June 24, 2019

Crisis: Turkey´s Elections, On John Stewart, On Sanders as ´Existential Threat´ (1) and (2)

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 24, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Monday, June 24, 2019.

I realize that I did not commemorate the fact that I am writing Crisis files for six years now, since I started to do so after June 10, 2013, which taught me about Snowden.

I am registering it now, and may write about it the coming days, but I am also somewhat worse at present than I was for a long time. (This still continues: I have ME/CFS simce 40+ years.)

There will be more about computers and Ubuntu in Nederlog soon, but I am happy to announce that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that I installed in 2017, works again as it did before on May 24, and after 24 hours of misery.

And on May 23 I also got a working computer with 18.04 LTS (which is worse than 16.04 LTS because its Firefox also is a menuless horror that I refuse to use, but happily SeaMonkey is not, for it still has it menus and can be installed on 18.04), so I am at present - and after two weeks of struggling - in the possession of two more or less, though not yet quite decently working computers.

So today there is a more or less common Nederlog, where "common" is the style I developed in 2013.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will continue with it.

On the moment and since more than three years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

These are four crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 24, 2019:
1. Istanbul Mayoral Loss a Blow to Turkey's Erdogan
2. How comedians like Jon Stewart are redefining patriotism
3. Sanders as ´Existential Threat´ to the Democrats
4. On Sanders as an 'Existential Threat'
The items 1 - 4 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Istanbul Mayoral Loss a Blow to Turkey's Erdogan

This article is by Zeynep Bilginsoy and Derek Gatopoulos on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:

The opposition candidate for mayor of Istanbul celebrated a landmark win Sunday in a closely watched repeat election that ended weeks of political tension and broke President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party’s 25-year hold on Turkey’s biggest city.

“Thank you, Istanbul,” former businessman and district mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, 49, said in a televised speech after unofficial results showed he won a clear majority of the vote.

I say, for I did not know this and also did not expect this, while I like this outcome because I dislike Erdogan, which is also the main reason I am reviewing this article.

Here is a bit more on Turkey, which is important simply because it has over 82 million inhabitants, apart from other reasons:

Imamoglu narrowly won Istanbul’s earlier mayor’s contest on March 31, but Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, AKP, challenged the election for alleged voting irregularities. He spent 18 days in office before Turkey’s electoral board annulled the results after weeks of partial recounts.

The voided vote raised concerns domestically and abroad about the state of Turkish democracy and whether Erdogan’s party would accept any electoral loss. AKP has governed Turkey since 2002.

“You have protected the reputation of democracy in Turkey with the whole world watching,” Imamoglu, his voice hoarse after weeks of campaigning, told supporters.

Yes, though I also think Imamoglu was trying to flatter Erdogan. Here is some more on the recent elections in Turkey:

Erdogan campaigned for Yildirim in Istanbul, where the president started his political career as mayor in 1994. The ruling party still controls 25 of Istanbul’s 39 districts and a majority in the municipal assembly.

Imamoglu will have to work with those officeholders to govern Istanbul and promised Sunday to work with his political opponents.

AKP also lost control of the capital city of Ankara in Turkey’s March local elections, which were held as the country faced an economic downturn, battled high inflation and two credit rating downgrades in the past year.

I take it these are facts. Here is the last bit I quote from this article on Istanbul and on Turkish voters:

Istanbul, a city of more than 15 million, draws millions of tourists each year and is Turkey’s commercial and cultural hub. Straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul accounted for 31% of Turkey’s GDP in 2017.

Ozgur Unluhisarcikli, Ankara office director of the German Marshall Fund, argued that the loss of Istanbul is likely to fuel speculation of divisions within the ruling party and among its supporters.

“It’s now clear that a sizable portion of the AKP voters is seriously dissatisfied by policies of the AKP,” he said.

Possibly so, and this is a recommended article.

2. How comedians like Jon Stewart are redefining patriotism

This article is by Sophia A. McClennen on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:

On Tuesday, June 11, legendary satirical comedian Jon Stewart came out from retirement to testify before the House judiciary committee regarding the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. The fund was established to support 9/11 First Responders and is reportedly facing cuts of between 50-70%.  Stewart, who has long been a champion of support for the First Responders, made an impassioned plea to Congress to do their jobs and pass legislation to permanently and fully fund support for the victims.

“Behind me, a filled room of 9/11 first responders. And in front of me, a nearly empty Congress,” Stewart riled. “Sick and dying, they brought themselves down here to speak to no one. Shameful. It’s an embarrassment to the country and it’s a stain on this institution.”

Using his characteristic sharp wit, Stewart underscored the difference between the work ethic of the 9/11 First Responders and those in Congress, “They responded in five seconds. They did their jobs [with] courage, grace, tenacity, humility. Eighteen years later, do yours.”

Yes indeed, although I have two further inferences from the above mentioned facts:

Firstly, if one thing ought to be quite clear given the above facts, it is that very few members of Congress have any real interest in ordinary Americans who have no money to pay them for results they like - for after eighteen years of non-payments or little payments to heroic Americans who have no money, that is the only clear explanation.

And therefore, secondly, only a few members of Congress are interested in honesty and in helping those with no money, even if they are quite heroic: The vast majority of Congress these days vote for or against things only because they have been paid by the rich, that is, by their lobbyists.

At least, that is what I think. Here is some more on John Stewart and other comedians:

The real story is that ever since 9/11 comedians have increasingly worked to defend the values of our nation, oftentimes more so than politicians themselves.
[S]omething odd happened to satire in the United States after 9/11. Suddenly, it was the court jesters who were taking on the role of defenders of our values and our core institutions. Sure, the comedians still made fun of the emperor with no clothes, or the orange-faced president, but they did more than that. They became role models for engaged citizenship, they defended American values, and they redefined patriotism.  Satirical comedians, who typically focus on questioning values and institutions, rose up to protect them.

Yes, I think that is more or less correct. Here is some more on Stewart:

Over the course of the years that Stewart hosted his show for Comedy Central he did far more than serve as a voice of ironic commentary on national crises and political follies; he increasingly became an advocate for American values. While he regularly recognized the various ways the country had failed to live up to its ideals, he remained convinced that the goal was to keep striving to attain them.

Yes again. Here is some more on other comedians:

John Oliver regularly uses his show on HBO to educate his audience on major issues of significant public interest. And who could forget Jimmy Kimmel’s turn from goofy frat boy humor to emotional champion for universal healthcare — a move that underscores the way that even the most unlikely comedians are advocating for policies that benefit our nation.

In fact, the examples of ways that comedians are serious about defending national institutions and committed to advancing national ideals abound. This uncanny transition where comedians don’t just mock institutions, they actually defend them, has happened for a range of reasons, but one thing remains clear: the public trusts comedians often more than politicians or the press and they also learn more from them.

I agree more or less and this is a recommended article.

3. Sanders as ´Existential Threat´ to the Democrats

This article is by Alex Henderson on AlterNet. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

While former Vice President Joe Biden remains the frontrunner in many polls on the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont can often be found in second place — and the Vermont senator and self-described “democratic socialist” raised an impressive $18 million during the first quarter of his campaign. If Sanders were to win the Democratic nomination and defeat President Donald Trump in the general election, he would be the most liberal/progressive president the U.S. has had since Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1960s. But some centrist Democrats fear that Sanders is unelectable, as a new report in the Guardian details with a review of the “anyone-but-Bernie” movement.

The Guardian’s Lauren Gambino reports that on June 18, the centrist think tank Third Way held an event in South Carolina — where about 250 people were in attendance and Third Way members expressed fears that Sanders would win the primary but lose to Trump in the general election.

Well... yes and no and mostly no, because I do not believe that ¨some centrist Democrats fear that Sanders is unelectable¨: I believe they fear his election, because this will probably mean that they are finished.

And I am not saying that Sanders will be elected (I hope so, but have no idea). What I am saying is that almost all ¨centrist Democrats¨ seem to be paid by lobbyists, whereas Sanders and a few other (nominal) Democrats, like Elizabeth Warren, are not.

Here is some more:

Cowan, in an interview with the Guardian, expressed his worries about Sanders’ influence on the Democratic Party, asserting, “He has made it his mission to either get the nomination or to remake the party in his image as a democratic socialist. That is an existential threat to the future of the Democratic Party for the next generation.”

Sanders was quick to respond to the June 18 event. The following day on Twitter, he denounced the anyone-but-Bernie movement as the work of “the corporate wing of the Democratic Party.”

I think Cowan was lying. He should have said something like: I am against Bernie Sanders because he does not get paid by rich lobbyists to vote as they want, which has been the way of the Democrats since 1979.

And I like and agree with Sanders comment. Here is some more on Warren:

The anyone-but-Bernie movement raises an interesting question: what about Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate who shares many of Sanders’ liberal/progressive views and has been surging in recent polls? Why would Third Way be so hostile to Sanders but not to Warren? Arguably, it comes down to messaging.

Warren, unlike Sanders, has rejected the term “democratic socialist.” The Massachusetts senator has declared that she favors “markets” and is a “capitalist to my bones”; Warren has positioned herself as a blistering critic of crony capitalism but not of capitalism itself. If anything, Warren is — not unlike President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1930s — promoting herself as a savior of capitalism, not an opponent.

Perhaps. And in fact I agree with Warren that it may have been a bit unwise of Sanders to stress that he conceives of himself as a ¨democratic socialist¨. Then again, he has conceived of himself as such the last 40+ years and he might well reply to me that if he didn´t say so, his political opponents, which include the centrist Democrats, very probably would have said so anyway.

Then again, I am somewhat confused about Sanders, simply because, while I like him and would welcome a team of Sanders + Warren, I do not think he is a real socialist as I would use that term, and I also think that the understanding of the term ¨socialism¨ seems different in the USA from what it is in Europe (where the understanding of this term also does not seem to be well, though it is a bitter better and more informed than in the USA).

Here is the last bit from this article:
Truth be told, Sanders is really a capitalist — and the “socialism” that he favors draws its inspiration from FDR’s New Deal, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society and the modern-day governments of Sweden, Denmark and Norway rather than Che Guevara or Mao Tse Tung. But in a soundbite culture like the United States, some people can’t get past the fact that Sanders is using the word “socialist” at all.

Yes, I agree and this is a recommended article, that gets continued or answered in the next article I review. 
4. On Sanders as an 'Existential Threat'

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. I abbreviated the title. It has a subtitle:

A centrist candidate—which, let’s be honest, means one who is beholden to the uber rich and corporations—cannot and will not address these truly existential issues.

Yes indeed: This is as I argued above. This article starts as follows:

Over the past few days, the mainstream Democrats’ war on Bernie Sanders has come out of the closet.  Recent articles in Politico and the Guardian, detail how centrist organizations like Third Way have been pushing the narrative that Sanders is unelectable.  The reason, according to Third Way leaders and other neoliberals, is the dreaded label of “socialist.”

There’s two things wrong with this premise.

First, Sanders has been a nationally known figure since 2015, and the label hasn’t hurt him much. He still polls better against Trump than any Democrat except Biden—and they're essentially tied at the moment in a race with Trump.

Yes, this seems mostly correct. Here is some more:

But the second thing that reveals how wrong the centrist neoliberals are, is that, until 2018—when Democrats were more progressive and the Party ran more progressive candidates—they’d been losing ground for nearly five decades. In the 1960’s about half of all voters registered as Democrats—today that number is only about 29 percent.  As recently as 1978, Democrats controlled both legislative branches in thirty-one states, while Republicans had majorities in only eleven.

By 2016 Republicans controlled both legislatures and the governorship in twenty-five states, while Democrats control all three institutions in just six states.

Yes indeed. Here is more on this second point:

This losing trend directly parallels the Democratic Party’s drift to the center and then to the right. As groups like the Democratic Leadership Council embraced corporatism, and ran from New Deal and Great Society values, the Party lost ground.

In short, Democrats are on the verge of an existential crisis, but it’s centrism that is causing it. 

I think that is correct. Here is some more:

We are facing a real crisis—perhaps an existential one—in the form of the climate change, and it’s closer and more serious than we’ve been led to believe.

We have a press which thinks that covering both “sides” of a debate is more important than divining the truth behind the debate.  Balance has replaced accuracy, truth, data, and facts as the media’s polestar.  As a result, morons get equal time with sages.

We are seeing economic and political power concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, as corporations merge at a record pace, and wealth and income gets increasingly concentrated at the very top of our society.

Yes, I think this is also correct. Here is the ending of this article:
People understand two things. First, government has been taken over by oligarchs and second, it no longer represents them.  Some of them are mad as hell, and they vote for the likes of Trump because he at least shares their inchoate rage at the system, even if he reinforces it with his policies. Others are justifiably cynical and choose to stay home on election day.

That’s how Trump won in 2016. Targeting a few more votes from the mythical center won’t change that. Getting the no shows to show will. And only a progressive can do that.
Yes, I agree and this is a strongly recommended article.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 3 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).
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