Posts tagged ‘Hillary Clinton’

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The U.S. Democrats’ Red Herring: Blaming the Russians

Mattathias Schwartz of The Intercept suggests a statement different from the one US President Obama actually made at his last press conference. That statement, as scripted by Schwartz, would have deviated from the actual statement indeed. But it wouldn’t have provided America with moral and political leadership, as the teaser suggested.

The Intercept's presidential statement

The Intercept’s presidential statement

There’s no question to my mind that Donald Trump and his supporters (professionals and “ordinary people”) have made substantial contributions to brutalize the campaign, and political culture. But there is no question either that the Democratic Party’s establishment has shown its contempt for democratic principle, by pushing Hillary Clinton‘s nomination campaign, at the expense of Bernie Sanders‘. Clinton and her supporters showed quite the “sense of entitlement” once ascribed to China’s leader Xi Jinping.

That – not the Russian exposure of it – is the problem.

Were there American media that exposed the Democratic National Committee’s conduct? I haven’t heard of any. There was no Bob Woodward of our times who would have dug up that pit. The American media didn’t perform. They didn’t pick up their essential role. Moscow simply filled the vacuum.

Maybe that’s what Obama should have said (if he could have). He could have tried to talk some sense into those democrat functionaries (and press people) who are now trying to make the public forget their own role in their candiate’s undoing.

Obviously, there’s no reason to thank the Russian leadership for what they did. But there is no reason to flame them, either. America wasn’t treated like a banana republic this year, it acted like one.

If you want more of the same, shoot the messenger. But if you want democracy that works, do your homework.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Is the Truth losing in Today’s World? (And if Yes: How so?)

That’s what Richard Stengel, currently undersecretary for public diplomacy at the State Department, believes, according to a Washington Post article:

“We like to think that truth has to battle itself out in the marketplace of ideas. Well, it may be losing in that marketplace today,” Stengel warned in an interview. “Simply having fact-based messaging is not sufficient to win the information war.”

And, adds the author of the WaPo article, David Ignatius:

How do we protect the essential resource of democracy — the truth — from the toxin of lies that surrounds it? It’s like a virus or food poisoning. It needs to be controlled. But how?

Fascinating stuff – fascinating, because it feels like a déjà vu to me (and I’m wondering for how many others who have a memory of some decades).

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages in applauding his works.

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages.

When I studied and worked in a fairly rural place in China, I had a number of encounters with – probably mainstream – Chinese worldviews. That was around the turn of the century, and these were probably the most antagonistic, and exciting, debates I ever had, as the only foreigner among some Chinese friends. Discussions sometimes ended with the two, three or four of us angrily staring at each other, switching to a less controversial topic, and bidding each other a frosty good-bye.

But there was a mutual interest in other peoples’ weird ideas. That’s why our discussions continued for a number of weekends. At at least one point, I felt that I had argued with overwhelming logic, but my Chinese interlocutor was unimpressed. I blamed Chinese propaganda for his insusceptibility, but apparently, propaganda was exactly his point: “If propaganda helps to keep my country safe, I have nothing against propaganda,” he replied.

I found that gross. The idea that propaganda should just be another tool, something you might volunteer to use and to believe in, so as to keep your country and society stable, was more alien to me than any Chinese custom I had gotten to know.

The idea that truth is, or that facts are, the essential resource of a (working, successful) democracy looks correct to me. Democracy can’t work without an informed public. But when it comes to German mainstream media, I have come to the conclusion that they aren’t trustworthy.

I agree with the WaPo article / Richard Stengel that the US government can’t be a verifier of last resort. No government can play this kind of role. The Chinese party and state have usurped that role, but China is known to be a low-trust society – that doesn’t suggest that they have played a successful role as official verifiers. While many Chinese people do apparently think of their government as the ultimate guardian of national sovereignty and individual safety from imperialist encroachment, they don’t seem to trust these domestic public security powers as their immediate neighbors.

And the ability of any Western government to be a verifier ends as soon as an issue involves state interests, government interests, or governing parties’ interests.

The US government as a verifier of last resort concerning the Syria war? That idea isn’t even funny.

The German government as a verifier of last resort when it comes to foreign-trade issues (within the European Union, or beyond)? Bullshit.

But what about the American media? I don’t have a very clear picture of how they work, but it would seem to me that US television stations usually address the issues that earn them most of the public’s attention. If that is so, it should be no wonder that Donald Trump profited more from media attention, than Hillary Clinton.

But if tweets, rather than platforms, become the really big issues, the media must have abandoned the role that has traditionally been ascribed to them.

German (frequently public-law) media are strongly influenced by political parties, and apparently by business-driven foundations, too.

I don’t know if something similar can be said about American media, but even if only for their attention-seeking coverage, they can’t count as well-performing media either.

What about “social” media? According to Stengel, as quoted by the Washington Post, they give everyone the opportunity to construct their own narrative of reality.

Stengel mentions Islamic State (in 2014) and Russian propaganda campaigns as examples. In the latter’s case, he points to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and other political organizations during the elections in particular.

I believe that Stengel / Ignatius may have half a point. Russia – provided that they were indeed behind the leaks – only targeted Clinton’s campaign, not Donald Trump’s.

But then, wouldn’t it have been the task of the US media to unearth either campaign’s dirty secrets? Russian propaganda performed, even if only selectively, where US media had failed. It exposed practice in the Democratic Party leadership that was hostile to democracy, but acting under the guise of defending it.

How should citizens who want a fact-based world combat this assault on truth, Ignatius finally asks, and quotes Stengel once again, and addressing the role of “social media”:

The best hope may be the global companies that have created the social-media platforms. “They see this information war as an existential threat,” says Stengel. The tech companies have made a start: He says Twitter has removed more than 400,000 accounts, and YouTube daily deletes extremist videos.

Now, I’m no advocate of free broadcasts for ISIS videos. But if the best hope is the removal of accounts and videos by the commercial providers, it would seem that there isn’t much hope in human power of judgment, after all – and in that case, there wouldn’t be much hope for democracy as a model of government.

Ignatius:

The real challenge for global tech giants is to restore the currency of truth. Perhaps “machine learning” can identify falsehoods and expose every argument that uses them. Perhaps someday, a human-machine process will create what Stengel describes as a “global ombudsman for information.”

Wtf? Human-machine processes? Has the “Global Times” hacked the WaPo?

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Related

Why Wikileaks can’t work, Dec 1, 2010

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

An Election Observation by the Way

6080 kHz would be a great frequency to listen to the Voice of America‘s (VoA’s) election coverage – if the Voice of Turkey wouldn’t start to interfere with their English program, at 04:00 a.m. UTC. That drowns VoA completely.

4960 kHz, also from the VoA’s Sao Tome and Principe relay, offers an acceptable alternative, provided that you live in the countryside and have some outdoor wire in the air.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tsai Ing-wen’s First Double-Ten Speech as President

Tsai Ing-wen delivered her first double-ten speech as Taiwan’s president on Tuesday.

Focus Taiwan, the English-language website operated by the Central News Agency (CNA), published the → full text of President Tsai Ing-wen’s Tuesday speech as an English translation.

KMT chairwoman Hung Hsiu-chu stayed away from the national day celebrations. However, Ma Ying-jeou, former KMT chairman, and Tsai Ing-wen’s predecessor  as Taiwan’s president,  and other pan-blue politicians, did attend.

According to a Radio Taiwan International (RTI) report, U.S. assistant secretary of state Daniel Russel for Asia-Pacific affairs said on Wednesday that America had carefully read Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s speech on the island’s national holiday, Tuesday, October 10 (or Double-Ten). Washington supported and appreciated Tsai’s call for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to hold a dialogue. Russel was also quoted as saying that the U.S. welcomed all constructive steps the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would take to lower tensions.

→ Russel made the remarks at a Washington Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) forum that discussed related Asia-Pacific affairs, in response to a question from a Taiwanese journalist.

羅素上午在華府智庫戰略暨國際研究中心(CSIS)參加有關亞洲發展的一場座談,會中回答台灣媒體記者提問時,做上述表示。

Asked how he judged President Tsai’s Double-Ten speech, Russel pointed out that he didn’t want to express his personal views. However, he also said that America had carefully read President Tsai’s double-ten speech, and that America supported and appreciated her call and support for cross-strait dialogue.

對於如何評價蔡總統的雙十國慶談話?羅素先指出,他不想對蔡總統的雙十談話表達個人意見;但他也表示,當然,美方很仔細了解蔡總統的雙十談話,美方支持、也欣賞她呼籲並支持兩岸要對話的說法。

Russel reiterated that America took a profound interest in the stability of cross-strait relations and welcomed any steps the two sides [i. e. Beijing and Taipei] would take to lower tensions, any constructive steps the two sides might take to lower tensions. Leeway remained to show flexibility and creativity, and to remain patient.

羅素重申,美國在兩岸關係的穩定上有深遠利益,美國歡迎兩岸雙方採取所有降低緊張、改善關係的建設性步驟,這其中仍有展現彈性與創意的空間,並且保持耐心。

Would America maintain the previous pattern of meeting with [James Soong] the representative of Taiwan’s leader at the coming APEC conference? Russel pointed out that he wasn’t aware of secretary of state Kerry’s itinerary, but that he believed the U.S. and Taiwan’s bilateral talks during previous APEC conferences had been very fruitful, with efficient and substantial content, and that this kind of  bilateral discussions. These  kinds of bilateral discussions on economic topics between America and Taiwan could always take place, and there would also be opportunities to discuss trade issues.

對於接下來的亞太經濟合作會議(APEC),美方是否會照過去模式,與台灣的領袖代表會面?對此,羅素先指出,他不清楚國務卿凱瑞的行程安排,但他認為,美方和台灣過去在APEC期間的雙邊會談,非常富有成效且有實質內容,這樣的雙邊會談讓美台間的經濟議題能夠有所討論,另外像是貿易議題也有機會溝通。

Concerning the issue of America discussing a wide range of economic issues, and even geopolitics, one should take an attitude of wait-and-see.

至於這次APEC期間,美國會有針對哪些廣泛的經濟議題討論、甚至是地緣政治上的相關議題,他則說可以拭目以待。

There have been a number of occasions in the past where America held bilateral talks [with Taiwan] during APEC forums. In 2012, former KMT chairman Lien Chan, as then Taiwanese leader’s [that was then president Ma Ying-jeou], had a meeting with then U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Another representative of then Taiwanese leader, former Vice President Vincent Siew had bilateral meetings with U.S. secretary of state Kerry in 2013 and 2014.

美台在APEC期間召開雙邊會談有多次經驗,2012年,時任領袖代表的前國民黨主席連戰參與APEC,就曾與當時國務卿希拉蕊於會議期間舉行雙邊會談,之後的領袖代表、前副總統蕭萬長更兩度於2013年及2014年與國務卿凱瑞舉行雙邊會面。

Apart from that, last year, then Taiwanese leader’s representative Vincent Siew, during U.S. assistant of state → Antony J. Blinken‘s APEC attenance, even interacted with U.S. President Barack Obama and mainland State Chairman Xi Jinping during a dinner. This was a rare case where Taiwan’s, America’s and China’s Siew, Obama and Xi had met.

國務院去年則是由副國務卿布林肯出席APEC,時任領袖代表的蕭萬長除與布林肯舉行雙邊會晤,他更與美國總統歐巴馬及大陸國家主席習近平在晚宴時互動,出現少見的台、美、中三方的「蕭歐習」會。

Associated Press (AP) quotes Russel as saying that

→ the U.S. has a “deep and abiding interest” in stability across the Taiwan Strait, and welcomes constructive steps by both sides to improve relations. He called for flexibility, creativity and patience.

AP also writes that

China says it won’t resume talks until Tsai endorses Beijing’s position that China and Taiwan are part of a single Chinese nation. The previous Taiwanese government accepted that formulation.

Previous President Ma Ying-jeou‘s KMT government had actually acknowledged a → “1992 Consensus” which – in the KMT’s view – allowed “different interpretations” by both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

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Related

→ One RoC, two Interpretations, Oct 10, 2011

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Monday, May 30, 2016

From the Parallel Universe: “I don’t know, has it been reported?”

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ReVideos are a medium that need to be taken with a grain of salt. But somehow, this one of Intercept reporter Lee Fang trying to get an answer from Hillary Clinton as to how much Lloyd Blankfein had invested in her son-in-law’s hedge fund looks to me like a symbol of Mrs. Clinton’s election campaign. It has all the makings of an icon.

The contact between the campaign trail and the real world comes across as if a space ship was struck by a sudden bit of earth. What Lee inquires about – and what others will hopefully to continue inquiring about, too – isn’t exactly news – it has even been part of the hedge fund’s marketing, according to The Intercept. But the timing of this topic could be fatal for Clinton’s campaign.

If you had to choose between Cinton and Trump, what would you do? I don’t know who I’d vote for, if I were an eligible American citizen. But I do know that I wouldn’t vote for either of the two.

search results: Hillary Clinton's emails

True danger signs

Having said this, maybe it’s me who’s living in the parallel universe. Money doesn’t bring a campaign down. Emails do.

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Updates / Related

Bigger Liabilities than Email, DW, May 27, 2016

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