1. Jeremy Corbyn Launches
Bold Progressive Vision to
2. Microsoft Pitches Technology That Can Read Facial
Expressions at Political
3. Chris Hedges
vs. Robert Reich on Clinton, Third
Parties, Capitalism & Next
Steps for Sanders Backers
4. Terrorism as a Word and Epithet
5. Watch a Year's Worth
of Trump Supporters Spouting
Vitriol, Racism, Fascist
This is a Nederlog of Friday, August 5, 2016.
is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
1 is about Jeremy Corbyn, who launched a decent plan; item 2
is about a dangerous piece of technology introduced by Microsoft:
facial expressions and emotional states can be very rapidly recognized
in political rallies (I am strongly against it so long as there
also is an NSA, GCHQ etc.); item 3
is in fact a repeat from July 27, because I liked the interview
and my review, and the interview was repeated by
Democracy Now! today; item 4 is about an analysis
of the terms "terrorism" and "terrorist" and is well worth
reading (but I don't think it will be widely heeded); and item 5 is about Trump's vitriolic, racist and fascist
rhetoric, with an additional remark by me on an idiot who denied
me the right to apply what I learned in psychology.
Corbyn Launches Bold Progressive Vision to Transform UK
first item today is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Leader of the British Labour Party
Jeremy Corbyn announced a 10-point plan on Thursday designed to "rebuild
and transform" the U.K. while undoing the damage wrought by
privatization schemes and concerted attacks on the public good.
I say. This seems a good idea to
me; it also seems a little late (Corbyn is the leader of the
Labour Party for a while); and I certainly don't think most of
the plan has a good chance or being realized soon, but that is in
itself no objection.
Here is an outline of the plan:
The ten pledges include: An economy that
works for all; Secure homes for all; Security at work; Secure our
National Health Service and social care; A free national education
service; Action to secure the environment; Democracy in our economy;
Cut income and wealth inequality; Act to end prejudice and injustice;
and Peace and justice abroad
Corbyn's announcement comes as he
battles to retain his leadership position in the Labour Party, fighting
off a challenge from Owen
Smith, a more centrist Labour MP and former lobbyist for the
pharmaceutical industry. The two will square off in a debate Thursday
Read the full set of policy pledges here.
I agree with each of the ten points,
although they are not worked out. The last of the above links -
here - is worth looking into, because it expands each
some, but not much.
Here is some more, including a graphic
(with my own setting of background color):
The overall plan is contained in ten
pledges which put everyday people at the center of a pro-democracy
agenda aimed at a more egalitarian economic vision, an end to war and
violence, and a more sustainable energy future:
Incidentally, this program of ten points
also sounds rather a lot like a defense of the welfare state -
with which I agree if only because it has been broken down
mostly by neoliberal propaganda of "Freedom! Freedom!" that in fact
were claims of "Freedom for the rich! Freedom for the rich!".
Finally, while I like Jeremy
Corbyn I strongly dislike the Blairite
part of the Labour Party, and I have no adequate ideas whether
will last. I hope it does, but this is mostly because of the
neoconservative attacks on Corbyn: I think Blairites should go to the
Conservatives, and not stay with Labour.
2. Microsoft Pitches Technology That Can Read Facial
Expressions at Political Rallies
The second item is by Alex Emmons on The Intercept:
This starts as follows
On the 21st floor of a high-rise hotel
in Cleveland, in a room full of political operatives, Microsoft’s
Research Division was advertising a technology that could read each
facial expression in a massive crowd, analyze the emotions, and report
back in real time. “You could use this at a Trump rally,” a sales
representative told me.
At both the Republican and Democratic
conventions, Microsoft sponsored event spaces for the news outlet Politico.
Politico, in turn, hosted a series
of Microsoft-sponsored discussions about the use of data technology in
political campaigns. And throughout Politico’s spaces in both
Philadelphia and Cleveland, Microsoft advertised an array of products
from “Microsoft Cognitive Services,” its artificial intelligence and
cloud computing division.
At one exhibit, titled “Realtime Crowd
Insights,” a small camera scanned the room, while a monitor displayed
the captured image. Every five seconds, a new image would appear with
data annotated for each face — an assigned serial number, gender,
estimated age, and any emotions detected in the facial expression. When
I approached, the machine labeled me “b2ff” and correctly identified me
as a 23-year-old male.
I say. I really dislike this, and not so
much because of the technology as because of the NSA and GCHQ, who also
will get these data about your behavior and your
emotions, which they then again can use against you, always
in secret of course, if they don't like your attitudes.
Here is a little about how it works:
I asked Christina Pearson, a nearby
Microsoft spokesperson, to confirm that the technology was meant to be
used on a large crowd, like at a Trump rally. “Yes,” she confirmed. “Or
it’s meant to be the Super Bowl, whatever you want.”
“Realtime Crowd Insights” is an
Application Programming Interface (API), or a software tool that
connects web applications to Microsoft’s cloud computing
services. Through Microsoft’s emotional analysis API — a component
of Realtime Crowd Insights — applications send an image to Microsoft’s
servers. Microsoft’s servers then analyze the faces and
return emotional profiles for each one.
Here is why this development is extremely
Yes, indeed. I am strongly against it
as long as the NSA, the GCHQ and many other secret services can
they like and can track everyone and anyone.
But the use of facial
analysis at political events is eerily reminiscent of George
Orwell’s 1984, where the government monitors faces for
any sign of dissatisfaction, or “facecrime.” In Orwell’s world, “to wear an improper expression on your
face (to look incredulous when a victory was announced, for example)
was itself a punishable offense.”
Microsoft’s Realtime Crowd Insights
could potentially pick out the stern faces of dissenters, or angry
faces of future protestors, all in a matter of seconds.
There is considerably more in the original article, that is recommended.
Chris Hedges vs. Robert Reich on Clinton, Third Parties, Capitalism
& Next Steps for Sanders Backers
The third item is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:
This starts as follows:
The Green Party’s national convention
opens today in Houston, Texas, and Dr. Jill Stein is expected to win
the party’s nomination. But will she win the support of former Bernie
Sanders supporters? Last week, Democracy Now! hosted a debate between
the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges and former Labor
Secretary Robert Reich about the presidential race. Hedges has endorsed
Jill Stein. Reich is backing Hillary Clinton after endorsing Bernie
Sanders during the primaries. Reich served in Bill Clinton’s Cabinet as
labor secretary from 1993 to 1997.
But here I have a small problem:
As this introduction says, the interview
was made last week, which is also when I dealt with it, namely on July 27. Then again, Democracy Now! is repeating
it; I liked
the interview with Hedges and Reich, basically because I like both men
(without always agreeing with them) and because the interview was good;
and therefore I simply (also) repeat the previous piece, in my
rendering of it.
Here it is:
First Robert Reich:
REICH: Well, it’s very
hard to tell what the delegates are going to do. And it’s very hard to
tell—even harder to tell what the electorate is going to do. You know,
this is a very agonizing time for many Bernie Sanders supporters. I,
with a great deal of reluctance initially, because I’ve known Hillary
Clinton for 50 years—50 years—endorsed Bernie Sanders and worked my
heart out for him, as many, many people did. And so, at this particular
juncture, you know, there’s a great deal of sadness and a great deal of
feeling of regret.
I don't think Hillary Clinton will be a great
president, and I also do not think she will be a good president, but I
do agree she will make a much less bad president than the
promised by a Trump presidency.
And right now, at this particular point in
time, I just don’t see any alternative but to support Hillary. I know
Hillary, I know her faults, I know her strengths. I think she will make
a great president. I supported Bernie Sanders because I thought he
would make a better president for the system we need. But nonetheless,
Hillary Clinton is going to be the nominee. I support her. And I
support her not only because she will be a good president, if not a
great president, but also, frankly, because I am tremendously worried
about the alternative. And the alternative, really, as a practical
matter, is somebody who is a megalomaniac and a bigot, somebody who
will set back the progressive movement decades, if not more.
And I agree with Reich that Trump "is a
megalomaniac and a bigot" and indeed I also
agree (as Reich wrote earlier this year) that Trump is a (neo)fascist,
while Clinton - who I think is worse than Reich believes - is not
a neofascist (but is a rightist Democrat who is funded and supported by
And here is Hedges:
HEDGES: Well, reducing
the election to personalities is kind of infantile at this point. The
fact is, we live in a system that Sheldon Wolin calls inverted
totalitarianism. It’s a system where corporate power has seized all of
the levers of control. There is no way to vote against the interests of
Goldman Sachs or ExxonMobil or Raytheon. We’ve lost our privacy. We’ve
seen, under Obama, an assault against civil liberties that has
outstripped what George W. Bush carried out. We’ve seen the executive
branch misinterpret the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force Act as
giving itself the right to assassinate American citizens, including
children. I speak of Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son. We have bailed
out the banks, pushed through programs of austerity. This has been a
bipartisan effort, because they’ve both been captured by corporate
power. We have undergone what John Ralston Saul correctly calls a
corporate coup d’état in slow motion, and it’s over.
I think Chris Hedges is mostly correct here -
except for his very first statement. Here are my views
(in brief), and I start with everything but the first statement:
I think Chris Hedges is quite correct in saying (in
effect, and I may be interpreting a little) that the Left has lost
battle with the Right that was started by Reagan in 1980, and
continued ever since, also under both kinds of presidents: "corporate power has seized all of the levers of control", to phrase in in Hedges's terms.
Also, this is quite important and it was a battle that lasted 35
years, which ended in "what John Ralston
Saul correctly calls a corporate coup d’état in slow motion, and it’s
And I do appreciate that Chris Hedges makes the point, for I
think it is quite true, quite bitter, and hardly acknowledged by most
of the Left.
Next, I think Chris Hedges is quite incorrect when he said that
"reducing the election to personalities is kind
of infantile at this point".
First, he does nothing to answer Jealous's points (in the
previous section, but known to Hedges) that Trump is not
any candidate, but is quite special in being both a madman
and a neofascist.
And second, his wording strongly suggests that he knows (but doesn't
say) that in fact he is being rhetorical rather than realistic. (And he
is, whether he knows it or not.)
Before turning to Reich's replies, here is some more by Hedges. First,
there is this (and see the Nederlog of
July 25 for more on Poland by Chris Hedges):
Poland has gone, I think we can
argue, into a neofascism. First, it dislocated the working class,
deindustrialized the country. Then, in the name of austerity, it
destroyed public institutions, education, public broadcasting. And then
it poisoned the political system.
I fear that is correct. The next bit is - I
think - quite incorrect:
We’ve got to break out of this
idea that we can create systematic change within a particular election
cycle. We’ve got to be willing to step out into the political
wilderness, perhaps, for a decade. But on the issues of climate change,
on the issue of the destruction of civil liberties, including our right
to privacy—and I speak as a former investigative journalist, which
doesn’t exist anymore because of wholesale government surveillance—we
have no ability, except for hackers.
More precisely, while I agree mostly with the
second part (the last statement) I think the first two statements are
indulgences in wild phantasies:
First, in fact that is about the only thing voters can
these days: Decide who is going to be nominated. The other
influence on politics,
such as setting the issues, deciding who is
going to be candidates, making the political plans of parties and
considerably more, simply have been taken away from the voters
and have been handed over to the combination of elected party delegates
and their lobbyists.
Second, Hedges seems to miss completely how extremely long four years
is in politics, let alone eight years or "a
Most politicians and most people interested in politics live on a
day-by-day schema in which most things that take considerably longer
are not often considered - and I am not saying this is
desirable, I am saying this is mostly fact
(apart from a few themes, that often correspond to fundamental
differences between parties or between politicians): Who knows what was
in the paper even a mere three months ago? Few do.
Third, "to step out into the political
wilderness, perhaps, for a decade"
is simply to give up politics, say
for a decade, which seems quite
irresponsible to me, for you should also do politics (if you do
all) in cases where all you can do is to choose from several evils.
But here is Robert Reich. First, there is this:
REICH: Well, Amy, it’s
not just taking a walk in the political wilderness. If Donald Trump
becomes president, if that’s what you’re referring to, I think it
is—there are irrevocable negative changes that will happen in the
United States, including appointments to the Supreme Court, that will
not be just political wilderness, that will actually change and worsen
the structure of this country. I couldn’t agree with Chris Hedges more
about his critique, overall, of neoliberalism and a lot of the
structural problems that we face in our political economy today.
Of course if the Left chooses to go
into "the political wilderness", the Right has all the freedoms to "actually
change and worsen the structure of this country".
I am not saying the Left can prevent this (seeing how many laws
been deregulated the last 36 years), but it certainly cannot and
not prevent any of the changes the Right desires to make
from "the political
wilderness". That is just irresponsible.
And here is Reich on equating Trump and Clinton:
I think that voting for Donald
Trump or equating Hillary Clinton with Donald Trump is insane. Donald
Trump is certainly a product of a kind of system and a systematic
undermining that has occurred in the United States for years with
regard to inequality of income and wealth and political power. But we
don’t fight that by simply saying, "All right, let’s just have Donald
Trump and hope that the system improves itself and hope that things are
so bad that actually people rise up in armed resistance." That’s
insane. That’s crazy.
I quite agree. You can't welcome or tolerate
a neofascist madman because you dislike his non-neofascist non-mad
opponent. And if that is not "insane" and not "crazy"
it certainly is irresponsible.
Here is more Reich:
REICH: Well, all I can
say is that at this particular point in time—I mean, again, many of the
things that Chris Hedges is saying, I completely agree with. The real
question here is: What do we do right now? And what do we do to
mobilize and organize a lot of people out there who right now are not
mobilized and organized? And how do we keep the energy building? I
disagree with Chris with regard to Bernie Sanders. I think Bernie
Sanders has been a great and is a great leader right now of the
Yes, I agree with Reich. And I also agree
with the following argument:
But I do fear Donald Trump. I
fear the polls that I saw yesterday. Now, polls, again, this early in a
campaign still—we’re still months away from the election, but they are
indicative. They show Donald Trump doing exceedingly well, beating
Hillary Clinton. And right now, given our two-party system, given our
winner-take-all system with regard to the Electoral College, it’s just
too much of a risk to go and to say, "Well, I’m going to vote—I’m not
going to vote for the lesser of two evils, I’m going to vote exactly
what I want to do." Well, anybody can do that, obviously. This is a
free country. You vote what you—you vote your conscience. You have to
do that. I’m just saying that your conscience needs to be aware that if
you do not support Hillary Clinton, you are increasing the odds of a
true, clear and present danger to the United States, a menace to the
United States. And you’re increasing the possibility that there will
not be a progressive movement, there will not be anything we believe in
in the future, because the United States will really be changed for the
Again quite so. But here is Chris
HEDGES: Well, I think we
have to acknowledge two facts. We do not live in a functioning
democracy, and we have to stop pretending that we do. You can’t talk
about—when you eviscerate privacy, you can’t use the word "liberty."
That is the relationship between a master and a slave. The fact is,
this is capitalism run amok. This whole discussion should be about
capitalism. Capitalism does what it’s designed to do, when it’s
unfettered or unregulated—as it is—and that is to increase profit and
reduce the cost of labor. And it has done that by deindustrializing the
country, and the Clinton administration, you know, massively enabled
I agree with this (for the most part) - but
it doesn't meet any point Reich made. Here is Reich again:
REICH: Well, let me
just—let me just put in my two cents. I think political strategy is not
to elect Donald Trump, to elect Hillary Clinton, and, for four years,
to develop an alternative, another Bernie Sanders-type candidate with
an independent party, outside the Democratic Party, that will take on
Hillary Clinton, assuming that she is elected and that she runs for
re-election, and that also develops the infrastructure of a third party
that is a true, new progressive party.
And I think that is both a reasonable
and a reasonable plan. Whether either will work out is the
but that is nearly always the case with choices one makes and plans one
Here is Hedges' answer:
HEDGES: I don’t think it
makes any difference. The TPP is going to go
through, whether it’s Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Endless war is
going to be continued, whether it’s Trump or Clinton. We’re not going
to get our privacy back, whether it’s under Clinton or Trump. The idea
that, at this point, the figure in the executive branch exercises that
much power, given the power of the war industry and Wall Street, is a
I think Hedges is right in the middle part,
but mistaken in the beginning and the end:
It is going to make a difference whether one chooses a
neofascist madman or a rightist Democratic servant of the banks,
who is neither a neofascist nor mad (and see the last
item of today for how much difference this is likely to
Here is the last exchange I will quote:
I think Robert Reich won this debate, but I
may be a bit partial (for I agreed already with him about these issues,
and already disagreed with Chris Hedges).
REICH: I just want to
say, equating Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton is absolute nonsense. I
just—anybody who equates the two of them is not paying attention. And
it’s dangerous kind of talk.
CHRIS HEDGES: That’s not what I—that’s not what
In any case, this was a quite important debate between two quite
respectable progressives, and it is certainly worth reading completely:
Recommended, if only because there is quite a bit more in the interview
that I skipped.
As I said, the above bit between "----"s was
repeated from July
27. All I changed was adding some links to the original.
4. Terrorism as a Word and Epithet
The fourth item today is by Michael Brenner on Consortiumnews:
This has a subtitle:
The word “terrorism” – classically
defined as violence against civilians for political effect – has become
an epithet hurled at despised groups while not against favored
ones, a challenge of hypocrisy and propaganda, explains Michael Brenner.
Yes indeed - and some of the points
Brenner makes were already made by me (in Dutch) on October 29, 2005.
The present article starts as follows:
Most Americans think they know what
“terrorism” is: what happened on 9/11 or what happened in Orlando:
Islamic militants murdering innocent civilians out of hate and in the
cause of Islamist jihad. Experience shapes how we understand the world.
The Global War on Terror has been oriented accordingly.
More formal definitions of “terrorism”
try to extend the term so as to encompass a wider range of violent
acts. Here is one: “Terrorism is commonly defined as
violent acts (or the threat of violent acts) intended to create fear (terror),
perpetrated for a religious, political, or ideological goal, and which
deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants
personnel or civilians”
Here is another: “Criminal acts intended
or calculated to provoke a state of terror in the public, a group of
persons or particular persons for political purposes are in any
circumstance unjustifiable, whatever the considerations of a political,
philosophical, ideological, racial, ethnic, religious or any other
nature that may be invoked to justify them” — United Nations General
These definitions at least are decent
definitions. I like the Wikipedia's best, because it does list "a religious, political, or ideological goal" and because it mentions "the safety
of non-combatants", who generally are the main aim of (correctly identified)
Here is some on the difference between the
above usages of "terrorism" and "terrorists" and the much more
usage of these terms in the ordinary
These formulations strive to be
objective and disengaged from individual events however
noteworthy. Popular attitudes, the media usages and political oratory
tend to revert to the entrenched more common usage.
For “terrorism” – as word and concept –
is emotionally charged. Hence, the killings of U.S. soldiers by Dr.
Nidal Hassan at Ft. Hood are labeled “terrorism” while the rampage of
Dylan Roof in Charleston, South Carolina, in the name of White
Supremacy is just mass murder. The killing by the mentally disturbed,
apolitical Michael Zehaf-Bibeau (half Bulgarian, half French-Canadian)
at the Ottawa Parliament is “terrorism” while the Sandy Hook massacre
Yes, indeed: It seems that the terrorism by
white racists is not called "terrorism" because it
is by white racists, while the terrorism or "terrorism" by the
mentally disturbed is called "terrorism", especially if there is an
And that is just propaganda.
Here is some
more on ordinary comman usage of the terms "terrorism" and
which turn out to be (often) used as propaganda terms:
Many participants in the public
discourse about “terror” have a quite different purpose. It is to
apply the word as a pejorative to certain acts and actors in order to
stigmatize them. This is a political exercise rather than an
intellectual one. Hence, the promiscuous appellation “terror” and
“state sponsor of terrorism” in accusations that target Iran – however
inconsistent that usage is with the terminology applied to the behavior
(real or imagined) of other states, e.g. Saudi Arabia and its GCC
partners or Turkey.
The aim is to produce a certain
emotional effect that encourages certain types of responses. In popular
usage, it is akin to calling someone a “bastard” or a “son of a bitch”
as an insult without bothering to determine the legal status of his
parents or his mother’s temperament.
There is a third – also loose – use of
the term “terror” by the media. They seek the “wow” effect. If eight
people die from the violent act of some crackpot, they are just as dead
whether an anchor decides to use the word “terror” or not.
There is a whole lot more in the article,
which is recommended, although I tend to be skeptical about the chances
that the main media or indeed most ordinary people will learn
these terms in a more or less objective way.
And part of my reasons is that George Orwell, who died 66 years ago
warned against this, 71 years ago:
"Actions are held to be good or bad, not
on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost
no outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass
deportations, imprisonments without trial, forgery, assassination, the
bombing of civilians, which does not change its moral colour when it is
committed by 'our' side." (The Collected Essays, Journalism and
Letters of George Orwell, vol 3, p. 419, written in May 1945.)
It is a very great pity, but this does
seem to be still the common reaction.
This doesn't mean Michael
Brenner is wrong; it does mean that most people are more propaganda-minded
than objectively minded, and often don't make the appropriate
distinctions, indeed since more than 70 years.
5. Watch a Year's Worth of Trump Supporters Spouting
Vitriol, Racism, Fascist Rhetoric
The fifth item today is by Nika Knight on
This starts as follows:
It so happens that I couldn't start the New
York Times video, probably because it wants to make my computer more
free from safety-measures than I am willing to allow it.
It's no secret that Republican
presidential nominee Donald Trump fills his speeches with nationalism
And in a three-minute video published by
the New York Times late Wednesday, a collection of clips
from the divisive nominee's rallies throughout the past year reveals
how Trump's chilling
rhetoric is being channeled by his followers.
Meanwhile, that was a mere three minutes worth of video, and I have
seen considerably more by Donald Trump, from which I - a
psychologist - inferred that it is, according to what I learned in
study of psychology, far more probable that Donald Trump is mad,
namely with a grandiose narcissism type
madness, than that he is not mad.
But I recently read an extremely stupid piece in The Guardian which
said that I am not allowed to apply what I learned in
psychology, it seems because that would upset the
journalist (not a psychologist) who wrote this bullshit.
Well... I am sorry for upsetting you, but I do think I am quite
justified in applying the things I learned. And I think that I am
also quite justified in warning against what seems to me
psychologist - an obvious madman.
In case you doubt this, read the chilling