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Nederlog

Monday, Mar 6, 2017

Crisis: On Chomsky On "Consent", On Hedges On Liberals, On Trump, On Snowden


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Introduction

1. You'll Never Think About Mass Media the Same Way Again
     After Watching This Noam Chomsky Documentary

2. Donald Trump’s Greatest Allies Are the Liberal Elites
3.
Here Are Three Terrifying, Possible Reasons for Trump’s Latest
     Rant

4. Another Hatchet Job on Snowden
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday
, March 6, 2017.

Summary: This is an ordinary crisis log. There are 4 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is a quite good review of a quite good short documentary on a quite good book by Chomsky and Herman; item 2 is an interesting article by Chris Hedges on the liberal elites (I liked it, but I think Hedges needed a little more awareness that a considerable part of "the liberal elites" is deceived and deluded by the mass media as well); item 3 is about an interesting article by Robert Reich (and I agree that Trump is not sane, but not quite with Reich); and item 4 is an interesting article by Ray McGovern on Edward Snowden. (The first two articles are the most interesting.)
March 6: As to the updating problem: The Danish site is OK once again (it immediately - within 2 minutes - shows today's NL after uploading); the Dutch site was OK yesterday, but now seems to be updating my site (that is updated every day) every fifth day, that is, a mere 7200 times slower than the other site, which is now as it was from 2004 till 2015). Where xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea: It may be December 31, 2015. (They do want immediate payment if you are a week behind. They have been destroying my site now for over a year. And I completely distrust them, but also do not know whether they are doing it or someone secret service is.)
1. You'll Never Think About Mass Media the Same Way Again After Watching This Noam Chomsky Documentary

The first item today is by Alexandra Rosenmann on AlterNet:

This starts as follows and is an excellent item:

Nearly 30 years before President Trump's press gaggle last Friday, Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman authored '"Manufacturing Consent", a book that radically redefined mass media's relationship with the state. 

Now, in the age of fake news and alt facts, Democracy Now! co-founder Amy Goodman and animator Pierangelo Pirak have teamed up to give new life to the world renowned linguist and media analyst's famed work.

Yes indeed. At least, Amy Goodman and Pierangelo Pirak have put together a very engaging summary of and advertisement for Chomsky's and Herman's "Manufacturing Consent". It is quite good, takes 4 min 46 seconds and is linked below. Here is a summary:

"That media inform the public, serve the public so that we can better engage in the political process," Goodman continues. "In fact, media manufacture our consent. They tell us what those in power need them to tell us ... so we can fall in line. Democracy is staged with the help of media that work as propaganda machines."

The cartoon then shows a one eye monster instructing his minions in an assembly line process to churn out news.

Yes indeed, but at this point I should make two supplementary remarks.

The first is that while the press in the form of daily papers produced much of the news since the second half of the 19th Century and did so in a quite interested and partial fashion, that may well be styled as a kind of propaganda, they were not yet the propaganda machines that they became during the 20th Century.

The second remark is that they became so through the quite conscious addition of the desire to make political propaganda take the same shape and form as the propaganda for products that were advertisements in the 19th Century, and that became a form of deceitful art in the 20th Century from the 1940ies and 1950ies onwards, again through a quite conscious process of seeking to deceive the public by manipulating its emotions, rather than seeking to convince the public by some semblance of rational argument, as previous advertisements had been.

Here is more on the first of five filters that are used in the media:

"Media operate through five filters," Goodman says, referencing Chomsky's initial pillars in the book. 

"The first has to do with ownership. Mass media firms are big corporations," she explains. "Often, they are part of even bigger conglomerates. Their end game? Profit. And so it's in their interests to push for whatever guarantees that profit."

Yes indeed, but two additional remarks are needed:

Until the 1990ies the media - the paper press and the TV - made considerable profits from advertising, on which they had a partial monopoly, and used these profits to do political journalism. From the 1990ies onwards, computers chipped in, and soon the paper press and the media lost much of their incomes and profits.

Second, until the 1990ies, there were many corporations who made the news through  many outlets: There were many different papers, owned by many different owners, and there were quite a few different owners on TV as well. From the 190ies onwards, all got very much concentrated, and the main power and the main profits went not to the papers and the TV anymore but to the large internet companies (Amazon, Google, Facebook).

We get to the second filter:

"The second filter exposes the real role of advertising," Goodman tells us. "Media costs a lot more than consumers will ever pay. So who fills the gap? Advertisers. And what are the advertisers paying for? Audiences. And so it isn't so much that the media are selling you a product — their output. They are also selling advertisers a product — YOU."

Yes indeed, but again some additional remarks are needed:

Until the 1930ies, advertisements happened basically through selling a product to a public. In the 19th Century, most advertisements (not all) had the form that such and such could be bought there and there, and by the end of that century to these notifications were added brief more or less rational arguments why the product was better than other similar products.

This was basically changed by Edward Bernays, who saw a much better way to sell both products and also ideas and values: One had to stop selling the product to a public, and start selling the public to the product, namely by finding out what they wanted from the product, and promising the public they would be satisfied by it.

This was a rather complete change, for it changed what was sold (the public to the product rather than the product to the public) and enormously widened the means of deception that allowed it to be sold, for this manner of advertising is fundamentally based on willing and eager deceptions of the public by the "advertisers", which happened from the 1950ies onwards also by carefully finding out the public's desires, so that these then could be manipulated.

And once this was in place "advertising" was quite consciously very much widened to "propaganda": The willing, capable and highly trained professional deceptions of publics by learning to know their desires and by manipulating these as much as possible - in terms of products, in terms of politics, in terms of ideas, in terms of values, in terms of anything that might help the desires for profit and power of the owners of the media.

We get to the third filter:

The establishment then manages the media through the third filter.

"Manufacturing Consent" argues that "Journalism cannot be a check on power because the very system encourages complicity," Goodman points out.

Yes, and the basic reason is the previous change and filter:

To sell products to people, you have to know a little about the product to stress its attractive sides; to sell the people to the product, you have to know a lot about the desires and values of the audience and be willing to influence them, by corrupting and defrauding them so that they get the appropriate desires to buy the products or to believe the political propaganda.

Journalists had to be corrupt frauds to sell their public to their payers, and became corrupt frauds, except that they told it quite otherwise: "noble helpers of the public" was one such label, based on the assumption that the mass of the public simply had no adequate ideas and values to motivate their choices, and therefore had to be taught them, surrepetitiously of course, because else they would see through it.

We get to the fourth filter, that explains what happens to journalists, academics, professionals and others who do not like to lie to improve the profits of their payers by deceiving and defrauding the public they nominally serve:

"If you want to challenge power, you'll be pushed to the margins," Goodman sums up. "When the media - journalists, whistleblowers, sources - stray away from the consensus, they get 'flak'."

This is the fourth filter.

Yes indeed, but this is in part based on the successful manipulation of the desires and values of the publics, which in turn are based on the underlying lack of relevant knowledge and the widespread lack of intelligence, that tend to manifest themselves in totalitarian ways in groupthinking that happens in virtually all human groups.

Finally, here is the fifth filter, that mostly helps to sell the political propaganda of the mainstream media:

"To manufacture consent, you need an enemy — a target," Goodman revealed. "That common enemy is the fifth filter. Communism. Terrorists. Immigrants. A common enemy, a bogeyman to fear, helps corral public opinion."

Watch:

Yes indeed - and you should watch the last dotted item: a mere 4 m 46 s - though this again depends in part on having taken over the desires and values of "the public" that is to be deceived. Once their desires and values can be manipulated, in part at least, the media can start presenting enemies and fears to their public, and this happens generally by presenting outsiders to the society of the public, and by insisting that these outsiders also are forces of evil.

Here is another outline of the five filters:

  • The rich want profits.
  • The rich like to sell the readers and viewers of their media to the payers of their advertisements.
  • Journalists are consenting complicits in denying facts and truths.
  • People who do not consent to the above are manoeuvred outside.
  • Corrupt journalists need a common enemy to sell to their payers.

This fine item by Amy Goodman and by Pierangelo Pirak has the following phrase at the end:

"Consent is being manufactured all around you all the time."

Yes indeed, and the two basic reasons this happens all the time and all around one are that the general public is not intelligent and is not informed, and is so in part through native accident and in part through - intentionally - extremely bad education.

And this last dotted link is an excellent item to propagandize you into buying a book - "Manufacturing Consent" - that will help you to see through the enormous amounts of propaganda - deceptions, lies, bullshit - that are directed from nearly everywhere at absolutely everyone, in the fine Western societies in which you and I live.

2. Donald Trump’s Greatest Allies Are the Liberal Elites

The second item today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows (and understanding it will be helped by reading the previous item):
The liberal elites—from Hollywood and the Democratic Party to The New York Times and CNN—a group that bears significant responsibility for the death of our democracy, now hold themselves up as the saviors of the republic. They have embarked, despite their own corruption and their complicity in neoliberalism and the crimes of empire, on a self-righteous moral crusade to topple Donald Trump. It is quite a show.
Hm. I think we need a few distinctions.

First, I accept the distinction between the 90% who did not get much or any of a real increase in their incomes since Reagan, and the 10% who are either very rich or else are working in reasonably paid jobs for the rich. [1]

Second, part of the "
liberal elites" that Chris Hedges is complaining about do belong to the 10% (or so) that are quite happy and quite well-paid by the very rich. But even so:

Third, we should not forget that many of "
the liberal elites" are quite probably just as manipulated, deceived, lied to, bullshitted, as the less well-educated parts of the USA:
Many of them do believe much of the lies they are told (and the easier the richer they are).

So I think that
the "liberal elites" are deceived and manipulated as well, and my answer to the next set of questions by Chris Hedges follows after them:
Where was this moral outrage when our privacy was taken from us by the security and surveillance state, the criminals on Wall Street were bailed out, we were stripped of our civil liberties and 2.3 million men and women were packed into our prisons, most of them poor people of color? Why did they not thunder with indignation as money replaced the vote and elected officials and corporate lobbyists instituted our system of legalized bribery? Where were the impassioned critiques of the absurd idea of allowing a nation to be governed by the dictates of corporations, banks and hedge fund managers? Why did they cater to the foibles and utterings of fellow elites, all the while blacklisting critics of the corporate state and ignoring the misery of the poor and the working class? Where was their moral righteousness when the United States committed war crimes in the Middle East and our militarized police carried out murderous rampages? What the liberal elites do now is not moral. It is self-exaltation disguised as piety. It is part of the carnival act. 
Yes and no: Yes, these are all good and relevant questions, but no: Much of the "liberal elites" have been deluded and deceived just as well as much of the poor and the less well-educated, and indeed possibly more so, because the "liberal elites" tend to earn quite well, which makes them partial to the system in which they earn well.

Here is what the "
liberal class" did wrong, according to Chris Hedges:
The liberal class refuses to acknowledge that it sold the Democratic Party to corporate bidders; collaborated in the evisceration of our civil liberties; helped destroy programs such as welfare, orchestrate the job-killing North American Free Trade Agreement and Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, wage endless war, debase our public institutions including the press and build the world’s largest prison system.
I think that is mostly correct, except that it was never presented as such in the - deceiving and deluding - mainstream media, at least not in the last nearly 40 years
or so since Reagan's presidency.

In fact, here is part of how the mainstream media sold their publics to their advertisers and to the political propagandists:
News organizations, from the Times to the tawdry forms of entertainment masquerading as news on television, have rendered most people and their concerns invisible. Liberal institutions, especially the press, function, as the journalist and author Matt Taibbi says, as “the guardians” of the neoliberal and imperial orthodoxy.
Here is more:
“It’s a kind of Stockholm syndrome,” he said of the press. “The reporters, candidates, and candidates’ aides are all thrown together. They’re stuck in the same environment with each other day after day, month after month. After a while, they start to unconsciously adopt each other’s values. Then they start to live in the same neighborhoods. They go to the same parties. Then it becomes a year-after-year kind of thing. Then after that, they’re the same people. It’s a total perversion of what’s supposed to happen. We’re [the press] supposed to be on the outside, not identifying with these people. But now, it’s a club. Journalists enjoy the experience of being close to power.”
I agree, but that is the corruption that corrupted many journalists: Give them a - very - small share in the riches, pretend to collaborate a little with them, be kind to them and pretend they count, and most journalists will like you a lot more than the abstract public whose interests they are supposed to serve: The price for lack of liberty is corruption, and corruption is easily paid.

Here is more on the powers of the mainstream media:
The press, like the Democratic Party, is an appendage of the consumer society. These institutions are not about politics or news. They are about imparting an experience. They create political personalities, marketed as celebrities, to make us feel good about candidates. These manufactured emotions, the product of the dark arts of the public relations industry, determine how we vote. Issues and policies are irrelevant. It is marketing and entertainment.
And this is what happens then:
The pseudo-events on television displace reality. This is how a reality star becomes president. Sixty million people think Trump’s manufactured persona—the predominate tycoon—on “The Apprentice” is real. Our perception of the truth is determined by what appears on the screen.
Here is Chris Hedges' ending:
The liberal class, by embracing neoliberalism and refusing to challenge the imperial wars, empowered the economic and political structures that destroyed our democracy and gave rise to Trump.
(...)
Hillary and Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and the current Democratic Party leadership designed and built the massive system of imprisonment, essentially ended welfare, expanded our wars and pushed through NAFTA. They destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of poor and working-class families and are responsible for the mounds of corpses in the Middle East. Yet these liberal elites speak as if they are champions of racial and economic justice. They appear in choreographed pseudo-events to demonstrate a faux compassion.
Again yes and no: I agree with Hedges that this is how it worked out in fact. But then real facts hardly count on TV and in the press: There the powers of deception and delusion rule supreme.

So I think "the liberal class" did embrace neoliberalism, indeed in part because it generated their incomes, but also because they were misled by the - false, deceptive, dishonest - massive chantings of "Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!" and "Free Markets! Free Markets! Free Markets" in their deluding media. And I think they did refuse to challenge imperial wars, because they believed these would free them of "terrorism", quite as the Nazi Goering said they would:

 

So all in all I think Chris Hedges is more right than not, because he sees the real facts behind the propaganda that so well hides and obscures it. But he may not see how well-deceived many of the members of "the liberal class" are.

3. Here Are Three Terrifying, Possible Reasons for Trump’s Latest Rant

The third item is by Robert Reich on Truthdig and originally on RobertReich.org:

This starts as follows and relates to the latest bullshit by Donald Trump:

Early Saturday morning, March 4, the 45th president of the United States alleged in a series of tweets that former president Barack Obama orchestrated a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap Trump’s phones at his Trump Tower headquarters last fall in the run-up to the election. Trump concluded that the former president is a “Bad (or sick) guy!”

Trump cited no evidence for his accusation. 

Folks, we’ve got a huge problem on our hands. Either:

1. Trump is more nuts than we suspected – a true delusional paranoid who shouldn’t be anywhere near the nuclear codes that could obliterate the planet, or near anything else that could determine the fate of America or the world. 

2. Or Trump’s outburst was triggered by commentary in the “alt-right” publication, Breitbart News, on Friday, which reported an assertion made Thursday night by right-wing talk-radio host Mark Levin suggesting Obama and his administration used “police state” tactics last fall to monitor the Trump team’s dealings with Russian operatives.

But if this was the case, we’ve got a president willing to put the prestige and power of his office behind baseless claims emanating from well-known right-wing purveyors of lies. That means Trump still shouldn’t be anywhere near the nuclear codes that could obliterate the planet or anywhere else he could do damage.  

3. The third possibility is that Trump is correct, and the Obama administration did in fact tap his phones. But if this was the case, before the tap could occur it’s highly likely Trump committed a very serious crime, including treason.

Actually, I don't like to be addressed as "folks", although that got partially produced by my realization that the fraud Obama frauds his audiences by announcing things to the effect that "some folks" might have been "interrogated" a bit too harshly: It is a presidential term of contempt.

Also, I am a psychologist, and as a psychologist I "suspected" Trump for almost a year now, namely since March 14, 2016.

Third, I did not think that and do not think now that Trump is "a true delusional paranoid": I think he was and is a grandiose narcissist also better known in English as a megalomaniac.

But I agree mostly to the rest and in particular to the first of these three hypotheses: I think Trump is insane and indeed - quite specifically - should not be "near the nuclear codes that could obliterate the planet". [2]

Here is Robert Reich's ending:

So there you have it. Whatever the reason for Trump’s rant, America is in deep trouble. We have a president who is either a dangerous paranoid, or is making judgments based on right-wing crackpots, or has in all likelihood committed treason.

Each of these possible reasons is as terrifying as the other.

Actually, I can think of more hypotheses, but as I said: I think the first hypothesis is more or less correct.

4. Another Hatchet Job on Snowden

The fourth and last item today is by Ray McGovern on Common Dreams:
This starts with the following summary:
The hatchet jobs against NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden keep on coming with a new book whose author says he applied James Angleton’s counterintelligence techniques to Snowden, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.
O Lord! And I say so, because I meanwhile did learn a little about James Angleton (<-Wikipedia). Here is a little on Angleton by McGovern:

As a veteran of the Central Intelligence Agency and a private citizen who has befriended many government whistleblowers, I happen to have known Angleton and currently know Snowden (whom I count among my friends).

I recall in 1974, when CIA Director William Colby finally fired Angleton, audible sighs of relief rippled through spydom. Angleton had ruined the careers – and sometimes the lives – of many conscientious CIA officers. When, finally, Angleton was not in position to do any more damage, many of my contemporaries recounted personal examples of how misguided and harmful Angleton’s periodic witch hunts had been.

And here is a little more on Epstein, who wrote the hatchet job on Snowden:

Before the book signing at the Hoover Institute, a New York Times review and Pulitzer Prize winner Barton Gellman had thoroughly panned Epstein’s book, and more recently New York Times journalist Charlie Savage picked it apart. Their indictments suffice; I feel no need to again recite Epstein’s errors of fact and analysis.

In fact, I reviewed an article by Glenn Greenwald that is in part about Epstein on January 11 of this year.

Here is some on what Snowden did achieve:

Yet, balancing whatever that “damage” was is the significance of Snowden’s argument that the warrantless bulk surveillance of Americans was illegal under the Constitution and created the risk of a future leader imposing a “turnkey tyranny” on the United States because of all the embarrassing and incriminating information that would be collected on American citizens.

There is now no doubt that Snowden’s constitutional concerns were well-founded and it is not hard to imagine how an unscrupulous politician might make effective use of people’s personal secrets or their unguarded comments.

But it is easier to discredit Snowden by simply portraying him as a Russian spy.
And this is on Snowden's deliberations to act as he did, in March-July of 2013:
NSA was playing fast and loose with the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment (and arguably with the First and the Fifth as well) with warrantless surveillance. Snowden chose not to break his oath to the Constitution. Nor would he remain silent when others broke theirs.

Watching what happened to fellow whistleblowers – like Thomas Drake – who tried to “go through channels,” Snowden knew that he had to “get out of Dodge” to have any hope of remaining at liberty long enough to complete his mission. He decided to run the huge risk involved in defending the Constitution against incipient “turnkey tyranny.”

Yes indeed. This is a recommended article.

-----------------
Notes

[1] And I do reject the estimates that there really is a "0.0001" percent or something: That may be correct in terms of wealth, but I am not talking of monetary wealth, but of social and political economy, and in these terms the 90% and the 10% have a somewhat clear meaning, and other percentages less so.

[2] And I do not think (as a psychologist, which Reich is not) that "delusional paranoid" is a correct diagnosis. (In fact, it is not a proper diagnosis at all, as is the diagnosis of narcissism, according to the DSM-5, although that is less relevant on my criterions.)


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