1. Tech CEOs & Republican Leaders Met Last Weekend to
Plot to Stop Donald Trump
2. How About an Election Without Polls?
3. Civil Rights Activists
Say Encryption Is a Racial Justice
4. Our Democracy Under Serious Attack
5. Noam Chomsky: 2016 Election Puts US at Risk of "Utter
This is a Nederlog of Thursday, March 10,
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
is about a secret meeting of tech CEOs and Republican leaders who want
to stop Trump being the Republican presidential candidate (but none of
the secrets of the meeting are revealed); item 2 is
about elections without polls (I am against: polls are the only ways to
find out about electronic falsifications of voting); item
is about black civil rights activists, who concluded, quite correctly,
that American democracy is much endangered by the FBI's and the NSA's
secret attempts to gather all information about anyone, as if anyone is
a terrorist; item 4 is about an article that says
correctly that American democracy is under attack, but does so in the
context of a historical lesson that will not interest many (I think);
and item 5 is about a recent interview with Noam
Chomsky, who - correctly, in my view - says that the 2016 American
presidential elections are extremely important.
1. Tech CEOs & Republican Leaders Met Last Weekend to Plot
to Stop Donald Trump
first item is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!
This starts as follows:
As Donald Trump won three out of
four states on Tuesday, Republican efforts to derail his candidacy are
increasing. The Huffington Post has revealed leading establishment
Republican political figures met with top GOP
donors at a secretive meeting this past weekend at the American
Enterprise Institute’s annual World Forum on a private island resort
off the coast of Georgia. Attendees of the event included Apple CEO Tim Cook, Google co-founder Larry Page and
Facebook investor Sean Parker, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell, political operative Karl Rove and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
The main topic of the weekend retreat: How to stop Trump. We speak to
Nick Baumann, senior enterprise editor at The Huffington Post.
I say, for I did not know this. And I note
that the "top GOP
were invited as well. But who they are isn't said, and while Nick
Baumann does get inter- viewed (check out the last dotted link if you
care) he doesn't say much.
But Democray Now! also had been interviewing Cornel West
(<- Wikipedia), who did have a mostly reasonable reaction:
I think that is mostly correct, although I
also must say - perhaps because I am a European, with different ideas
about the various meanings of "socialism" - that it sounds a bit odd
to present Bernie Sanders, who has quite often said that he is
a "democratic socialist" as a "genuine populist", and to insist
that he is (bolding added) "not calling
for the nationalizing of industries" and "not calling for the curtailing of private property".
GONZÁLEZ: And I’d like to ask Cornel West, your reaction—we’ve
got about a minute and a half left—to this secretive meeting just this
past weekend of key members of the American ruling class about what to
do about this election?
WEST: I think it’s
embarrassing when you have a neofascist as the public face of your
major party, the Republican Party. But it’s a party that’s been captive
to big banks and big corporations. It’s been a party that has condoned
and permitted xenophobia against precious Mexicans, precious Muslims,
gays and lesbians, black people. And you have hawkish foreign policies.
When you get all three together, Trump is a culmination. He just
happens to have this narcissistic personality out of control, and the
media loves it, corporate media, because they make big money on it.
But the response can’t be milquetoast
neoliberal Hillary Clinton. She doesn’t have what it takes to deal with
the enthusiasm of a Donald Trump. You have to have the enthusiasm of a
genuine populist. And keep in mind, I’m a democratic socialist. My
brother Bernie, he’s a genuine populist. He’s not calling for the
nationalizing of industries. He’s not calling for the curtailing of
private property. He is a genuine populist. He can win.
Not to be misunderstood: I think Cornel West meant well, and that he
very probably spoke the truth. It merely sounds odd in my
European ears, and it does show one thing: It is far from clear
what "socialism" means. (The last
link is to an effort of myself, of last September.)
2. How About an Election Without Polls?
is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig:
This starts as
Sen. Bernie Sanders won the
Democratic presidential primary in Michigan, defeating Hillary Clinton
... and all the pollsters. Election statistician Nate Silver wrote that
Sanders’ Michigan victory “will count as among the greatest polling
errors in primary history.” Imagine if we had an election season
without polls. Instead, the energy, investigation and money should be
spent delving into candidates’ records, whether they’re a businessman
like Donald Trump or they’re politicians like Hillary Clinton or Bernie
Sanders. This will lead to a better informed, more engaged electorate.
I do not think this is a sensible
idea, and my reasoning is as follows: It is in fact very easy
to commit a major voter fraud in electronic elections, as pointed out
by various authors and as
reviewed in Nederlog. And the only way to find this out
(possibly) is because of differences between polls and votes.
Therefore I am for polling, though I agree with Goodman and
Moynihan that there are dangers in it as well.
Next, here are some statistics, which are quite revealing and also
It is astounding that Bernie
Sanders is where he is today. Look at the Tyndall Report’s summary of
Campaign 2016 coverage. Andrew Tyndall has offered an independent daily
analysis of the flagship evening news programs on CBS, NBC and ABC
since the late 1980s. For the calendar year 2015, Tyndall writes, these
networks produced more than 17 hours of reporting on the presidential
campaigns. That’s over 1,000 minutes of national broadcast television
airtime. Donald Trump received 327 minutes, or close to one-third of
all the campaign coverage.
Put in terms of percentages: Trump got 33% of
the "political broadcasts"; Clinton got 12%; Sanders got 2% - which is
"fair" compared to "ABC World News" which gave Sanders considerably
less than 1% of the time spend on Trump.
Bernie Sanders received just 20 minutes.
Hillary Clinton got 121 minutes of campaign coverage, six times the
amount Sanders received. In one striking example of the disparate
coverage, “ABC World News Tonight” aired 81 minutes of reports on
Donald Trump, compared with just 20 seconds for Sanders.
In fact, this is not fair at all, and shows how
Trump is by the American media.
If the above is interesting (and I think it is), so are the following
The Pew Research Center reports
that, in this year’s first 12 primaries, Republicans have turned out
17.3 percent of eligible voters, while Democrats have turned out 11.7
percent. These are record-high numbers, according to Pew, but consider
just how low they are: More than 82 percent of Republicans and more
than 88 percent of Democrats didn’t vote.
This means that - with these "record-high numbers" - 4 out of 5
Republicans did not vote, and 9 out of 10 Democrates did not
vote in these primaries.
And this is part of the reason (there are quite a few more) why
I am not interested in reviewing the very
many jpurnalistic "analyses" of these primaries: They try to predict
national outcomes on the basis of votes of 1 in 10 to 2 in 10 voters,
in specific states, which just seems nonsense to me.
3. Civil Rights Activists Say Encryption Is a Racial
third item is by Alexander Reed Kelly on
This starts as follows:
I say, which I do mostly because I think this
is quite evident. Indeed, I go considerably further: The civil
rights of minorities will be abused by spying
An association of racial justice
activists, including a founder of Black Lives Matter, published a letter claiming that the civil rights
of minorities could be abused if the FBI gains the power to force a
technology company such as Apple to undermine its users’ activities.
“One need only look to the days of J.
Edgar Hoover and wiretapping of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. to
recognize the FBI has not always respected the right to privacy for
groups it did not agree with,” the letter stated. The signatories
included arts and music nonprofit Beats, Rhymes & Relief, The
Center for Media Justice, The Gathering for Justice, Justice League
NYC, activist and writer Shaun King, and Opal Tometi, Black Lives
Matter co-founder and Black Alliance for Just Immigration executive
They argue that the FBI’s tactics
haven’t changed since the Hoover era. “Many of us, as civil rights
advocates, have become targets of government surveillance for no reason
beyond our advocacy or provision of social services for the
on their e-mails and sites, and very probably have been thus
quite a few years.
But I do agree with these "racial justice
activists". The article also quotes a
spokesperson for one of the signatories of the letter:
“Basically what people need to
understand is that to protect your first and fourth amendment rights in
the digital age, we need to update the law to the digital age,” Cyril
said. “Everything we do is online…encryption is necessary for a
Cyril is certainly right about encryption:
without it democracy is thoroughly dead, because the secret services
know everything about anyone, do so in secret, and can do whatever they
please, also in secret.
As to updating "the law to the digital age": I think the law, and
specifically the Fourth Amendment (<- Wikipedia), has been systematically and
intention- ally broken since the Patriot Act (<- Wikipedia) of 2001 by all American
governments since 2001.
What you first have to get, before "updating the law" - it seems to me - is a government that is willing to uphold the laws
as they stand. And the last four
governments have all refused to do so, and all did so on the
basis of bullshit and lies.
Our Democracy Under Serious Attack
The fourth item is by David Morris on
This starts as follows:
The founding fathers minced no
words about their distrust of the masses. Our first president, John
“Democracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy.” Our second president,
John Adams, insisted,
"Democracy is nothing more than mob rule.” Our third president, James
Madison, the Father of the Constitution declared, "Democracy is
the most vile form of government.”
I do not say "No" - but this was around the
when only a sufficiently rich part of the white male population could
vote, and blacks, women, and all other white males could not. And this
was then also the more or less normal situation.
Here is some more, from 24 years before 1800:
In 1776, the year he signed the
Declaration of Independence, John Adams presciently wrote
a fellow lawyer about the collateral damage that would result from
“attempting to alter the qualifications of voters. There will be no end
to it. New claims will arise. Women will demand the vote. Lads from 12
to 21 will think their rights not enough attended to, and every man who
has not a farthing, will demand an equal voice with any other, in all
acts of state. It tends to confound and destroy all distinctions, and
prostrate all ranks to one common level.”
Twohundred forty years onwards, women have
the vote; one is an adult at age 18; and in principle the poorest and
the richest have 1 vote each - BUT the very rich have been
allowed legally to spend any amount to get elected; ordinary
voters' ideas and ideals are hardly discussed in the media; and
while there is a formal kind of democracy, the practice
is that only the very rich or their lawyers have a real personal
say in the outcomes and have all the money to guarantee that they will
Unfortunately, it seems to me as if David Morris has turned over his
database, and tells the story of democracy in the USA from 1776 till the present day in - what
seems to me - excruciating detail.
You can read it by clicking the last dotted link, but while I agree
with the title of the article, and with the ending, that I will quote,
I do not think this history of the past sheds very much light on the
problems of the present.
But I - sort of - agree with the ending:
The Founding Fathers had an
elitist vision of governance that Americans in the 20th century
disavowed. But democracy is a fragile flower. Untended, its roots
wither. Recently we have not been good gardeners. Perhaps as a result,
democracy is now under siege. It is up to an engaged citizenry to honor
those who have given their lives over the last century to achieve
universal suffrage by protecting and expanding the franchise in the
face of concerted attacks by monied power.
5. Noam Chomsky: 2016 Election Puts US at Risk of "Utter
The fifth and last item today is by C.J.
Polychroniou on Truth-out:
based on an interview with Noam Chomsky. Here are a few bits from it,
and the first is about the importance of the 2016 presidential
Noam Chomsky: It cannot
be overlooked that we have arrived to a unique moment in human history.
For the first time, decisions have to be made right now that will
literally determine the prospects for decent human survival, and not in
the distant future. We have already made that decision for a huge
number of species. Species destruction is at the level of 65 million
years ago, the fifth extinction, ending the age of the dinosaurs. That
also opened the way for small mammals, ultimately us, a species with
unique capacities, including unfortunately the capacity for cold and
Yes, indeed. There is this on the
Republican and the Democratic candidates:
In general, the ideological positions of
the Republican candidates seem to be more of the usual: stuff the
pockets of the rich and kick the rest in the face. The two Democratic
candidates range from the New Deal-style of Sanders' programs to the
"New Democrat/moderate Republican" Clinton version, driven a bit to the
left under the impact of the Sanders challenge.
That seems correct to me. Chomsky also
agrees with the interviewer that Cruz and Rubio are in fact more
dangerous than Trump, but I will leave that to your interests.
Finally, here is Noam Chomsky on Bernie Sanders:
America's youth seems to be
captivated by Bernie Sanders' message. Are you surprised by how well he
is holding up?
I am surprised. I didn't anticipate the
success of his campaign. It is, however, important to bear in mind that
his policy proposals would not have surprised President Eisenhower, and
that they are pretty much in tune with popular sentiments over a long
period, often considerable majorities.
Yes, I agree - and it is both true and
quite ironic that many of Bernie Sanders proposals are like those of
the Republicans of the 1950ies (who also taxed the
rich at 90%, which did nothing to destroy the rich), and indeed
also "pretty much in tune with popular
sentiments over a long period".