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posted by martyb on Wednesday December 06 2017, @05:13PM   Printer-friendly
from the thorny-questions dept.

The bloom is off the rose:

It was about an hour and a half into a hearing with the Senate Intelligence Committee when Sen. Dianne Feinstein laid into Facebook, Google and Twitter.

"I don't think you get it," she began. "You bear this responsibility. You've created these platforms, and now they are being misused. And you have to be the ones to do something about it. Or we will."

The tech giants were being grilled by Congress over Russian trolls abusing their services to meddle in last year's US election, and the California Democratic lawmaker had had it.

It was just one of very public tongue-lashings the Silicon Valley companies received over the course of three marathon congressional panels last month, held over a two-day span. The hearings were anticlimactic, in part because the three companies only sent their general counsels instead of their famous CEOs -- a point several lawmakers bemoaned during the public questioning.

Is it Google, Twitter, and Facebook who don't get it, or Senators like Dianne Feinstein who don't get it?


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by DannyB on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:22PM (12 children)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:22PM (#606304)

    If you have a problem with these actions by the Republicans, then that means you're opposed to democracy.

    If you have a problem with these actions by the ${politicalParty}, then that means you're opposed to democracy.

    Now substitute with: Democrats. Nazis. Pedophiles. Or think of your own great substitution.

    Being opposed to despicable actions by a political party (any party) does not mean one is against democracy.

    Despite what has occurred, I still think Democracy is a good idea. Better than alternatives. I just wish people weren't so amazingly stupid and gullible. We all want a society that works. I can understand some basic disagreements about policy. But what we've got has devolved into something very ugly.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:50PM (11 children)

    by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @07:50PM (#606335)

    If you have a problem with these actions by the ${politicalParty}, then that means you're opposed to democracy.

    Only if ${politicalParty} is the one that's dominant and has gotten a majority of votes.

    Being opposed to despicable actions by a political party (any party) does not mean one is against democracy.

    Sure it does, if that party has rightfully won elections and thus reflects the will of the majority. If you think their actions are despicable, what that really means is that you think the voters who elected that party are despicable. And as the Nazis showed in the 1930s, the voters frequently *are* despicable.

    I just wish people weren't so amazingly stupid and gullible.

    Maybe we need a form of democracy which only allows non-gullible and non-stupid people to vote. Allowing the poorly-educated to vote has been proven to be a disaster.

    We all want a society that works.

    Yes, but many people are too stupid to understand what it takes to achieve that.

    But what we've got has devolved into something very ugly.

    And history has shown that when that happens, it frequently doesn't get better without truly horrific events.

    • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:14PM (2 children)

      by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:14PM (#606356)

      I'm not going to disagree in general. But only with the assertion that I one I started with, to which you replied "Sure it does".

      Nope. It doesn't. I can definitely state that I am not against democracy, and that I do indeed have a problem with some actions of the Republican party (but not necessarily limited to that party either).

      Therefore you CAN indeed be against that party's actions and still favor democracy.

      Rather than assert Sure it does, I would like to hear an argument that explains how I either don't have a problem with the R's actions, or that I really somehow am not in favor of Democracy even though I am convinced that I am in favor of democracy.

      As for the R's winning the will of the majority, they didn't. Trump is in office because of the electoral college, not because of the popular vote -- despite Trump's assertion that he won the popular vote, which he verifiably did not. Nor Trump's assertion that his electoral college victory was the biggest ever -- again verifiably untrue. However, even if the R's had won by popular vote, that does not invalidate my counter assertion that I can indeed be against certain actions they take yet still be in favor of democracy.

      Am I missing some bit of logic or critical thinking here? (It wouldn't be the first time.)

      • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:17PM (1 child)

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:17PM (#606438)

        Therefore you CAN indeed be against that party's actions and still favor democracy.

        It's contradictory, if that party validly represents the majority of the people, unless you're claiming that you're OK with those people (who you disagree with) getting their way, even when the resultant policies are horrible.

        As for the R's winning the will of the majority, they didn't. Trump is in office because of the electoral college, not because of the popular vote

        Trump isn't the only GOP politician in office, or who won in 2016. The GOP swept races across the nation at all levels of government. Those other races are not decided by the EC, they're straight majorities. And while you might scream "gerrymandering", that only applies to US Representative races, not Senate seats, not governorships, etc. The simple fact is that, outside of a few densely-populated coastal cities, most of the country favors the GOP.

        I would like to hear an argument that explains how I either don't have a problem with the R's actions, or that I really somehow am not in favor of Democracy even though I am convinced that I am in favor of democracy.

        Let's ignore the whole Electoral College thing for a bit (esp. in light of my argument above). If the majority are voting for policies you find repugnant, I'm not sure how you can defend democracy as a good system in that case. Perhaps better than the alternatives, but that's arguable; Britain under Elizabeth I was widely considered a golden age, for instance, and there's other cases of autocratic rule that were similar considered quite good (Rome under Marcus Aurelius too I think). (The argument against autocracy is that the good autocrat eventually dies and then it's a toss-up how the next one is.) We can also look at 1930s Germany: they elected Hitler! Now, you might argue that the election system was bad because he didn't win a majority, and it was a 3-way race (IIRC), but this still doesn't excuse democracy, since that's how most democratic systems work. Honestly, your who pro-democracy argument really boils down to "the alternatives are even worse", but that's not exactly a ringing endorsement. Winston Churchill was right when he said "the best argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter".

        • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Saturday December 09 2017, @09:27PM

          by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Saturday December 09 2017, @09:27PM (#607801)

          That's it. Even though I think the outcome is horrible, I still believe in democracy.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:42PM (2 children)

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06 2017, @08:42PM (#606377) Journal

      I have to echo DannyB here. I can, and do, find things wrong with BOTH of our dominant parties. Further, I find things wrong with all of our underdog parties. Detesting any and all of the parties involved doesn't make one anti-democracy. It only means that you oppose each of those parties.

      I've always thought that you have to be a damned fool to support any party. You should support candidates, and the issues that they promise to represent. When I hear of a family that has faithfully voted for Party X for the past n generations, I visualize a bunch of inbred idiots with 4th grade educations. None of them were ever smart enough to examine candidates and issues, so they just voted for whoever Grandpa and The Party told them to vote for.

      If the shoe fits, wear it - Dems and Reps alike.

      --
      On the plus side, I am completely immune to flash-bang grenades. - Helen Keller
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:23PM (1 child)

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @10:23PM (#606446)

        Basically you're arguing in favor of some idealistic form of democracy that doesn't actually exist. Sure, you *should* support candidates, but how many people do? Almost none. In reality, voters don't really have the time or attention to learn about every single candidate on the ballot in many cases. In Arizona, for instance, the ballot will have the names of a couple *dozen* judges that you're supposed to vote whether to renew their term or not. Now how the hell is the average voter supposed to know whether some judge is any good or not? And figure this out for 20 of them? Along with a bunch of other races including the local school board, the local mayor, plus a bunch of ballot propositions (written in tricky language so you don't really know what you're voting for), as well as the usual national-level races?

        When I hear of a family that has faithfully voted for Party X for the past n generations, I visualize a bunch of inbred idiots with 4th grade educations.

        Yes, and this is pretty common among average voters, the people who constitute *actual* democracies.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by JoeMerchant on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:57PM (2 children)

      by JoeMerchant (3937) on Wednesday December 06 2017, @09:57PM (#606431)

      I don't think that splitting "fair hairs" is really getting the point of representative democracy.

      We've got a system, it can be, and is, gamed, it can, and does, give control to people who have less than 50% of the vote - that's the system we have, suck it up and deal with it, or take real action to change it, whatever.

      What our system DOES do is make sure that people with only 20 or 30% of the popular vote support get elected, and that's something to be thankful for. Military junta and similar organizations can make 95%+ of their population suffer miserably for years, we at least get to fix our mistakes within 4 - if they're bad enough to really piss off a clear majority of the people.

      • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Thursday December 07 2017, @01:21AM

        by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Thursday December 07 2017, @01:21AM (#606517) Homepage Journal

        "In revolutions people die." -- J. Random Slashbot

        Some other slashbot was advocating for changing our system by having a revolution.

        Out of everything I ever read on the green site, "In revolutions people die" is clearest in my memory.

        --
        Request Free Credit Report By Mail [annualcreditreport.org.in]
      • (Score: 1) by fustakrakich on Friday December 08 2017, @10:16PM

        by fustakrakich (6150) on Friday December 08 2017, @10:16PM (#607465) Journal

        Military junta and similar organizations can make 95%+ of their population suffer miserably for years, we at least get to fix our mistakes within 4...

        Within 2... one (of many) fantasy I have is that we sweep the house of all democrats/republicans and vote independent. What would Plato do? They had a pretty good grasp of the problem back then. I mean, really, it wasn't even necessary to run the experiment to predict the outcome.

    • (Score: 2, Flamebait) by DeathMonkey on Thursday December 07 2017, @02:40AM (1 child)

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Thursday December 07 2017, @02:40AM (#606578) Journal

      Only if ${politicalParty} is the one that's dominant and has gotten a majority of votes.

      The Democrat got the most votes. So, therefore, Republicans are fair game!

      Glad we got that sorted out.

      • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by Grishnakh on Thursday December 07 2017, @03:36PM

        by Grishnakh (2831) on Thursday December 07 2017, @03:36PM (#606823)

        No, the Democrats did NOT get the most votes in most races. Did they get the most votes in Pennsylvania? Michigan? Anyplace besides California? No? How about for all the down-ticket races, like governorships, state legislature positions, etc., in most states?

        Glad we got that sorted out.

        Weird how people like you think there's only one election and one elected position in the entire country. It's no wonder Democrats keep losing and can't control Congress with that kind of mindset.