May 1, 2016

Crisis: Clinton, Trump, Clinton vs Sanders, On Trump and Clinton
Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Is Hillary Clinton Stealing the Nomination? Will Bernie
     Sanders Spawn a Long-Term Movement?

2. Donald Trump, the Emperor of Social Media
3. Tuesday Night Massacre: The Looming Trump v. Clinton

A reply to Chris

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, May 1, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. It is a sunday, and there weren't that many crisis files. I give the four I found that I want to review, which - as it happens - are all about Trump and Clinton. At least these allow me to clarify my views on both.

There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about Sanders and the possibi- lity that the American elections will be determined by fraud: I think the chance is real, but can probably not be decided; item 2 is about Trump as master of social media, and seems well-intentioned but a bit mistaken; item 3 is about the horrors some feel when contemplating presidential elections between Clinton and Trump (and this is a good article); and item 4 is about why the non-stupid non-fanatics will vote for Clinton rather than for a candidate who probably is a whole lot better, but who cannot win: Because the Republicans are dangers to democracy and freedom.

1. Is Hillary Clinton Stealing the Nomination? Will Bernie Sanders Spawn a Long-Term Movement?

The first item is
by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman on Truthdig and originally on Reader Supported News:
This starts as follows:

At this delicate moment in the primary season, we all need to take a deep breath and evaluate what comes next.

Bernie Sanders has a mathematical chance to win. But Hillary seems the likely Democratic nominee.

Donald Trump has an army of delegates. But if he doesn’t win on the first ballot, Paul Ryan could be the Republican nominee.
Key is the stripping of our voter rolls. Millions of Democrats have already been disenfranchised. In a close race, that could make the difference.

Also key is the flipping of the electronic vote count, which few on the left seem to be willing to face in all its depressing finality.

In fact, I have now several times written about articles by Fitrakis and Wasserman, namely here and here, and it was both times about the possibility that the American elections may be stolen.

The present article is in part the same, and is in part about the Greennes of Fitrakis and Wasserman. I think they are partially mistaken and rather idealistic, but I do take their arguments seriously:

As Greens, we believe this election’s most critical imperative is that Bernie convert the HUGE upwelling of mostly young grassroots discontent he has ignited into a long-term multi-issue movement. His success won’t be measured by whether he wins the nomination or presidency.
I didn't know Fitrakis and Wasserman are Greens. I am not (I am merely a radical leftist social liberal with strong environmental interests and little environmental hope until things really turn bad, like a flooding of New York)
and also being "Green" in the USA differs considerably form being "Green" in Europe, but I don't hold this against them.

Then again, I must admit (as I also explained yesterday, briefly) that I do not expect much from a leftist movement that is led by Bernie Sanders if he has not won the presidential candidacy.

You may think I am too pessimistic, which I admit I am (pessimistic, that is), but then I have nearly 66 years of mostly disappointing political outcomes (from my point of view) and Bernie Sanders also is 74, while the electorate that is willing to vote for him has rather large differences in policies, orientations and political assumptions. (I hope I am mistaken, but this is what I think.)

Then there is this on the American voting procedures:

Along the way there’s the collapse of our electoral system. From Jimmy Carter to Harvard to the UN and so many others who’ve studied it, it’s patently obvious the mechanisms by which we conduct elections in this country are ridiculously decrepit and corrupt.

As a partial solution, we’ve concocted the “Ohio Plan,” which demands: universal automatic voter registration at age 18; a four-day national holiday for voting; voter ID based on a signature that matches the registration form with stiff felony penalties for cheating; universal hand-counted paper ballots.

We also want money out of politics, public-funded campaigns, an end to gerrymandering, and abolition of the Electoral College.

I agree on the diagnosis of the American electoral system (and am - by far - not the only one to do so, as is also indicated).

As to the "Ohio Plan": I agree in principle, but I insist that these principles, as things stand now, certainly will not be followed in the coming elections, and are therefore mostly idealistic solutions that may work but will not be practised now, and that also require considerable political changes to be practised eventually, if ever.

Then there is this on electronic voter fraud (with more
here and here):

But the electronic flipping of the alleged vote count remains a demon black box. The 2000 election was turned from Gore to Bush by electronic manipulations in Volusia County, Florida. The 2004 election was turned from Kerry to Bush in a Chattanooga basement which transformed a 4.2% Democratic lead into a 2.5% GOP victory in 90 dark minutes.

All that could happen again in 2016.

As I have said before: I do not know enough about their examples to confidently pronounce on them, but I do know more than enough of programming (I know at least 6 languages fairly to very well) to know that
what they say is quite possible.

They have a longer discussion of their ideas, and meet some criticisms. I merely select this from the discussion:

The bottom line is this: there is no viable method for monitoring or verifying the electronic vote count in 2016. In a close race, which we expect this fall, the outcome could be flipped in key swing states where GOP governors and secretaries of state are running the elections. This includes most notably Ohio, Michigan, Iowa and Arizona, plus North Carolina and Florida (where the situations are slightly different).

Steve has called this “a stretch.” He and Josh seem to dismiss the assertion that an election can be electronically stolen as “conspiracy theory,” apparently based on the idea that such thefts would become obvious fodder for an infuriated media and public outrage.

I agree with the first paragraph: Yes, that is entirely possible, and yes that could be done with a few lines of programming code in a small program, that also can be completely deleted after being used. And no, they are quite right that "there is no viable method for monitoring or verifying the electronic vote count in 2016".

And I do not know about the probability that this may happen, but I completely disagree with people who deny the possibility on the basis of the - troll like - argument that this is "a conspiracy theory": No, it is not, for they are right it
can be done, and can be done easily, and also that you do not need a lot of
evidence about dark and uncertain things to know this: all you need is some
programming ability.

So overall I think it is quite possible that the coming presidential elections may be stolen, and if so, it is quite unlikely to be found out. And I do not know enough to pronounce confidently on the possibility with any rational probability.

2. Donald Trump, the Emperor of Social Media

The second item is
by Neal Gabler on Common Dreams and originally on BillMoyers.com:

This starts as follows:

By now I must be at least the millionth commentator to observe that Donald Trump is the candidate for whom social media have longed. What FDR was to radio and JFK to television, Trump is to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, et al.

This is usually taken to mean that Trump, like some political McLuhan, is a mastermind who understands social media the way his forebears understood their media. But I suspect that with him, it may be less a matter of his brilliance or even his intuition than of the accidental match of personality with medium.

As to "social media" (that are better called: asocial media, but OK):

It so happens that I have a computer since 1987 and internet since 1996 but I detest "Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, et al.", and for a very simple reason: I am too intelligent for these programs for people who are too dumb or too lazy to write their own sites, or to utter upon anything in more than 2 or 3 sentences. Also, I am a real intellectual, and I simply don't fit in with most of the normal users of these services, who are in great majority not real intellectuals. [1]

Incidentally, not everyone on Twitter or Facebook is unintelligent, but Twitter only allows slogans and allows trolls, and is therefore totally out for me, while
Facebook is a data-miner, which I detest very much as extremely dishonest, and is therefore also completely out for me.

As to Trump: He is definitely neither a mastermind nor brilliant, and anyone who thinks so must be rather stupid, at least. And Neal Gabler is right that his present success is mostly accidental, and would have been right if he added that Trump profits a lot from many stupid and ignorant rightwingers.

There is this on Trump:

(...) Trump is the “decontexualizer-in-chief” operating in a medium that likewise is about cutting the world into bits that don’t necessarily accrete into anything sensical.

Books have been written about the impact of social media on our electoral process, and decontextualization usually isn’t high on the list of transformations, in part because fragmentation isn’t usually high on the list of properties that inhere to social media. Those properties, as I see them, are instantaneity, anonymity, democratization, authenticity and yes, fragmentation, and they lead, in their various ways, to a variety of consequences.

Yes and no. First, Trump is fairly stupid (by my academic criterions [2]) and indeed he "decontextualizes", so to speak, though I don't like that term.

First then, what is "rational contextualization"? It is the provision of possible rational explanations, rational theories, and rational evidence to try to - possibly - account for the facts one saw or assumes. Those who can do this best are as a rule scientists, with degrees and a finished academic education, who also know that few things are definitely and forever settled, so about most things alternative eplanations are possible, but in principle anybody who is fairly intelligent can contribute - and mind you, I inserted the "rational" to exclude other types of contextualization.

And second, I don't think Trump is the “decontexualizer-in-chief”: It is true he presents almost anything without any rational explanations, and as if his prejudgments are THE truth, but then he is allowed to do so by an enormous
group of people who may vote, but who have few rational ideas, and don't know enough about science or most other things to be able to distinguish confidentially which ideas and values make rational sense, and which do not. And in fact it is
these large groups of dumboes
- sorry, that is what you are, and indeed not necessarily because you are dumb but because you are ignorant and strongly moved by wishful thinking - that will elect Trump, if that happens, and that therefore are quite dangerous.

Third, as to "decontextualizing", " instantaneity", "anonymity", "democrati- zation", "authenticity" and "fragmentation". To start with, I dislike these long latinate metaphors, that for me connotes an audience of doctors of sociology insisting on metaphors with long, unclear, latinate, metaphorical names.

Here are my alternatives: "stupidity", "no waiting", "no real names", "forced equality", "lying" and "stupidity" again, for the above list of latinate terms.

My reasons are that both "decontextualizing" and "fragmentation" are long names for consequences of simple stupidity; "democratization" on the internet
tends to be based on the totalitarian demand that everybody is equal, which is
just a stinking lie that serves the large majority of the stupid and the ignorant;
and all "authenticity" by trolls is merely sick, sadistic scolding (and beyond that there is extremely little on the internet that is authentic in any real sense, in
part because everything is calculated and nothing is spontaneous as in a real face-to-face meeting).

Then there is this:

We all know that social media can facilitate bullies and fortify the weak and cowardly, which can be mistaken for the authenticity of speaking your mind. Again, enter Donald Trump.

When you think of democratization on social media, you think of that collective action I referenced above. But social media – in fact, the Internet generally – have also recalibrated our focus by democratizing information; not the access to it, but the lack of discrimination among bits of information. The Internet is a great disinformation machine where anyone can say anything.

Yes and no: Yes, something like this is the case, but not - in my opinion - quite as stated.

First, "social media" are not social (you don't meet real people there: you only meet edited pieces of text and edited pictures, all of which are designed to evoke certain responses), and they are not "authentic", especially not if  anonymous, for then anyone can scold or damn you without you knowing anything about who did it but their alias.

Second, I do not speak of "democratization on social media", for it appears to me much more stupification - the rule of the dumbest - on asocial media, that
hang together by sick over-the-top praise, and sick over-the-top damnations, both done by stupid aliases who are too cowardly and too cruel to give their real names.

Third, it is not so much the internet which is the problem (there is a lot of more or less rational, scientific and mathematical information on it), but the enormous masses of completely stupid, totally unreasonable, wholly anonymous idiots, assholes, sadists, and nincompoops who are the trouble, and who will remain a major problem until their real names and addresses can be found, and not just in secret by the NSA. [3]

The article ends as follows:

Above all else, Donald Trump is the candidate of impulse running against candidates of calculation. He is the king of the one-liner, the insult, the proudly politically incorrect slur. And that is a central reason why disaffected Republicans have rallied to him. He is nothing but bites.

All of which makes Trump not just a more outrageous and blustering candidate than the ones to whom we are accustomed. It makes him an epistemologically different kind of candidate – one who challenges the very basis of our politics. He doesn’t have to make sense. He doesn’t have to provide a program or a vision. All he needs are his zingers, so long as they are no more than 140-characters. Twitter can do that to you. And now we are getting a taste of what it can do to our political discourse.

Again yes and no, but here mostly no: Donald Trump, for all his badness, racism, stupidities, inanities, cruelties, slurs and bullshit would not bother anyone if only there were not tens of millions of Americans who lack the brain capacity or lack the education to see through his badness, racism, stupidities, inanities, cruelties, slurs and bullshit.

The problem is not so much Trump, although I agree he is bad and dangerous: the problem is the large stupid and ignorant audience that admires him and that
even may elect him as president.

3. Tuesday Night Massacre: The Looming Trump v. Clinton Debacle

The third item is
y William Rivers Pitt on Truth-out

This starts as follows:

The surrealist painting that is this election season came into grim focus last night as the two big-money front-runners blew the doors off their respective rivals and came many steps closer to giving the "news" media the general election race they've been craving. Donald Trump won everything by margins so wide you could sail an aircraft carrier through them. Hillary Clinton took four out of five contests, with Bernie Sanders picking up Rhode Island. It was near-comprehensive domination, and unless Trump bursts into flames or Clinton starts eating live wombats during a press conference, we're all staring the general election contest dead in the face.

I suppose so - at least, this is the most probable course, although it isn't certain yet. Here is Pitt's characterization of the two (probable) main presidential candidates:

You have the rich braggart with an inferiority complex so large it dwarfs Saturn using racism, sexism, nationalism and a generalized fear of The Other to elbow his way toward the nomination. You have the rich political aristocrat who votes for war, total surveillance and thinks fracking is the greatest thing since glazed donuts trying to pass herself off as some sort of transformative populist while cashing Wall Street checks by the fistful.

This also seems fair enough to me (though I am willing to agree it has a fairly strong leftist color).

And this is about the Republicans and the Democrats:

It is madness, but it is madness by design. The Republican Party and its media allies have spent several decades fomenting a sense of terror within their voting ranks -- fear of the immigrant, fear of the Black man, fear of a woman's power to choose, fear of the terrorist hiding under the bed. They have diligently trashed the basic functions of government so they can go on the Sunday talk shows and blather about how government doesn't work. The Democrats, for their part, have been in full moral retreat over those same decades, fleeing the legacy of FDR and their own alleged principles to such a vast degree that a candidate who voted like a conservative every time the chips were down is about to grab the brass ring.

Again I agree, and I also insist both processes of turning to the right and of  defrauding voters (both by the Republicans and the Democrats) started in the early 1970ies, and went stronger and stronger all the time ever since, also
under nominal Democrats like Clinton and Obama.

Here is William Pitt's conclusion:

As a human being and a father, however, I find the whole exercise appalling and terrifying. This is the best we can do, really? This is what we have become. The only reason people will vote for Trump in the general election is because they have been trained to be afraid. The only reason people will vote for Clinton in the general election is to thwart Comb-Over Mussolini and his dreams of glory; once again, people will be voting against instead of voting for, because "she can win," allegedly.

The whole thing has been bizarre and gruesome from the jump, and the only good I can see coming out of it is the slim possibility that the nation looks long and hard in the mirror once the smoke has cleared and decides that enough is enough.

What a pluperfect mess.

I mostly agree, although I am not a father (because I am ill since 1.1.1979, when I was 28): it really is a great and frightening mess. And I wrote "mostly" because I believe there are some who will choose for Trump or Clinton for other reasons than are stated above, while I completely disbelieve in "the slim possibility that the nation looks long and hard in the mirror": that is about as likely that Trump will change character aged 69 or 70, when he becomes president.

But basically I agree with William Pitt, and his article is recommended.

4. A reply to Chris

The fourth item is by Robert Paul Wolff on the Philosopher's Stone:

It so happens that of all intellectual subjects I have more or less seriously read in (since I was 15, also, and these cover at least 14 subjects: see Real Science)
I know most about philosophy, because that was my first study and my first interest until I was 38 and was removed from the University of Amsterdam's faculty of philosophy briefly before taking my M.A. there, because I was too intelligent, too honest, and I believed in truth and in science while most in the UvA pretended not to believe in truth nor in science, at that time, and I also was not a marxist nor a quasi-marxist, like those who removed me. [4]

Again, of philosophy I know most of what is somewhat vaguely described as "analytic philosophy", which few non-philosophers know much about, and which
tends to be (especially in the subjects I like) fairly technical. Then again, I also
read most of the philosophical classics (unlike anyone I knew while studying) and rather a great lot of various other related things, mostly in various sciences.

I still follow philosophy (e.g. the Stanford Encyclopedia) and philosophers (e.g. until he died 2 months ago Hilary Putnam) but by now this is mostly intellectual
interest, and certainly not because I can make a career or gain a reputation or convert anyone.

And here we arrived at Robert Paul Wolff, who is a philosopher in his early eighties, who says (I quote) "in politics I am an anarchist, in religion I am an atheist, and in economics I am a Marxist
" and who still writes a mostly daily
column that I somewhat like, mostly because I am an atheist and somewhat
of an anarchist (of sorts), though I am not a Marxist, and because he writes
decently, is not stuffy, and sometimes has interesting ideas or references.

He is also still active as a philosopher, though that doesn't interest me very much, because I have definitely had it with Marxism, and he has not. But I am not interested in his philosophy here, but only in his ideas about Clinton and Trump, whom he assumes, probably correctly, will be the two most important
presidential candidates, and who (then) will be, the one or the other, the next president of the U.S.A. (although all of this is only probable at the moment, and not certain yet).

Here is the first thing from him that I quote:
I think it is very clear what sort of President Clinton would be.  She has been a public figure for decades, and there is really very little mystery about her beliefs, her administrative style, or her character.  The same cannot be said about Trump.  I believe him to be deeply psychologically unstable, as I have indicated. (..) He is working hard to arouse, intensify, and legitimate ugly, fascist tendencies in the population of which I am genuinely frightened.  Perhaps I am too powerfully influenced by the world’s experiences in the 20th century, but I am not at all confident that America is safe from those dangerous political passions.   
I agree with all of that (and I don't see how one can fail to be influenced "by the 20th century" given that the 21st century is barely 16 years old, and given the extreme amounts of man-made horrors that plagued the 20th century, including two world wars).

Then there is this about what a Trump-presidency probably will bring:

Some things are more certain.  First, if he is elected, then in all likelihood he will have a Republican Senate as well as a Republican House.  That will mean a reactionary Supreme Court for the next thirty years, in which case voting suppression, the repeal of LGBT rights, gerrymandering, and the complete triumph of corporate capitalism in the courts will be a certainty.  Under those circumstances, a progressive movement will be strangled in the cradle.

Will Trump actually be less hawkish than Clinton?  It is impossible to say.  He is so utterly ignorant of everything having to do with foreign policy that he will be completely at the mercy of his advisors, and from the little evidence we have, those advisors do not inspire me with hope.
Again I agree. Finally there is this:
Under a Clinton Administration, there will be a chance, just a chance, of a progressive movement in America, if Bernie chooses to lead the charge and establishes an ongoing organization to fight in local, state, and federal contests for the election of truly progressive office holders.  That, in my judgment, is our best hope, our only hope, for real change in this country.  Will Clinton support such a movement?  Of course not.  Will she undercut it?  I do not think so, since she will need its support for her re-election.

Is it worth taking a chance on Trump for the possibility of a surprisingly progressive presidency?  I do not think so, and my reason is that I remain genuinely frightened of the emergence of real home-grown American style fascism.
I agree.
[1] Merely to indicate what I mean: I read now over 50 years in intellectual - scientific, mathematical, logical, philosophical - books; I am a B.A. in philosophy with an excellent degree and an M.A. in psychology with an excellent degree (both As, which is - or was then - very rare); I never had a TV; and I had an IQ over 150 when 28 (and don't believe IQs are really good measures of intelligence). Besides I was kicked from the university no less than four times, and studied all the time while I was ill and the woman I lived with (IQ 142) was ill, and neither of us was fit enough to follow any lectures.

You may disagree all you please with me, but if you cannot show similar facts about yourself, I think it is fair to assume that you probably are not as smart and as informed as I am.

In any case, I totally disbelieve in equality-of-all or equivalence-of-all: Both are false and totalitarian notions, that often seem to be based on the simple confusion of (i) equality-of-all (an illusion) and (ii) equality-in-law (which is highly desirable).

[2] As to my and Trump's stupidity, see the previous note.

[3] I have been and indeed am a member of several forums. The three in programming I follow are almost completely non-problematic: People are clear, usually; they don't scold; quite a few are there with their real names; and problems tend to be rapidly and politely solved. And while I certainly don't think anyone there is a genius or supremely intelligent, everybody who writes there regularly is rational (as regards programming) and is intelligent. (In one case I am over 15 years a member of a programming forum, in the others for 8 or more years, and there is a lot of internet traffic there, so this is good evidence.)

I have been, at one time, convinced to go on a forum for ordinary men and women, but this extremely rapidly turned out to be a major mistakes: Nearly all aliases; an average intelligence of around 100; extremely silly often extremely irrational ideas; and a total refusal of most people to even admit the idea that someone might be more intelligent than others, or that a degree gives some evidence of some knowledge and some intelligence.

I never liked ordinary men (and women) much, but it was only there that I learned a majority of them can behave very easily like a lot of sick and cruel bastards - especially if anonymous, like nearly everyone there - and are quite capable of lynching anyone who is not quite like them.

But I admit this was a mistake of mine, and I have long left that forum: I should never have joined it.

[4] The main reason for my problems at the University of Amsterdam (which were many) was that all Dutch universities between 1971 and 1995 (which covers all the years I studied) were totally unique in the whole world in being effectively owned by the students:

They were by law ruled by parliaments, both for the whole university and for each faculty, which were elected by the students, by the people who worked as secretaries and cleaners, and ny the professors and lecturers, where each person - student, cleaner, professor - had 1 vote.

This meant that the students always had the absolute majority, and it meant in the University of Amsterdam that the mainly communist and then postmodern student party ASVA had the absolute power in the university from 1971 till 1995 (when another parliamentary law of the state finished it all, quite radically also).

What I saw - with communist parents, and communist grandparents, all also proletarians, while I was one of the few with a genuine proletarian background who studied, and one of the very few with parents and grandparents in the real resistance against the Nazis - was massive corruption, massive laziness, and very great amounts of lies, pretensions, and corruptions.

But I was also one of the few who opened his mouth: Something like 90% or 95% of the students loved the radical declines in standards that happened all these years, simply because this made it very easy to get an M.A. (One could get an M.A. in philosophy by taking part in demonstrations or in squatting in the 1980ies, as I was told in the 2000s by two who did so), and therefore I was much discriminated: I was pro truth, pro science and not a Marxist at the time most students disbelieved there was any truth, held that science was mostly a capitalist illusion, and considered themselves (falsely, nearly always) Marxists.

       home - index - summaries - mail