Nov 5, 2016

Crisis: Snowden Vindicated, Koch Brothers, Michael Moore, Turkey
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Vindicating Snowden
2. Leading Senate Proponents of Spying and War Get
     Election Boost From “Libertarian” Koch Brothers

Michael Moore: How I Moved from Supporting Bernie
     Sanders to Hillary Clinton for President

4. Turkish Government Arrests Opposition Parliament
     Members in Further Descent Into Dictatorship

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, November 5, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article by Glenn Greenwald on Edward Snowden and is quite convincing (with inferences by me about the law); item 2 is about the Koch brothers (who are allowed by SCOTUS to spend nearly a billion dollars on trying to make politicians, judges etc. to do as they please: money are votes); item 3 is about Michael Moore, who is a bit more reasonable about his support for Clinton that I had thought he was; and item 4 is about Turkey, which - I agree with the writer - seems headed towards a dictatorship by Erdogan.

-- Constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It was OK for two days now, but again didn't work out in Holland the last days: It keeps being horrible most days.

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am very sorry if you have to click/reload several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. [1]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: It now works again (!), but I do not know how long it will keep working. It did most of the last week so that is something.

I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that also went well for 20 or for 12 years.

I will keep this introduction until I get three successive days (!!!) in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen that for many months now.

1. Three New Scandals Show How Pervasive and Dangerous Mass Surveillance is in the West, Vindicating Snowden

The first item today is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept (and I abbreviated his title above: It was too long to fit in my space):
  • Three New Scandals Show How Pervasive and Dangerous Mass Surveillance is in the West, Vindicating Snowden
This starts as follows:
While most eyes are focused on the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, three major events prove how widespread, and dangerous, mass surveillance has become in the west. Standing alone, each event highlights exactly the severe threats which motivated Edward Snowden to blow his whistle; taken together, they constitute full-scale vindication of everything he’s done.
I agree I am pretty sick of reading about Clinton and Trump and today's Nederlog only speaks briefly about Clinton in section 3, though it wasn't arranged that way by me. And I like Edward Snowden. So here goes:

The first event is about Great Britain:

Earlier this month, a special British court that rules on secret spying activities issued an emphatic denunciation of the nation’s domestic mass surveillance programs. The court found that “British security agencies have secretly and unlawfully collected massive volumes of confidential personal data, including financial information, on citizens for more than a decade.” Those agencies, the court found, “operated an illegal regime to collect vast amounts of communications data, tracking individual phone and web use and other confidential personal information, without adequate safeguards or supervision for 17 years.”
I entirely agree - but why did it take "more than a decade", or more than 15 years to get a court as far as this?! I'll sketch an answer to this after considering the second event:
On Thursday, an even more scathing condemnation of mass surveillance was issued by the Federal Court of Canada. The ruling “faulted Canada’s domestic spy agency for unlawfully retaining data and for not being truthful with judges who authorize its intelligence programs.” Most remarkable was that these domestic, mass surveillance activities were not only illegal, but completely unknown to virtually the entire population in Canadian democracy, even though their scope has indescribable implications for core liberties: “the centre in question appears to be the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s equivalent of a crystal ball – a place where intelligence analysts attempt to deduce future threats by examining, and re-examining, volumes of data.”
This is rather similar to the previous British event, except - perhaps - that the Canadian secret services were even more secret and more free to do as they pleased (always in secret) and to gather illegally anything they liked to gather than were the English secret services (but it is hard to judge adequately were so much of the evidence is kept secret, to this very day).

First about "
the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s equivalent of a crystal ball":

As I have pointed out several times, this whole activity of "gathering data" (here: all the data one can get, that were all gathered illegally, or so it seems)
and searching them in an "
attempt to deduce future threats" (1) seems illegal to me from the very start, for the data were gathered illegally, while (2) in a free and democratic state (!!) the secret services and the police should not (and cannot!!) investigate anyone's private information to find evidence about possible future crimes that they might possibly commit. But (3) the whole practice and the whole idea were already popular in governmental circles in 1968: See here.

And second, about the control of the law and the legislature:

I infer from the above two events, that indicate some 15 years of utterly illegal behavior by the complete (?) secret services of both Great Britain and Canada, and the fact that the same has happened and is happening in the USA, that in fact the control of the law and of the legislature has been mostly put aside by both the governments and the secret services.

For that is the only reason these extremely dangerous very illegal extremely widespread gatherings of evidence (it seems absolutely everyone who is connected to an internet computer or cellphone is targeted by the secret services) have been continued for 15 years:

The government wants the data; the secret services want the data; both want the data because this will make their powers far stronger than the Soviet government or Hitler's government; and - it seems - the law has effectively been declared not to apply anymore, while all activities of the secret services remain as secret as they ever were (apart from occasional rare whistleblowers like Edward Snowden).

So it seems to me that there is no more effective control of the governments and the secret services in the West by either the law or the legislature, for if there were these two reported events that I quoted would have happened very much earlier.

This means that both the governments and the secret services of both Great Britain and Canada have been - very consciously - acting in extremely illegal ways for 15 years, with the end of gathering all the evidence they could on everyone whatsoever, regardless of any crime or any suspicion.

It also seems to me that the reason they acted thus illegally was and is that they knew that the evidence they gathered would give the governments and the secret services more powers than anyone had ever had, while they knew that the law and the legislature only function by agreement, by consent, and by being tolerated by those who have the real effective power in any state: the present government. And the British, Canadian and also the USA governments effectively decided to screw both the law and the legislatures - and got away with this for 15 years now.

The third scandal is a bit different, for this is not about 15 years of totally illegal spying on everyone that still continues, but about recent spying on the activities of one Canadian journalist and possibly those who informed him:
The third scandal also comes from Canada – a critical partner in the Five Eyes spying alliance along with the U.S. and UK – where law enforcement officials in Montreal are now defending “a highly controversial decision to spy on a La Presse columnist [Patrick Lagacé] by tracking his cellphone calls and texts and monitoring his whereabouts as part of a necessary internal police investigation.” The targeted journalist, Lagacé, had enraged police officials by investigating their abusive conduct, and they then used surveillance technology to track his calls and movements to unearth the identity of his sources.
There is more on the third event, but I leave that to your own interests. Here is Glenn Greenwald's ending:
Yet with each new investigation and judicial inquiry, and as more evidence is unearthed, Snowden’s core claims are increasingly vindicated. Western officials are indeed addicted to unaccountable, secretive, abusive systems of mass surveillance used against their own citizens and foreigners alike, and the more those systems take root, the more core liberties are eroded.
Yes indeed - and Glenn Greenwald is formulating this very carefully.

My own formulation goes further, for I asserted that the explanation for the fact that the secret services could gather all the private evidence they wanted for 15 years in a grossly illegal way is that - these days - in fact the governments only tolerate the law when they agree with it, and simply put it aside when it doesn't, and have been doing that for 15 years now. And they will continue with this until the system radically collapses, I am afraid.

And this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Leading Senate Proponents of Spying and War Get Election Boost From “Libertarian” Koch Brothers

The second item is by Lee Fang on The Intercept:

  • Leading Senate Proponents of Spying and War Get Election Boost From “Libertarian” Koch Brothers

This starts as follows:

Several of the Senate’s biggest hawks are receiving a crucial political lifeline from the country’s most famous libertarian billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch.

Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., are some of the loudest proponents on Capitol Hill of dragnet surveillance and torture, as well as expanding the military budget and the military’s involvement in conflicts overseas. All three are in heated re-election campaigns and throughout the campaign, especially in recent weeks, Koch money has flooded in to shore them up.

Johnson and Burr, as the chairmen of the committees that oversee domestic security issues, have led the fight to preserve and expand surveillance powers — and both face challengers with a strong record in promoting privacy. Rubio spent much of his failed presidential campaign attempting to push the envelope on national security issues, demanding, incredibly, that the defense budget should be expanded by $1 trillion over 10 years.

I'd say these are only in name "politicians" but are in fact fully paid up propagandists for the secret services and the Pentagon. And those who pay them - at least in part - are the Koch brothers, who claim to be libertarians.

About that claim I have a small comment, but first there is this quote, that sums up what the Koch's are really for:
Despite the rhetoric around civil libertarian causes, the Koch network is largely devoted to policies that allow Koch subsidiaries to pollute and extract fossil fuels with minimal consequence, while reducing the billionaire brothers’ tax bill. And what makes the brothers’ $750 million political network fairly unique is the fact that officials from Koch Industries’ lobbying subsidiary, a firm called Koch Companies Public Sector, play a central role in managing much of the Koch foundations, academic outreach, and Super PAC spending.
Yes, indeed: The Kochs spend hundreds of millions of dollars (which they can do because SCOTUS decided in 2010 something that amounts to the thesis that money = votes, so rich people in fact have enormous amounts of votes through having enormous amounts of money, which SCOTUS decided the rich people can invest freely into influencing voters, because SCOTUS "doesn't believe" in corruption of or by rich men [2]) in order that the Kochs can earn hundreds of millions of dollars more.

And "ľibertarianism", at least in their mouths, was just baloney and bullshit: The liberty that the Kochs are trying to buy is the liberty of the Kochs to do as they please.

This article ends as follows:

The Koch’s network now funds groups that widely advocate for a radical expansion of government when it comes to war, law enforcement and restricting reproductive health, including the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute (...)

Yes indeed - and they could realize all of this thanks to the firm support of the majority of SCOTUS.

This is a recommended article.

3. Michael Moore: How I Moved from Supporting Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton for President

The third item is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
  • Michael Moore: How I Moved from Supporting Bernie Sanders to Hillary Clinton for President

This starts as follows:

With the U.S. election only days away, Michael Moore has released a surprise new film about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton titled "Michael Moore in TrumpLand." Democracy Now! sat down with the Academy Award-winning filmmaker and talked about how he moved from supporting Bernie Sanders during the primary to now supporting Hillary Clinton. "My hope was that on Tuesday we would have the great decision … between the socialist and the billionaire," Moore says. On Clinton, he notes: "She is a hawk. She is to the right of Obama. That’s the truth. … We’re going to have to be active."

I say, and I do so because Moore is more or less realistic about Clinton, whom he does support, I take it for reasons like mine: He knows that there are just two choices for president, and the choice for Trump is the choice for disaster.

And I agree. There is a considerable amount of Michael Moore in the article, of which I will be quoting and commenting just a little.

First there is this:

MICHAEL MOORE: That’s what’s so great about this generation now, young people, 18 to 35, the Bernie revolution, is that they are the ones in charge now. They’re going to be in charge. And I’m very optimistic about this, because—because every year 3 million 17-year-olds turn 18, which means they’re voters. And in these next four years before the next presidential election, there’s going to be 12 million more young voters. And they’re not haters.

No, and for two reasons: First, nobody knows what millions or tens of millions of people are really thinking, and this is the same for Michael Moore as for anyone else. And second, he is doing what many people have done since many generations: They put their faiths in The New Generation which - they claim confidently - will not make the mistakes of all the previous generations, and will put things right again.

Well, since this kind of thinking seems to have been incorrect for donkeys' years, I think it is incorrect now. That is, there will be a few differences, but in all probability the new voters will vote in roughly the same ways as the old voters (and the new generation will be much like the old one).

Next, there is this:

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think if the media had not—had given as much time to Bernie Sanders as they did to Donald Trump, had given as much time to Bernie Sanders as they did to the open—the empty podium when they were waiting for Donald Trump for all the months of the primary, had played a few of Bernie’s speeches—I mean, he was getting more people to his speeches without the help of the media megaphone than even Donald Trump was, and certainly Hillary Clinton was. And you see how far Bernie went. Do you think it is possible that it would have been very different, since they both represented something outside the system?

MICHAEL MOORE: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. In fact, I mean, my hope was that, on Tuesday, we would have the great decision, the choice, between the socialist and the billionaire.
I agree with this, indeed I include Moore's blaming the mainstream media for Sanders' loss to Clinton.

Then there is this on Clinton's present position, which is that of a candidate and not of a president:

MICHAEL MOORE: Mm-hmm, yeah. And then she had to run against Bernie for all those months, and she had to start changing her tune. And she had to start agreeing with him, because she wasn’t going to win. You know, even with all their cheating at the DNC, even with all their superdelegates, there was a chance he was going to pull this off. So she had to either—either get with the program—in other words, where the majority of Americans are at. The majority of Americans want universal, single-payer healthcare. The majority of Americans, you know, want a paid maternity leave. They want free college for their kids. Go down the whole list. The American people agree with Bernie Sanders, not Hillary Clinton. So, in order for her to pull that off, she either had to start agreeing with the majority of Americans, and his presence pushed her and pushed her and pushed her toward better positions to take.

Now, we could sit here and say, "Well, that, Mike, that’s all they are—positions." Well, you’re right. We won’t know what she’s going to do until she’s in there. So, the onus really is on us. On November 9th, if she’s elected, on November 9th, the next day, do we—whether it’s the Bernie revolution, whether it’s the Green revolution, you know, whoever it is, do we get active right away and make sure that she does the things she says she’s going to do?
I think Michael Moore is considerably more optimistic than I am (if Clinton gets elected). To me it seems rather likely she will do as Obama did, who looked like a real progressive liberal when campaigning in 2008, but turned out to be a somewhat less conservative Bush Jr on most of his real policies. And it seems very likely this is Clinton's way as well. And no, I also do not think ordinary voters will have much control over her actions once she is elected.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote:

AMY GOODMAN: That was Glenn Greenwald. Michael Moore?

MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, thank God for Glenn Greenwald. Yes, I’ve said the same thing. I mean, she is a hawk. She is to the right of Obama. That’s—that’s the truth. So, for us to prevent whatever war she might be thinking of getting us into, we’re going to have to be active. We have be that way.
Donald Trump, trust me, we can’t even imagine the kind of conflicts he’s going to get us into. This is a 12-year-old narcissist that is going to be sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office, with a very thin skin and a lot of hate in him.
I think here Michael Moore is quite right. And yes, Clinton is a hawk, and no I don't think she will be controlled by ordinary voters once she is president, but
she is sane and Trump is insane, and therefore anyone who can vote should vote, and should vote for Clinton.

4. Turkish Government Arrests Opposition Parliament Members in Further Descent Into Dictatorship

The fourth and last item today is by Juan Cole on Truthdig and originally on Informed Comment:

  • Turkish Government Arrests Opposition Parliament Members in Further Descent Into Dictatorship

This starts as follows:

The Turkish government has detained 11 members of parliament from the leftist, feminist and pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), including the party’s co-chairs. This step is intended to give Erdogan the majority in parliament he needs to make himself president for life, and to give Turkey (currently a parliamentary government) an imperial presidency on the Egyptian model. The pretext was that these MPs declined to testify in a witch-hunt inquiry. I.e., this is precisely McCarthyism.

Since the failed July 15 coup, the Turkish government of President Tayyip Erdogan has fired 110,000 people–10,000 of them just last weekend– from the police, judiciary and other government offices. He has had 12,000 professors fired. Some 15 private universities have been summarily shut down on the grounds that they have some Gulen link. If all of them were involved in the coup, that action might be understandable. But manifestly, all were not. It is true that the rightwing religious Gulen cult has seeded covert agents throughout the Turkish government and business sector. But surely there are hundreds of them, not 110,000. Among the authoritarian steps he has taken is the lifting of parliamentary immunity, setting the stage or his current coup d’etat.

I report this because it seems correct to me. I do not know Turkish (at all [3]) but it seems evident to me that a man who does the above is trying to become a dictator.

Here is some more:

Erdogan has also closed down 45 newspapers, 16 television channels and all told, 130 media organizations. Some were accused of having Gulen tendencies. Others are pro-Kurdish. Still others are secular. Many are just sometimes critical of Erdogan, which apparently is no longer going to be allowed.

In modern democratic law, you can’t fire or arrest someone for thought crimes. The arrestees need to have actually done something wrong. Erdogan is trying to criminalize entire groups, and suspiciously enough the only group left that is not taboo is followers of Erdogan–i.e. right of center, at least somewhat religious Sunni Muslim Turks, who make up about 40 percent of the population. Secularists are likely at least 25%, Kurds are 20% and Alevi Shiites are 20 percent (many Alevis are also secularists, and some religious Kurds vote for Erdogan, so you can’t just add these groups up–they overlap). So Erdogan is engineering a dictatorship on behalf of a minority.

Yes indeed, simply because of the evidence that was quoted above. Here is the last bit that I'll quote:

Saturday’s arrests targeted the moderate pro-Kurdish HDP, which has stood for feminism, gay rights, and a multi-cultural Turkey with a place for both Kurds and Turks (hence it is the Democratic Peoples’ Party, with peoples in the plural).

In June of 2015, the HDP won 13% of seats in parliament and left the ruling AKP or Justice and Development Party, Erdogan’s party, with only about 40 percent.
If the HDP members of parliament are permanently removed, perhaps even jailed, then Erdogan may argue that he has a majority of the remaining MPs and can move forward with his coronation as dictator in chief.

Unfortunately for Turkey, Erdogan’s erratic behavior is likely to tank the economy. The tourism sector has collapsed. Foreign Direct Investment depends on confidence, which is slipping away.

Every new assault that Erdogan launches on democracy in Turkey has brought queries as to whether Turkish democracy is now definitively dead. The answer each time is yes.

Again, this seems quite correct to me. And there is more in the article, that is recommended.

[1] Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months now. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all" (really: the KPN), simply because these have been lying to me from 2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because "you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which is the perfect excuse never to do anything whatsoever for anyone).

[2] In case you were to argue that I am not stating the argument about Scotus fairly: Yes and no. Yes, this is my own common sense version of the decisions of SCOTUS, which is not in the legal form SCOTUS would like to see it. And no, I think my version is factually correct, and I don't care about legalistic baloney.

[3] This is relevant to me and is also one of the reasons why I have far less material about Russia and China (for example) than I would have if I had known these languages. It really makes a difference if one can check things out in the language of the writers. (And I can check Dutch, English, German, French, Norwegian, Danish and Swedish with hardly any problems, and I can get by in simple Italian and Spanish. But those are all the languages I know.)

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