Michael Shermer

It’s time to drop the God talk and face reality with a steely-eyed visage of the modern understanding of the origin of freedom on which the United States was founded and continues to be secured. God has nothing to do with it. If you want freedom and security, you need the following:

The rule of law; property rights; a secure and trustworthy banking and monetary system; economic stability; a reliable infrastructure and the freedom to move about the country; freedom of the press; freedom of association; education for the masses; protection of civil liberties; a clean and safe environment; a robust military for protection of our liberties from attacks by other states; a potent police force for protection of our freedoms from attacks by people within the state; a viable legislative system for establishing fair and just laws; and an effective judicial system for the equitable enforcement of those fair and just laws.


In Third World America: How Our Politicians Are Abandoning the Middle Class and Betraying the American DreamArianna Huffington talks about what we should already know about our declining democracy in America. The selling out of the American middle-class by the corporatocracy; corruption that has eaten away at the core of the political system; a military/security state that has devolved into a fascist police state, destroying our constitutional freedoms.

Here’s some fascinating excerpts from an interview she did with conservative wonk and defender of the elite 1%, Mary Matalin, in the critical feedback section of Amazon.

Here she talks about the corruption of Wall Street and the entire Financial system that, particularly during the global financial crisis, conned millions of people into taking on too much debt to finance the American dream, their own home. After the bankers went bankrupt gambling in the Wall Street casino with American taxpayer dollars, they were bailed out by the corrupt politicians George W. Bush and Barack Obama who sold our country down the river while Americans were driven further into debt.

Arianna: . . . the decline of the middle class was no accident. It was the result of tricks and traps. Tricks in the ways we financed our homes. Traps in the ways credit card companies used hidden fees and fine print and skyrocketing interest rates to get their hands on our money, driving more and more people into debt. So, yes, the game is rigged. Our financial system has become a bad carnival game where the rich always get the grand prize and the average American walks away empty-handed. We’ve gone from an economy where we make things to an economy where we make things up: default credit swaps, derivatives, CDOs and the like have turned Wall Street into a casino. Actually, a casino is fairer: at least you know the odds going in. And for me, the answer to the question of how we got here has to start in Washington, where special interests run the show–and where lobbyists outnumber elected officials 26 to 1. Unfortunately, there are no lobbyists for the American Dream. Now, I know you played a lobbyist on HBO … so I’m curious what your take on the role special interests now play in Washington. For me, this is one of those questions that is beyond the right vs. left framing the media loves to apply to every issue in Washington. I think both sides are under the influence of a small financial elite.

Arianna Huffington is right, the financial elite are destroying America and the American dream, stealing the wealth of the country while destroying the foundation of democracy and the US constitution. What she forgets to tell you is that she is part of that elite 1% who are robbing you blind, as many critics have begun to see the Huffington Post degrade into a 3rd rate tabloid rag that caters to the lowest common denominator and large corporate sponsors.

Unanimous Government (of your own life)

Unanimous Government (of your own life) (Photo credit: KAZVorpal)


Is it a coincidence that the Huffington Post has just decided to require everyone who comments on their site to use a real name? Is this a part of the fascist security state being built that destroys privacy and allows the government to spy on and collect data on everyone down to the finest minutiae? Is it ok that the government knows everything about you, every comment you have ever made on every website in the world?

Of course the excuse is that the comments section must be kept reasonably “clean” and devoid of disruptive trolls. But what happens when this policy crosses the line and begins to delete comments of anyone whose opinion is too critical of the site or the sponsors or the US government? Is that a threat to free speech? Yes it is a private enterprise and you are free to comment elsewhere, but when these media become too powerful what happens to the freedom of information?

The editors of Seeking Alpha have taken this policy one step further, and openly delete any comment that even slightly strays from the strictest decorum, which is very dangerous. I find the editors and editorial policy at Seeking Alpha to be revolting.

I just made a comment there mentioning that writers who receive a lot of clicks to their page can earn a decent amount of money. According to the editorial staff of Seeking Alpha, that comment was abusive to the writer and was deleted. This kind of nonsense in a free country begins in a small and seemingly innocuous way — to keep a “family” atmosphere — but can scale up fast and easily to outright censorship that would make the Chinese dictators proud.

The Guardian put it this way:

Most importantly, what these organisations, and the Guardian, recognise is that by ending anonymity the Huffington Post is going to lose something very important. Providing an alias allows readers to post personal experiences that they otherwise would not be able to for fear of personal or career repercussions. In some cases, it allows them to post without fear for their lives.

There are so many important world events that have relied on people being able to transmit information using pseudonyms – Egypt, the Arab spring and protests in Turkey and Brazil, to name just a few. Without the facility for commenters to use pseudonyms, the Guardian would never be able to have such rich and insightful discussions on emotive topics such as abortion, adoption and depression.

Restricting what their readers can contribute to the Huffington Post in order to remove an abusive minority is closing down an important route into the site’s journalism. It seems a big – too big – price to pay.

Here the I presume the interviewer of Arianna and Mary talks about how our government is bought and paid for by lobbyists working for corporate interests.

Evanovich: 1) there has to be a more accessible/successful way to petition the national government in a national crisis; 2) taking meetings with lobbyists at the coffee shop so they don’t appear on the White House visitors’ log is hardly transformational transparency; 3) as you note in Third World America, there is no transparency in the legislative process when the work is done, the cake is baked long before the floor debate begins. No transparency, no accountability. No accountability ends in tyranny.

We need more citizen control — direct citizen intervention in a government in “crisis”, for example, waging an endless, undefined “war on terror”. Lack of transparency and accountability in government, the kind we are seeing today in America’s National Security Agency (NSA) in their ability to usurp constitutional rights through shadow military courts, leads to tyranny.

Arianna: I think we might find some beyond left and right common ground on the role morality has to play in all this. For me, there will never be enough regulators or government regulations to make a difference if Wall Street doesn’t tap back into the notion that businessmen have responsibilities above and beyond the bottom line. There is a reason Adam Smith’s free-market gospel, The Wealth of Nations, was preceded by his Theory of Moral Sentiments. He understood that economic freedom could not flourish without a firm moral foundation. How do you see the balance between government regulation and a free market driven by more than the bottom line?


Too many mindless “capitalists” on financial message boards today drone on about how the only responsibility in a capitalist society is to profit, and morality plays no role in corporate governance. People feel that they earned their money and they owe nothing back to the society that made it possible to make in the first place. Nothing could be more naive or pernicious. But taxation must be fair and transparent, and corruption in government must be fought just as hard as against corporate interests.

How many wild-eyed, right-wing nuts talk about Obama the socialist/communist/Muslim (which worse?) traitor who wants to redistribute wealth to all those poor folks leeching off the system, who are the direct cause of our economic problems today? Nothing is more sad than watching wealthy 1%’ers blame the poor for our country’s problems, as the wealthy elite steal $trillions for war and banking fraud.

Bobby Lexington: “Huffington shows us how the very political system our Founders created has been hijacked and used to fill the pockets of those soulless enough to steal from their own (see the Right Wing). The system no longer works for the middle class. Our politicians simply do patchwork, reacting to what the media says–putting their fingers on a different leak everyday. It has become apparent– and Huffington points this out–that running for, and taking office, is nothing more than a way to protect one’s financial interests–or better yet–to line one’s own pockets. . . We see how the media has become the fourth branch of government–often setting the political agenda by creating the very stories they report on (i.e. CNN poll question: is Obama a Muslim?/results covered on a 24 hr. loop). And many of those news-created stories perpetuate the Right’s agenda of delaying any legislation designed to benefit the middle and working classes. In fact, an eye-popping incitement of this 21st Century media is on full display in the book: 71 Days: The Media Assault On Obama. Huffington gives us a gift by unveiling an America that is drowning in propaganda, tabloid-news-programming, racism, capitalistic greed, and an ever-growing imperialistic philosophy regarding our role in the world. It’s an America whose politicians are destroying the middle class at warp speed. The middle and working classes cannot afford for Sarah Palin to set the political agenda. But all she has to do is tweet something irrelevant and the media will run with it–ignoring any meaningful economic legislation that needs attention. Who suffers as a result? We do.”

As in most blog posts and such, much of the best writing is reserved for the commenters in the bleachers. Perhaps one of the most dangerous movements of the past couple decades is corporate takeover of media, with just a few major news organizations owning and spinning mainstream media.

Thank God for bloggers and the Internet where citizens can write and read about the truth and pursue justice in a world sold down the river to corporate profit. CNN is now being called a “reality TV show” by major media critics. And even the Huffington Post is now being assailed for tabloid journalism.

Sure is nice to be able to write what I want and not have some editor or the US government tell me what I can and cannot write. God Bless America.

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