Archive for September, 2011
[CIM: Please note this has been updated at the end of this article.]
Dave Winer wrote a timely piece this morning about how Facebook is scaring him since the new API allows applications to post status items to your Facebook timeline without a users intervention. It is an extension of Facebook Instant and they call it frictionless sharing. The privacy concern here is that because you no longer have to explicitly opt-in to share an item, you may accidentally share a page or an event that you did not intend others to see.
The advice is to log out of Facebook. But logging out of Facebook only de-authorizes your browser from the web application, a number of cookies (including your account number) are still sent along to all requests to
facebook.com. Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit. The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.
Here is what is happening, as viewed by the HTTP headers on requests to
facebook.com. First, a normal request to the web interface as a logged in user sends the following cookies:
Note: I have both fudged the values of each cookie and added line wraps for legibility
Cookie: datr=tdnZTOt21HOTpRkRzS-6tjKP; lu=ggIZeheqTLbjoZ5Wgg; openid_p=101045999; c_user=500011111; sct=1316000000; xs=2%3A99105e8977f92ec58696cf73dd4a32f7; act=1311234574586%2F0
The request to the logout function will then see this response from the server, which is attempting to unset the following cookies:
Set-Cookie: _e_fUJO_0=deleted; expires=Thu, 01-Jan-1970 00:00:01 GMT; path=/; domain=.facebook.com; httponly c_user=deleted; expires=Thu, 01-Jan-1970 00:00:01 GMT; path=/; domain=.facebook.com; httponly fl=1; path=/; domain=.facebook.com; httponly L=2; path=/; domain=.facebook.com; httponly locale=en_US; expires=Sun, 02-Oct-2011 07:52:33 GMT; path=/; domain=.facebook.com lu=ggIZeheqTLbjoZ5Wgg; expires=Tue, 24-Sep-2013 07:52:33 GMT; path=/; domain=.facebook.com; httponly s=deleted; expires=Thu, 01-Jan-1970 00:00:01 GMT; path=/; domain=.facebook.com; httponly sct=deleted; expires=Thu, 01-Jan-1970 00:00:01 GMT; path=/; domain=.facebook.com; httponly W=1316000000; path=/; domain=.facebook.com xs=deleted; expires=Thu, 01-Jan-1970 00:00:01 GMT; path=/; domain=.facebook.com; httponly
To make it easier to see the cookies being unset, the names are in italics. If you compare the cookies that have been set in a logged in request, and compare them to the cookies that are being unset in the logout request, you will quickly see that there are a number of cookies that are not being deleted, and there are two cookies (locale and lu) that are only being given new expiry dates, and three new cookies (W, fl, L) being set.
Now I make a subsequent request to
facebook.com as a ‘logged out’ user:
Cookie: datr=tdnZTOt21HOTpRkRzS-6tjKP; openid_p=101045999; act=1311234574586%2F0; L=2; locale=en_US; lu=ggIZeheqTLbjoZ5Wgg; lsd=IkRq1; reg_fb_gate=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Findex.php%3Flh%3Dbf0ed2e54fbcad0baaaaa32f88152%26eu%3DJhvyCGewZ3n_VN7xw1BvUw; reg_fb_ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Findex.php%3Flh%3Dbf0ed2e54fbcad0b1aaaaa152%26eu%3DJhvyCGewZ3n_VN7xw1BvUw
The primary cookies that identify me as a user are still there (act is my account number), even though I am looking at a logged out page. Logged out requests still send nine different cookies, including the most important cookies that identify you as a user
This is not what ‘logout’ is supposed to mean – Facebook are only altering the state of the cookies instead of removing all of them when a user logs out.
With my browser logged out of Facebook, whenever I visit any page with a Facebook like button, or share button, or any other widget, the information, including my account ID, is still being sent to Facebook. The only solution to Facebook not knowing who you are is to delete all Facebook cookies.
You can test this for yourself using any browser with developer tools installed. It is all hidden in plain sight.
This brings me back to a story that I have yet to tell. A year ago I was screwing around with multiple Facebook accounts as part of some development work. I created a number of fake Facebook accounts after logging out of my browser. After using the fake accounts for some time, I found that they were suggesting my real account to me as a friend. Somehow Facebook knew that we were all coming from the same browser, even though I had logged out.
There are serious implications if you are using Facebook from a public terminal. If you login on a public terminal and then hit ‘logout’, you are still leaving behind fingerprints of having been logged in. As far as I can tell, these fingerprints remain (in the form of cookies) until somebody explicitly deletes all the Facebook cookies for that browser. Associating an account ID with a real name is easy – as the same ID is used to identify your profile.
Facebook knows every account that has accessed Facebook from every browser and is using that information to suggest friends to you. The strength of the ‘same machine’ value in the algorithm that works out friends to suggest may be low, but it still happens. This is also easy to test and verify.
I reported this issue to Facebook in a detailed email and got the bounce around. I emailed somebody I knew at the company and forwarded the request to them. I never got a response. The entire process was so flaky and frustrating that I haven’t bothered sending them two XSS holes that I have also found in the past year. They really need to get their shit together on reporting privacy issues, I am sure they take security issues a lot more seriously.
The Rise of Privacy Awareness
10-15 years ago when I first got into the security industry the awareness of security issues amongst users, developers and systems administrators was low. Microsoft Windows and IIS were swiss cheese in terms of security vulnerabilities. You could manually send malformed payloads to IIS 4.0 and have it crash with a stack or heap overflow, which would usually lead to a remote vulnerability.
A decade ago the entire software industry went through a reformation on awareness of security principles in administration and development. Microsoft re-trained all of their developers on buffer overflows, string formatting bugs, off-by-one bugs etc. and audited their entire code base. A number of high-profile security incidents raised awareness, and today vendors have proper security procedures, from reporting new bugs to hotfixes and secure programming principles (this wasn’t just a Microsoft issue – but I had the most experience with them).
Privacy today feels like what security did 10-15 years ago – there is an awareness of the issues steadily building and blog posts from prominent technologists is helping to steamroll public consciousness. The risks around privacy today are just as serious as security leaks were then – except that there is an order of magnitude more users online and a lot more private data being shared on the web.
Facebook are front-and-center in the new privacy debate just as Microsoft were with security issues a decade ago. The question is what it will take for Facebook to address privacy issues and to give their users the tools required to manage their privacy and to implement clear policies – not pages and pages of confusing legal documentation, and ‘logout’ not really meaning ‘logout’.
Update: Contact with Facebook
To clarify, I first emailed this issue to Facebook on the 14th of November 2010. I also copied the email to their press address to get an official response on it. I never got any response. I sent another email to Facebook, press and copied it to somebody I know at Facebook on the 12th of January 2011. Again, I got no response. I have copies of all the emails, the subject lines were very clear in terms of the importance of this issue.
I have been sitting on this for almost a year now. The renewed discussion about Facebook and privacy this weekend prompted me to write this post.
Update 2: Followup
The reaction to this story has been amazing. I am writing a followup that will analyze both the data that I have collected as well as the response from Facebook (which you can read below in the comments). If you wish to view the raw logs, I have saved them here. Specifically the
lu cookies are retained after logout and on subsequent requests, and the
a_user cookie, which contains your userid, is only cleared once the session is restarted. Most importantly, connection state is retained through these HTTP connections. There is never a clean break between a logged in session and a logged out session – but I will have more on that in a follow-up post.
Erratum: I refer to the wrong cookie name in the post above. I also say ‘all sites’ can be tracked, when I meant to say ‘all sites that integrate facebook’.
The Federal Reserve Plans To Identify “Key Bloggers” And Monitor Billions Of Conversations About The Fed On Facebook, Twitter, Forums And Blogs0
he Federal Reserve wants to know what you are saying about it. In fact, the Federal Reserve has announced plans to identify “key bloggers” and to monitor “billions of conversations” about the Fed on Facebook, Twitter, forums and blogs. This is yet another sign that the alternative media is having a dramatic impact. As first reported on Zero Hedge, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has issued a “Request for Proposal” to suppliers who may be interested in participating in the development of a “Sentiment Analysis And Social Media Monitoring Solution”. In other words, the Federal Reserve wants to develop a highly sophisticated system that will gather everything that you and I say about the Federal Reserve on the Internet and that will analyze what our feelings about the Fed are. Obviously, any “positive” feelings about the Fed would not be a problem. What they really want to do is to gather information on everyone that views the Federal Reserve negatively. It is unclear how they plan to use this information once they have it, but considering how many alternative media sources have been shut down lately, this is obviously a very troubling sign.
You can read this “Request for Proposal” right here. Posted below are some of the key quotes from the document (in bold) with some of my own commentary in between the quotes….
“The intent is to establish a fair and equitable partnership with a market leader who will who gather data from various social media outlets and news sources and provide applicable reporting to FRBNY. This Request for Proposal (“RFP”) was created in an effort to support FRBNY’s Social Media Listening Platforms initiative.”
A system like this is not cheap. Apparently the Federal Reserve Bank of New York believes that gathering all of this information is very important. In recent years, criticism of the Federal Reserve has become very intense, and most of this criticism has been coming from the Internet. It has gotten to the point where the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has decided that it had better listen to what is being said and find out who is saying it.
“Social media listening platforms are solutions that gather data from various social media outlets and news sources. They monitor billions of conversations and generate text analytics based on predefined criteria. They can also determine the sentiment of a speaker or writer with respect to some topic or document.”
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York intends to listen in on “billions of conversations” and to actually determine the “sentiment” of those that are participating in those conversations.
Of course it will be those conversations that are “negative” about the Federal Reserve that will be setting off the alarm bells.
“Identify and reach out to key bloggers and influencers”
Uh oh. So they plan to “identify” key bloggers and influencers?
What exactly do they plan to do once they “identify” them?
“The solution must be able to gather data from the primary social media platforms –Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Forums and YouTube.”
Hopefully you understand this already, but nothing posted on the Internet is ever anonymous. Everything on the Internet is gathered by a vast host of organizations and is used for a wide variety of purposes. Data mining has become a billion dollar industry, and it is only going to keep growing.
You may think that you are “anonymous” when you criticize organizations like the Fed, but the truth is that if you are loud enough they will see it and they will make a record of it.
“The solution must provide real-time monitoring of relevant conversations. It should provide sentiment analysis (positive, negative or neutral) around key conversational topics.”
Why do they need to perform “sentiment analysis”?
If someone is identified as being overly “negative” about the Fed, what will they do about it?
“The solution should provide an alerting mechanism that automatically sends out reports or notifications based a predefined trigger.”
This sounds very much like the kind of “keyword” intelligence gathering systems that are currently in use by major governments around the globe.
Very, very creepy stuff.
Are you disturbed yet?
For those of us that write about the Federal Reserve a lot, this is very sobering news.
I wonder what the Fed will think about the following articles that I have posted on this site….
What is their “Social Media Monitoring Solution” going to think about those articles?
Unfortunately, this is all part of a very disturbing trend.
Recently, a very creepy website known as “Attack Watch” was launched to gather information on those saying “negative” things about Barack Obama.
Suddenly, everyone seems obsessed with what you and I are saying.
This just shows how the power of the alternative media is growing.
Not only that, but it seems as though the government also wants to gather as much information on all of us as possible.
For example, a new rule is being proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services that would force health insurance companies to submit detailed health care information about all of their customers to the federal government.
Every single day our privacy is being stripped away a little bit more.
But now it is often not just enough for them to know what we are doing and saying. Instead, the “authorities” are increasingly stepping in to silence important voices.
One of the most recent examples of this was when Activistpost was taken down by Google. We are still awaiting word on why this was done.
Sadly, the silencing of Activistpost is far from an isolated incident.
Hordes of YouTube accounts have been shut down for their political viewpoints.
Quite a few very prominent alternative media websites have been censored or attacked because of what they stand for.
So why is this happening? Well, it turns out that the power of the alternative media is growing. According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center for The People & The Press, 43 percent of Americans say that they get their news on national and international issues from the Internet. Back in 1999, that figure was sitting at just 6 percent.
The American people are sick and tired of getting “canned news”, and they are increasingly turning to the Internet in a search for the truth.
As I have written about previously, the mainstream media in this country is overwhelmingly dominated by just 6 very powerful corporations….
Today, ownership of the news media has been concentrated in the hands of just six incredibly powerful media corporations. These corporate behemoths control most of what we watch, hear and read every single day. They own television networks, cable channels, movie studios, newspapers, magazines, publishing houses, music labels and even many of our favorite websites. Sadly, most Americans don’t even stop to think about who is feeding them the endless hours of news and entertainment that they constantly ingest. Most Americans don’t really seem to care about who owns the media. But they should. The truth is that each of us is deeply influenced by the messages that are constantly being pounded into our heads by the mainstream media. The average American watches 153 hours of television a month. In fact, most Americans begin to feel physically uncomfortable if they go too long without watching or listening to something. Sadly, most Americans have become absolutely addicted to news and entertainment and the ownership of all that news and entertainment that we crave is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands each year.
The “news” that we get from various mainstream sources seems to always be so similar. It is as if nearly all mainstream news organizations are reading from the same script. The American people know that they are not getting the whole truth and they have been increasingly looking to alternative sources.
The monopoly over the news that the mainstream media once possessed has been broken. The alternative media is now creating some huge problems for organizations that were once very closely protected by the mainstream media.
The American people are starting to wake up and they are starting to get very upset about a lot of the corruption that has been going on in our society.
But it turns out that the “authorities” don’t like it too much when Americans try to actually exercise free speech in America today. For example, you can see recent video of female protesters in New York City being penned in by police and then brutally maced right here.
Are you sickened by that?
President Obama’s jobs and deficit-reduction proposals might be a tough sell in Congress.
But the president is getting mileage out of them all the same, increasingly using them on the stump to drum up campaign cash ahead of a key filing deadline at the end of the month.
The president’s frantic fundraising schedule this week reflects a reality he’s downplayed for the past several weeks. After introducing his jobs plan this month, he stressed that the country can’t wait until the next presidential election to act on the economy. But presidential politics overhangs the entire debate — and the president’s economic proposals have fit snugly into his campaign pitch.
Obama told a crowd in San Jose, Calif., Sunday night that the next election will be a “contest of values.” Later talking up his deficit-reduction plan, he described it as “common sense,” not class warfare.
“We have to remind ourselves … the reason we’re successful is because somebody made an investment in us,” he said. “We didn’t do all of this on our own.”
At an earlier fundraiser in Seattle, Obama pressed Republicans to help pass his latest economic plan, saying it’s a choice between his approach or the nation going back to the “same ideas the other side is peddling — old, worn-out ideas from last decade” that gave the upper hand to the wealthiest corporations and individuals.
By the end of the day Monday, Obama will have attended at least nine fundraisers and political events since delivering his jobs plan overview to Congress Sept. 8.
He’s got three fundraisers scheduled Monday in Democrat- and electoral-vote-heavy California.
Obama will finish up the three-day tour Tuesday in Denver.
The stops come ahead of the Sept. 30 filing deadline for campaigns. Democratic officials are looking to raise about $8 million from the first two days’ events alone.
In Seattle on Sunday, tickets for a brunch with the president were going for nearly $36,000 a couple.
Tickets to a fundraising dinner Sunday night at the home of a Facebook executive went for the same amount.
Obama has also made several non-campaign visits in recent weeks to vital swing states, including Ohio, Virginia and North Carolina.
The president is taking his case to the public, and to donors, as he faces a reluctant Congress.
After pitching a $447 billion jobs bill, he proposed paying for it with tax increases. Then he lumped those proposals in with a total of $1.5 trillion in proposed tax hikes as part of a 10-year deficit reduction proposal he submitted to the bipartisan deficit-reduction committee in Congress.
He was met with a chorus of criticism from Republican leaders who accused the president of playing “class warfare” by proposing more taxes on the wealthy.
But Democratic strategist Bob Beckel said the president’s fundraising tour and rhetoric on the stump is merely a product of the resistance Obama’s met in Congress.
“It’s reflective of what the base of the Democratic Party believes. There were those of us, including me, that thought compromise with the Republicans was a good idea. But it’s very clear to me now that we were wrong,” he said.
Obama adviser David Plouffe told “Fox News Sunday” the president will keep pushing for “tax reform,” while asking the wealthy to pay their “fair share.”
“He is going to continue, as he has throughout his presidency, push to cut taxes for the middle-class folks so that they obviously can weather this economy turn better, but also allows them to help the economy by being able to consume more,” Plouffe said.
“The American people are screaming out, saying it’s unfair that the wealthiest, the largest corporations who can afford the best attorneys, the best accountants, take advantage of these special tax treatments that the lobbyist have, along with lawmakers, have cooked in the books here,” he said.
I wrote in August that Rick Perry will self- destruct within 30 days. His prospects for the presidency were as phony as the fantasy of a two-person race was false. Perry is a phony conservative who is not conservative. He is a pay-for-play politician who gobbled up Obama stimulus like a hound dog eating a bone, and created oceans of new government jobs in Texas while his big donors mysteriously received big government contracts. The Texas deficit ballooned and the Texas jobless rate doubled on Rick Perry’s watch.
I will not speculate about the reasons for Rick Perry’ s strange, weird and incoherent debate performance. Major new negative stories about Perry will soon emerge in the media. Trust me. Perry will drop out long before the year ends. If he dropped out today Ron Paul could well be in second place. Will pundits say it is a two-man race between Romney and Paul?
This is the most unpredicable campaign in many years. One insider recently asserted that if the election were held today Obama would certainly lose. Nonsense. Obama would cream Perry. I laughed when media pundits lauded the buffoon Donald Trump for a month as the great Republican hope.
This notion that the GOP contest was a two-man race was a mirage and pure pundit malpractice from the beginning.
Another mirage is Chris Christie, a not-very- popular freshman governor with zero national experience who could easily be defeated for reelection by dynamic Democratic Mayor Cory Booker.
Sarah Palin could jump in, but if she did, her motive would be to prevent any other Republican from winning. Obama would clean Palin’s clock. So what next?
Mitt Romney is the Tom Dewey of 2012. He is qualified, presidential — and distrusted by virtually everyone. Like Dewey he looks like the plastic man on the wedding cake. He could be elected. Remember, Dewey almost won in 1948, but if Obama plays Truman I suspect he beats Mitt, but I could be wrong.
When Perry drops out, Ron Paul could be in second place. It could be a magical moment for Ron Paul, and perhaps Herman Cain, for a clean shot at second place. Let’s see what they do with it. Both Paul and Cain deserve far more respect from the major media. This is not a Soviet campaign where Pravda-like pundits treat certain candidates as though they do not exist.
If Jon Huntsman moves above the 10 percent he recently polled in New Hampshire, he becomes very serious. If not, he drops out by December and endorses Mitt.
The Republican battle is the exact opposite of a two-person race and always has been. It is wide open like the Wild West. The big question is who emerges as the leading conservative opponent to Romney, and whether Romney can make the leap to be trusted as a credible president.
Forget Chris Christie. The man to watch is Mitch Daniels, governor of Indiana. Daniels is trusted by all factions of the party, is highly qualified, and in my view has the best chance of defeating Obama. I have said it before. Remember where you heard it.
Rick Perry is toast. The two-man race is dead. The Republicans have entered the Wild West without Perry as a big-time player.
MORTANT INFORMATION – WHILE MAINSTREAM MEDIA CONTINUES TO TELL US THAT RICK PERRY AND MITT ROMNEY ARE THE LEADERS OF THE GOP PACK, THE RESULTS OF ALL 2011 POLLS ARE TELLING US SOMETHING ENTIRELY DIFFERENT.
Ron Paul is #1
And there are only TWO Straw Polls left!
Value Voters Straw Poll: http://www.valuesvotersummit.org/
Illinois Straw Poll: http://955glo.com/tags/november-5/
This information is available here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_polls_for_the_Republican_Party_presidential_primaries,_2012#Upcoming_straw_polls
Cumulative Results through September 17, 2011
Percentages are cumulative based on the fourteen polls above conducted through 09/17/11, giving equal weight to each poll (not each vote). Candidates listed in poll results above but with 0 percent (or 0 votes) are not included.
Finish Potential candidate Percentage
1 Ron Paul 19.74%
2 Mitt Romney 14.27%
3 Michele Bachmann 8.08%
4 Herman Cain 7.82% 5 Newt Gingrich
6 Tim Pawlenty 5.36%
7 Mike Huckabee 5.02%
8 Rick Perry 4.77%
9 Sarah Palin 3.97%
10 Mitch Daniels 3.71%
11 Thad McCotter 3.07%
12 Rick Santorum 2.86%
13 Donald Trump 2.43%
14 Jon Huntsman, Jr. 2.31%
15 Chris Christie 1.4%
16 Gary Johnson 0.88%
17 Rudy Giuliani 0.43%
18 Jim DeMint 0.34%
19 Paul Ryan 0.27%
20 Buddy Roemer 0.24%
21 Haley Barbour 0.20%
21 Mike Pence 0.20%
21 Ted Turner 0.20%
21 Joe Wilson 0.20%
25 John Thune 0.13%
The Environmental Protection Agency has said new greenhouse gas regulations, as proposed, may be “absurd” in application and “impossible to administer” by its self-imposed 2016 deadline. But the agency is still asking for taxpayers to shoulder the burden of up to 230,000 new bureaucrats — at a cost of $21 billion — to attempt to implement the rules.
The EPA aims to regulate greenhouse gas emissions through the Clean Air Act, even though the law doesn’t give the EPA explicit power to do so. The agency’s authority to move forward is being challenged in court by petitioners who argue that such a decision should be left for Congress to make.
The proposed regulations would set greenhouse gas emission thresholds above which businesses must file for an EPA permit and complete extra paperwork in order to continue operating. If the EPA wins its court battle and fully rolls out the greenhouse gas regulations, the number of businesses forced into this regulatory regime would grow tremendously — from approximately 14,000 now to as many as 6.1 million.
These new regulatory efforts are not likely to succeed, the EPA admits, but it has decided to move forward regardless. “While EPA acknowledges that come 2016, the administrative burdens may still be so great that compliance … may still be absurd or impossible to administer at that time, that does not mean that the Agency is not moving toward the statutory thresholds,” the EPA wrote in a September 16 court briefing.
The EPA is asking taxpayers to fund up to 230,000 new government workers to process all the extra paperwork, at an estimated cost of $21 billion. That cost does not include the economic impact of the regulations themselves.
“Hiring the 230,000 full-time employees necessary to produce the 1.4 billion work hours required to address the actual increase in permitting functions would result in an increase in Title V administration costs of $21 billion per year,” the EPA wrote in the court brief.
The petitioner suing the EPA is the Coalition for Responsible Regulation, a trade group reportedly linked to domestic chemical companies.
This story is the first in a weeklong series on Gallup.com on Americans’ views on the role and performance of government.
PRINCETON, NJ — A record-high 81% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the country is being governed, adding to negativity that has been building over the past 10 years.
Majorities of Democrats (65%) and Republicans (92%) are dissatisfied with the nation’s governance. This perhaps reflects the shared political power arrangement in the nation’s capital, with Democrats controlling the White House and U.S. Senate, and Republicans controlling the House of Representatives. Partisans on both sides can thus find fault with government without necessarily blaming their own party.
The findings are from Gallup’s annual Governance survey, updated Sept. 8-11, 2011. The same poll shows record or near-record criticism of Congress, elected officials, government handling of domestic problems, the scope of government power, and government waste of tax dollars.
- 82% of Americans disapprove of the way Congress is handling its job.
- 69% say they have little or no confidence in the legislative branch of government, an all-time high and up from 63% in 2010.
- 57% have little or no confidence in the federal government to solve domestic problems, exceeding the previous high of 53% recorded in 2010 and well exceeding the 43% who have little or no confidence in the government to solve international problems.
- 53% have little or no confidence in the men and women who seek or hold elected office.
- Americans believe, on average, that the federal government wastes 51 cents of every tax dollar, similar to a year ago, but up significantly from 46 cents a decade ago and from an average 43 cents three decades ago.
- 49% of Americans believe the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. In 2003, less than a third (30%) believed this.
Congress’ Ratings Have Plunged in Recent Years
Confidence in Congress hit a new low this month, with 31% of Americans saying they have a great deal or fair amount of confidence in the legislative branch, lower than the percentage confident in the executive (47%) or judicial (63%) branch. Confidence in the legislative branch is slightly higher among Republicans than among Democrats, 41% vs. 32%.
Apart from a brief rally in public approval of Congress after the 9/11 attacks, Congress’ job approval rating has followed a similar path, declining sharply since about 2000. The 15% of Americans approving of Congress in the September poll is just two percentage points above the all-time low reached twice in the past year.
Public Officials Held in Low Esteem
Americans’ confidence in the people who run for or serve in office is also at a new low; however, the decline has been more recent, dropping from 66% in 2008 to 49% in 2009 and 45% today. For most of the history of this trend, Americans had much more positive views of those seeking or holding public office, but that changed in 2009, and the balance of opinion has since remained more negative than positive.
Americans Particularly Critical of Domestic Policy
At 43%, fewer Americans today than at any time in the past four decades say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the federal government to handle domestic problems. That is significantly lower than the 58% average level of confidence Gallup has found on this since 1972, including a 77% reading shortly after the 9/11 attacks. Gallup did not ask the question between 1976 and 1997, however, and thus may have missed low points during the recessions that occurred in the early 1980s or at the time of the House banking scandal in the early ’90s.
By contrast, faith in Washington to handle international problems (57%) is currently better than the 51% all-time low recorded in 2007, during the Iraq war, and not far off from the 65% average seen since 1972.
Along with Americans’ record-low confidence in the federal government on domestic policy, Gallup finds record skepticism about government waste. As previously reported, Americans, on average, think the federal government in Washington wastes 51 cents of every tax dollar, the highest estimated proportion of waste Gallup has found on this measure in trends dating to 1979.
Nearly Half Now Say Government Poses Immediate Threat
Americans’ sense that the federal government poses an immediate threat to individuals’ rights and freedoms is also at a new high, 49%, since Gallup began asking the question using this wording in 2003. This view is much more pronounced among Republicans (61%) and independents (57%) than among Democrats (28%), although when George W. Bush was president, Democrats and independents were more likely than Republicans to view government as a threat.
Americans’ various ratings of political leadership in Washington add up to a profoundly negative review of government — something that would seem unhealthy for the country to endure for an extended period. Nevertheless, with another budget showdown looking inevitable and a contentious presidential election year getting underway, it appears the ratings reviewed here could get worse before they improve.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Sept. 8-11, 2011, with a random sample of 1,017 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.
Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2010 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
Why Are Rick Perry And Mitt Romney Getting About Twice As Much Talking Time During The Republican Debates As The Other Candidates?0
Considering the fact that no real votes will be cast until next year and considering the fact that the polls are constantly changing, shouldn’t all of the candidates participating in the Republican debates be given roughly the same amount of time to talk? After all, what kind of a “debate” is it when certain candidates are given double (or sometimes even triple) the amount of talking time? Why is it that Rick Perry and Mitt Romney have been getting about twice as much talking time as the other candidates during the Republican debates? It is amazing that more people are not calling into question the credibility of these “debates”. Whether you support one of the Republican candidates or not, we should all be able to agree that one of the goals for these debates should be to treat the candidates as fairly and evenly as possible. Unfortunately, as the numbers you are about to see indicate, that is definitely not happening.
According to blogger Wes Hemings, the following is how much talking time each candidate received during the last Republican debate….
Ron Paul 4:33
So was it just Fox News that was so slanted?
What has happened at other recent Republican debates?
Well, Hemmings also analyzed the distribution of talking time during the recent Republican debate on CNN….
Ron Paul 7:34
Wow – that debate certainly did not seem fair either.
Hemmings also broke down the talking time allotted to each candidate during the recent MSNBC debate….
In all three debates, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney received far more talking time than any of the other candidates. They are always positioned at center stage and the attention never stays away from those two for very long.
These debates reinforce the perception that none of the other candidates even has a chance. For example, a recent USA Today article entitled “GOP debates signal a race between Romney and Perry” made the following statement….
The debates have bolstered what most polls of the Republican race have shown; it’s a two-man race between Perry and Romney.
All of the major news networks spend far more time talking about Perry and Romney than they do about the other candidates. Then during the debates, Perry and Romney receive far more talking time than the other candidates do. Then after the debates, most of the talking heads spend most of their time talking about how Perry and Romney did (even if their instant online polls show that one of the other candidates won the debate).
There is something fundamentally un-American about what has been going on in these debates. How is our choice of candidates supposed to be legitimate when two candidates keep getting pushed to the front?
Another thing that the numbers above reveal is a significant bias in favor of “establishment candidates” on the part of those running the debates.
Okay, if they want to give Perry and Romney extra time because they are leading in the polls, then why don’t those rules apply to all the other candidates? For example, Jon Huntsman (an establishment candidate) has been averaging 1.2% support in recent polls. Yet Huntsman received more talking time than any of the other “second tier” candidates in the last debate. In fact, he received more than 50% more talking time than some of them.
If polls are going to mean so much during these debates, then it is not just Perry and Romney that should benefit. For example, during the recent debate on Fox News, the first question went to Rick Perry (1st in the polls at the time), the second question went to Mitt Romney (2nd in the polls at the time), and then the candidate that was running third in the polls at the time (Ron Paul) was completely skipped over. In fact, they didn’t come back to him until well into the debate.
Herman Cain is currently getting more than 4 times the support in the polls that Jon Huntsman is getting, and yet Huntsman has been given significantly more talking time during each of the recent Republican debates.
So why is Huntsman getting so much talking time?
He barely even registers in the polls.
What in the world is going on?
It seems as though there is a less than subtle attempt by the mainstream media to feature establishment candidates such as Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and John Huntsman. But if any of them is actually elected, things will continue to run pretty much the same way that they did under Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
No matter who we seem to elect, not much seems to change. We could really use some fresh thinking in the White House, and yet the mainstream media continues to push establishment candidates into our faces.
The favoritism for Rick Perry and Mitt Romney has become so obvious that even Saturday Night Live is making jokes about the fact that none of the other candidates seem to have a shot at winning. You can see video of the Saturday Night Live spoof of the recent Republican debates right here.
No real votes are going to be cast for Republican candidates until next February. What would be the harm in giving each of the candidates an equal number of questions and a roughly equal amount of time to express their views?
I was deeply insulted by how Fox News, CNN and MSNBC handled the recent debates. It should be obvious to any thinking human being that Perry and Romney are being favored. Republican voters are being highly manipulated and it is disgusting.
How is it fair that Mitt Romney got 18.65% of the talking time in the last debate but Michele Bachmann only got only 9.54% of the talking time?
How is it fair that Rick Perry got 17.14% of the talking time in the last debate but Herman Cain only got 9.80% of the talking time?
How is it fair that Jon Huntsman got 11.79% of the talking time in the last debate but Ron Paul only got 6.98% of the talking time?
Even if you support Perry, Romney or Huntsman, you should still be in favor of fair and balanced debates.
Right now, the Republican Party is losing credibility because of these debates, the mainstream news media is losing credibility because of these debates and our entire political process is losing credibility because of these debates.
Is there anyone out there that is able to defend the shameful favoritism that is going on?
If so, please step up to the plate.
The International Monetary Fund may be hoping to increase its financial resources from $940 billion to at least $1.3 trillion, according to a newspaper report out Monday.
German daily the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said two “models” were currently being examined to up the IMF’s resources, without stating its source.
It follows comments on its lending capacity by managing director Christine Lagarde in an action plan released Saturday.
“Our lending capacity of almost $400 billion looks comfortable today but pales in comparison with the potential financing needs of vulnerable countries and crisis bystanders,” Lagarde said.
“It will be useful to discuss, soon, the needs and contingency options,” she added.
A November 2010 agreement doubled the permanent contributions, or quotas, of the IMF’s member states.
But before the quota reform can take effect, a sufficient number of national parliaments must ratify it. About 40 have done so, of the 113 needed.