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Nederlog

June 26, 2015
Crisis: U.S. Voting Fraud, Whistleblowers, Nader on TPP, Obamacare, Stein, Oppenheimer
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















Prev- crisis -Next

 Sections

            Introduction
1. Electronic Voting Fraud: A Real Threat to Any Democrat
     Running for President

2. War on Whistleblowers, After Obama
3. King Obama, His Royal Court, and the TPP
4.
Rejecting Right-Wing Attack, US Supreme Court Upholds
     Obamacare Subsidies

5.
"An Age of the Statistically Unlikely": An Interview With
     Presidential Candidate Jill Stein
6. The Day After Trinity


This is a Nederlog of Friday June 26, 2015.

This is a
crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article that lists the dangers of electronic voting in the U.S.; item 2 is about the war on whistleblowers, that doesn't seem to grow less; item 3 is by Ralph Nader and about the TPP and Obama, and is a good article; item 4 is about an outcome
of a recent SCOTUS-decision: "Obamacare" may continue; item 5 is about an
interview with American's Green Party presidential candidate; and item 6 is
basically a non-crisis item: a link to an interesting film of 1980 about the creation
of the first atom bomb and the role of J. Robert Oppenheimer.

Also, the
crisis index has been updated until yesterday and this Nederlog got uploaded a bit earlier than normal.
1. Electronic Voting Fraud: A Real Threat to Any Democrat Running for President

The first item today is an article by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman on Truth-out:

The filename of this article is a bit starker than the above title: "why-hilllary- can-t-win". I do believe that fiilename is too strong, and have some reasons coming up, but I agree that the possibility of electronic voter fraud exists.

Here is the beginning of the article:

The way our electoral process now stands, electronic voting machines guarantee a Republican victory in 2016.

No matter what she does, Hillary Clinton - or any other Democratic nominee - cannot be elected without a fundamental change in the basic mechanics of how our votes are cast and counted.

It is a profoundly disturbing reality that casts a long shadow over all that's wrong with our electoral system, no matter who one favors for public office.

Just 15 years after the theft of the 2000 election, the Democrats have finally begun to talk about voter rights and various methods to guarantee public access to the polls.

I say. Two immediate problems that this beginning does not mention are:
(1) it presumes great dishonesty in governors and secretaries of state, and
(2) it leaves the question why - for example - the Koch brothers would invest
many millions into trying to win elections when they also could buy them from
corrupted governors and secretaries of state, hanging in the air.
 
Then again, I also agree to two facts: (i) the 2000 presidential elections were probably stolen, by manipulations in Florida by Jeb Bush plus a pretty sick Supreme Court decision, and (ii) I know from various discusssions in Holland about electronic voting that there is a real possibility that electronic votings may
be falsified by a few corrupt officials.

Indeed, Fitrakis and Wasserman propose measures (that are very unlikely to be practised) that were also proposed in Holland:

So we support universal hand-counted paper ballots, automatic universal voter registration, a four-day national holiday for voting, major restrictions on campaign spending and a wide range of additional reforms meant to guarantee some kind of democracy in the United States.

I agree, even though the counting will take more time if the votes are hand- counted, simply because this makes it far less likely that the outcomes will get falsified.

And Fitrakis and Wasserman have a - sort of - answer to the above question (2):

Do we really think the Kochs and their ilk would spend billions to sway our elections without throwing in some pocket change to flip the final tally? Especially in states where they already own both the governor and the secretary of state?

This is not a real answer, for it consists of two questions. My own answer is: I really don't know, but I have two additional points about Fitrakis and Wasserman, who also announced that their book about these possibilities will be published before the 2016 elections:

(a) they had a similar (e-)book about the 2012-election: "Will the GOP Steal
     America's 2012 election?", while
(b) these elections were perfectly predicted (correct outcomes in  all or all but
     one state) by a statistician before they happened.

This - together with the felt near certainty by many strong sympathizers with the
GOP that the GOP would win, until the end - makes it more probable than not (in
my opinion) that the 2012 election was honest.

But I agree that
the possibility of electronic voter fraud exists, and it is my guess
little or nothing will be done against it in the 2016 election.

2. War on Whistleblowers, After Obama

The next item today is an article by John Hanrahan that I found on Consortium News, but that originated on ExposeFacts:

This has a summary, that I quote first:

The war on whistleblowers has injected fear of prosecution into all honest communications between national security officials and reporters, meaning that the public instead gets a steady diet of U.S. government lies, propaganda and self-serving rhetoric (..)

Yes - or at least it seems that way. Here is the start of the article:

Here’s the thing about President Barack Obama’s war on whistleblowers: In bringing espionage charges in nine cases involving disclosures or alleged misuse of classified information, the current administration has set a floor, rather than a ceiling, on the number and types of whistleblower espionage cases a future president can bring.

And here’s another thing: With leaders of both political parties having either kept silent or cheered on the Obama administration’s unprecedented crackdown on whistleblowers, who in high position in Congress would have one shred of moral authority or credibility to challenge a future president’s excesses under the Espionage Act? On the question of keeping American citizens in the dark and of punishing whistleblowers who dare to enlighten them, we truly have bipartisan authoritarianism.

And then a third thing: Don’t count much on major U.S. news media for any meaningful oversight of, and opposition to, the treatment of whistleblowers under future presidents. The mainstream press and big-name journalists — with some intermittent, notable exceptions such as these two New York Times editorials and this Newark Star-Ledger editorial — have largely ignored the jail-the-whistleblowers policies of the Obama administration.

Which is to say: the persecution of whistleblowers and journalists will probably continue; both American political parties support it; and the major news media
also either support it or ignore it.

I agree that is a likely assessment, and it is worked out in some detail in the rest of the article, that I leave to your interests, except for the last paragraph:

Regardless of what pessimistic answer one gives to that question, the U.S. public should know by now that — as with all of the other repressive measures imposed under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama — we aren’t going to get out of any of these messes by figuring that the next president will somehow be better in restoring some of our democratic rights. Only an inflamed citizenry pressuring all of our unresponsive government and journalistic institutions can help us move in that direction.

I also agree to that conclusion, though I should say that I haven't seen much evidence - yet - of "an inflamed citizenry" (apart from Occupy (<- Wikipedia)
to be sure).

3. King Obama, His Royal Court, and the TPP

The next item today is an article by Ralph Nader (<- Wikipedia). I found it on Common Dreams but it first appeared on Nader's website:

This starts as follows:

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a global corporate noose around U.S. local, state, and national sovereignty – narrowly passed a major procedural hurdle in the Congress by gaining “fast track” status. This term “fast track” is a euphemism for your members of Congress – senators and representatives – handcuffing themselves, so as to prevent any amendments or adequate debate before the final vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership – another euphemism that is used to avoid the word “treaty,” which would require ratification by two-thirds of the Senate. This anti-democratic process is being pushed by “King Obama” and his royal court.

Make no mistake. If this was only a trade treaty – reducing tariffs, quotas, and the like – it would not be so controversial. Yet, the corporate-indentured politicians keep calling this gigantic treaty with thirty chapters, of which only five relate to traditional trade issues, a trade agreement instead of a treaty. The other twenty-four chapters, if passed as they are, will have serious impacts on your livelihoods as workers and consumers, as well as your air, water, food, and medicines

The reason I call President Obama “King Obama” in this case is that he, and his massive corporate lobbies (royal court), have sought to circumvent the checks and balances system that is the very bedrock of our government. They have severely weakened the independence of the primary branch of our government – the Congress—and fought off any court challenges with medieval defenses, such as no American citizen has any standing to sue for harm done by such treaties or the subject is a political, not judicial, matter.

Only corporations, astonishingly enough, are entitled to sue the U.S. government for any alleged harm to their profits from health, safety or other regulations in secret tribunals that operate as offshore kangaroo courts, not in open courts.
Yes, indeed: I agree to all of that. This is a good article that I recommend you read all of.

I will only quote one more bit of it:

For ten reasons why the TPP is a bad idea for our country and the world see my recent Common Dreams column.

If this all sounds so outrageous as to strain credulity, go beneath the tip of this iceberg and visit: Global Trade Warch and Flush the TPP.

Both are good links.

4. Rejecting Right-Wing Attack, US Supreme Court Upholds Obamacare Subsidies

The next item today is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Handing a victory for President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act—as well as millions of people who gained more affordable healthcare under the law—the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that individuals who get their health insurance through an exchange established by the federal government will continue to be eligible for tax subsidies.

The "ALEC-fueled" case, King v. Burwell, dealt with whether the Affordable Care Act provides subsidies to everyone in the country who qualifies for them on the basis of income level, regardless of whether they get their insurance through a state-run exchange or an exchange run by the federal government. Basing their argument on just four words buried in the massive legislation, the plaintiffs claimed that subsidies were supposed to be only for those purchasing health care through state-run health exchanges—not the federal one.

Experts warned that a finding in favor of the plaintiffs would eviscerate the healthcare law.

Affirming the decision of the Fourth Circuit, the justices voted 6-3 to uphold the subsidies.
I say. There is more in the article, and I suppose I agree to this decision - but then again, "Obamacare" is in fact a version of "Romneycare", and I also agree
with the last paragraph in the article:

And while he praised the Supreme Court ruling for not throwing millions off health insurance, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) added: "What the United States should do is join every other major nation and recognize that health care is a right of citizenship. A Medicare-for-all, single-payer system would provide better care at less cost for more Americans.”
Yes, indeed.

5. "An Age of the Statistically Unlikely": An Interview With Presidential Candidate Jill Stein

The next item today is an article by Candice Bernd on Truthout:
This starts as follows:

Green Party candidate Jill Stein officially announced she is running in the 2016 presidential race on June 22, during an interview on Democracy Now!. She held a campaign kickoff event the following day at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, where antiwar activist Medea Benjamin and racial justice activist Marsha Coleman-Adebayo introduced and endorsed her campaign.

The main planks of Stein's presidential platform include a "Green New Deal," ending mass incarceration and police brutality, a $15 per hour federal minimum wage, a single-payer health-care system, universal public education and the abolition of student debt, breaking up big banks and nationalizing the Federal Reserve, initiating a global treaty to reverse climate change and ending extreme forms of extraction.

To start with, I note this is Chris Hedges' favorite presidential candidate, and I agree with the "main planks" sketched above. And I will say what I think about her chances and about voting for her in the presidential elections after two more quotes, from a considerably longer interview.

First, there is this on the Republican Bush and the Democrat Obama (who ruled the last 15 years):

We had Bush and all the terrible things under Bush. Then we had Obama, even with the Democratic Congress in both houses for two years. And what did we get under Obama? It was Bush on steroids. We continued to have more of that because the electorate reacted against Obama - because what was he doing? He was continuing to bail out Wall Street. He was looking the other way at predatory mortgages and the continuing foreclosure crisis, the offshoring of our jobs. On all cylinders, Obama really led the charge in the absolute wrong direction, and so people then rejected the Democratic Congress when they then had the option.

I agree, except for the conclusion: I do not think the Republicans got the majority in Congress because "peope ... rejected" a Democratic Congress. (It is more complicated.)

There is considerably more there, that I will leave to your interests, but I will quote the last paragraph, also because this will give me an opportunity to say something about Jill Stein's
chances and about voting for her in the presidential elections:

So are we going to confine ourselves to those two choices? It's outrageous, because to do so really tells the largest sector of the population not to vote. It locks them out of the election, and then all hope really is lost.

I agree that a mere two choices, also from parties that are mostly the same in many respects, is far too little to make the American presidential elections really democratic (in the senses of "fair, honest and decent"). But then this has been almost always the case, at least for the last hundred years or so.

Then again, voting for Jill Stein in a presidential election means - apart from miracles, that may be rationally discarded - voting for a losing candidate.

Does that matter? I don't think so, and do so for mostly two reasons.

One. If I were American (I am not), and if Bernie Sanders would win the Democratic primaries (which doesn't look very probable, though so far he is
doing well), I would certainly vote for him, and not for Jill Stein even though
I might agree more with her than with Sanders, and that simply because I
agree mostly with Sanders and think he has a far better chance of being elected.

Two. But I also am a liberal, and I find it quite OK if Americans say: I will not
vote either for Republicanw or Democrats, because these are deceivers, and so either I will note vote, or vote for a candidate of a party that doesn't make a chance, simply because I like their ideals, and dislike the ideals and the practises of both the Republicans and the Democrats.

6. The Day After Trinity

The last item today is not an article but a film about J. Robert Oppenheimer (<- Wikipedia) and the creation of the first atomic bomb (<- Wikipedia) by the United States, in the first half of the 1940ies, and is also about Oppenheimer's treatment under McCarthy (<-Wikipedia). The film is originally from 1980 and takes almost 1 1/2 hour:

It is here simply because I saw it yesterday and I liked it (and the themes are important).

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