h/t Herbert Richmond
Western governments, including ours, are going onto websites and into blogs to manipulate people, spread false reports and defame those who disagree. It’s meant to “nudge” us into thinking appropriately.
In July of 2011, the Sentinel posted information gathered about Cass Sunstein and his “nudge theory”. It’s reprinted below. Sunstein claimed that the government should infiltrate social media and websites to correct “errors” being spread on the Internet.
It’s a slippery slope and many said at the time that the real goal was to “pose, infiltrate, and discredit” those who would oppose the government. They were quickly dismissed as conspiracy theorists.
Glenn Beck, who uncovered the tactic, said on his radio show this week that it is true – there are government operatives on our websites posing as ordinary citizens.
The UK’s surveillance network, the equivalent of the NSA, has been exposed for doing exactly that. The NSA and the GCHQ work closely together.
Glenn Greenwald, a liberal UK journalist who published the NSA documents pilfered by Edward Snowden, reported on his new website, First Look, that he worked with NBC News on a series of articles about “dirty trick tactics” used by GCHQ on the Internet.
GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) injects false material on the Net to destroy reputations of opponents; they lure people into compromising sex traps; they use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to bring about desired outcomes; they post defamatory material and attribute it to others; they set up fake victim websites, and so on.
Greenwald‘s report references Sunstein’s controversial paper from 2008 that proposed the government go online and utilize “covert agents and ‘pseudo-independent’ advocates to ‘cognitively infiltrate’ online groups and websites, as well as other activist groups.”
Sunstein further suggested that “covert agents go into ‘chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups’ which spread what they view as false and damaging ‘conspiracy theories’ about the government.'”
Sunstein claimed he wanted to ‘nudge’ people in the right direction.
Sunstein is a former regulatory czar who now serves on Obama’s NSA review panel. The panel will suggest “cosmetic reforms” to the NSA’s powers.
Greenwald explains “these GCHQ documents are the first to prove that a major western government is using some of the most controversial techniques to disseminate deception online and harm the reputations of targets.”
I support the NSA and know many of the people in the NSA are good people trying to protect us, but, right now, there is reason to believe the NSA is out of control. Anyone on the Internet who voices opposition to the government, better be alert to possible manipulation. It’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s a conspiracy.
This should be a nonpartisan issue.
There is something profoundly creepy about Western governments “nudging” the populace.
Reprint July, 2011
Cass Sunstein, close confidant to the President is our regulatory Czar. He is a brilliant intellectual, a constitutional lawyer who came out of the University of Chicago, the same University that has gone from conservative to off -the-charts far-left in a few decades.
That ideological change coincidentally came almost around the time Bill Ayers started teaching there, right after he abandoned blowing up buildings as a career and moved on to blowing up minds.
The NY Times had an article last year explaining that Cass Sunstein wants to nudge us, but before I get into that, they describe the philosophy of University of Chicago this way – “Chicago scholars tend to be social scientists at heart, contrarian but empirical, following evidence to logical extremes.
They are centrally interested not in what it is like to be an individual within society but in how society washes over individuals, making and remaking them.
The Times quoted Saul Levmore, former dean of the law school as saying, “Cass has the quintessential University of Chicago habit of mind.”
Cass Sunstein’s nudging, as the Times innocently calls it, is Sunstein’s desire to give government regulations that University of Chicago state of mind, one in which government regulations evaluate the interest of the individual against that of society.
While he claims to want regulations to be more supple, there is nothing supple about him. He comes from a viewpoint that slants heavily towards the common good over individual liberty. We all must regard the common good in what we do, but there is a significant difference in degree from a Marxist standpoint to a Libertarian one (The NY Times sees Sunstein as Libertarian at times). It is this balance which is in jeopardy.
I’m linking the Times article at the end so there’s no need to go into depth about what they laud as his incredible intellect; his fiercely anti-genocide wife; his learned lessons from Conservatives; or his Nobel Prize winning friends. You can read that for yourself. I grant that he’s tall and lean, means well, not sure I’d agree that he’s non-ideological, but he’s well-educated and intelligent.
There is another point I think needs to be made that stretches beyond all the genuine accolades and blatant foo foo dust painting the portrait of Sunstein. The point is lots of smart, well-educated people are wrong. Some don’t have a lick of common sense.
Sunstein’s “nudge” theory is called “libertarian paternalism.” How’s that for an oxymoron? They hardly go together.
He wants to nudge us by giving us choices with the “better” choice listed first as an example of what that means (behavioral economics is the category – it can become propaganda if stretched too far). The danger of course is in how far he wants to go with it, which, judging from some of his statements through the years, is pretty far.
The Times portrays Sunstein as a middle of the road social equalizer kind of guy who bounces between the libertarian and paternalistic holds on society to mete out a fair solution.
He’s a supporter of OIRA, an office founded under Reagan which provides a “fair” hearing for anyone bound by the rules of the EPA and FDA. From the Times: The office’s administrators require that federal agencies express the costs and benefits of their proposed rules (lives saved, swampland preserved) in dollars. Moral principles, filtered through this cost-benefit analysis, find their way into confounding little boxes. A human life, the E.P.A. figured in a 2001 rule about arsenic and drinking water, was worth $6.1 million.
My question is whose moral principles? The government’s? Sunstein’s? Whose? He attempts to put a dollar value on the individual life. Is that a good and necessary direction for us?
Sunstein wants, as an example, to have companies (car, oil, anything and everything) report behavioral changes – through regulations – so the public outcry will force them into doing the right thing – the “nudge.” This leaves bureaucrats in charge of, basically, everything.
Sunstein is a rabid believer in the extreme views of “climate change” and he doesn’t care what the cost is to stop the climate from changing – just saying it sounds like a battle with Mother Nature we are not equipped to take on. He believes the science is decided and will not consider anything else, he will regulate instead at whatever cost to us is necessary.
Sunstein believes many animals will become extinct. He did consider giving animals rights to an attorney and the right to sue in court when he wrote his first book in the 70′s, a time when global warming was nonexistent and a new Ice Age was allegedly on its way.
Sunstein does not believe in the Second Amendment and has considered the notion of outlawing hunting. Two of his quotes:
“Almost all gun control legislation is constitutionally fine. And if the Court is right, then fundamentalism does not justify the view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. ” – Cass Sunstein, writing in his book, “Radicals in Robes”
Much of the time, the United States seems to have embraced a confused and pernicious form of individualism. This approach endorses rights of private property and freedom of contract, and respects political liberty, but claims to distrust “government intervention”and insists that people must fend for themselves. This form of so-called individualism is incoherent, a tangle of confusions.– Cass R. Sunstein, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR’s Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need it More Than Ever, Basic Books, New York, 2004, p. 3
March 16 edition of Fox News’ Glenn Beck Show:
BECK: By the way, Cass also wants to reverse the Constitution from a charter of negative liberties to positive liberties, which means government tells you what you’re allowed to do, not you telling the government.
Sunstein also talked about this — now this is, this is — this is so normal. He just thinks we should ban hunting as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUNSTEIN: We ought to ban hunting, I suggest, if there isn’t a purpose other than sport and fun. That should be against the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP
I’m not certain which clip Beck used but the following video is Sunstein speaking at Harvard. It’s a doozy:
The Internet is another place he wants to “nudge” us into the University of Chicago sensibility.
From the Times article: Sunstein issued a directive allowing the agencies to solicit feedback on their proposed regulations through social media like wiki and blogs. “Hardly anyone would isolate Section 553 of the Administrative Procedure Act” — the law that governs the public notice-and-comment period for most federal rules — “as the greatest invention of modern government,”
It doesn’t stop there, however, in 2008, while at Harvard Law School, Salon.com reports, Sunstein co-wrote a truly pernicious paper proposing that the U.S. Government employ teams of covert agents and pseudo-”independent” advocates to “cognitively infiltrate” online groups and websites — as well as other activist groups — which advocate views that Sunstein deems “false conspiracy theories” about the Government.
Download the Sunstein paper here: Sunstein’s Harvard paper on governmental spying
This “nudging” would be designed to increase citizens’ faith in government officials and undermine the credibility of conspiracists.
So, who gets to decide if anyones’ views involve conspiracy theories? Who is the government to come onto the Internet, with our tax dollars and influence the way we think? Sunstein apparently feels we are too stupid or crazy to form our own opinions. Personally, I don’t trust anyone who thinks s/he has the right to infiltrate and propagandize.
Remember the recent hullabaloo over the government’s plan to spy on doctors? Well, the theory of infiltrating, spying and influencing is replete through our government.
Sunstein believes in a new and “improved” Bill of Rights, and to quote him, “In a nutshell, quoting, the New Deal helped vindicate a simple idea. No one really opposes government intervention. Even the people who most loudly denounce government interference depend on it every single day. For better or worse, the Constitution’s framers gave no thought to including social and economic guarantees in the Bill of Rights.”
Sunstein is a “social justice” crusader and he would replace the rule of law with his brand of “morality.”
Sunstein hopes to substitute his, or should I say University of Chicago’s, moral values for our individual liberties via regulations and infiltration as the means to the end. Oh, and don’t forget to read his new book, Nudge, so you know what we’re up against.
Read The Times article here if you must, bring a snorkel as you wade through: NY Times “supple” review of Cass
I hate to say it, but I told you so.