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Nederlog

Jun 15, 2016

Crisis: Net Neutrality, Trump, Fighting Fascists, Sanders
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Introduction

1.
Decisive and Tremendous Win' for Net Neutrality as DC
     Court Upholds Rules

2. How Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Hulk Hogan
     Threaten Freedom of the Press

3. How to Fight a Fascist and Win
4. Sanders: End of Voting Does Not Mean End of Political
     Revolution

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, June 15, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about a - seldom - happy article (in the crisis series), namely because net neutrality has won in an important court case; item 2 is about how Trump and others threaten the freedom of the press, and about Trump's utter lack of the qualifications necessary to be president of the USA: I quite agree (but skip a considerable part of the argument); item 3 is about a good argument to fight Trump (which I agree is necessary, also to the extent of voting for the bankers' candidate Clinton: she may be bad, but she is not mad); and item 4 is about Sanders (with whom I agree) with a bit about Naomi Klein who argued that Sanders did win also if he lost, which is to me just a standard bit of politicians' trickeries (and so I disagree with Klein).

As an aside: Since I was yesterday considerably better than the last week, I started "On fascism" and wrote 36 Kb on it. I meant to do that for quite a while now, but there always is the issue of my health. In any case, I did make good progress, and the final result will be published soon in Nederlog, although I don't know when, yet. (But almost certainly within a week at most.)

1. Decisive and Tremendous Win' for Net Neutrality as DC Court Upholds Rules

The first item today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows - and it is pleasurable to have some Good News in the crisis series:

In a huge win for internet freedom, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was within its jurisdiction to enact sweeping net neutrality regulations last year.

That means the internet will remain a public service classified under Title II of the Communications Act—upholding the FCC's power to ensure that all carriers, including mobile and broadband, treat all internet traffic equally.

"Today's decision is a victory for consumers, free expression, and the core principles on which the internet was created," Lisa Hayes, vice president for programs and strategy at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), said in a statement on Tuesday. "The Court made the right decision in affirming the FCC's decision on reclassification of internet broadband services, providing the best path forward for advancement of consumer choice, access, and privacy rights."

Yes, indeed. Here is some more:

"Today's ruling is a victory for consumers and innovators who deserve unfettered access to the entire web," FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement on Tuesday. "It ensures the internet remains a platform for unparalleled innovation, free expression and economic growth."

The panel "resoundingly rejected all the challenges...made against the FCC's net neutrality rules," Kevin Russell, one of the attorneys representing the commission, said Tuesday on a press call. He called the decision an "across-the-board win."

Again I agree (minus a minor subtraction for lawyers' speech). The final bit that I will quote is this:

As CDT pointed out, the order is also good news for privacy protections, as the FCC's rules require that internet users have a clear understanding and choice in how providers use their information about their online activities.

"As the Circuit Court found, the FCC carefully reviewed a complete record in the Open Internet proceeding and clearly explained its approach for putting in place meaningful open internet protections," Hayes concluded.

I agree "that internet users have a clear understanding and choice in how providers use their information", although I do wish to add that (i) many don't seem to have a good understanding of how much is stolen from them by the NSA and/or other secret services (which indeed is very hard or quite impossible to get at present) and (ii) it also seems to me that far too few really care that - so far as they know - everything on their computers may reside in some secret NSA file (to be used in the next 5 tot 40 years, depending on what government there will then be (!!)).

But overall this is quite good news. There is more in the article, that is recommended.

2. How Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Hulk Hogan Threaten Freedom of the Press

This is by Bill Blum on Truthdig:
This starts as follows (under a picture of the First Amendment, that I reproduce as a smaller image, because it is useful):


As we head for the general election, the First Amendment — particularly, freedom of the press — is at risk.

In and of itself, this is nothing new. From the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the Sedition Act of 1918, the Red Scare of the 1950s, the Cointelpro intrigues of the 1960s, the publication of the Pentagon Papers and beyond, press freedoms have often been threatened by the power elites that have ruled America.

Each era, however, is defined by unique dangers.

This time, in the continuing shadow of 9/11 and the never-ending war on terror abroad and at home, the dangers come not only from the expanded operations of government agencies like the NSA and FBI, but from the ambitions of both presumptive presidential nominees—Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton—who seek control over the levers of mass surveillance and the coercive powers of the state.

Yes, indeed - although I should add that I think the NSA and FBI are more dangerous to a free and unspied upon internet (that is: unspied apart from such events as a valid warrant under the Fourth Amendment (<- Wikipedia), which I think is justified) than Hillary Clinton, whom I neither like nor trust, but whose sanity I do not doubt.

About Trump's plans I have no ideas - and who has? [1] - except that the USA will be an enormous mess when he gets elected, and that all bets are off in that case, simply because I don't think Donald Trump is sane. Here is some about him:

In a temper tantrum disguised as a news conference on May 31, which was called to provide a long-overdue accounting of the money he allegedly had raised for veterans, Trump all but declared war on the media, lambasting an assemblage of prominent reporters as “dishonest,” “unfair” and “sleazy” for daring to look into the issue of exactly how much money he had donated. Gruffly responding to questions, he promised to bring the same insulting style to the White House briefing room after his inauguration if elected.

Considered by notable mental health professionals to be a brittle narcissist prone to lashing out in speeches and on Twitter at the slightest criticisms, Trump reportedly has compiled his own Nixonian “enemies list,” banning such publications as the National Review, Univision, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post and Mother Jones, among others, from campaign rallies. This week, he added The Washington Post to the list.
While I have a truly excellent M.A. in psychology, I would not call myself "a mental health professional" (although I did some work in it, that was quite successful).

My main reason is not that I don't know a fair amount about both mental health and theories about mental health (I do), but that I think that neither psychiatry nor large
parts of psychology are real sciences (like physics or chemistry). [2]

Then again, I do think it is quite evident that some people do get mad; I do think it is quite evident that mad people need real and well-trained professional help [3]; and I also do think that in both commonsensical terms and in the psychological terms that I do know, it is quite evident that Trump indeed is not sane, he is a narcissist, and does not have even the beginnings of the temperament or the knowledge that are required to be president of the USA.

There is a considerable amount about Trump, Hulk Hogan and Hillary Clinton in the article that I leave to your interests. I will quote one more bit from it, plus the ending of the article:

As I explained in a Truthdig column published in March, what Trump means by “opening up our libel laws” is that as president he would aim, through appointments to the Supreme Court, to overturn or weaken a line of landmark decisions dating to the historic 1964 ruling in The New York Times v. Sullivan.

Before that case, defamation lawsuits were considered private matters governed exclusively by state law, and they were decidedly slanted in favor of plaintiffs, especially rich ones who could afford the steep costs involved. To prevail, plaintiffs only had to establish that they had been defamed by a preponderance of the evidence—the lowest standard of proof in our legal system.

The Sullivan case changed that by providing protections for defamation defendants under the First and 14th Amendments to safeguard what the Supreme Court termed our “profound national commitment” to uninhibited, robust and wide-open debate.
(...)
To protect a free and open press—to the extent it is still possible at all—we’ll have to rely on ourselves, remaining ever skeptical of those in power, and, as the old saying goes, “eternally vigilant.”

Donald Trump hates all "uninhibited, robust" criticism of his person and his policies, and went to court a mere 3,500 times (in over 30 years, but that is still about 1 per 3 days) on the grounds of his being somehow offended.

As I said above, if Trump becomes president of the USA, all bets are off - except that there will be an enormous mess and great misery for many.

And this is a recommended article.


3. How to Fight a Fascist and Win

This is by Gary Younge on AlterNet and originally on The Nation:
This has the following in the beginning of the article:
In 2016, Donald Trump’s clinching the Republican nomination in the same week that a right-wing extremist narrowly lost the presidential election in Austria raises a serious strategic challenge for the progressive left. We are rightly buoyed by the notion that a better world is possible and have tasked ourselves with creating it. But it is no less true that, at any given moment, a far worse world is possible too, and we should do everything in our power to ensure that we don’t let somebody else create it.

There are two crucial distinctions to be made here. The first is to distinguish between those political opponents who are merely bad, and those who represent an existential threat to basic democratic rights. The second is to draw a clear distinction between the electoral and the political. For example, Mitt Romney was bad: Had he been elected in 2012, terrible things would’ve happened, and it is a good thing that he was defeated. But Trump is of a different order entirely. Xenophobic, Islamophobic, unhinged, and untethered to any broader political infrastructure, he has endorsed his supporters’ physically attacking protestors. His election would represent a paradigmatic shift in what is possible for the American right. To call Trump a fascist may suggest more ideological coherence than his blather deserves. But he is certainly part of that extended family and, as such, represents the kind of threat that Romney (for example) did not.

Yes indeed, and this is a good argument. It is true we may both improve the world and make it worse ("generally unintentionally", except that I often don't believe this [4]); it is true that there is a fundamental difference between polticians who are bad but do not threaten such democratic rights as the Americans presently have, and politicians who are bad and do threaten democratic rights; and it is also true that there is a difference between elections and politics.

And I agree that Trump is "[x]
enophobic, Islamophobic, unhinged, and untethered to any broader political infrastructure" and that "he has endorsed his supporters’ physically attacking protestors" (which also seems about sufficient to call him a fascist, it seems to me).

And indeed Gary Young is also correct in identifying Trump as belonging to the "extended family" of fascists (or neofascists) (although he is a bit mistaken in believing that fascism requires "
ideological coherence": it does not, also not historically speaking [5]).

Here is a last bit from the article, that also is correct, in my opinion:

Since this kind of threat is of a different order, so should be the response. While fascists have learned to cloak their bigotry in less inflammatory rhetoric (one more reason why Trump is an outlier: This is a trick he has yet to learn, though I’m sure the Republicans have their best folks working on it), their blunt message must be met with a blunt response. They must be stopped. And if their route to power is through the ballot box, they must be stopped there.
Yes indeed: Hillary Clinton - to return to Young's first quoted line of argument - may be quite bad (I agree, and add she also is quite unreliable, and definitely in the pay
of the rich bankmanagers) but she is neither mad nor a fascist in any sense.

Therefore she does need voting for, and especially in swing states (as Noam Chomsky also has repeatedly said): The alternative - Trump gets to be president - would be the end of the USA as it has been since 1776 and also would spell the end of any democracy.


And this is a recommended article.

4. Sanders: End of Voting Does Not Mean End of Political Revolution

The final article today is by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Bernie Sanders held a press conference on Tuesday calling for reform of the Democratic party—starting with the ouster of Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz—and said he would remain in the presidential race until the end.

Speaking ahead of a planned meeting with Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Sanders said, "The time is now—in fact, the time is long overdue, for a fundamental transformation of the Democratic party."

"We need a party which is prepared to stand up for the disappearing middle class, for the 47 million people in this country who are living in poverty, and take on the greed of the powerful special interests that are doing so much harm to this country, who have so much power over the political and economic life of our country," he said.

"We need, obviously, to get rid of superdelegates," he added.

I agree with all points (and dislike it a lot that Clinton seems to have won the presidential candidacy, not only because she is much worse than Sanders, but
also because the chance that she will loose to Trump, who again is much worse
than Clinton, is considerably greater than if Trump's opponent had been Sanders).

But I do not agree with Naomi Klein, who indulges in a typical politician's move in the next and final quote:

As author and activist Naomi Klein wrote on Tuesday:

The evidence is clear: The left just won. Forget the nomination—I mean the argument. Clinton, and the 40-year ideological campaign she represents, has lost the battle of ideas. The spell of neoliberalism has been broken, crushed under the weight of lived experience and a mountain of data.

What for decades was unsayable is now being said out loud—free college tuition, double the minimum wage, 100 percent renewable energy. And the crowds are cheering. With so much encouragement, who knows what’s next?

In contrast, I would say that, quite sadly, indeed, the left lost when Sanders lost to Clinton (and the consequences may be enormous, namely a win for Trump); and I also would say that it simply is bullshit to insist that you should "forget the nomina- tion": It turned out to be a major chance for a real liberal and a real social democrat to run for president, while there now is only a choice between the banker's candidate Clinton and the lunatic with many fascist ideas who is Trump.

I also think that anyone with a working brain who is American should vote for Clinton, but the reason is indeed not that Clinton is much good (she isn't), but that Trump is an extremely bad choice as president.

But OK - I also grant that I never liked Naomi Klein much (indeed because her arguments remind me too much of those of the Dutch "social democrats", whom I do not trust at all, though this indeed is also somewhat personal as well).

---------------------

Notes

[1] I said "who has?" not because nobody has any ideas abour Trump's ideas (I do, as well: I think they are mad and rather fascistic), but because Trump is quite unstable in his support for ideas: One day he is for something, the next day he is against it, the day after that he is again a bit for it, etc. Then again, he is stable in
the sense that by far the most ideas he has uttered are bad.

[2] In case you want to know why I don't think psychiatry is a real science, consult this: It is long (over 300 Kb) but I am rather certain it will teach most people quite a few things. As to psychology, one good case against its being a real science is by Paul Lutus, and it is here.

[3] I also note that a few psychiatrists think no one is mad, but I disagree, in good part because (i) madness has been acknowledged commonsensically for 2500 years or so, and (ii) that this is somehow right (in some cases) is compatible with
the fact that psychiatrists have no good definition of madness.  And I note that I agree that medics, psychologists and psychiatrists are the current professionals who
are - I'd say - the least untrained to help mad people, but I also do insist that many of their actions and many of their theories are not justified by any real science.

[4] More precisely, I think that most harm people do to other people is conscious and known and (unlike quite a few leftists, indeed) I am not an optimist about most human beings, in part because I think Ovid was quite right: Most people live according to the adagium "video meliora proboque; deteriora sequor", which is to say "I see the better and approve it is better, but I follow the worse" (in general because the worse
is more pleasant, safer, or more profitable for oneself).

[5] In fact - and I said in the beginning I am writing "On fascism" - quite a few historians and political scientists complained that fascism is not coherent. (But this does not entail that it is not recognizably rightist, racist, violent and fascistic.)


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