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Nederlog

October 15, 2015
Crisis: Democratic Candidates *3, Canada, Wealth vs Poverty, "Techno-Fascism"
 "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















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Sections
Introduction

1.
Cable News Edits Out Rousing Sanders Attack on Vapid
     Media Coverage

2. What Did Clinton Mean When She Said Snowden Files Fell
     Into the “Wrong Hands” ?

3. Canada's real barbarism? Stephen Harper’s
     dismembering of the country

4. 
Sanders Won the Focus Groups and Online Polls. So Why
     Do the Media Say Clinton Won the Debate? 

5.
Half of World’s Wealth Now Owned by 1 Percent of
     Population

6.
Is the Digital Revolution Sowing the Seeds of a
     Techno-Fascist Future?

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, October 15, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 6 dotted links and 3 of them are about the debate among Democratic presidential candidates: item 1, item 2 and item 4 (and no: I couldn't find decent at least halfway intelligent articles before today); item 3 is about Canada and Stephen Harper; item 5 is about the current - quite insane and extremely unfair - distribution of wealth in the world; and item 6 is an interesting article about "techno-fascism". Also, I have kept most excerpts fairly brief, except of item 6, simply because I think that was the most interesting article today (and though I don't agree with it, it is worthwile).

1. Cable News Edits Out Rousing Sanders Attack on Vapid Media Coverage

The first item today is an article by Lee Fang on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Bernie Sanders garnered one of the biggest applause lines during the debate Tuesday night — and a trending hashtag — when he slammed the media for focusing on Hillary Clinton’s “damn emails” instead of asking the candidates about poverty, inequality, trade policies, and the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

But from watching television coverage of this dramatic moment in the debate, you would only hear half of the story. Playing clips from the debate, CNN and other networks focused almost exclusively on the political impact of Sanders expressing solidarity with Clinton about her damn emails —  while editing out his comment about the failures of the media to talk about the biggest issues facing America.

I say. First note that this was a major event, that leads up to the very major event of electing the next US president. But even so, "CNN and other networks" simply falsify what was said, and do so very consciously so as to falsify their viewers perceptions.

What shall one call these practices? Well... being a psychologist I will limit it to  psychopathic deceivers
. The first term indicates that those who do it are - in my heavily educated opinion - devoid of any individual moral system (apart from: Me First! Me First! Me First!, of course), and the second simply describes what they do: they deceive the millions, very consciously so, for pay.

So here is some more about the actions of CNN's psychopathic deceivers:

At the 00:58 moment in the clip above, Sanders is heard saying: “The secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails…. Enough of the e-mails. Let’s talk about the real issues facing America.”

But here’s the part that was edited out:

SANDERS: The middle class — Anderson, and let me say something about the media, as well. I go around the country, talk to a whole lot of people. Middle class in this country is collapsing. We have 27 million people living in poverty. We have massive wealth and income inequality. Our trade policies have cost us millions of decent jobs. The American people want to know whether we’re going to have a democracy or an oligarchy as a result of Citizens United.

Precisely: Sanders may support Clinton, but he may make no points of his own, and if he does they are simply deleted as if they never happened.
2. What Did Clinton Mean When She Said Snowden Files Fell Into the “Wrong Hands” ?

The next article today is by Dan Froomkin on The Intercept:
This starts as follows, and is about Clinton's contribution to the debate between the Democratic presidential candidates:

Hillary Clinton asserted at Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “stole very important information that has unfortunately fallen into a lot of the wrong hands.”

She seemed to be darkly intimating that the information Snowden gave to journalists in Hong Kong before he was granted asylum in Moscow also ended up with the Chinese and/or Russian governments.

But that conclusion is entirely unsupported by the evidence; it’s a political smear that even the most alarmist Obama administration intelligence officials have not asserted as fact.

Dan Froomkin may be right about what Clinton was trying to do, but I don't know and simply stick to the facts:

Hillary Clinton lied, and did so in the way she believes will give her the best chances to win the presidency. And I think that sums up her whole message, whatever it is about: She will lie, deceive, and manipulate, all to give her the best chances to win the presidency.

Here is some more by Dan Froomkin:

Clinton’s comments on Snowden were flawed in more than one way. She also insisted, incorrectly, that he could have accomplished his goals by going through normal channels.

“He could have been a whistleblower. He could have gotten all of the protections of being a whistleblower. He could have raised all the issues that he has raised. And I think there would have been a positive response to that,” she said.

But Snowden, as a contractor, was not covered by whistleblower protections. He did try going through established channels, but he said his concerns fell on deaf ears.  And the response to his leaks has made abundantly clear that no one in his chain of command was the least bit interested in going public with the information.

Precisely, and as Hillary very well knew. But to say it once again: Hillary Clinton lied, deceived, and manipulated all to give her the best chances to win the presidency. (You may disagree, but that is what I think, that also includes the fact that while she is a thorougly dishonest candidate, she is less bad presidential material than any of the Republicans. But honest? No, not a bit.)

3. Canada's real barbarism? Stephen Harper’s dismembering of the country

The next article today is by Martin Lukacs on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

The threat of barbarism is grave, insidious and far-reaching. Those responsible are a small group nurturing a foreign-inspired ideology on Canadian soil. They pore over rigid doctrines in cloistered rooms. They scheme to impose their values, attractive only to a minority, on the majority of Canadian people. They have carefully veiled their true selves but their agenda is unmistakable: to erase the country’s achievements in security and fairness.

This threat comes not from a handful of niqab-wearing Muslim women. It has always come from Canada’s Conservative party. Their imported neoconservative ideology, baked into homegrown resentment toward the federal state, has never been palatable to a country with progressive ambitions. They have risen to power through other means: money and economic clout; a deep network of right-wing media and think tanks that have shaped policy options; and an unreformed electoral system that has allowed a party with only a quarter of the electorate’s support to rule unhindered.

I say - but seeing the career and the sayings of Stephen Harper that seems quite credible to me. Here is some more on him:

Harper’s greatest success in hampering the state from serving Canadians has been to strip it of its most important resource: taxes. Continuing a Liberal legacy, Harper’s cuts to taxes – GST, corporate and personal – have enriched corporations and denied the state a stunning $45 billion a year in revenue. This has deliberately starved the ability of this government – and of future ones – to pay for public services and address inequality or climate change. Such policies have reduced the country to depression-era divisions: Canada’s wealthiest 86 people now own as much as the 11.4 million poorest.

There is a considerably larger amount of text in the article. If you are concerned about Canada, I think you should read it. (I do not know how much of it is correct, but I do know president Harper was and is a very bad idea.)

4. Sanders Won the Focus Groups and Online Polls. So Why Do the Media Say Clinton Won the Debate?

The next article today is by Adam Johnson on Truthdig, but originally on AlterNet:

This is from the beginning and seems an adequate analysis of the debate between the Democratic presidential candidates:

Bernie Sanders by all objective measures won the debate. Hands down. I don’t say this as a personal analysis of the debate - the very idea of “winning” a debate is silly to me. I say this because based on the only objective metrics we have, online polls and focus groups, he did win.  And it’s not even close.

Sanders won the CNN focus group, the Fusion focus group, and the Fox News focus group - in the latter, he even converted several Hillary supporters. He won the Slate online poll, the CNN/Time online poll, 9News Colorado, The Street online poll, Fox5 poll, the conservative Drudge online poll and the liberal Daily Kos online poll. There wasn’t, to this writer’s knowledge, a poll he didn’t win by at least an 18 point margin.  But you wouldn’t know this from reading the establishment press. The New York Times, The New Yorker, CNN, Politico, Slate, New York Magazine, and Vox all of which unanimously say Hillary Clinton cleaned house. What gives?

First, I should say that I think it is a bit silly to write that you do not believe in "the very idea of “winning” a debate" and in the next paragraph list 10 polls each of which decided Sanders won the debate, and won it by "by at least an 18 point margin".

I think myself many political debates are senseless, in that they will convince very few to change their opinions even if the debate is rational and informed, which it most often is not, and also in that they will convince hardly anyone to
do something, other than listening to or reading political debates.

But none of this says or implies that debates, even senseless debates, may not be won or lost, and indeed that is what debates, especially between opposing politicians are about: Who does have the best arguments?

Apart from this - quite logical - criticism, I agree with the above, and accept that Bernie Sanders won the debate.

Here is some more about the psychopathic deceivers (see item 1) that these days are often leading journalists:
So many establishment journalists were in a hurry to declare Clinton not just the winner of the debate, but the election. One fairly creepy exchange between Ryan Lizza of The New Yorker and Alec MacGillis summed it up nicely. Lizza tweeted, “Hillary Clinton won because all of her opponents are terrible.” MacGillis responded, “Exactly. It’s time for this to be admitted and to stop pretending there is a race.”
I say! I don't know who Mr Gillis works for but Mr Lizza, who is a complete liar according to ten polls, gets the prize for moral degeneracy today, since he is - alas - a journalist.

5. Half of World’s Wealth Now Owned by 1 Percent of Population

The next article today is by Roisin Davies on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

The top 1 percent of households “account for half of all assets in the world,” according to a new report from Credit Suisse, a leading multinational bank.

The bank’s “Global Wealth Report 2015” reveals worldwide wealth inequality to have soared to a level “possibly not seen for almost a century.” As the number of “ultra-wealthy” people continues to climb, the research informs us that the poorest half of the world’s population owns just 1 percent of its assets.

As Mark Goldring, Oxfam Great Britain’s chief executive, told The Guardian, “This is the latest evidence that extreme inequality is out of control. Are we really happy to live in a world where the top 1 percent own half the wealth and the poorest half own just 1 percent?”

There is more in the article, but this is the sum-up of "the civilization" I live in:
1% (of the rich) owns 50% of the wealth;
50% (of the poor) own 1% of the wealth.

I say.

6. Is the Digital Revolution Sowing the Seeds of a Techno-Fascist Future?

The final article today is by Chet Bowers on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Before criticizing the title of this piece as excessively alarmist, the guiding ideology of the digital revolution, as well as the cultural changes it has already introduced, need to be compared with the characteristics of fascism. It is also important to recognize that fascism differs between cultures.

To start with, I agree with the question of the title, although I have no clear ideas abour what "techno-fascism" means, and I also think the combination of "techno" and "fascism" is a bit - well: unhappy.

But there is more to follow, and I will first explain why I think questions about fascism and computers are valid.

My main reason are the activities of the NSA and the GCHQ, that on the pretext of "battling with terrorism" are setting up the largest and most powerful policing system that the world has ever known, which is also kept as completely secret as is possible.

This also differs from the following definition of "techno-fascism" by Chet Bowers:

Techno-fascism is characterized by the ways more aspects of daily life are becoming dependent upon digital technologies that lead to many benefits while at the same time reducing the diversity of cultural ways of knowing and by increasingly subordinating human thought and behaviors to the dictates of machines.

No. That simply is not fascism.

Firstly, there are no "dictates of machines": Everything that is called that way is miscalled. Only humans give dictates.

Secondly, while I think there is something to "reducing the diversity of cultural ways of knowing" (thus I think - for example - that it is a sad sight to see whole families sitting together all contemplating their own iphones as if that is the most interesting thing they ever knew), this is neither specific enough nor does it have much to do with anything fairly styled "fascism".

I have more similar criticims of parts of the article, but skip these. What is more in the direction of fascism is this, although that too is not fascism (as I understand it, but I do know a lot about politics [1]):

The primary characteristic of all fascist modernizing movements is conformity of thinking and behavior, which is directed and controlled by total surveillance systems that track people's thoughts, behaviors and relationships.
The "conformity of thinking and behavior" (to uniformly imposed external standards) does not need to be fascistic: It might be (and has been) communistic or socialistic or indeed catholic or protestant, and in all these cases the externally imposed uniform standards of conformity are totalitarian much more than fascistic.

But it is getting better now, for first there is this, which is a reasonable question (although I disagree on several details):

The most critical question is whether there will be resistance to how everyday lives are being increasingly monitored, motivated to pursue the increasingly narrow economic agenda of the emerging techno-fascist culture and stripped of historical values and identity. Will enough of the public recognize the dangers that lie ahead and will they be able to articulate the importance of what is being lost, including how what is being lost undermines the diversity of cultural commons experiences that are more ecologically sustainable?
My own answer is (and I am sorry, but this is what I think) that it is unlikely that "enough of the public recognize the dangers that lie ahead". Indeed, I strongly hope I am mistaken, but the evidence I have seen the last 20 years (and more) suggests otherwise.

Next, there is this, with which I agree:
As surveillance systems are increasingly being used to anticipate acts of terrorism, where crime will occur next in communities, perhaps it is time to stop referring to surveillance and to call it what it is: a policing system.
Yes, and worse than that: It is essentially and still a secret policing system. The public, all of whose private data are systematically stolen, is also intentionally and systematically kept in the dark and lied to, and this happens by "their own" governors and "their own" elected politicians (who are no longer beholden to their voters, but only to their few financial backers).

This is the last but one paragraph of the article, and this time considerable substance is given to "fascistic" - which indeed here also gets (implicitly) defined in sociological or political terms (which is correct, in my eyes) rather than in technological terms:

The expansion of surveillance of people's lives adds another layer to the fascist political agenda of the American right-wing groups that mirror key characteristics of the fascism in European countries. Their social agenda includes placing barriers in people's ability to vote; the use of the prison system to control a large segment of the poor and non-white population; the intertwining of fundamentalist religions and segments of the government focused on national security, and using the military to globalize the American way; suppressing basic human rights, especially for women; undermining the rights of workers to organize for the purpose of opposing being exploited; and allowing fraudulent elections in which the super-wealthy are able to control the outcome of state and federal elections.

That is mostly correct, though "right wing" may be written for "fascist", and may be better, at least for the time being, for while the above ideas and desires are undeniably right wing, they may not be fascistic.

Finally, I have one last bit of criticism: it would have been better to replace "
suppressing basic human rights, especially for women" by something like suppressing basic human rights, especially for women and blacks".

---------------------------------------------
Note

[1] As to politics: You know something about it if you have read these texts (and I am very sorry, but very few have). As to fascism: My grandfather was murdered in a Nazi concentration camp, and my father survived 3 years, 9 months and 15 days of Nazi concentration camps, as a "political terrorist", so yes: I spent a fair amount of thought about fascism, nazism, right wingers and neo- conservatives.

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