Sep 17, 2016

Crisis: On "Snowden", Powell on Media, CIA Cover-up, Economics, Sanders
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New Film Tells the Story of Edward Snowden; Here Are
     the Surveillance Programs He Helped Expose

2. The Media's Worst Impulses are Responsible for
     'National Disgrace' Donald Trump, Says Colin Powell

3. US Media Ignores CIA Cover-up on Torture
Yuge Trickle-Down Economics
Discouraging Protest Vote, Sanders Says: Elect
     Clinton—Then Mobilize

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, September 17, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a fine item on The Intercept that is nominally about Oliver Stone's new film, but does contain a long list of journalism about Snowden and the NSA that appeared on The Intercept: strongly recommended; item 2 is about Colin Powell on the rise of Donald Trump: he wrote that the American mainstream media are mostly responsible, and I think he is right about that; item 3 is about a letter or mail of the VIPS to Dianne Feinstein about torture and the still partially secret report she co-wrote about it (with some precisification by me about The Guardian); item 4 is about Robert Reich about Trump's many economic lies; and item 5 is about Sanders who - very correctly - calls on his followers to vote for Clinton and oppose her if she is elected (because she is pro-rich and not good, although not by far as bad as Trump).

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click twice to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my computer.

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am sorry if you have to click several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was.)

1. New Film Tells the Story of Edward Snowden; Here Are the Surveillance Programs He Helped Expose

The first item is by Jenna McLaughlin on The Intercept:
  • New Film Tells the Story of Edward Snowden; Here Are the Surveillance Programs He Helped Expose
This starts as follows:

Oliver Stone’s latest film, “Snowden,” bills itself as a dramatized version of the life of Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who revealed the global extent of U.S. surveillance capabilities.

Stone’s rendering of Snowden’s life combines facts with Hollywood invention, covering Snowden being discharged from the military after an injury in basic training, meeting his girlfriend, and training in the CIA with fictitious mentors (including Nicolas Cage’s character, most likely a composite of whistleblowers like Thomas Drake and Bill Binney). Snowden then goes undercover, only to see an op turn ugly; becomes a contractor for the CIA and NSA; and finally chooses to leave the intelligence community and disclose its vast surveillance apparatus, some of which he helped develop.

It so happens that I almost never like politicized films, and I do not think Oliver Stones' latest will be an exception to this. Then again, I also suppose this is more personal to me than general (rather like: I also do not have and do not want a TV since 1970 [1]) so I simply relay the news: If you want to see a romanticized movie about "Edward Snowden" I suppose Oliver Stone's film may be a good idea.

Then again, Jenna McLaughlin had a very good idea:

So here’s a retrospective of sorts for moviegoers and others interested in the journalism Edward Snowden made possible through his decision to become a whistleblower: In all, over 150 articles from 23 news organizations worldwide have incorporated documents provided by Snowden, and The Intercept and other outlets continue to mine the archive for stories of social and political significance.

In the hope that Stone’s movie will spark more widespread interest in the NSA programs Snowden helped bring to light, The Intercept has compiled its stories based on the archive of documents, which can be explored through the chart below.

Excellent! For this is the real thing, and it is a long list that is also far too long to repeat in this review (there are - at a quick count - 55 files + links there, so this is one very good chance to either refresh your memories, or read things for the first time.

And not only is there this long list: It is also accompanied with a survey of what is presented, that I also skip and recommend, except for one fact I will quote from that survey, simply because I did not know this:

Since the first revelations from Snowden were published in Glenn Greenwald’s June 6, 2013, Guardian article, “NSA Collecting Phone Records of Millions of Verizon Customers Daily,” nearly 1,200 documents from Snowden’s disclosures have been released to the public.

The article ends as follows:

Ultimately, the movie reflects Stone’s image of the life of an NSA contract employee. For a real window into the agency, there may be no better resource than the NSA’s own documents. In May 2016, The Intercept began the first concerted effort to make large portions of the Snowden archive available to the public with the release of a set of SIDtoday newsletters, the internal news organ of the Signals Intelligence Directorate at the NSA. The batch releases are ongoing and will likely constitute one of the largest single collections of NSA files.

Yes, indeed! This is a strongly recommended article, not so much because of Oliver Stone (though I suppose he has made a good and brave movie) but especially because of the long list of relevant articles + links.

2. The Media's Worst Impulses are Responsible for 'National Disgrace' Donald Trump, Says Colin Powell

The second item today is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:
  • The Media's Worst Impulses are Responsible for 'National Disgrace' Donald Trump, Says Colin Powell
This starts as follows:
You may have read about the latest hacks of Colin Powell’s emails, in which the retired top general and secretary of state called Donald Trump "racist," a “national disgrace and international pariah” and vented that “everything H.R.C. [Hillary Clinton] touches she kind of screws up with hubris.”

But the unfiltered Powell was equally vehement that the national news media’s insatiable appetite for broadcasting all things Trump is to blame for the Republican nominee leading in polls in the swing states of Ohio, Florida and Nevada.

Yes, I have read about Powell's emails. I haven't paid attention to it, until now, because I don't like Powell much. Then again, I agree with Rosenfeld that he does have a valid point:
Powell says the mainstream media has legitimate and useful roles, but when it comes to Trump they have dismally failed. On Clinton’s private use of an email server at the State Department, he also said that the press and the Clinton campaign are missing the main point: that her handling of the episode reveals more about her character and impulses than the possibility that anything classified was somehow imperiled.
The point is the - absolute, utterly dismal - failure of the mainstream media to report critically on Trump's lies, lies, lies and more lies, indeed including their refusal to call lies made by Trump lies.

Here is the point made again, at the end of the article:

Despite Powell’s indignant frustration with Clinton and her campaign over this (he said in another email that he avoided her at a California event so reporters would not see them talking to each other), the bottom line is clear. The national political press helped empower and unleash a monstrous Republican presidential nominee in 2016.
Yes, indeed.

3. US Media Ignores CIA Cover-up on Torture

The third item is by the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (<- Wikipedia) on Consortiumnews:
  • US Media Ignores CIA Cover-up on Torture

This starts as follows:

A group of U.S. intelligence veterans chastises the mainstream U.S. media for virtually ignoring a British newspaper’s account of the gripping inside story on how the CIA tried to block the U.S. Senate’s torture investigation.

MEMORANDUM FOR: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: U.S. Media Mum On How Your Committee Faced Down Both CIA and Obama

We write to thank you for your unwavering support for your extraordinarily courageous and tenacious staff in (1) investigating CIA torture under the Bush/Cheney administration and (2) resisting CIA/White House attempts under the Obama administration to cover up heinous torture crimes like waterboarding.

We confess to having been shocked at the torture detailed in the version of the executive summary your Committee released on December 9, 2014.  We found ourselves wondering what additional behavior could have been deemed so repugnant that the White House and CIA insisted it be redacted; and if the entire 6,700-page investigation – with whatever redaction might be truly necessary – would ever see the light of day. We think you could take steps now to make it less likely that the full report be deep-sixed, and we will make some suggestions below toward that end.

I think the VIPS (as their abbreviation is) are quite justified in trying to needle Diane Feinstein to do more to further the full publication of the report, but I should add that, speaking for myself, I think the chances of success are low.

Then again, there is now good journalistic back-up, that was written by Spencer Ackermann and recently published in The Guardian. Here are some
details, including four links to The Guardian:

With well over 400 years of intelligence experience under our collective belt, we wondered how you managed to get the investigation finished and the executive summary up and out (though redacted). We now know the backstory – thanks to the unstinting courage of the committee’s principal investigator Daniel Jones, who has been interviewed by Spencer Ackerman, an investigative reporter for The (UK) Guardian newspaper. The titanic struggle depicted by Ackerman reads like a crime novel; sadly, the four-part series is nonfiction:

I. “Senate investigator breaks silence about CIA’s ‘failed coverup’ of torture report

II. “Inside the fight to reveal the CIA’s torture secrets

III. ” ‘A constitutional crisis’: the CIA turns on the Senate

IV. “No looking back:  the CIA torture report’s aftermath

My own reason not to review these at all, is that I am denied from even copying anything from The Guardian, which I think is an infliction of my rights to discuss the ideas of journalists, and which I think is a very great shame.

For me The Guardian, with its renewed site written by computer specialists
that serve the exclusive rights on journalists' opinions to The Guardian, and now even ask personal contributions from its readers for doing  investigative journalism, totally betrayed its leftist image, sold out to profit, and cannot be trusted anymore:

They turned into mainstream media (if indeed they ever were not, for which a case can be made under Alan Rusbridger but not anymore under his successor). And I will not follow mainstream media if I can help it, and I think the whole idea of forbidding copying journalist's ideas (which rarely last longer than two or three days) is sick and immoral and only helps the rich and the financial interests (perhaps!) of The Guardian's journalists. [2]

That was my opinion about The Guardian as is. Here is some about the reception of Ackerman's articles:
Remarkably, a full week after The Guardian carried Ackerman’s revelations, none has been picked up by U.S. “mainstream” newspapers. Not the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post – not even The Hill.

I agree with VIPS that this too is a big shame. Then again, real journalism and real democracy are either dead or dying in the USA, and this is one more bit of evidence.

4. Yuge Trickle-Down Economics

The fourth item is by Robert Reich on his site:
  • Yuge Trickle-Down Economics

This starts as follows:

Donald Trump poses as a working-class populist, but about his new economic plan would be a gusher for the wealthy. And almost nothing will trickle down to anyone else.

He’d knock down the top tax rate on businesses from 35 percent to 15 percent, thereby richly rewarding the investor class.

He’d cut taxes the top tax rate on the wealthy from 39.6 percent to 33 percent, another boon to the top.  

He’d eliminate the estate tax – now paid by a relative handful of families whose net worth exceeds $5.5 million.

Not incidentally, this is an especial windfall for the Trump family. If Trump is worth as much as he says, his heirs would get a tax break of $4 billion to $7 billion.

He’d let global corporations pay just a 10 percent tax rate on untaxed offshore profits – another mammoth gift to big shareholders.

So this is a survey of Trump's economical ideas, that seem supported by many of the - I am sorry, but it is the truth, according to me - most stupid and the poorest Americans, whom he successfully deceives.

As to trickle-down economics: It is all a big lie that is now misleading and deceiving people for 35 years:

Both Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush tried supply-side “trickle-down” economics. We should have learned two lessons.

First, nothing trickles down. The giant tax cuts on the wealthy enacted by Reagan in the 1980s and Bush in the 2000s enriched those at the top – but the wages of the bottom 60 percent went nowhere. 

Second, such tax cuts produce giant budget deficits. Under Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the federal budget deficit exploded. It took Bill Clinton’s administration (of which I was proud to have been a member) to get the budget back in some semblance of balance.

Then, under George W. Bush, what happened? The deficit exploded again.  

Trump would do all this on a far grander scale.
This ends as follows (quite correctly):

Oh, and Trump also wants to scrap many environmental, health, and safety regulations. He says this will further stimulate growth.

It’s another form of trickle-down nonsense. Even if we could get more growth by scrapping such regulations, growth isn’t an end in itself. The goal is a higher standard of living for most Americans.

Trickle-down economics has proven itself a cruel hoax. It’s cruel because it rewards people at the top who least need it and hurts those below who are in greatest need. It’s a hoax because nothing trickles down.

Trump’s “yuge” trickle-down economics would be an even bigger bamboozle.

There is more in the original article, that is recommended.

5. Discouraging Protest Vote, Sanders Says: Elect Clinton—Then Mobilize

The fifth and last item today is by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:

  • Discouraging Protest Vote, Sanders Says: Elect Clinton—Then Mobilize

This is from near the beginning: Sanders is speaking sense to - it seems - quite a few of his followers, who believe voting for Clinton would somehow soil their own values, and that - "therefore" - intend to vote for Jill Stein (who will not win the presidency, but who might give it to Trump if she and Johnson can take away sufficiently many votes from Clinton):

Sanders said that he understands that voters are "not enamored" with their choices, but emphasized the importance of looking "at the issues."

"If you are a working person, do you really think that billionaires need a large tax break? Which is what Trump is proposing. If you are an ordinary American who listens to science, do you think its a good idea that the President of the United States rejects science and says that climate change is a hoax?" he asked. "I think that if you look at the issues—raising minimum wage, building infrastructure, expanding healthcare—Clinton, by far, is the superior candidate."

Sanders is quite correct, even though I agree that Clinton herself is a much worse candidate than Sanders himself would have been. But bad as Clinton is, she still is much better than the horribly evil, lying, and mad neofascist Trump - and please check out Keith Olbermann if you didn't do so already.

Here is Sanders' - rational, reasonable, sane - plan:

"And I would say to those people out there who are thinking of the protest vote, think about what the country looks like and whether you're comfortable with four years of a Trump presidency," he continued. "Stay focused on the issues that are relevant to your life."

"And I would suggest to those people, let us elect Hillary Clinton as president and that day after let us mobilize millions of people around the progressive agenda which was passed in the Democratic platform."

Earlier, he appeared on CNN's "New Day" and similarly emphasized that "the only way that we ever make real change in this country is when people come together at the grassroots level."

And, he noted, the only way that the progressive agenda has a shot at being implemented is with Clinton at the helm and that grassroots force as her guide.

I agree with Sanders. And once again:

(*) Sanders is much better than Clinton who is much better than Trump

Therefore, since Sanders is out, rational and reasonable people choose Clinton, even though she is not good. The reason is that the alternative
is a mad neofascist.

[1] First, in case you want some background, check out this: The TV and average intelligence and this Three things most other men do that I don't do - and why. Second, I had not, when I was 65, spent 9 years of my life watching TV, as do average Americans. Also, I "missed" watching at least 600,000 murders. Third, I don't want it because it simply is a stupid and boring way to loose time, but I have occasionally seen some of it, the last 46 years, at friends or my parents, but no: What I've seen only convinced me I don't need it and I don't want it, not for news, not for backgrounds and not for amusements.

[2] I am sorry and that is what I think. And indeed: If copying text from The Guardian is now forbidden - as it is, effectively - why don't they also insist that their journalists are all such priceless geniuses that their written words deserve 78 years of copyright protection?! It is such a crazy, degenerate
schema that I have given up trying to report on anything The Guardian writes, including stuff I like (I also didn't read most of Ackerman's stuff, for the simple reason that I can't quote anything).

And incidentally: I can work around the ca. 500 Kb of secretive Javascript that The Guardian these days adds to each and any of its own articles (for "How Americans became a 1% society" took almost 500 Kb more than its original: I checked it) but no, I just don't want to undo the Javascript and report on a paper that seems to send you with each article you download also 500 Kb of spying software.

The Guardian is not quite dead, but it has definitely turned into a sick sort of  mainstream, both by effectively forbidding you to copy anything and by sending you enormous amounts of spying software.

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