1. WikiLeaks' Julian
Assange on Releasing DNC Emails
That Ousted Debbie Wasserman
2. Never Has a Demagogue Reached This Point in Our
Electoral System Before
3. Are We Witnessing the Death of Representative
4. Sanders: 'Trump is the Most Dangerous Presidential
Candidate in the Modern History of
5. Hillary's Convention Con
This is a Nederlog of Sunday, July 31, 2016.
is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item
1 is about Julian Assange and his recent publication of DNC emails;
item 2 is about Bernstein on Trump (not
bad, but also not very good); item 3 is about a
fine article about the radical declines in representative
democracy in the USA; item 4 is about Bernie
Sanders and an interview he had on July 29 with Bill Maher which is
quite good; and item 5 is a quite sensible reaction
of Ralph Nader to the Democratic Convention.
Julian Assange on Releasing DNC Emails That Ousted Debbie Wasserman
first item today is by Amy Goodman and Juan
González on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following
WikiLeaks founder and
editor-in-chief Julian Assange joins us from London about their release
of nearly 20,000 emails revealing how the Democratic Party favored
Hillary Clinton and worked behind the scenes to discredit and defeat
Bernie Sanders. This comes as the Democratic National Convention is
opening today in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, amid massive party
turmoil. The DNC chair, Florida
Congressmember Debbie Wasserman Schultz, has resigned following the
leak. The emails also reveal a close relationship between mainstream
media outlets and the DNC.
It is meanwhile quite clear that the
DNC "favored Hillary Clinton and worked behind
the scenes to discredit and defeat Bernie Sanders",
and indeed here is Bernie Sanders (quoted):
I told you a long time ago that the—that the DNC
was not running a fair operation, that they were supporting Secretary
Clinton. So what I suggested to be true six months ago turns out, in
fact, to be true. I’m not shocked, but I am disappointed. ... What I
also said many months ago is that, for a variety of reasons, Debbie
Wasserman Schultz should not be chair of the DNC.
And I think these emails reiterate that reason why she should not be
chair. I think she should resign, period. And I think we need a new
chair who is going to lead us in a very different direction.
And meanwhile Wasserman Schultz has
resigned (which I think is a good result).
Here is Assange on his release of nearly 20,000 emails about the DNC:
ASSANGE: Yeah, it’s
quite remarkable what has happened the last few days. I think this is a
quite a classical release, showing the benefit of producing pristine
data sets, presenting them before the public, where there’s equal
access to all journalists and to interested members of the public to
mine through them and have them in a citable form where they can then
be used to prop up certain criticisms or political arguments.
And this is Assange on some of the things in
his release that have not been reported on:
ASSANGE: Well, actually,
I think the most significant ones haven’t been reported on, although The
Washington Post late last night and McClatchy did a first initial
stab at it. And this is the spreadsheets that we released covering the
financial affairs of the DNC. Those are very
rich documents. There’s one spreadsheet called "Spreadsheet of All
Things," and it includes all the major U.S.—all the major DNC donors, where the donations were brought in,
who they are, identifiers, the total amounts they’ve donated, how much
at a noted or particular event, whether that event was being pushed by
the president or by someone else. That effectively maps out the
influence structure in the United States for the Democratic Party, but
more broadly, because the—with few exceptions, billionaires in the
United States make sure they donate to both parties.
There is considerably more in the
article which is recommended.
Never Has a Demagogue Reached
This Point in Our Electoral System Before
The second item is by Elizabeth Preza on AlterNet:
This starts as follows, and is concerned with
Carl Bernstein (<-Wikipedia) on Donald Trump:
Famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein joined Twitter
Tuesday the only way an iconic journalist would: With an interview. In
a Q&A session hosted through the video-sharing app Periscope,
Bernstein critiqued Donald Trump’s nomination, calling this election
“the Gettysburg of the American cultural wars.”
“Whoever wins this … whoever wins—the country is going to never be the
same,” Bernstein told Twitter’s head of news Adam Sharp. “And it’s
going to determine the future of our country for generations.”
I don't quite agree. I rather think that
if Hillary Clinton wins, it will be mostly more of the same as was
given by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, but I agree with Bernstein if
Trump wins: That will "determine the future of
our country for generations", and in a far worse
way than Hillary Clinton would have (about whom I am also not
optimistic at all).
Here is Bernstein on Trump's qualifications:
“We’ve got to look at Donald Trump as
unique in our history in terms of being the nominee of a major party
for president,” Bernstein said. “Not only because he comes from outside
the political system, but because of the views he holds and how extreme
“They are based on exclusion and it is
totally outside the history of presidents of the United States,”
Yes, but this is also about the minimum he
could say about Trump. There is also this about Trump and Hillary
I agree with Bernstein on Clinton and truth
(and see item 5) but it is far better than the
indeed extremely bad relation between Trump and truth.
“Never has a demagogue reached this
point in our electoral system before," he added.
On Trump’s Democratic rival, Bernstein, who
wrote a biography of Hillary Clinton, described the former Secretary
of State as “having a difficult relationship with the truth.”
3. Are We Witnessing the
Death of Representative Democracy?
The third item is by Andrew Gimbel on AlterNet and originally on the
This has a subtitle which is
correct and instructive (bold in the original):
Billionaires now sponsor
presidential candidates (or run for president themselves) the way
Renaissance popes and princes once patronized artists.
Yes, I think that is basically correct
(though I wouldn't be very amazed if Trump is not a billionaire).
Next, the article itself opens with an interesting quotation that in
fact dates back to 1960:
"Imagine a political system in
which votes are bought and sold freely in the open market, a system in
which it is taken for granted that people will buy all the votes they
can afford and use their power to get more money in order to buy more
votes, so that a single magnate might easily outvote a whole city.
Imagine a situation in which elections have become a mere formality
because one or a few individuals are owners of a controlling number of
votes. Suppose that nine-tenths of the members of the community are
unable to exert any appreciable influence. Suppose, moreover, that the
minority is entitled to very little information about what is being
done. That is what the political system would be like if it were run
the way business is run." —E.E. Schattschneider
In fact, this has mostly happened since 1980.
Not quite everything, but most of this has been
The article - in fact: taken from a book published this year: "Down for the Count" - then starts as follows:
Does representative democracy
have a future, or is it just a phase we’ve been going through? If by
“representative democracy” we mean a system in which a majority of
voters holds meaningful sway over policy outcomes, the game in the
United States may already be over.
Yes and no, it seems to me.
In the first place, I think "a majority of voters" may never have held a "meaningful
sway over policy outcomes" in the USA, except
perhaps over very general issues. That is, I think it is quite
likely that by and large politicians determined policy
outcomes, much rather than some "majority of
voters" (except for very general issues).
And in the second place, what really changed was that the
politicians (who mostly took the decisions) were responsible to
the voters, after the fact, and that mostly because (i) the
politicians were not
financed (by big money, by big donations, by lobbyists) because such
financing was forbidden, other than in small amounts, and (ii) the
voters were capable of getting more or less true information
about many policies and many outcomes (though certainly not all).
It is especially these two points that have radically changed:
All elected politicians now may be supported by big money, big
donations and by lobbyists, for while that used to be forbidden,
this has now all become legal,
while there is much less true information about politicians, policies
and outcomes than there was, simply because there are far fewer
papers and far fewer independent TV-companies: all information that the
people get by the main media is - in the end - controlled by a few rich men, and has
been radically restyled as propaganda
much rather than truth.
Then again Gimbel sees most of this as well:
The corrupting influence of money
hasn’t just upended the priorities of elected officials, who now spend
more time raising funds than talking to constituents or researching the
issues they vote on. It hasn’t just made campaigns more expensive, more
media-saturated, and more vicious. The scenario that Schattschneider
imagined in 1960 has largely come to pass. Magnates do outvote
entire cities, at least in those cases—the majority—where media
coverage of political campaigns cannot keep up with the relentless flow
of money. For many people living in noncompetitive or uncontested
districts, elections have indeed become just a formality. Billionaires were capable now sponsor
presidential candidates (or run for president themselves) the way
Renaissance popes and princes once patronized artists; where those
candidates previously had to sway party committees and state delegates
to become viable office seekers, now they need to win over an audience
of just one.
Yes, indeed. And - not at all suprisingly -
the billionaires who now have much of the political power and
much of the political propaganda are rather different from ordinary
Another recent study comparing
the political views of America’s top 1 percent with the electorate as a
whole found the billionaire class to be far less committed to
excellence in public school education (35 percent against 87 percent of
all Americans), less committed to public-sector job creation, less
committed to providing viable benefits to the unemployed, and less
interested in increasing taxes to support universal health care—or for
any other purpose. In short, they skew significantly to the right of
the average voter and are generally skeptical about the public sector’s
power to generate jobs and beneficial social change. They favor tax
cuts over programs for the poor, and deficit reduction over government
This is all quite true, to which it must be
added that by deregulating the
financial laws that guaranteed some influence of ordinary voters, the
billionaires have taken over most of the power.
Here is Seymour
Martin Lipset (<- Wikipedia), incidentally not a radical:
Another political theorist from
the baby boom years, Seymour Martin Lipset, wrote a famous paper
arguing that middle-class stability, not just overall prosperity, was
essential to a successful democracy. Wealth inequality was poison, he
said, because it ate at the very core of that achievement: “A society
divided between a large impoverished mass and a small favored elite
would result either in oligarchy . . . or tyranny.”
And that is the case in the present USA, at
least in the sense that there is "a large
impoverished mass" and there is "a small favored elite", that also is
extremely rich, and has been given the legal powers to spend their
politics by the Supreme Court.
Then there is this on how the few rich got a whole lot richer since
1979, while the many non-rich all got quite a lot poorer:
Between 1979 and 2012, the income
of the top fifth of the population increased 48.8 percent in real
terms, while the bottom fifth saw a 12.1 percent drop. Every income
group except for the top 20 percent has lost ground in the last forty
years, regardless of whether the economy has boomed or tanked and
regardless, too, of which party has held the presidency or controlled
Congress. The gap between rich and poor stopped widening briefly in the
wake of the 2008 financial crisis, only to start growing again with a
vengeance, with the top 1 percent snagging more than 90 percent of new
income in 2010.
Finally, I'll quote this on the
Multinational corporations are
far more powerful now than they were in the era of the original robber
barons because they have the power to bankroll politicians as long as
they remain useful and to close down factories and move investments and
jobs overseas if they do not. The history of democracy has been largely
a history of the empowerment of the working class, but now we live in a
world where much of that working class lives in another country,
working in sweatshop conditions for minimal wages, with no voice
whatsoever in our electoral process—or, often, their own. Where once
industry stayed put and could be regulated, now, to a large extent, it
Yes, indeed - and note that "the power to bankroll politicians" is
new; the power "to close down factories and move
investments and jobs overseas" is new; as is the
consequent fact that the present "working
class" that works for American multinational corporations does in fact
live "in another country, working in sweatshop conditions for minimal
All three changes are recent; all three changes were and are loaded
with very many consequences; and all three changes enormously
multiplied the power of the multi-national corporations.
There is much more in the article, which I thought quite
interesting and is recommended.
4. Bernie Sanders: 'Trump is the Most Dangerous
Presidential Candidate in the Modern History of This Country'
The fourth item is by the Common Dreams Staff on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows (and
the quotation is from the beginning of the interview that is linked
Bernie Sanders appeared on Real
Time With Bill Maher Friday night to share
his thoughts on the Democratic National Convention and the "dangerous"
"I think it was a good convention. I
think it brought together people with different points of view within
the Democratic Party. But I think what comes out of that convention is
the understanding that Donald Trump is the most dangerous presidential
candidate in the modern history of this country and he must be
"And I say that not just because of his
absurd views on so many issues. He believes that climate change is a
hoax. He wants to give hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to
the top 1 percent," Sanders added. "But above and beyond all of that,
this guy is running his entire campaign based on bigotry. Based on
trying to divide us up. Based on trying to insult Mexicans, Latinos,
Muslims, women and African- Americans. Remember, that this guy was one
of the leaders of the so-called Birther Movement."
Incidentally, here is a link to
Maher's interview with Sanders. It takes slightly over 9 minutes, and
is well worth seeing:
And here is also the final bullshit
point of Jill Stein that I discussed yesterday,
after which I decided to give her up completely (because she
almost never rationally answers questions; has a quite bad
presentation; and fills her public statements with very many
Let’s go back to Bernie Sanders for
a moment. Why do you think he has chosen to throw his support
behind Clinton, and is now trying to get his supporters to do the same?
I think his paradigm is obsolete.
That was baloney. See the last dotted link
for the truth.
This is from near the beginning:
5. Hillary's Convention Con
The fifth item is by Ralph Nader
on Common Dreams:
I take it these are all true - and they all
show that Clinton also is lying a lot except that she does it (unlike
Trump) mostly by ommitting what is relevant, which I agree is
considerably more subtle than Trump's interminable straight lies and fantasies served as facts.
She said she’d tax the wealthy for
public necessities, but declined to mention a sales tax on Wall Street
speculation that could bring in as much as $300 billion a year to
support such initiatives. She opposed “unfair trade agreements,” but
remarkably omitted saying she was against the TPP (the notorious
pending Trans Pacific Trade Agreement backed by Obama that is receiving
wide left/right opposition).
She paid lip service to a “living wage” but
avoided endorsing a $15 an hour minimum wage, which would help single
moms and their children – people she wants us to believe have been her
enduring cause. Few people know that it took until the spring of 2014
before candidate Clinton would come out for even a $10.10 minimum wage.
There is this on the multinational corporations:
To her verbal credit, Hillary
Clinton raised the “unpatriotic” charge against too many U.S.
corporations (not all she added) when it comes to our country. Born in
the U.S.A, grown to profit on the backs of American workers, bailed out
by American taxpayers and occasionally by the U.S. Marines overseas,
these giant companies have no allegiance to country or community. They
are, with trade agreements and other inducements, abandoning America’s
workers and escaping America’s laws and taxes.
That is quite true - and it is also quite
true that they can abandon "America’s workers
and escaping America’s laws and taxes" thanks to
the politicians (they probably bought).
There is this on Clinton's program of being "stronger together":
Does she have an agenda for a
devolution of power from the few to the many so that we can be
“stronger together,” (her slogan for 2016)? No way. Mum’s the word!
This immense gap has been the Clinton
duo’s con job on America for many years. Sugarcoating phrases, populist
flattery, getting the election over with and jumping back into the fold
of the plutocracy is their customary M.O.
Yes, quite so - and a similar technique
was practised by Obama, incidentally.
And there is this on Clinton vs. Trump:
The best thing Hillary Clinton has going
for her is the self-destructive, unstable, unorganized, fact and
truth-starved, egomaniacal, cheating, plutocratic, Donald Trump (See my
Unpatriotic Is Donald Trump?”).
Nader is correct that - by far! - the
strongest argument for Hillary Clinton is her opponent, but indeed
because her opponent is so extra-ordinarily bad that
is a strong argument.
There is more in the article, and it is recommended.