Oct 29, 2016

Crisis: Propaganda, AT&T, Progressive Powers (?), Trump, Goodbye GOP
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Selling ‘Regime Change’ Wars to the Masses
2. Electronic Frontier Foundation: Police Depts. Paid AT&T
     Millions to Scrutinize Our Texts & Chats

With Progressives Ready in the Wings, No Post-Election
     Honeymoon for Clinton

4. Trump Is the Nation's Abuser-in-Chief
5. Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative
     Who Left the Cult


This is a Nederlog of Saturday, October 29, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a fine article by John Pilger about propaganda (which is what most of the papers and nearly all of TV offer, these days); item 2 is about the illegal storing of everything that passed AT&T since 1989, which is currently sold for millions to the American police; item 3 is about the progressives and Hillary Clinton: I think the progressives overestimate their real powers; item 4 is about Trump as abuser; and item 5 is about a fine article by Mike Lofgren from 2011, that I did not read before yesterday, and that is strongly recommended.

-- Constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click/reload twice or more to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my computer. (It was OK on October 22, but not before.)

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am very sorry if you have to click/reload several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. [1]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: It now works again (!), but I do not know how long it will keep working. The Dutch site still is a mess.

I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that also went well for 20 or for 12 years.

I will keep this introduction until I get three successive days (!!!) in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen that for many months now.


1. Selling ‘Regime Change’ Wars to the Masses

The first item today is by John Pilger on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

American journalist Edward Bernays is often described as the man who invented modern propaganda. The nephew of Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of psychoanalysis, it was Bernays who coined the term “public relations” as a euphemism for spin and its deceptions.

In 1929, as a publicist for the cigarette industry, Bernays persuaded feminists to promote cigarettes for women by smoking in the New York Easter Parade – behavior then considered outlandish. One feminist, Ruth Booth, declared, “Women! Light another torch of freedom! Fight another sex taboo!”

Bernays’s influence extended far beyond advertising. His greatest success was his role in convincing the American public to join the slaughter of the First World War. The secret, he said, was “engineering the consent” of people in order to “control and regiment [them] according to our will without their knowing about it.”

He described this as “the true ruling power in our society” and called it an “invisible government.”

Today, the invisible government has never been more powerful and less understood. In my career as a journalist and filmmaker, I have never known propaganda to insinuate our lives and as it does now and to go unchallenged.

Yes, indeed. In my opinion (and I am a psychologist and a philosopher, by - excellent - academic degrees) Freud was a fraud and Bernays was a bastard. Both propounded ideas that were essentially lies [2], but Bernays was the worst, for indeed he was quite consciously and quite deliberately

“engineering the consent” of people in order to “control and regiment [them] according to our will without their knowing about it.”

And he was quite conscious and quite happy that this "engineering" had to happen by lies, by deceptions, by propaganda and by fraud, and the reason he was quite happy was that he thought the masses were mostly incapable of rational thought, whereas his own kind of people, the rich or the soon-to-be-rich (like Bernays himself, early in his career) were marked by rational competence.

In case you want to know more about Bernays (<-Wikipedia) - top liar, top deceiver, top propagandist, top fraud - you are adviced to read his 1928 book "Propaganda" that is on my site (but still needs my comments: I am sorry, but I am also ill since 37 years, so things may take longer than I thought and want).

As to the force of propaganda these years, there is this that dates back to 2003, after the start of the war with Iraq:

The same year, soon after the invasion, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the renowned American investigative journalist. I asked him, “What would have happened if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged what turned out to be crude propaganda?”

He replied that if journalists had done their job, “there is a very, very good chance we would not have gone to war in Iraq.”

It was a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question — Dan Rather of CBS, David Rose of the Observer, and journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous.

In other words, had journalists done their job, had they challenged and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today, and there would be no ISIS and no siege of Aleppo or Mosul.

There would have been no atrocity on the London Underground on July 7, 2005. There would have been no flight of millions of refugees; there would be no miserable camps.

I think Lewis and Pilger may well be right, and in case you do not think so, my guess is that you do not know enough about propaganda, which has been developed into an art since the 1940ies, that is literally everywhere where there are humans now.

propaganda is essentially lying for money, while the liars lie - very professionally, in a very well-trained way, with very attractive hired voices and hired beautiful faces - because they are paid by the rich (often CEOs of rich corporations) to lie for them to the public, which activity is termed (also by Bernays) 'public relations': You have "public relations" (<-Wikipedia) if you are rich enough to pay a firm of trained professional liars to spread your lies, your deceptions, and your frauds as if they are true and honest information to "the public".

There is this about some of the top propagandists of the West:

Propaganda is most effective when our consent is engineered by those with a fine education – Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Columbia – and with careers on the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post.

These organizations are known as the “liberal media.” They present themselves as enlightened, progressive tribunes of the moral zeitgeist. They are anti-racist, pro-feminist and pro-LGBT. And they love war. While they speak up for feminism, they support rapacious wars that deny the rights of countless women, including the right to life.

They are the top of their field (which is that of well-trained liars for money, who are willing to lie for good pay) because they have to mislead and deceive the best educated, in which they - these days, after some 25 years of continuous propaganda everywhere where there was supposed to be 'news' - normally succeed: Most of the best educated do not see that what they are fed is propaganda rather than honest information. [3]

Then again, one should also keep in mind the more crude liars and deceivers who operate on the considerably larger scale of deceiving the ordinary public, that did not have a university education.

There is this on Donald Trump:

To most of us, the American presidential campaign is a media freak show, in which Donald Trump is the arch villain. But Trump is loathed by those with power in the United States for reasons that have little to do with his obnoxious behavior and opinions.
The CIA wants him beaten. The Pentagon wants him beaten. The media wants him beaten. Even his own party wants him beaten. He is a threat to the rulers of the world – unlike Hillary Clinton who has left no doubt she is prepared to go to war with nuclear-armed Russia and China.

Hm. I am against Trump not because I like Hillary Clinton (I despise her and her husband) but because Trump is not sane (and I am a psychologist). You do not elect a madman to be the most powerful person on earth.

Clinton is a hawk and may start a nuclear conflict. Trump is totally unpredictable except that he is firmly rightist and pro rich. I do not think he is less likely to start a nuclear war than Clinton is.

The article ends as follows:

Today, the greatest build-up of American-led forces since World War Two is under way – in the Caucasus and Eastern Europe, on the border with Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, where China is the target.

Keep that in mind when the presidential election circus reaches its finale on Nov. 8. If the winner is Clinton, a Greek chorus of witless commentators will celebrate her coronation as a great step forward for women. None will mention Clinton’s victims: the women of Syria, the women of Iraq, the women of Libya. None will mention the civil defense drills being conducted in Russia. None will recall Edward Bernays’s “torches of freedom.”

Scott McClellan, who had been George W. Bush’s press spokesman, once called the media “complicit enablers.” Coming from a senior official in an administration whose lies, enabled by the media, caused such suffering, that description is a warning from history.

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “Before every major aggression, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. In the propaganda system, it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”

Yes. But I remain pro Clinton, not because she is any good, but because she is not mad. Then again, John Pilger is a sensible man, and there is a lot more in the article that is good, which is therefore recommended.

2. Electronic Frontier Foundation: Police Depts. Paid AT&T Millions to Scrutinize Our Texts & Chats

The second item is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now!:

This starts with the following introduction:

New details are emerging about how AT&T has been spying on Americans for profit with a secret plan called Project Hemisphere. The Daily Beast reports AT&T is keeping private call records and selling the information to authorities investigating everything from the war on drugs to Medicaid fraud. AT&T reportedly has been retaining every call, text message, Skype chat or other communication that has passed through its infrastructure. Some of the records date back to 1987. Sheriff’s and police departments each pay upward of $1 million a year for access to the call records. No warrants are needed, and AT&T requires governmental agencies to keep secret the source of the information. We speak with Adam Schwartz, a senior lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. His latest article is "AT&T requires police to hide Hemisphere phone spying."

I have written about AT&T and Hemisphere here and here, but this article contains some more information.

Here is first Juan González:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, all of this comes as new details are emerging about how AT&T has been spying on Americans for profit. The secret plan is called Project Hemisphere. The Daily Beast reports AT&T is keeping private call records and selling the information to authorities investigating everything from the war on drugs to Medicaid fraud. AT&T reportedly has been retaining every call, text message, Skype chat or other communications that passed through its infrastructure. Some of the records date back to 1987. Sheriff and police departments across the country each pay upwards of a million dollars a year for access to the call records. No warrants are needed, and AT&T requires governmental agencies to keep secret the source of information.

This means that AT&T has been criminal since 1987 (the last 29 years), for they know the Fourth Amendment. And while the Fourth Amendment may have been - illegally, in my opinion - stopped by the "Patriot Act" (<- Wikipedia), it certainly did apply from 1987 till 2001.

But AT&T gathered all calls, all text messages, all Skype chats, and all otjer communications nevertheless, for it knew it could sell these for profit. ("And fuck the users! They can be deceived for 29 years! They don't know about computers!")

Here is lawyer Adam Schwartz from the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

ADAM SCHWARTZ: [inaudible] the largest known, possibly the biggest, database of telephone metadata that the government is using to spy on us. Every day, the database grows by literally 4 billion records. As you said, it has records going back to the 1980s. And police are using powerful algorithms to scrutinize this database of everyone that we are having telephone and other digital communications with, to discover our personal relationships, whether we’re talking to a psychiatrist or a criminal defense lawyer or a union organizer on the telephone. We view this as a menace to our privacy. And one of the most disturbing features of it is how it has been kept a secret, so that the public and the courts and Congress cannot scrutinize this program and decide whether we even want it.

I call this electronic neofascism: AT&T are - quite consciously, quite deliberately - behaving as electronic neofascists who can destroy all privacy of all users simply for profit. And they have been doing this for (at least) 29 years.

Nobody should have the rights to read or store everything every user puts on line, and indeed nobody does have these rights in the USA if the Fourth Amendment applies.

Here is how AT&T inverted the law:

ADAM SCHWARTZ: Well, that’s a great question. Under federal statutes that protect our privacy, ordinarily, the police do have to go to a judge and get some kind of approval before they get this metadata of who we’re talking to. What AT&T has required the police to do, through the provision of the contract that you just read, is what the police call "parallel construction" and what the EFF calls "evidence laundering." And what this means is, after the police find evidence against someone in the Hemisphere database, they "wall it off," quote-unquote from their training manual, and then they use a traditional subpoena to recreate the exact same evidence trail. And when it comes time to put the person on trial, they present the second set of cleaner evidence, and no one is the wiser that they were using this massive, disturbing digital database to spy on all Americans, including the criminal suspect.

That is: AT&T has been illegally gathering everything their users put on line, including their private messages and anything else for (at least) 29 years; it sells the use of their illegally gathered databases to the police, but on condition that the police keep it all secret; the police, if they found anything, then "launders" the evidence they got illegally to make it seem legal; and hey-presto, another person gets convicted in an apparently legal way.

Also, not only did AT&T keep everything its own users sent through it, it also kept everything others sent, using AT&T merely as relay:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Adam Schwartz, am I correct on this, that AT&T is not—does not only provide information on their own customers, but on other carriers who possibly may be going through the AT&T infrastructure, as well?

ADAM SCHWARTZ: That’s exactly correct. Any consumer, whether they are not—whether or not they are with AT&T, when a call goes through an AT&T switch, it goes into the Hemisphere database.
This means that the public has been systematically abused by AT&T as if they are subhumans without any rights, who also do not deserve any protection nor any privacy.

And this is the rule of all data-miners, whether they are the secret services or commercial thieves.

3. With Progressives Ready in the Wings, No Post-Election Honeymoon for Clinton

The third item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

As polls continue to show Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton ahead of GOP rival Donald Trump, many on the left are looking to November 9th and beyond to ensure a hypothetical President Clinton adhere to a progressive agenda that bucks Wall Street influence and follows through on promises made on the campaign trail.

Indeed, several have said, as Brookings Institution senior fellow William Galston did to The Hill this week, that Clinton "doesn't get a honeymoon"—she'll immediately be pressed to prove her progressive proclamations were made not just in the name of political expediency.

"A lot of people are along for the ride through November 8th and will need assurances after that with big, bold action," Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, told the Washington Post on Friday. "If you lose people early on, it's hard to get them back on board."

Hm. I am considerably more skeptical: I think that Hillary Clinton operated as Barack Obama did, which means that he and she said almost anything to be elected, while once they are elected, they "forget" every promise they made that is incompatible with their real program, which includes in Clinton's case to help the Wall Street bankers who paid her so much to get what they want.

And I think this is what will happen. There are some who think they can stop her:

As former Bernie Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver, who currently heads up the Our Revolution political organization, told the Post: "You can't claim to want to rein in Wall Street if your Treasury Department is filled with Wall Street executives."

Sanders himself is among those planning to hold Clinton's feet to the fire. "The day after the election," he wrote in an op-ed this week, "working with millions of grass-roots activists, I intend to do everything possible to make certain that the new president and Congress implement the Democratic platform, the most progressive agenda of any major political party in the history of the United States."

I like Bernie Sanders, and I trust that he will try "to do everything possible to make certain that the new president and Congress implement the Democratic platform", but my guess is that he will mostly not succeed. (I hope I am mistaken, but Barack Obama ran a similar program, and he mostly succeeded.)

And here is Nomi Prins, whose article I reviewed yesterday:

Also citing the email leaks, author and former investment banker Nomi Prins this week offered a bleak look at "Hillary's America, past, present, and future."

"It's a land lacking in meaningful structural reform of the financial system, a place where the big banks have been, and will continue to be, coddled by the government," Prins wrote. "No CEO will be jailed, no matter how large the fines his bank is saddled with or how widespread the crimes it committed. Instead, he's likely to be invited to the inaugural ball in January. Because its practices have not been adequately controlled or curtailed, the inherent risk that Wall Street poses for Main Street will only grow as bankers continue to use our money to make their bets."

"In Hillary's America," she opined, "Wall Street will still own Main Street."

I think Prins is right, and the progressives will have little real influence.

4. Trump Is the Nation's Abuser-in-Chief

The fourth item is by Jill Richardson on AlterNet and originally on OtherWords:

This starts as follows:

As an emotional abuse survivor, I get an eerie feeling watching Donald Trump.

In fact, a checklist of 30 tactics used by an emotionally abusive partner, published by the blog Live Bold and Bloom, reads like Donald Trump’s debate prep to-do list.

One of the telltale signs of such abuse, for example, is rooted in humiliation:

“They humiliate you, put you down, or make fun of you in front of other people.”

This seems to be a cornerstone of Trump’s political speech — like making fun of a disabled reporter, or placing the women who accuse Hillary Clinton’s husband of sexual misconduct in the audience at the last debate. (I wonder if Trump has ever heard that expression about glass houses and throwing stones.)

“They accuse you or blame you for things you know aren’t true.”

For example, accusing Hillary of laughing at a rape victim, which she didn’t do.

“They make excuses for their behavior, try to blame others, and have difficulty apologizing.”

Like the “locker room talk” apology that wasn’t.

There is more in the article, which is recommended.

5. Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult

The fifth and last item today is by Mike Lofgren on Truth-out:

In fact, this is from September 3, 2011, and I am quite sorry that I did not read it earlier than yesterday, because Mike Lofgren is a very sensible man. I did select four quotes, that follow, with my comments, but you ought to read this article all by yourself: it is both very good and by a former GOPer.

From the beginning:

Both parties are rotten - how could they not be, given the complete infestation of the political system by corporate money on a scale that now requires a presidential candidate to raise upwards of a billion dollars to be competitive in the general election? Both parties are captives to corporate loot. The main reason the Democrats' health care bill will be a budget buster once it fully phases in is the Democrats' rank capitulation to corporate interests - no single-payer system, in order to mollify the insurers; and no negotiation of drug prices, a craven surrender to Big Pharma.

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

I do like the beginning: "Both parties are rotten" (..) "Both parties are captives to corporate loot." And I like it because I think it is exactly right: Modern politicians, especially in the USA, no longer speak or act for their voters (although they do try to create the perception as if they do), but they speak for those who corrupted them, which are the big banks, big pharma and some others.

As to the GOP: Mike Lofgren knows this a lot better than I do, and he says (among other things) this:

John P. Judis sums up the modern GOP this way:

"Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today's Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery."

I had to look up John Calhoun (<- Wikipedia) who died in 1850. I do not know whether he was an adequate analogy of the Republicans since 1981, when Reagan became president, but I agree with Mike Lofgren that the radical declines in legacy started mostly with Reagan (after a preparation by Nixon).

There is this about "tens of millions of low-information voters":

There are tens of millions of low-information voters who hardly know which party controls which branch of government, let alone which party is pursuing a particular legislative tactic. These voters' confusion over who did what allows them to form the conclusion that "they are all crooks," and that "government is no good," further leading them to think, "a plague on both your houses" and "the parties are like two kids in a school yard." This ill-informed public cynicism, in its turn, further intensifies the long-term decline in public trust in government that has been taking place since the early 1960s - a distrust that has been stoked by Republican rhetoric at every turn ("Government is the problem," declared Ronald Reagan in 1980).

I think this is all quite correct, and I have also been argueing for a long time that many of the voters in the USA (and elsewhere, but we are concentrating on the USA) are stupid or ignorant - and I don't say so with pleasure but with pain.

Here is the last quote I will give from this article:

This tactic of inducing public distrust of government is not only cynical, it is schizophrenic. For people who profess to revere the Constitution, it is strange that they so caustically denigrate the very federal government that is the material expression of the principles embodied in that document. This is not to say that there is not some theoretical limit to the size or intrusiveness of government; I would be the first to say there are such limits, both fiscal and Constitutional. But most Republican officeholders seem strangely uninterested in the effective repeal of Fourth Amendment protections by the Patriot Act, the weakening of habeas corpus and self-incrimination protections in the public hysteria following 9/11 or the unpalatable fact that the United States has the largest incarcerated population of any country on earth. If anything, they would probably opt for more incarcerated persons, as imprisonment is a profit center for the prison privatization industry, which is itself a growth center for political contributions to these same politicians.[1] Instead, they prefer to rail against those government programs that actually help people. And when a program is too popular to attack directly, like Medicare or Social Security, they prefer to undermine it by feigning an agonized concern about the deficit. That concern, as we shall see, is largely fictitious.

Yes indeed. But as I said: I think you should read all of this article, and here is the link - it is well written and quite sensible, even if it is five years old now.
Strongly recommended!

[1] Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months now. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all" (really: the KPN), simply because these have been lying to me from 2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because "you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which is the perfect excuse never to do anything whatsoever for anyone).

[2] As to the lies of Freud, here are two references. The first is an article from the early 1950ies by a former psychiatrist, Warren S. McCulloch, who is also one of the founders of cybernetics: The Past of a Delusion (this has both the original English text and a German translation, and both are in pdf), while this is my own from 2012 (and I have excellent academic degrees in philosophy and psychology):
DSM-5: Question 1 of "The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis"  

[3] In case you doubt this and are Dutch: Compare the horrible propaganda sheet that is today's NRC-Handelsblad with the same paper 25 years ago. (As far as I am concerned, this is the night and the day. But yes, I did read the NRC-Handelsblad daily from 1970-2010 - a mere forty years - so I probably have a somewhat better idea of how it was than most of its current readers.) 

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