July 25th, 2013
As a continuation of our Throwback Thursday series, we bring you back to November 7th, 2012, just one day after the general presidential election whereby Barack Obama secured his second term in office.
We discuss the voting process and specifically focus on the lack of paper trails or other methods for accountability. We eventually shift our discussion into police abuses and ponder whether people are becoming more aware of the problem, or more apathetic of it.
This episode we’re also joined by our good friend and local Austin author, Tom de Lorenzo. As a side note, Tom’s mic was experiencing some technical maladies and so we apologize for some of the less-than-ideal recording quality.
Kevin: Hello and welcome to yet another episode of the JK Podcast, an antiauthoritarian free-speech zone, passionately pursuing liberty, humanity, and equality for all people. As a continuation of our “Throwback Thursday” series, we bring you back to November 7th, 2012 – just one day after the general presidential election whereby Barack Obama secured his 2nd term in office. We discussed the voting process and specifically focused on the lack of paper trails or other methods for accountability.
We eventually shift our discussion into police abuses, and ponder whether people are becoming more aware of the problem, or more apathetic to it. We’re joined by our friend and local Austin author, Tom DeLorenzo. As a side note, Tom’s mic was experiencing some technical [?], and so we apologize for some of the less than ideal recording quality. As always, I’m joined by the co-creator of the show, Jad Davis, I’m Kevin Ludlow, welcome back to the JK Podcast.
Kevin: Well Mr. Jad, what’s on the docket for this evening?
Jad: Tom, what’s on the docket for this evening?
Tom: I think they’re still voting in Alaska, aren’t they?
Jad: Because it’s still yesterday out there?
Tom: Something like that, yeah.
Kevin: What, the county of Wasilla is trying to change the election outcome?
Jad: “We have 30 trillion votes.”
Kevin: Yeah. “We’ve got Russia, I can see it.”
Jad: Right. They’re not going anywhere with this, but it is kinda funny that New Jersey will vote Friday.
Kevin: Oh, they haven’t voted?
Jad: No, I guess they’re still storm wrecked or whatever that they’re not gonna vote until Friday. It’s irrelevant – the potential election – but I guess most of the country deals with that I mean you know, most of the western states are starting to get the polls to close before it’s all over.
Kevin: Yeah, exactly I didn’t know that Jersey hadn’t voted.
Kevin: Crazy. Well that’s interesting. We said we would try to avoid it to some degree, but Jad and I have been randomly discussing the election for most of the day I guess, so if there’s any thoughts that you found unique to the day, I’d certainly be interested to hear them.
Tom: Well I was going to my Google Plus page here and posted a few things up today because I was on an election roll there.
Jad: Nice. Maybe the election is a great topic and I wasn’t really actually sure if you were an election watcher or not even an election –
Tom: No, not at all, but –
Jad: Oh, okay.
Tom: – I was coming up with you know, little clips to put up on G Plus to kinda poke at the people who are taking it very seriously.
Jad: Very nice.
Kevin: And there was plenty of them.
Tom: I [?] like when you vote for president, you aren’t making a choice as to who you want for the office, you are choosing one of two people someone else chose for you.
Jad: Right. Actually, I quoted [?], and now remembering that.
Tom: I think the one you stole is, “non-voting is voting. I’m demanding that you be free to perform whatever non-aggressive actions you’d like without any interference on my part, or anyone else’s part.”
Tom: And it’s interesting to think that all the good citizens who went out to vote, not one of them has any proof that they did, if they did, and they also have no way of knowing if the holes they punch actually got counted in the way they intended. That’s some kind of joke, right? Talk about no transparency, secret votes and trusting people to count them.
Jad: Yeah, it’s funny – I always mean to do this, I’ve never gotten around to it – just the accumulation of reasons why your vote doesn’t matter, like the statistical insignificance, the corruption, the fact that on one ever guarantees, or there’s no way to correlate your decision with total [?] when they’re finally collected. There’s a million different places – well, there’s like 8 different places – where essentially it doesn’t matter at all what you do.
Tom: And that’s assuming that there’s actual difference, and the vote counts for something because one candidate is better than the other.
Jad: Yeah, absolutely.
Kevin: Yeah, we actually Tom, were talking about that today. I take a picture of all the votes that are cast and of course, what I found disturbing – and I make this point to Jad often – is that it doesn’t bother me that the government – Texas being one of the 7 or 8 states that has done this – it doesn’t bother me so much that the government has passed laws saying that it’s illegal to take pictures of your vote. That I would expect. That’s the behavior that I expect from a state agency.
It’s kinda they’re vantage point in the world is to do whatever they can to fuck my life up, but what frightens me is – or what really bothers me – is how many people I had on Facebook when I posted it who started chiming in and telling me, “don’t you know that that’s illegal?” Rather than saying one thing or another about my candidate of choice or, “I’m glad that you voted”, or whatever, people just point out how that’s illegal to do and I think it’s just kind of an ongoing illustration of how authoritarianism is really taking over more and more in this country and how people are just learning to accept that they need to listen to somebody else.
Tom: Yeah I don’t know, I don’t know how to feel about – I mean it looks [?] the direction it’s going, but I don’t know if people are for the most part going down with the ship, or more people are starting to wake up and oppose; I don’t know how to measure the two parts.
Jad: Yeah. Elisa always says – and I think this is true – that illusion that basically what is allowed is also what is right, and what is not allowed is what is wrong, holds up pretty much until you have your first encounter with a police officer, like your first real life one where you know, he is an opponent and not your buddy.
Jad: Or people who work within the system and get sort of a real life flavor of how it works as opposed to the sanitized story of how all these people are just working together in all these buildings to help you out and give you a hand.
Kevin: Oh yeah. The story of it’s great. I mean, on paper you’re like, “wow, that’s a fucking phenomenal idea”, but it just doesn’t work like that.
Tom: It’s almost like the guys who get cancer from smoking and then they get on TV and say, “don’t do what I did. Don’t smoke.”
Tom: Just like people support the government until maybe the police pull them over and do something bad to them, and then all of a sudden they’re like, “hey, now everybody has to wake up because it happened to me.”
Jad: Oh, exactly. I think that’s exactly how it happens and I think that you’re seeing the acceleration because now every police abuse video is online you know, [?] some sorts of information that’s indicating it to anyone who will watch it long enough that this is not as it is advertised to be.
Kevin: Right. To the statement that Jad was making really about the cops and it just becoming more and more available online, I think the unfortunate reality – and something that we covered a couple of weeks ago with the authoritarianism issue – is that market force or whatever it is, the force in nature right now seems to be that people are coming woodwork and saying – they’re developing that mindset to say, “well, they guy probably deserved it”, that sort of thing that we talked about, and I think it’s an interesting byproduct of what’s happening.
So sure it’s available to you everywhere. Any type of media source will show you some sort of police abuse, but there’s the two very distinct groups and unfortunately – I think from just my observation – that we fall into definitely a minority group of people saying, “this is really wrong”, and I think the majority of people – just from observation again – are out there saying, “well, maybe the cops shouldn’t do that, but maybe that guy shouldn’t be watering his lawn on a Thursday”, you know?
Kevin: And it’s just unfortunate I think. Basically Tom, we were just talking about how people are not only complacent to the abuse, but they’re actually in agreeance that you shouldn’t be breaking these negligible violations in the first place.
Tom: Right. They are quite obeying the laws, being good, and breaking them is bad.
Kevin: Exactly, but I think even though we’re seeing a lot more of the abuse because of technology, I think the interesting market force behind that, or humanitarian force behind that – whatever you want to call it – is that people seem to be coming out more and saying, “That’s okay that that’s happening.”
Tom: Yeah, but it may just take a little time. It is relatively new that people are paying attention more to police abuse videos. They’re becoming more available and it might take a year or two, I don’t know. It seems to me like people are hopping on the drone bandwagon a little more now than before. The numbers seem to pick up on the drones in Pakistan over a year ago and kept kinda harping on that and now I see more and more people being aware of it. I mean I think it just takes some time. We might be the early birds who pick up on the important stuff and then it takes another year or two for other people – or for a lot of people – to kinda start taking notice and understanding what’s going on.
Jad: Sure. Yeah, I agree. I think that we talked about that – I think we actually – that made it into the recording previously – but it’s the idea too that repeated exposure, right? So the first time you see a police abuse video or you know, everyone used to watch Cops, right?
So you watch Cops and you’re just like, “that idiot was driving badly”, or whatever, “you shouldn’t talk back to the cop”, or whatever the rationale is the apologist makes, but then once you hear somebody say, “that’s totally messed up what happened there and no one did anything that could possibly justify getting hit with a stick or having pepper spray sprayed in their eyes”, or whatever, and even if at that point you say, “well no, people deserve it – some people are idiots and they deserve it”, or whatever, you have the alternate perspective in your head and then every time you see something similar, that perspective is there sort of like you know, entering into your consciousness and I think that’s how that sort of thing happens is after a few repetitions, someone’s like, “you know, that guy was right”, you know, a year ago or whatever – he’s talking about the drones. And I made fun of them but now after a year of having that perspective in my mind as I’m filtering all this information that’s going by me, I’ve come to the conclusion that he was correct.
Tom: It’s almost like when you hear a new word for the first time and then all of a sudden you hear it 3 more times that day.
Jad: That’s exactly it. Yeah.
Tom: Yeah, it’s always been there but finally you’re kind of tuned [?] to it, so you see it.
Kevin: Yeah, I’ll give you that, although I don’t know if I have to play devil’s advocate so much as maybe just say I think you guys might be strangely quite a bit more optimistic on it than I am at the moment. I see it more like maybe the war situation – same sort of thing. I mean, there’s definitely a greater, and greater, and greater escalation of it and you definitely have people oppose to the quote on quote war overall, but I don’t think that there’s any slowing of it; in fact, we’ve been expanding it pretty rapidly overall as far as the amount of countries and what we’re doing, and I mean as far as I know, it wasn’t even discussed in any of the presidential debates and people seem to be pretty happy about it across the board.
They might say they’re unhappy about it just like I think they might say they’re unhappy with police abuse, but at the same time it seems to me that there’s very little being done about it and that’s causing an escalation of the problem, and I guess – again, being very pessimistic about it – I kinda feel like it’s interestingly creating this divide between people like us and people like them so to speak, where maybe 5 years ago we would’ve disagreed more, but now I’ve even got friends who tell me all the time who probably don’t support the war, but they’re tired of hearing me say something negative about it – they just don’t give a shit anymore it seems like – and to me, I think it’s just as important as it was 10 years ago, if not that much more important now.
Tom: Well, you’re paying attention and they’re keeping it abstract, so they only hear it when you bring it up maybe, and –
Kevin: It might be.
Tom: – they’re kinda tired of hearing the idea because it’s just not real – it’s not something that’s really happening.
Kevin: And so that’s my point is that I kinda feel like even in the police abuse thing, that’s kind of one of the interesting market ironies to it is that as you get more and more exposed to it, yes you do – you see it more, you’re more aware of it, but at the same time I guess it’s kinda like the argument like the Tipper Gore’s of the world would make about violence; if you keep exposing children to violence then well, they’re not worried about it when they see it in real life, and maybe there’s some truth to that – I don’t really know.
In this case, I’m saying if everybody sees the police abuse, they don’t want it to happen but on the other hand they’re like well, you get to a point where you’re like, “what can I do about it”, and, “I know it exists and I really don’t care because it doesn’t affect me”. I guess I feel that’s growing actually, but –
Tom: That could be. I think it’s interesting.
Kevin: I’d love to be wrong is all I was –
Tom: Pulled in two directions and it’s hard to tell whether you should be optimistic or pessimistic.
Jad: Well not that it needs too much debating, but I think the one thing that I would say the difference between the war coverage and the police coverage or whatever is that one is not accessible at all, and one is something that you – they can’t shut down access to it, and that’s like all the people who are being arrested for taping cops with their phones and whatnot. If you’re trying to get the police abuse to be in the same category as other kinds of human atrocities and that you don’t get to see it. It’s not you don’t have access to it as a you know, civilian.
But I think they can’t do that with the police, they totally can do it with the foreign wars. If you had 5 YouTube clips a day of some awful thing happening to Yemini, or Somalia or whatever people and that was on YouTube and being sent around, I think it would be a parallel thing to the police abuse thing. I think it would be in the public consciousness and whether or not – whichever what the opinion is going, you would at least have more access to it.
Kevin: Yeah, I’ll give you that.
Tom: Do you think the internet still is enough of an influence as compared to the TV to kind of wake up the masses of people?
Kevin: I don’t think so, personally. Well interestingly is the question that comes up all the time in our field in technology and I get it from clients frequently, and I just think the reality is is that even though I recognize a huge portion of people who get all the information from the internet. As a whole of the country, I think that’s actually still not very accurate and I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I feel like I’ve seen things before that kind of support what I’m suggesting there.
Tom: Isn’t Ron Paul a good example of that? Everybody on the internet knows who he is, or if you know who he is, you’re on the internet because the TV is not showing anything.
Kevin: Yeah, good point and certainly very few other people actually do, so maybe there’s a point to that.
Tom: I think the government probably learned a lot of lessons back in the Vietnam war because they were actually showing people dying coming back and they had body counts and people really got upset, so then[?] they’re kind of watching it and that’s probably what stopped the war, eventually. I think they figured out, “oh, we can’t do that anymore or else, we can’t have our wars”, so they’ve really done a good job of blocking out everything on TV and I guess it’d probably take a long time for the internet to catch up to that because I think there’s still a lot of people who just look to the internet like, “well, that’s not real information”.
Kevin: Yeah, I think – I’m sure, pretty irrefutable statistics to show that the vast majority of the country is still getting its feeds from mainstream media sources on one of three cable channels rather than Al Jazeera on the internet, for example.
Tom: Well they [?] for 20 years, everybody will be more or less internet knowledgeable. I think in [?] in 20, 30 years, everybody in the society is going to be familiar with the internet from a very young age and it’s not gonna be this newfangled, crazy thing anymore.
Kevin: Yeah, I mean I think that’s probably true, although I think technologically, there’s other stipulations that come with that too as far as how it’s going to be warped and changed substantially in that time period. I mean, just if you look at the internet now versus say, 10 years ago, on the one hand you’ve got tremendously more information available to you so that’s a positive, but on the flipside you’ve also got tremendously more corporate influence, you’ve got filtering – probably is the greatest single threat, in my opinion – to the internet right now and I actually wrote a paper about this years ago and now all of a sudden it’s become kind of a big thing.
There was a gig Ted[?] talk on it that was pretty famous about the Google filter bubbles, how even the information that you read when you search for something, you’re getting search results that are custom tailored to whatever your day to day leanings are and there have been all sorts of studies. You could find a right-leaning friend of yours and go to Google and search for Libya for example, or Benghazi attack or whatever, and in all likeliness, there’s gonna be all these Fox news stories that come up and if you find a really liberal friend of yours, it’s gonna be just the opposite.
You know, they both searched for the exact same term and yet they’re being fed completely different results, which is actually where the other internet search engine, Duck, Duck, Go is kinda making their case from right now, to say they don’t use any filtering whatsoever, they don’t track anything, they’re just giving you raw results. My point is is that that in itself really changes the way that the internet is used. I don’t know where that’ll be in 20 more years.
Tom: That’s still – yeah, they’re still trying to capture people and funnel them into the [?] channel paradigm and [?], everyone uses Google, and uses the CNN, or the Cox you know, as a primary source.
Kevin: Well I think what I’m saying is that even though we’re still very early on, they’re already succeeding very well and what’s more frightening about it is that there’s kind of really no evidence of it. You have to be very technologically astute to understand how you’re actually being filtered in this case because it’s all behind the scenes otherwise. You’re not going to Fox News, you think you’re just searching for something randomly on the internet but in fact there’s nothing random about it as it turns out at this point, or very little random about it anyway.
Jad: I think that the thought that came up for me while you guys were talking about that was the importance of the saturation into the mass mindset – or at least the access to all of the sort of subversive information into the public at large – sort of depends upon how critical is that – I don’t wanna jump off on this tangent if we don’t wanna go there – but it’s like that whole like, the vanguard model of social change versus the populous model of social change, you know what I mean?
Like, what’s the tipping point before an idea like a 3rd party, or a stateless society, or whatever it is, how many people do you need to get to buy in before everyone else just kind of sees it as an option that’s at their disposal because enough people believe it’s true or are advocating it that the other whatever it is, 80, 90, 95% of people will follow along, or does it have to be in everyone’s mind? Does it have to be everyone at once transitioning to some other narrative or framework or you know, acceptance of a particular set of facts as being true, or another model of social interaction, or whatever it is. Do you have any opinions on that or is that too abstract of a topic?
Tom: I think if you use the word paradigm, I think people have done some study on that and they kind of shift quickly when shift.
Tom: It’s like they’re not getting anywhere for a long time and then all of a sudden there’s a rapid change for some reason – something triggers it. I think I’ve seen some studies where maybe 10% of the population changes. That might be enough to flip it – probably more theory than anything else but it’s hard to know.
Jad: For sure, and I think that when you said 10%, I think I’ve seen that paper, I’m not sure if it’s a Malcolm Gladwell thing or what, but I seem to recall that that was like a number that someone came up with. But yeah, it’s interesting that it seems like in anarcho groups – and I’m guessing it’s the same in libertarian groups – that’s the one way to divide the camps into categories is there’s the one camp that’s always talking about everyone else as the sheeple[?] you know or whatever, or the masses or whatever, and it’s nothing really that important – or it’s impossible in some narratives. It’s impossible to wake up the masses. They’re just – they’re gonna watch their football and have their beer and you know, watch their cable TV and go to bed, but you don’t have to worry about that.
And then the other camp is more like you know, “no, we’re all in this together, bring everybody up at once”, and if you have a vanguard or whatever then that always leads to some awful socialist nightmare or something. Anyway, just kind of a – the person I was reading when I became aware of this is a guy named Keith Preston, who has a website called Attack the System. He’s probably the most fringy guy that I find myself agreeing with a lot, but he associates with anybody, essentially anyone who is against the current system, so like Black Panthers, and Neo-Nazis, and like anybody. If you say you want to get away from the current model of governance to anything else, then you’re on his side.
But he has that vanguard thing where it’s like [?] where he disbelieves that there’s a very small number of people are going to kind of just change everything out from underneath everyone else without them noticing, sort of. Anyway, just a mental masturbation, I guess as far as the topic goes, but it’s kinda interesting to me.
Kevin: And the vanguard is where we’ll leave this week’s “Throwback Thursday” episode. Thank you so very much for listening and we hope you’ve enjoyed the content. As a side note, next Thursday will be the last “Throwback Thursday” episode we have for 2012 episodes. After that, we’re all caught up and looking forward to rounding our first years’ worth of episodes. As always, we’d love to hear from you. If you have anything you’d like to share with us, you can reach us through the podcast website at www.JKPod.com or either of us individually. Jad is at Jad-Davis.com, and Kevin is at KevinLudlow.com. Transcription services for the JK Podcast have been provided by Deidra Alexander of Galaxy Creative Media. Thanks again, and we’ll catch you next week.