Monday, November 29, 2010

Is 'Digital Hive' A Soft Totalitarian State? Our "Leaders" Are Not "Smart" But Very Well Trained (But By Whom?) US Breaks Sov. Records - "Underwear?"

(Stolen from that Well-Armed Lamb's Pen.)

. . . this whole business of the new hive cybernetic connectivity, could be just a swarm of data bits with no particular significance, in and of themselves, other than the magical thinking belief that they do. Which ain’t no small thing, given that what we agree upon as reality is achieved by social consensus. Hell, to some people Beelzebub still stalks the earth. To others, America is a free republic, not a company town. We all have our hallucinations.

. . . Even teachers teach to a standardized test so students will conform to an algorithm, and if that ain’t hive mind, I don’t know what is.

Besides, if the worship of algorithms is not worth it, it does not matter. Whether we be Tanzanians à la Darwin’s Nightmare, or some Stanford professor writing economic algorithms, the people who control all our lives in the globalized economic world believe they are.

For example, bankers and investment houses believe intelligent algorithms (Big Al) can calculate human risk in making loans. That an algorithm can predict whether a 35-year old lawn sprinkler installer in Tuscaloosa will be able to steadily make $2,300 monthly payments on his $220,000 twice refinanced “snout-house” (so-named because of the four-car garage sticking out the front) for 30 years. Most of us would be more than happy to make that prediction for them, and with far greater accuracy, for a fraction of what they paid the pinhead to write the algorithm.

. . . In the pre-digital hive era there were limits to what the organic human brain, and therefore the mind, plus past experience, could calculate, then evaluate. At some point, one was forced to recognized the limits of a financial proposition or investment. Familiarity with the actual basis of an investment was necessary. (Hmmm. Lawn sprinklers, huh? And yer paying on a new Dodge Ram too?”)

But there was no stopping such things as computer-assisted hedge funds, and the techno nerds’ faith that you could remove the human risks through complex algorithmic structures. So mythical financial instruments such as derivatives and layers of bets on derivatives, and bets on those bets, bloomed out there in the “virtual economy,” sending out algorithmic spores that spawned even stranger financial flora.

. . . allegedly, the hive does many things better than paid experts. Wikipedia is an example of this assertion. Most web content is generated by hive inhabitants for free, profiting the new elite cybernetic ownership class, which is to say some corporation or other. This also means that content becomes worthless. That the efforts of skilled and devoted journalists, artists and others become valueless, unsellable, just more info-shards in the hive. Only advertising has value in the cyberhive. In a nation whose social realism has been represented by advertising for three quarters of a century, that was to be expected.

. . . one of my questions as I sit here background Googling the subject is this: Does a search engine really know what I want, or am I dumbing down to fit its hive algorithms? If the latter is the case, then why don’t we just bring back PCP?

. . . In essence, investment is reduced to an algorithmic Google search for debt, which is wealth to a banker, then mathematically rationalizing that debt as wealth for the rest of us.

Right. That's the trick of the 21st century brought to you by the Greedy Old Pissers (feel that "trickle down" yet?). As a fan of Dr. Timothy Leary I really enjoyed the mention from Joe below (he's a god). And thus we confront the ruling algorithm that determines our future existence: Do we have any defense against those with a specialized calculus? Brilliance in analysis and dissection of these myths reigns below. Please forgive me for running all of it as it's really worth your while to read it (emphasis marks and some editing added - Ed.).
Algorithms and Red Wine*
Is the 'Digital Hive' a Soft Totalitarian State?

By Joe Bageant Ferrara, Italy Sitting in a trendy wine bar, one of those that brings out food to match your particular choice of wine, mystified by the table setting. What was that tiny baby spoon for? Cappuccino surely, at some point, but why no big spoon to go with the knife and fork? The things a redneck American does not know grow exponentially in Bella Italia, starting with the restaurants - not to mention several civilizations beneath one’s feet. Being in a house that has been continuously occupied for over 1000 years - resisting the temptation to piss in the hotel room bidet, that sort of thing.

One thing the Italians can never be accused of is being a culture given to vinyl sided sameness, fast food franchises. Another thing is lack of a good educational system, given that Italy’s is among the very best in the world. So here I am sitting with some college kids trying to hang onto my end of a discussion of evolutionary consciousness, and whether Italy can withstand the cultural leveling of globalism.

“And Mr Bageant, what do you think of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s concept of the hive mind and the noosphere? Can monolithism and totalitarianism possibly be resisted in the cybernetic age?”Huh?

“Il regno mondiale dei computer, global computerization. Do all those disassociated shards of human input constitute an overarching hive intelligence? Or are they the emergence of further evolutionary structures?”

“Ahem, uh, well, Timothy Leary once convinced me that they are,” I said. “But after the drugs wore off, I was not so certain. And now I’m certain again that he was right. But, with a far more chilling outcome than he or Chardin could have ever predicted.”

Which was pretty good for pulling it out of my ass.

In any case, it seems that 40 years in retrospect, the human hive enjoys monolithism and totalism far more than anyone would have ever guessed back in the sixties. Most of industrial humanity, as it turns out, is, or would be, quite happy to come home from a hard day in the mines and settle down to Facebook or Twitter or hive broadcast “news” and passive entertainments, distributed by unseen “corporate entities.” I dunno, I think I liked dope and live music and sex better. But as all three diminish in my life with age, I’ve learned to settle for the Larry King Show and/or a lot less at times.

Big Al and the Tuscaloosa Sprinkler man

On the other hand, this whole business of the new hive cybernetic connectivity, could be just a swarm of data bits with no particular significance, in and of themselves, other than the magical thinking belief that they do. Which ain’t no small thing, given that what we agree upon as reality is achieved by social consensus. Hell, to some people Beelzebub still stalks the earth. To others, America is a free republic, not a company town. We all have our hallucinations.

One thing for sure. Most people in the (over)developed world think the connectivity and speed of the algorithms behind the cyberhive are worth it. Even teachers teach to a standardized test so students will conform to an algorithm, and if that ain’t hive mind, I don’t know what is.

Besides, if the worship of algorithms is not worth it, it does not matter. Whether we be Tanzanians à la Darwin’s Nightmare, or some Stanford professor writing economic algorithms, the people who control all our lives in the globalized economic world believe they are.

For example, bankers and investment houses believe intelligent algorithms (Big Al) can calculate human risk in making loans. That an algorithm can predict whether a 35-year old lawn sprinkler installer in Tuscaloosa will be able to steadily make $2,300 monthly payments on his $220,000 twice refinanced “snout-house” (so-named because of the four-car garage sticking out the front) for 30 years. Most of us would be more than happy to make that prediction for them, and with far greater accuracy, for a fraction of what they paid the pinhead to write the algorithm.

In the pre-digital hive era there were limits to what the organic human brain, and therefore the mind, plus past experience, could calculate, then evaluate. At some point, one was forced to recognized the limits of a financial proposition or investment. Famliarity with the actual basis of an investment was necessary. (Hmmm. Lawn sprinklers, huh? And yer paying on a new Dodge Ram too?”) But there was no stopping such things as computer-assisted hedge funds, and the techno nerds’ faith that you could remove the human risks through complex algorithmic structures.

So mythical financial instruments such as derivatives and layers of bets on derivatives, and bets on those bets, bloomed out there in the “virtual economy,” sending out algorithmic spores that spawned even stranger financial flora. The whole of it could not be understood by any single human participant. Even the individual parts were understood only by their specific designers. As in, “Just trust me on this Marv.

This instrument even creates its own collateral” (which many of them did).

Information, of course, is not reality, not even close to the juicy anecdotal stuff of which our daily lives are made. In essence, investment is reduced to an algorithmic Google search for debt, which is wealth to a banker, then mathematically rationalizing that debt as wealth for the rest of us.

Life is lived anecdotally, not algorithmically. And anecdotal evidence is not allowed in the new digital corpocracy. As one poster on Democratic Underground put it, “Anecdotal now has this enforced meaning such that no one is supposed to believe what they experience, what they see, hear, taste, smell, etc. The Powers That Be have basically extinguished the notion of inductive reasoning. Everything has to be replicated in a laboratory and since 90% of all the labs in this nation are operated by Corporate Sponsored monies, not much truth comes out of them.”

The trouble with the algorithmic age is that life is not a finite sequence of steps that define and contain the algorithmic concepts used. Even when created with the best of intentions - and we can all agree by now there were few good intentions at Goldman Sachs when they were creating and bundling these mutant investments - they cannot account for our uninsured sprinkler installer getting cancer, or divorcing the other half of the household income - or the end of America’s residential construction orgy.

The digital folly is never ending. The knock-on effect just keeps rolling. The latest is the rising scandal of millions of illegal foreclosures created by MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems), which enabled the big financial firms to securitize and swap mortgages at super high speed. But not to worry. Nancy Pelosi and Christopher Dodd are on the case, and there is sure to be a Congressional committee appointed. Whoopee! Have one on me. Meanwhile, we have our social networking software to better weave us into the hive. Social networking software, now there’s a term that should scare the piss out of anyone with an IQ over 40. It means the database as hive reality. Facebook, online banking, shopping, porn, years of one’s life playing electronic games or whatever, online dating and reducing romance and companionship to fit the software. Or 4000 Facebook “friends,” data on 4000 Americans voluntarily collected for Facebook corporation. The concept of “friends” is cheapened, rendered meaningless as it passes through a database. In fact, all human experience is cheapened by that process. Information is not reality. Flatworm economics As my second wife, who was a mathematician, can tell you, I know as much about algebra as a flatworm. So I turn to experts when I write this stuff - or sometimes just make it up as I go. But even a dumb person can ask questions. And one of my questions as I sit here background Googling the subject is this: Does a search engine really know what I want, or am I dumbing down to fit its hive algorithms? If the latter is the case, then why don’t we just bring back PCP? Anyway, allegedly, the hive does many things better than paid experts. Wikipedia is an example of this assertion. Most web content is generated by hive inhabitants for free, profiting the new elite cybernetic ownership class, which is to say some corporation or other. This also means that content becomes worthless. That the efforts of skilled and devoted journalists, artists and others become valueless, unsellable, just more info-shards in the hive. Only advertising has value in the cyberhive. In a nation whose social realism has been represented by advertising for three quarters of a century, that was to be expected. Of course the real global economic problem is seven billion people in increasing competition for ever scarcer vital resources. But capitalism loves competition, as long as, A: it is the people’s capital involved, and B: it is not the capitalists doing the competing. Either way we’re talking money here and what most people consider to be “economics.” Economics equals money. Right? But the actual world revolves around meeting our genuine needs, which may or may not involve money. In the big picture, money is just one small, much abused abstract tool. Money has been abused from the beginning, probably about fifteen minutes after the first shekel was minted, but now the abuse has reached such levels that the entire notion of money is collapsing in on itself. Our concept of money needs to be reevaluated and probably abandoned in the distant future.

The bottliberia waiter comes with something on a plate I can actually - by pure luck - identify. Octopus gnocchi. The conversation rolls on.

“What do you believe allowed such abuse and calamity?” I ask. An intense young woman leans across the table, all black hair and red lips, making an old man moan and sigh inwardly. “Fossil fuels, of course,” she says. “An unnatural supply of energy. But once that is gone, we're going to have to go back to a whole different way of doing everything. Everything.”

“Spot on,” I agree. At that moment she could have gotten me to agree that the earth is flat. But the truth is that each gallon of fossil fuel contains the energy of 40 man-hours. And that has played hell with the ecology of human work, thanks mostly to the money economy. For instance, a simple loaf of bread, starting with the fossil fuels used to grow the wheat, transport, mill, bake, create the packaging materials and packaging, advertise and distribute it, uses the energy of two men working for two weeks. Yet this waste and vast inefficiency is invisible to us because we see it only in terms of money, jobs and commerce.

Cheap oil allowed industrial humans to increasingly live on environmental credit for over a century. Now the bill is due and no amount of money can pay it. The calorie, pure heat expenditure as energy, is the only currency in which Mother Nature trades. Period. Despite that America produced such thinkers on the subject of living simply as Thoreau, modern hydrocarbon-based civilization has driven expectations of material goods and convenience, and the transactions surrounding those expectations, through the stratosphere. Money has abstracted the notion of work to the point where, I dare say, there are not 100,000 people in America who truly understand that, although there are at least a few million trying to understand and liberate themselves.

I’m gonna take a wild shot here and say that understanding and liberation, come through self-discipline and self-denial, and that it’s nearly impossible for Americans to practice self-discipline. They cannot imagine why self-discipline, and a more ascetic life, becoming less dependent on the faceless machinery of algorithm driven virtual money, is necessarily liberating.

If there can be a solution at this late stage, and most thinking people seriously doubt there can be a “solution” in the way we have always thought of solutions, it beginswith powering down everything we consider to be the economy and our survival. That and population reduction, which nobody wants to discuss in actionable terms. Worse yet, there is no state sanctioned, organized entry level for people who want to power down from the horrific machinery of money. There are too many financial, military and corporate and governmental forces that don’t want to see us power down (because it would spell their death), but rather power up even more. That’s called “a recovery.”

When viewed from outside the virtual money economy, and from the standpoint of the planet’s caloric economy, probably half of American and European jobs are not only unnecessary, but also terribly destructive, either directly or indirectly. Yet what nation or economic state acknowledges the need for a transition away from jobs that aren't necessary?

None, because such an economy could not support the war machines or the transactional financial industries that dominate our needs hierarchy for the benefit of the few. Loaning us money we have already earned, stuffing us with corn syrup. And I won’t even go into the strong possibility that everybody does not need to be employed at all times for the world to keep on turning.

Like the Reagan Years On Speed

One of the Italian students, Mariarosa, asks, “Is it true that so many Amerians are struggling and suffering right now?

“No,” I reply, “not in the real sense. If they are suffering, most of them are suffering from commodities withdrawal. What they really are is people oppressed by metastasized capitalism. Which is its own form of suffering, I guess. They are squeezed hard for profit every moment of their waking lives. They’ve got families and dare not make a move, even of they knew how.” Everyone nods in agreement.

“It’s coming to Italy too,” says one young man. Again, all nod in agreement. Yet, despite Berlusconi, despite the rightist takeover in progress in Italy - which I am guessing will be successful, because I’ve seen it all before in America through globalization - so many are still able to ask the right questions. They seem able to filter what they need and what is best for the majority, from what they want. But looking at the overall country is like watching the Reagan era unfold again before your very eyes. Only faster. All of these kids probably own an iPod or cell phone, the only difference being that they do not let them interrupt a good meal.

The third bottle of wine arrives and the topic turns to global competition, and the EU charges that “Italy is not competitive enough.” A student named Cristiano, sits directly across form me, sporting one of those fashionable three-day beards (I tried that once - people just asked me: “How long have you been depressed, Joe?) Cristiano offers that cooperation would get us all a lot farther than competition.” Applause from everybody on that one. I raise my glass in salute. I’ve raised a few too many glasses in salute in my life, but what the hell.

Societies such as Italy, Greece and many others are viewed by global capitalism as inferior economies. Especially agrarian societies: different rates of exchange and economies of scale, are set for them because capitalism benefits from the bonuses of synergies in scale and the virtual economy. Never do global capitalists want to see regional food security, energy security, or any other kind of security for that matter.

And I look at the faces of these young men and women, who are among the brightest, best educated and common good oriented the world has to offer. A taxi’s headlights flash through the window of the darkened bottiliberia. Each face is illuminated for a moment, then golden dimness again prevails. And I am saddened. I do not expect that the world they have inherited will show them one ounce of mercy. But it is heartening to see clear competent minds drawing the right conclusions.

And I ask myself, what chance does America’s far less informed, and purposefully misled public stand against all this?

One shudders.

And continues to.

Wanna feel really proud of being an American for just a split second (more like a nanosecond, actually)? My favorite reporter, some call him the GlennZilla(!), has the inside dope. (See the latest WikiLeaks excitement about that Yemeni disaster (and many, many others)!)

The US of A Breaks the Soviet Record

Glenn Greenwald

November 26, 2010

Even for the humble among us who try to avoid jingoistic outbursts, some national achievements are so grand that they merit a moment of pride and celebration:

US Presence in Afghanistan As Long As Soviet Slog

The Soviet Union couldn't win in Afghanistan, and now the United States is about to have something in common with that futile campaign: nine years, 50 days.

On Friday, the U.S.-led coalition will have been fighting in this South Asian country for as long as the Soviets did in their humbling attempt to build up a socialist state. It seems clear that a similar - or even grander - prize awaits us as the one with which the Soviets were rewarded. I hope nobody thinks that just because we can't identify who the Taliban leaders are after almost a decade over there that this somehow calls into doubt our ability to magically re-make that nation.

Even if it did, it's vital that we stop the threat of Terrorism, and nothing helps to do that like spending a full decade - and counting - invading, occupying, and bombing Muslim countries. The good news - beyond our shattering this record and thus showing that we can still kick those Soviets around even after they no longer exist - is that this decade of utter futility hasn't at all diminished the Government's appetite for endless war in the Muslim world.

By all accounts, the administration its actively debating whether to accelerate its already escalated intervention in Yemen. We've dramatically increased our covert actions in countless countries across the Muslim world.

And today, former Bush State Department legal adviser John Bellinger III (one of the "moderates" from that era) argues in The Washington Post for a re-writing of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) - not in order to rescind it after nine years of endless war-fighting, but rather to expand it, on the ground that it "provides insufficient authority for our military and intelligence personnel to conduct counterterrorism operations today" and outrageously fails to empower the President's "wish to target or detain a terrorist who is not part of al-Qaeda" (for good measure, he also wants the new law to authorize the killing of American citizens and to allow detention without charges).

Clearly, the AUMF is far too narrow and weak for our purposes since - as Bellinger notes - this is all we've been able to do in its name:

The Bush and Obama administrations have relied on this authority to wage the ground war in Afghanistan; to exert lethal force (including drone strikes) against al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; and to detain suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban members in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Afghanistan.

What kind of lame AUMF is that?

A decade's worth of war, some slaughtering through the use of remote-controlled sky robots over a few countries, and a worldwide regime of lawless detention? How are we supposed to Stay Safe when we tie one arm behind our back that way?

Fortunately, if this vision of Expanded Endless War proves to be unwise, the harm will be contained, since the U.S. - unlike the former Soviet Union - is so financially strong that it can easily sustain this. And whatever else is true, there's one thing we should all be able to agree on: the person presiding over all of this deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

UPDATE: In a New York Times article today on the possibility that many newly elected Tea Party candidates will dare to include military spending in demanded budget cuts and will be similarly hostile to foreign aid - including, most alarmingly for some, to Israel - the following passage appears (h/t Matt Duss):

“One of the first things Congressman Cantor can do is to make sure that his colleagues vote for aid to Israel,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, who also met with Mr. Netanyahu. In the face of all these economic difficulties, austerity measures, and calls for Endless War, it's comforting that at least some of America's representatives in Congress - such as the Good Democrat Chuck Schumer - have their priorities straight.

After all, he's a "cantor" isn't he? But what is Schumer? Four commenters responded to Glenn's essay with the following:

the ugly truth · 16 hours ago

The USA is breaking several more Soviet records: (1) Unemployment rates; (2) Poverty rates; (3) Secret detention centres; (4) Spinning of lies; (5) A brainwashed citizenry

Beiruti · 16 hours ago

And hopefully the record will break the US the same way it broke the USSR. Trillions of dollars wasted and for what? Yeah, let freedom rings.

LAo Bob · 16 hours ago

We wasted 8 years while Dubya , Cheney and their Likudnik Staffers took us into Iraq for the sake of Israel and ego. Cheney & Co (PNAC, Likudniks and Faux Spews conspirators (Kagen Krystol and Krauthammer)) belong in jail for this pre-planned escapade.

r_i_d · 16 hours ago

Endless war and aid to Israel have the same goals: To waste taxpayers' money and to keep the level of hate high enough for people to keep on killing each other with always-improving weaponry.

And, of course, you know that:

Global Poverty Doubled since 1970s: UN

The number of very poor countries has doubled in the last 30 to 40 years, while the number of people living in extreme poverty has also grown two-fold, a UN think-tank warned. r_i_d · 16 hours ago

Not only racists and hypocrites, but also cowards who fear for their jobs. Most of the ordinary American "elite" is actually nothing more than the "Outer Party" described by Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four. They are good at "doublethink", holding mutually contradictory beliefs in mind, and voluntarily blind to the truth: The truth about their condition, the identity of their real masters, and the speed at which a steel-frame building can collapse after suffering from fires.

And wouldn't we all love to celebrate "The Endless Thanksgiving?" How about Steve Forbes' favorite wet dream?

A "Flat Tax" for the Rich? Michael Hudson The danger the United States faces today is that the government debt crisis scheduled to hit Congress next spring (when Republicans are threatening to vote against raising the federal debt limit as the government deficit soars) will provide an opportunity for the wealthy to give a coup de grace on what is left of progressive taxation in this country. Such a Well Behaved Herd of Sheep TSA thanks you for allowing them to violate your rights and to assault you November 26, 2010

If ever there was an indicator of just how apathetic and well trained the American public truly is, it must be this situation with TSA. Like a herd of bedraggled sheep, thousands of you forfeited your 4th and 5th amendment rights and allowed the government to irradiate you and view your virtually naked body, or allowed yourself to be subjected to an enhanced pat-downnothing short of a sexual encounter. And for what? This is a training and conditioning exercise you fools! This has nothing to do with making us safer, national security or protecting America. It has nothing to do with making your flight safer. It has everything to do with conditioning you to accept a full body assault as long as the persons doing it are wearing a government badge. You are being trained to submit and comply. Did any of the claimed terrorists come from America? No.

Are any potential terrorists afraid of TSA and Homeland Security or any of the rights-robbing laws passed by the jackass’s in the District of Criminals? No.

Did any of those laws apply to terrorists? NO! They applied to US citizens.

We have a border that is wide open and anyone and everyone from far away places such as Uganda, China, North Korea, and even Afghanistan have crossed that border at will, without any trouble, and millions of people from Mexico, El Salvador, Ecuador, and various and sundry other South American country’s have also entered and Homeland Security has absolutely no plans to secure that border or to deport any of those individuals caught here illegally.

With this in mind . . . how concerned do you think Homeland Security is about terrorism or terrorists?

Who is it Homeland Security views as terrorists? YOU.

. . . We are being maneuvered into a full police state. Thanks to all of you who complied with this police state action, the rest of us will pay the price. You forfeited your rights just so you wouldn’t be inconvenienced and forfeited everyone else’s at the same time. Why? Because standing up for what is right might have delayed you?

How pathetic is that?

And now for the coup de grace. Which Congress members have invested heavily in Homeland Security? (Well, thanks to Scary Sary, Castle's gone, but I wonder how many in the CIA got a kickback from those new contracts after the infamous "underwear" bomber was "captured?") From Open Secrets we learn the hard facts. (Fwowing up yet?)
Several Lawmakers Invested in L-3 Communications, Maker of Airport Body-Scanning Machines

A handful of federal lawmakers are invested in one of the companies behind the controversial full-body scanning machines now in more than 60 U.S. airports. The individual investments are worth thousands, and in some cases tens or hundreds of thousands, of dollars. According to a Center for Responsive Politics review of the most recent personal financial disclosure filings, eight members of Congress - three Democrats and five Republicans - owned at least $2,000 worth of stock in L-3 Communications, which is one of the two main contractors involved in the full-body scanning machines.

Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) disclosed possessing the most stock in L-3 Communications - with a minimum investment of at least $500,000 and a maximum value of $1 million. The L-3 Communications stock is fully owned by his wife, Teresa Heinz, according to federal financial disclosure reports. Members of Congress file annual personal financial disclosures detailing their assets and liabilities, as well as those of their spouses and dependent children. These forms also allow lawmakers to describe the value of their holdings and debts in broad ranges, so it's impossible to know exactly how much the holdings of Kerry's family, or any other lawmaker's household, are worth.

Republican Reps. Michael Castle (R-Del.) and Michael McCaul (R-Texas) both disclosed possessing between $16,002 and $65,000 worth of L-3 Communications stock in 2009. And Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.) was the member of Congress with the next most valuable holdings in L-3 Communications, worth between $15,001 and $50,000.

Here is a table of all eight lawmakers whose 2009 personal financial disclosure forms, which were filed in May, noted holdings in L-3 Communications, along with the minimum and maximum value of these holdings, according to the Center's research.

Name Value Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)$500,001 to $1,000,000 Rep. Michael Castle (R-Del)$16,002 to $65,000 Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas)$16,002 to $65,000 Rep. Judy Biggert (R-Ill.)$15,001 to $50,000 Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.)$1,001 to $15,000 Rep. Robert Scott (D-Va.)$1,001 to $15,000 Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)$2,173 Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas)$2,086

The government's investment in full-body scanners has broadened since the "underwear bomber's" failed terrorism attempt last Christmas. Days later, L-3 Communications was awarded a $165 million contract for the machines, and another company, RapiScan, was also awarded a $173 million contract.

Both companies have seen significant jumps in their federal lobbying expenses since just a few years ago, and both are employing officials with well-heeled government connections, as OpenSecrets Blog previously reported. For instance, RapiScan utilizes the services of Michael Chertoff, the secretary of Homeland Security under Republican President George W. Bush. And former Republican Sen. Alfonse D'Amato (R-N.Y.) and Linda Daschle, the wife of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), are both actively lobbying for L-3 Communications.

From our friend at Walled-In Pond:

Had enough yet? Where is that New American Revolution? Let me look under this desk. Suzan ______________________