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Nederlog

 Nov 22, 2016

Crisis: Schahill, "Working-Class Party", Newspeak, Mega-Mergers, Seditous Libel
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
Neocons, War Criminals & White Nationalists
2. A Blueprint for a Party That Is Truly for the Working
     Class

3.
How George Orwell's Newspeak Has Infected the News
     Media

4. Will the Trump Administration Be Mega-Friendly to
     Mega-Mergers?

5. Donald Trump and the Return of Seditious Libel
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, November 22, 2016.

A.
This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links and it consists (mostly) of some further deliberations on the meanings of Trump's election as president of the USA:

Item 1
is about Jeremy Scahill on the masses of neocons, war criminals and white nationalists that Trump is hiring as his team; item 2 is a rather  ridiculous attempt to lay the foundations for "an American Working Class Party"; item 3 is about Newspeak and the mainstream media (that already are mostly propagandizing and lying, and will do much more of the same under Trump); item 4 raises the question whether Trump will be mega-friendly to mega-mergers, and the probable answer is: Yes, he will be; while item 5 is about Trump's very dangerous plan to neutralize all the media and sing only the praises of Trump and his government. (And he may succeed.)

-- Constant part, for the moment --
B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It keeps being horrible most days. And it still does (on 11 - 17.xi.2016). 18.xi. was correct as
was 19.xi. 20.xi again was a stinking mess, as was 21.xi.


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: This worked correctly on 11 and 12 xi.2016, but not the day before nor on 13.xi.2016. It was OK on 14.xi.2016 and on 15.xi.2016. But not on 16 and 17 xi.
18.xi. was correct as were 19, 20 and 21.xi. (I say!)

And I think now this happens intentionally on both my sites, for this did not happen for 20 years on the one, nor for 12 years on the other. (And this is not "automatic": it changes from day to day.)

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. Neocons, War Criminals & White Nationalists

The first item today is by Juan González on Democracy Now!:

This starts with the following introduction:
Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept, examines the "team of rivals" Trump is considering for key appointments to his Cabinet, noting all of them have "ended up in direct conflict with President Obama over key issues that Trump and Pence have sort of touted." Trump has offered the national security adviser position to Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who is well known for his anti-Muslim worldview, having called Islam a "cancer" and saying "fear of Muslims is rational." Kansas Congressmember Mike Pompeo, who opposed closing Guantánamo Bay prison, has been named as CIA director. Trump has also selected Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions to be attorney general. Sessions is a former prosecutor who was elected to the Senate in 1996, where he consistently supported anti-immigration legislation and has been a leading opponent of the Voting Rights Act.
To start with, here is Jeremy Scahill who argues that Trump may be putting together a "team of rivals" to Obama's appointments:
JEREMY SCAHILL: I mean, first of all, one thing that’s, I think, really interesting is that Trump is putting together his own version of a "team of rivals." They’re rivals of President Obama when it comes to some of these military people. You have General Flynn. You have General Mattis, who—a former Marine Corps general who very well may be the secretary of defense. And then you have Admiral Mike Rogers, current head of the NSA, that may end up being the director of national intelligence. All of these people ended up in direct conflict with President Obama over key issues that Trump and Pence have sort of touted.
Quite possibly so, and indeed Trump is a Republican and Obama a Democrat.
But I think the following is considerably more important:
JEREMY SCAHILL: "Mike Pompeo, OK, he’s an acceptable guy. He’s one of us. We know that we can do business with him." But the business these guys are going to do is bringing back a full-blown torture operations. It’s not that under Obama the CIA wasn’t engaged in horrifyingly—horrifying activities of questionable legality. It’s that with Bush and Cheney it was like they wore it on their sleeves, and it was sort of the—you know, Cheney’s obsession with we have to use forces on the dark side, that’s all coming back into power right now.
And the important things are two: First, what many of Trump's appointments seem to want to do is full-blown torture and other quite illegal things, where the illegality is in the international laws. And second, the mainstream
media and many of the Democrats are trying to normalize these eager torturers.

Here is some more by Scahill:
JEREMY SCAHILL: So, I think what we’re going to see is that Obama has blessed these men—and it’s all men right now—with the gift of legitimizing drone strikes and making a legal argument as to why it’s OK to assassinate American citizens, combined with his failure to close Guantánamo, means that these guys are going to combine the worst aspects of what Obama has done, and using his credibility to legitimize it with liberals, and the worst aspects of the Bush-Cheney doctrine. It really is kind of unprecedented that this kind of a cabal has this much power, controlling both houses of Congress, the White House and an ability to run the deck in making a Supreme Court that is extraordinarily, almost unprecedented in its right-wing nature.
My guess is that Obama will now be less important to the new torturing guys, indeed in part because he mostly continued Bush Jr.'s policies. Obama might have radically stopped them, but he didn't and that is the most important reason why Trump can be considerably worse than Bush Jr. (In fact, this is the same as with the banks: Obama might have stopped the banks, but he didn't. Instead, he let them coordinate their own saving at the costs of the taxpayers, and then assured they could continue by making Holder, who had already in 1999 said he would not prosecute big banks, as Minister of Justice.)

And this is Scahill on Giuliani:
JEREMY SCAHILL: You know, Giuliani’s record in New York, he’s sort of thought of as America’s mayor because of 9/11. You know, you and I remember what it was like in New York. I mean, this was a guy who developed a very close relationship with the FBI and the CIA targeting Muslim communities. His police force was empowered to shoot at will against black people on the streets of New York. I don’t know how else to say it. I mean, you look at what happened to Amadou Diallo, who was shot at 41 times by special units of the police force. You had the torture of Abner Louima in—you know, I remember you were there and interviewed Abner Louima. I mean, people have to understand that the tone Giuliani set in New York City is not about, "Oh, America’s mayor." This was a guy who believed that police forces should be agents of war, of urban war. And for all of the bragging he’ll do about how he cleaned up New York, you look at the tactics that Giuliani used and think of those in the emerging landscape we see with the paramilitarization of law enforcement, Giuliani as either as a secretary of state or as a homeland security director is a terrifying prospect.
Yes, in my opinion Giuliani is another neofascist - and see note 2 for my definition of "neofascism", which is both new and sensible - while "the paramilitarization of law enforcement" is a good description of what the Trumpian neofascists are trying to achieve (and may very well achieve, what with their being treated as "normal folks" by most of the mainstream media).

2. A Blueprint for a Party That Is Truly for the Working Class

The second item is
by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows - and seems a completely contentless and totally ridiculous idea to me:

Seth Ackerman, a Cornell University doctoral candidate in history, and Jacobin magazine offer a blueprint for a new partylike political organization capable of uniting, protecting and serving Americans on a progressive platform.

Ackerman’s proposal pairs well with political strategist Micah White’s concept that activists should focus their efforts on winning elections and flood America’s rural areas and seize office there.

“A true working-class party must be democratic and member-controlled,” Ackerman writes. “It must be independent — determining its own platform and educating around it. It should actually contest elections. And its candidates for public office should be members of the party, accountable to the membership, and pledged to respect the platform.

“Each of those features plays a crucial role in mobilizing working people to change society. The platform presents a concrete image of what a better society could look like. The candidates, by visibly contesting elections and winning votes under the banner of the platform, generate a sense of hope and momentum that this better society might be attainable in practice. And because the members control the party, working people can have confidence that the party is genuinely acting on their behalf.”

The above seems totally contentless because it specifies what any political organization should do; it's totally ridiculous because it completely avoids mentioning both the people and the money that might put it together; and the whole idea of "working-class" seems baloney to me, because much of the working class has been destroyed over the past 35 years, as have their main organizations, the trade unions.

Here we have some blind academic enthusiasm for a totally ridiculous plan:
“I think this model can work,” Ackerman continues. “But like any blueprint, it’s not a panacea. Simply filing the paperwork to create such an organization is not going to magically conjure a large and successful movement into existence. To make it work, it needs to be a real vehicle and voice for working-class interests. And that means a significant part of the labor movement would have to be at its core.”
I say. If you ask any doctoral candidate in his or her twenties to put together some baloney for A New Political Party, then somethinng like this is what you probably are going to get: Bullshit.

3. How George Orwell's Newspeak Has Infected the News Media

The third item is by Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon:

This starts as follows:

The poet Maya Angelou wisely observed that, “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.”

In keeping with his fascist and authoritarian beliefs, during the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump threatened to sue members of the news media he did not like, offered conspiracy theories that “the media” were somehow unfairly maligning his campaign, called reporters “scum” and “disgraceful,” and made reporters the objects of mockery and violence at his rallies.  Trump’s white nationalist supporters and other deplorables responded in kind, yelling the Nazi chant “’lügenpresse” and “Jew-S-A” in roaring approval during his campaign events.

Yes, and this is quite frightening, because democracy can only exist if the media report mostly truthfully. But the mainstream media don't do this anymore, and indeed don't want to do this: All they are interested in is making as much money for themselves as they can, and in order to do so they have given up on truth and facts, and replaced them by fantasies and bullshit.

Here is more on the factual situation in the American (mainstream) media:

President-elect Donald Trump is continuing his war on the free press with enemies lists, a proposed expansion of slander and libel laws and threats to bar critics in the news media access to his administration. This should not be a surprise. In the United States, the Fourth Estate is supposed to serve as a guardian for democracy, a type of watchdog that helps the public make informed decisions, and sounds the alarm on unchecked power and threats to the Constitution and the values it embodies.

In this moment of crisis, the American corporate news media has been presented with a critical choice: It can normalize Trump’s radical and dangerous anti-democratic behavior or it can stand up against it.

Already, too much of the media seem to be doing the former.

Yes and no, for this seems to forget that (i) there is a crucial difference between the mainstream media and the non-mainstream media, which comes down to the following: The mainstream media have been trying to deceive, mislead and propagandize its audience mostly to keep them amused for the past 10 to 15 years, and with hardly any concern for truth, facts, rationality or reason, whereas the non-mainstream media have tried to inform their audiences more or less honorably, while also (ii) this change did not happen now, nor in the last year that Trump campaigned for the presidency, but - especially - in the early 2000s, when the mainstream paper media also lost most of their advertisements to the internet.

And while I agree with the diagnosis - which I write as: the American mainstream media have totally given up doing real journalism, and substituted doing propaganda for the government and the big corporations for it - I think this has happened, and happened well before Trump's rise, to which it indeed strongly contributed.

Then there is this:

Language is power. The American corporate news media played along and instead of speaking specifically about the actual beliefs, norms, and values of the so-called “alt right” they treated it as just a difference of opinion, one located within a wide range of acceptable attitudes and beliefs in American politics. This is Orwell’s warning and wisdom about political language come true:

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

Not all "language is power", but the quotation of Orwell (which indeed holds for all political parties) is quite correct.

And here is Orwell quoted on Newspeak (<-Wikipedia):

“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. . . . The process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for committing thought-crime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that. . . . Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?”

I think Orwell's O'Brien exaggerated, but then again I may be a little naive, e.g. when I consider Twitter and iPhones:

On Twitter you are restricted to "communicating" in 148 characters (which gives ample scope for the rudest vilifications, but no scope at all for rational argument), while iPhones are too small to read most websites conveniently - but they are the favorite kind of computer most people buy (and "most people" are
not characterized truly as possessing high intelligence or much knowledge).

And besides deliberately restricting what can be said and what can be read, the mainstream media very much helped Trump to become president by not analyzing his very many lies, and by giving him at least $3 billions of dollars in completely free advertising:

During the 2016 presidential campaign, the mainstream media gave Trump the equivalent of at least $ 3 billion in free advertising. CNN’s executives have estimated that Trump was worth at least $100 million in ad revenue to their network. Ultimately, the normalization of Donald Trump is a function of financial and material concerns.

Indeed, it seems you do not need to reform the English language and the English vocabulary if the mainstream media are anyway extremely helpful in spreading your propaganda, and in fact all you need to do is to undo the legal protections of the non-mainstream media, and then attack them with all the might you have as a president.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article, in which I had to insert my own guess about a missing word (marked between [] and with a ?):

Donald Trump, like other authoritarians, is trying to create his own reality. He is doing this with the help of a complaint  [against (?)] American corporate news media. This is Trump’s artificial reality; it is not the world as it actually exists. To protect American democracy requires that we reject the normalization of president-elect Donald Trump and his politics. Trump is a cancer in American political life. We must not “give him a chance” to prove himself as Donald Trump has already spent months and years demonstrating his radical and dangerous political beliefs.

As I explained in my remarks, this is too little and it is too late: The mainstream media already have surrendered to the powers of propaganda and bullshit before Trump started competing for the presidency, and now that he will become president, he will probably try to undo press freedom and kill all or most surviving non-mainstream media (with offices inside the USA).

I may be mistaken - I strongly hope I am - but I fear that is the probable future. T
his is a recommended article.

4. Will the Trump Administration Be Mega-Friendly to Mega-Mergers?

The fourth item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

With the proposed health insurance mega-merger between Anthem and Cigna—one of the Obama administration's last antitrust cases—in court Monday, observers are speculating about how consolidation within healthcare and other industries will be impacted under President-elect Donald Trump.

Here is first a voice from the effective past:

As Attorney General Loretta Lynch said of both deals in July: "If allowed to proceed, these mergers would fundamentally reshape the health insurance industry. They would leave much of the multi-trillion dollar health insurance industry in the hands of three mammoth insurance companies, drastically constricting competition in a number of key markets that tens of millions of Americans rely on to receive healthcare."

She is right, but she will not be Attorney General for long: The new one is probably Sessions, and he has quite different opinions:

But investment advisory firm Evercore ISI's head of political analysis, Terry Haines, predicted last week that "Sessions' likely nomination and confirmation by the Senate, in which he has served since 1997, is a market positive for merger and acquisition activity. Sessions as attorney general would shift immediately from the current mostly 'red light' Obama antitrust/competition policy and move towards one that would be friendlier to M&A activity."

Similarly, Robert Raben, formerly an assistant attorney general under former President Bill Clinton and now head of consulting firm the Raben Group told the Washington Post: "Sen. Sessions brings experience, intelligence, and passion to Justice. Regrettably, it is likely to be exercised toward the attempted elimination of civil rights, environmental, and antitrust enforcement."
I think Robert Raben is right. And this is - probably - Trump's opinion:
In general, Trump has said he wants less government regulation of business—and as ProPublica put it last week, "the early signs are that his administration will weaken antitrust enforcement and strengthen the hand of economists."
(...)
With more Big Ag, Big Pharma, and Frackopoly mergers in the wings, the Times reports: "The clearest sign of the new administration's position, antitrust experts said, will come from who is appointed to crucial positions at the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission [FTC]."

I fail to see how a weak antitrust enforcement would "strengthen the hand of economists": wouldn't it much rather strengthen the hands of major capitalists, or major rich men, or major CEOs much rather than "economists"?!

But the general thrust of the article is clear:

Yes, the Trump government will - very probably - be mega-friendly to mega- mergers, and it will be because Trump's government will be a government by the rich for the rich.

And this is a recommended article.

5. Donald Trump and the Return of Seditious Libel

The fifth item today is by Richard Tofel on ProPublica:

This is from near the beginning:

For at least the last 30 years, since Chief Justice William Rehnquist acquiesced in the constitutionalization of the law of libel, which has safeguarded the American press for more than a half century, we appeared to have a consensus in this country around our modern system of protections for the value of a free and untrammeled press to the process of self-government.

Until now. This year, for the first time since at least Richard Nixon, the leader of one of our major political parties has pledged to limit press freedom by restricting criticism of his prospective rule.

Yes indeed, although I should add another factor, which is that the mainstream media seem to have given up exercising their press freedom for the most part, during the last 10 to 15 years.

But this is - still - a very important point. Here are Trump's opinions on freedom of the press:

Trump has said that most reporters are “absolute dishonest, absolute scum.” He’s said that “I think the media is among the most dishonest groups of people I’ve ever met. They’re terrible.”

In February he pledged that “one of the things I’m gonna do if I win, and I hope that I do, and we’re certainly leading, is I’m gonna open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money. We’re gonna open up those libel laws. So that when the New York Times writes a hit piece that is a total disgrace, or when the Washington Post, which is there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can sue them and win money rather than have no chance of winning because they’re totally protected. You see, with me, they’re not protected, because I’m not like other people, but I’m not taking money, I’m not taking their money. We’re gonna open up those libel laws, folks, and we’re gonna have people sue you like you never got sued before.”

As far as I understand this, Trump is for a press that is free to praise him and his plans, but he is against a press that criticizes him (by what he calls "a hit piece" that - at least as he phrases it - may be completely true).

And therefore he wants to take away the press's protection in the First Amendment, and then attack and legally prosecute anybody who "writes a hit piece".

Here is what he did before he became president:

Trump has also sued the Chicago Tribune and comedian Bill Maher, and threatened to sue the New York Times (more than once), ABC, the Daily Beast, Rolling Stone, the Huffington Post, reporter David Cay Johnston, TV host Lawrence O’Donnell and comedian Rosie O’Donnell
(...)

Anyone paying attention knows there is a great deal at stake in this election. Freedom of the press in this country may be among those stakes.

Yes indeed. I suppose freedom of the press is lost, and in fact Trump needs only to destroy the non-mainstream press, which he probably can do easily as soon as he is president.

This is a recommended article.

--------------------------
Notes
[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]
I am saying this not because I want to offend but because I want to explain, and my own explanatory definition of neofascism is this:
Neofascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that propounds an ethics which has profit as its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are stronger than a national government or stateb. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.

Also, I am rather certain that most (not: all) of those who style themselved as "neoliberals" in fact are neofascists as defined (even though they probably do not like the term).

And this is fascism as I defined it:
Fascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with centralized authority and a dictator, that suppresses the opposition through propaganda, censorship and terror, that propounds an ethics founded on discipline, virility, and collectivism, that has a politics that is totalitarian, anti-liberal, anti-individualist, anti-equality, and anti-Marxist, that is also authoritarian, rightwing and nationalistic, and often racist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy, b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.
See the following if you are interested: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions. (This lists 22 definitions of the term "fascism", and critically reflects on them.)

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