Jun 8, 2016

Crisis: FBI, Superdelegates, Trump & Media, Chomsky, Sanders
Sections                                                                     crisis index

New Intelligence Bill Gives FBI More Secret
     Surveillance Power

2. Perfect End to Democratic Primary: Anonymous
     Superdelegates Declare Winner Through Media

3. Normalizing Trump, Demonizing Hillary: The Media's
     Shameful Strategy for the 2016 Election

4. Noam Chomsky: Our Universities Are Basically Just
     Churning Out Obedient Employees

5. Should Sanders Run As a Third Party Candidate?


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, June 8, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is another move in furthering the FBI's desire to get everything it can on absolutely everyone (and approved by the Senate); item 2 is about an article by Glenn Greenwald on the undemocratic sickness of declaring Clinton winner because she has hundreds of totally unelected superdelegates; item 3 is about a somewhat strange article on Trump and Hillary, for it denies almost all responsibility of the - very bad, much lying, quite dishonest - main media in the USA; item 4 is about a long and good interview with Noam Chomsky (who is right the universities are much worse than they were, thirtyfive and more years ago); and item 5 is about the question whether Sanders should run as a third party candidate (and my provisional answer is: Yes, if he can, which I don't know, and simply because he is the only reasonable and decent presi- dential candidate).

1. New Intelligence Bill Gives FBI More Secret Surveillance Power

The first item is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

A Senate bill published late Monday night includes a new provision that would give the FBI more power to issue secret demands, known as national security letters, to technology, internet, communications, and banking companies for their customers’ information.

The provision, tucked into the Senate Intelligence Authorization Act, would explicitly authorize the FBI to obtain “electronic communication transactional records” for individuals or entities — though it doesn’t define what that means. The bill was passed by the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.

I wonder whether it is time to restyle the FBI as the American Fascist Bureau of Investigation. I have three reasons for this:

  • my father and grandfather were arrested in June 1941 by the Nazis because they were in the communist resistance, and both were convicted (by collaborating Dutch judges: Most Dutchmen collaborated) as "political terrorists" to concentration-camp imprisonment, which my
    grandfather did not survive;
  • the FBI is totally above the law and above decency, and it simply is fascism for me to threaten somebody with a secret national securitiy
    letter that demands information the FBI should not get and imposes
    complete secrecy on those this is demanded from;
  • I very much dislike and fear secret police, and especially secret police with arrogated superpowers that allows them to persecute people in utter secrecy and forbid them to say anything to anyone: That is only possible in terrorist states.

But OK: The FBI once again extended its secret command over the doings of all Americans: It can now demand most things Americans do with their computers as a matter of course, and it can threaten those who refuse to give them what they ask with secret letters they are not allowed to share with anyone except one lawyer, in which there are many "legal" threats that
the threatened are not allowed to publicize.

Here is some background on eight years of illegal threats by the FBI, that simply breaks the law on the ground that they have lawyers who can imagine that the law is different from what it is...

In the past, the FBI has considered “electronic communication transactional records” to be a broad category of information — including everything from browsing history, email header information, records of online purchases, IP addresses of contacts, and more.

The Justice Department told the FBI in 2008 that it was not authorized to receive this information from companies without a court order, although as The Intercept reported last week, the FBI has continued to demand such data anyway — insisting on a different legal interpretation.

In brief: I am quite pessimistic, especially (but not only) if Trump is the next president.

2. Perfect End to Democratic Primary: Anonymous Superdelegates Declare Winner Through Media

The second item is b
y Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Last night, the Associated Press — on a day when nobody voted — surprised everyone by abruptly declaring the Democratic Party primary over and Hillary Clinton the victor. The decree, issued the night before the California primary in which polls show Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a very close race, was based on the media organization’s survey of “superdelegates”: the Democratic Party’s 720 insiders, corporate donors, and officials whose votes for the presidential nominee count the same as the actually elected delegates. AP claims that superdelegates who had not previously announced their intentions privately told AP reporters that they intend to vote for Clinton, bringing her over the threshold. AP is concealing the identity of the decisive superdelegates who said this.
Again I wonder whether I should restyle AP as AFP (Associated Fascist Press),
not only because the AP tells lies, deceives and manipulates, but most of the main media do so now, which is completely incompatible with any democracy, and will soon lead to an authoritarian state.

The above is an example of what I mean:
  • Most of the US's main media are against Sanders, and give as little space and time to him as is possible - which is anti-democratic;
  • most of the US's main media don't give the facts anymore: they give
    colored and partial propaganda (which is pretended to be factual, but isn't);
  • superdelegates are an explicit anti-democratic means of the leaders of the Democratic Party to impose their wishes on the party;
  • I totally disbelieve the AP's claims that "superdelegates" "privately told AP reporters they intend to vote Clinton": Maybe they talked with one or two (of several hundreds), but they do not give any evidence for their claims;
  • AP is intentionally trying to destroy what remains of the Sanders' candidacy;
  • therefore AP acted falsely.
I think all these points are factually correct - and here is Glenn Greenwald:
This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary: The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identities the media organization — incredibly — conceals. The decisive edifice of superdelegates is itself anti-democratic and inherently corrupt: designed to prevent actual voters from making choices that the party establishment dislikes.
Precisely. And this is not reporting and these are not facts: This is propaganda and the "facts" are very probably lies.

Then again, there is also this, which is the last bit I will quote from this article (which is recommended):

But it’s also true that under the long-standing rules of the party, more people who voted preferred Clinton as their nominee over Sanders. Independent of superdelegates, she just got more votes. There’s no denying that.
Well... there is one possibility for denying this, and that is the fact that American votes can be easily falsified: See e.g. here.

Note I did not say that they have been falsified: It is a fact that they easily
can be; it also is a fact that there is no evidence they have been; and it finally is a fact that if they have been, there probably is also no evidence.

What I am saying is that the elections may have been falsified (at some places), simply because this is easy (for people with computer knowledge),
but that there has been far too little attention to either prevent this or prove this.

So I suppose I agree with Greenwald on the apparent facts. There is more on this issue, but it is in item [5] below.

3. Normalizing Trump, Demonizing Hillary: The Media's Shameful Strategy for the 2016 Election

The third
item is by Heather Digby Parton on AlterNet and originally on Salon:

This starts as follows:

One of the most vexing challenges of the Trump phenomenon is how the press should deal with it. There’s never been anything quite like it and journalism is having to try to navigate this campaign as the rules are being rewritten on the fly. Back in the beginning,  The Huffington Post had tried to keep the whole thing in perspective by relegating the campaign to their entertainment pages but eventually had to move it back to the politics section when it became clear that Republican voters were actually taking Trump seriously. Today they cover him like a normal politician but append a standard disclaimer at the end of their articles about him pointing out that he’s an extremist with noxious views.

Let me start wih quoting the "standard disclaimer" of the Huffington Post "at the end of their articles about" Trump, simply because I like it, because I think it is justified, and because it shows that Parton's case is not what it is presented to be.

First the Huffington's final bit on articles about Trump:

Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.

This also has been there a long time, which also shows that Parton's initial statements

One of the most vexing challenges of the Trump phenomenon is how the press should deal with it. There’s never been anything quite like it and journalism is having to try to navigate this campaign as the rules are being rewritten on the fly.

simply are false: "The Trump phenomenon" has been dealt with by the main media in the terms they have learned and appropriated since the early 2000s:

He is freely given long times for his propaganda; his propaganda - which is
for something like 75% false - is almost never contradicted; and he is dealt with and presented in the terms he desires, mostly because this makes the corrupt media a lot of money.

All of this is not journalism as this was understood until 2000: It is plain propaganda, plain lying and plain fraud of all the viewers and readers who still believe that what the main media tell them is mostly true.

Next, "[t]here’s never been anything quite like" Trump not because Trump is unique, unfathomable, great or special, but because most of the main media have been lying and propagandizing since 15 years rather than do their proper job of honest investigating and honest reporting:

It is very much less Trump who is the problem: The problem is especially the corruption of the main media.

It is true Parton also says this, which is correct as regards the first two statements:

TV news organizations, meanwhile, have been notorious for allowing Trump to flout their rules. They happily let him call in rather than appear on camera and give him hours of airtime in the hope that he’ll say something news worthy which, to be honest, he often does. His lies and reversals are so constant and so blatant that reporters seem to be almost paralyzed as he slithers and slides out of their grasp. He is sui generis and nobody knows quite what to do about it.

But the last two statements again deny all responsibility, all mental clarity and all courage to all those "reporters" who "seem to be almost paralyzed": They are not paralyzed; they simply ceased being real reporters, for they ceased asking real questions.

Again: It is the corruption, dishonesty and propaganda of the main media that explain Trump, very much rather than Trump's unique capabilities (for he has none, other than a great capacity for lying, which he could not have used if the main media had been decent, objective and factual).

There is a whole lot more in the article, much of which is made up from long quotes, which I leave to your interests. She ends as follows:

But the result of this “distortion toward the middle”  as Jay Rosen calls it, has the perverse effect of normalizing Trump and pathologizing Clinton in a way that equalizes them to Trump’s advantage. There is no equivalence between them. He is an unqualified, unfit, unhinged authoritarian demagogue and she is a mainstream Democratic party politician.  Let’s hope the press listens to some of these critics and does a serious gut check whenever they are tempted to “balance” the coverage in this election by going easy on Trump and hard on Clinton. It’s dangerous.

To which I say: Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that Trump "is an unqualified, unfit, unhinged authoritarian demagogue", but no in the sense that it is pretty crazy to "hope the press listens to some of these critics" "whenever they are tempted to “balance” the coverage in this election":

You shouldn't "hope" the press acts like a real press: You should demand it. It's true that the main media probably will pretend they don't hear or read you, but this is part and parcel of their complete redefinition of journalism over the past 15 years, that simply consisted for the most part in fake "balanced" coverage of totally non-balanced candidates and issues.

But OK: This seems to be a measure of "critical journalism" in the USA: Expressing a "hope" that the fake balancing the main media indulge in will not
be too serious.

Ah well...

4. Noam Chomsky: Our Universities Are Basically Just Churning Out Obedient Employees

The fourth
item is by Dan Falcone and Saul Isaacson on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Washington DC based History Teacher Dan Falcone and New York City English Teacher Saul Isaacson sat down with Professor Noam Chomsky to discuss current issues in education and American domestic and foreign policy issues. They also discussed the place of the humanities in education and how it relates to activism, definitions of terrorism, and how education impacts the perceptions of the political process in the US.

This is only quoted to identify the interviewers and the interviewee. The interview is fairly long and will not be excerpted here. Instead I give three quotes on themes that interest me: On education, on truth and on terrorism.

Here is the first bit, on education:

Noam Chomsky: – I’ll give you an answer. This morning’s MIT newspaper there’s a wonderful article about the destruction of education in the United States but they are very upbeat about it. Take a look at the new majors.

Dan Falcone: MIT introduces four new majors, seven new minors. Business analytics, finance, mathematical economics, minor in computer science design, entrepreneurship –

Noam Chomsky: The four majors: Business First Management, Business Analytics, Finance, mathematical economics, which is trading. That’s it.

Yes indeed - and please note why MIT felt "very upbeat" about "the destruction of education in the United States":

They pretend that all that modern students are interested in is making profits and doing business, and they expect considerable grants and supports for designing studies that are mostly concerned with making profits and doing business, much rather than doing real science.

Again, I have seen this coming from 1977/78 onwards, when I also was first told by a professor who spoke for the whole university and its Board of Directors in a public address that opened the year 1978-1979:

"Everybody knows that truth does not exist"

which turned out to be a fanatically held belief by most students, simply because it made getting a degree very much easier than it had been until
the mid seventies.

Since then, all education in Holland has fundamentally changed: It demands about half of what was demanded for the same kinds of diplomas and degrees
until 1975 or so, and it demands a very great amount of money for this very poor "education" - but almost no one is interested, because in real fact very few are interested in real science, and especially at a "university" where one now can get an M.A. in most "studies" with an IQ of 105 or so. (See also here, for the unique background of the Dutch universites from 1971-1995.)

I am one of the circa 1 in 20 students who cared for real science, a really good education, and for demanding universities, but indeed since I know it was but 1 in 20 students who wanted a real scientific education at what they supposed was a real scientific university, which happened in 1982, I have given up on all academics, all universities, and virtually all students in Holland:

They got what they wanted, namely contentless very easy degrees in mostly non-scientific subjects, that will help to make them more money in business (but will teach them hardly any real science).

The Dutch universities are dead (apart from mathematics, physics and a few other subjects in which real talent is still required), and should also stop being
called "university", just like all other schools I attended were both radically changed (i.e.: made a whole lot easier) and were also radically renamed.

The greatest part of the modern Dutch "universities" is no longer a university: At best it is a college (and its degrees are at most half worth of what they were worth until ca. 1975).

But no, I have also grown so cynical (also for being four times removed from the University of Amsterdam because I honestly said what I thought: I did not have the right to honestly say what I thought in the University of Amsterdam, according to its staff and Board of Directors, who also both denied me the right to take a - n excellent - M.A. in philosophy in 1988, again because I had honestly told what I thought about the execrable "education" they offered) that I do not suppose I will ever be answered honestly by any Dutch "academic" or any Dutch politician:

They all are rotters only interested in their own careers and their own - large - incomes, and they nearly all collaborate to keep their very easy jobs and very high salaries.

If any of them ever cared for science, they should have answered me over the past 35 years. No one did, even though the prose I wrote and published
was widely praised for its style and intelligence.

Back to Noam Chomsky: I think he is right about the education in the USA, and indeed that seems to have been mostly destroyed by people and politicians who were similarly motivated as in Holland (and conversely): The many half-
smart business men who want business careers to make profits in businesses, and who simply are unable to understand what real science is or is about.

Next, about truth - and the "She" was some kind of student:

She said it was all about this kind of old-fashioned [naïve] business of embracing truth and fact and that is not what is really important. And you see that all over the Third World. It’s a very destructive tendency. And it’s also intellectually just pure garbage.

Dan Falcone: Right, and a lot of times it’s well intentioned, left-leaning people –

Noam Chomsky: – People are well intentioned but I think if you look at the roots of it – it’s very cynical. It mostly comes from Paris and I think it mostly has to do with the collapse of French civilization. (..)
As I have indicated above, truth was systematically denied in the University of Amsterdam since 1978 and at least till 1995.

To be sure, this did not imply everyone denied it (the scientific staff, for example, mostly skirted around it) nor that everybody believed it even if they affirmed that "everybody knows that truth does not exist".

But this did hold for nearly all of the radical students who also participated in ruling the university, which they did because the Dutch universities had been given  to the students from 1971 till 1995, and most of the leading students were either (pseudo-)communists (till 1983/4) and then postmodernists (for whom absolutely everything was relative and most or everything was text), from ca. 1985 till 1995.

Obviously, it was all "pure garbage" - but in Holland, at least, very few in the universities were convinced or admitted it was all pure garbage, simply because this was "the official university position" and it might have been troublesome for them to protest. (Very few Dutch are heroic or honest.)

on the start of "the war on terrorism" there is this:
Noam Chomsky: Yeah, Reagan started it. It’s pretty interesting. I mean terror became a big issue when the Reagan Administration came in. They immediately announced [their plans] and kind of disparaged Carter’s alleged human rights programs. The main issue is state-directed international terrorism. Right at that time that big industry developed. That’s when you start getting the academic departments on terrorism. You get UN conferences trying to define terrorism. Journals, you know, big explosion of interest in terrorism.

But the stuff that we write can’t enter the canon for a very simple reason. We use the official definitions of terrorism. The definitions in the U.S. code, in British law, in U.S. Army manuals and so on. And if you use those definitions it follows instantly that the United States is the leading terrorist state in the world.
As I have been saying a long time (indeed since August 2004) there are two kinds of terrorism: Terrorism by states, generally (though not only) by their secret police, and terrorism by individuals or groups (that are not funded or used by state terrorists).

Again, as I have also been saying since 2004, the states' terrorists are far more dangerous than the individual terrorists: They have far more money, far
more men, far more weapons etc. etc.

And Noam Chomsky is quite right that in the present USA the state is widely
presented as not terroristic, whereas in actual fact, when judged in terms of objective definitions of "terrorism", the present USA supports and executes a lot of terrorism - but indeed by the secret police or the army, and "therefore"
(falsely but convincing to many) "not terroristic".

Anyway... there is a whole lot more in the interview, that is recommended.

5. Should Sanders Run As a Third Party Candidate?

The fifth item is by Washington's Blog on his site:

This is a short pieces I'll reproduce and answer:

The Democratic Party and media has rigged the election
against Sanders.

51% of Americans know the primary process is rigged.

More than half of Americans want a third party.

42% of Americans now think of themselves as independents … only 29% identify as Democrats, and 26% as Republicans.

Even the Founding Fathers warned us about the threat from a two-party system.

Should Sanders run as a third party candidate?

I only answer the last question:

Supposing Hillary Clinton is the Democratic candidate, it is the only chance for Sanders to become president. Since I also think Trump is a lunatic and Clinton is a fraud who effectively works for the big banks (but Clinton is not insane, and therefore a lot less bad than Trump), I would welcome it if Sanders runs as an independent: He is the only reasonable and decent possible president of the three.

Then again, I do not know how realistic this is, and it will in any case cause many problems and take a lot of money.


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