Is the Supreme Court Decision so Important in a Web 2.0 World? Can Corporations Compete in ‘Pull’ Media World Anyway?

Of course, I– like many social critics– am dismayed at the Supreme Court ruling striking down elements of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act, and essentially giving corporations carte blanche to pay for attack videos against candidates they do not like and to release them late in a campaign.

But some of the hand-wringing about the decision seems to me excessive for a number of reasons. Here I am going to put on my hat as a blogger and as someone who has been deeply involved in the rise of internet communication, if in the narrow corner of foreign policy blogging.

The first thing to say is that it is not as if corporate interests were not already deeply involved in the electoral process. For instance, it has come out that five insurance companies funneled big money into attack ads against insurance reform. How? They just gave it to the Chamber of Commerce, which shares their view that 37 million Americans shouldn’t get sick and if they do they should die quickly (as Rep. Alan Grayson correctly put it). Since there are so many already-existing work-arounds, the SCOTUS decision is less of a change than it might seem.

Moreover, the difference between Goldman, Sachs making a video and buying time for it on television, and a group of middle managers at firms like Goldman, Sachs forming a PAC and doing the same thing is not entirely clear to me. Because the top one percent of individuals in the US owns over 40% of the country’s privately held wealth and takes home 20% of its income every year, those roughly 1.3 million persons already had lots of means of influencing campaigns. Videos are not that expensive to make and even television time is inexpensive for executives in a firm that gives out $40 billion in Christmas bonuses. In other words, given the extreme maldistribution of wealth in the US, the corporate sector already had things stacked in its favor through wealthy persons employed by corporations. Jeffrey Toobin on CNN pointed out that in a congressional race, a million dollars is a lot of money, but would be chump change for a corporation. But it would be chump change for a lot of corporate executives, too.

Then, corporations don’t all agree with each other. We still have Net Neutrality in part because Google lobbied for it even as some of the telecoms lobbied against it. Some industries have an interest in polluting, others have an interest in a clean environment. They will fight each other with their political infomercials. But I think most Americans like their drinking water sludge-free, so over time the pro-pollution commercials will let us say lose a certain persuasiveness.

I agree that the danger is greatest where, e.g., war industries have an interest in an Afghanistan surge whereas few other corporate sectors care about it one way or another. But the public can still after all vote on whether it likes continued war.

Under the ruling as I understand it, corporations cannot give more money than before directly to candidates. They can just produce commercials, whether in favor of a candidate or attacking her opponent.

But there is a real question about the influence of commercials even in traditional television. At most, some experts estimate that only 19% of traditional advertising shows a return on investment. The conclusion is that great numbers of insecure corporations are wasting billions on those ads. Lots of wealthy people have entered politics and spent a great deal of their own money on commercials, and lost. That large numbers of voters are going to be swayed by infomercials flies in the face of what we know about how few people actually buy those fancy Japanese knife sets advertised at 3 am.

And then there is the question of the future of the commercial. Nowadays, 90% of viewers who can TiVo or DVR television shows do so, and more than half then skip through the commercials. Knowledge of this practice is increasingly taken into account in the ratings. NBC’s Heroes increased its ratings by 22% when delayed viewing was taken into account. I share Businessweek’s skepticism that 46% of TiVo viewers are watching the commercials, and my suspicion is that younger more media savvy viewers are less likely to be so passive. The future of the television model of local broadcast affiliates of big networks, with the whole thing driven by commercials, is in real question. As it is, ‘push’ media like television is becoming a thing of the past.

In Web 3.0 consumers will likely download content via the internet at will. Media is becoming pull media– individuals pull down what they want when they want it. Television may have to go to an iTunes model of charging per episode. In a pull-media world, for advertisers of any sort, whether pushing products or candidates, to get their message out and control it will become more and more difficult. Pull-media allows a fracturing of viewership (or participation– many consumers will be playing games rather than watching passively). The fact is that viewership for the 4 networks has already plummeted, and the advertising rates that companies now pay them to air commercials are unrealistically high, and appear to be a function of habit. What else could you do? There are hundreds of channels, then you add in the video blogs, the online gaming, and the blogs. Even if a network only pulls in a household share of 9 for the evening rather than the household share of 65 that that Gunsmoke used to on CBS, at least you’ve got that many households in one place, which is rarer and rarer. One of the few things Rupert Murdoch is right about is that there is not enough advertising to spread throughout the internet so as to support any particular newspapers or magazines.

The buy of a half-hour attack ad by e.g. Morgan Stanley on CBS dissing Obama on October 25, 2012 just may not mean then what it would have meant in 1960 when CBS had a large proportion of television viewers and most Americans were television viewers, and there were only 3 networks. And if the attack ad is inaccurate, it will be shredded on social media or just ignored. All the vicious attacks on Obama, after all, did not prevent his landslide victory, since voters were tired of Republican shenanigans. Reality is still more important than media depictions of it.

In a world of pull media, Morgan Stanley may just not be able to get our attention very easily (as if we like them much anyway).

Moreover, in an internet society, organizations such as Moveon.org can provide means of accumulating small sums into very large ones. The 99% still do have marginally more money than the 1%. A mobilized public has the potential to at least compete seriously with corporate advertising money. A group of middle class but extremely influential twitterers might be better positioned to get a message out than a corporate boardroom.

For all these reasons, a much greater danger to the republic than the anointing of corporations as persons with the right to flood our airwaves with propaganda is any attack on Net Neutrality. Net Neutrality is the principle that my blog is inexpensive to publish and to access, so that I and my readers have the same advantages in this regard as a corporation would. If the Right Wing ever manages to scale the internet and make me pay $70,000 a year to put up this blog and have it easily available to my readers, it will kill it and would signal a return to push media like the networks. And a push-media world where corporations own the Web and can push at us what they please, including their weird ideas about political reality, really would be Orwellian and dangerous.

This horrible ruling, bad as it is, is not the Waterloo of democracy. The abolition of Net Neutrality would be.

End/ (Not Continued)

37 Responses

  1. again today's is a comment of relevance, the fact to point out the insignificance of the decision 'however bad' of a body as the supreme court. producing a flashpoint to paint out web neutrality.

    yes anyone almost(pricewise) can post text, images, video and sound on the internet. however…to be read or otherwise noticed and better yet, to be interactively coopted to collaborate, aggregate or play is getting harder at a steeping curve. not so much the quality of the message, but the fenomenon of paying google for being high up in search results (there is no real alternative for reaching bigger audiences), means getting noticed. the web is in the process of being cornered by software on servers and routers('push'by google, censureship by china as examples). the gates and apple era of software on pc's is now playing out on the i-net this time about content surfacing as contrary to available. to point especially to google, they get closest to the 'push' of traditional media, by allowing a simulacre of pull. their balance sheets based on web revenue are healthy on this diet. their revenue is web specific. i merely want to point out a business model no personal grudge on google.

    as for this particular blog that has the merit of quality data, factors as word of mouth, savviness of playing all media, sources of income away from intrinsic i-net revenue added to make it successfull anyhow…for the better.

    m.

  2. I can't get on board with the whole Net "Neutrality" thing. As a blogger myself, and one who practically lives on the internet, I'd rather the government not get involved any more than they already are. Only bad things will happen.

    But please, convince me otherwise. I'm open to persuasion.

  3. While I don't agree with the premise that this decision itself is less important, I do agree that the problem is potentially mitigated somewhat in a Web 2.0 world. Net neutrality is even more a key issue now, and public funding of elections would also soften the impact.

    I see four key issues: the digital divide, the indeterminacy of Web 2.0, the unfulfilled promise of the hyperlocal, and digital literacy.

    The digital divide: Even though increasing numbers of people are online, how are they online? Not all pay for content circumventing traditional media outlets.

    Smart mobs: even Howard Rheingold has raise the question of whether Web 2.0 leads to greater participation or more control by corporate entities. On the one hand, MySpace is owned by News Corporation. On the other, users have now flocked to Facebook. On the third hand, who's on that board? And so it goes..

    What you say about local media outlets is also key. Web 2.0 is ubiquitous, but needs to be more hyperlocal. We in Massachusetts saw the unfulfilled promise of the hyperlocal in the Senate race just concluded. We need a local blogosphere and local social media to provide advantages in the ground war.

    This last point I make from the vantage point of being in the trenches of the effort to teach digital literacy. Young people, traditionally early adopters, tend to be passive consumers of social media. Facebook and YouTube are just other remotes, and the "production" end of Web 2.0 erodes in their digital socialization. We need to help develop students' effective public voices, not to mention citizen-journalism.

    A failure in any one of these key components means that the promise of Web 2.0 collapses back to corporate control.

  4. Also, the Supreme Court decision opens the door to unlimited campaign spending by private individuals, like the four millionaires who substantially funded the 1968 McCarthy campaign. They have but to form a for-profit corporation that sells refrigerator magnets for 'all you want to pay, plus $4.95 shipping and handling', makes a profit on the $4.95, and spends the rest on politics.

  5. ref : “Reality is still more important than media depictions of it. tell that to the people living in GAZA. fwiw, tell that to any Judaic, Christian or Muslim fundamentalist espousing a "literal" interpretation of their "holy" media = Bible. As an historian and an educator, professor, your assertion that Historical reality is still more important = knowable than media = history book / curriculum depictions of it. is heresy, and i presume ~ unserious; purposely provocative to spur debate? nous sommes celui qui nous feignons pour etre.

  6. I think you are needlessly optimistic on this one. Money finds ways of making itself heard. It does not depend on TV advertising or any other single medium. There's direct mail, radio, robocalls….and the length of time before elections can stretch out, endlessly….

  7. I agree with you: the impact of this decision, particularly on national politics, is being overblown by some on the left.

    From my understanding of this decision, although corporation contributions may directly fund advertising for a candidate, all contributions must be reported to the FEC. The large companies that can afford massive national advertising campaigns are probably averse to funding advertisements that are too partisan. After all, if the advertisements advocate a particular position on a controversial issue, roughly 50% will be turned off. Such large corporations, however politically wrong-headed, are too focused on generating revenue to risk losing 50% of its potential customer on funding for controversial political issues.

    To dovetail on your point, there is a vital role for bloggers to occupy under this system: disseminating information about specific corporate contributors to political advertisements. We must become more responsible for tracking corporate donations to political campaigns. Hopefully progressive bloggers can vigilantly monitor corporate contributions to dangerous political candidates.

  8. Thank you for this. I feel a bit better. This makes a lot of sense, as I watch a lot more TV now, online, than I did on the air.

  9. I have been reading and listening to all of the hysteria over this decision ("the end of democracy") and wondering if there were any sane commenters left. I planned on a blog post today of the "Gee, whiz, calm down people" variety, and in browsing to collect factoids to add to the few I had already collected, I find them all neatly compiled here. Thanks for the concise summation of sanity. I'm sure you won't mind if I make my post a bit shorter, now, and simply link to you.

    If you want some real hyperbole on the subject, go watch Keith Olbermann from Thursday night.

  10. I agree that the net has the potential to greatly minimize the impact of money on politics. But to do that the there has to be a strategy to get net viewers out of their comfort zones.

    Typically we don't surf for differences in political opinions. We go to web sites that are in harmony with our respective views. Just like we generally confine our editorial and op-ed reading to sources we can agree with (I never read Krauthhamer).

    In other words, how do you use the net to expose the voter to a variety of political views, and views on public issues? They won't get it by going to their favorite liberal, conservative, libertarian, etc. web sites. The objective is loosening minds instead of stiffening spines.

    As for the Supreme court decision, we should never ever underestimate the capabilities of large corporations. Now that they don't have to sneak around and use indirect means, they can openly turn to the best and the brightest opinion shapers, give them a blank check, and sit back and relax. Because of the enormous amount of money that will be available, this will create a whole new industry. Every trick in the book, and lots of tricks yet to be invented, will be used to sway the voter.

  11. … and how long do you think it will be before the corporations pay to elect politicians who will abolish Net Neutrality?

  12. The decision by the Supremes is important because what was previously accomplished by grease, muscle, and corruption has now been enshrined as Constitutional Law. That's a big shift.

    G

  13. Excellent comment about corporations getting rid of politicians who support Net Neutrality.

    I accept Juan Cole's points about the multiplicity of sources of information, but I think the implications of this decision are very frightening all the same.

    The idea that corporations are now fully established as persons, whose rights cannot be violated, has enormous implications which we will only begin to see as time passes. They far exceed the question of the corporate role in elections.

    I submit that it remains critical for what is left of our republic to overturn this decision – or amend the Constitution if necessary.

  14. Sorry to post a second time, but there is another aspect to the decision that hasn't been discussed very much. Namely that the corporation is responsible to its shareholders to maximize profits and stock value, and is expected to use every tool at its disposal to do so.

    Now the Supreme Court has given it a fresh tool. The shareholders have every right to expect the the corporation to make use of this new tool to maximize profits and stock value.

    A civic conscience is not an inherent or necessary component of a corporation, nor is there a requirement for the corporation to concern itself with any issue that is irrelevant to corporate operation and profitability. So as a matter of accountability to shareholders, the use of corporate funds to support political objectives must be in the direct interest of the corporation. In short, civic-shmivic, make money any way you can.

  15. As always, you make lots of great points. As rarely happens, this time I disagree with a couple things you've said.

    You don't seem to be considering the echo chamber the right wing built and everyone else uses, sheeplike.

    Sound bites and longer clips from their commercials and other products become "news." Then news organizations and commenters end up repeating them–instead of characterizing them without repeating the sound bite. Witness how Palin's sound bite about the health insurance reform bill became common knowledge. You know what she said the bill would set up, but did you read it on her Facebook page? Did anyone discuss it without repeating it? Insist it was not news and decline to discuss it?

    And regarding this sentence: "But the public can still after all vote on whether it likes continued war."–Yes, of course. We recently chose between a presidential candidate who would enthusiastically continue the war policies in place and one who would continue them regretfully and after careful consideration. Remember NBC's lawyers staying up all night working to defend its changing the rules of eligibility for its televised debate among primary candidates after Kucinich met the threshold they'd first set and they had to invite him to debate on the air?

    You're probably right that many of the fears people have about this decision are unfounded. But when you consider these parts of how the system is rigged you may find you've underestimated some of the ways the decision will be harmful.

  16. NYT quotes the majority decision:

    “If the First Amendment has any force,” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote …, “it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech.”

    I suppose this means that all those who were arrested here in St. Paul in 2008 at the Republican Convention will be exonerated.

    Or perhaps the new interpretation of the Bill of Rights only applies to persons who aren't human; of course this must have been the founders' intent.

  17. Jonathan Turley made an interesting point when asked about counteracting this decision. He suggested reforming the election process itself; such as eliminating the two-party system, revise or eliminate the Electoral College, etc. The problem, he said, is not so much where the money comes from, but that that money has so much power to affect our elections.

    Food for thought.

  18. As I read your article, I started to think that maybe my extreme apprehension concerning this decision, which essentially classifies corporations as people, was over blown and I needed to calm down. Then, as I read further and you started in about Net Neutrality, I thought, "How is this not the first step toward control of the internet? I agree with andrewbacon, how long will it be before big biz maneuvers into Congress the people they need to help "regulate" internet access and control? Every thing happens in baby steps.

  19. The problem with the unlimited money is how it will be used in the back room. As the NYT editorial pointed out, all a corporate interest has to do is say we're spending $x million in the next election for the city councilperson who clears the way for our development project, drops city taxes on our company, etc. Can we count on you to vote for us, councilor?

  20. Alright, let's be clear though about what we are talking about when we say "Net Neutrality." If you are talking about the general concept of a free and open internet, then of course I agree 100%.

    If you are talking about the regulations proposed in 2006, then I am against them. They wouldn't do anything to prevent censorship, but they would make it harder for ISPs to route and manage traffic. Just because it has the label "Net Neutrality" doesn't make a neutral internet…I could make a bill called the "Bill to Save The Children For a New Tomorrow", but what's the substance?

  21. I would say this decision is neutral on its merits; rather, it merely creates a different set of obstacles to open and enlightened public discussion. It reminds me of Marx in the Manifesto writing about how capitalism, as it becomes ever more "advanced", substitutes direct and shameless exploitation for its indirect and veiled counterpart.

  22. The other point is that corporations are not American. The Supreme Court is encouraging anyone anywhere to come in before an election and say anything they want to say. Either this is a cynical attempt to give power to their wealthy friends or they are out of touch with the rest of the world.

  23. Thanks again Juan. A ray of sunshine was welcomed by me as I could see no pluses in the court decision. The mere fact that the decision was based on no law was more troubling then the garbage I know it will bring to the TV.
    Being at the end of a at best 1meg pipe I have been avoiding the TV on the computer bit and other forms of video content because of it's herkey jerky running. However now I'll have to consider that option as a way to avoid their commercials, My other choice , during the campaign cycle watch only channels with no advertisements.

  24. "Because the top one percent of individuals in the US owns over 40% of the country's privately held wealth and takes home 20% of its income every year"

    Can also be stated as:

    "the richest 1 percent have more financial wealth than the bottom 95 percent combined."

    Noting that:

    "The Fed survey may actually understate the true concentration of wealth. The survey specifically excludes members of the Forbes 400 richest families in America. Because "the closer you get to the top, the bigger the disparity" between rich and poor, a lot of concentrated wealth gets left out, Haskins said. "

    link to politifact.com

  25. The notion that corporations are persons is now new. The Supreme Court ruled that way in the 1880s, as I remember, giving corporations protection under the 14th amendment. Amending the Constitution to make it clear that "persons" are "natural persons" would straighten out a lot of things, but I don't imagine that happening until the empire is far gone, just as the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was not about to relinquish "the leading role of the party" until the Soviet state was on the rocks.

  26. Suppose Juan is correct that this decision will have little effect. To me, the fact that the supreme court has once again bestowed a fundamental civil right of human beings to a non-living entity is just as morally repugnant, if not more so, than the potential consequences that are being discussed.

  27. Interesting take, but there's one thing you need to think about.
    True, buying an hour-long infomercial on CBS may not reach that many people. But what happens when a corporation launches a cross-platform campaign, saturating websites, videos, newspapers, blog ads, niche networks…right down to sponsoring sporting events and even beer-pong parties.
    Couldn't happen?
    Think "When you say Bud, you've said it all."
    Madison Avenue will gladly map it out for them.

  28. Sorry Juan, I cannot agree with you. Just because something is already really bad it does not mean it is insignificant if it then becomes really, really bad. The biggest problem with our democracy is the excess of private and corporate money in the election system.

    Net neutrality and web 2.0 means nothing to the vast majority of citizens when it comes to elections. It is not about whether or not the facts are still available (on the web), rather how the discussion (and thus the reality for the ignorant majority) is framed. Unfortunately debates are being won not on facts but by framing them to your advantage. Now the big corporate money will do it even better. Your blog and other fact based blogs will matter even less. Sorry to say that you are preaching to the choir. The majority does not not take advantage of the facts already available, but lets itself be fed.

    I think this is the last death knell for our democracy, which was already the best democracy money can buy. Even an independent party or a 3rd or 4th party will not make any difference anymore, because big corporation will just buy those parties, just like they are doing it now with the two parties. Sorry to be the party pooper.

    BTW hopefully someone will explain to me how come the corporations can donate money to political parties just because they are persons. My neighbor is also a person, but not a citizen, and as such can not. Corporations have many non-citizens as share holders. Am I missing something?

    Anyway, unlike other posters I think this is the last death knell for our democracy.

  29. As stated, the continuation of Net Neutrality is a large component in this conversation in regards to the web being a place of somewhat unfettered discussion. But as another poster has stated, and how we all witnessed in the last few years, it has the possibility of being eroded.

    On a personal note, I work in advertising as social marketing and our biggest goal is trying to get consumers to be interested in a particular brand or product through more organic means. Corporations have a difficult time adapting to this and rolling with that tune, but you'd be surprised how much progress has been made by them on this end as well. I only see this continuing as they adapt to newer (generally, mostly younger) consumers.

    Granted, a product or brand is generally successful on its own merits and one's ability to expound upon them, especially on the web, but these kind of tools can have an impact on perception of a concept, idea, etc., especially if you have a captive audience you're speaking to and want to empower.

    Faith in the web to deliver a better message to those willing to seek it out is one thing, especially since it has a unique ability to do so, but as always the ground game is changing. I have a feeling that this advantage will continue over quite some time, but it's not an inevitability.

  30. Cole writes, "This horrible ruling, bad as it is, is not the Waterloo of democracy." The metaphor belies the author's optimism. Napoleon's defeat was a forgone conclusion whatever the outcome of Waterloo. Perhaps we should conclude that the ruling does not matter because democracy is already dead? Or that democracy is living its last 100 days? Witness the failure of financial and health care reform in the last year. More generally, I think Cole is a bit too optimistic. How many Americans are "pulling" for their information. Most of the public is quite passive. If you taught at a branch campus of a state university for a few years–like I do–instead of U. Mich, Ann Arbor you might see things differently! Advertising works. This may only be the last nail in the coffin of American democracy, but it is a rather long and heavy nail. -MSC

  31. I do think the court's decision is dangerous. While many folks do have access to dissenting views through the net, there's still a large number of people whose only source of information is the mainstream media – the "consumers" of news. These are the people at risk, and these are the folks the corporations want to reach, without the message being mediated. This court decision blows open the doors for this to happen, and that's why it's such a dangerous decision.

  32. "But the public can still after all vote on whether it likes continued war."

    Really? In 2008 a vote for McCain or a vote for Obama meant the same thing: a vote for war with Afghanistan.

    Corporate money ensures that we are given only two "choices" and both of them are parties of war. How do we make third party candidates like Cynthia McKinney viable?

  33. GW 1L said:
    The large companies that can afford massive national advertising campaigns are probably averse to funding advertisements that are too partisan. After all, if the advertisements advocate a particular position on a controversial issue, roughly 50% will be turned off.

    With corporate consolidation, it is nearly impossible to know how far reaching the products of a particular company extends. Honestly, if you saw a ringing endorsement of an ultra-conservative Republican Senate candidate from Virginia sponsored by "The Altria Group", would you know that is the parent-company of Philip Morris?

  34. I think you are completely naive about the ultimate impact of this Supreme Court ruling. Major communication companies have already demonstrated their interest in reducing or eliminating Net Neutrality. Eliminating Net Neutrality is actually in the best interest of these companies. The existing threat to Net Neutrality is why this topic is even on our radar screen.

    A corporation that wants to eliminate Net Neutrality does not have to mount a major national campaign. They simple need to replace 10 to 20 members of congress by using a $1-2M advertising campaign against that member of congress during their reelection. It might not even require $1-2M in a smaller market to replace a congressperson that favors Net Neutrality with a congressperson favoring net fees for specific content.

    My view is that this SC decision left unchanged will eliminate Net Neutrality before 2016. We will see corporation begin to test their new power in the 2010 election.

  35. While net neutrality is certainly as important an issue as Juan believes, I think he might be taking a short-sighted view of the Supremes' decision. First of all, it enshrines the spurious doctrine of corporate personhood. While corporations should partake in some of the rights of personhood, the fact is that they do not share the obligations and limitations of personhood. Just for one example, a person will die after 50-100 years. While a corporation CAN "die", given good management, it can last 150-200 years. As long as the Walt Disney organization is in some way operational, Mickey Mouse will stay copyrighted. Granting corporations full personhood creates in essence super-persons. Secondly, how many corporations are simply single-national entities? Most big corporations–with the budgets to influence elections, lobby senators and congressmen, and yes, the president and supreme court justices, are multi-national. This ruling has legalized foreign interference into our election and governing processes, as long as that influence is peddled by a company instead of an individual.
    Those are my immediate thoughts. I'll be doing a cartoon and commentary on further ideas about this in tomorrow's "Intravenous Caffeine" link to ivcaffeine.com

  36. I think Mr. Cole is underestimating the creativity of money-grubbing corporations and their accomplices in the government, media, military and lobbies.

    Does anyone really think a corporation will say "oh jeez, no one will watch our infomercial, so let's give up and let the populist candidate run away with the election".

    No – instead, they will devise Pay-For-Play 3.0

    Already today we see their books pushed to #1 artificially by pre-buying millions of copies they then give away free. We have 24/7 infomercials disguised as news channels and we have staged grassroots events where corporations pay PR firms extra to make them look like citizens uprisings. We have credit cards that buy and sell our purchasing history and internet companies that scan our email messages to serve us customized ads.

    What's next? We will see free cell phones given out that have unremovable neocon news apps on them. Phone banks that call out but also provide nifty "jobs" for advocates, including incentives to get vote commitments. We will see free kittens given away that have "Palin 2012" genetically emblazoned into their fur.

    Regardless the medium or the technology, private capital can outspend populist advocacy groups. This is because we are our own worst enemy, overwhelmingly uninvolved, unaware, apathetic and totally gullible. We all supported the meaningless Afghanistan invasion and most of us supported the Iraq invasion. We can only hope the next generation is more discriminating.

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