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Nederlog

 February 12, 2016

Crisis: Superdelegates, Obama's Changes, Cell Phones, TTIP, Democracy
Sections                                                                     crisis index    
Introduction   

1. 
Clinton, Sanders and Unelected Superdelegates
2. Obama Plans More Wars
3. 
NYPD Used Cell Phone Spying Tools Over 1,000 Times
     Since 2008

4. On the TTP/TTIP/TiSA
5.
Democracy in Peril: Twenty Years of Media
     Consolidation Under the Telecommunications Act

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, February 12, 2016.


This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 7 dotted links: Item 1 is about how the unelected superdelegates that the "Democratic Party" in the USA uses since the early 1980ies to select its presidential candidates (!) may keep Bernie Sanders from winning the candicacy; item 2 is about the enormous sums the candidate of "Change!", "Change!", "Change!" is planning to give to the Pentagon to further the many USA wars; item 3 is about the very many liberties the NYPD takes in order to read anything anybody says on his smartphone, which shows the future - the police + secret services know far more about you (whoever you are) than you do - if the NSA is not radically tamed; item 4 is about the neo-fascistic means by which the neo-fascistic TTIP is protected in Germany (and elsewhere) (but I know I am one of the few who warns in these terms [2]); and item 5 is a good article about Bill Clinton's very many deregulations that only served the very rich.

1. Clinton, Sanders and Unelected Superdelegates

This first
item is based on two articles [1]:

This is from the first of the above two items, and is its start:
With Bernie Sanders’ double-digit victory over Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary and near tie with her in last week’s Iowa caucuses, it would seem that the race for the Democratic nomination would be neck and neck. But that is not the case. In New Hampshire, Sanders trounced Clinton 60 to 38 percent—but they split the delegates evenly thanks to unelected superdelegates siding with the former secretary of state. Overall, Clinton sits far ahead of Sanders when you factor in these superdelegates—the congressmen, senators, governors and other elected officials who often represent the Democratic Party elite.
There is - both in this and the other above-mentioned article - more on the "unelected superdelegates" (bolding added), which I will only briefly indicate here:

These were introduced in the early 1980ies in the Democratic Party in an attempt to control the outcomes of elections, and to try to stop undesirable candidates, like Bernie Sanders is at present. These
"unelected superdelegates" (bolding added) are unique to the Democratic (!) Party.

This is from the first article and sketches the powers of these
"unelected superdelegates" (bolding added):
Nermeen Shaikh: Overall, Clinton sits far ahead of Sanders when you factor in these superdelegates—the congressmen, senators, governors and other elected officials who often represent the Democratic Party elite. Because superdelegates are free to support any candidate, independent of election results, they are often wooed by and align with candidates very early in the campaign season. As early as August of last year, months before the first ballot would be cast, the Clinton campaign had reported a superdelegate count of more than 400 out of an available 712.
Why the Democratic Party would want any genuinely democratic election of its presidential candidates remains somewhat obscure, until you realize that the
United States passes for "a democracy", as does the "Democratic Party".

This is from the second article:

Sanders, on the other hand, is losing the superdelegate race by a catastrophic amount. Party elites who have announced who they are supporting have almost universally broken towards Clinton’s camp. A recent unofficial count put Clinton’s advantage at a staggering 355-14. And given how Sanders falls well outside the establishment compared to Obama in 2008, it’s hard to see how he can gain a significant number to make up for Clinton’s lead – meaning it’s more likely that superdelegates would at least want to tip the scales in favor of Clinton, even if he ends up winning more primaries.
That seems - apart from all pretended "democray" - a fair expectation. There is one proviso:
The important thing to know here is that Superdelegates are merely pledged to a candidate. We know who they support because they’ve stated it publicly, or been asked by journalists. They are not committed, and can change at any time. If Bernie Sanders wins the popular vote, he will be the nominee. End of story.
Well... yes... perhaps, is my reaction (for I do not believe in the genuine "democracy" of the Democratic Party). I take it the last quotation may be correct if Bernie Sanders wins by a large difference, all over the USA.

Otherwise, it may be the
"unelected superdelegates" (bolding added) who will decide who will be the Democratic Party's presidential candidate.

There is considerably more in either article.

2. Obama Wants More Wars

The second item is also based on two articles [1]:
This is from the first article:
Recently, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter previewed the proposed new Pentagon budget for 2017, and one thing is evident: war is in the money. The Obama administration wants to double the funding for the war against the Islamic State to $7 billion, money to be ponied up by a Congress that refuses to declare war on the Islamic State.

At the same time, the proposed budget calls for a quadrupling to $3.4 billion of what might be considered next-war funding. Think of it as financing for a prospective future European face-off against Vladimir Putin & Co. Yes, Russia, a rickety energy state facing plunging oil prices and rising discontent, turns out, according to Carter, to be America’s latest looming enemy du jour. The defense secretary is planning to use that $3.4 billion to “stockpile heavy weapons, armored vehicles, and other military equipment” across Central and Eastern Europe, station “a full armored combat brigade” (4,000 or more troops) in the region, and “construct or refurbish maintenance facilities, airfields, and training ranges in seven European countries: Bulgaria, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.” (All of them, except half of Germany, were once part of the Soviet bloc.)

This is from the "Change!", "Change!", "Change!" president ("Yes we can!", "Yes we can"!).

The rest of the analysis is from the second article, that asks a quite pertinent question that is never raised and never answered: Does any of the presidential candidates even know what is the percentage of the present budget military spending?

Here are some of the answers:

Why is this topic, although seemingly central, scrupulously avoided?

  • The candidates all, more or less, agree.
  • None of the candidates brings it up.
  • Nobody in Congress, not even the “progressive” caucus, brings it up.
  • Nobody in the corporate media brings it up.
  • The corporate media outlets see war profiteers as customers who buy ads.
  • The corporate media outlets see war profiteers in the mirror as parts of their corporate families.
  • The fact that the military costs money conflicts with the basic premise of U.S. politics which is that one party wants to spend money on socialistic nonsense while the other party wants to stop spending money and build a bigger military.

Those seem like the obvious answers, but here’s another. While you’re being entertained by the election, President Obama is proposing a bigger military than ever. Not only is U.S. military spending extremely high by historical standards, but looking at the biggest piece of military spending, which is the budget of the Department of so-called Defense, that department’s annual “Green Book” makes clear that it has seen higher spending under President Barack Obama than ever before in history.

I may be repeating myself, but this is the candidate who promised "Change!", "Change!", "Change!", "Change!", and who got elected on that promise.

Well, here are some of the changes he recently proposed:

When it comes to nuclear weapons, Obama wants to increase spending, but when it comes to other miscellaneous extras for the military, he also wants to increase that. Military retirement spending, on the other hand, he’d like to see go up, while the Veterans Administration spending he proposes to raise. Money for fueling ISIS by fighting it, Obama wants raised by 50%. On increasing hostility with Russia through a military buildup on its border, Obama wants a 400% spending boost. In one analysis, military spending would jump from $997.2 billion this year to $1.04 trillion next year under this proposal.

That’s a bit awkward, considering the shade it throws on any piddly little project that does make it into election debates and reporting. The smallest fraction of military spending could pay for the major projects that Senator Bernie Sanders will be endlessly attacked for proposing to raise taxes for.

There is more in either article.

3. NYPD Used Cell Phone Spying Tools Over 1,000 Times Since 2008

The third item is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This is from the beginning, and sketches part of the future if the NSA is allowed to continue as it has been doing since 2001, at least in my opinion:

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has used the covert cell phone spying devices known as Stingrays more than 1,000 times since 2008, including for the investigation of low-level crimes and typically without a warrant, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) revealed on Thursday.

"If carrying a cell phone means being exposed to military grade surveillance equipment, then the privacy of nearly all New Yorkers is at risk," said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU executive director. "Considering the NYPD's troubling history of surveilling innocent people, it must at the very least establish strict privacy policies and obtain warrants prior to using intrusive equipment like Stingrays that can track people's cell phones."
(...)
In addition, the department confirmed that it has no written policy for the devices, but that its practice is to obtain a pen register order—which requires a lower standard of probable cause to collect phone data than a warrant—prior to using them.

Stingrays operate by mimicking cell phone towers, tricking nearby cell phones into connecting with them, which allows police to pinpoint users' locations, collect phone numbers that a user has been calling or text messaging, and even intercept the contents of their communications. Civil rights groups have criticized the controversial technology for what they say are invasive and unconstitutional methods.

That is: Everybody counts as a suspect of anything; anybody's private communications are stolen as a matter of course, with hardly any checks and no guarantees of any kind; the police and the secret services know far more of your own life and past ideas and values than you do; and everybody who is not a leading politician (or a movie star), nor in the secret services or the police is - at the very best - a secondary "citizen" who only deserves to be listened to in secret, in order to decide whether he or she will be arrested.

4. On the  TTP/TTIP/TiSA

The fourth item is by Lambert Strether on Naked Capitalism:

This is only a small part in much larger sum-up of quite a few different things.

It is about the TTIP and the great inferiority of any elected parliamentarian to the neo-fascistic lawyers of the multi-national corporations who are trying to lay down neo-fascism on everyone (you may disagree, but this is how I see it, and that is completely in line with everything I know about fascism and neo- fascism) [2].

As you may know, the TTIP until very briefly ago was a completely hidden "law", which it was because it desires to end most of the powers of any national government, of any elected national parliament, and of any national judiciary, and it does so by giving these powers to lawyers who act for the multi-national corporations, both as lawyers and as judges, to pronounce on the issue whether any of these national elected institutions did anything to lower the expected profits of the multi-national corporations, and if it does, to convict all of the inhabitants of the nation to pay hundreds of millions or billions to the multi-national corporations from the national taxes, also mostly in secret, and without any appeal.

Very briefly ago parts of the TTIP were "opened", but not to the public, whose human and national rights are threatened, and who have to pay all the billions that the multi-national corporations are going to demand, but only to selected
parliamentarians, who all must approach this fascistic creature as if it were the Holy Writ: They may not take any notes, and must be superfast readers, and
some who did so also found that the TTIP they saw was full of very many elementary spelling mistakes.

And here I take up the story and quote:

Techdirt comments:

She is doubtless right that these errors are fairly unsubtle attempts to create unique copies so that any leaks can be traced back to their source, since visitors to the reading room are directed to a particular computer when reading the text.

This is to guarantee the lawyers of the multi-national corporations the means to prosecute any parliamentarian who spoke up about what they may have read to those who elected them (and who will have to pay the fines imposed by the
lawyers of the multi-national corporations if these do not realize their expected
profits).

And this is not all, and not by far:

And here are the obstacles:

Even though this reading room for German politicians has finally been opened — two and a half years after the TAFTA/TTIP negotiations began — numerous obstacles are placed in their way to make that opportunity as inconvenient as possible. First, the texts are only available in English — imagine if US politicians were only allowed to read the French version of the negotiating texts. Moreover, the German visitors to the room are completely on their own: they cannot take even security-cleared specialists with them in order to decode the highly-abstruse wording of the documents. Finally, as Kipping notes above, she had just two hours to get through 300 pages — roughly 24 seconds per page.

It’s almost as if the very text of the law itself has been privatized…

I disagree with the last sentence: It is fully as if the very text of the "law" has both been privatized and made virtually impossible to read by any elected representative. (No one can read legal prose, in a foreign language, at a rate of 24 seconds per page.)

Well, I say it again: The TTIP is a neo-fascistic law, that is pushed through by neo-fascistic means, in order to be the foundation of a neo-fascistic multi-national "state" where everything will be for the very rich only, where everybody who is not very rich will be fully known to the secret services, to a very much larger extent than he or she recalls, and where anybody who may constitute any risk to the very rich will be removed by the secret services
(without anybody knowing, apart from direct family, who again will be served
"legal commands" not to say anyrhing to anyone).

That is what I expect, and that is what I see happening, indeed all with the tacit consent of most politicians.

But hey! You do not need to worry if your IQ is below 115 and you are decently
well-behaved!!

Also, these imminent enormous political changes certainly will not be called for what they are, once it has gotten passed by the European politicians. They are quite capable of calling it a super-democracy because no one will ask any improper question anymore, while the former "leftists" who "progressed" to "political correctness" (already in the nineties) as their only "political demand" may even like it a lot!

No one will ever be capable of saying anything improper, for everyone will be prosecuted who does, and everyone is fully known by the secret services. Politically Correct Bliss!

So really the future is very rosy, and it is only a few people like me - whose grandfather was murdered by the Nazis, and whose father spent over 3 years
and 9 months as a political prisoner in German concentration camps - who
protest, no doubt because they fear for their "freedoms". [2]

5. Democracy in Peril: Twenty Years of Media Consolidation Under the Telecommunications Act

The fifth and last item for today is by Michel Corcoran on Truth-out:

This is from near the beginning of the article:
Twenty years ago this week, President Bill Clinton signed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The act, signed into law on February 8, 1996, was "essentially bought and paid for by corporate media lobbies," as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) described it, and radically "opened the floodgates on mergers."

The negative impact of the law cannot be overstated. The law, which was the first major reform of telecommunications policy since 1934, according to media scholar Robert McChesney, "is widely considered to be one of the three or four most important federal laws of this generation." The act dramatically reduced important Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations on cross ownership, and allowed giant corporations to buy up thousands of media outlets across the country, increasing their monopoly on the flow of information in the United States and around the world.
In fact, this was one of the many deregulatory decisions Bill Clinton made, all of which only served the very rich and their interests (and for which he got well paid after finishing his presidency: $130 million - at least - for a few speeches).

Here is part of what Clinton wrought for the very rich:
Twenty years later the devastating impact of the legislation is undeniable: About 90 percent of the country's major media companies are owned by six corporations. Bill Clinton's legacy in empowering the consolidation of corporate media is right up there with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and welfare reform, as being among the most tragic and destructive policies of his administration.
And the deregulations, not to forget, including the deregulations of the big banks, of which there now also are some six that own most and who are free to do whatever they please, regardless of the law, "because they are too big to fail".

There is a lot more in the article, which is recommended.

---------------
Notes

[1] In fact, this is somewhat of an innovation in the crisis series: Several sources in a section, with a title I made up rather than that I copied it from an article I was reviewing. And I do not name the journalists anymore, when I am using several articles as my source.

I do not think the innovation is large, and in any case it is mostly caused by the endless amounts of "reflections" by endless amounts of journalists who really have not much to say, but repeat it after each election, which means that in some of the sites I check every day there may be as many as 7 articles by 7 journalists who all review the same election, which again is one of many similar elections, while few have anything much to say that is new or original.

[2] I am sorry if my terminology inconveniences you, but I am one of the relatively few who still believes in truth and in ethics, and part of the reasons for my own opinions are that my grandfather was murdered by the Nazis; my father survived more than 3 years and 9 months of German concentration camps as a communist; my mother was in the real communist resistance, and that I was called "a dirty fascist" a mere 12 years by the Stalinist members of the ASVA in the University of Amsterdam because I was not a Marxist (most of the members of the ASVA were pseudo-marxists with rich parents: mine were very poor revolutionary honest communists whom I liked a lot but disagreed with) and because I had the temerity to believe in truth and in science (in a university!!) in which none of the members of the ASVA I saw or heard believed in: They all disbelieved in science ("capitalist") and in truth ("everybody knows truth does not exist").

Then again, I am one of the extremely few with such a revolutionary background, and one of the few who knows a lot about both politics and science, so you have to excuse me if you are inconveniened in any way in your opinions: I am deeply sorry that I still can think and publish.


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