The Zuck Meets Congress

Closing Thought–11Apr18

Yesterday was the big day….Facebook honcho begins his 2 day Congressional testimony….I admit that I watched on TV for I wanted to hear his lame ass excuses….I was not disappointed.

He was given softball questions that he was allowed to evade at all costs….we could say that the time constraint did not bode well for a substantive answers.

In case you were smarter than I and avoided the TV BS show let me fill in the blanks for you…..

The first couple hours of Mark Zuckerberg’s Senate testimony Tuesday were, as Time puts it, “tedious.” Lawmakers’ questions made it clear they don’t quite understand all the ins and outs of social media (the Week says Zuck spent a fair amount of time explaining how the internet works), and that made it easy for Zuck to give sometimes evasive answers without much pushback. But when Ted Cruz questioned Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder actually appeared to be “on edge,” giving us, in Time‘s words, “the most explosive part” of the hearing. The exchange had to do with whether Facebook is a neutral public forum, with Cruz rattling off a number of instances in which the social network appeared to show its political bias by leaning left. Cruz specifically asked Zuckerberg about Palmer Luckey, a former Facebook employee who left the company after his conservative political views were revealed; Zuck denied those political views had anything to do with his departure. Time has more on Luckey and the Zuck-Cruz exchange.

  • Things did get a bit less tedious as the hearing wore on; Kamala Harris, at one point, called Zuckerberg out for deflecting questions, per the Raw Story; Slate looks at a particularly “awkward” exchange between Zuck and Dick Durbin about Zuck’s hotel; and CNN highlights an exchange in which a senator told Zuckerberg bluntly, “your user agreement sucks.” Roll Call has a look at some of the other key exchanges between Zuck and lawmakers.
  • Fast Company explains how Zuck “dodged” a question about Facebook’s ability to follow users around the internet even when they’re not logged in. Meanwhile, Slate says he “struggled” to answer uncomfortable questions about Facebook board member Peter Thiel.
  • Roll Call offers up photos from the day, including the veritable army of Zuckerberg cutouts adorning the East Lawn of the Capitol; the Week has photos and videos illustrating the “zoo” Capitol Hill became; and Mashable zeroes in on photos of Zuck’s face throughout the day to look at his “emotional journey” as the day progressed.
  • Zuckerberg, who is 5’7″, reportedly sat on a “booster seat” during his testimony. Gizmodo has pictures.
  • Might there one day be a paid version of Facebook? Zuck revealed he apparently isn’t ruling it out, per the Verge.
  • Time and Mashable round up some of the best jokes and memes to come out of the testimony.
  • Vanity Fair says this is “just the beginning of what could become a fraught regulatory battle with Congress,” and offers up a ranking of Zuck’s “regulatory nightmares.”
  • Speaking of Facebook scandals, NPR has a primer on how to check whether your data was used by Cambridge Analytica, and the New York Times reports that some of the data collected by the quiz app included private messages. Facebook is offering up a “bounty” to anyone who can find the next Cambridge Analytica, CNBC reports.
  • Fast Company takes a look at the “brain trust of advisers” helping Zuck through all this controversy.
  • The Atlantic offers up a list of the day’s 13 strangest moments.
  • Zuck will testify before the House of Representatives Wednesday. While you wait, AdWeek offers up five things we learned during today’s testimony.
  • This whole thing makes the Edward Snowden affair “look quaint,” writes Anne Applebaum at the Washington Post.

That pretty much covers the first day of this  Greek comedy…..Tuesday will produce more crap that wasted the Congress’ time.

If the Zuck-ster sez anything important I shall give my readers another look.  I expect a replay of the comedy of Monday.


Another Congressperson Packs It In

As the 2018 mid term election gets closer the more Congresspeople are packing it in for most know they will lose…..well the latest to say bye is the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Wednesday’s buzziest political development comes from Axios, which broke the news that Paul Ryan has decided not to run for re-election. The House Speaker’s office made that official with a statement explaining “this morning Speaker Ryan shared with his colleagues that this will be his last year as a member of the House. He will serve out his full term, run through the tape, and then retire in January. After nearly twenty years in the House, the speaker is proud of all that has been accomplished and is ready to devote more of his time to being a husband and a father. While he did not seek the position, he told his colleagues that serving as speaker has been the professional honor of his life, and he thanked them for the trust they placed in him.”

As for what fueled the decision, which has been rumored for some time, satisfaction is reportedly one: Tax reform had long been Ryan’s goal, and now that he achieved it, he’s ready to bow out, Axios’ Jonathan Swan told MSNBC. Another potential factor, per Swan: He’s “staring down the barrel frankly of potentially losing the House in November. I don’t know that Paul Ryan, minority leader, is a particularly appealing title.” President Trump had this to say in a tweet: “Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!”

Of course he regurgitated the same reason as most of the others…”my kids are not getting any younger and I do not want to be a weekend father”…..really?  Apparently the kids were not important when they were younger… is a lame excuse….tell the truth…you now that you will have a hard time with re-election so why not quit and void the embarrassment of losing an election.

Syria: Our Nice, New Missiles

We wait for the final decision on what will Trump do about the alleged chemical attack on civilians……

Right now there s a war of words going on between US and Russia…..

If the US tries to launch missiles at Syria, they will be shot down and the warships or planes they’re launched from will become targets, Russia’s ambassador to Lebanon said Tuesday night, echoing earlier warnings from Moscow. “If there is a strike by the Americans, then … the missiles will be downed and even the sources from which the missiles were fired,” Alexander Zasypkin told a Hezbollah-affiliated TV station, per Reuters. The words planted no fear in President Trump, who on Wednesday morning addressed the news in a tweet, telling Russia to “get ready … because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!’ You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!” The Guardian reports a Russian foreign ministry rep addressed the tweet, saying “smart missiles should fly towards terrorists, not [a] legal government.”

Moscow’s United Nations envoy also warned against US action Tuesday, saying that Washington will “bear responsibility” for any “illegal military adventure” carried out in response to a suspected chemical attack that killed scores of civilians, the BBC reports. Vassily Nebenzia was speaking during a meeting of the United Nations Security Council in which the US and Russia blocked each other’s attempts to set up investigations of the alleged chemical attack. Trump has canceled a trip to Latin America in order to oversee the US response, which he said Monday would be decided on within 48 hours. The Telegraph reports that European traffic controllers have warned aircraft that strikes in the region are a strong possibility in the next 72 hours. (Russia is jamming the signals of American drones over Syria.)

Will Trump roll the dice?

All this moral outrage is so plastic…..we scold Assad for killing women and children and the US is killing the same people with their drones…..we look pathetic scolding anyone for doing what we are already doing.

The clock is ticking….we should have Trump’s decision soon……and the world will react.

NATO And The Decay Within

Remember NATO…that was the organization that candidate Trump attacked as worthless and useless… case you are not familiar with NATO and its mission……

Military alliance formed between 26 nations to enforce the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949. NATO was originally formed to combat the spread of communism, but has grown since then to provide a mutual defense from external threats. As of 2008, NATO is made up of these nations: Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States. The organization is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium.


I bring up NATO because of something I read while visiting “The Atlantic”…..some see that the organization dedicated to democratic ideals as losing ground to strongmen in their midst…..

Speaking days before an election most observers thought him sure to win, a long-serving Eurasian strongman railed against human rights, malevolent western powers, and rapacious “international speculators.” If delivered a fourth term in office, he vowed, vengeance against enemies of the state would be swift. His ruling party would achieve “satisfaction” against its adversaries, both foreign and domestic, he pledged in language that sounded both threatening and heartfelt.

This could easily have been Vladimir Putin, but it wasn’t. It was the leader of an American treaty ally. Under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who faces an election this weekend, Hungary has become an increasingly autocratic and pro-Russian state—and it’s one that also happens to be in NATO.

Putin has a problem with NATO because they were assured at the break=up of the Soviet Union that NATO had no interest into expanding into formerly Soviet states…..and then we went ahead and started doing the thing we have said we would not…..

I can understand that the organization is falling apart and needs a shot of “new blood” from time to time….since it does is that not a good reason that the group needs to be shut down and new approach be found?

Iran: A Change A Coming

Some see a change coming to Iran…..before you applaud it may not have a whole lot to do with the idiotic Trump policies and rhetoric….I wish I could be certain of that statement…..some think it will occur simply because Trump has but John Bolton in control of NatSec….but could it be that simple after all the years of chest thumping, lies and accusations…..

Donald Trump announced that John Bolton, a former official in George W. Bush’s administration and former ambassador to the UN, would be his new National Security Advisor. Bolton is a warhawk who called for the invasion of Iraq in search of non-existent weapons of mass destruction and has for years called for the invasion of Iran.

Middle East Eye collected a number of quotes from Bolton over the years that indicate his plans for Iran and other nations viewed as a threat to national security of the U.S. government. And by that I mean the people who secretly wield control of corporate and state power. In 2009, Bolton said that regime change is “ultimately, the only thing that will stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.” As recent as 2015 Bolton call for a U.S./Israel joint bombing campaign.“Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.”

Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul questioned the appointment. “It concerns me that Trump would put someone in charge who is unhinged as far as believing in absolute and total intervention,” Paul stated. Bolton’s appointment was also criticized by Trita Parsi, leader of the National Iranian American Council.

If a change does come about we can only hope that it is a peaceful turn of interior politics and not some sort of attack on the Iranian homeland.

The US is about to have a moment with Iran…..

Imagine a country – a Muslim majority country, no less – that viewed the spread of jihadism as an existential threat, a threat so serious that it was willing to sacrifice its own people to defeat it. Assume that this country, with its large population, robust military and plentiful natural resources, was strong enough to keep the jihadists at bay. Assume, too, that this country was located in the heart of the Muslim world, ideally situated to project power into the Caucasus, the Middle East, Central Asia and South Asia – all of which are experiencing varying degrees of instability. Imagine finally that this country was also once a U.S. ally – a cornerstone of U.S. containment strategy against the Soviet Union during the Cold War – and could be again.

If it isn’t obvious yet, this is not an imaginary country. It is the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran will be the region to watch in the next year and half…..will it be a peaceful year or a hectic and violent one?