April 20, 2016

Crisis: U.S. Elections, Clinton Wins *2, Guantánamo, Surveillance  State
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 Why Can’t The Nation and the Left Deal With Election

2. Clinton and Trump in a Landslide Victory in the New York
     State Primary

'There's No Place Like Home': Clinton and Trump
     Declared Primary Winners in New York

4. Still in the Bush Embrace: What Really Stands in the
     Way of Closing Guantánamo

The Surveillance State Should Be Targeted on Cows 

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, April 20, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a quite relevant possibility in the American elections: They may be falsified, and this can be done easily; item 2 is about the most recent outcome in the last American elections: Clinton and Trump won in New York; item 3 is the same topic as item 3 but by Common Dreams; item 4 is about Guantánamo, which is still not closed after Obama's 2009 promise he would close it (no, I don't believe Obama anymore); and item 5 is by a former British ambassador on the reality of the Western surveillance and security state.

Also, today is a somewhat sad day because Bernie Sanders did not win in New York. There are several possible reasons - it is difficult to vote in New York; who can vote was settled effectively half a year ago; these primaries may have been electronically stolen: see below - but that is the fact.

But it is less serious than his many fake supporters (in The Guardian, for example) say it is, as I will also explain.

1. Why Can’t The Nation and the Left Deal With Election Theft?

The first item is b
y Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman on Truthdig and originally on Reader Supported News:

This starts as follows and was selected yesterday by me, while it was published the day before yesterday. Besides, I wrote about this possibility before, namely here:

There are two things we all need to know about the upcoming 2016 election:

1. Millions of likely Democratic voters have already been stripped from the voter rolls in critical states like Ohio. The key reporting on this has been done by the great Greg Palast, who has shown that a computer program coordinated by the Republican secretary of state of Kansas is being used in some two dozen states to steal from a substantial percentage of the citizenry their right to vote. The raw numbers are high enough that they could have a significant impact on the presidential, US Senate, House and many other elections this fall. The ACLU has now sued Jon Husted, Ohio’s secretary of state, over the stripping of two million citizens from Ohio’s voter rolls.

2. There is no way to verify the official tally on the electronic machines on which the majority of Americans will vote this fall. Nearly all the machines are a decade old, most are controlled by a single company (ES&S, owned by Warren Buffett) and the courts have ruled that the software is proprietary, making the vote counts beyond public scrutiny. In fact, they are beyond all independent monitoring altogether. In many key swing states (including Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona) GOP governors and secretaries of state will have a free hand to flip the vote count to whatever they want it to be without detection or accountability. This could turn control of our government over to the GOP come November, as it did in 2000 and 2004.

Yes, indeed. Whether someone will engage in voter fraud in 2016 is another question, but I agree with the authors that some can do so rather easily, also with little chance of detection:

One additional reason why someone may try to falsify the outcomes is that the only more or less sound way to check the elections is to compare them with the outcomes of earlier polls. But this is not certain, and may be contested.

There is considerably more in the article, from which I will quote only one more bit that discusses the outcomes of some votes in the USA, that were somehow fixed:

About the elections of 2000 and 2004, we are way beyond conspiracy theory. That the voter rolls were stripped in numbers exceeding 90,000 throughout Florida 2000, and the vote count electronically flipped in Volusia County at the key moment, are simply beyond dispute. So is the reality that had the Supreme Court not stopped the recount, Gore would have won.

In Ohio 2004, it’s also beyond dispute that more than 300,000 voters were stripped from the registration rolls from mostly Democratic urban areas, and that the vote count was flipped by 6.7% from Kerry to Bush between 12:20 and 2 a.m. on machines in a basement in Chattanooga where the servers for Karl Rove and the Republican National Committee also resided. Thousands of Ohioans were deliberately robbed of their vote with the stripping of precincts and denial of voting machines and back-up paper ballots in African-American and student strongholds. In an election with an official victory margin of 118,775, more than 250,000 votes remain uncounted to this day.

So to answer a last question, as a psychologist: Is this paranoia? I'd say: Yes and no. Yes, in as much as the writers propose the possibility of a conspiracy theory. No, because the possibility is real, as demonstrated (I think, although
I agree that what's given is not a full proof).

The basic problem remains that while all of this is possible, one does not know enough about it.

But it seems this is the fact:

There is no way to verify the official tally on the electronic machines on which the majority of Americans will vote this fall. Nearly all the machines are a decade old, most are controlled by a single company (ES&S, owned by Warren Buffett) and the courts have ruled that the software is proprietary, making the vote counts beyond public scrutiny. In fact, they are beyond all independent monitoring altogether.

Congratulations, America?

2. Clinton and Trump in a Landslide Victory in the New York State Primary

The second item is
by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Despite all the heated campaigning in recent days, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump won New York’s delegate-rich primary Tuesday, breaking a weeks-long pattern where each party’s frontrunner was losing a string of states and delegates.

New York was called for Clinton who with 59 percent of precincts reporting had a 59 percent to 41 percent lead over Sanders. Trump, who was called the winner by the Associated Press, had 61 percent, compared to 24 percent for John Kasich and 14 percent for Ted Cruz with 49 percent of precincts reporting.

Their victories, which were called by the media soon after polls closed at nine, put them closer to snaring their parties’ nominations.

I say. See item 1 for one possible explanation, but then that is one among several alternative ones, the main one of which is that the results are mostly

And I take it as virtually certain that these results, or something like them, will be accepted.

There is also this, in - partial - explanation of Sanders' loss to Clinton:

But in the end it was probably the state Democratic Party’s unfriendly and unbending rules requiring pre-existing voters to reregister as party members a half-year before its presidential primary to vote in it—the nation’s longest pre-election deadline to do so—that blocked independents and last-minute voters from flocking to Sanders, who has won in eight of the last nine states. An estimated 20 percent of New York’s electorate was registered as independents. 

New York City also has a reputation for voter roll snafus and polling place bottlenecks, which also occurred Tuesday. The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which for years has run election protection hotlines staffed with attorneys and deployed poll monitors, called the city’s performance unusually bad.

And here is some more on the New York elections of presidential candidates:

3. 'There's No Place Like Home': Clinton and Trump Declared Primary Winners in New York

The third item is
by Common Dreams Staff on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

"There's no place like home," Hillary Clinton told New Yorkers on Tuesday night.

After losing eight of the last nine contests to rival Bernie Sanders, Clinton was able to finally claim a victory on Tuesday night by winning her adopted home state of New York.

Less than forty minutes after polls closed, major news outlets declared Clinton the winner of the state's Democratic primary.

With approximately 44 percent of the vote counted at around 9:45 PM ET, NBC News results showed Clinton leading rival Bernie Sanders by a 61 to 40 percent margin. By 11 PM, however, with closer to 90 percent of precincts reporting, the margin had narrowed to 57-43 split.

The above later results seem now to be 58-42, which is 16% difference.

Does this mean Bernie Sanders is defeated? By no means: he gets 104 delegates against Clinton's 135. A loss of 31 delegates, so to speak, but
there are lots more to win.

Here is some news from the Sanders campaign team, that is also quoted in the article (and the boldings are in the article - I don't know who made them):

When we started this campaign, we were down almost 50 points in New York — the state where Hillary Clinton was elected to two terms in the U.S. Senate.

We didn’t get the victory we had hoped for this evening, but what’s important is that it looks like we’re going to win a lot more delegates in New York than any state that voted or caucused before tonight.

So what does that mean? Five important states vote one week from tonight, with more delegates at stake than Hillary Clinton led by coming into tonight. And if we do well next Tuesday, we remain in a position to take the pledged delegate lead when almost 700 delegates are up for grabs on June 7.

So no: The Sanders campaign is far from dead, and the election of the presidential candidate is not at all over and done with.

And this is a recommended article. I change theme:

4. Still in the Bush Embrace: What Really Stands in the Way of Closing Guantánamo

The fourth item i
s by Karen Greenberg (<- Wikipedia) on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows (in a fairly long, interesting article):

Can you believe it?  We’re in the last year of the presidency of the man who, on his first day in the Oval Office, swore that he would close Guantánamo, and yet it and everything it represents remains part of our all-American world. So many years later, you can still read news reports on the ongoing nightmares of that grim prison, ranging from detention without charge to hunger strikes and force feeding. Its name still echoes through the halls of Congress in bitter debate over what should or shouldn’t be done with it. It remains a global symbol of the worst America has to offer.

In case, despite the odds, it should be closed in this presidency, Donald Trump has already sworn to reopen it and “load it up with bad dudes,” while Ted Cruz has warned against returning the naval base on which it’s located to the Cubans.  In short, that prison continues to haunt us like an evil spirit.
As I have said before, I may have followed Guantánamo a bit better than others, because my father and grandfather were convicted as "political terrorists" by the Nazis, in WW II, and locked up in concentration camps, which my grandfather did not survive.

So I was quite glad that Obama "
swore that he would close Guantánamo", and quite disappointed when it turned out - over half a year later, and ever since -
that he did not.

Here is what Obama did to close Guantánamo since 2009 (according to Karen Greenfeld, but this also is the evidence of many others):

Whatever the reduction in numbers, however, the camp stands essentially as it did under Bush, a monument to bad memories. It still has dozens of individuals locked away in a grim state of hopelessness, some cleared for release but doubting their transfers will ever occur, others having given up entirely and on hunger strikes -- essentially trying to commit suicide.

This is about the costs to the U.S. taxpayers:
It’s worth noting that U.S. taxpayers continue to ante up a pretty penny to maintain Gitmo and its shrinking group of inmates in its present state.  The cost to keep a detainee there in 2015 is estimated at between $3.7 million and $4.2 million a year.
I suppose nearly all is for paying their captors, but OK. And here is the last bit that I shall quote, on what may be called the legal yield of Guantánamo:
All these years later, only eight prisoners have been convicted under the commissions that were suspended and then revived by Obama.  Three of them, convicted before he took office, have since had their charges vacated or overturned.

That is - see: Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp (<-Wikipedia) - 5 out of 779. That is 0.0064 i.e. slightly over 6/1000. In 14 years. And 8 out 779 died imprisoned.

5. The Surveillance State Should Be Targeted on Cows

The fifth and last item is by Craig Murray (<- Wikipedia) on Washington's Blog:

This starts as follows

British citizens are now watched by Big Brother more closely than any other people in the world. All activity by British people on the web or on the phone is now monitored and stored. The British government employs more secret police – GCHQ, MI5, MI6 and SO15 – per head of population than Russia. Let me repeat that. The British have more secret police per head of population than Russia. British people are watched on closed circuit television more often than any other people in the world. Under the Prevent programme, “radicals” like me can only speak in universities under monitoring so intense and conditions so onerous that organisers give up, as I can personally witness.

The Prevent strategy provides for informants in every governmental institution who report any expressions of dissent. The UK has effective levels of surveillance – and a far higher volume of intelligence reports on their own citizens – than were ever achieved by the Stasi in Eastern Germany.

But of course, it is all “essential” to protect the citizens from the “threat” of Islamic terrorism, which is a fundamental threat to our existence, right?

So how big a threat is Islamic terrorism?

Since 2000, 57 people have been killed in the UK by Islamic terrorism.
Since 2000, 74 people have been killed in the UK by cattle.
So cows are actually a more potent threat to our personal society that terrorism.

Quite so.

Let me first point out that I have suspected and said this would happen since 2005 (in Dutch: Oct 29, 2005) and in more theoretical detail in 2012, before knowing anything about Edward Snowden, here, and in possibly somewhat shortened and improved form here, in 2014.

Second, let me point out that if the above quotation is correct, which I think it is, it is a mere matter of logic to conclude that if the Soviet Union was a police state, so is the current Great Britain, simply because it has more secret police than the Soviet Union, while they have a far higher amount of (secret) intelligence reports on their citizens than the Soviets' secret police had on Soviet citizens.

I say: QED - but I agree that the appearances in Great Britain differ from those in the Soviet Union.

Here are three differences that apply or may apply:

1. Great Britain has a quite different political history, legal system, electionary system, laws and general history than the Soviet Union had, and the differences
make considerable practical difference;
2. In Great Britain it is still possible to turn back much of "the surveilling"
(it seems, but not under the current government); and
3. there also is inverse totalitarianism: While there is surveillance that is as deep or deeper than it was in totalitarian states like Hitler's Germany or Stalin's
Soviet Union, explicit terror, explicit policing, and explicit totalitarianism are off.

I agree the last point is the least certain, but for considerably more see here and here - and both last linked items are fairly thorough discussions of the concept of inverted totalitarianism.

Next, one of the things some readers may have objected to are the chances over the last fifteen years of being killed by a cow as compared with being killed by a terrorist (as inhabitant of Great Britain). Here is some more serious evidence (although I think the cows are good evidence too):

Or more seriously – since 2000, 15,612 people have been murdered in the UK. Of whom only 57 were murdered by terrorists. You have in fact almost a 300 times greater chance of being murdered by someone else than by a terrorist. Indeed you have over 200 times a greater chance of being murdered by your partner, a family member or a close friend, than a terrorist.

The surveillance state has fundamentally changed society in response to a “threat” which is statistically miniscule.

It has greatly increased the power of the state, at a time when the state is both facilitating and protecting the greatest growth in wealth inequality in human history.

That is not a coincidence.

I completely agree - and did so already in 2005. And I don't think it is "a coincidence": I think it was planned that way, and I think, also already since 2005 or before, that "terrorism" was always the pretext for the surveillance
of everyone, even though that involved the surrection of a police state, and is
strongly authoritarian and very anti-democratic, both in principle and in practice.

It simply was a grab for absolute power, by the very rich, by their teams of lawyers, and by their heavily paid supporters, many of whom are (now) politicians, and that still is going on, and so far (!) also still in the context of some classical freedoms and rights that were never present or legal in the Soviet Union.

It may still be stopped, but the longer it lasts - and it lasts now since 2002, at least - the more difficult it is to stop it.

And this is a fine article that is strongly recommended.


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