling, by my lights) evidence to disprove that claim of responsibility, it ought to remain the operative theory of what happened -- with due caution that it's the provisional theory, not anything that we should *assume* true. (I'm also with you in wishing that CNN et al would do a better job of observing this caution. Sigh. But by the same token, the Nation should have done a better job of evaluating the claims in the VIPS memo. The media is really really really really bad at reporting on technical subjects. This happens all the time, not just in ideologically charged contexts. Feel my engineer pain!)

Freitas's conclusion:

"Good-faith efforts to parse the available data to provide insight into the unlawful extraction of documents from the DNC in 2016 are admirable and necessary. All parties, however, must exercise much greater care in separating out statements backed by available digital metadata from thoughtful insights and educated guesses. Walking nontechnical readers down any narrative path that cannot be directly supported by evidence must be avoided. At this point, given the limited available data, certainty about only a very small number of things can be achieved."

Eric Mader said...

Sorry for not responding earlier, nnnnn. I wanted to have some time to look into your answers here. And I would say, after doing so, that yes, you're right. I placed too much confidence in the Nation piece, and that has to be put down to my naivete on technical matters, compounded in this case by my supposition that the Nation, being solidly on the left, wouldn't have gone with a story that undermined the liberal narrative unless that story panned out.

Many thanks for taking the time to lay out the possible alternate scenarios here. I'm going to add an update above in the blog post.